CANDLEGLOW LESSON B’HA’ALOTKHA
“The Lesson of the Graves of Those Who Craved”
Parashah B’HA’ALOTKHA (Numbers 8:1-12:16) Week 36
“On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle of the testimony; and the people of Isra’el moved out in stages from the Sinai Desert. The cloud stopped in the Pa’ran Desert. So, they set out on their first journey, in keeping with ADONAI’S order through Moshe.” (Numbers 10:11-13 CJB)
“But the people began complaining about their hardships to ADONAI. When ADONAI heard it, his anger flared up, so that fire from ADONAI broke out against them and consumed the outskirts of the camp. Then the people cried to Moshe, Moshe prayed to ADONAI, and the fire abated.” (Numbers 11:1-2 CJB)
Next, the mixed crowd that was with them grew greedy for an easier life; while the people of Isra’el, for their part, also renewed their weeping and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt – it cost us nothing! – and the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, the garlic! But now we’re withering away, we have nothing to look at but this manna.” (Numbers 11:4-6 CJB)
The progressive unraveling of the Nation of Israel, after their assignment to break camp for the first time and move out in formation toward Pa’ran, is ripe with the spirit of discontentment and faithlessness. The Spirit moves me to record it in the order in which it took place.
It seems inconceivable this level of negativity and complaining could have overcome the new Nation of Israel on the heels of Adonai’s loving provisions. His teaching and training, His creation of order from chaos, and His development of Israel into a Nation, with tribal leaders and ranks of soldiers for war, all expressed the good plans for His people. His magnificent Shekinah filled the traveling Tabernacle and led out on each journey. Yes, they had every need provided, from fresh water flowing from Miriam’s rock, manna falling from heaven each morning, abundant flocks and herds of animals traveling with them, the faithful leadership of Moses, but most importantly, the signs that Adonai was with them in the protective guiding cloud by day, illuminated with an internal fire in the cloud by night.
How could they fall from faith so effortlessly in their first advancement as a Nation? We must consider the flavor of their discontent and wonder why the Nation would complain for meat, when they had herds of animals they were shepherding as part of their encampment? We think back to consider how, after the miracle of the first Passover in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the leadership and provision of Adonai as Covenant Maker and Covenant Keeper, could they fall from faith in Adonai so effortlessly? Had the Nation forgotten the burden of their slavery? Had they somehow, in the two years of camping around Mt. Sinai under the Revelation of Adonai, muted the memories of their own cries to God because of back-breaking slavery and abuse from Pharaoh? This comparative thought, or Mishlei, overtakes our minds. It must, in order to see with the eyes of our hearts!
This is the Lesson of the Graves of those who Craved. We read in the Parashah how the mixed multitude, on the fringes of the encampment, were heard crying and complaining for an easier life…first. We read how the Elders had become interspersed within the mixed multitude; the fringes of society of the Nation of Israel. The mixed multitude were not Hebrew, but were a mixture of Egyptians and other cultures who escaped with the Nation of Israel from Pharaoh, through the parting of the Red Sea. The mixed multitude, on the fringes of the encampment, became a voice in the wilderness…imitated by the Elders who then cultivated the craving into the Nation of Israel. Complaining and negativity is contagious. Like a plague, it spreads from one person to the next quickly, like a flash fire. As groans of discontent and craving spread, it brings the strange fire of destruction into a community.
This is the Lesson of the Graves of those who Craved. The culture of the day will be manipulated by fearful reports, discontent, and groanings of the multitude who find life just too hard, and those who desire to be taken care of by the Pharaoh-of-the-day, verses advancing into their own destiny. There may be a giant to slay! This, dear seeker, is exactly where our culture is in this moment of our own progressive history! The complainers, whiners and naysayers are living, moment by moment, on the path of least resistance; craving what satisfies in the moment, instead of craving what will make their life worth living, bringing eternal impact from a life worth imitating.
This is the Lesson of the Graves of those who Craved. In His sovereignty, Adonai will give us what we crave. We must be discerning, taking our thoughts captive, for our thoughts are filtered through the fringes of society, where fear and lack of wisdom abound. It is in relationship with the Beloved, that iron sharpens iron! (Proverbs 27:17) We strengthen one another within a community of believers, craving a dynamic and growing relationship with the Lord. May our craving be for Adonai and bring us the crown of life. May our lives be worthy of imitation, leading others into His glorious light. May our light so shine as to burn brighter than the neon signs of discontent within our own nation. We see in this Parashah how social discontent is common and spreads like an unholy fire. May we learn from His wilderness lessons. Hide them in your heart. We are called to step to the beat of a different drummer, to the sound of the Shofar of God’s call upon our lives.
On this Shabbat evening, I confess to my own desperate cries to the Lord for help, for reprieve, for healing, and for restoration of my precious husband who is struggling to retain his strength and his life-force! I confess to my own grumblings, complaining, and fearful cries to the God…whom I know so well!
I know He loves me in spite of my mirrored journey with that of the Nation of Israel in this lesson! But, praise God I do not reside on the fringes of the Church, but within the body of Christ where I have gifts and talents and an anointing from the Father, to serve His Kingdom…even in these very hard days! I must say, in the swirling demands on my life these past three months, to be able to continue to publish the Study Notes and Lessons on Fridays is nothing short of a miracle!
His spirit is alive and well in my soul, and in the end I will always be able to say:
“It is well with my soul, my dear seekers! Arise now, and shine!”