Portrait of Messiah- B'midbar

19 May 2009

If we were to be transported back in time to the first century and were to study "Moses and the Prophets" as Jesus, the disciples, and the two men on the road to Emmaus did (Luke 24:27), what would we learn? What portraits of the Messiah would we find? Come… join our band of believers and study Scripture in the footsteps and pattern of our Lord and Savior.

The foundation of first-century Bible study included an annual reading of the Torah: the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy.  The Scripture that is studied this time of year (mid May) is Numbers chapters 1-4.  The chapter and verse numbers that we use today to identify passages of Scripture did not exist in the days of the Master.  Instead, they identified the weekly passages, known as a parashah (”portion”) by the first word or two of that passage.  This week’s parashah is known as B'midbar (pronounced buh MID bar).  This Hebrew word means “in the wilderness”.  B'midbar is also the Hebrew name for the book of Numbers.  It is known as the book of "In the Wilderness" as it is written in the beginning of this portion:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first of the second month, in the second year after they  had come out of the land of Egypt, saying...

In this week’s parashah we find G-d commanding that a census be taken of the Israelites.  Where in this seemingly tedious accounting of the tribes of Israel can we find a portrait of Messiah?  Scripture records a census during this period of Israel's redemption from Egypt.  Scripture also records a census during the period of Israel's redemption from sin and death.  It was the Roman census which resulted in Mary going to Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-5) and fulfilling the prophecy of Micah 5:2-5.  Bethlehem is the home town of King David (1 Samuel 17:12) which provides another prophetic link to the long-awaited Messiah.  How many myriads of details had to occur in perfect order for this single prophetic event to be fulfilled?  And this is only one among more than a hundred prophecies regarding the Messiah given in Scripture.  Only our sovereign G-d could have orchestrated a single one of them much less all of them.  First century readers of parashah B'midbar would have seen a clear link between a census, Bethlehem, Messiah, King David, and G-d's promised redemption.

Here in parashah B'midbar the census is the initial paintbrush stroke of another portrait of Messiah.

Last modified on 14 January 2017

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