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B'Midbar/Numbers 15:18 When you come to the Land, to which I am bringing you there...
The first word of the text, the start of this set of words that Moshe was instructed to tell the Sons of Israel, , is made up of three parts: the tightly coupled preposition - most often 'in', a Qal infinitive from the root - to come or enter, and a 2mp possessive pronoun suffix - your. It literally means in-your-to-come, but this construction is usually translated by taking the preposition as 'when' and the infinitive as if it were a participle, so "when you come".Rashi immediately comments that this "coming" is different from all the other "comings" in the Torah that relate to the Land of Israel. All the others use the particle - that, for, because, but in this context 'when' - followed by a regular verb form. D'varim 26:1, for example, uses the phrase - when you come to enter the Land - using a 2ms prefix form of the verb referring to the people as one; Vayikra 14:34 has - when you come to or enter into the Land of Canaan - using a 2mp prefix form of the verb because it is speaking of the separate houses of the individual Israelites.
Rashi explains that by rabbinic hermeneutical methods, conditions that are explicitly stated in one instance of a situation or text also apply in all similar situations. Applying this rule, the instance "When you enter the land which the L-rd your G-d gives you, and you possess it and live in it" (D'varim 17:14, NASB) is used to defer the onset of all the other "when you enter" commands until after not only the entry but also the possession and settlement of the Land had taken place, a further fourteen years after we crossed the Jordan. Because our text above has a different formulation however, and is a command relating to bread which came from the harvest of the Land immediately the people entered, Rashi claims that the Israelites were obligated to separate challah from their dough as soon as the people crossed the Jordan, before the settlement and possession of the Land.
Overall, with its focus upon the feasts of the L-rd as holy times rather than on the predominance of creating lots of holy space - there was only one Temple - the Bible does seem to express more of a concern about when things are done, rather than where or how they are done (although these are, of course, also important). In the famous passage from the book Qohelet, the writer states, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, KJV). After listing major life-cycle events such as birth and death and apparently trivial activities such gathering and scattering stones, the author concludes, "He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in [man's] heart" (v.11, NASB). Not only has G-d designed our lives and the passage of history in specific times and seasons, but He has also given us a sense of the eternal so that we should be aware that there is more than just the arbitrary passage of hours, minutes and seconds, the units of time that demarcate our days. There is also a dimension outside time to which we are connected, even though we cannot directly sense or measure it. We just know in our hearts that it exists and catch glimpses of it now and then as our finite senses detect an intersection between now and the eternal.
Just as the Sages were concerned about when and where certain commandments did or did not apply, so as to be certain of obeying G-d and yet being able to live a life that was dependent on the world around them, so the New Covenant writers were aware of the tension between the physical and the spiritual. Speaking about His relationship with the Father and when that relationship would apply to His disciples, Yeshua said, "I tell you that whoever hears what I am saying and trusts the One who sent Me has eternal life - that is, he will not come up for judgment but has already crossed over from death to life!" (John 5:24, CJB). Eternal life, He makes clear, starts now; a believer already has eternal life even though the current physical life is still in progress. Although eternal life cannot yet be seen or experienced, it is a spiritual reality. Yeshua says that the transition between death and life has already taken place. We are already citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, we are already subject to its regulations and we are already enjoying its benefits.
Rav Sha'ul brings the whole thing together: "So then, are we to say, 'Let's keep on sinning, so that there can be more grace'? Heaven forbid! How can we, who have died to sin, still live in it? Don't you know that those of us who have been immersed into the Messiah Yeshua have been immersed into His death? Through immersion into His death we were buried with Him; so that just as, through the glory of the Father, the Messiah was raised from the dead, likewise we too might live a new life" (Romans 6:1-4, CJB). Although not physically dead, we have already died and been buried with Messiah and, like Him, we are living a new life. We too have relationship with G-d, know the presence of the Ruach in our lives and reap the benefits of His provision for our lives. This makes us liable for the rules of the heavenly kingdom where sin is not an option; we are already obligated to live in a way that pleases Him. Sha'ul encourages us to put that into practice, to make our lives a reality: "So if you were raised along with the Messiah, then seek the things above, where the Messiah is sitting at the right hand of G-d. Focus your minds on the things above, not on things here on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in G-d" (Colossians 3:1-3, CJB). We have to walk this out, we have to bring heaven to earth in our lives. We have come to the land - the kingdom - where G-d has brought us and we now have to live in the manner that G-d requires.
Further Study: Colossians 2:12-13; Romans 8:11; Ephesians 2:5-6
Application: Do you struggle to see a difference between your life now and before you came to faith in Messiah? Is your experience of daily life compatible with the life you would expect to live in the Kingdom of G-d? Take it up with the King! Find out what He wants to change in your life and then work with Him to bring it about soon.
© Jonathan Allen, 2009
Comment - 20Jun09 12:12 Linda Selby: THIS IS AWESOME!!! I felt the powerful presence of the KING as I read ... When you come to the Land, to which I am bringing you there ... my spirit leapt! I think the LORD is trying to tell me something! I currently live in TEXAS! My heart is in ISRAEL! This drash is so true! We must conform to the life of King Yeshua every day and inquire of the Ruach to come and burn away everything OUT of our spirt, soul, body and mind! When I do this, I feel a "hot" HOLY "fire" go through me! The precious RUACH simultaneously speaks to me of sin and cleanses it all away as I repent, renounce and ask for its removal! I ask the RUACH to refill me, to POSSESS me and HE DOES! I get up off the floor where I have prostrated myself, feeling like a clean, purified and refilled vessel for Yeshua to use!
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