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B'Midbar/Numbers 19:2 This is the statute of the Torah, which Adonai has commanded ... (Artscroll)
These words introduce the strange ritual of the red heifer; strange because it seems contradictory: it purifies yet renders impure, it cleanses from contact with the dead, yet is itself a product of death. It is a commandment that commentators throughout the years have wrestled with in order to try and unravel its curious paradox - we are still no nearer reconciling the apparent conflict. We fall back back on the fact that it is a command of G-d and so to be obeyed anyway, even without a detailed understanding.Rashi comments that the Scripture writes: 'This is the statute' to imply that G-d is saying, "It is a decree from before Me, you do not have the right to question it."
Rashi points out that it is the custom of the Accuser and the world to provoke Israel by asking questions such as "What is this commandment?" or "What reason is there to it?" in order to shake us in our belief in, obedience to and reliance upon G-d's word. The enemy's success in Gan Edan hinged upon his question to Havah, "Did G-d really say, 'You are not to eat from any tree in the garden?'" (B'resheet 3:1, CJB). Likewise, Satan questions G-d when he says, "Is it for nothing that Job fears G-d? You've put a protective hedge around him ..." (Job 1:9-10, CJB). In the early part of the gospel story we find Yeshua being questioned and tempted by the enemy: "If you are the Son of G-d, command these stones to become bread" (Matthew 4:3, NASB) and "If you are the Son of G-d, throw yourself down from here ..." (Matthew 4:6, NASB).
It is a constant technique of the enemy to question and challenge our faith in what G-d has said to us: to vary or alter the meaning of the words of Scripture; to weaken or dilute the strength of G-d's commandments; to move or disturb the boundaries that G-d has set; to use such politically correct concepts as tolerance, compassion and equality to set aside the simply plain reading of the Bible; to erode and undermine the foundations of our faith; to ridicule and bring into disrepute G-d's standards for our behaviour and conduct.
And yet, the devil is a defeated foe and G-d has already declared us the victors in Messiah Yeshua; He has already given us the weapons and authority to overcome the enemy's lies and questions. In the story of Job, we read that the Adversary could do nothing without G-d's permission and was limited to the boundaries that G-d set. In the gospels, we read that Yeshua answered the Tempter with the word of G-d and he was forced to leave, defeated. Kefa tells us, "Resist the devil, firm in your faith" (1 Peter 5:9, NASB) and Ya'akov adds, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (Ya'akov 4:7, NASB). The command is clear and the outcome guaranteed.
Further Study: 2 Corinthians 10:5; Matthew 16:13-18
Application: With the command to resist comes the authority to execute the command. Today is a day to shout to the world, "This is the statue of Torah, which Adonai commanded!" and seeing the enemy melt away before you.
© Jonathan Allen, 2004
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