18 July 2015

There's a place for us

This week's parsha (the weekly portion of Torah which is read in synagogues worldwide) speaks to me of finding a place.

The tribes of Reuben and Gad (later joined by half of the tribe of Manasseh) ask for the lands east of the Jordan as their portion in the Promised Land. Why do they do this? They have a lot of cattle and the property on the 'wrong' side looks very good to the leadership.  Moses is initially angered by the request, but subsequently agrees on the condition that they first join, and lead, in Israel’s conquest of the lands west of the Jordan. And they do so, as we read later in the Bible. For a video of the parsha, see Mattot.

The forty-two journeys and encampments of Israel are listed, from the Exodus to their encampment on the plains of Moab across the river from the land of Canaan. The boundaries of the Promised Land are given, and cities of refuge are designated as havens and places of exile for inadvertent murderers. The daughters of Zelophehad marry within their own tribe of Manasseh, so that the estate which they inherit from their father should not pass to the province of another tribe. In an earlier episode, the daughters had requested their own possession of land even though they have no brothers. Moses took their request to the Almighty and He allowed their inheritance. (actual passage below)

For me the story is about going home or finding home or longing for a home. I remember ET wanted to phone home.  In Homer's Iliad, Odysseus wanted to get home. Even in the movie with George Clooney, "O Brother where art thou?" the synopsis says, "Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney) is having difficulty adjusting to his hard-labor sentence in Mississippi. He scams his way off the chain gang with simple Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) and maladjusted Pete (John Turturro), then the trio sets out to pursue freedom and the promise of a fortune in buried treasure. With nothing to lose and still in shackles, their hasty run takes them on an incredible journey of awesome experiences and colorful characters."

There is something within us that longs to go home.

I believe God wants us to be encouraged that whether it's where we imagine ourselves to be, or somewhere else altogether, He has a place for us.

Of course the Bible makes it clear "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Yeshua, the Messiah;  (Philippians 3.20). Home is where we long to be. Home is where Messiah rules. Home is where we will live eternally.


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"The daughters of Zelophehad stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest and before the leaders and all the congregation, at the doorway of the tent of meeting, saying, “Our father died in the wilderness, yet he was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the LORD in the company of Korah; but he died in his own sin, and he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be withdrawn from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among our father’s brothers.” So Moses brought their case before the LORD.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “The daughters of Zelophehad are right in their statements. You shall surely give them a hereditary possession among their father’s brothers, and you shall transfer the inheritance of their father to them. Further, you shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter.  (Numbers 27.1-8)

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