Credit:(Photo: Jack Hazut)
The LORD spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: — Numbers 1:1
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Bamidbar, which means “in the desert,” from Numbers 1:1–4:20, and the Haftorah is from Hosea 2:1–22.
This week we begin the fourth of the Five Books of Moses, Numbers. In Hebrew, this book is called Bamidbar, which means “in the desert.” The name is taken from the first verse which reads: “The LORD spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert …” The Jewish sages taught, “With three things the Torah was given – with fire, with water, and in the desert,” a reference to three acts of faith that made the children of Israel worthy of receiving the Torah.
According to Jewish tradition, in the first act of faith, the Patriarch Abraham was thrown into a furnace because he would not renounce his belief in the one true God, yet he emerged unharmed. In the second act of faith, the entire nation of Israel faithfully walked through the Red Sea, trusting God that the water would not crash over them. In the third act of faith, the Israelites followed God through the desert for 40 years — not knowing what they would eat or drink, or when the traveling would end.
These three acts of faith not only describe what made the children of Israel worthy back then; they also teach us how to become worthy of receiving God’s Word today.
Sometimes in life, we are asked to step out in faith like Abraham did. We go through situations that seem life-threatening, and we aren’t sure whether we will be okay. Other times, we are asked to take a leap of faith like Israel did at the sea. We may be called to take a new job or move to a new place. Finally, there are times when we have tests of faith like the Israelites in the desert. We go through long periods not knowing how things are going to work out. Year after year — will I ever meet my soul mate? Will we have enough to pay the bills?
Sometimes we are asked to demonstrate faith for a moment, but other times it is more of a marathon. In all cases, having faith may be challenging, but it also greatly rewarded.
Your turn: What has been one of your greatest tests of faith, and how were you able to meet that challenge? Share in the comments below.