Masei / Journeys
Masei begins with ‘These are the journeys of the children of Israel who left the land of Egypt in their legions, under the charge of Moses and Aaron.’ Numbers 33:1. It is interesting that Masei begins with ‘journeys’ and later in this parsha includes the cities of refuge. We also read about the land given to the people of Israel by YHWH. B'midbar (Numbers) 34:1-2 states, "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Command the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance—the land of Canaan to its boundaries. Verses 3-15 continues with the description of those borders. Interesting to note that the borders described in Masei are not the same as what is described in Israel’s future borders as found in Genesis 15:18-21. The borders promised to Abraham will come when Yeshua returns to provide a true refuge for the commonwealth of Israel and all of His people walk in the Torah. This is reiterated in Ezekiel 37:19-28.
Masei continues with the cities of refuge in Numbers 35:6. This verse states that within the boarders spoken of as the "land of Canaan", six cities of refuge were to be established for someone who had killed a person to flee for refuge from the "go'el hadam", Hebrew for ‘the blood avenger’.
The person who was found to have killed someone could flee the "go'el hadam" (the blood redeemer) and find refuge in one of the cities of refuge. The blood redeemer, otherwise known as the "avenger of blood" usually was the deceased nearest kinsman. Numbers 35:12: ‘They shall be cities of refuge for you from the avenger that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation in judgment.’
We are all guilty of death and are in need of refuge. We have all sinned as Romans 6:23 states. ‘For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Yeshua HaMashiach our Lord.’ Our sin not only results in our death, but those to whom we wound or lashon ha’ra. Furthermore, our sin also resulted in the death of Yeshua The Messiah. Isaiah 53:5 states, "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.’
Romans 5:8 ‘But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’
1 John 2:2 ‘He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.’
Who then would be the "go'el hadam" the blood redeemer for Yeshua The Messiah? It would be The Lord Himself. The whole earth will be judged by Him. It would only be by the life and death of His Son that He would provide salvation for all those who seek refuge in Yeshua. And although we may have been ignorant of the death we have caused, and it may have been unintentional, we nonetheless must flee and find refuge to live. How many times have we ‘killed’ someone with our tongue? As Proverbs 18:21 states: ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.’
Acts 17:30-31 states, "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.’
In so many ways the cities of refuge, "aray miklat" in Hebrew are a huge metaphor for Yeshua and the refuge we have through Him. During the time that the cities of refuge existed a person who had killed another was directed to a close city of refuge, “ir miklat" in Hebrew, by a sign on the road that said "miklat miklat", which means "refuge, refuge". In Hebrews 10:7 states that Yeshua said: ‘Then I said, 'Look! In the scroll of the book it is written about Me." Regarding signs pointing to refuge, Yeshua tells us in John 14:6 that "...I AM the Way -- and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me".
These cities were deliberately placed throughout the land of Israel so that anyone in any part of Israel seeking refuge could easily and quickly access that city of refuge that was called by God. Psalms 85:9 states, "His salvation is near for those who fear Him, so that glory will be in our land". Psalm 145:18-19 teaches us, "God is close to all who call on Him, to all who sincerely call on Him. He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them".
Like the path to Yeshua, the path to the cities of refuge was to be made easy and accessible, it just took following the directions. If the path to the city pointed to the north and the one fleeing deviated to the south, he would miss the city of refuge. This is true of following Yeshua, as John 14:15 clearly states: ‘Yeshua said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Keeping the commands of Yeshua begins with recognizing what they are. These are all part of the testimonies of God.
It states in Masei that once in the city of refuge, the person was safe. But as soon as they left the safety of the walls, there was no other place of safety. And, if the slayer where to leave, death could claim him. But, if someone stayed in the city, they were safe. Just as if we stay in Yeshua we are safe. Romans 8:33-39 states, ‘Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Yeshua HaMashiach.’
John 10:28-30 states: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
What has been our journey? Have we strayed from God? Have we journeyed down a path of murder – lashon hara – or gossip and bitterness? Have we accidently taken a sword to our brothers? Have our journeys led us down a path to ultimate death?
Yeshua The Messiah is our forever and always refuge. Psalms 7:1 states, ‘O Lord my God, in You I put my trust; save me from all those who persecute me; and deliver me,"...