“Tell the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you will eat meat; because you cried in the ears of Adonai, “If only we had meat to eat! We had the good life in Egypt!” All right, Adonai is going to give you meat, and you will eat it.-Numbers 11:18
Moses had brought two gripes to God.
The first gripe was how to manage a group of people whose incessant complaining was getting more and more out of control.
The second gripe was how in the world was Moses going to find enough meat to feed this huge and hungry population?!
Well, we just finished studying how the first gripe was solved.
Instead of having to manage the unruly crowd all by himself, God anointed 70 elders with His Holy Spirit to share the burden with Moses.
There are some interesting points to be gleaned from this portion of Torah that I don’t want you to overlook.
For instance, I find it interesting that the way God solved the problem was different than the way Moses wanted God to solve the problem.
Recall that Moses wanted God Himself to take on the burden of the grumbling Israelites.
However, God responded by saying “No, I’m going to have you share the burden of the people with 70 others by giving them the Spirit I have given you”.
The takeaways here are first that God will often deal with situations quite contrary to our expectations and second it seems like God seeks a cooperative relationship with us to bring about His Will.
Again, we can see this principle in play with Noah and his Ark.
Could God have constructed the ark for Noah?
Of course, but in His Wisdom, He assigned Noah the task of building it, a project that took many, many years and much blood, sweat, and tears not to mention the derision he received from society.
Let’s move on to the second gripe.
So the people are grumbling for the meat they had when they were in Egypt.
God responds by telling them “All right, Adonai is going to give you meat, and you will eat it. You won’t eat it just one day, or two days, or five, or ten, or twenty days, but a whole month! — until it comes out of your nose and you hate it!“
I’m reminded of the saying “Don’t pray for what you want because you just might get it“.
In other words, the meat God is going to provide rather than being a “blessing” is going to turn into a “curse“.
Now notice what God orders the people to do before He begins to provide the meat.
“Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you will eat meat.”
The original Hebrew here is HITKADDESH.
This is referring to the combined physical actions of bathing one’s self (full immersion!) and washing one’s clothes.
Why is this “consecration” necessary?
For those of you who are advanced Torah students, you should know the answer instantly.
Before a COMMON person can come into the presence of Adonai, he or she must be purified, right?
Recall all the rules of ritual purity we studied way back in Leviticus.
Once the people sanctify themselves by bathing and washing their clothing, all the rules concerning ritual purity will take effect.
They won’t be able to engage in sexual intercourse until AFTER the event requiring sanctification is done.
And they won’t be able to touch a dead body, eat unclean food and so on lest they become defiled.
Now notice I stressed that before a COMMON person can come into the presence of the Lord, he or she must be sanctified.
Here’s the thing.
The word HITKADDESH is a term that was ONLY APPLIED TO THE COMMON ISRAELITES.
This was not the word used to refer to the ritual bathing the priests underwent.
For the priests, the words used were either one of the following:
This HITKADDESH was really a form of “self-sanctification” because it didn’t require the presence of a priest.
So what is the takeaway for all of this?
Simple I think.
Obeying God’s Law does bring about a certain kind of righteousness that is pleasing to the Lord.