Believe Him…not merely “in Him”

The recent traditional Torah study portion, called Chukat, included Moses’ failure to “believe” YHVH — which literally cost him a ticket into the Promised Land  (Numbers 20).  It also includes the interesting story of the brazen serpent lifted up on a pole (Numbers 21), which was referenced by Yahushuah Himself in John 3:14.

I submit that those two events, and the lessons which surround them, are VERY much related.

The story starts with Moses being a bit ‘upset’ at the continued whining — this time about the lack of water — of the Israelites,  although he is arguably not without some justification.  Then YHVH tells Moshe and Aharon to to “speak to the rock before their eyes”.

In his frustration, Moses deviated from those specific instructions (v 10-11) and said, “Here now, you rebels; must we bring you water out of this rock?”  whereupon he struck the rock.  Not once, but twice.

There are at least three issues associated with his actions.  First, he took credit for himself and Aaron, rather than giving the glory to YHVH.  And he hit the Rock, rather than talking to it, and even did so twice.

But what is interesting to note, and perhaps more than a bit surprising, is the specific admonition of our Father to this failure (Numbers 21:12).  He said that Moshe and Aharon did not “believe Me”!

Please think a bit about that indictment.  Here is a man who literally talked with the Almighty, and repeatedly worked miracles in His Name, and was responsible for bring His Torah, His “teaching and instruction”, to mankind.  And yet YHVH says to him that “you believed me NOT.”  As a direct result, Moshe is denied the chance to take his people into the Promised Land.

Now let’s skip ahead to the next chapter, which starts out with a very  familiar refrain.  Once again the Israelites are whining (Numbers 21:5) “why have you brought us up out of Mitzraim (Egypt) to die in the wilderness“, and even adding the insult that “our souls hate” this lousy bread (the manna He provided).  The result is fiery serpents sent among the people, many of whom are bitten and died.

This time, Moshe prays and is told to make a “fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole” so that every one who is bitten and then “looks upon it shall live“.  Yes, that serpent-on-a-stick later became an idol (and even the emblem of the Modern Medicine – perhaps another false god in itself).  But what I submit is important to note is the simple command of YHVH in that chapter:  If you are bitten, look upon that fiery serpent, and live.

All that He required of those who were bitten, in other words, was that they believe Him — just enough to take the simple action of looking where He specified — and live.

We live today in a society which has forgotten what it means to be obedient to His Word.  Perhaps it’s too much of a watered-down “faith” that teaches something His Word never says — that He doesn’t care what we DO so long as we claim to “believe in Him”.  Certainly Peter warned us (II Peter 3:15-16, again!) that Paul’s very intense midrash on the Torah could be “difficult to understand” (particularly for those who were not educated from a Hebraic mindset to begin with!) and could be expected to be “twisted” by those who were “unlearned and untaught” — with potentially disastrous results.  That this is true there can now be no doubt.

But this false “doctrine of men” that it is enough to “believe IN Him” is exactly the kind of cancerous deception that the Adversary loves, and uses so effectively:  because it’s almost true. It has NEVER been enough merely to believe IN Him.  After all, even the “demons also believe, and tremble“, as James 2:19 points out.

Moses certainly believed IN Him.  How could he not?  But far more was expected of him.

If we are to LIVE as He commands us, to be “good and faithful servants” to the Most High, just “believing in Him” is not enough.  Even in the simple act of obedience required to “look upon” a fiery serpent on a pole, in order to save one’s life…the point is made.  We show our faith by our obedience to Him.

If you love Me, keep My commands.”   (John 14:15)

It’s not at all enough to believe IN Him.  True faith consists of believing Him, and thus believing in His promises.  Show me your faith by your actions, in other words.

About mark

Semi-retired electronic engineer, turned author and lecturer; occasional radio talk show host, and motivated Torah/Bible teacher. Also an avid private pilot (Private, ASEL, Inst), radio amateur, scuba diver, and aspiring sailor.
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4 Responses to Believe Him…not merely “in Him”

  1. Pingback: Mortgage Refinancing

  2. Ester says:

    True, I agree with the above comment!
    Not many sites give away free teachings that set folks free from deception, corruption and lies that are in the air these days.
    The other extreme is that ABBA will protect us from all evil, so, we need
    not be prepared, let ABBA do all the fighting! The battle belongs to YHWH anyhow!! That’s considered as “faith”.
    Aren’t we commanded to glean, gather as much as we need in the 6th day;
    and to work while there’s light, lest the darkness overtake us?

  3. The Land of Israel was not the inheritance of the Jews — 3:13 And the LORD God said unto the woman: ‘What is this thou hast done?’

  4. Moses was no Jew. He was Hebrew — 4:6 And the LORD said furthermore unto him: ‘Put now thy hand into thy bosom.’ And He said: ‘Put thy hand back into thy bosom

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