This Week's Portion #39-40
Chukat-Balak | בלק-חוקת | "Decree of/Statute-Balaq" የሕጉ ትእዛዝ ይህ ነው-ባላቅ | yeH’ggu t’Izaz [y’h’new]
*For a PDF version of All the Torah Portions Schedule, click here to download!
1. Torah Reading
- 1.1 First reading — Numbers 19:1–17
- 1.2 Second reading — Numbers 19:18–20:6
- 1.3 Third reading — Numbers 20:7–13
- 1.4 Fourth reading — Numbers 20:14–21
- 1.5 Fifth reading — Numbers 20:22–21:9
- 1.6 Sixth reading — Numbers 21:10–20
- 1.7 Seventh reading — Numbers 21:21–22:1
2. Prophets Reading
Judges 11:1-33/Micah 5:6-6:8
3. New Testament Reading
Hebrews 9:11-28; John 3:10-21/Romans 11:25-32
Portion Outline - TORAH
- Numbers 19:1 | Ceremony of the Red Heifer
- Numbers 20:1 | The Waters of Meribah
- Numbers 20:14 | Passage through Edom Refused
- Numbers 20:22 | The Death of Aaron
- Numbers 21:1 | The Bronze Serpent
- Numbers 21:10 | The Journey to Moab
- Numbers 21:21 | King Sihon Defeated
- Numbers 21:33 | King Og Defeated
- Numbers 22:1 | Balak Summons Balaam to Curse Israel
- Numbers 22:22 | Balaam, the Donkey, and the Angel
- Numbers 22:41 | Balaam's First Oracle
- Numbers 23:13 | Balaam's Second Oracle
- Numbers 24:1 | Balaam's Third Oracle
- Numbers 24:15 | Balaam's Fourth Oracle
- Numbers 25:1 | Worship of Baal of Peor
Portion Outline - PROPHETS
- Judges 11:1 | Jephthah
- Judges 11:29 | Jephthah's Vow
- Micah 5:2 | The Ruler from Bethlehem
- Micah 5:7 | The Future Role of the Remnant
- Micah 6:1 | God Challenges Israel
- Micah 6:6 | What God Requires
Portion Study Book Download & Summary
Chukat Chukat is the thirty-ninth reading from the Torah. The word chukat (חוקת) means “statute.” The name is derived from the second verse of the reading: “This is the statute of the law which the LORD has commanded” (Numbers 19:2). Chukat presents the mysterious laws of the red-heifer ceremony for purification after contact with human death. This reading also contains the story of Moses striking the rock, the stories of the deaths of Aaron and Miriam and the wars with the Amorites. The portion concludes with the host of Israel encamping on the edge of the Promised Land.
Balak Balak (Balak, בלק) was the name of a Moabite king in the days of Moses. It is also the name of the fortieth reading from the Torah. It comes from the second verse of this week’s reading, which says, “Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites” (Numbers 22:2). This week’s Torah reading tells the story of how Balak hires the occult prophet Balaam to lay a curse on Israel. Balaam meets resistance from God, has a conversation with his donkey and ends up blessing Israel instead of cursing them.
Thought for the Week:
The problem with complaining is that God is listening.
The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. (Numbers 21:6)
God hears our words and weighs our hearts. As the Israelites complained about the daily provision of manna, God heard their words and sent a punishment of poisonous snakes. Why did God use snakes to punish Israel?
Rashi explains that God chose snakes for two reasons. The serpent in the Garden of Eden was punished for speaking words of slander against God. God sent the serpent, who was punished for speaking slander, to punish those who were guilty of speaking slander. The second reason was that the serpent had been cursed to eat dust all the days of its life. God sent the serpent, who was punished by being given a diet of dust, to punish those who complained about their food.
When we allow ourselves to slip into self-pity and we give expression to a critical spirit, we are already victims of the evil one. He is a professional slanderer, the accuser of the brethren and the origin of rebellion against God. He was the very first to express discontentment with the lot in life God had assigned to him. When we show ingratitude toward God and complain about His ways, we are speaking the serpent's native tongue. His venom is already poisoning our hearts.
The solution to the problem is repentance. The Israelites went to Moses and said, "We have sinned, because we have spoken against the LORD and you; intercede with the LORD, that He may remove the serpents from us" (Numbers 21:7). Their words encapsulate the gospel message. Yeshua is our Moses. The serpent is the devil. We are the sinners. If we want to be healed and delivered from the serpent, we need to repent, confess our sins and seek forgiveness through Yeshua.
As soon as the Israelites asked Moses for forgiveness, he interceded on their behalf. Rashi points to this as an example for how we should also be quick to forgive others. He says, "From this we learn that a person who is asked for forgiveness should not be so cruel as to withhold forgiveness." Disciples worthy of Yeshua will be quick to extend forgiveness even to those who have spoken derisively against them or humiliated them.
Moses interceded, and the LORD provided an antidote.
Life's Little Interruptions
Thought for the Week:
If God can speak through a donkey, He can speak through anything and anyone. A person should always be attentive to the words of others, always listening for the voice of the LORD.
The angel of the LORD appeared on the road with a drawn sword to stop him. To Balaam the angel was invisible, but the donkey on which Balaam was riding could see the angel.
To avoid the angel with the drawn sword, the donkey veered from the road into a field. Irritated with his steed, Balaam struck the donkey to force her back onto the road.
A second time the angel appeared in front of the donkey. Balaam still did not see it, but the donkey did. This time the donkey was carrying Balaam through a narrow street between two vineyard walls. There was not much room between the walls. To avoid the angel, the donkey pressed against one wall, crushing Balaam's foot in the process.
Irritated and in significant pain, Balaam struck the donkey again.
A third time the angel appeared in front of the donkey. This time the way was so narrow that there was no room for the donkey to turn to the left or the right. So the donkey lay down. Still unable to see the angel, Balaam was so angry that he thrashed the poor beast with a stick.
In his blindness, Balaam did not realize that the irritating behavior of his donkey was actually saving his life. The LORD said, "If she had not turned aside from me, I would surely have killed you just now, and let her live" (Numbers 22:33).
Life is full of irritating obstacles that get in the way of our plans. Throughout any given day, a person experiences countless distractions and complications. It is easy to become impatient and upset with the things and people that get in the way of what we are trying to accomplish. We should learn a lesson from Balaam. Those irritating obstacles might be from the LORD. God may have other plans for us. Rather than get upset when our plans are derailed, we should seek the LORD's direction. In Balaam's life, God was in the midst of the interruptions. The next time the car breaks down or the flight is canceled or some other unforeseen interruption rears up, rather than get irritated, remember the story of Balaam.
People of faith sometimes speak of God opening and closing doors. This is an idiom that refers to God's divine direction in life. For example, suppose a person set out to take a job in a certain field. He submitted an application for a position for which he was fully qualified. He was confident that the job would be his. Inexplicably, he did not get the position. A person like Balaam would become bitter over the disappointment. A person of faith would say, "God closed that door. He knows what is best. I will look elsewhere."
When seeking direction in life, a person needs to keep an eye on the donkey to see what God might be saying.