Dr. David Rose, Pastor
Wednesday, February 24, 2021—Numbers 25-27
Sheriff Andy Taylor knew the power of the handgun and the weakness of his deputy, Barney Fife. Andy only let Barney have one bullet for his gun, and he had to keep it in his pocket instead of the chamber. Andy did everything possible to keep Barney from self-inflicted harm.
God had not allowed Balaam to curse Israel though King Balak bribed Balaam and made several attractive offers to the prophet to do so. While protected by God’s sovereignty from foreign aggression, Israel sabotaged themselves by committing sexual sin and spiritual adultery with the people of Moab. The people who wanted to curse Israel were able to accomplish their wish not through the words of a prophet but from the pleasures of the flesh (25:1). Despite God’s care, Israel harmed themselves.
God’s grace was greater than their sin. The community dealt with the treachery among them, and Moses took a second census among the nation. They were preparing to receive the inheritance God had promised. To receive His promise despite their idolatry had to be humbling. Not a single person was living who had rebelled against God’s command to go into the Canaan the first time except for Joshua and Caleb (26:64-65).
Like a good teacher or parent, God corrected His people in their sin and reminded the people of the proper way to worship (28:1-31). Failures are not final, but we have to admit our faults and repent of them in order to know Him and rest in His blessing. Be repentant, obedient, and thankful in the grace of God in Christ.
Tuesday, February 23, 2021—Numbers 21-24
Teachers know the truths they want to impart to their students. When a certain method or activity is not teaching a concept, they change the method or they regain the attention of the students to the task and the truth at hand. Teachers want to impart wisdom, not waste time.
God was shaping Israel in their journey through the desert, and His primary task was to help them know He was the one true God and to use them for His glory. When they forgot that truth or wandered from His way, He had to get their attention. After gaining victory over an aggressor, Israel went back to their sinful habit of complaining against God rather than praising Him. God sent serpents among the people as a result.
The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is forgiveness and life. God had Moses make a bronze serpent to which the people could look when the consequences of their sin sentenced them to death. In looking on that symbol in faith, they found life (21:4-9). This is why Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3 that He had to be lifted up so that all could be saved.
When the people worshiped and obeyed, they found victory and sang in worship (21:10-35). Foreign leaders trembled at the power of God in them, and Balak tried to hire Balaam to prophesy against Israel, cursing them and their plans. God would not allow it (23:23).
Praise God for discipline which leads to life and abundance.
Monday, February 22, 2021—Numbers 18-20
Generations have said, “Nothing is certain in life except death and taxes.” God gave His people a different perspective. Death was certain. Knowing Him and walking faithfully with Him will not stop the process of the body’s degrading under the weight on the curse. Aaron, the high priest, could not avoid the end of life on earth (20:29).
When people died, the community had to handle the body so they could give it the proper burial. God had made the body as well as the soul, so they wanted to honor God’s handiwork and the life of the deceased. This brought uncleanliness.
How could they purify themselves from something they could not avoid? Numbers 19 speaks of using the ashes of a red heifer as part of a cleansing solution. The rarest of animals was sacrificed outside the city to help bring cleansing from the stain of death.
For the living, God required the tithe—one-tenth of their income. This “tax” was a reminder that God owned everything, and they were giving Him back a portion as an act of worship and trust. God told the Levites to tithe as well (18:28), though they had no inheritance themselves.
God commands His people to give to keep their hearts aligned with Him and to prevent their worshiping their possessions. He provided water out of a rock (20:11), so what can He not do to provide for His people? What should they withhold from Him when He owns it all?
Thank God for purity, provision, and peace in Christ.
Sunday, February 21, 2021—Numbers 15-17
Unlike the gods of other people and regions, Yahweh was personal. While powerful enough to create all things, He was personal enough to dwell among His people. He wanted His people to know they could please Him and experience His love and blessing. He wanted fellowship.
When they brought an animal for sacrifice, they also brought bread and wine. God was demonstrating in their confession that they were reestablishing connection with Him. They were receiving forgiveness and having a meal with Him. For the Israelite as well as for the outsider who had chosen to live with Yahweh’s people, these rules applied (15:14, 29).
If a person did not want to abide by these guidelines, he could leave the community. If he intentionally broke them, the community was to dismiss him. There was to be sole allegiance to Yahweh in the nation. Someone who despised His commandments (15:31) could not be a part.
Part of living in community is respecting the leaders God has placed over that community. Korah and others stirred a rebellion against Moses and Aaron because they weren’t happy with the results of their leadership. Disagreement and disappointment are something that can be discussed and resolved. Rebellion is something else. God called them out for their rebellion and inflicted punishment on them (16:32-50) and confirmed His choosing of Aaron as priest over the people (17:1-13).
Thank God for personally living within those who believe. Thank Him for the leaders He has placed over your life. Pray to live faithfully in the community of faith to which He has called you.
Saturday, February 20, 2021—Numbers 11-14
In unprecedented times, people make observations about their situation. They are hungry or cold. They are tired of being isolated or without certain comforts. Hard times can lead to complaining or despair.
For Israel, complaining and despair were a sin (11:1). God led them out of slavery. God was dwelling among them and leading them. To grumble and to lose hope were a statement about their lack of trust in God Himself. God is not opposed to our acknowledgment of suffering. He is opposed to our deciding He is not good or is not wise.
Challenging times can bring discord to the strongest of families and teams. As Israel journeyed, Aaron and Miriam began to grumble against Moses, their brother, because of the wife he had chosen (12:1). Their frustration caused them to begin questioning Moses’ ability to lead. In doing so, they were questioning God’s wisdom, so Yahweh called them to repentance. Holding one another accountable is good. Doubting God isn’t.
God calls His people to maturing faith because He calls them to great things only He can accomplish through their faithful obedience. To doubt Him in one area leads to stumbling and failure in others. The spies went into the bountiful land and saw it was everything God promised, but they doubted they could accomplish God’s task (13:32). Israel concluded it was better to go back to the old way of life instead of living in courageous faith (14:4). God does not want that. God will not bless that (14:23).
Pray for maturing faith that trusts God in discomfort and difficulty.
Friday, February 19, 2021—Numbers 7-10
When signing up for the local 5K race, everyone pays the entry fee. Whether an elite runner or someone who just crawled out of the recliner, each participant gives the same amount to be a part of the event.
As Israel prepared for life with Yahweh and interaction at the Tabernacle, the 12 non-Levite tribes brought the exact same offering to provide for the service of sacrifice the Levites would perform (7:12-89). Then, the Israelites placed their hands on the Levites (8:10), symbolizing their understanding of the Levites as their representatives and their affirmation of the Levites in their role. Everyone gave equally to the Levites because everyone equally depended on the Levites for their work.
With the tent and its workers in place, the people observed their first Passover meal (9:5) and then began their journey toward the Promised Land. God was faithful to show His presence with a cloud by day and fire by night. The people were faithful to follow Him as His presence moved them from place to place (9:15-23). Everything in life—from regular assemblies to calls to war originated at the Tabernacle. For every person, every clan, and every tribe, Yahweh was their identity and purpose.
God had called Israel out of Egypt and had shaped them for over a year before their journey forward began (10:11). Rather than immediately marching toward their new home, He wanted them to know Him and His expectations. Praise God for His discipline. Pray for patience and faithful obedience to the specific call He has on your life.