Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Numbers 27: Succession

Numbers 27 tells two different stories, yet both follow the theme of succession. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Numbers 26: Census, Part Two

The time for the next generation has come.  God gives a new order to Moses and Eleazer the priest - take a census of the men of fighting age among the tribes of Israel.  If this sounds familiar, it's because God gave the same order in Numbers 1.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Psalm 75: The Cup Of Judgment

The psalmist (Asaph) of Psalm 75 sings of the reality of God's coming judgment.  "At the set time that I appoint I will judge with equity" (vs. 2).  A consistent theme between the Old and New Testaments is that God stands as the Judge of humanity.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Numbers 25: Balaam's Advice?

Balaam went home in Numbers 24, unable to bring himself to curse Israel.  But the events of Numbers 25 and following indicate that Balaam may have known the key to cause spiritual destruction to Israel, by causing them to sin from within.  It is also suggested that he gave this dark advice to Balak.

Numbers 24: The Oracle Of The Man Whose Eye Is Clear

Numbers 24 presents old prophecies fulfilled - and new prophecies issued!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Numbers 23: What Am I Paying You For?

With the seer Balaam having finally arrived, Balak, king of Moab, is ready to have him do what he was hired to do: Curse Israel!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Numbers 22: Who's In Charge?

Numbers 22 presents a couple of riddles.  Why did God become angry at Balaam in verse 22 when He had given him permission to go in verse 20?  Is it even possible that donkeys can talk?  And why isn't Balaam more surprised when his beast of burden strikes up a conversation with him in verse 28?

Numbers 21: Snakes On A Plain

In Numbers 21, we come across the strange story of the bronze serpent that Moses was directed to make and put on a pole for the Israelites.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Numbers 20: Even Moses Had Bad Days

Sometimes we tend to glorify our heroes, especially Bible characters and heroes of the faith.  "If only we could experience close communion with God like that, we'd never have any problems," we delude ourselves.  Whether you're talking about Paul, Peter, David, or even Moses, all of them experienced troubled times that pushed them to their limits.

Numbers 19: Before There Was Red Bull...

...there was red heifer!

Psalm 74: Spiritual Wounds - And Healing

I serve a church that came to worship one Sunday morning about 10 years ago to discover that someone had defaced their building and vandalized their property.  The spiritual wounds that it left were very real and deep, even though the physical clean-up quickly returned the church to its previous condition.  People were left feeling damaged and at a loss to understand why they were victimized in this way.  How much more painful and grief-stricken must the Israelites have been following the destruction of the Temple and the defeat of Jerusalem by a godless army?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Numbers 18: Tithe Of Tithes

Numbers 18 reviews and describes the relationship between the house of Aaron and the rest of the tribe of Levi, and between the tribe of Levi and the rest of the nation of Israel.  There are some noteworthy parallels here in these relationships.  As Aaron's family is to the Levites, so the Levites are to the nation.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Numbers 17: This Bud's For You!

The short chapter of Number 17 describes God's response to Korah's rebellion.  In a proactive move, He instructs the heads of each tribe to offer a staff before Him overnight in the Tabernacle, along with a staff presented by Aaron (vs. 2-4).  In this way, God promises, He will make a distinction among them and show that He has specifically chosen Aaron and his family to serve Him as priests.  The next morning, a wondrous change has come over Aaron's staff - it has sprouted leaves, produced blossoms and even borne almonds!  Aaron's miraculous staff is to be kept in the Ark of the Covenant as a witness to future generations of God's choice (vs. 10).

Numbers 16: God Will Take Care Of You

Every pastor hears from people who profess to be afraid to come to church lest lightning strike or the building collapse.  Perhaps a dim memory of hearing about the bloody events of Numbers 16 prompts those fears!

Numbers 15: Sticks and Stones

What is the penalty for gathering sticks on the Sabbath?  Stoning!

Numbers 14: Timing Is Everything

The Israelites just can't get it right.  At first, they reject the advice of Caleb to go and take the land, choosing instead to pine for Egypt and consider returning to their lives of slavery.  They even talk of stoning Joshua and Caleb!  Then, after stirring up God's wrath against them for their faithlessness, they try to go and take the Promised Land in their own strength without His help.  The result is a slaughter.

Numbers 13: Minority Report

"Twelve men went to spy out Canaan, ten were bad and two were good.
What do you think they saw in Canaan?  Ten were bad and two were good.
Some saw giants, big and tall.  Some saw grapes in clusters fall.
Some saw God was in it all.  Ten were bad and two were good."

Monday, June 15, 2015

Numbers 12: Smackdown!

The Bible has a lot to say about pride and humility.  Humility is deeply cherished, and revealed to be one of the chief characteristics of Jesus Christ.  The Old Testament tells us that Moses was more humble than anyone on the face of the earth (vs. 3).  Pride, on the other hand, is repeatedly discouraged in scripture, even depicted as the sin that led to Satan's undoing.  Pride goeth before a fall - like the smackdown that happens to Miriam and Aaron in Numbers 12!

Numbers 11: "Good Ol' Egypt!"

Have you ever noticed the phenomenon that people sometimes remember things vastly different than they actually were?  Maybe it is recalling how winters of yesteryear were harsher and rougher - or perhaps how they didn't have a care in the world when they were younger, while you know in fact that they did.  The Israelites reach a point in Numbers 11 where they actually begin to pine for their days of slavery in Egypt, remembering how they had tasty morsels to eat, like cucumbers and leeks and onions.  "We didn't know how nice we had it in slavery.  Oh, if only we were back in good ol' Egypt!" they cry out (vs. 4-5).

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Psalm 73: Near Miss

The psalmist confesses a very relatable problem: he has become envious of the wicked, even to the point of considering throwing his lot in with them.  "But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped.  For I was envious of the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked" (vs. 2-3).

Friday, June 12, 2015

Numbers 10: On The Move

The time has come for setting out on the great adventure of claiming the Promised Land and the inheritance that the Lord has prepared for His people!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Numbers 9: Following God

Obedience cannot be underestimated when it comes to our relationship with the Lord.  Numbers 9 makes this clear in two different examples of what it means to precisely follow God's instructions.

Numbers 8: Family Business

In the modern era, we are accustomed to people having the freedom of economic self-determination: American children may grow up to pursue whatever career they desire.  It strikes us as almost a basic human right.  The situation was very different in ancient Israel where the family you were born into fixed your occupational destiny and limited the universe of your opportunities.

Numbers 7: Special Offerings

Numbers 7 gives us additional information about something that happened on the day the Tabernacle was set up and consecrated.  Leaders of each of the twelve tribes of Israel provided special offerings for use in the ongoing work of the Tabernacle.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Numbers 6: Vow Of The Nazirites

If a man wanted to make a special vow and dedication of himself to the Lord for a designated purpose and set amount of time, he could take upon himself what was known as a Nazirite vow.

Numbers 5: A Test For Infidelity

Modern paternity tests did not exist in Bible times, but jealousy and suspicion on the part of husbands about their wives was around even back then.  Included within the Law was a special ceremony that could be undergone by a woman accused of unfaithfulness by her husband.  It involved a trial by ordeal of bitter water.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Numbers 4: Division Of Labor

Chapter 4 of the Book of Numbers details who is to do what concerning the moving of the Tabernacle.  God assigned a division of labor so that each clan within the tribe of Levi would be responsible for a certain segment of the work.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Numbers 3: Substitution

"Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'I hereby accept the Levites from among the Israelites as substitutes for all the firstborn that open the womb among the Israelites.  The Levites shall be mine'" (vs. 12).

Psalm 72: Long Live The King!

What should we desire for an earthly ruler?  What should we look for in a leader?  Psalm 72 gives us a verbal picture of a good reign.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Numbers 2: Like A Mighty Army

Numbers 2 describes the organization of the Israelite camp.  In the center is the Tabernacle with the attending tribe of Levi.  This is a physical demonstration of the spiritual truth that God is with them, in their very midst.  On the eastern side, the leading edge of the camp that would set out first, are the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun, with a total of 186,400.  Setting out next would be the southern emcampment, the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad, totaling 151,450.  After the Levites and the Tabernacle, the western camps would set out, specifically Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin, numbering 108,100.  The rear guard is brought up by the tribes camped on the north, with Dan, Asher, and Naphtali totaling 157,600.  This was God's designated structure for the nation's move to the Promised Land.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Numbers 1: Coming To Their Census

Numbers is a book that certainly earns its name!  There are many numbers mentioned even in the first chapter of this book when the Israelites take their first census, thirteen months after the Exodus.  (Taking a census was only permissible when God ordered it.)  Here are some noteworthy observations from Israel's first census:

Leviticus 27: Rules For Vows

Chapter 27 wraps up Leviticus with a schedule of equivalencies for various vows that may be taken.  These were not required vows, like the sacrificial offerings mentioned earlier in the book, but "votive," or freewill gifts to the Lord.  The valuations mentioned are the financial worth that is to be ascribed, be it a person or animal or property.  Vows and oaths should not be taken rashly or cavalierly, as they were considered binding.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Leviticus 26: Two Paths

As the Book of Leviticus begins to draw to a close, the Lord offers the Israelites two paths: obedience to His commands - or disobedience.  Both roads have their own consequences.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Leviticus 25: This Land Is God's Land

"The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants" (vs. 23).

Leviticus 24: Death For Blasphemy

Blasphemy is defined as "speaking sacrilegiously against God or sacred things."  While in the United States, we have freedom of speech, the Old Testament commands death by stoning for the sin of blasphemy (vs. 16).  How do Christians understand the seriousness of blasphemy while also living in a free society?