Numbers 11 Are you a complainer? Complaining is another way of saying we are ungrateful. The Israelites had left Egypt with an abundance of materials of gold and silver and leaders that led them faithfully. Yet, the people began to be weary and with weariness began complaining. Complaining is like a plague; it infects the whole lot.
Complaining only selectively remembers the past. The Israelites began to recall the past of their lives in Egypt. Complaining is Satan’s favorite tool. He offers the sweet without the sour. He taints our memory to say it was not so bad. He wants you to remember the glory without the ugliness. That is Satan’s tool. It is what we call the selective memory syndrome. Your memory only remembers the good, and glorifies the bad. These Israelites began to think slavery was not so bad after all and began to remember the delicious foods that were abundant. Like them, we forget the ugliness of our sin and forget the price Jesus paid to release us from that sin. Beware of Satan’s tools; don’t fall into his trap and begin to whine with the “oh, woe is me” prayer.
The next time you feel a complaining infection setting in, go to God. Seek His face, seek his forgiveness for your complaining and then watch Him work.
Numbers 10 This pandemic has put our traveling plans on hold; for the time being. But looking ahead, we can take a lesson from this chapter about those plans. Usually, we plan our trip, pack our bags, and set off but do we take a moment to pray for a safe journey? Moses was following God’s plan to start the journey to the Promised Land. He took time to prepare the Israelites by praying:
“Rise up, O LORD! And let Your enemies be scattered, And let those who hate You flee before You.” When the Ark came to rest at their next stop, he prayed: “Return, O Lord, to the many thousands of Israel!” [Num 10:35 and 36]
When we start out, do we ask God to be with us? When we reach our destination, do we stop and thank God for being with us in our travels? Just like Moses prayed over them as they began and when they ended, we all need prayer as we start and when we arrive.
But why do we wait until we take a trip; why not begin and end each day asking God to go before us and thanking Him when our day ends. What a great lesson for all of us for beginning and ending our days and our trips.
Numbers 7 As the Israelites were generous in their giving of materials and wealth to build the Tabernacle, they are abundant in their giving for the dedication. The Lord told Moses that each gift was to be received and then used to do the work of the tent of meeting. How practical is our God! God loves a cheerful giver and then loves to share those gifts for the work of the ministry. There is a lesson here for us, giving of our best begins in the heart. What is my best that I can give my Lord and His church?
Their offerings were acceptable because they came from a heart that was dedicated first to God. The riches of Egypt have been transformed into the riches for the Tabernacle and His work. If only they had remained that way, but as we turn to Malachi, we see a lack of reverence and a lack of a pure heart. God says to them, “I will no longer accept an offering from you.” What happened? Were the people not generous? Did their heart change? It seems that was the very reason in contrast to the offerings for the Tabernacle. In the time of Malachi, they only saw them as wearisome. [Malachi 1:7-9]This is a lesson for us.
Do we see our offerings as “wearisome?” Or do we see them as a privilege? We are called to be holy and live a holy life in reverence and sharing out of our abundance.
Numbers 5 &6: Why so much given to the innocence or guilt of the woman and not the man? Is this not one-sided? But to help us see the bigger picture we must recall the warning in Prov 6:34. Men are more prone to retaliation than women. Second, her womb must be preserved; unlike today. Thirdly, God has put into place that which will protect her from the accusations from her husband. Lastly, is the warning from Eccl 5: if you make a vow, be sure to keep it otherwise you are seen as a fool. [Eccl 5:4]
Fast forward to the NT and we see how Jesus used this law to protect the Samaritan woman [John 4] who had been used by unscrupulous men, even up to 5 of them! Then the woman caught in adultery [John 8:10] and the Pharisees in their self-righteousness are exposed because they too were “jealous” and their sin exposed as Jesus wrote on the sand. Did he write this passage? We don’t know but one by one they left beginning with the eldest to the youngest. Jesus asked her where are your accusers and she said there is no one. In his most gracious and loving way he said, neither do I condemn you, but go and sin no more. He acknowledged her sin but forgave her.
So what is our takeaway? Purity is held to a high standard in God’s eyes. Be ye pure so God can bless you. We are cleansed by Jesus. It is interesting that Numbers 6 includes the Aaronic Blessing which is in summary form was what Jesus offered to the woman caught in adultery.
Numbers 3 and 4 God is a God of order and it is revealed in these two chapters how He has chosen the clan of the Levites to surround the Holy Tabernacle. After Moses selected the Levites to surround the Tabernacle; he gave them a place of service. They were responsible to care for the sanctuary. Who in our churches today is responsible for our sanctuaries? What jobs do they have? Do we stop and thank them for their work?
The tribe of Levi was responsible to serve Aaron; to care for his needs by attending to the service of the tabernacle. Today there is great responsibility in our churches where elders and deacons attend to the leadership of our churches. These who have “served well gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith..” [selected words 1Tim 3:13] Today stop and pray for them for they carry a great weight on their shoulders and one day will stand before God for their service.
God wanted the children of Israel to remember that all work in the kingdom of God is royal service, whether up front or behind the scenes. The psalmist noted: “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of the wickedness.” [Ps 84:10]
What role brings joy and gladness to your heart because you see yourself as a servant for the Lord?
Numbers 1-2 It has been two full years and still, the people are no closer to the Promised Land than the last experience of the Passover night or their exodus from Egypt. Yet, God’s plan is to bring the Israelites to the Promised Land. As part of that plan, He has Moses begin numbering the men twenty years and older to be His servants in peacetime and in war. What we lack in comprehension, the Holy Spirit reveals to us in our understanding. God wants us to know that He is a God of details. He knows when a sparrow falls; He knows each hair on your head. God has a plan, and your name was on it from eternity past.
God knew that Moses needed others to serve, and God devised a plan for His people. From every tribe, men were to be ready to serve in whatever capacity God had planned. That was then, and it is the same today. God cares for you, and He has chosen you for His kingdom’s work. He calls you His servant. A servant serves others even when inconvenient, whether he or she dislikes the duty. The circumstances are unimportant. God is looking at our heart’s attitude towards His work.
In eternity past, He chose you and me for His work, and God did all of that so men who are in spiritual darkness will hear the good news. He uses people like you and me. Amazingly God wants to be glorified through us. Stop and think about that today and praise God for His lovingkindness that He chose you for His work. It is called evangelism.
What work are you doing today that will glorify Him?
Lev 26 God desires that His people to be light among the nations. He desires that we obey Him and receive blessings but just like an errant child who has been warned, God will bring about cursings to correct His children. “Be sure your sins will find you out.” [Num 32:23] This is as true today as it was then: “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” [Prov 22:15] Like the Israelites of old, today we too face fallow land and fallow hearts.
We foolishly say this was OT; not for us who live under grace and in the NT. A principle is a principle, and God is God. He is “does not go back on his word or change his mind, for he is not a human being who changes his mind.” [1Sam 15:29] God desires that we obey Him now and forever so that He may bless us. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” [1Jn 1:9] Then He will return and heal our land and our people.
Lev 25 Growing up, I often heard my grandfather say those three words as if they were written in the Holy Grail. My father was not a farmer, nor would he ever be. He was a craftsman with his hands but not in the sense of fixing tractors and sowing seed. Nevertheless, being that submissive son, he listened and purchased land. He did the right thing to lease the land to those who knew how to farm over my grandfather’s objections. The Israelites knew about land and how to care for it, and how to grow crops. Just like God gave the Sabbath for man to rest, the land needed its rest as well. Even today, farmers know that principle. He who yields to that and reaps crops that are strong but he who does not reaps little or even poor crops. It is the principle of sowing and reaping.
This entire chapter shows us God’s principle of “You shall keep the Sabbath to keep it holy.” [Ex. 20:8] God set aside the seventh day as a day of rest in which we are to do no work. The US used to have the “blue laws,” and all businesses were closed on Sunday as a day of rest. But, men do not listen, and men do not heed those principles. Instead, we now have a seven-day workweek, and men are weary. Could it be if we abided by these principles that we would find rest for our weary souls and our sowing and reaping would bear fruit abundantly? God is testing us to see if we will observe His ways and trust Him for His provision for our every need.
Lev 24 Today in our secular world, we find that men “yawn” at the Ten Commandments, but this chapter proves that God takes any violation seriously. When a young man loses his temper in a fight he utters a curse taking the Lord’s name in vain. Others hear of it, resulting in him being isolated and in custody. In today’s world, we hear God’s name taken in vain but more often than not men sigh or yawn and go on their way. Our ears have become less inclined to understand the gravity of this sin but God sees this as a travesty against His character for He is a jealous God and will not share his glory with another.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.” [Exodus 20:7]
Moses seeks God and His counsel and He gave Moses this instruction. The people who heard this are to place their hands on his head, and then he is to be stoned. We see this as harsh, but God sees it as a lesson to remember what He said: “I AM the Lord.”
Where are we disobeying this commandment? Where are we careless by our word choices? Where are we failing to correct those who disobey it out of ignorance or choice? The commandment is clear; revere God and His Name.
Leviticus 21 What does it mean to be holy in an unholy world? It means that we stand apart from that which is profane. It means that we see ourselves as saved by His grace and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. It means we are to ask ourselves if we are partnering with those who do not believe. It means we are to come out from among them and be pure, which seems like a strict order as we move and live in a godless society, but so did Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Esther, Ruth, and Jesus.
So back to our question: what does it mean to be holy? It means that we are to remember that we are part of the priesthood of believers only because of the gift of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It means what God gave Aaron and the High Priest as a standard applies to us in our present age. We do it when we present Christ as His ambassadors and implore them to be reconciled to God in the same way we were. It means that we mirror Christ in our walk and talk, and we can only do that when we know God. We know His character, His motives for our holiness, His standards of purity and righteousness.
God has said over and over: you should be holy because I am holy. You are my people, and thus you stand before an unholy world. The question before us is; are we a holy separated people? Only through Jesus can we have the missing puzzle pieces of purity, righteousness, and honor.