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Restarting Church Services – 1 Peter

Notes for Pastor Greenfield’s lesson from 1 Peter and plans for restarting services are available here.

Numbers 27 – God’s Provisions for Inheritance and Leadership Succession

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

Five daughters from the tribe of Manasseh went through the proper channels to ensure they would retain inheritance rights. Their father had no sons, only daughters, and inheritances passed from father to firstborn son, thus their concern. The Lord told Moses inheritances in such cases would pass to a daughter. The Lord also detailed how other similar situations would be dealt with.

The Lord reminded Moses of his eventual death because of his rebellion at Meribah. Moses asked the Lord to appoint another man to lead Israel in his place so the people would have proper guidance and direction. The Lord answered his request, appointing Joshua, a born-again Israelite. At a public ceremony Moses officially appointed Joshua as his successor. However, Joshua was unlike Moses, who communed directly with God. Consequently, Joshua would instead learn God’s direction for Israel through the high priest.

Note:

  1. God provides direction for the fulfillment of his promises to Israel. Zelophehad’s daughters understood that inheritance rights passed from fathers to firstborn sons. Such inheritances included privileges of prominence in the family clan and land ownership. While this may seem insignificant to us, this was essential to the Abrahamic covenant which the theocratic nation expressed and worked out. Thus what ultimately was at stake was the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel.
  2. God’s people can and must go to the Lord for direction and guidance. God’s revealed will through his Word has always been the source of his direction and guidance, and prayer is the means for receiving it.
  3. Neither sin nor death prevent the fulfillment of God’s promises.
  4. God provides needed godly leadership for his people. We must ask God to provide godly leaders through prayer (Matt 9:38), for he gives such good gifts to his people (Eph 4:7-11).
  5. Godly leaders learn God’s will and obey it (ex. 1 Sam 23:9; 30:7). They don’t adapt it to the times and circumstances, for godly leaders know they serve but the Lord and Creator of time and all creation.
  6. Godly leaders must know the Lord. Without the Spirit the things of the Lord will not be received or welcomed (1 Cor 2:13-16).

Numbers 26

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness had ended and they were on the Jordan’s east side preparing to cross, conquer, and settle Canaan. Thus, the Lord ordered a census of every male 20 years and older.

While similar to the first census taken at the foot of Mount Sinai (Num 1) there were yet differences. The most notable difference was among this second numbering, “there was not a man” alive from the first numbering at Sinai (except Joshua and Caleb), just as God had said.

Another difference between the two groups was to only the second would the land be divided as an inheritance (vv. 53ff).

Amazingly the total number had essentially remained the same, only 1,820 less.

This “wilderness generation” had seen and heard much, from the rebellion and death of their fellow Israelites to God’s continual presence in the pillar of cloud and fire, as well as his daily provision of food and water. Even on their own persons their clothes and sandals did not wear out (Deut 8:4; 29:5-6; Neh 9:21).

God not only kept his promise that none of the first generation would enter Canaan (14:26-35), he kept his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that he would make them a great nation (Gen 12:1-3; 26:4; 28:13-14). He kept his promise to Moses at the burning bush that he would bring them out of Egypt to Canaan, “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exod 3:16-17).

Note:

  1. God always fulfills his promises. Never doubt him, no matter how bleak things look, for God ordains such to be glorified much.
  2. Rebels don’t receive God’s promises. Unbelief, complaining, gratifying the flesh, rebellion, and testing God always result in death (Rom 6:23; 1 Cor 10:1-13).
  3. God’s protection, guidance, and provision are never earned but are graciously given.
  4. My lack of faith and disobedience not only can affect me, it can affect those coming after me. The second generation should have grown up in Canaan, building on what they should have received. But because of their fathers’ rebellion the second generation had to wait in the wilderness and war in Canaan.

Numbers 25

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

Another sad instance of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God that would haunt them for years (Josh 22:13, 17) and serve as a continual reminder of apostasy (Psa 106:28; Hos 9:10).

While Balaam was unsuccessful in issuing a curse on Israel from Peor (23:28), he did succeed in causing great trouble. Balaam counseled Balak to befriend Israelites, invite them to their pagan festivals, and give opportunities for Israelites to follow and gratify their natural sinful passions and desires (31:16; Rev 2:14).

Thus Israel disobeyed God’s covenant commands against sexual immorality, intermarriage with pagans, and the idolatry that went along with such (Exod 20:5; 34:14-16; Lev 18:24-29).

God’s anger was manifested by the execution of the offenders and a plague killing 24,000, but sadly even during this “in the sight of Moses and all Israel” the son of a prominent Israelite introduced a Midianite woman to his family and took her into his tent. However Phineas, son of Eleazar the high priest, was zealous for the Lord’s honor and executed them both, and the plague stopped.

Note:

  1. Compromise and failure in personal and formal religious separation often go hand in hand. Such corrupt the church (1 Cor 10:20; Rev 2:14). God’s ordained protection is simple faith in and obedience to his commands.
  2. Living for immediate gratification has long-term and even eternal consequences. Years later this same Phineas testified of the continuing effect of this circumstance in Israel (Josh 22:13, 17).
  3. Beware the seducing schemes of God’s enemies (v. 18). Such seem pleasant and enjoyable but they harass, damage, and damn souls. They are sinister (Psa 26:10), wicked and evil (Psa 37:17; Prov 24:8; Isa 32:7), destroy life (Psa 31:13), and are shrewd plots of iniquity from the depths of depraved hearts (Psa 64:6), but the righteous are not ignorant of them (2 Cor 2:11).
  4. Zealous faithfulness to and for the Lord is always needed. Doing what is right even though potentially difficult and unpleasant glorifies the Lord, protects his people, and is blessed by God.
  5. Peor was the last place Balak brought Balaam to curse Israel (23:27-28). Satan has many schemes he launches from the same place; he never stops his attacks.

Numbers 24

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

Balak again believed the Lord would be influenced and changed by moving to a different of location.

Through Balaam God said:

  1. Israel is beautiful and abundant, 5-7a
  2. Israel’s King and kingdom will be greater than any other, 7b
  3. Israel will destroy the nations who are their enemies, 8-9a
  4. Israel’s success lies with their God who promised such to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, 9b
  5. Israel’s glorious future King (“Star…Scepter”) will utterly destroy their enemies gathered against them, 15-24

Note:

  1. God is neither fickle nor faithless; he is immutable, true, and faithful.
  2. Israel’s prospects and greatness are entirely due to the Lord.
  3. No nation, no matter how great, powerful, and conniving, can stand against the Lord and his people Israel.
  4. God is praised through the mouths of his very enemies, and he even raises them up to show the greatness of his power by destroying them (Psa 76:10; Rom 9:17).

Lord’s Day Service, May 17, 2020

Today’s message from Romans 16:1-2 can be viewed on our YouTube page or listened to and downloaded in mp3 format. Please contact us if you have questions or something we can pray for!

A basic outline of the message can be downloaded here.

Information about giving offerings is here.

Numbers 23

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

23:1-12. Balak viewed Israel as any other people, susceptible to the curses of a prophet for hire. He viewed his gods (Molech and Baal) as being stronger than Israel’s God and doing them real harm.

  1. Satan and demons are behind and work through every false religion, 1 Cor 10:20; 2 Cor 11:14-15; Rev 9:28; 16:14; 1 Tim 4:1;
  2. The enemies of the Lord seek the destruction of all that relate to him.
  3. We should not consider Balaam a true prophet just because he spoke some truth. His donkey spoke some truth (22:28ff); unbelieving Caiaphas, high priest during Jesus ministry, spoke truth (John 11:49-52).
  4. The filthiness of the channel does not nullify the truthfulness of the message. This does not justify sin, but rather demonstrates the omnipotent sovereignty of God.
  5. God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants are the foundation of God’s message through Balaam, v. 8
  6. Israel’s separateness from all the nations is because the Lord was their God and was with them, v. 9; Exod 3:16 34:10
  7. It is impossible to effectively curse Israel, for God has promised to bless, not curse them.

23:13-26. Balak thought a change of external circumstances would enable Balaam to curse God.

  1. What God says is true and unchangeable, regardless where the attack originates. Thus upon his Word his saints have confidence and trust, and his enemies are foiled and frustrated.
  2. Israel’s character is wrapped up in the Lord who is with them.
  3. Israel is assured conquest and victory over every enemy. God’s power is so great no sorcery or divination against them is effective.

While the attention of the Balaam prophecies is almost always on him, it should be on God versus Israel’s enemies (Moab, in this case).

From the beginning until the end God’s Word is true and will be accomplished, Num 23:8; Isa 55:11.

Numbers 22

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

After their victory over Og, Israel moved back south to the northern side of the Dead Sea, on the east side of the Jordan, just outside of Moab.

Moab’s King, Balak, was fearful of Israel because of how easily and mercilessly they wiped out those who had previously defeated Moab (21:26). Recognizing their military inferiority Balak sent royal representatives to the Euphrates region where the famed Balaam lived. Balak’s desire was for Balaam to curse God’s people (cf. Gen 12:3). God refused to give Balaam such permission, and so the princes returned.

Balak sent an even more impressive retinue, promising great honor to Balaam and essentially giving him a blank check. This time God permitted Balaam to go speak only what God said. Balaam, however, was controlled by personal greed (cf. v. 32; 2 Pet 2:15). Consequently God met him on the way, reiterating the necessity of speaking only his word (the famous event of Balaam’s speaking donkey).

Upon arriving in Moab Balak led the men in idol worship and then to see Israel’s encampment.

Note:

  1. Balaam was not a true prophet of the Lord. God said Balaam’s character was perverse (v. 43) and no true prophet would participate in idol worship (vv. 40-41; also 31:8, 16; Josh 13:22; 2 Pet 2:15; Jude 4, 11; Rev 2:14–15).
  2. Though God’s people may be ignorant of Satan’s efforts, their sovereign God knows and protects them.
  3. Scripture records false prophets’ efforts so that God’s people are warned of their character and practices.
  4. Men may scheme, plan, and deceive one another but God knows the heart.
  5. Those in power and authority are often controlled by their pride in position.

Numbers 21

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

Israel began its trip to Canaan from Kadesh. A raiding party from the Canaanite king of Arad took some prisoners. Israel vowed to God to annihilate them if God would deliver the prisoners, which occurred.

The trip around Edom was long and arduous, and people became discouraged. As is fallen human nature, they were discontent with God’s provisions and accused God and Moses of wrongdoing. Consequently, God judged them with death by the bites of fiery serpents (the idea of “fiery” is poisonous, venomous). Israel sought God for mercy, so the Lord instructed Moses to make an image of a serpent and lift it on a pole. Whoever was bitten would be cured by trusting the Lord’s Word and looking at the serpent.

As Israel traveled around Edom the Lord provided water from the well at Beer.

Coming up on the east side of the Dead Sea they came to the northern border of Moab and asked permission from that region’s king, Sihon, to pass through. Sihon was a powerful King, having conquered the Moabites (vv. 26-29). He refused Israel’s request and attacked them, no doubt viewing them as easy prey. God, however, enabled Israel to destroy Sihon’s forces (“laid waste,” v. 30) and Israel took possession of the capital city of hashem.

This event was repeated as Israel went north into the territory of Og. Deuteronomy 3:3-5 relates that Og’s kingdom consisted of 60 well fortified and defended cities, yet they were entirely wiped out by Israel.

  1. Sin controlled, unbelieving hearts respond to difficulties with discouragement, manifested by discontent with God’s provisions, even defaming God himself. The end of such disbelief in and defamation of God is death.
  2. Stricken Israelites were not saved by the bronze serpent, nor by believing in the bronze serpent, but by faith that God would heal them. Similarly, sinners are saved by looking to—believing in—Christ crucified (John 3:14-15). In contrast to the bronze serpent event, however, sinners must believe in Christ crucified.
  3. The cause of the Lord is never thwarted by unbelievers, but he will not bear with unbelief. “God is not restrained to save by many or by few,” (1 Sam 14:6).

Patience, Part 2

Tonight’s second message on Patience is available here!

Numbers 20

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

This begins at the first month of Israel’s 40th year of wilderness wandering (cf. 33:36-38). Israel arrived at Kadesh, where 40 years earlier upon the 10 spies’ bad report Israel disbelieved God and refused to enter Canaan. That generation was thus condemned to die in the wilderness.

Upon arriving at Kadesh they were without water. Sadly, after 40 years of discipline Israel’s discontent and complaining ways remained the same. They blamed Moses and Aaron, doubted God’s ways, and didn’t believe his promises. They judged and evaluated God’s ways by their present circumstances.

Moses and Aaron went to the tabernacle and brought the matter before the Lord. God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would come out of it. However Moses angrily hit the rock twice with his rod, yet water came out. God thus forbade Moses and Aaron from entering the promised land because of their unbelieving, public disobedience (cf
Psa 106:32-33).

As Israel approached Canaan they asked permission of Edom to pass through their land but were denied. This required Israel to travel around Edom to enter Canaan.

Four months after Miriam’s death (33:38) God had Moses take Aaron up to Mount Hor, along with Aaron’s son Eleazar. There Aaron’s position and responsibility as high priest were transferred to Eleazar, and Aaron died because of his rebellion against the Lord at Meribah.

By the end of the year, just seven to eight months later, Israel would arrive at the Jordan, Moses would go up on Mount Nebo and see the promised land, and would then die there.

Note:

  1. Discipline requires faith for it to be profitable. Israel had 40 years of both the Lord’s supernatural presence and provision, yet because of their unbelief they were still the same.
  2. God will be hallowed, regardless whether it was unbelieving Israel or her leaders, Moses and Aaron. Our tendency is to acquit Moses and Aaron, sympathizing with them having to endure 40 years of Israel’s complaints, but such never excuses publicly dishonoring a holy God, the Savior and King of Israel.
  3. Leaders bear greater responsibility and judgment (Jas 3:1).
  4. A rash impulse can affect a lifetime of faithful labor. Scripture commends Moses’s faithfulness and lists him as Israel’s greatest prophet, but it also records his failure and disappointment. Great prospects, position, and advantages still require faithfulness and obedience.
  5. Disobedience is unbelief and dishonors God. The more public the disobedience, the more publicly God is dishonored.

Numbers 19

Some thoughts for meditation following our daily devotional Scripture reading that is provided each week.

At the center of Israel’s life was the Lord, and this was so in their very living conditions while and camped and traveling in the wilderness, for the Lord’s tabernacle was always in the middle. Between that and Israel were the Levites (1:53; 2:17). Indeed, another name for tabernacle used here and elsewhere in Scripture is sanctuary, a holy place. Thus God’s absolute holiness was always evident among them.

In the course of events people would die, especially during the 40 years in wilderness. Whoever was around the person at death and whoever took care of the dead body became “unclean.” Everyone who had contact with the dead body was unclean for a week.

We tend to equate “unclean” with sin such as cursing God’s name, lying, etc. But the assessment of “unclean” applied to many things such as eating certain animals (Lev 11) and even childbirth (Lev 12). It is better to see this as emphasizing God’s holiness in every aspect of life (cf. Lev 11:44-47). So, as Israel lived these decades in the wilderness with the Lord’s presence in their very midst via the sanctuary and the effects of sin regularly evident with continual death, God’s holiness in the theocratic nation had to be maintained in every situation of life, even death.

God’s provision for cleansing defilement associated with death was through the ordinance of the red heifer. A perfect red heifer would be entirely burned outside the camp. Its ashes would be collected. Whenever a death occurred the heifer’s ashes would be mixed with water. A clean person would take a hyssop branch, dip it in the mixture, and sprinkle anything and anyone that had contact with a dead body twice during that week.

Note:

  1. The central focus of Numbers 19 is not the red heifer, but the sanctuary of the Lord, the very presence and holiness of God.
  2. A holy God demands a holy people. Every aspect of Israel’s life was to be characterized by holiness, from the cradle to the grave, because Israel’s God was holy and dwelt among them.
  3. Only God can define what is unclean and how to become clean. Defilement always comes from sinners and can only be dealt with by God. Israel’s only provision for uncleanness and sin before a holy God was from a holy God. The unclean could not make themselves clean (cf. Isa 64:6).
  4. Rejecting God’s gracious provision results in death. Those who remain in and refuse to partake of God’s provision for defilement receive God’s judgment of death.
  5. Neither church buildings nor any part of them should be called sanctuaries. There was only one sanctuary, the tabernacle/temple in OT theocratic Israel.
  6. The Holy Spirit indwells Christians thus demanding holiness of life. If you’re a Christian contact with a dead body or eating a hotdog does not render you unclean, but are you striving to be holy as the God who lives in you is holy? 1 Cor 6:18–20