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Numbers 30 – Making Commitments

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

In the course of life in the OT theocracy Israelites would make vows committing themselves, their home, animals, or property to the Lord. Sometimes such vows would involve sacrifices, fasting (cf. v. 13), or consecration of oneself for a time as a Nazirite (ch. 6).

Such vows were to the Lord and thus sacred (Lev 22:18-23, 31-33), whether made with careful forethought or rash impetuousness (Deut 23:21-23; Prov 20:25; Eccl 5:4). The Lord took one’s word as his bond and personal commitment. Truthfulness mattered, for they were not to lie (Exod 20:16), nor were they to glibly use the Lord’s name in a casual, apathetic manner in making vows (Exod 20:7).

Such vows would obviously affect and influence the home and household. God’s created order for the home established the husband as the head of the wife and fathers having authority over their young, unmarried children (vv. 3, 9, 16). When a woman “in her youth” (vv. 3, 16) or as a wife made any vow to the Lord, her father or husband had the authority to annul it because of the effect it would have on the household. He must do so “on the day he hears” such vows because vows were to be promptly carried out (Deut 23:21-23; Eccl 5:4). If, however, he said nothing, the vow would stand; his silence gave his consent.

One example of a wife making such a vow is Hannah (1 Sam 1:11).

Note:

  1. Truth matters. One should view every word spoken with utmost seriousness, not just sincere promises or the signing of formal documents (Matt 5:33-37). God takes every word seriously now and will judge such at the final judgment (Matt 12:36-37).
  2. Fathers and husbands are responsible for what happens in their homes. They must be involved in their families’ lives with loving interest and concern. Though largely rejected in today’s culture, fathers and husbands are still responsible to God for their wives and families. That has not changed, nor has their authority, which is rooted in God’s created order (Eph 5:23; 1 Tim 2:13).
  3. Similarly, Silence gives consent. This is a principle applicable to every strata of life: domestic, civil, and religious. Such silence of consent can be of great joyous and truly righteous circumstances such as Hannah’s vow to the Lord (1 Sam 1:11). The silence of consent can also be a grievous sin; Adam should have overruled Eve, but by his silence (Gen 3:6, “her husband with her”) he confirmed and consented to her decision, plunging their home and descendants into ruin.
  4. Women are not doormats. Far from it; the fact that they could make binding vows and that there was an age limitation of single women demonstrates this.

Numbers 29 – Holy Joy

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

The Lord instituted three annual feasts for the theocratic nation, which every male was required to attend (Exod 23:14-17). The first two, the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover) and the Feast of Harvest (Weeks) were addressed in Numbers 28:16-31, specifically focusing on the offerings. Numbers 29 focuses on events preceding and including the third feast, the feast of Tabernacles (Booths, Lev 23:33-44; Deut 16:13-17).

15 days before the week-long Feast of Tabernacles, on the first day of the 7th month trumpets were sounded, no work was done, and offerings were given, including those customary to the beginning of every month (cf. 28:11-13).

On the 10th day of that same month was the Day of Atonement, when the high priest would make his once a year entrance into the holy of holies and make atonement for Israel’s sins. That same day every Israelite, wherever they lived, would do no work but would humble themselves and seek the Lord, which probably included fasting (Isa 58:3, 5; Zech 2:5).

Finally, every Israelite man would then come to wherever the Tabernacle was for the week-long Feast of Tabernacles. They would live in booths to remember the time of sojourning after the Lord delivered them from Egypt (Lev 23:42-43). This feast was characterized by great rejoicing (Lev 23:40; Deut 16:14, 16) and worship through offerings as detailed here in Numbers 29:12-38.

  1. God intended that life in the Old Testament theocracy be worshipful and joyful. Too often it is viewed as dull ritual, and while that did occur such was the fault of sinful men, not the Lord’s righteous law. Faith and genuine sorrow for sin was required for the worship to be genuine (cf. Isa 1:12-15; 58:1-5).
  2. Again, in God’s nation he decreed how his people should live before and worship him. They were to order their lives by the laws and ordinances of the God who delivered, established, and dwelt among them.
  3. While God’s Law was perfect and good it did not enable the necessary faith and love for true obedience (Rom 7:7-8:7).
  4. Christians should neither subject themselves to these ordinances nor let others evaluate them spiritually by such (Col 2:16-23; Rom 7:4-6). The Law was for Israel, the OT theocratic nation, and was indivisible. The church is not Israel. This does not mean Christians are without law (“antinomian”). Quite the contrary, as participants in the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant they have the Law of Christ written on their hearts, which is far more comprehensive (Rom 6:14-15; 7:4; 8:2-4; 10:4; Gal 2:19; 3:1-4, 24; 5:18; 6:2; Heb 7:12, 18-19; 8:7-10, 13; 10:16).

Numbers 28 – Reviewing True Worship

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

As a new generation of Israelites anticipated entering the promised Land, the Lord through Moses reviewed the various offerings they were to bring in worship. God dwelt among them; he was the one who brought them up out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and into Canaan. By these offerings they would worship the Lord and know him (Exod 29:45-46).

Israel’s worship of the Lord through these sacrifices was to be characterized by faithful obedience. When their worship was evidenced by such faithful love, the Lord would be honored and pleased with their worship (“a sweet aroma”). Offerings for each day and Sabbath, at the beginning of the month, and during the three annual feasts were detailed.

It should be noted that these sacrificial offerings were not made by every Israelite, and not even every Levite. They were made only by the Aaronic priests, and only within the tabernacle. And yet Israelites’ tithes supported the Levites and the priests in their work, thereby participating in their priestly ministry.

During the three annual feasts at the least every male Israelite would be present, and none would do any “customary work.”

All this would be challenged in Canaan. Different gods were worshipped on every high place through pagan rituals of gross immorality. Israel’s faithful obedience to their God’s commands would glorify him and be the means of guarding their souls.

  1. “Regular” worship aims at pleasing the Lord, not gratifying the worshiper. The aim and purpose is pleasing the Lord. The Lord is pleased, not by merely doing the right things, but by believers’ right response to God’s truth (John 4:24).
  2. God’s truths must be repeatedly taught. Even though this was taught 40 years beforehand, the presence of a new generation required teaching it again. New generations do not know the ways of the Lord. People forget as life goes on. The presence of error easily contaminates.
  3. God is worthy of devoted worship. The believer responds to God’s salvation with glad obedience from a heart of love. He does not view the things of the Lord as a drudgery but as a joy.
  4. Believers in this dispensation must worship the Lord with faithful obedience according to his revealed truth. Christians’ sacrificial offerings in this day and age include their lives (Rom 12:1-2), financial gifts (2 Cor 8-9), devotion to good works (Heb 13:16), and worship with the church (Hev 13:15).

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).