Category: Numbers-BibleTrekToday

Trek through Numbers

Eyes gouged out?

Scripture reading for March 12: Judges 13-16

The story of Samson is a mix of the supernatural power and anointing of God and the lowest of our carnal nature.  Samson was born by supernatural intervention to a couple who was childless.  His parents carefully listened to the instructions of an angel and raised this boy as a Nazarite, one set apart to God.  (Numbers 6:1-21) God’s Spirit began to stir Samson early in his life.  God was going to use him to deliver the Israelites from forty years of bondage to the Philistines.  This bondage was a result of Israel breaking her covenant relationship with God through idolatry and immorality. (Judges 13:1)

As Samson grew, he was attracted to a Philistine woman in the town of Timnah.  He asked his parents to get her for him.  The Bible states that this was from the Lord, although his parents did not understand and sought to direct him to get a bride from his own people. (Judges 14:3-4)   This is difficult to understand because God specifically warns us not to intermarry with those outside the faith. (2 Corinthians 6:14) In this instance, God used Samson’s carnal tendencies to accomplish His purposes in defeating the enemies of His people.  It is not meant to be an example to follow!

Samson’s marriage to this woman never happened.  She was given to one of his friends in the bridal company!  His anger and impulsiveness moved him to get even.  God used this, but how much better to follow the Lord by prayer and listening to His instructions!  Samson impulsively ate honey out of a lion’s carcass, a violation of the Nazarite vow.  I believe this was a metaphor of his attraction to prostitutes and carnal women.  How like Israel was Sampson in his unfaithfulness to covenant and God’s Word! Through yielding to temptation, he had his eyes gouged out!  

Samson was in captivity, both of his eyes gouged out and mocked at a gathering of Philistine officials.  Sampson regained his spiritual sight and his first recorded prayer asks for God’s help. “O Sovereign Lord, remember me.  O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” (Judges 16:28) God faithfully answered the cry of this man and used him to do His will. Even though sin had blinded him physically, God restored his life-purpose and answered!

Why did Samson, under a Nazarite vow, desire to have a pagan for his wife? Why did God tell the Israelites (and believers) not to marry unbelievers? What do we learn about God’s grace through Sampson?

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Confess your confidence!

Scripture reading for March 5: Joshua 13-17

Some people are positive and exude strength and courage!  God commanded Joshua and the nation of Israel to be strong and courageous! (Joshua 1:8)  When we choose to believe God’s Word and act on it, our lives change from sight-driven to faith-driven.  Caleb’s destiny changed from “dying in the desert” to “possessing the promised land”!  Faith pleases God and our hearts burn with His Word as Truth.

Caleb and Joshua were the men over 20 years old of 603,550 Israelite males that left Mt. Sinai for the promised land forty years before. (Numbers 1:46)  They were two of the twelve spies and the only ones to bring back a good report!  God rewarded them by sparing their lives and allowing them to have what they proclaimed in faith!  (Numbers 14:24) Caleb’s inheritance included the fortress at Hebron where the Anakites lived. (Joshua 14:15)   They were large people and renowned fighters.  This made no difference to Caleb who was still confident in God’s ability to give him the land promised to him! (Joshua 14:12) 

Caleb is one of my favorite people in the Bible.  He exudes confidence!  He maintains an attitude of faith and confidence even in his older years.  At 85 we find him strong and vigorous and ready for battle!  He isn’t in retirement or sitting out life in a rocking chair.  He understands what belongs to him, and is ready to take it and possess it!  He is praising God and making the good confession! 

What obstacle do you face today?  What excuses have you been making for not attacking it?  In what way might God change your destiny if you would trust Him and act by faith? Confess your confidence today!

“Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for  forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert.  So here I am today, 85 years old!  I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day! You yourself heard that the Anakites were there and that their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as He said!” (Joshua 14:10-12)

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Sunday rest and reflection

Greetings in Jesus’ Name!

The story of Balaam, a prophet who was hired by Balak, King of the Moabites is my reflection today.  Balak was afraid of the Israelites and had heard the reports of how they had completely destroyed Sihon and Og, two other kings that opposed them.  God had given them this victory.  Balak sent a delegation to hire Balaam to come and curse the Israelites.  Balaam, to his credit, sought God as to what he should do.  God told him not to go and not to curse Israel. (Numbers 22:12)

A short time later, Balak sent more distinguished men and more money to try and entice Balaam to come and curse the Israelites.  Balaam was tempted and, not satisfied with God’s first instructions, he sought a second opinion.  Money and men have a way of clouding God’s instructions.  This time God told him to go, but do only what He instructed him.  This led to the incident where Balaam’s donkey talked to him and warned him about the Angel of the Lord who was waiting on the way to kill him!  God’s mercy and justice are evident here in this tension.

Balaam goes to curse the Israelites and as he stands to act, a spirit of true prophesy comes on him.  Each time, he blesses God’s people instead.  These blessings speak of Jesus Christ and God’s desire to bless his people.  Numbers 23:6-10 records the first blessing and verses 18-24 the second blessing.  God has blessed his people, who can curse them?  (Numbers 23:20,23)

The tragedy of Balaam is what he did later.  In spite of God’s desire to bless, he figured out a way to help out Balak.  He told them to send in the women and seduce the Israelites and get them into idolatry, bringing a curse on themselves.  In Revelation 2:12-14 Jesus Christ used this incident to warn the New Testament church against bringing a curse on themselves.  God desires to bless and has blessed His people with everything needed for life and godliness through Jesus Christ!  We must be watchful against Satan’s attempt to seduce us.

In His Love,  Pastor John

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Questions for the next generation

Scripture Reading for February 21: Deuteronomy 1-4

The name “Deuteronomy” literally means “second law”.  Deuteronomy is quoted directly in seventeen of the twenty seven New Testament books and alluded to nearly eighty more times.  This book is a record of the last four sermons given by Moses to the congregation of Israel.  It records lessons he learned and that God wanted to pass on to the next generation who would possess the promised land.

Moses had led the nation for forty long years around the wilderness.  A journey that should have taken less than two weeks stretched out because of grumbling, complaining, doubt and unbelief.  (Deuteronomy 1:26-27) Moses, himself, did not get to enter the promised land due to his dishonoring of God at Kadesh. (Numbers 20:8-12)  In explaining the forty years of wandering, Moses appeared to blame the Israelites for his own sin. (Deuteronomy 1:37)  But God holds leaders to a higher standard because of the revelation and intimacy they share with Him. 

Moses also preached to this next generation to inspire faith in God.  His questions to them are typical of the rabbinical style of teaching.  “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?”  “And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?” (Deuteronomy 4:7-8) The obvious answer is “none!”  They were a special people marked by their Holy God traveling with them.  They must be careful to teach these truths to their children and grandchildren!

What lessons do you find helpful for you today from these ancient sermons of Moses? Is history helpful to us today? Choose a family member from the ‘next’ generation to pray for and possibly share your faith or life lessons with in this coming week. Consider some questions you might ask them.

“Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth below.  There is no other.  Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.” Deuteronomy 4:39-40

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Our God provides everything!

Scripture reading for February 20: Numbers 34-36

The God we serve knows everything!  God told Moses about the boundaries of the land He was giving them and how to divide it when they took possession of it.  (Numbers 34:2) They had yet to own any of it.  They were to cast lots for their portion in the land.  “The lot is cast into the lap, but it’s every decision is from the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:33)

As the Israelites entered the land and took possession of it, God had Moses appoint a leader from each tribe to oversee the assignment of the inheritance.  The only name that stands out in this list is Caleb.  He and Joshua were the only ones left from the generation twenty years old and older who had not perished in the wilderness on the way to the promised land. These two are examples of  the veracity of God’s promises.  “God is not a man that He should lie.” (Numbers 23:19) God alone knows the end from the beginning and He speaks to His people to build their faith, inspiring them to possess their inheritance.

In these last chapters of Numbers, we find provision for cities of refuge.  God knew that His people would need mercy.  Emotions get out of control and things happen.  Revenge instincts are strong and sometimes violence  that causes death erupts.  The cities of refuge were scattered throughout the land and provided a place where someone who had killed another could flee from the avenger of blood.  (Numbers 35:6)  These cities were Levite cities.  The Levites had no inheritance but were given cities and pastureland throughout the promised land to use and to minister to the people.  Six of these forty eight towns were cities of refuge. They were to mediate the serious situations when someone came for refuge.

Our God does know everything and has good plans for us.  He wants us to know those plans and walk by faith and claim our inheritance!  He has provided a refuge for any who sin through Jesus Christ!  Take time today to ponder some of these promises and by faith possess those that you need today!  Our God is on your side!

“What, then, shall we say in response to this?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32

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Just short of your full inheritance!

Scripture Reading for February 19: Numbers 31-33

As our last two adopted children were growing up, I had them write scriptures as a discipline for doing wrong.  This helped them in several ways.  They needed to learn to write English and they needed to learn the Word of God and build their faith.  After writing the verse, I would ask them to explain what it meant to them. Some of the things they did were normal childish things, but some were willful. They obeyed to a point, but always looked for a way to get around true obedience.  One of the scriptures that we used was this simple warning found in Numbers 32:23: “you can be sure your sin will find you out.They wrote this verse dozens of times!

The context for this verse was a warning given by Moses to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh.  These tribes petitioned Moses to be able to stay on the east side of the Jordan River and not enter the promised land with the rest of the tribes.  They were lured by the lush pastures and the potential to make money with their large flocks and herds of sheep and cattle.  They were going to have a great life without their rightful inheritance promised by God.  They were satisfied with what they could see–why take a chance on what they might get?  They promised to fight and help their brothers take their inheritance, however.  So Moses warned them against failing to fulfill their promise to fight. It would be a sin that would find them out!

There are lots of people today like these tribes of Israel.  They experience the blessings of God’s deliverance from sin and see the miraculous daily supply of God.  They agree that a full inheritance is fine for others, but they are satisfied with what they can have right now.  They want the easy life and are not sure that what God promises is worth the chance or the effort.  They choose to go part way with God’s people, but they fall short of their full inheritance!

These tribes were later unfaithful to God and prostituted themselves to other gods.  God gave them over to their enemies and they went into captivity!  Don’t let this happen to you!  Take time today to be honest with God! Ask Him to help you to be faithful to keep His promises and take your full inheritance.

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A godly woman named Hoglah!

Scripture reading for February 17: Numbers 26-30

My wife and I raised lots of hogs in our early years!  As we considered names for our daughter, I would teasingly submit the Biblical name of Hoglah. Somehow, my wife never thought that was funny!  But in Scripture, Hoglah was a daughter to be proud of!  She was a pioneer in the “women’s rights” movement, and a godly woman who wanted her share of a family inheritance. She worked this out in a godly way.

In Numbers 27 we have a record of five daughters of a man by the name of Zelophehad.  This man had died during the march through the desert.  His daughters went before the Tent of Meeting and petitioned Moses for an unusual request.  They wanted to be allowed to inherit the property of their father.  One of their talking points was that their Dad had not been a part of Korah’s rebellion.  He had simply died as a result of his own sins. (Numbers 27:2-3) Up to that time, no ruling had been made and it was tradition that the sons got the inheritance.  These godly daughters felt that was unfair!  They wanted equal rights to an inheritance in the promised land!  (Numbers 27:4-5)  God agreed!

This was a breakthrough for women’s rights and spiritual equality that God has established!  Roles for men and women are defined by God and we must accept those roles.  But some things are open for negotiation.  These women teach us some important lessons.  We must all appeal to the Lord and to His established leadership when we need answers.  We should abide by the decision of leadership.  Some problems in the community of believers must be worked out through prayer and interaction.  God will help us through godly leaders and godly appeal for what is righteous.

Their story continued at the end of Numbers, where another question arose concerning their inheritance of property.  What if they married outside of their family?  Would that land transfer out of the tribe?  God’s answer was that they must marry within their clan to keep the property!  These godly women responded in obedience and married their cousins. They kept their inheritance!  (Numbers 36:1-12)

Have you had disputes about inheritances? What principles of working out problems within the family or church do you want God to help you with?

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Ancient snake-bite remedy!

Scripture Reading for February 16: Numbers 21-25

As they were guided by God through the desert wilderness, the Israelites were doing what they did best–grumbling!  As they grumbled against Moses and God, God sent poisonous snakes which bit the complainers and caused death.   (Numbers 21:5) The Israelites asked Moses to pray for them and confessed their sin. (Numbers 21:7)  God answered Moses as he prayed with some strange instructions. He was to make a bronze serpent and place it on a pole in the camp.  Anyone who was bitten by the poisonous serpent could look at the bronze snake on the pole and he would be healed! (Numbers 21:8-9)

What can we learn from this ancient story?  One lesson is that sin causes death!  God has repeated this over and over but His people seem to forget!  Another lesson is that grumbling against leadership isn’t pleasing to God.  When we do, we are actually grumbling against God.  A third lesson is that when sin’s consequences come, we run to our leaders for help and prayer–and God does answer.  We then must have faith to do what God asks in order to be saved or healed!  True faith is obedience to God’s revealed truth.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus referred to this story.  The snake that was lifted on the pole is a picture of Jesus Christ crucified.  He was made sin, Who knew no sin, that we might be healed from the serpent’s poisonous bite.  If we will look with faith to Jesus and His finished work on the cross, we will be saved and healed!  God loves His people and wants to save them from the poison of sin’s bite and the consequence of sin–eternal death! (John 3:14-18)  If we refuse the remedy provided by God, then we will die!  This ancient snake-bite remedy turns out to be the only remedy for all mankind!

Have you been obedient to God’s Word in dealing with sin in your own life? Was there a time in your life when you asked another believer or Christian leader to pray for you?  Thank God today for providing His “snake-bite” remedy through His Son, Jesus Christ.

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A negative translation!

Scripture Reading for February 15: Numbers 17-20

God’s wrath against rebellion is recorded for us.  The earth actually opened up and swallowed Korah, a son of Levi and other leaders of Israel. (Numbers 16:31-34)  The Israelites heard their screams as they fell to their deaths. It’s so easy for people to criticize leadership.  Each person thinks they see a different or better way to do things.  And each leader has his own faults as well for none are perfect!  God chooses leaders and places them in authority.  When we rebel or criticize leadership, we are rebelling and criticizing God and He is not pleased with grumbling and rebellion!

In Numbers 17, we have a record of God’s mercy towards the people of Israel.  He had the leaders of each tribe bring their staffs and lay them before the Lord in the Tent of Meeting.  The next morning, Aaron’s staff had budded, blossomed, and produced ripe almonds! (Numbers 17:8)  The other staffs were still dry sticks of wood!  God had demonstrated his choice of authority!  Only Aaron and his sons would be High Priests!  Moses was to take this rod and place it in the Tabernacle of Testimony as a reminder of God’s chosen authority.

This incident is a picture of Jesus Christ as God’s chosen authority!  He meekly and obediently followed God’s instructions as he lived and walked on earth. He lived a sinless life and was crucified and laid in a tomb.  All religious Jews had criticized His leadership and servant ministry.  But God raised Him from the dead!  He produces fruit in raising to eternal life all who put their trust in Him.  He is presently God’s “rod of authority” seated at God’s right hand.  He is our High Priest forever!  He ever lives to make intercession for us!  What a pleasure to trust God’s authority!  All those who won’t trust will end up like Korah!  The earth will open up and Sheol will swallow them with weeping, crying and gnashing of teeth!

Take some time today and pray for those in authority over you. Give them a call or drop them a note and let them know that you appreciate them. Practice giving honor to God’s chosen authority! “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” 1st Peter 2:17)

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Flying by instrument!

Scripture reading for February 14: Numbers 13-16

Walking by faith is not always easy to learn.  We are prone to be strongly influenced by what we see, our feelings, and what our past experiences have conditioned us to believe.  In my younger days, I wanted to learn to fly an airplane.  Several of my friends and I got together and bought a Cessna 172 with instrument rating.  I wanted to learn to fly by instruments so that weather and clouds would not cause me to crash.  To help me learn to trust the instruments, my flight instructor would put a hood over my head so I could only see the instrument panel.  When we would turn, or go up or down, I would watch the instruments to learn where the wings were.  My mind, however, would often play tricks on me.  I felt like we were flying sideways or going up or down, when the instruments said we were flying level.  Senses can lead us astray in flying and in life!

The twelve Israelite spies were sent into the promised land.  They were told to determine what the land was like and what the inhabitants of that land were like.  God had already told them that the land was flowing with milk and honey.  He had already told them that He would take care of the inhabitants.  God was to them like the instruments in the plane.  If they had kept their focus on what God had said, they would not have veered off course!  Joshua and Caleb were the only spies to stay focused!  They pleaded with the others to get ready to go on in and possess the land that God had promised them.  (Numbers 13:30-33)  Ten spies got their eyes on the difficulties and began to spread fear, doubt and unbelief! 

The whole community began to complain and grumble against Moses and the Lord.  They even talked of stoning Moses, when the glory of the Lord appeared at the Tent of Meeting.  God viewed their grumbling and rebellion against Moses as against Him!  (Numbers 14:11, 27)  God’s judgment on them was to give them what they had feared–the whole generation 20 years and older died in the desert because of their grumbling and unbelief! They all would wander in the wilderness for 40 years as punishment for their rebellion!  (Numbers 14:29-35) 

Do you remember a time when your feelings or a ‘bad’ report caused you to live in fear? How does God’s punishment of Israel fit their sin of unbelief?

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