Trek through Numbers
Scripture reading for February 16th: Numbers 34-36, Deuteronomy 1-2
Key Scriptures: Deuteronomy 1:29-32 “Then I (Moses) said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as He did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until your reached this place. In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God.”
In Deuteronomy, Moses is recounting the history of the Israelites deliverance from Egypt and God’s dealings with them in their unbelief. God had been patient with them, even though most rebelled. This had cost those 20 years old or more to die in the desert, except for Caleb and Joshua. God had led them through the desert experience and carried them to the door of their inheritance!
Rejoice in the victory of Jesus Christ: Jesus Christ, our ‘Joshua’, carries us into our ‘rest’ and promised inheritance! “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
Scripture reading for February 15th: Numbers 30-33
Key Scriptures: Numbers 33:50-53 “On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess.”
The Israelites were given specific instructions about possessing the land that God had promised them. They were to destroy all the idols and idolatrous places of worship and drive out the inhabitants completely. They must be separate and cleanse the land from all evil and wickedness lest they be ensnared by the idolatry and sensuality of the Canaanites.
Thanksgiving: We are thankful today that God is holy and calls His people to a holy and separated life that He might dwell in their presence and they might enjoy Him forever and ever! “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? . . .As God has said, “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.” (2 Corinthians 6:14, 16)
Scripture reading for February 14th: Numbers 25-29
Key Scriptures: Numbers 25:10-13 “The Lord said to Moses, “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the Priest, has turned My anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for My honor among them, so that in My zeal I did not put an end to them. Therefore tell him I am making My covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”
It has been said that zeal is love in action. Eleazar was zealous for God’s honor and thrust his spear into a sinning Israelite who was having idolatrous and immoral sexual relations with a woman not his wife. In doing so, God gave him a covenant of peace and exaltation to a lasting priesthood.
Joyful thanksgiving: Jesus Christ was zealous for God’s honor and took a spear for the sins and immorality of mankind! He received everlasting honor and an eternal Priesthood as reward! “But about the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness, therefore God, Your God, has set You above your companions by anointing You with the oil of joy.” (Hebrews 1:8-9)
Scripture reading for February 13th: Numbers 20-24
Key Scriptures: Numbers 21:7-9 “The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live. So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.”
Because of again complaining against the Lord and His leader Moses, poisonous snakes began biting the offenders and they were dying. The people asked for prayer and Moses asked God for healing. The remedy was found to be a bronze replica of a snake lifted up on a pole in the camp.
Joyful Thanksgiving: God provided a remedy for our fatal snake bite, coming through sin from Adam’s disobedience. Jesus was made sin and lifted up on a wooden cross and all who look to Him are healed! “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15)
Scripture reading for February 10th: Numbers 15-19
Key Scriptures: Numbers 16:46-48 “Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with fire from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.” So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.”
Once again the Israelites were in danger of death because of rebellion and speaking against God’s leadership. Moses and Aaron sought God’s mercy by falling on their faces. Then Moses instructed Aaron to intercede with incense and coals from the altar. When he obeyed, the plague of death was stopped! He literally stood between the living and the dead.
Thanksgiving: We are thankful for a High Priest who offered Himself for our sins and was nailed to a cross to stop the plague of sin that was sweeping us away! “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)
Scripture reading for February 9th: Numbers 11-14
Key Scriptures: Numbers 14:17-19 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generations.’ In accordance with Your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as You have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”
The Israelites were in rebellion against the Lord’s command to go in and take their promised land. Moses prayed after God spoke of destroying them and making another people through Moses. He prayed that the Lord’s ‘strength’ would be displayed! This ‘strength’ was forgiveness of sin and rebellion and continued patience with His people!
Overflowing Thanksgiving: Thank God for His Strength that makes sinners alive from death! “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved!” (Ephesians 2:5)
Scripture reading for February 8th: Numbers 6-10
Key Scriptures: Numbers 6:22-27 “The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “‘” The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” “So they will put My Name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.””
God gave specific instructions as to how Aaron, the appointed High Priest and his successors were to bless God’s people. They were to declare God’s blessing and protection over His people and declare His smiling face upon them and His grace and peace over them. This would mark God’s people with His Name!
Rejoice in God’s blessing: It will be the ultimate pleasure of all believers marked by God’s name through faith in Jesus Christ to see God’s face! “They will see His face and His Name will be on their foreheads.” (Revelation 22:4)
Scripture reading for February 7th: Numbers 2-5
Key Scriptures: Numbers 2:1-2, 34 “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “The Israelites are to camp around the Tent of Meeting some distance from it, each man under his standard with the banners of his family.” “So the Israelites did everything the Lord commanded Moses; that is the way they encamped under their standards, and that is the way they set out, each with his clan and family.””
God is a God of order. He had specific instruction for His leaders to set each person in a proper job and place. Each was assigned a location in relation to the Tent of Meeting, the place where God’s Presence lived in their midst. Each was to be with their family or clan and move in a particular order when God moved out ahead of them.
Thankful for order: God’s order brings peace and unity to His people. “For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” (1st Corinthians 14:31-33)
Scripture reading for February 20th: Numbers 34-36
The God we serve knows everything! God instructed 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 were to cast lots for their portion in the land. (Numbers 34:13) God would decide by lot who would get what. “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, Moses appointed a leader from each tribe to oversee the assignment of the inheritance. Caleb was the oldest person assigned as a leader! He and Joshua are the only ones left from the generation 20 years old and older who had not perished in the wilderness on the way to the promised land. God was faithful to Caleb as He had promised!
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) The Levites had no inheritance but were given these cities and pastureland throughout the land to as they ministered to the people.
God does know everything and has good plans for us. (Jeremiah 29:11) He wants us to know those plans and walk by faith and claim our inheritance! He has provided a refuge for any who sin. We can flee to Jesus Christ and find grace and help in time of need! (Hebrews 4:14-16) He mediates all our sins and provides refuge and mercy to those who repent! Our God is for us in our fallen world!
“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
Scripture Reading for February 19th: Numbers 31-33
As our 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 the Word of God. After writing the verse, they were 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 by twisting our instructions. One of the scriptures that we used was Numbers 32:23: “you can be sure your sin will find you out.”
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 promised to fight and help their brothers take their inheritance, however. Moses warned them against failing to fulfill their promise to fight. That would be a sin that would find them out!
There are people like these tribes of Israel in the church today. They experience the blessings of God’s deliverance from sin and hear the promises of God for authority and a full inheritance. But they are satisfied with what they can have right now. They want the easy life and are not convinced that God’s promises are worth the chance or the effort. They choose to go part way with God’s people, but not all the way!
These two tribes were later unfaithful to God and prostituted themselves to other gods. God gave them over to their enemies and they went into captivity! (1st Chronicles 5:24-26) They were faithful for a time, but in the end going part way was not enough! Their sin found them out! Don’t let this happen to you!