February 26, 2010

Num 35-36: A Place of Refuge

Posted in Grace, Restoration tagged , , , , , , at 9:29 pm by Steve

There is a lot written in chapter 35 about cities of refuge for someone who kills another by accident. Imagine how radical this idea would have been. It is the beginning of mercy and grace. Suppose you are working in the fields or in the forest and a tree falls and kills your co-worker. Family and tribal honor would be at stake and the entire family would be out for revenge.

Consider the long family feud in Kentucky of the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s. How many years and how many lives were lost over this feud? On death begets another, and then another. When does it stop?

The LORD says to establish cities where people can go for refuge, to seek sanctuary and in the end salvation. This principle will be the foundation of what God is offering through Christ.

“Come to all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest [or sanctuary]” Matthew 11:28

Have you ever felt like because of bad judgment or circumstance beyond your control, you wish you could find sanctuary?

Do you know someone who needs sanctuary from everyday life?

How would you define Sanctuary?

February 23, 2010

Num 28-30: Feasts of Remembrance

Posted in Foundations, Prophecy, Revelation, Sacrifices tagged , , , , , , , , , at 8:24 pm by Steve

The list of sacrifices is very detailed and for our hurried minds seems pointless and too much to remember. But for people who were much more intune with spiritual matters this was a connection to Divine. God gave people a starting point from which to grow in their relationship with Him. But before we can move very far in our relationship with God must must face the painful reality of our sin and our desparate need for forgiveness. But what can we possibly do to cover our human sin and reach for the holiness of God. Through this laundry list of sacrifices, times, amounts and patterns we can begin to feel like the depth of our sin is being covered over and we can begin to know God personally. Then we can understand Grace, but not until we know how much it costs.

Regularly scheduled celebrations and atonement to the sovereignty of God.

Daily  /  Weekly  /  Monthly

Outline of Major Festivals

Old Testament                                                              New Testament

Feast of Unleaven Bread                                        Palm Sunday (fulfilled)

Passover                                                                           Good Friday (fulfilled)

Feast of First Fruits                                                   Easter (fulfilled)

Feast of Weeks                                                             Pentecost (fulfilled)

Feast of Trumpets                                                     

And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. Matthew 24:31

Feast of Atonement                                                 

Feast of Tabernacle

When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. Hebrews 9:11

February 20, 2010

Num 21-22: The Snake and the Donkey

Posted in Disobedience, Sin Nature tagged , , , , , , , , at 9:51 pm by Steve

Raising up the brass snake is a metaphor that Jesus uses to describe his own sacrifice. When the people complained and grumbled against God’s grace, snakes infiltrated the camp and began inflicting pain and suffering on the people. Moses was instructed to raise a brass snake on a pole. The brass snake was raised, not to drive out the snakes, but to heal any who had been bitten by them and experienced their venom.

NOTE: Brass is an alloy of two metals, copper and zinc, and is often associated with sacrifice and sin.

“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

Now, someone in that situation, with the threat of death looming close, might feel that surely he must actively do something to rescue himself from the effect of the poison.  But the Lord was showing that He must do the work.  Every snakebite victim in that particular circumstance in the wilderness was to take the passive role of trusting the Lord for the miracle of healing.  He was to merely believe God’s words, and show his trust by looking to that one way of rescue that the Lord had made available, the brass snake on the pole.  He may not have fully understood.  He may have thought it foolish.  He may have considered it an insult to his intelligence.  He may have thought such a simple act woefully inadequate.  But regardless of what one might think, the Lord had spoken!  To refuse, quite frankly showed one’s prideful rebellion against the Lord and His words.  To refuse showed one’s stubborn insistence upon trusting himself and his own inadequate resources.  To refuse was to perish! Only God’s miraculous power could reverse the effects of that poison.  Every effort of man to save himself failed and resulted in certain death.  But every soul who humbly believed God’s promise there in the wilderness, and showed his faith by looking to that brass snake, was instantly healed.

Why do you suppose God didn’t drive out the snakes?

Does it make a difference that God provides a cure without destroying the curse?

What is the snake whose venom we suffer under and for which Jesus is the cure?

In the story of Balaam and the donkey I think part of the message here is that sometimes circumstances that make us angry and frustrated often protect us from other more dangerous harms. Balaam beat his donkey three times before he understood that his donkey was actually protecting him from dangers he could not see.

Have you ever been angry and frustrated things didn’t go as you had planned, only to find out later it would have been disastrous if they had?

February 13, 2010

Num 5-6: The Blessing

Posted in Consequences/Blessing, Priests, worship tagged , , , , , at 8:25 pm by Steve

The word benediction means blessing and the form of it below from Numbers 6 was prescribed in the law of Moses. This blessing was spoken over the people, the priest having uplifted hands, after every morning and evening sacrifice. The promise that it would be fulfilled by God was also understood and the people would say ‘Amen’ at the end of it, which really means ‘may it be so.’

The blessing, or benediction was also regularly used at the close of worship in the synagogues.

‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

 24 ” ‘ “The LORD bless you and keep you;

 25 the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;

 26 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ‘

 27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” [Lev 6]

This is a very common passage that is quoted often during worship services as a final blessing upon the people of God. Each of the three verses speaks of the actions of “the LORD” not the actions of humanity. It speaks to our need for God’s intervention if we are to become the people we were created to be.

The three repetitions of “the LORD” express the triune nature of God.

God the Father is the great protector

God the Son offers grace and truth.

God the Holy Spirit gives lasting peace. The phrase “turn his face toward you” is in contrast to what God says to Moses when Moses asks to see God. God says that we cannot see His face and live. Through God the Holy Spirit we embrace the fullness of God’s face.

This is God’s blessings to the people of Israel. The people wear the name of God.

Mark 10:16 And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.”

Luke 24:50 And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them.”

How do you experience the blessings of God?

How do you “wear” the blessings of God?

How do you share the blessings of God with others?

February 12, 2010

Num 3-4: Redeemed!

Posted in Grace, Priests, Restoration tagged , , at 9:20 pm by Steve

Number all the firstborn males of the children of Israel

The firstborn – which was always thought to be the best and the favored – always belongs to God; so instead of giving the firstborn of Israel to God in sacrifice, the tribe of Levi was “given” to God as in place of each of the firstborn sons of Israel.

All the firstborn males, according to the number of names

However, there were 22,273 firstborn sons in Israel; and there were only 22,000 Levite males (Leviticus 3:39). The extra 273 were given a monetary value (five shekels for each one individually), and the money was given to the tabernacle as redemption money.

The number of firstborn sons is low if accounted for all the nation; it would mean that only one in 27 sons were firstborns – an unlikely percentage. It is more probable that the 22,273 firstborn sons were those born in the thirteen months of the Exodus.

New Testament Connection

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.” Luke 1:68

Num 1-2: Introduction to Numbers

Posted in Outline tagged , , , , at 8:58 pm by Steve

PURPOSES OF THE BOOK OF NUMBERS

  • A. To fill-in the historical period from the Exodus and Sinai revelation to the preparations in Moab to enter the Promised Land
  • B.  To explain that the 38 year period in the wilderness was a consequence for the unbelief of the older generation (Dt 1:35ff)
  • C.  To demonstrate God’s faithfulness and forbearance against the backdrop of Israel’s unfaithfulness, rebellion, apostasy and frustration
  • D.  To present laws as case studies which do not have a precedent in what has been spoken thus far.
  • E.  To narrate the preparation of Israel for entry into the Promise Land by describing the journey from Sinai to the region beyond Jordan, and the legal decisions made in the wilderness

 

Hill and Walton offer the following timetable for events after the Exodus:

Exodus from Egypt 15th day of 1st month Exod. 12:2, 5; Num. 33:3
Arrival at Mount Sinai 1st day of 3d month Exod. 19:1
Yahweh reveals himself at Sinai 3d day of 3d month Exod. 19:16
Completion of tabernacle 1st day of 1st month of 2d year Exod. 40:1, 16
Command to number Israel 1st day of 2d month of 2d year Num. 1:1
Departure from Sinai 20th day of 2d month of 2d year Num. 10:11
Arrival at Kadesh 1st month of 40th year? Num. 20:1
Death of Miriam 1st month of 40th year? Num. 20:1
Death of Aaron and thirty days of mourning 1st day of 5th month of 40th year Num. 20:29
Departure for Moab 1st day of 6th month of 40th year? Num 20:22; 21:4
Moses Addresses Israel in Moab 1st day of 11th month of 40th year Deut. 1:2-3
Death of Moses and thirty days of mourning         ? Deut. 34:8
Joshua and Israel enter Canaan 10th day of 1st month of 41st year Josh. 1:19

Two censuses are taken in Numbers (1; 26)

  • 1. The first census was taken in the second month of the second year after the Exodus (Num 1:1) numbering the first generation of post-Exodus Israelites
  • 2. The second census was taken in the fortieth year after the Exodus numbering the second generation of post-Exodus Israelites (Num 20:1, 22-29; 33:38)
  • 3. Both census were taken of Israelite men who were of fighting age (twenty years of age and older)  Num 1:1-4; 26:1-4.

Census Figures in Numbers 1 and 26

Tribe Reference Figures Reference Figures
Reuben 1:20-21 46,500 26:5-11 43,730
Simeon 1:22-23 59,300 26:12-14 22,200
Gad 1:24-25 45,650 26:15-18 40,500
Judah 1:26-27 74,600 26:19-22 76,500
Issachar 1:28-29 54,400 26:23-25 64,300
Zebulun 1:30-31 57,400 26:26-27 60,500
Ephraim 1:32-33 40,500 26:35-37 32,500
Manasseh 1:34-35 32,200 26:28-34 52,700
Benjamin 1:36-37 35,400 26:38-41 45,600
Dan 1:38-39 62,700 36:42-43 64,400
Asher 1:40-41 41,500 36:44-47 53,400
Naphatali 1:42-43 53,400 26:48-50 45,400
Totals   603,550   601,730
Average   50,296   50,144
High   74,600   76,500
Low   32,200   22,200
  Greatest increase:  Manasseh (20,500)
  Greatest decrease:  Simeon (37,100)
             

Significance of the Numbers in the Census

  • 1. If one understands the numbers to be literal and the men to represent about one-fourth of the population, then the number of the Israelites ranges from two to three million people
  • 2. A literal understanding of the numbers in the census is in congruence with Pharaoh’s fear of the rapidly increasing Hebrews overrunning Egypt (Ex 1:7-12), the promises made to Abraham about becoming a great nation (Gen 12:2; 17:5-6), the earlier census taken during the first year in the wilderness (Exod 30:12–16; 38:26), and other traditions about the numbers of adult males who left Egypt (Ex 12:37; Num 11:21)
  • C. Some argue that the numbers cannot be literal for the following reasons:
  • 1. The Sinai wilderness did not have the ability to sustain such a large number of people and animals
  • 2. Israel was unable to subdue and displace the Canaanites

Exodus to Numbers

  • Egypt (Ex 1–13),
  • Sinai (Ex 19–Num 10),
  • Kadesh (Num 13-20),
  • Plains of Moab (Num 22-36)

Journeys

Red Seat to Sinai Sinai to Kadesh Kadesh to Moab
Led by cloud Ex 13:21 = Nu 10:11ff  
Victory over Egypt  14   cf. 21:21-35
Victory song 15:1-18  cf 10:35f     21:14-15
Miriam  15:20-21 = 12 = 20:1
People complain 15:23-24 = 11:1 = 21:5
Moses’ intercession 15:25 = 11:2 = 21:7
Well  15:27   = 21:16
Mana and quails 16 = 11:4-5   
Water from rock 17:1-7   = 20:2-13
Victory over Amalek 17:8-16   cf. 21:1-3
Jethro 18:1-12 cf. 10:29-32  

 

Stops

Topic Sinai Kadesh

Moab

Divine promises Ex 19:5-6; 23:23ff. Nu 12:2 22:24
40 days 24:28 13:25  —
Rebellion 32:1-8 14:1ff 25:1-3
Moses’ intercession 32:11-13 14:13-19   —
Judgment 32:34 14:20-35 25:4
Plague 32:35 14:37 25:8-9
Law of sacrifice 34:18ff; Lv. 1-7 etc. 15:1-31 28-29
Trial Lv.24:10-23 15:32-36 27:1-11
Rebellion against Priests Lv. 10:1-3 16:1-35   —
Atonement through priests and Levites Ex 32:26-29 16:36-50 25:7-13
Priestly prerogatives Lv. 6-7; 22 17-18 31:28-30; 35:1-8
Impurity rules Lv. 11-16; Nu.9:6-14 19 31:35-9ff.
Census Nu. 1-4   — 26

February 10, 2010

Lev 26-27: New Beginning

Posted in Forgiveness, Restoration, Sacrifices, The Law tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:44 pm by Steve

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.” Lev 26:12

Does this sound at all familiar? What can we learn about the purpose of God through all these Law, rules and rituals?

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day” Genesis 3:8

The passage in Leviticus reminds me of this passage in Genesis when God walked with us in the Garden. Could it be that God is trying to bring us back to that unity where we walk with God again? Is the purpose of all these regulations to set the boundaries where we can walk with God without fear, guilt, or shame?

Leviticus is filled with all kinds of regulations about guilt offerings, burnt offerings and cleanliness rituals. God is trying to remove the guilt and shame we all feel yet cannot quite be free from. Imagine working all day in the garden, hands dirty, body sweaty, and hair matted against your forehead. But there’s no way to get clean. So you pull back the covers and crawl beneath the sheets.

Does that sound comfortable and cozy, or nasty and irritable? I have to think the latter. God is providing a way for us to come clean. To feel comfortable around God and each other. To know that the inside is able to heal and come out of the shadows and know who God really is and trust His heart enough to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.

Leviticus has a lot to teach us about the heart of God.

Valentine’s Day Prayer

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:34 pm by Steve

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – I CORINTHIANS 13:4-7 NIV

 

Lord,

Because love is patient…

Help me to be slow to judge, but quick to listen. Hesitant to criticize, but eager to encourage, remembering your endless patience with me.

 

Because love is kind…

Help my words to be gentle and my actions to be thoughtful. Remind me to smile and to say “Please” and “Thank You” because those little things still mean so much.

 

Because love does not envy or boast, and it is not proud…

Help me have a heart that is humble and sees the good in others. May I celebrate and appreciate all that I have and all that I am, as well as doing the same for those around me.

 

Because love is not rude or self-seeking…

Help me to speak words that are easy on the ear and on the heart. When I’m tempted to get wrapped up in my own little world, remind me there’s a great big world out there full of needs and hurts.

 

Because love is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs…

Help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me. When I want to hold onto a grudge, gently help me release it so I can reach out with a hand of love instead.

 

Because love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth…

Help me stand up for what is right and good. May I defend the defenseless, and help the helpless. Show me how I can make a difference.

 

Because love always protects and always trusts…

Help me to be a refuge for those around me. When the world outside is harsh and cold, may my heart be a place of acceptance and warmth.

 

Finally, because love always perseveres…

Help my heart continually beat with love for You and others. Thank you for this day when we celebrate love, and for showing us what that word really means. Amen.

 

Author Unknown to me

We give thanks to God always for you all. — 1 Thess.1:2.

The Land and the Covenant with a Treacherous and Hostile People.

Posted in Adolescent, Consequences/Blessing, Consequences/Curses, Covenant, Faithfulness, Father, Forgiveness, Love, Restoration, Sin Nature, Teacher, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:08 pm by webpastormike

40 ” ‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers—their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, 41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees. 44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the LORD their God. 45 But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the LORD.’ “

The land will lie desolate without them.

Seventy years of desolation is the closest thing to rest that the land could have while the punishment of the covenant was justifiably doled out to the treacherous and hostile people whom the LORD had chosen.  He made the covenant and refused to break the covenant because of His relationship with Himself.  He could not be unfaithful.

While you and I go through our times in the land of our captivity, the land of our promise is being healed.

The land needs it healing because of what we and our fathers have done in and to the land.  We have been little schemers.. treacherous and hostile toward those whom we were and are required to be in right relationship with. Right relationship with God and right relationship with the poor and the widows and the orphans and our families, and our employees and all our other neighbors.

Have you ever had a family member take advantage of you?  I have.  Have you ever taken advantage of a person who needed your grace instead of your greed?  Can you recall the treachery of a trusted friend or spouse?  All of these kinds of things add up to hostility and treachery toward God, the land and God’s people.

You may linger in an adolescent attitude of “fairness” and whine on about how you should not be struggling today, it is not your fault that people who are supposed to be living as covenant people, instead chose to be selfish and idolatrous.  “Why should I have to suffer?”

Well here is a revelation.  We are connected.  What I do impacts others, and not just close people, but people who I will never meet, both in space and in time.  You never met a Nazi, but what a few people did (and are doing) has consequences for you.  The same thing is true for the woman who is cheating on her covenant of marriage… a covenant made with God, a covenant made with her husband, and a covenant made with the children of that union, the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, classmates, friends and spouses of those children.  The woman makes a covenant with her grandchildren at that moment before the man of God in the house of God in the inheritance God gives.

We are living fools.

Treachery and hostility cannot be contained.God makes it plain that what you do hurts people.  There is no such thing as a victimless adultery.  Your little fling, your little indiscretion, your secret affair, your whispered ear tickling words… KILL.  Yes a gossip is a covenant breaking evil that destroys lives.

40 ” ‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers—their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, 41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant … I am the LORD.’ “

YOU do not need to wonder where all the prosperity went.

YOU do not need to be anxious about whether or not there will be prosperity tomorrow… count on it.. there wont be prosperity until we confess and repent.  We must turn away from everything that is not an all out Love that imitates Jesus Christ.

YOU are witnesses to the destruction that this government is perpetrating on us.  Well consider that we are getting what our sins deserve.  And the land is getting what it deserves… rest.  We have been carried into captivity by the very desires that we cherished in our little houses of self worship.  Well now the great adolescent is in charge, the king of our captivity.  And I am not talking about the fool we elected to the white house, I am talking about the fool we elected to serve in our hearts.  Yes the king of fools is you.

De throne that idiot.

Let’s pray:

Our Father in Heaven.  We have played at life and let a little loudmouth brat play king of the hill with Your precious Inheritance.  Now we are paying the price for our stupidity.  I know so little about being in covenant with You or even being in covenant with my neighbor, and it is costing me this war.  What little I do know, I have rejected for some ridiculous fleshly desire, some temporary triumph.  I have given up what I need, in order to gain what I do not want.  I am a sin-filled-fool.  Now that I am here in the land of my captivity, I see, just a glimpse of the sin that put us here.  For that, and the sin that I do not see, I confess.  My sins and the sins of our forebearers, the plans we made were our own and the selfish ways we lived created the hell hole that is now our impossible captivity.  We hated you because you did not cherish our brat-selves.  Forgive us, forgive me.  I want to know you.

7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

You must have a plan that will bring us back from captivity, into a land that has had its desolation-rest.  Like Daniel I pray, and like Paul I pray that this life and this nation’s life will be brought back from captivity with a new heart that is righteous in Christ by faith.  Do Lord, whatever is in your heart in and through this pitiable life through the Spirit and not through the flesh.  Amen.

February 9, 2010

Lev 24-25: Jubilee

Posted in The Law tagged , , , , at 8:34 pm by Steve

A young man who blasphemed God,  Leviticus 24:10-23.   [In Summary:  In the first test of the law against blaspheming God’s name, the Lord directed that the offender be indicted by those who heard the sin, then stoned by the Israelites.]

It is one thing to listen to the rules.  It is quite another thing to actually apply them – especially when it involves the death penalty.  Note carefully that those who made the accusations – who heard the man blaspheme – were required to be involved in the ritual of the stoning (v. 14).  This very practical part of the process made it difficult for individuals to accuse falsely.  They could not insulate themselves from the actual execution.

This incident underscored the holiness of God’s name.  It was not to be treated carelessly.  Jesus affirmed this principle in teaching the Lord’s Prayer (Matt 6:9).  Although the death penalty is not applied for this today, the affront to the living God is the same.  We should not forget that fact.

Does anyone else find it strange that God offers us a Jubilee? What other religion takes such details to have one day of rest each week. One year of rest in every seven and a year of Jubilee in every 50 years. It was a year to re-establish equity and to prevent the creation of classes. Today we have the super wealthy, Bill Gates is worth an estimated 86 billion, and the homeless and masses of those living on less than one dollar a day.

God asks us each 50 years to reassess where we are as a people and what life was meant to be. No longer would people be consumed with unimaginable wealth at the cost of the life of other.

There is a quote I have always like, “for every wealthy person, there is one in poverty.”

What would you consider to be the major problems we would encounter about going to a Jubilee in our time and culture?

What would be the benefits?

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