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?

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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

January 30, 2010

Exo 33-35: God of Second Chances

Posted in God's Character, Grace, Moses tagged , , , , at 10:52 pm by Steve

Have you ever taken on more than you could chew? What your eyes ever bigger than your stomach? Did God ever ask you to take on a task that was simply beyond your ability? We often think so and I think Moses felt like it too. Remember these were slaves he was leading. They weren’t used to making decisions let alone taking on the military powers that resided in Canaan.

“God did you really want me to take on the fortified cities in Jericho, Jerusalem, and Damascus with this ragtag group of misfits?”

But Moses knows something that makes him persevere. “I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.” [33:2]

So Moses, it will not be you who fights the fight, but God’s power. You just have to follow through. The fact that God will not travel with them highlights the holiness of God.

“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” [33:11]

As Christian we all have the ability to speak to God like this. To have the kind of relationship that Adam and Eve shared in the Garden. Prayer opens the door to the Kingdom of God, our true home.

When Moses asked to see God he was not able to see God’s glory. The Glory of God is expressed in Jesus. If you want to see and experience the fullness of God’s glory, know and experience the person of Jesus Christ.

Second version of the 10 Commandment. This version is different from the version encountered in Chapter 20.

Why? What is being revealed here than is different from the original?

Share your thoughts.

January 24, 2010

Exo 16-18: If Only…

Posted in Foundations, Grace tagged , , , , at 7:48 pm by Steve

It was hard for me to get past the opening words “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” [16:3]

Uncomfortable Christianity is…well…uncomfortable. I know that sounds redundant, but it’s important to recognize because we prefer to live in the corollary.

Comfortable Christ is…well…comfortable, however useless that may be.

Which are you willing to choose? Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived in a time when people went along to get alone. They had a faith that didn’t demand anything of them and as a consequence they didn’t do much with it when millions depended upon them. Most of our churches are, in the words of Pink Floyd, “comfortably numb.” I suspect you are reading this blog because you want something more. We all have Bible in our homes, but how many read them? How many are joining us in this one year Bible Study? We look to the church to carry us in our faith without discipleship. If we were to trade places with the Hebrews, would we ever have made it to the Promised Land or would we all be speaking Egyptian by now?

Here are a few important quotes from The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing….p45

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. 47

Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world’s standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin….