2987.) Numbers 17

September 29, 2020
17. Almond-tree-bloss

An almond tree in bloom near Heidelberg, Germany.

Numbers 17   (CEV)

Aaron’s Walking Stick Blooms and Produces Almonds

1The LORD told Moses:

2-3Call together the twelve tribes of Israel and tell the leader of each tribe to write his name on the walking stick he carries as a symbol of his authority.

A rod (the CEV calls it “walking stick”) was a symbol of authority, because shepherds would use a rod to guide and correct the sheep (Psalm 23:4).

Moses, as a shepherd, had a rod in his hand when tending sheep in the wilderness (Exodus 4:2); this rod later became known as the rod of God — a symbol of the authority God gave to Moses (Exodus 4:20).

This same rod demonstrated Moses’ authority in action, by miraculously becoming a serpent, and then becoming a rod again (Exodus 7:9-10), by turning the waters of the Nile into blood (Exodus 7:17), by bringing forth plagues of frogs (Exodus 8:5), lice (Exodus 8:16-17), hail (Exodus 9:23), and locusts (Exodus 10:13). God commanded Moses to raise the rod over the Red Sea when it was to be parted (Exodus 14:16), the rod was raised in prayer over Israel in victorious battle (Exodus 17:9), the rod struck the rock and brought forth water (Numbers 20:11). The rod is a picture of God’s authority over man (Psalm 2:9, 23:4, 89:32; Isaiah 10:24; 11:4, Ezekiel 20:37); Jesus, in His divine authority, is given the title “the Rod” (Isaiah 1:11; Micah 6:9); the rod is an emblem of an apostle’s authority in the church (1 Corinthians 4:21).

–David Guzik

Make sure Aaron’s name is written on the one from the Levi tribe, then collect all the sticks.

4Place these sticks in the tent right in front of the sacred chest where I appear to you. 5I will then choose a man to be my priest, and his stick will sprout. After that happens, I won’t have to listen to any more complaints about you.

6Moses told the people what the LORD had commanded, and they gave him the walking sticks from the twelve tribal leaders, including Aaron’s from the Levi tribe. 7Moses took them and placed them in the LORD’s sacred tent.

8The next day when Moses went into the tent, flowers and almonds were already growing on Aaron’s stick.

17. almond-blossom

Blossoms of an almond tree

Some scholars think that some parts were in bud, other parts were in bloom, and other parts had fruited, all at the same time.

If God demonstrated His choice of Aaron and his descendants as priests for Israel, how can Jesus be our high priest, as Hebrews 2:17 says? Because Jesus is a high priest of the order of Melchizedek, not Aaron (Hebrews 7).

9Moses brought the twelve sticks out of the tent and showed them to the people. Each of the leaders found his own and took it.

10But the LORD told Moses, ” Put Aaron’s stick back! Let it stay near the sacred chest as a warning to anyone who might think about rebelling.

Hebrews 9:1-4 (NIV)

Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.

If these people don’t stop their grumbling about me, I will wipe them out.” 11Moses did what he was told.

12The Israelites cried out to Moses, ” We’re done for 13and doomed if we even get near the sacred tent!”

16. Aaron's rod

This blooming plant is called Aaron’s rod.

from Numbers,
by Dennis T. Olson

The community of Israel has discovered that God’s power in their midst is experienced either as threat or promise, death or life. Two visual aids are set up in the sanctuary for future remembrance by succeeding generations of the danger and the blessing associated with approaching God’s presence. One visual aid is the bronze covering of the altar made from the charred fire pans. The rebels had used the bronze fire pans to offer fire to God without priestly mediation, and they had died in a fiery holocaust. The altar covering of bronze is a cold, metallic, and lifeless reminder of death (16:39-40). The second visual aid displayed in the sanctuary is the budding, blossoming, fruit-bearing staff of Aaron. It signifies the blessing power of God’s holy presence as conveyed through the Aaronic priesthood that gives life and bears fruit among God’s sinful people. These two visual signs capture both the potential power of death and the power of life that flow from God’s presence in the midst of God’s people.

_________________________

Music:

The International Standard Version translates verse 12 this way: Then the Israelis told Moses, “We’re sure to die! We’re all going to perish—all of us!”  Well, yes, we are all sure to die! But we must not let the dread of dying overcome our passion for living, especially since we have God’s promises and wonderful examples from Scripture and our own acquaintances to guide us! Be encouraged!  Lift up your eyes to that “great crowd of witnesses”  around you, cheering you on, inviting you on — for Christ’s sake!  HERE  is Sara Groves and “When the Saints.”  Lyrics follow below.

Lord I have a heavy burden of all I’ve seen and know
It’s more than I can handle
But your word is burning like a fire shut up in my bones
and I cannot let it go

And when I’m weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

Lord it’s all that I can’t carry and cannot leave behind
it often overwhelms me
but when I think of all who’ve gone before and lived the faithful life
their courage compels me
And when I’m weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars

I see the shepherd Moses in the Pharaoh’s court
I hear his call for freedom for the people of the Lord

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

I see the long quiet walk along the Underground Railroad
I see the slave awakening to the value of her soul

I see the young missionary and the angry spear
I see his family returning with no trace of fear

I see the long hard shadows of Calcutta nights
I see the sister standing by the dying man’s side

I see the young girl huddled on the brothel floor
I see the man with a passion come and kicking down the door

I see the man of sorrows and his long troubled road
I see the world on his shoulders and my easy load

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
and when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
I want to be one of them
I want to be one of them
I want to be one of them

_________________________

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
almond tree in flower.  http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2009/4/15/1239810803983/Blossom-Almond-tree-bloss-011.jpg
almond blossoms.   http://www.mooseyscountrygarden.com/gardening-articles/almond-blossom.jpg
Aaron’s rod flower.  http://farm1.static.flickr.com/46/171565607_7188f4c642.jpg?v=0

 


2986.) Numbers 16

September 28, 2020
16. buried alive Pompeii

Buried alive!  Vesuvius’ volcanic eruption in A.D. 79 buried the Roman city of Pompeii and many of its citizens.

Numbers 16   (CEV)

Korah, Dathan, and Abiram Lead a Rebellion

“The fourth book of the Torah, which we know by the title Book of Numbers or, in Hebrew, Bemidbar (“in the wilderness”) might also be called the book of quarrels. It tells of recurring arguments and rebellions by the Israelites against Moses and God. The most serious of these is the rebellion of Korah, a cousin of Moses and Aaron who questioned their leadership of the nation.”   
–Rabbi Lewis Warshauer

1-2Korah son of Izhar was a Levite from the Kohathite clan. One day he called together Dathan, Abiram, and On  from the Reuben tribe, and the four of them decided to rebel against Moses. So they asked two hundred fifty respected Israelite leaders for their support, and together they went to Moses 3and Aaron and said, ” Why do you think you’re so much better than anyone else? We’re part of the LORD’s holy people, and he’s with all of us. What makes you think you’re the only ones in charge?”

Korah was not content with what the Lord had called him to do in serving with the other Levites of the family of Kohath. (The Kohathites had the most exalted duty among the Levites; their charge was to carry the most holy things of the temple.) He accused Moses of pride and exclusionary leadership.

4When Moses heard this, he knelt down to pray.  5Then he said to Korah and his followers: Tomorrow morning the LORD will show us the person he has chosen to be his priest, and that man will faithfully serve him.

Num16 arrows

Psalm 75:6-7 (NIV)

No one from the east or the west
or from the desert can exalt a man.

But it is God who judges:
He brings one down, he exalts another.

These verses were first brought to my attention many years ago when I was newly married to an Army officer. The wife of a sergeant-major shared this passage with me when my husband had not received the promotion he had been hoping for. She assured me that a sovereign God knows best. As it turned out, my husband received his promotion the following year and was sent to a plum assignment that hadn’t been open the previous year; the delay was truly a blessing for his career. So for promotions, and elections, and retributions, let God be the judge. We pray, “Thy will be done.”

6-7Korah, now here is what you and your followers must do: Get some fire pans, fill them with coals and incense, and place them near the sacred tent. And the man the LORD chooses will be his priest. Korah, this time you Levites have gone too far! 8-9You know that the God of Israel has chosen you Levites from all Israel to serve him by being in charge of the sacred tent and by helping the community to worship in the proper way. What more do you want? 10The LORD has given you a special responsibility, and now, Korah, you think you should also be his priest. 11You and your followers have rebelled against the LORD, not against Aaron.

After praying to God and receiving a sense of direction, Moses did not doubt the outcome of the test. He knew that God would prove him right and Korah wrong. Therefore, Moses was unafraid to put it to the test.

12Then Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram, but they sent back this message: ” We won’t come! 13It’s bad enough that you took us from our rich farmland in Egypt to let us die here in the desert. Now you also want to boss us around! 14You keep promising us rich farmlands with fertile fields and vineyards–but where are they? Stop trying to trick these people. No, we won’t come to see you.”

Oh, my! Such arrogance! They color their past, remembering slavery in Egypt as a comfortable life in a land flowing with milk and honey. They accused Moses of being a mini-Pharaoh. They claim Moses and Aaron have an ulterior motive against the people. They show no respect for their leaders or for the truth of their situation.

15Moses was very angry and said to the LORD, ” Don’t listen to these men! I haven’t done anything wrong to them. I haven’t taken as much as a donkey.”

16Then he said to Korah, ” Tomorrow you and your followers must go with Aaron to the LORD’s sacred tent. 17Each of you take along your fire pan with incense in it and offer the incense to the LORD.”

16. OK Corral

First one side gets mad. Then the other side gets angry in return. They decide to meet for a showdown, settle it once and for all. Really! This story is starting to sound like Gunfight at the OK Corral!

18The next day the men placed incense and coals in their fire pans and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the sacred tent. 19Meanwhile, Korah had convinced the rest of the Israelites to rebel against their two leaders.

Humanly speaking, the odds were not good. It was Moses and Aaron stand alone against all the congregation. Yet God would make this choice, and not popular opinion.

When that happened, the LORD appeared in all his glory 20and said to Moses and Aaron, 21” Get away from the rest of the Israelites so I can kill them right now!”

22But the two men bowed down and prayed, ” Our God, you gave these people life. Why would you punish everyone here when only one man has sinned?”

James 5:16 (KJV)

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

23The LORD answered Moses, 24” Tell the people to stay away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”

25Moses walked over to Dathan and Abiram, and the other leaders of Israel followed.

This was glorious! God had appointed elders back in Numbers 10:16-30, in response to another attack on Moses’ leadership. There, the elders were to be men with the same spirit and vision as Moses, men to help him bear the burden, men to stand with Moses. Here they did exactly what God appointed them to do.

26Then Moses warned the people, ” Get away from the tents of these sinful men! Don’t touch anything that belongs to them or you’ll be wiped out.” 27So everyone moved away from those tents, except Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their families.

28Moses said to the crowd, ” The LORD has chosen me and told me to do these things–it wasn’t my idea. And here’s how you will know: 29If these men die a natural death, it means the LORD hasn’t chosen me. 30But suppose the LORD does something that has never been done before. For example, what if a huge crack appears in the ground, and these men and their families fall into it and are buried alive, together with everything they own? Then you will know they have turned their backs on the LORD!”

31As soon as Moses said this, the ground under the men opened up 32-33and swallowed them alive, together with their families and everything they owned. Then the ground closed back up, and they were gone.

Num16 earth opens

Psalm 106:16-17 (ESV)

When men in the camp were jealous of Moses
and Aaron, the holy one of the LORD,
the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan,
and covered the company of Abiram . . .

34The rest of the Israelites heard their screams, so they ran off, shouting, ” We don’t want that to happen to us!”

35Suddenly the LORD sent a fire that burned up the two hundred fifty men who had offered incense to him.

Num16 v35 fire

Psalm 106:18 (ESV)

. . . Fire also broke out in their company;
the flame burned up the wicked.

36Then the LORD said to Moses, 37” Tell Aaron’s son Eleazar to take the fire pans from the smoldering fire and scatter the coals. The pans are now sacred, 38because they were used for offering incense to me. Have them hammered into a thin layer of bronze as a covering for the altar. Those men died because of their sin, and now their fire pans will become a warning for the rest of the community.”

39Eleazar collected the pans and had them hammered into a thin layer of bronze as a covering for the altar, 40just as the LORD had told Moses. The pans were a warning to the Israelites that only Aaron’s descendants would be allowed to offer incense to the LORD. Anyone else who tried would be punished like Korah and his followers.

The true priests took the censors of the 250 deceased imposters from their charred remains and hammered them into bronze sheets for the altar as a memorial of the folly of a self-proclaimed priest.
–notes from The NIV Study Bible

The Israelites Rebel and Are Punished

41The next day the people of Israel again complained against Moses and Aaron, ” The two of you killed some of the LORD’s people!”

Absurd! When the earth opens up and swallows more than 250 people, it is evidently the hand of God, not of Moses.

42As the people crowded around them, Moses and Aaron turned toward the sacred tent, and the LORD appeared in his glory in the cloud covering the tent. 43So Moses and Aaron walked to the front of the tent, 44where the LORD said to them, 45” Stand back! I am going to wipe out these Israelites once and for all.”

They immediately bowed down and prayed. 46Then Moses told Aaron, ” Grab your fire pan and fill it with hot coals from the altar. Put incense in it, then quickly take it to where the people are and offer it to the LORD, so they can be forgiven. The LORD is very angry, and people have already started dying!”

47-48Aaron did exactly what he had been told. He ran over to the crowd of people and stood between the dead bodies and the people who were still alive. He placed the incense on the pan, then offered it to the LORD and asked him to forgive the people’s sin.

A censer filled with burning incense was used to stop the plague. Incense is a picture of prayer in the Bible (as in Revelation 8:3-4), because the sweet-smelling smoke of incense ascends to heaven as our prayers would. This was a dramatic picture of Aaron, as high priest, interceding for God’s people.
–David Guzik

The disease immediately stopped spreading, and no one else died from it. 49But fourteen thousand seven hundred Israelites were dead, not counting those who had died with Korah and his followers.

50Aaron walked back and stood with Moses at the sacred tent.

_________________________

Music:

So much rebellion and unfaithfulness in recent chapters. It makes me grateful for all the people who have stood firm in the Lord to show me the right way — parents, Sunday School teachers, pastors, Bible Study leaders, authors, friends, and the list goes on. As you listen  HERE  to Steve Green singing  “Find Us Faithful,”  spend a moment counting up the faithful witnesses in your life!

_________________________

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
Pompeii.  http://impressive.net/people/gerald/2002/10/08/11-44-07-sm.jpg
arrows pointing up and down.  https://www.colourbox.com/preview/4485526-red-down-and-green-up-arrows-isolated-on-white.jpg
Gunfight at the OK Corral.   https://www.cowboysindians.com/2016/11/100-best-westerns-ever-made/tombstone/
the earth opens.   https://alephtavscriptures.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/earth-open.jpg
the Lord sends fire.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/a6/bb/99/a6bb99f9a57e51a5df2fdae8f7f8e73f.jpg

2985.) Numbers 15

September 25, 2020
Jewish man wearing a prayer shawl with tassels at each corner.

Jewish man wearing a prayer shawl with tassels at each corner.

Numbers 15   (CEV)

Laws about Sacrifices

1The LORD told Moses 2to give the Israelites the following laws about offering sacrifices:

Israel was at one of its lowest points in history. It had just rebelliously rejected God’s offer to bring the nation into the Promised Land. God had consigned them to wander in the wilderness for 38 years, until the unbelieving generation had perished in the wilderness and a new generation of faith would take the Promised Land. Yet, immediately after this stinging rebellion and the chastisement from the Lord, Israel received precious tokens of God’s mercy, care, and help to Israel.

–David Guzik

3Bulls or rams or goats  are the animals that you may burn on the altar as burnt offering sacrifices to please me.  You may also offer sacrifices voluntarily or because you made a promise, or because they are part of your regular religious ceremonies. The smell of the smoke from these sacrifices is pleasing to me.

15. gardenia

Thank you, Lord, for the wonderful fragrance of, among other things,  gardenias!

Genesis 8:20-21 (NIV)

Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though  every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.”

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NLT)

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

Philippians 4:18 (ESV)

I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.

4-5If you sacrifice a young ram or goat, you must also offer two pounds of your finest flour mixed with a quart of olive oil as a grain sacrifice. A quart of wine must also be poured on the altar.

Part of the offering included flour . . .

Part of the offering included flour . . .

6-7And if the animal is a full-grown ram, you must offer four pounds of flour mixed with one and a half quart of olive oil. One and a half quarts of wine must also be poured on the altar. The smell of this smoke is pleasing to me.

. . . mixed with olive oil . . .

. . . mixed with olive oil . . .

8If a bull is offered as an offering of well-being, as a sacrifice to please me or to ask my blessing,  9you must offer six pounds of flour mixed with two quarts of olive oil. 10Two quarts of wine must also be poured on the altar. The smell of this smoke is pleasing to me. 11-13If you are a native Israelite, you must obey these rules each time you offer a bull, a ram, or a goat as a sacrifice. 14And the foreigners who live among you must also follow these rules. 15-16This law will never change. I am the LORD, and I consider all people the same, whether they are Israelites or foreigners living among you.

Everyone who made a sacrifice had to bring it with the thanksgiving of grain and the joy of wine; God did not want grudging, griping sacrifices brought to Him. If one could not serve the Lord with gladness (Psalm 100:2), then God didn’t want his service at all.

–David Guzik

. . . in addition to some wine.

. . . in addition to some wine.

17-19When you eat food in the land that I am giving you, remember to set aside some of it as an offering to me. 20From the first batch of bread dough that you make after each new grain harvest, make a loaf of bread and offer it to me, just as you offer grain. 21All your descendants must follow this law and offer part of the first batch of bread dough.

22-23The LORD also told Moses to tell the people what must be done if they ever disobey his laws:

24If all of you disobey one of my laws without meaning to, you must offer a bull as a sacrifice to please me, together with a grain sacrifice, a wine offering, and a goat as a sacrifice for sin. 25Then the priest will pray and ask me to forgive you. And since you did not mean to do wrong, and you offered sacrifices, 26the sin of everyone–both Israelites and foreigners among you–will be forgiven.

27But if one of you does wrong without meaning to, you must sacrifice a year-old female goat as a sacrifice for sin. 28The priest will then ask me to forgive you, and your sin will be forgiven.

Sin — even if committed with the best of intentions — is still sin. Do we excuse or ignore our own sins, thinking that they aren’t so bad because we meant well? Better to confess and be forgiven and renewed in holy living!

29The law will be the same for anyone who does wrong without meaning to, whether an Israelite or a foreigner living among you.

30-31But if one of you does wrong on purpose, whether Israelite or foreigner, you have sinned against me by disobeying my laws. You will be sent away and will no longer live among the people of Israel.

Psalm 19:12-13 (NIV)

Who can discern his errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.

Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.

A Man Put to Death for Gathering Firewood on the Sabbath

Tissot

“The Sabbath Breaker Stoned”  by James Tissot, 1900 (Jewish Museum, New York)

32Once, while the Israelites were traveling through the desert, a man was caught gathering firewood on the Sabbath.  33He was taken to Moses, Aaron, and the rest of the community. 34But no one knew what to do with him, so he was not allowed to leave. 35Then the LORD said to Moses, ” Tell the people to take that man outside the camp and stone him to death!” 36So he was killed, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

The Tassels on the People’s Clothes

The Lord commanded a fringe religion!

The Lord commanded a fringe religion! To obey this command, some Jews wear a four-cornered prayer shawl, called a tallit, with tassels at each corner, during certain services.

37The LORD told Moses 38to say to the people of Israel, ” Sew tassels onto the bottom edge of your clothes and tie a purple string to each tassel. 39-40These will remind you that you must obey my laws and teachings. And when you do, you will be dedicated to me and won’t follow your own sinful desires. 41I am the LORD your God who led you out of Egypt.”

God is so concrete and practical! Our very clothing is to remind us of who he is and therefore encourage us to behave as his obedient children.

_________________________

Music:

What I do, what I think, what I say, what I wear, who I am —  HERE  is “All to Jesus I Surrender.”

_________________________

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
man wearing prayer shawl.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/15-jewish-man-wearing-prayer-shawl.jpg?w=450
gardenias.    http://homouniversalisgr.blogspot.com/2014/02/blog-post_4601.html
flour.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/860bf-flour.jpg
olive oil.   https://salutwineco.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/heart_healthy_secrets_olive_oil_v-708152.jpg
wine.  https://sofabfood.com/5-red-wine-health-benefits/
Tissot.     https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/the-sabbath-breaker-stoned/QgFdHnf3bl7R6w?hl=en&ms=%7B%22x%22%3A0.5%2C%22y%22%3A0.5%2C%22z%22%3A8.578032841774625%2C%22size%22%3A%7B%22width%22%3A3.2662342000913647%2C%22height%22%3A1.2375229471883598%7D%7D
tallit.   http://www.talentshare.org/~mm9n/articles/tallit/1.htm

2984.) Numbers 14

September 24, 2020
Years in the Desert. Coming up!

Years in the Desert. Coming up!

Numbers 14   (CEV)

The Israelites Rebel against Moses

Those who do not trust God, continually vex themselves.

–Matthew Henry

1After the Israelites heard the report from the twelve men who had explored Canaan, the people cried all night

They cried because they were afraid, because it was not going to be as easy as they had wanted, because they were walking by sight and not by faith. (How often do I do the same?)

2and complained to Moses and Aaron, ” We wish we had died in Egypt or somewhere out here in the desert!

Tragically for this generation, God would give them what their rebellious, unbelieving hearts wanted.

3Is the LORD leading us into Canaan, just to have us killed and our women and children captured? We’d be better off in Egypt.” 4Then they said to one another, ” Let’s choose our own leader and go back.”

5Moses and Aaron bowed down to pray in front of the crowd. 6Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes in sorrow 7and said:

We saw the land ourselves, and it’s very good. 8If we obey the LORD, he will surely give us that land rich with milk and honey. 9So don’t rebel. We have no reason to be afraid of the people who live there. The LORD is on our side, and they won’t stand a chance against us!

10The crowd threatened to stone Moses and Aaron to death.

Num14 coin

from Numbers,
by Dennis T. Olson:

In the end, the issue is not competing estimates about the human strength of the Israelite army versus the Canaanites. The question is not who is taller or who has the larger fortifications or who has more weapons. Ultimately, all such reliance on human power and estimates is irrelevant. The issue is trusting in the power of Israel’s God. God is with the Israelites in the midst of their camp; God can be trusted to make good on God’s promise to bring the Israelites into the land. God’s promise and presence alone are more than adequate basis for their confidence.

But just then, the LORD appeared in a cloud at the sacred tent.

Moses Prays for the People

11The LORD said to Moses, ” I have done great things for these people, and they still reject me by refusing to believe in my power.

Psalm 78:11-22 (NIV)

They forgot what he had done,
the wonders he had shown them.

He did miracles in the sight of their fathers
in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan.

He divided the sea and led them through;
he made the water stand firm like a wall.

He guided them with the cloud by day
and with light from the fire all night.

He split the rocks in the desert
and gave them water as abundant as the seas;

he brought streams out of a rocky crag
and made water flow down like rivers.

But they continued to sin against him,
rebelling in the desert against the Most High.

They willfully put God to the test
by demanding the food they craved.

They spoke against God, saying,
“Can God spread a table in the desert?

When he struck the rock, water gushed out,
and streams flowed abundantly.
But can he also give us food?
Can he supply meat for his people?”

When the LORD heard them, he was very angry;
his fire broke out against Jacob,
and his wrath rose against Israel,

for they did not believe in God
or trust in his deliverance.

12So they will no longer be my people. I will destroy them, but I will make you the ancestor of a nation even stronger than theirs.”

13-16Moses replied:

With your mighty power you rescued your people from Egypt, so please don’t destroy us here in the desert. If you do, the Egyptians will hear about it and tell the people of Canaan. Those Canaanites already know that we are your people, and that we see you face to face. And they have heard how you lead us with a thick cloud during the day and flaming fire at night. But if you kill us, they will claim it was because you weren’t powerful enough to lead us into Canaan as you promised.

Moses brought God’s promise before Him. He begged God not to give the nations any opportunity to think God had not been true to His word.

17Show us your great power, LORD. You promised 18that you love to show mercy and kindness. And you said that you are very patient, but that you will punish everyone guilty of doing wrong–not only them but their children and grandchildren as well.

19You are merciful, and you treat people better than they deserve. So please forgive these people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.

Num14 divine-mercy

Psalm 78:38 (NIV)

Yet he was merciful;
he forgave their iniquities
and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
and did not stir up his full wrath.

20Then the LORD said to Moses:

In answer to your prayer, I do forgive them.

This means that Moses’ prayer mattered. Some may wonder if prayer is some elaborate game, where God threatens to do something He will never do anyway, and we pray, pretending to believe God will do what He has threatened, and when God hears us pray, He forgets His idle threat and does what He was going to do anyway. Prayer definitely does not work that way.

We don’t understand the relationship between the eternal, sovereign plan of God and our prayers; but we know it is no game. God never wanted Moses to think of it as a game, and wanted Moses to at least think that his prayers had directly affected the outcome: I have pardoned, according to your word! We should pray as if life and death, heaven and hell, would be decided by our prayers!

–David Guzik

21But as surely as I live and my power has no limit, 22-23I swear that not one of these Israelites will enter the land I promised to give their ancestors. These people have seen my power in Egypt and in the desert, but they will never see Canaan. They have disobeyed and tested me too many times.

24But my servant Caleb isn’t like the others. So because he has faith in me, I will allow him to cross into Canaan, and his descendants will settle there.

Caleb’s stand of faith seemed futile when Israel rejected him; but it was richly rewarded by God.

25Now listen, Moses! The Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valleys of Canaan.  And tomorrow morning, you’ll need to turn around and head back into the desert toward the Red Sea.

The Israelites Are Punished for Complaining

26The LORD told Moses and Aaron 27-28to give this message to the people of Israel:

You sinful people have complained against me too many times! Now I swear by my own life that I will give you exactly what you wanted. 29You will die right here in the desert, and your dead bodies will cover the ground.

14. skeletons in the desert

God gave them what they wanted.  In verse 2, the Israelites said,”We wish we had died in Egypt or somewhere out here in the desert!”

You have insulted me, and none of you men who are over twenty years old 30will enter the land that I solemnly promised to give you as your own–only Caleb and Joshua  will go in.

14. No-Entry-sign

God gave them what they wanted.  In verse 3, they said they did not want to enter the promised land: “Is the Lord leading us into Canaan just to have us killed?”

31You were worried that your own children would be captured. But I, the LORD, will let them enter the land you have rejected. 32You will die here in the desert! 33Your children will wander around in this desert forty years, suffering because of your sins, until all of you are dead.

14. family_at_desert_museum

God gave them what they wanted.  In verse 3, they used their children as an excuse for not entering the land:  “Is the Lord leading us into Canaan just to have . . .  our children captured?”

34I will cruelly punish you every day for the next forty years–one year for each day that the land was explored. 35You sinful people who ganged up against me will die here in the desert.

14. Gold-Dust-Cemetery-web

The old generation will wander and die.  Forty years of funerals, beginning now. . .

36Ten of the men sent to explore the land had brought back bad news and had made the people complain against the LORD. 37So he sent a deadly disease that killed those men, 38but he let Joshua and Caleb live.

from Experiencing God Day-By-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunnen remained alive, of the men who went to spy out the land.
— Numbers 14:38

The decisions and disobedience of others will not cancel God’s will for you.  Other people’s actions will affect you, but no one can prevent what God wants to do in and through you.  Joshua and Caleb trusted God and yet were forced to wander in a wilderness for forty years because of the fear and disbelief of others.

Have you ever felt that someone was thwarting God’s will for you?  Perhaps someone kept you from getting a job or earning a promotion.  Perhaps the government would not approve your application or a committee disagreed with your recommendation.  Do you believe that mere man can stop God from accomplishing His purposes in your life?

God did everything He intended to do in the lives of Joshua and Caleb.  His primary assignment for them had not been to enter the Promised Land but rather to serve as godly leaders for the people.  Joshua and Caleb could not lead the people if they were in the Promised land by themselves while the people were still wandering in the wilderness!  God kept these leaders in a position where they could exert a godly influence upon their nation, and, as a result, they became models of spiritual leadership for generations to come.  Even so, God ultimately brought Caleb and Joshua into the Promised Land just as He had said.  They had been delayed but not thwarted.  Be assured of this:  No one can hinder God from carrying out His plan for your life.  Once God sets something in motion, no one can stop it (In Isaiah 46:11, God says —  “What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.”).

The Israelites Fail To Enter Canaan

39The people of Israel were very sad after Moses gave them the LORD’s message. 40So they got up early the next morning and got ready to head toward the hill country of Canaan. They said, ” We were wrong to complain about the LORD. Let’s go into the land that he promised us.”

41But Moses replied, ” You’re disobeying the LORD! Your plan won’t work, 42-43so don’t even try it. The LORD refuses to help you, because you turned your backs on him. The Amalekites and the Canaanites are your enemies, and they will attack and defeat you.”

44But the Israelites ignored Moses  and marched toward the hill country, even though the sacred chest and Moses did not go with them. 45The Amalekites and the Canaanites came down from the hill country, defeated the Israelites, and chased them as far as the town of Hormah.

Num14 my-way

They just don’t get it!

God had just said, “None of you will enter the land!”

Moses had just said, “Your plan won’t work!”

“The bravery of presumption is just as fatal as the cowardice of unbelief.”   — N. E. Constance

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is the theme song for the old generation:  “I Did It My Way.” And who else but Frank Sinatra?

_________________________

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
Forty.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/14-forty.jpg?w=450
In God We Trust.    http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lhq016yvXb1qe3nnq.jpg
mercy cross.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/14-divine-mercy.jpg?w=450
skeletons in the desert.  http://www.foxnews.com/images/417699/1_61_sahara_graves_family.jpg
No Entry.  http://www.health-safety-signs.uk.com/productimages/No-Entry-outdoor-sign.gif
family in the desert of Arizona.  http://showcase.netins.net/web/scooter/web_-_family_at_desert_museum.JPG
photo of Gold Dust Cemetery, by Bill Johnson.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/14-gold-dust-cemetery-web.jpg?w=450
my way.   http://lukedancy.com/marketing-my-way/

2983.) Numbers 13

September 23, 2020

13. Israel Ministry of Tourism logo

Numbers 13   (CEV)

Twelve Men Are Sent into Canaan

1The LORD said to Moses, 2” Choose a leader from each tribe and send them into Canaan to explore the land I am giving you.”

God used the report of the spies as a test of Israel’s faith.

3So Moses sent twelve tribal leaders from Israel’s camp in the Paran Desert 4-16with orders to explore the land of Canaan. And here are their names:

Shammua son of Zaccur from Reuben,

Shaphat son of Hori from Simeon,

Caleb son of Jephunneh from Judah,

Igal son of Joseph from Issachar,

Joshua son of Nun from Ephraim,

Palti son of Raphu from Benjamin,

Gaddiel son of Sodi from Zebulun,

Gaddi son of Susi from Manasseh,

Ammiel son of Gemalli from Dan,

Sethur son of Michael from Asher,

Nahbi son of Vophsi from Naphtali,

and Geuel son of Machi from Gad.

17Before Moses sent them into Canaan, he said:

After you go through the Southern Desert of Canaan, continue north into the hill country 18and find out what those regions are like. Be sure to remember how many people live there, how strong they are, 19-20and if they live in open towns or walled cities. See if the land is good for growing crops and find out what kinds of trees grow there. It’s time for grapes to ripen, so try to bring back some of the fruit that grows there.

This was an entirely reasonable pursuit for Moses, and representative of the curiosity of the whole nation. After all, they had never seen this land, nor had any Israelite for some 400 years. But God already told them what the land was like. At Moses’ calling at the burning bush, God told him the land of Canaan was a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8), and Moses told the people of the goodness of the land (Exodus 13:5).

–David Guzik

21The twelve men left to explore Canaan from the Zin Desert in the south all the way to the town of Rehob near Lebo-Hamath in the north. 22As they went through the Southern Desert, they came to the town of Hebron, which was seven years older than the Egyptian town of Zoan. In Hebron, they saw the three Anakim  clans of Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai. 23-24When they got to Bunch Valley,  they cut off a branch with such a huge bunch of grapes, that it took two men to carry it on a pole. That’s why the place was called Bunch Valley. Along with the grapes, they also took back pomegranates  and figs.

Imagine eating nothing much but quail and manna for as long as you can remember -- and then you taste these grapes! . . .

Imagine eating nothing much but quail and manna for as long as you can remember — and then you taste these grapes! . . .

 

and these pomegranates! . . .

. . . and these figs!

. . . and these figs!

_________________________

Music:

I remember the first time I saw and ate a kiwi; it was a magical, wonderful moment.  What a creative and kind God we have, to give us such good gifts!  HERE  is John Rutter’s “Look at the World.”  Listen and say Thank you, Lord.

Look at the world, everything all around us
Look at the world and marvel every day.
Look at the world: so many joys and wonders,
So many miracles along our way.

Praise to thee, O lord for all creation.
Give us thankful hearts that we may see
All the gifts we share, and every blessing,
All things come of thee.

Look at the earth bringing forth fruit and flower,
Look at the sky, the sunshine and the rain.
Look at the hills, look at the trees and mountains,
Valley and flowing river, field and plain.

Think of the spring, think of the warmth of summer
Bringing the harvest before the winters cold.
Everything grows, everything has a season,
till it is gathered to the Father’s fold.

Every good gift, all that we need and cherish.
Comes from the Lord in token of his love
We are his hands, stewards of all his bounty
His is the earth and his the heavens above.

_________________________

The Men Report Back to the People

25After exploring the land of Canaan forty days, 26the twelve men returned to Kadesh in the Paran Desert and told Moses, Aaron, and the people what they had seen. They showed them the fruit 27and said:

13. spies return

Look at this fruit! The land we explored is rich with milk and honey. 28But the people who live there are strong, and their cities are large and walled. We even saw the three Anakim  clans. 29Besides that, the Amalekites live in the Southern Desert; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites are in the hill country; and the Canaanites  live along the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

30Caleb calmed down the crowd and said, ” Let’s go and take the land. I know we can do it!”

Psalm 27:1-3 (NIV)

The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

31But the other men replied, ” Those people are much too strong for us.” 32Then they started spreading rumors and saying, ” We won’t be able to grow anything in that soil. And the people are like giants. 33In fact, we saw the Nephilim who are the ancestors of the Anakim. They were so big that we felt as small as grasshoppers.”

as small as grasshoppers!

as small as grasshoppers!

Unbelief often presents itself as being “factual” or “practical” or “down to earth.” Yet, the most factual, practical, and down to earth thing we can to is trust the word of the living God. Their unbelief was not according to the facts, but despite the facts.

Significantly, two men could see the exact same sights — the same grapes, the same men, the same land, the same cities — one can come away singing in faith, and the other is filled with a sense of certain doom. Ultimately, faith or unbelief does not spring from circumstances or environment, but from our hearts, which God must change.

–David Guzik

_________________________

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
men with grapes:  Israeli tourism logo.    https://journeymanpreacher.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/gods-big-story-10-unbelief-numbers-1314/
grapes.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/13-grapes-lg.jpg?w=450
pomegranates.  https://www.wish.com/product/5db2aee147c45609bb4e50fa?hide_login_modal=true&from_ad=goog_shopping&_display_country_code=US&_force_currency_code=USD&pid=googleadwords_int&c=%7BcampaignId%7D&ad_cid=5db2aee147c45609bb4e50fa&ad_cc=US&ad_curr=USD&ad_price=2.00&campaign_id=7203534630&gclid=Cj0KCQjwu8r4BRCzARIsAA21i_A0Mq745YvUh69SEM1RWJZVlRovsDqCci2cQp3J0B_bru5Y9OqLksUaAhLSEALw_wcB&share=web
figs.  http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3077/2830402939_05b3f69263.jpg
spies return with fruit.   https://anglicansablaze.blogspot.com/2011/01/will-you-lead-in-fear-or-in-faith-this.html
grasshopper.  http://johnbokma.com/mexit/2006/12/31/large-grasshopper-resting-on-my-fingers.jpg

2982.) Numbers 12

September 22, 2020
tapestry by Anna Kocherovsky

“Miriam Dancing” — Miriam in better days! — tapestry by Anna Kocherovsky

Numbers 12

Miriam and Aaron Are Jealous of Moses

12. jealous

Proverbs 27:4 (NIV)

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
but who can stand before jealousy?

1-3Although Moses was the most humble person in all the world,

Numbers 12:3 (NIV)

Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.

from Wishful Thinking:  A Seeker’s ABC
by Frederick Buechner

Num12 bridge

HUMILITY

Humility is often confused with the polite, self-deprecation of saying you’re not much of a bridge player when you know perfectly well you are. Conscious or otherwise, this kind of humility is a form of gamesmanship.

If you really aren’t much of a bridge player, you’re apt to be rather proud of yourself for admitting it so humbly. This kind of humility is a form of low comedy.

True humility doesn’t consist of thinking ill of yourself but of not thinking of yourself much differently from the way you’d be apt to think of anybody else. It is the capacity for being no more and no less pleased when you play your own hand well than when your opponents do.

Miriam and Aaron started complaining, ” Moses had no right to marry that woman from Ethiopia!  Who does he think he is? The LORD has spoken to us, not just to him.”

The complaint against Moses’ wife was just a cover; the real problem was their taking offense at Moses getting more credit than they. It’s pride.

Matthew 10:36 (NIV)

A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.

The LORD heard their complaint 4and told Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to come to the entrance of the sacred tent. 5There the LORD appeared in a cloud and told Aaron and Miriam to come closer. 6Then after commanding them to listen carefully, he said:

” I, the LORD, speak to prophets

in visions and dreams.

7But my servant Moses

is the leader of my people.

8He sees me face to face,

and everything I say to him

is perfectly clear.

You have no right to criticize

my servant Moses.”

9The LORD became angry at Aaron and Miriam. And after the LORD left 10and the cloud disappeared from over the sacred tent, Miriam’s skin turned white with leprosy.

12. Moses, Aaron, and Miriam

When Aaron saw what had happened to her, 11he said to Moses, ” Sir, please don’t punish us for doing such a foolish thing. 12Don’t let Miriam’s flesh rot away like a child born dead!”

12. man-w-hand-over-mouth

Proverbs 30:32 (NIV)

“If you have played the fool and exalted yourself,
or if you have planned evil,
clap your hand over your mouth!”

_________________________

12. oops

Aaron’s action of turning to Moses as the only one who can help is in itself an ironic confirmation of what Aaron and Miriam had earlier denied—Moses’ unique relationship to God.

13Moses prayed, ” LORD God, please heal her.”

14But the LORD replied, ” Miriam would be disgraced for seven days if her father had punished her by spitting in her face. So make her stay outside the camp for seven days, before coming back.”

This was appropriate, because Miriam had done something even more shameful than spitting in her father’s face; she tried to bring down a leader of God’s people with petty, false, and self-interested criticism.

15The people of Israel did not move their camp until Miriam returned seven days later. 16Then they left Hazeroth and set up camp in the Paran Desert.

Micah 6:4 (NIV)

Listen to what the Lord says:

I brought you up out of Egypt
and redeemed you from the land of slavery.
I sent Moses to lead you,
also Aaron and Miriam.

_________________________

Music:

Having just read one of the most shameful and saddest chapters in the Old Testament, let’s take a break.  Now  HERE  is an odd connection to the whole Numbers story — do you remember the “Moses Supposes” sequence from the movie Singing in the Rain?  As you watch Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor sing and dance, you may start to feel more cheerful!

_________________________

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
Kocherovsky.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/12-miriam.jpg?w=450
jealous.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/12-jealous.jpg?w=450
cards.   http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/Anglo-American_card_suits.png
Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.  http://www.marshotelonline.com/SFGsigns.JPG
man with hand over mouth.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/12-man-w-hand-over-mouth.jpg?w=450
oops!   https://biblicallife.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/oops.jpg

2981.) Numbers 11

September 21, 2020

Be careful what you wish for.

Numbers 11

The Israelites Complain

1One day the Israelites started complaining about their troubles. The LORD heard them and became so angry that he destroyed the outer edges of their camp with fire.

11. fire_flames

2When the people begged Moses to help, he prayed, and the fire went out. 3They named the place ” Burning,”  because in his anger the LORD had set their camp on fire.

__________________________

Music:

“Dear Lord and Father of Mankind — forgive our foolish ways” — sung  HERE  by Katherine Jenkins to the British tune, Repton.

__________________________

The People Grumble about Being Hungry

4One day some worthless foreigners among the Israelites became greedy for food, and even the Israelites themselves began moaning, “We don’t have any meat! 5In Egypt we could eat all the fish we wanted, and there were cucumbers, melons, onions, and garlic.

11. cucumber, onion, garlic salad

6But we’re starving out here, and the only food we have is this manna.”

The complaining heart romanticizes the past but it also exaggerates the problems of the present. Just how wonderful was life in Egypt, when they were slaves? And how can they be starving when they have manna every day?

7The manna was like small whitish seeds 8-9and tasted like something baked with sweet olive oil. It appeared at night with the dew. In the morning the people would collect the manna, grind or crush it into flour, then boil it and make it into thin wafers.

10The Israelites stood around their tents complaining.

Oh, you Israelites!

Oh, you Israelites!

Moses heard them and was upset that they had made the LORD angry. 11He prayed:

I am your servant, LORD, so why are you doing this to me? What have I done to deserve this? You’ve made me responsible for all these people, 12but they’re not my children. You told me to nurse them along and to carry them to the land you promised their ancestors. 13They keep whining for meat, but where can I get meat for them? 14This job is too much for me. How can I take care of all these people by myself? 15If this is the way you’re going to treat me, just kill me now and end my miserable life!

Oh, Moses!

Oh, Moses!

from Morning and Evening,
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Wherefore hast Thou afflicted Thy servant?”
–Numbers xi.11.

Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to try our faith.  If our faith be worth anything, it will stand the test.  It is a poor faith which can only trust God when friends are true, the body full of health, and the business profitable; but that is true faith which holds by the Lord’s faithfulness when friends are gone, when the body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the light of our Father’s countenance is hidden.  A faith which can say, in the direst trouble, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him,” is heaven-born faith.

The Lord afflicts His servants to glorify himself, for He is greatly glorified in the graces of His people, which are His own handiwork.  When “tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope,” the Lord is honored by these growing virtues.  We should never know the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched; nor enjoy the juice of the grape if it were not trodden in the wine-press; nor discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were not pressed and beaten; nor feel the warmth of fire if the coals were not utterly consumed.  The wisdom and power of the great Workman are discovered by the trials through which His vessels of mercy are permitted to pass.

Present afflictions tend also to heighten future joy.  There must be shades in the picture to bring out the beauty of the light.  Could we be so supremely blessed in heaven, if we had not known the curse of sin and the sorrow of earth?  Will not peace be sweeter after conflict, and rest more welcome after toil?  Will not the recollection of past sufferings enhance the bliss of the glorified?  There are many other comfortable answers to the question with which we opened our brief meditation; let us muse upon it all day long.

11. Stop Whining

Oh, my own heart!

Seventy Leaders Are Chosen To Help Moses

16The LORD said to Moses:

Choose seventy of Israel’s respected leaders and go with them to the sacred tent. 17While I am talking with you there, I will give them some of your authority, so they can share responsibility for my people. You will no longer have to care for them by yourself.

The elders were there to help Moses carry the spiritual load — to help him care for and minister to the people, and to be a support for him in the ministry. God’s help was going to come to Moses through the support of godly men. This is a customary way for God to meet our needs.

18As for the Israelites, I have heard them complaining about not having meat and about being better off in Egypt. So tell them to make themselves acceptable to me, because tomorrow they will have meat. 19-20In fact, they will have meat day after day for a whole month–not just a few days, or even ten or twenty. They turned against me and wanted to return to Egypt. Now they will eat meat until they get sick of it.

21Moses replied, ” At least six hundred thousand grown men are here with me. How can you say there will be enough meat to feed them and their families for a whole month? 22Even if we butchered all of our sheep and cattle, or caught every fish in the sea, we wouldn’t have enough to feed them.”

23The LORD answered, ” I can do anything! Watch and you’ll see my words come true.”

24Moses told the people what the LORD had said. Then he chose seventy respected leaders and went with them to the sacred tent. While the leaders stood in a circle around the tent, Moses went inside, 25and the LORD spoke with him. Then the LORD took some authority  from Moses and gave it to the seventy leaders. And when the LORD’s Spirit took control of them, they started shouting like prophets. But they did it only this one time. 26Eldad and Medad were two leaders who had not gone to the tent. But when the Spirit took control of them, they began shouting like prophets right there in camp. 27A boy ran to Moses and told him about Eldad and Medad.

28Joshua  was there helping Moses, as he had done since he was young. And he said to Moses, ” Sir, you must stop them!” 29But Moses replied, ” Are you concerned what this might do to me? I wish the LORD would give his Spirit to all his people so everyone could be a prophet.” 30Then Moses and the seventy leaders went back to camp.

The LORD Sends Quails

Num11 God-send-quail
31Some time later the LORD sent a strong wind that blew quails in from the sea until Israel’s camp was completely surrounded with birds, piled up about three feet high for miles in every direction. 32The people picked up quails for two days–each person filled at least fifty bushels. Then they spread them out to dry. 33But before the meat could be eaten, the LORD became angry and sent a disease through the camp.

34After they had buried the people who had been so greedy for meat, they called the place ” Graves for the Greedy.”

Proverbs 28:25 (NIV)

A greedy man stirs up dissension,
but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper.

35Israel then broke camp and traveled to Hazeroth.

11. He cares for you

Psalm 105:39-41 (NIV)

He spread out a cloud as a covering,
and a fire to give light at night.

They asked, and he brought them quail
and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.

He opened the rock, and water gushed out;
like a river it flowed in the desert.

_________________________

Images courtesy of:
quail on the ground.   https://www.chron.com/sports/outdoors/article/Texas-quail-population-drought-is-over-10415971.php
fire flames.   http://www.sxc.hu/pic/m/h/hu/huibidos/1093985_fire_flames.jpg
spicy cold cucumber salad (with cucumbers, green onions, and garlic).   http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3277/2577344164_60bd12efc9.jpg
Stop whining.   http://edbatista.typepad.com/edbatista/images/2005/02/Stop%20Whining.jpg
quail.  https://www.thelectionarycompany.org/bible-readings/tag/Christ+the+cornerstone
He cares for you.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/34-he-cares-for-you.jpg?w=450

2980.) Numbers 10

September 18, 2020
silver trumpets

silver trumpets

Numbers 10

The Silver Trumpets

1The LORD told Moses:

2Have someone make two trumpets out of hammered silver. These will be used to call the people together and to give the signal for moving your camp. 3If both trumpets are blown, everyone is to meet with you at the entrance to the sacred tent. 4But if just one is blown, only the twelve tribal leaders need to come together.

5-6Give a signal on a trumpet when it is time to break camp. The first blast will be the signal for the tribes camped on the east side, and the second blast will be the signal for those on the south. 7But when you want everyone to come together, sound a different signal on the trumpet. 8The priests of Aaron’s family will be the ones to blow the trumpets, and this law will never change.

9Whenever you go into battle against an enemy attacking your land, give a warning signal on the trumpets. Then I, the LORD, will hear it and rescue you. 10During the celebration of the New Moon Festival and other religious festivals, sound the trumpets while you offer sacrifices. This will be a reminder that I am the LORD your God.

10. trumpets red

Psalm 81:1-4 (CEV)

Be happy and shout to God

who makes us strong!

Shout praises to the God

of Jacob.

Sing as you play tambourines

and the lovely sounding

stringed instruments.

Sound the trumpets and start

the New Moon Festival.

We must also celebrate

when the moon is full.

This is the law in Israel,

and it was given to us

by the God of Jacob.

_________________________

Music:

Today is a day for trumpet music!  And who better than Phil Driscoll?  He sings with that unmistakable gravel in his throat, but you forgive him for that once you hear him play his instrument!  HERE  he is with “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

_________________________

The Israelites Begin Their Journey

-- one theory about the route followed by the Israelites --

— one theory about the route followed by the Israelites —

11On the twentieth day of the second month  of that same year, the cloud over the sacred tent moved on. 12So the Israelites broke camp and left the Sinai Desert.

This was the first time Israel marched as an organized, prepared nation. They were not the same group that escaped Egypt as a mob. They had been fully prepared to walk as Promised Land people:

  • They were ordered and organized
  • They were cleansed and purified
  • They were set apart and blessed
  • They were taught how to give and how to function as priests
  • They were made to remember judgment spared and deliverance brought
  • They were given God’s presence as a guide and the tools needed to lead the people

One would be tempted to think that after such extensive preparation — a virtual transformation from slave people to Promised Land people — the actual entering into the Promised Land would be easy. This was not the case. The preparation was exactly that, preparation. Ahead of them are the greatest challenges, challenges that can only be met by faith. A soldier might think boot camp finishes something, but it doesn’t. It only prepares for a greater challenge: the actual battle itself.

–David Guzik

And some time later, the cloud stopped in the Paran Desert.  13This was the first time the LORD had told Moses to command the people of Israel to move on. 14Judah and the tribes that camped alongside it marched out first, carrying their banner. Nahshon son of Amminadab was the leader of the Judah tribe, 15Nethanel son of Zuar was the leader of the Issachar tribe, 16and Eliab son of Helon was the leader of the Zebulun tribe.

17The sacred tent had been taken down, and the Gershonites and the Merarites carried it, marching behind the Judah camp.

18Reuben and the tribes that camped alongside it marched out second, carrying their banner. Elizur son of Shedeur was the leader of the Reuben tribe, 19Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai was the leader of the Simeon tribe, 20and Eliasaph son of Deuel was the leader of the Gad tribe.

21Next were the Kohathites, carrying the objects for the sacred tent, which was to be set up before they arrived at the new camp.

22Ephraim and the tribes that camped alongside it marched next, carrying their banner. Elishama son of Ammihud was the leader of the Ephraim tribe, 23Gamaliel son of Pedahzur was the leader of the Manasseh tribe, 24and Abidan son of Gideoni was the leader of the Benjamin tribe.

25Dan and the tribes that camped alongside it were to protect the Israelites against an attack from behind, and so they marched last, carrying their banner. Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai was the leader of the tribe of Dan, 26Pagiel son of Ochran was the leader of the Asher tribe, 27and Ahira son of Enan was the leader of the Naphtali tribe.

the tribes marched in the same order as they had been placed around the tabernacle.

The tribes marched in the same order as they had been placed around the tabernacle.

28This was the order in which the Israelites marched each time they moved their camp.

29Hobab the Midianite, the father-in-law of Moses, was there. And Moses said to him, ” We’re leaving for the place the LORD has promised us. He has said that all will go well for us. So come along, and we will make sure that all goes well for you.” 30” No, I won’t go,” Hobab answered. ” I’m returning home to be with my own people.”

31” Please go with us!” Moses said. ” You can be our guide because you know the places to camp in the desert. 32Besides that, if you go, we will give you a share of the good things the LORD gives us.”

33The people of Israel began their journey from Mount Sinai.  They traveled three days, and the Levites who carried the sacred chest led the way, so the LORD could show them where to camp. 34And the cloud always stayed with them. 35Each day as the Israelites began their journey, Moses would pray, ” Our LORD, defeat your enemies and make them run!” 36And when they stopped to set up camp, he would pray, ” Our LORD, stay close to Israel’s thousands and thousands of people.”

10. Candle_Dripping

Psalm 68:1-3 (NIV)

May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.

As smoke is blown away by the wind,
may you blow them away;
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.

But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.

_________________________

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
silver trumpets.   https://i1.wp.com/www.cuttingedgechristianity.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/silver_trumpets.jpg
red trumpets.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/10-trumpets-red.jpg?w=450
map of the route of the exodus.    http://www.bible-history.com/maps/Map-Route-Exodus-Israelites-Egypt.jpg
tribes around the tabernacle.  http://www.yashanet.com/images/tribes.gif
candle dripping wax.  http://www.acornadvisors.com/Kitchen%20Newsletters/2007-09-06%20Setting_the_Table/Candle_Dripping.jpg

2979.) Numbers 9

September 17, 2020

9. Passover

Numbers 9

Regulations for Celebrating Passover

Num9 Passover food

1During the first month of Israel’s second year in the Sinai Desert,  the LORD had told Moses 2to say to the people, ” Celebrate Passover 3in the evening of the fourteenth day of this month  and do it by following all the regulations.” 4-5Moses told the people what the LORD had said, and they celebrated Passover there in the desert in the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month.

Passover was meant to be a reminder of God’s “passing over” Israel in the judgment of the firstborn at the Exodus from Egypt.

The blood of the lamb, applied to the door posts of the home, would be seen by the angel of God’s judgment — and seeing the blood, the angel would “pass over” and spare the home covered by the blood. Passover was meant to be a continual reminder of this occasion of being spared judgment, and of the deliverance that followed in the Exodus.

Jesus fulfilled the Passover sacrifice by His death on the cross (1 Corinthians 5:7); the covering of His blood causes the judgment of God to “pass over” us. We are commanded to continually remember our occasion of being spared judgment and the deliverance that followed, by remembering Jesus’ work on the cross through the Lord’s Supper.

–David Guzik

6Some people in Israel’s camp had touched a dead body and had become unfit to worship the LORD, and they could not celebrate Passover. But they asked Moses and Aaron, 7” Even though we have touched a dead body, why can’t we celebrate Passover and offer sacrifices to the LORD at the same time as everyone else?”

8Moses said, ” Wait here while I go into the sacred tent and find out what the LORD says about this.”

9The LORD then told Moses 10to say to the community of Israel:

If any of you or your descendants touch a dead body and become unfit to worship me, or if you are away on a long journey, you may still celebrate Passover. 11But it must be done in the second month,  in the evening of the fourteenth day. Eat the Passover lamb with thin bread and bitter herbs, 12and don’t leave any of it until morning or break any of the animal’s bones. Be sure to follow these regulations. 13But if any of you refuse to celebrate Passover when you are not away on a journey, you will no longer belong to my people. You will be punished because you did not offer sacrifices to me at the proper time.

14Anyone, including foreigners who live among you, can celebrate Passover, if they follow all the regulations.

The Cloud over the Sacred Tent

10. cloud covering

1 Corinthians 10:1 (NLT)

I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them.

15-16As soon as the sacred tent was set up,  a thick cloud appeared and covered it. The cloud was there each day, and during the night, a fire could be seen in it.

This was more than proof of God’s presence. The cloud by day and the fire by night were actual helps and comforts to Israel. The fire at night was obviously a comfort to Israel in the midst of a dark wilderness, and the cloud by day would be a shade from the hot wilderness sun.

17-19The LORD used this cloud to tell the Israelites when to move their camp and where to set it up again. As long as the cloud covered the tent, the Israelites did not break camp. But when the cloud moved, they followed it, and wherever it stopped, they camped and stayed there, 20-22whether it was only one night, a few days, a month, or even a year. As long as the cloud remained over the tent, the Israelites stayed where they were. But when the cloud moved, so did the Israelites. 23They obeyed the LORD’s commands and went wherever he directed Moses.

Num9 followme

Numbers 9:23 (ESV)

At the command of the LORD they camped, and at the command of the LORD they set out.

Matthew 4:18-22 (ESV)

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

_________________________

Music:

I have decided to follow Jesus . . .  HERE  is a song of offering ourselves to the Lord — “Christ is enough for me,” by Hillsong.

_________________________

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
Passover blood on door.   https://alephtavscriptures.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Passover-I.pdf
Passover matzah and wine.   https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/uk/first-day-of-passover
cloud covering.   http://revelationofjesuschrist.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/thunderstorm_1.png
follow me.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/6-followme.gif

2978.) Numbers 8

September 16, 2020
the golden lampstand

the golden lampstand

Numbers 8

Aaron Puts the Gold Lamps in Place

2 Peter 1:16-19 (NIV)

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

1The LORD said to Moses, 2” Tell Aaron to put the seven lamps on the lamp stand so they shine toward the front.”

3Aaron obeyed and placed the lamps as he was told. 4The lamp stand was made of hammered gold from its base to the decorative flowers on top, exactly like the pattern the LORD had described to Moses.

8. GoldenCandlestick

The light of the candlestick points to the Lord Jesus Christ, who said,

“I am the light of the world” (John 9:5),

and to the spoken and written Word of God, as David said,

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).

and to the church, as the First and the Last said,

“As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lamp stands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lamp stands are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:20).

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Jesus, the Light of the World,” a Christmas song from the late 1800’s. I think it will raise your spirits if you sing along!

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Instructions for Ordaining the Levites

5The LORD said to Moses:

6The Levites must be acceptable to me before they begin working at the sacred tent. So separate them from the rest of the Israelites 7and sprinkle them with the water that washes away their sins. Then have them shave their entire bodies and wash their clothes.

8They are to bring a bull and its proper grain sacrifice of flour mixed with olive oil. And they must bring a second bull as a sacrifice for sin.

9Then you, Moses, will call together all the people of Israel and have the Levites go to my sacred tent, 10where the people will place their hands on them. 11Aaron will present the Levites to me as a gift from the people, so that the Levites will do my work.

Num8 workforchrist

Reflection:

from Matthew Henry’s Commentary, first published in 1721:

All who expect to share in the privileges of the tabernacle, must resolve to do the service of the tabernacle. As, on the one hand, none of God’s creatures are his necessary servants, he needs not the service of any of them; so none are merely honorary servants, to do nothing. All whom God owns, he employs; angels themselves have their services.

What is your service for God today?

12After this, the Levites are to place their hands on the heads of the bulls. Then one of the bulls will be sacrificed for the forgiveness of sin, and the other to make sure that I am pleased. 13The Levites will stand at my altar in front of Aaron and his sons, who will then dedicate the Levites to me.

14This ceremony will show that the Levites are different from the other Israelites and belong to me in a special way. 15After they have been made acceptable and have been dedicated, they will be allowed to work at my sacred tent. 16They are mine and will take the place of the first-born Israelite sons. 17When I killed the oldest sons of the Egyptians, I decided that the first-born sons in each Israelite family would be mine, as well as every first-born male from their flocks and herds. 18But now I have chosen these Levites as substitutes for the first-born sons, 19and I have given them as gifts to Aaron and his sons to serve at the sacred tent. I will hold them responsible for what happens to anyone who gets too close to the sacred tent.

The Levites Are Dedicated to the LORD

"Levites at the Temple" papercut by Canadian and Israeli artist Naomi Spiers

“Levites at the Temple” papercut by Canadian-Israeli artist Naomi Spiers

20Moses, Aaron, and the other Israelites made sure that the Levites did everything the LORD had commanded. 21The Levites sprinkled themselves with the water of forgiveness and washed their clothes. Then Aaron brought them to the altar and offered sacrifices to forgive their sins and make them acceptable to the LORD. 22After this, the Levites worked at the sacred tent as assistants to Aaron and his sons, just as the LORD had commanded.

23The LORD also told Moses, 24-25” Levites who are between the ages of twenty-five and fifty can work at my sacred tent. But once they turn fifty, they must retire. 26They may help the other Levites in their duties, but they must no longer be responsible for any work themselves. Remember this when you assign their duties.”

A Levite’s time of active service was to begin at age thirty and last until fifty according to Numbers 4:3, 4:23, and 4:30. Yet their formal training began at age twenty-five, with a five year apprenticeship.

–David Guzik

_________________________

Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
menorah.   https://thejewishvoice.com/2019/02/parshas-tetzaveh-moshe-rabbenu-putting-himself-on-the-line-2/
golden candlestick.  http://gbcdecatur.org/files/GoldenCandlestick.jpg
Work for Christ.   http://www.fbct.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/workforchrist.jpg
Spiers.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/8-levites_papercut.jpg?w=450