Numbers 29-30

Every seventh time is consecrated to the LORD. Seventh day of the week, seventh month of the year, seventh year, seventh collection of seven years.

Seven is a symbolic number of completion. Nothing is full, there is no closure until seven. Seven is the LORD’s number, which means nothing is full or completed until He is involved.

Much of Israel’s rituals were reminders, as we’ve discussed, and specific reminders to keep the LORD in everything. A part of every day, week, year, celebration. It’s not complete until He’s recognized as being part of it.

We don’t have all these same reminders. It can be easy to unintentionally compartmentalize our faith in God and leave Him out of varied aspects of life.

What about our promises? Chapter 30 has all these protections from hasty vows. I think this is hilarious. I know gender stereotypes are taboo these days, but I know myself as a woman, and my impulsive promises. It would be infuriating to have a dad, husband or brother around to be like, “Nah, nah, she doesn’t mean it, don’t hold her to it”, but it would also get me out of a lot of trouble.

But wait! I do have Jesus, who is always with me, and intercedes for me before the Father, saying, “Don’t hold her impulsive outbursts against her.” That’s amazing! And something worth remembering:

Don’t leave Jesus out of anything!

-Bethany

Numbers 27-28

“So Moses brought their case before the Lord.” 27:5

I love the parallel we see between Jesus and Moses in this chapter. Can you imagine Jesus hearing our prayers and taking the agreeable requests to the Lord, like Moses did for the daughters of Zelophehad? He advocates for these women, who are bravely defending their position and asking for more; not an easy task at this point in culture!

Later, did you notice Moses’ response when God reminded him that he won’t be joining his people in the Promised Land?

“O Lord, you are the God who gives breath to all creatures. Please appoint a new man as leader for the community.” 27:16

He doesn’t plead his own case or whine at the consequences of his sin, he looks out for his people. He wants to make sure his sheep have a shepherd!

As we near the end of Moses’ time with the Israelites, take a minute to reflect on his leadership.

How does he lead like Jesus does?

How does he fail to lead like him?

What can we learn from Moses? As followers and as leaders?

-Carly

Numbers 25-26

I had to reread 25 a couple times to really understand what was happening. Things escalated so quickly!

This is a historic moment for Israel, which will have tragic ripples reaching far into their future. It’s the first time they try out worshipping the gods of Canaan. This is why God reacts so quickly, immediately sending a plague, and praising Phinehas for his fast thinking sex shish-kabab.

Baal-peor has been speculated to be the same as the Moab deity, Chemosh, who is closely related/maybe the same as Molech. All to say, a demonic power, worshiped through human sacrifice and sex acts.

So when a leader of the household of the Simeonites goes to perform a binding sex act with the daughter of the leader of Midian, it’s a desperate time calling for a desperate measure.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t deter the Israelites forever. This moment in time is referenced 6 more times in the Bible as a sort of “beginning of the end”. For example:

“I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your forefathers as the earliest fruit tree in its first season. But they came to Baal-peor and devoted themselves to shame, and they became as detestable as that which they loved.” (Hosea 9:10)

We all have sins in our lives we wish hadn’t taken root. Sometime, in our past, we crossed the first line and it seems there’s no going back. Do we still take that seriously or have we given up?

Stop. The LORD has made us new.

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

We don’t have to let our Baal-peor moments rule our lives! The power which raised Christ from the dead lives in us and we are not defined by our past sins!

The same kind of Chemosh demonic power in this world, called the “accuser of the brethren” wants to convince you that you’re bound to something, but Christ has set you free.

Stand free in that power today! Tell that accuser what’s up and bring your struggles to the LORD. The LORD is God and there is no other. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me from my sins!

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Colossians‬ ‭2:8-15)

-Bethany

Numbers 23-24

“But Balaam replied to Balak, ‘Didn’t I tell you that I can only do what the Lord tells me?’ ” 23:26

These chapters are such a beautiful example of God’s sovereignty over his people. At first glance, it can seem like because God’s using a sorcerer, he’s condoning sorcery. But the way he uses Balaam just proves the control and power he has over evil.

Yet another example in the Bible of God using someone incredibly unlikely to accomplish work. Balaam was just in this all for the money, and was attempting to harm Israel. But instead, God uses him to predict the coming of the Messiah (24:15-19).

This is our God and I love how he works. He untwists evil intentions and threads them into his story, using them to accomplish his plans.

Our future is safe in God’s hands.

-Carly

Numbers 21-22

There are a few major events in these two chapters.

First, the return of complaining resulting in snake bites. This moment of punishment and sequential healing becomes a major foreshadow of Christ.

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-16)

Next, war with the people beyond the Jordan, prompts Balak, king of Moab, to enlist the supernatural help of Balaam. Another significant story, which will be continued tomorrow.

Peter references Balaam in 2 Peter 2:15-16 when he warns against false prophets. Balaam wasn’t trying to demonstrate integrity or restraint when he refused to help the first time. He was being paid to curse Israel and intended to do so. But God is in control of all things, and in this case, used a donkey to bring him to his senses.

God is in control, all-powerful and merciful. He is bigger than our reactions and saves us from our own evil intentions. Something major happens every time Israel complains and they still don’t learn. They’re out there complaining about God and getting bitten by snakes. Meanwhile, He’s providing a way of salvation and protecting them from a powerful sorcerer.

If this doesn’t humble us, I don’t know what will. This is the God who gives the gift of eloquence to atheists. Even in our cursing, misuse of blessing and entitled complaining, He sustains us and plans the biggest rescue of all time.

Check your heart today. What do you find yourself prone to complain about? What are you mad at God for? What can you thank Him for? How has He provided or protected?

-Bethany

Numbers 19-20

“So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. ‘Listen, you rebels!’ he shouted. ‘Must we bring you water from this rock?’ Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill. “ 20:9-10

It’s taken me a long time to accept this piece of Scripture. It’s a sad part of Moses’ journey of leading the Israelites. He has put up with whiny, complaining people who turn on him the second he walks away. He’s advocated for them, sparing them from God’s deserved wrath towards their behavior. He loses his patience, whacks a rock a couple times and now he doesn’t get to go into the Promised Land?!

Moses was exercising power that didn’t belong to him, and lording the authority God granted him over the Israelites in anger. Also, he was disrupting a beautiful picture God was painting for his people that he started setting up in Exodus 17. So God created a new picture, using Moses’ mistake:

 

He rebuked Moses and forbid him to enter the Promised Land. This illustrates that we cannot be freed from our slavery and enter into salvation (the Promised Land) by works of the Law (aka, by Moses), but only by the work of Jesus (or, by Joshua, who ends up leading the people into the Promised Land. The name ‘Joshua’ can be Yeshua or Jesus).

I’m still sad about the way this ended for Moses. I desire happy endings, hate consequences and want to see fruit of hard work sooner than later. Following God and leading his people looks like this sometimes. You don’t always get to see the reward of your hard work, because you’re not suppose to be working for the reward. And we still answer to a holy and sovereign God, no matter who we are in leadership.

Do you get impatient towards God’s people?

If God has granted you authority over people, are you stewarding it well?

 

-Carly

 

 

 

Numbers 17-18

“But the LORD said to Moses, ‘Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put an end to their grumblings against Me, so that they will not die.'” (17:10)

The LORD chooses leaders. Here, He makes it abundantly clear, His choice of Aaron among the others.

Yesterday, we read about the rebellion of Korah. They wanted someone else’s job and challenged Moses about it. Long story short, Moses didn’t have to speak for himself to defend his role.

God puts people in specific places. He makes us all different, gives us different gifts and roles and it’s up to Him. Just as Paul says in Romans 12.

We have seen Moses-like leaders in the church during our time. Like, perhaps, Billy Graham, Pope Francis, Loren Cunningham, etc. We should not all jockey for their positions, influence and authority. We can’t all be that guy. On smaller scales, we are not all the pastors of our churches. It’s easy to get position, roles, authority and gifting mixed up with value or equality. It is certainly not the same.

Oftentimes, as a pastor’s kid turned missionary, I feel the Levites pain. Chapter 18 defines the burden of the house of Levi:

“You and your sons and your father’s household with you shall bear the guilt in connection with the sanctuary, and you and your sons with you shall bear the guilt in connection with your priesthood.” (18:1)

Yikes. No thanks. If I was from the tribe of Asher, I think I’d be okie dokie with it. Then again, maybe I’d envy the Levitical living off the sacrifices of others, status, and proximity to the tabernacle.

“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” and it’s about time we all owned our side of the fence. Our God-ordained side.

-Bethany