Simple Obedience (Numbers 34-36)

Sunday, September 11 – Start of Week 8

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By Joseph Partain

Chapter 34 gives us God’s boundaries for the promised land for the Israelites. The land that he promised is more than the Israelites ever occupied. This is so similar to us today, we never fully enjoy all God is willing to do for us always based on unwillingness to follow his commands. In this case the battle was won for the Israelites and in v 16-29 God allows his children to join in the spoils of the victory he provided. God also tells Moses the names of the individuals to assign the land. We see how God knows the individuals names and is involved in this situation in great detail. God still is involved in great detail in our lives today and invites us to enjoy the victory and the inheritance if only we trust him.

Chapter 35 – This chapter opens with the scattering of the Levites throughout Israel as prophesied by Jacob in Genesis 49:7 which states ” I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel”.

God also gives a command to have cities of refuge to ensure that every person has a chance at a fair trial. God then gives his commands on what is murder and  manslaughter and the punishments for each. The only way the man could leave the city of refuge was with the death of the high priest. The death of our high priest, Jesus the Christ has given us freedom.

Chapter 36 deals with the inheritance of Zelophehad’s daughters. I would think they would want to marry outside their clan as to get a better last name but God tells them to only marry inside their tribe. The best part of this command is in v.10 when the daughter did as the Lord commanded them. Some of the most remarkable verses in the Bible are when people don’t argue with God about his commands but simply obey. When we learn that an all knowing and loving God has commands for our benefit, the response should be simple obedience.

(To remember what we have seen in the book of Numbers . . .

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Clearing Out the Garbage (Numbers 31-33)

September 10

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By Talon Paul

As the Israelites are preparing to finally enter the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, God commands them in 33:52 to “drive out all the inhabitants of the land” (not kill them all) and “destroy all their molten images and demolish their high places.” The very first thing that God commands them to do after driving out everybody is to completely destroy their false gods. God wants nothing but Himself as the divine authority of the Israelites’ lives, and He wants only Himself as the divine authority of our lives as well.

YHWH God says in v. 55 and 56 that if they do not do these things, then those people and their false gods will trouble them in the land. As we know from the rest of the story, the Israelites did not listen and they suffered the consequences for not obeying. They later on begin to follow these false gods and God punishes them for their actions.

But just like the Israelites who needed to clear out the ‘garbage’ of the Promised Land before inheriting it, we as Christians need to do the same. We need to take out the ‘false gods’ in our lives, whether that be a bad relationship, an obsession, an addiction, or anything that keeps us from giving complete devotion to our Heavenly Father. If we don’t, those things can come back and trouble us for the rest of our lives, just like they did to the Israelites. We need to be diligent and active in removing the ‘garbage’ from our life so we can give everything that we are to our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus.

Passing the Torch (Numbers 27-30)

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By Talon Paul

Once again, we have come across another section of Numbers with a number of sacrifices, laws, and other things that the ancient Israelites were expected to fulfill.  Unfortunately for us, those laws are not as relevant to us today and can seem boring. To them though, these were essentially important to living in communion with their God. But what lesson can we Christians who are no longer bound by the Old Covenant take from this section?

I believe that 27:15-23 has very great insight for all people of all ages. This passage explains that Moses will not be leading the people into the Promised Land because of his disobedience back in 20:8-12. However, Moses is commanded to install Joshua as his successor as leader of the Israelites. Up to this point, Joshua was likely studying underneath Moses and worked with him.

The point of this lesson is two-fold: Those that are older need to prepare someone younger to take their place eventually, and those that are younger need to learn from those that are older. Unfortunately today, people have a mindset that their generation is the only one that is correct, while the truth is that there is much that can be learned from all generations, both older and younger.

To those that are older: Look for the potential in those that are younger in your church and start training them up to eventually enter ministries that you will be leaving eventually

To those that are younger: Learn from those older than you, be willing to do ministry work in your church, and develop a passion for the Lord.

Blessings or Curses (Numbers 24-26)

September 8

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Photo of Mountains in Israel By Beivushtang at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3485696

By Talon Paul

If you are like me and have read through this entire section, you are probably tired of reading all of the names listed and the counting of individuals for war. This information was very important to the Israelites, but has become “back-burner” information for us today in 21st century America.

Although it is very strenuous to read this section, there is a very important story in chapter 24, which is extended on from chapter 23. Here we see a man named Balaam being commanded by Balak to curse the Israelites who are passing through his land. However, when they get up to a high place to see over all of Israel, Balaam can only cast blessings down on the people, thanks to God. Why is this so important?

While the Israelites were complaining about their lives, going through the motions of everyday life, God was protecting them without them even knowing it. They had no idea that just over the mountain was a man being unable to curse them because God intervened.

The same is true in our lives. When we are in the midst of all the struggles of life and are busy doing everything we need to, God is still protecting us, whether we realize it or not. Although we may not be able to see what He is doing immediately, we know that He has promised to protect His people. God is doing wonders for you right now; do you believe it, even though you can’t see it?

Set Free from Satan’s Venom (Numbers 21-23)

Sept. 7

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By Talon Paul

In chapter 21 of Numbers, the Israelites set out on a journey from Mount Hor where they have been for some time since Aaron had died. As they were traveling, verse 4 says that they became impatient with YHWH and with Moses, and they began complaining about their hunger and thirst (have we seen this scenario before?). God punishes them by sending serpents to attack them and show them the error of their ways. Luckily for them, Moses intercedes for them. God commands Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole, and whenever the Israelites looked to the snake, they were healed from the venom of the snake.

The New Testament uses this illustration to describe Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross in John 3:14-16. It says that “the Son of Man must be lifted up”, talking about his crucifixion. The passage later says that “whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Just as the Israelites looked to the bronze snake to be healed from the venom of the serpents, so we too can look to Jesus and be healed from the venom (sin) of the Great Snake (Satan). Jesus has provided a way for us to be healed from the pain and hurt that sin brings into our lives. All we are commanded to do is look to him, believe in him, and obey his commands. Praise God for such a wonderful sacrifice that sets us free from Satan’s venom in our lives!

When God says speak . . . don’t strike instead (Numbers 18-20)

September 6

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By Talon Paul

In Numbers 18-20, most of us have gotten bored of all the sacrifice talk and all the specifics that the priests had to perform to make these sacrifices. There is also detail given to what happens when someone touches a dead body, purification, and everything else that just does not apply to us today. However, beyond all of these historical specifics, there is a tragic story in chapter 20 for Moses and Aaron.

Moses and Aaron are commanded to speak to a rock in order to produce water for the Israelites (v.8), but instead, they hit the rock with a staff (v.11). This was an act of disobedience and disbelief (v.12). Because of these actions, both Moses and Aaron are forbidden to enter the Promised Land.

Let this serve as a fair reminder for us as well. If we do not have full and complete trust in God and His plan for salvation, and if we do not obey His Son (see John 3:36), we will not enter the Promised Land (Kingdom of God) either. God demands our full obedience and trust, even when we are frustrated and things don’t quite make sense. We must have absolute faith in Him because He has something greater in store for us, rather than disobeying Him.

REMEMBER (Numbers 15-17)

September 5

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By Talon Paul

In this section of reading, it can get very overwhelming to read with all of the laws that God gives to the Israelites that may not matter to us in 21st century America very much. However, one of the laws that God gives the Israelites should draw our attention and is very important to understand.

In Numbers 15:38-41, God commands the Israelites to wear ‘tassels’ on their outfits, but it isn’t just so that they look fashionable and “cool”. God has commanded this so that, as verse 39-40 state, the Israelites will remember all that God has done for them and to remember to do all that God commanded.

We as Christians have a very firm and more powerful reminder to do what God has commanded: the cross. A man, Jesus, was literally tortured and executed because of our sins. We can look back to this as a reminder of the fact that God has given us a way to be forgiven of our sins, but also as a reminder that, because of that sacrifice, we need to obey the commands of Jesus and God. When we do this, it keeps us from sinning against them and gives us a hope for the future.