Thursday, February 26, 2015

Numbers 15-19 - the Life of Moses

Last week we saw 12 spies explore the land of Canaan and how they were divided in their report back to the people causing the people to not trust God.  Only Caleb and Joshua believed God’s promises.  God had prepared the Israelites to claim His promises and take Canaan, but they failed to believe and trust God so they suffered the consequences.

Numbers 15 - Sacrifices

This chapter reminded the Israelites that God had promised Canaan to their children so they had to be prepared to live there.  They had to know God’s rules so they could tell their children.  They had to know if they sinned, they were to offer sacrifices.  God would provide them food, but they needed to thank Him by offering some back.  There were a lot of rules to follow and they could sin by accident.  If they did, they were to offer a sacrifice for that unintentional sin. (Num. 15:1-29)

There were people who understood God’s rules, but refused to obey.  They did what they wanted.  God said these people were blaspheming the Lord and must be cut off from his people. (Num. 15:30-31)  An example of this kind of person is in Num.15:32-36.  A man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day and was taken to Moses and Aaron.  They asked the Lord what should be done with him and the Lord said he must die.  The Sabbath is one of the most important commands given by God.  It was to be a holy day and a day of rest.  The man knew this, but disobeyed and rebelled which a rebellion against God.  God wants to forgive us, but first we must repent and confess our sin.

(Num 15:37-41) -The people were to attach blue tassels to the corners of their clothes.  This was a sign they belonged to Him and it would remind them of all God’s commands.  “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God.  I am the Lord your God.” Num. 15:41.

What reminds you of God and His commands?
How have you ignored them for your own desires?
When have you rebelled against God?
Have you asked Him for forgiveness?

Numbers 16 – Challenging the Priesthood

Korah, Danthan and Abirim rose up against Moses.  They persuaded 250 other leaders to rise up with them.  They told Moses that all the Israelites were holy and were as important as Moses.  Korah, who was from the same family as Moses and Aaron did not look at the tassels and think of God and His promises.  He thought only of his own desires.  He thought he had the right to make a claim to the priesthood.  Koran was jealous and wanted equal power.  Their rebellion was not actually against Moses and Aaron, but against God.

Moses didn’t argue with Korah, but fell face down before the Lord showing again that he was God’s humble servant.  Moses became very angry with these men.  Moses had always been a fair and responsible leader.  He wanted to prove who God had chosen as priests.  Since only priests were allowed to offer incense, Moses told them to offer incense in God’s Tent and they would see if God allowed them to do this.  Of course God did not allow this and He wanted to kill all the people.  But Moses and Aaron interceded for them and asked God not to punish everyone for the sins of a few.  (Num. 16:15-22)

God told Moses to have the people move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abriam.  Then God put His judgment on them.  The ground opened up and the wicked men went down alive into the hole in the ground.  Then God punished the 250 followers by sending fire to kill them.  (Num. 16:23-35)  God spared the people, but punished the rebels.

God then told Eleazar to collect the censers the men had used for the incense and to use the bronze from them to make a cover for the altar.  This would always remind the Israelites how God had punished Korah and his followers.  They would remember only priests could offer incense to God. (Num. 16:36-40)

You would think the people would have learned a lesson about rebelling against God, but they didn’t.  The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. (Num. 16:41-50)  Again God threatened to destroy them all, but again Moses and Aaron interceded.  Moses told Aaron to hurry and take his censer and make atonement for the people’s sin.  Aaron portrayed the work of Jesus as intercessor.  ”He stood between the living and the dead” - Num. 16:48.  This is exactly what Jesus did for us by His death on the cross.

Do you believed on Jesus as your Savior? 
Do you trust in His work on the cross on your behalf? 

The only way to God is through Jesus.  “There is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.”John 3:16-18.  This is why God protected and defended the priesthood in the Old Testament.  If you reject Jesus, you will perish.

Numbers 17 – Aaron’s Priesthood

In this chapter we see how God showed Aaron was appointed High Priest.  Each leader of the 12 tribes was to bring his staff, marked with their name and place it before the presence of the Lord in the Most Holy Place.  The man whose staff sprouted or came alive would be God’s choice priest.  The next morning Aaron’s staff had sprouted, even blossomed and produced almonds.  This staff was place in front of the Testimony to be a sign of the rebellious. 

The people said, “We will die!  We are lost!  Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord will die.  Are we all going to die?”Num 17:12-13.  God didn’t want the people to rebel and He didn’t want them to die, but they were afraid seeing so many people die. 

Numbers 18-19 – Purpose of the Priesthood

In this chapter God spoke directly to Aaron.  He reminded him of the priestly duties and responsibilities. (Num. 18-19)     

Aaron’s priesthood was necessary and an important one, but it was not perfect.  Jesus Christ is our one and only perfect Priest.  He offered Himself as the one true one and only way of salvation.  “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.  He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.  The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.  How much more, then, will the blood of Christ who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” Heb. 9:11 -14.

The Old Testament priests had to repeatedly offer sacrifices, but Jesus was sacrificed once and for all.  Thank you Jesus!

Is Jesus your High Priest?
Do you believe He is the only way to God?
What words could you use to thank Jesus for what He has done as your High Priest?  

Complaining against God’s appointed leaders is a rebellion against God.
Jesus Christ is our High Priest, God’s appointed mediator.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Numbers 13-14 - The Life of Moses

(My BSF Notes)
Last week we saw how the Israelites complained about the manna and wanted meat to eat.  God gave them exactly what they wanted.  He sent quail for a month and they ate the quail until they were sick of it.  Then we saw Miriam criticize Moses and how God came to his defense.

Numbers 13-14:1-4 – The Spies
The Lord told Moses to send 1 leader from each tribe to go explore the land of Canaan that He was giving them.  Men from twelve tribes were selected including Caleb from the tribe of Judah and Joshua from the tribe of Ephraim.  They were to find out what the land was like and if the people there strong or weak, few or many.  Was the land good or bad? What were the towns like, unwalled or fortified?  How was the soil?  Was it fertile or poor?  They were also to try to bring back fruit from the land.  They did just what they were told and explored the land.  They cut a single cluster of grapes.  It was so large that two men had to carry it on a pole between them. 

At the end of 40 days they returned and reported to Moses and the Israelite community.  They reported that it does flow with milk and honey, but the cities were fortified and very large.  The people that lived there were powerful.  They reported they saw descendants of Anak there who were like giants.  “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said we should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”Num. 13:30.

Ten of the spies disagreed with Caleb and didn’t want to attack.  They said the people there were stronger so the men spread a bad report about the land.  The people had gone through so much to get to the Promise Land and now it was time to claim it.  They failed to trust that God would do what He said He would do.  They simply did not believe His Word.  They carried the evidence on their shoulders, but had unbelief in their hearts.

Many of us are like the Israelites.  We see the evidence all around us, but we just don’t believe God will do what He says.  This keeps us from achieving what we could as witnesses for Jesus.

Do you believe God will do what He says?
What are you doing to help others believe?

By Caleb standing up against the people he probably lost his friends, his followers, and his credibility.  There was one other who was with him.  That was Joshua.  Caleb was a faithful servant and trusted God and was not afraid to speak against the others.

When have you stood up for when you believe something was God’s will?
What should you do before beginning a new work for God?
What important job has God asked you to do? 

The people were fearful and raised their voices, wept, and grumbled against Moses.  “If only we had died in Egypt!  Or in this desert!  Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?......Wouldn’t it be better to go back to Egypt?  … We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”Num. 14:1-4.  What were they thinking?  How quickly they forgot the hardships and slavery in Egypt and all that God had done for them.  They blamed Moses and Aaron by wanting to choose another leader, but were really blaming God.

How do you do the same thing when you think you are facing the impossible?
Do you blame others?
Or do you trust God will be with you and do what He says?

Numbers 14:5-45 – The Unbelief

Moses and Aaron fell face down before the people, probably in fear of what would happen to them and maybe in prayer and worship of God.  Caleb and Joshua had their eyes on God and not themselves.  They told the people, “Do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up.  Their protection is gone, but the lord is with us.  Do not be afraid of them.” Num. 14:9.  The people were afraid of the giants in the land, but Caleb and Joshua knew they had a giant God.

What are the giants in your life?
Do you trust God will help you face them?
When have you stood on God’s promises when others did not?

The people talked of stoning Caleb and Joshua.  Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the Tent.  “How long will these people treat me with contempt?  How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?  I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger that they.” Num 14:11-12.

Moses reminded God if He destroyed the people the Egyptians would hear about it and tell the inhabitants of this land and they would think He doesn’t keep His promises.  This would question God’s power and that He is not the true God.  (Num. 14:13-16)  Moses reminded God, “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.  Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.’  In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.” - Num. 14:17-19. 

Some think in the Old Testament that God is always strict and angry and judgmental.  They think in the New Testament He is different.  God does not change!  He is always the same.  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”Heb. 13:8.  He always loves us.  He loves us so much that He sent His son Jesus to take the punishment we deserve.  If we are sorry for our sins, He will forgive us, because of the work of Jesus on the cross.

God listened to Moses and forgave and spared the people.  He forgave them, but condemned them to wander in the desert for the next 40 years.  They would not enter the Promise Land.  Only Caleb and Joshua would enter.  Then the 10 men who gave the bad report were struck dead.

God listened to Moses which encourages us when we pray.  Our prayers do affect God.  The words we use are not important, because He already knows our hearts and what we need.  We need to be humble and honest and God will hear us and answer our prayers.

Moses told the Israelites what God said that they would not enter the land and they mourned bitterly.  “We have sinned.  We will go up to the place the Lord promised.”Num 14:40.  Moses told the people not to go to the land because God would not be with them, because they had not obeyed Him (Num. 14:41-43).  They went anyway even though the cloud of the Lord did not move.  When they arrived in the land, the Amalekites and Canaanites attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah.  The people faced the same armies they would have faced, but without the Lord and they were defeated.  Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing.”John 15:5.

They realized and confessed their sin, but there was no true repentance.  They tried to correct their wrong doing by their own strength and attempted to go without Moses and without God’s presence.
When have you gone along with the crowd instead of trusting God?
When have you blamed God for your circumstances?
How have you disobeyed God and what was the result?

Follow God and trust that He will do what He says.
If we trust and obey God, He will bless us.
When you go against God, you will suffer consequences.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Numbers 11-12 - The Life of Moses

 (My BSF Notes)

Last time we learned that Moses was told by God to take a census of the people listing every name one by one; then to count men 20 years old and over to serve in the army.  We saw God’s placement of the tribes around the tabernacle placing the tabernacle in the center showing that God is to be the center of their lives.  We saw purifying of the camps and each tribe giving offerings at the dedication of the tabernacle.  They were told to celebrate Passover in accordance with all its regulations.  The cloud of God continued to guide the Israelites as they journeyed toward the Promise Land.

Numbers 11 – The People Begin to Complain

The people began to complain about all their hardships, which angered God.  “Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.”Num. 11:1.  The people cried out to Moses for God to stop the fire.  They continued to complain.  They complained about the manna God had continued to provide for them.  They wanted meat and fish and vegetables like they had in Egypt.  They had forgotten about all the hard work and hard lives they had to do as slaves.  The Lord became very angry and this troubled Moses.  Moses asked God why had He brought this trouble on him and that he couldn’t carry the burdens of all these people by himself.  If God was going to treat him this way, he said just put him to death. (Num. 11:11-15). 

What do you do when times are hard?
Do you take your concerns to God?
How do your complaints affect others?

God came to Moses’ rescue.  He told Moses to bring the leaders and officials of the people to the Tent of Meeting and God would come down and speak with him.  He would put the same Spirit on them that was on Moses.  Then Moses would not have to carry the burden of the people alone. (Num. 11:16-19). 

Moses poured out his heart to God.  We can be real with God.  He knows it anyway.  Take your problems and concerns to Him.  God listened to Moses and gave him comfort and provided for him as He does for us, when we take our concerns to Him.  We don’t have to face them alone.  God wants to hear from us.  He listens and will help us through anything.  All we have to do is go to Him.

When has God provided comfort for you when you were overwhelmed?

Moses was to tell the people to consecrate themselves in preparation for tomorrow when they would eat meat.  If they wanted meat, God would give them meat, but not for just one day, but for a month until they were sick of it. (Num. 11:20-22).  Moses didn’t understand how they would have enough herds and flocks for meat for all the people for a month.  God told him, “Is the Lord’s arm too short?  You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”Num. 11:23. 

So Moses did as the Lord commanded and brought the leaders of the people to the Tent of Meeting and the Spirit was put on them and they prophesied.  There were 2 men, Eldad and Meadad, who did not come, but remained in the camp, but the Spirit still rested on them and they prophesied.  Joshua told Moses about them and wanted him to stop them.  Moses asked if he was jealous for his sake.  Moses wished all the people had the Spirit on them.

God sent quail from out of the sea.  It was all around the camp and 3 feet high.  They ate and ate.  God’s anger burned against them and so He struck them with a severe plague.

The people’s complaint about the manna was a complaint against God.  We should always be thankful for our food.  That is why we give thanks before a meal.  Asking and thanking God should be our response to God’s abundance.

How do you express your thanks to God?

God knows when we complain and it angers Him.  He expects us to learn from our experience.  We who know God should be the least of the complainers.  We can think about all that goes wrong, but it does no good.  God is the only one who can do something about it.  What is helpful is to focus on what is right.  The Israelites got in the habit of complaining.  They focused on what they didn’t have instead of what they had.  Being negative or positive can be contagious.  We need to be thankful for all our blessings given to us and make that our habit.  We have a choice - complain or pray.  Prayer provides exactly what we need.

God wants us to be thankful to Him for His provision.
Complaints focus on circumstances while prayer focuses on the sovereign power of God.

Numbers 12 – God Defends Moses

Miriam and Aaron started speaking against Moses because of Moses Cushite wife.   “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?  Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” Num. 12:2.  Miriam is mentioned first in this passage indicating she was probably the instigator.  Moses was a very humble man than anyone on the earth. (Num. 12:3)  He did not lash back or try to defend himself as we probably would have done.  So God came to Moses’ rescue again.  He said to bring Miriam and Aaron of out the Tent.  God defended Moses saying, “When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams.  But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house, with him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord.  Why then were you not to afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”Num. 12:6-8.  The Lord’s anger burned against them. 

“Faithful in all my house” means in all of Israel.  The Israelites were God’s family.  Moses did everything God commanded according to God’s will.  He was a faithful servant to God and to the people.

When the cloud of God lifted, Miriam was stuck with leprosy.  Aaron pleaded with Moses to not hold their sin against them.  So Moses asked God to heal her.  God listened.  Miriam’s punishment was confinement to outside the camp.  She was to stay there for 7 days.  I am sure when she reentered the camp, she was a humble woman.  While she was outside the camp, the presence of God was removed from the people.  It is a sin to speak against a true servant of God and His removal indicated the seriousness of the sin.

Do you criticize people God has placed in positions of authority?
How do you respond, when you are criticized for the work you do?

Moses was a lot like Jesus.  Moses had a humble heart, forgave Miriam, and interceded for her before God.  Jesus was humble and intercedes for us before God.  We can learn to be more like Jesus through the examples of Moses.

God listens when we intercede on behalf of others.
Faith in God’s sovereign eliminates jealousy and inspires humility.

When we complain, it shows our lack of faith.  Faith is being content in believing that Jesus is the Son of God, we must believe for ourselves, and then we must have a commitment to repent and follow Jesus.  Surrendering to Him is the hardest to do.  Complaints grieve God.  When we complain, we always grieve someone.  Will you ask God to change your complaining attitude?

In this study we learn that God is a just God.  He is a merciful God by not burning up the whole Israelite camp.  He shows us that He is the great Physician, when He healed Miriam.  He is a provider providing all the Israelites needed.  He listened to Moses’ prayer and helped him by giving him what he needed. 

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