Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Numbers 26-36 - The Life of Moses

(My BSF Notes)
Last week we saw that Balaam was summoned by Balak, the king of Moab to put a curse on Israel.  He had heard about Israel’s defeating the Amorites and feared they would do the same to him.  We learned that Balaam was not a true believer, but used sorcery and loved money.  We saw God use Balaam’s donkey to humble him.  We also saw the immoral seduction of Israel’s men with the Moabite women, which was advised by Balaam resulting in Israel’s worship of their god, Baal.

Numbers 26-27 – Second Census

It had been 38 years since the last census of the people was taken.  Now God had Moses take a second census.  At the last census there were a total of 603,550 and this time there were 601,730.  All the men had died because of the hardships of the desert and the numerous judgments of God.  Only Joshua and Caleb were left.  God’s plan was still intact.  God still provided the men needed for the battles to come.  This census like the 1st was to count all men over 20 years old who were able to serve in the army.  It was also to assign the land of Canaan by tribes in groups. (Num. 26)  The Levites who were the priests and were to serve God for a lifetime would have no land.  They were to receive no inheritance. 

We see the story of Zalophehad’s daughters.  He had died and had 5 daughters, but no sons.  Inheritances were usually passed to the sons.  The daughters wanted his inheritance and brought their case to Moses asking him to pass the inheritance to them.  Moses took their case to God and He agreed.  The inheritance should be theirs. (Num. 27:1-11) 

Then God told Moses to go up the mountain and see the land the Israelites were to be given.  Remember Moses had sinned against God when he struck the rock 2 times instead of speaking the rock as God commanded.  He dishonored God by taking credit for water coming from the rock.  God told him at that time he would not see the Promise Land.  Afterwards Moses would be gathered to his people.  Moses didn’t worry about himself or complain, but was concerned for the people he loved.  Moses being the great leader that he was, asked God for a successor to be appointed so the people would not be without a shepherd.  God chose Moses’ faithful long time companion, Joshua.  Moses would die, but Joshua would lead the people into the Promised Land. (Num. 27:12-23)

God provided a successor for Moses and Joshua’s relationship with the people would look different than that of Moses.  Remember God equips people in different ways, but we have the same God.

Who was Joshua?  He was the son of Nun and was Moses’ servant and helper since his youth.  He stayed close to Moses and was faithful to serve quietly and without any recognition.   He was one of the 12 spies sent to explore Canaan.  He was one of two faithful spies who returned with faith instead of fear.  He trusted God and His promises.  By being with Moses for all those years, he knew all about Israel’s complaining and that unbelief and disobedience has consequences.  He knew how to approach God appropriately and reverently.   God prepared Joshua to lead as He prepares us to lead.

How faithfully do you serve God?
Do you seek recognition from others?

If you desire God to give you bigger opportunities, be faithful with the small opportunities.  Too many people want to see ministry as popularity.  Ministry is all about serving others.  If you aren’t willing to serve a few people where you are, don’t expect God to give you more people.  Be faithful even if you are serving in the nursery at church or being a greeter at the church door.  Then God will be able to trust you to bigger opportunities.  Because of Joshua’s faithfulness for 40 years, He is getting the promotion of a lifetime!

Numbers 28-30 – Reminder of Offerings, Passover, Feasts and Vows

In Num. 28-30 God reminded the people of His regulations for daily and monthly offerings, the Passover, the different feasts, and vows.  God wanted to be part of their daily lives as He wants to be a part of our daily lives.  This was a new generation and they needed to know God’s requirements and be held accountable.  They would be entering the wicked land of Canaan and needed to know how to worship God and not worship their pagan gods.  All the sacrifices pointed to Jesus Christ who was the sacrifice for all our sins.

Num. 30 addresses vows.  We need to keep our word and our promises.  I think a lot of times we intend to keep them, but don’t.  So be careful what you say so you can keep your word.

Have you made a commitment to serve God, but are getting weary and now you want out of it?  Ask God to give new enthusiasm and energy to follow through with your promises.  God values people who keep their promises.  He is a promise keeper.

Do you remember and follow God’s commands?

Numbers 31 – Vengeance on the Midianites

In Num. 31 God said to take vengeance on the Midianites.  After that Moses would be gathered to his people.  This was the part of the final days before the assault on Canaan.  Here is the account of Balaam’s end.  His advice to the Moabites turned Israel away from the Lord and was the reason he was killed.  God told Moses to have the army kill all the Midianites.  Israel captured the women and children and all their flocks and herds.  They burned the towns and their camps. 

When Israel’s army returned they brought with them the captive women and children instead of killing them.  Moses was angry and asked why they spared the women since they were the ones who turned Israel away from God.  He said now they were to kill the boys and every woman who has slept with a man, but save the girls who has never slept with a man. (Num. 31:13-18) 

Why would God command a “holy war” against the Midianites?  First of all they worshiped the idol Baal and were involved in all kinds of sin.  God had to get rid of this sin so Israel wouldn’t become corrupt.  These immoral, idolatrous women caused the deaths of 24,000 Israelites.  God knew there wasn’t going to be repentance on their part and they could only do terrible harm to His chosen people.  God used Israel to carry out His judgment on them.  It seems harsh to kill the children, but the boys probably would have grown up to be just like their fathers.  God’s judgments are righteous and true.  The Midianites were wicked, practiced evil and idolatry.  When your body has a virus, it will affect your entire body.  You have to get rid of it.  God knows that the idolatrous and immoral nations were like a virus.    

This was a spiritual battle and God is the only one who can judge.  God is sovereign and it’s hard for us to understand.  God doesn’t have to explain Himself to us.  His ways and thoughts are much higher than ours.  We must trust His judgments.  God loves everyone, but He will not be manipulated.  He defends judgment, mercy and truth.  He is the only one qualified to judge.

Principle:  God is just and will fight battles in His way and in His time.

Israel was to divide the spoils between the soldiers and the rest of the community.   They were to set apart as tribute for the Lord 1 out of 500 of persons, cattle, donkeys, sheep or goats and give it to Eleazar as the Lord’s part.  From Israel’s half they were to select 1 out of 50 and give it to the Levites.  The solders brought as an offering to the Lord the gold articles they acquired to make atonement for themselves.  (Num. 31:25-54)

When God asks us to give, it isn’t a flat amount that applies to everyone.  He expects us to give in proportion to our abundance.  If you have more to give, you give more.  If you have less, you give less.  If you are struggling, the portion you give is smaller.  If you are doing well financially, your portion should be greater.

What does God expect from you?
Do you give your right portion to God?

Numbers 32 – The Transjordan Tribes

The Reubenites and Gadites had very large herds and saw the land where they were was suitable for them and didn’t want to cross the Jordan to Canaan.  In a way they seemed selfish and wanted to settle for the easy way.  They asked Moses if he could let this land called Transjordan be theirs.  They explained they didn’t want to escape the fighting, but would go and do their fair share.  They would stay and fight as long as it takes.  Moses grants their request.

Principle:  Is there an area in your life you are settling for?

Do you follow through with your obligations and promises?

Numbers 33 – Moses Records Israel’s Journey

The Lord commanded Moses to record the stages of the Israelites’ journey.  Sometimes it’s good to look back on our lives to see how God has been with us and how He has blessed us.   We can’t live in the past, but we sure can learn from it.  What is not recorded are the plagues, judgments and sins of their past.  God is not a record keeper of wrongs and neither should we be.

Principle:  Recounting God’s past faithfulness anchors our hearts for new challenges and opportunities.

I was in a Bible study several years ago and we were asked to record the events of our lives by different age groupings.  Example 1-15 years old, 16- 26 years old, 27-40 years old, 41-60 years old, etc.  When I did that, I could see God’s hand at work and how I grew spiritually.  It reminded me how He was there in every circumstance and how He had a plan for my life.  It was very eye opening.  You should try it.

How do you record important stages in your life?
What do you do to preserve your traditions?
Do you see how God was with you through it all?

Then God said when you cross the Jordan into Canaan, drive out all the inhabitants of the land.  Destroy all their carved images and idols.  Take possession of the land and settle there.  Distribute the land by lot according to the clans.  (Num. 33)  Any compromise will result in terrible trouble.  The same is true in our lives.  Anytime we only obey God partially, the devil gets a foothold.

When have you compromised with God and what was the result?
When have you partially obeyed God?

Numbers 34-36 – Land Allotted and Boundaries Established

When the Israelites entered the land, God allotted the land to each tribe as an inheritance and gave them boundaries.  These boundaries are described in Num. 34.

In Num. 35 God commanded them to set up towns for the Levites.   Six of those towns were to be towns of refuge to be used for anyone who has killed someone to flee to and await there for a fair trial.  In that culture when a family member was killed, you were obligated to honor them by tracking down the killer and kill him.  God is setting up a place of refuge for people who killed unintentional.  We call that manslaughter.  If the murder was premeditated, there was no place for refuge.  They were to be killed as they had killed.  God instituted capital punishment back in Gen. 9:6, “Whoever shed the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God has God made man.”

Where do you turn for refuge?

Num. 36 deals with Zelophehad’s daughters who were granted their father’s inheritance.  If they married outside their tribe, the land would pass to another tribe and upset tribal portions.  So it was decided they should marry within their tribe to avoid problems.  The daughters married within the clans of the descendants of Manasseh and their inheritance remained in their tribe.

God has divided all human beings into 2 tribes – believers and unbelievers.  “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?   What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?”2 Cor. 6:14-15.  (Belial means wickedness.)  We are not to marry outside of our tribe like in the days of Zelophehad’s daughters, because it creates problems.

All these chapters deal with Israel’s preparation to cross over into the Promised Land, Canaan.

Principle:  God will accomplish the work He began.

Are you prepared to cross over from life to death?
How can you be prepared?
Do you pray and study God’s Word?
Do you have a true relationship with God?
Do you obey only when it’s desirable to you?

In these chapters we see many attributes of God.  He is a just God.  He guides.  He is holy.  He is a promise keeper and He always provides.  He saves us, but doesn’t leave us there.

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