Saturday, March 18, 2017

March 18: Numbers 27-28:15; Psalm 61; Proverbs 11:16-17; Luke 3:1-22



Overview

            Numbers: The daughters of Zelophehad came to Moses and asked for an inheritance in their father’s name because their father died without having any sons. Moses took the question to God and he explained that the daughters of Zelophehad were right and should get an inheritance. He also expanded on the law to specify who would get the inheritance based on available siblings or kin if a man died without sons.
            The Lord told Moses to go up on a mountain and look at the land he would not be able to enter because of his sin at the waters of Meribah. Moses asks the Lord to appoint a successor because the people are like sheep. God tells Moses to commission Joshua as the next leader and give him some his authority. He is to stand with Eleazar the priest who will inquire of the Lord by Urim for Joshua. So Moses commissioned Joshua before all the people.
            The Lord then reiterates regulations for offerings: daily, Sabbath, monthly, and Passover.
            Psalm: David calls to the Lord for strength when he gets weary. He acknowledges that God is his refuge and strength. He desires to be in God’s presence and refuge forever. He has made vows to the Lord and God has given him a heritage of people who fear the Lord. He asks to live before God enthroned forever. Then he will continually praise God and perform his vows.
            Proverbs: Gracious and kind people are honored and are benefited. Violent people may get riches but they hurt themselves in the process.
            Luke: Luke specifies the exact year (he lists rulers of Rome, Judah, and the Jewish high priests) that John the Baptist is called from the desert by the Lord to proclaim a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. It is to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3-5, 57:14, 49 :11, and 59:2.
            He told the crowds to behave in ways that demonstrated true repentance and not rely on being a descendant of Abraham. If they don’t they will be thrown into hell. The people ask him what they need to do and he provides several examples for them to follow.
            The people were also wondering if John was the Messiah. He answered that he was baptizing with water but the one coming after him would baptize with the Holy Spirit. His successor would gather the grain and burn the chaff.
            He preached good news but also reproved Herod because he married his brother’s wife. So Herod locked him up.
            When people were being baptized, Jesus was also baptized. The Holy Spirit descended on him and God said Jesus was his son and he was pleased with him.

What Stood Out

            Numbers: “The daughters of Zelophehad are right” (Num 27:7).
            Psalm: “So will I ever sing praises to your name” (Ps 61:8).
            Proverbs: “A gracious woman gets honor” (Prov 11:16).
            Luke: “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.” (Luke 3:8).

Insight

            Numbers: It must have been hard for the daughters of Zelophehad to work up the courage to come to Moses with their request. It is most likely that Zelophehad wasn’t the only one in the congregation of six hundred thousand men who died in the wilderness without having sons. Their uncles certainly wouldn’t have been pleased as they stood in line to get Zelophehad’s inheritance. But God is good. He brought these women before him to make sure that they and others would be treated equitably.
            That’s the way God is. God is fair. We don’t always like his fairness because we think we have a better measure of fairness. That usually is wrapped around getting what I want and not necessarily what other’s want. God is clear; when we don’t agree with his fairness and justice, it is really our ways that are not just and fair (Ezek 18:25).
            Psalm: At the beginning of this Psalm, it looks like David is just tired and is looking to God for strength and peace. However, it is more than that. David is actually asking for eternal life. In the middle of the Psalm is a messianic prophecy; the Lord has given everyone who fears the Lord to the Messiah.
            We can look at this and agree completely with David. Think about how the Lord is our refuge during our time on earth. We will be taking that refuge when the end of our life is near. We have made a vow to worship and honor the Lord as long as we live. The great news is that in eternity we’ll never stop. We will be singing his praises forevermore.
            Proverbs: It isn’t just a gracious woman who gets honor. Anyone who is gracious finds honor. This is a general rule that even applies to people who don’t know Jesus. There are many people who are more gracious than me who are not Christians and they have earned respect from many.
            There are also many Christians who are violent and cruel; it shouldn’t be this way. If we take this proverb to heart, we would be the examples that we need to be.
            Luke: John the Baptist struck at the heart of the religious system of the day. While it was built on God’s Law, it changed over the years. John’s mission was to prepare the way of the Lord (Luke 1:16, 76) and he did it by condemning the way people thought they received salvation. Their idea was quite simple in principle if complicated in practice. They first believed that they would be saved because they were descendents of Abraham. They also believed they needed to keep the outward appearances of righteousness as prescribed in the Law and the traditions of their elders.
            John first blasted their idea that a condition of salvation was to have the right pedigree. He said God could save anyone, even rocks, if that was what he wanted. It is most likely that John heard about Simeon’s prophecy of Jesus (Luke 2:32). He also had a good knowledge of the Old Testament. He knew that salvation was destined for Gentiles as well as Israelites.
            He also was preparing people for Jesus teaching that outward observance of the Law was not enough. People had to produce behavior that corresponded to their repentance. That takes more than promises to do better. That takes a genuine recognition of sin and admitting that it isn’t just the behavior, but the heart attitude that is behind it. When he told the tax collectors to collect only what they were allowed, and the soldiers to be content with their wages, he exposed the problem for them and us. There is something in our hearts called sin. It wants us to go against the desires of the Spirit.
            Just the one example of being content with our wages is an open door exposing greed and discontent with what God has given us. I don’t know many people who are content with their current earnings. If they are in the working world, they see people making more and are envious. They see people buying better things and want to make more so they can have those things too. It isn’t always being content with wages either. Some are not content with their spouses, where they live, or a number of things.
            John hit the nail on the head. Repent, take care of others with less, become content. When we are content in the Lord Jesus, we can repent.

Application

            God is fair. That means that I should be content with my situation in life. I shouldn’t be searching for something where I’m in control. God is in control and I’m not. I must be looking for ways to glorify God and that takes repentance from my desires and conforming to his desires. It takes listening to God for find my direction.

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