Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20: Numbers 30 – 31; Psalm 63; Proverbs 11:20-21; Luke 4:1-30



Overview

            Numbers: If a man makes a vow, whatever his vows to the Lord will stand. He can’t go back on it. If a woman who isn’t married and living at home with her father makes a vow, the father may nullify the vow. If he says nothing, the vow will stand.
            If a married woman makes a vow, her husband may nullify it only when he first hears about it. If he ignores it, it is the same as condoning it. If a widow or a divorced woman makes a vow, it will stand.
            The Lord commanded Moses to take vengeance on the Midianites. He sent one thousand men from each tribe to the battle. Phinehas led with the trumpets to sound the alarms. They killed all the males, kings, and Balaam. They burned all the cities and returned with the plunder include all women and their children.
            Moses was angry that they came back with women because Balaam had used them to divert Israel from the Lord at Peor. He had them kill all the male children and save only women who were virgins. Then the army had to stay outside the camp until they and their captives were cleansed from touching dead bodies. Any plunder that could pass through fire unharmed had to be cleansed by fire and water. It if couldn’t survive fire, it was cleansed with water.
            The plunder was then divided. Half of the sheep, cattle, donkeys, and people went to the people who didn’t go to battle and half to the army. One five-hundredth of the army’s plunder went to the priests. A fiftieth of the peoples’ plunder went to the Levites.
            In addition to these things, the army had taken gold articles. The officers and commanders of the army gave theirs to the Lord to make atonement because not a single man was missing. Moses and Eleazar took it to the tent of meeting as a memorial.
            Psalm: David compares his desire for God with the thirst of a person in a desert. He has seen God’s glory and power in the tabernacle and he knows that God’s love is steadfast. So, he will praise the Lord. When he does, his soul is satisfied the same as someone who has feasted on the best foods. He also meditates in the night and has joy. His soul clings to the Lord.
            His enemies will die but he will rejoice in the Lord along with everyone who swears by the Lord. Liars will be silenced.
            Proverbs: The Lord hates crooked hearts and they will be punished. However, he delights in the blameless and delivers them.
            Luke: After Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit leads him into the desert where he fasted for forty days. At the end of the time, Satan came to tempt him. He tempted him to prove himself by turning stones to bread. He tempted him to get authority over the entire world by worshiping the devil. He tempted him to prove he was the Son of God by seeing if God would rescue him from a premature death. To each temptation, Jesus responded with “It is written,” then quoted a verse.
            Jesus returned to Galilee and Nazareth. He read from Isaiah 61:1-2 stating that this was fulfilled in their hearing. They thought that was great until they thought about Jesus being Joseph’s son. So Jesus reminded them that a prophet is not acceptable in his hometown. He reminded them that Elijah went to a foreigner and Elisha healed a foreigner. That made them angry and they tried to kill Jesus by throwing him off a cliff. But Jesus just walked through the crowd and left.

What Stood Out

            Numbers: “If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth” (Num 30:2).
            Psalm: “My soul thirsts for you” (Ps 63:1). “My soul will be satisfied” (Ps 63:5).
            Proverbs: “Those of blameless ways are his delight” (Prov 11:20).
            Luke: “But passing through their midst, he went away” (Luke 4:30).

Insight

            Numbers: If a person makes a vow, the Lord considers that very serious. It isn’t something that any of us should do lightly. Vows can be any kind of promise to the Lord. Hannah vowed to give her firstborn son to the Lord if she could have a child (1 Sam 1:11). The result was that she gave Samuel to Eli the priest who then trained Samuel. Samuel became one of the most righteous leaders of Israel. On the opposite side of vows was Jephtah’s vow to offer as a burnt offering whatever first came out of his house if he returned successfully from battle (Judg 11:31). When he returned, his daughter was the first to come out of his house. She told her father to go ahead and do as he vowed (Judg 11:36).
            The results of our vows are a serious matter to the Lord. While I don’t think he approved of Jephtah’s vow, it is a vivid picture of what can happen when we make rash vows. Because a woman’s vows would affect the family, God provided the right of the head of the house to nullify her vow.
            If God had also given the same right for a wife, Jephtah would have been off the hook. I believe that is exactly what he did through Paul. Just before he writes about the relationship between husband and wife, he wrote, “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph 5:21 NASU). As Christians, we have equal standing before the Lord and as such, in a marriage there should not be any vows made by one person that the other shouldn’t affirm before it takes effect. If one commits to a major purchase, the other should be able to agree or disagree. If there is disagreement, then the one wanting to make the purchase should acquiesce and not proceed. The same would apply to any major decision as long as the nullifying the decision isn’t sinful in itself. That can happen when one or the other is making a decision about the spiritual welfare of the family and the spouse has a sinful response.
            Be wise in making vows to the Lord. Don’t be hasty. Don’t try to bargain with God vowing to do something if he will do something for you. They don’t always end up with problems but they often do.
            Psalm: It would be a sad thing for anyone to thirst for the Lord and never be satisfied. The problem with every religion in the world other than Christianity is that there can never be true soul satisfaction without Jesus. All the others hold out a promise of satisfaction as soon as you have completed the necessary requirements. The problem is that we never know when we have done enough. One slip and we have to start all over. Will all the good deeds outweigh the bad ones? How can anyone know if good deed “A” will balance out bad deed “B?”
            In Jesus we have the satisfaction of knowing that it isn’t what we have done but it is what Jesus has done for us. Our souls can be satisfied in knowing Jesus personally. No other religion has the Lord, the Creator of the Universe, living in our hearts. We have Jesus living in our hearts by faith (Eph 3:17), we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us (1 Cor 3:16), and Jesus said that he and the Father are in each other (John 17:21) so that means we also have the Father in us.
            When we thirst for God, our thirst will be satisfied through Jesus Christ and no other.
            Proverbs: Who can be blameless before the Lord? We all have sinned, so how is it possible for God to delight in us? As mentioned above, it is only through what Jesus has done for us. Since he has taken our sins upon himself and we have submitted to him, we have a great promise. Not only will he keep us from stumbling, but he will also present us blameless before God while we then have great joy (Jude 24).
            Luke: Satan is very clever and very powerful. Reading this account of temptation is astounding when you really think about what he was able to do. He was able to show Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth in a moment of time. He was also able to transport Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and back to the desert. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this aspect of Jesus’ temptation or not because we usually focus on how Jesus resisted the devil or how his temptations are the same as ours. Therefore, we ignore the power of the tempter in this physical world. I won’t get into it any more than this because I wrote a book about battling Satan. Follow this link to get it free on kindle March 22 and 23, 2017.
            Jesus’ appearance in Nazareth is an example of how people can turn away from salvation simply because they think too much. I’m not advocating blindly accepting Jesus without any evidence, what I’m saying is that human reasoning is part of the fallen nature of mankind and is therefore flawed. Jesus read from Isaiah and then let it sink in for a minute. Everyone likes to hear about the coming Messiah and this is what was in the scroll of Isaiah. When Jesus implies that it has been fulfilled in their hearing, they all start to nod their heads and agree. Then they realized Jesus was applying this Scripture to himself. Someone says that it can’t be possible because they knew Jesus’ father.
            They only knew what they had seen and that meant that Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah. Rather than checking out the facts, they were offended. Rather than trying to convince them that he was the Messiah, he pointed out that they would now want a sign to convince them. They would be like Israel that didn’t get any signs but they were given to foreigners because of their unbelief. That really offended them and they tried to kill him. Then Jesus gave them a sign. He simply walked right through the crowd and left.
            What do we do when we can’t get our heads around a Scripture, especially one that convicts us of sin? Do we rationalize it in light of what we see or do we dig even deeper trying to understand what it means and how it applies to our life. If it is a clear condemnation of sin, the we shouldn’t have to dig deeper. However, unlike the people in Nazareth, we sometimes have to do some research. Had they done some they would have discovered Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not Nazareth. They could have asked Mary about his birth. Then they would have had to decide whether to believe Jesus. It would be an informed decision, just as we have to make. Or salvation depends on it.

Application

            Jesus said that our yes should be yes and our no, no, anything more than that is evil (Matt 5:37). This is in relation to making promises to others. I should consider promises to others with the same seriousness as vows to the Lord because I am his child.

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