Tuesday, March 21, 2017

March 21: Numbers 32 – 32:39; Psalm 64; Proverbs 11:22; Luke 4:31-5:11



Overview

            Numbers: The men of Gad and Reuben asked Moses if they could have the land east of the Jordon that was taken from Sihon and Og instead of property in the Promised Land. They had livestock and the land east of the Jordon was well suited for livestock.
            Moses was angry and reminded them what happened to the people who refused to go into the Promised Land forty years earlier. He also said it would dishearten those who wanted to cross the Jordon if not everyone went.
            Gad and Reuben said the men would cross the Jordon to fight and not go back until all the enemies were driven out and every tribe received their inheritance. They would build up the cities they took on the east side so that their wives and children would be safe while they went to war. Moses agreed but warned them that their sin would be found out if they didn’t cross over the Jordon.
            Moses told Joshua and Eleazar about the agreement and added that if they didn’t go across the Jordon they would only get an inheritance in the Promised Land. Then half of the tribe of Manasseh was also included. Moses gave the three tribes what they wanted and they settled in the land taken from Sihon and Og.
            The account of Israel’s travel from Egypt through the wilderness is described up to their arrival at Mount Hor. It is there that Aaron died at the age of 123.
            Psalm: David starts this Psalm with complete honesty and transparency. He is complaining to the Lord. He lists the things that are bothering him. Most of his problems are what his enemies are saying against him as well as what they say they are planning. They are looking for ways to do injustice. But God takes them down quickly and all their evil talk comes against them. When people see this, they know it is from God and tell others. The righteous are glad and take refuge in the Lord.
            Proverbs: A beautiful woman who has no discretion is as out of place as a gold ring in a pig’s nose.
            Luke: Jesus was teaching in the Capernaum synagogue on the Sabbath when a man with a demon interrupted him. Jesus cast the demon out and everyone was amazed at his authority. The news spread around.
            He went to Simon’s house and healed his mother-in-law of a fever. In the evening, people from all around came bringing sick people. Jesus healed them and demons came out of others. The demons identified Jesus as the Son of God, but he didn’t allow them to speak.
            The next day, he went to a desolate place to pray. People again came and wanted him to stay but he told them he had to preach about the kingdom of God to other towns as well.
            Some time after this, he was teaching by the lake of Gennesaret. The crowd was pushing him back so he got in a boat and taught from there. He then told Simon to go out for a catch. Simon said they fished all night without catching anything, but he would do it because Jesus said so. They caught so many fish their nets were breaking and Simon had his partners come in another boat to help. They almost swamped the boats with the fish.
            The catch was so huge Simon Peter asked Jesus to leave because he was too sinful to be in Jesus presence. Jesus told him that he would be catching fish from now on. Peter, James, and John left the boats and followed Jesus.

What Stood Out

            Numbers: “Let this land be given to your servants for a possession. Do not take us across the Jordan” (Num 32:5).
            Psalm: “Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint” (Ps 64:1).
            Proverbs: “A beautiful woman without discretion” (Prov 11:22).
            Luke: “And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon” (Luke 4:33).

Insight

            Numbers: When some of Israel wanted to stay on the east side of the Jordon instead of crossing over and obtaining property that the Lord had promised, it seemed like a really good idea once the details were worked out. However, the land they wanted was the same land that Lot wanted when he separated from Abraham. It was well watered and was appealing to them. I think this may have been a huge mistake just like Lot’s decision.
            I didn’t see anything in this account where Moses or anyone else asked the Lord if this was OK with him. Moses warned them but relented as long as the battle plan to conquer Canaan wasn’t sabotaged. The Lord had told the whole nation that he was taking them into a land flowing with milk and honey. These tribes wanted the green grass on the east side instead. They knew what was better for them than the Lord did.
            What was the outcome of this in the future? The tribes on the east side of the Jordon were the first to be taken away by Assyria because they had fallen for the gods of the people of the land (1 Chron 5:23-26).
            When God has a plan and we think we know better, he sometimes lets us go our own way. I don’t know what would have happened if these tribes had all gone into the Promised Land, but I’m sure the outcome would have been different. We are always better off doing exactly what the Lord wants instead of our own inventions.
            Psalm: The interesting part of this Psalm is that David is complaining about what people are saying. They haven’t actually done anything yet. The ending of the matter is that God sees this anyway and he will take care of it. The lesson that I can see in this is that we shouldn’t get so wound up when people say things or even plan evil. We can take it to the Lord, but when we do, we should remember that we aren’t informing him about something that he doesn’t already know. We take it to him because it makes us feel better and safe. After taking it to him, he may give us wisdom about what to do or he may simply tell us not to fret (Ps 37:7). He has it under control.
            Proverbs: The proverb aims at a beautiful woman, but the principle behind it applies to anyone. A follower of Jesus without discretion is a contradiction. Given some level of maturity, this shouldn’t happen. It is ugly to behold to see a Christian acting unbecomingly and is as out of place as that gold ring in the pig’s nose.
            Luke: Isn’t it amazing that there was a demon possessed man in the synagogue as people were studying the Scriptures and listening to teachers of the Law? What does this say about the audacity of Satan? It takes more than preaching from the Bible to discourage him. What really makes the difference is what people are doing with the Word when it is preached.
            It has to start with the teacher, preacher, or pastor. If he or she is not being faithful to what the Word of God says, then it is an open door for Satan to use his demons to divert and keep people from salvation. This seems to be the situation when Jesus was in the synagogue. When the people saw the demon cast out, they marveled about the authority of Jesus. Jesus has given that authority to his disciples. When teaching, we should do it with the authority of the Bible so there is no mistake about its power to reveal sin, convict through the Holy Spirit, and save people. If it is only being preached to motivate or encourage without life-changing authority, then we will continue to find demons in church.
            It has to be effective in our hearts and minds. People can sit under the teaching of the most gifted preacher and still reject Jesus. That is also an open door for Satan. The usual cause for someone being deaf to the Word of God is his or her own sin. Like the tribes of Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh, they have made up their minds that they know what is best for them and think it is an alternative that is acceptable to the Lord without asking him.
            We need to be alert to Satan’s influence even when we are in church.

Application

            It’s easy to make a plan and not even ask God if it is in his will. I need to pray before I even start making plans. I don’t want to take shortcuts or the easy way out when the Lord want something else.

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