Thursday, March 23, 2017

March 23: Numbers 36 – Deuteronomy 1; Psalm 66; Proverbs 11:24-26; Luke 5:29-6:11


            Numbers: The heads of the tribe of Joseph came to Moses and explained that if the daughters of Zelophehad married someone outside of their tribe their inheritance would eventually pass on to members outside of their tribe. Since no property was supposed to pass from one tribe to another, Moses agreed and ruled that when a daughter inherits property because there is no son in the family, she must marry within her tribe. The daughters of Zelophehad abided by the rule and married within the tribe of Manasseh.
            Deuteronomy: In the wilderness east of the Jordon, at the beginning of the eleventh month of the fortieth year, Moses begins to tell all Israel the law. He begins the account from the time they left Horeb. The Lord told them to go up the seacoast to Canaan and take possession of the land.
            At that time, Moses said he was unable to bear the nation by himself. He asked that the Lord make them even more numerous and appoint leaders to help. The people agreed and they selected commanders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. He charged the judges to be impartial whether working with small or great, native or foreigner. They were not to be intimidated either. If the case was too hard they would bring it to Moses.
            They arrived at Kadesh-barnea and Moses told them to go in and take the land. The people wanted men to explore the land and Moses though it was a good idea. He chose one from each tribe and they went into the land. But they would not go into the land and murmured against the Lord complaining about the size of the people in the land and the fortifications of the cities. They believed they were led here to be killed and wanted to go back to Egypt.
            Moses told them not to be afraid because the Lord would take care of them and fight for them. But they wouldn’t believe the Lord who had gone before them by cloud and pillar of fire.
            The Lord said this evil generation would not see the land but die in the wilderness, except for Caleb and Joshua. Even Moses would not enter the Promised Land. All the young ones would enter. So they were told to go back into the wilderness.
            However, the people admitted their sin and tried to enter Canaan. They were defeated because God didn’t go with them.
            Psalm: The psalmist encourages us to praise God loudly and joyfully for his deeds. Even his enemies will come and praise him along with all the earth.
            He invites us to see what God has done alluding to crossing the Red Sea and the Jordon on dry ground. He rules nature as well as nations.
            He calls on all people to bless the Lord because he keeps our souls. Even during trying times, he brings us through them into abundance.
            As for the psalmist, he will perform his vows that he made when he was in trouble. He calls to everyone to listen as he tells what God did for his soul. If he had cherished sin, God would not have listened. But he did listen.
            He blesses the Lord because he heard his pray and didn’t remove his steadfast love.
            Proverbs: The contrast between generous people and stingy people is the blessings that a generous person gets versus the suffering and curses for the stingy.
            Luke: Jesus has a feast at Levi’s house along with many tax collectors. The Pharisees and scribes grumbled at Jesus’ disciples. But Jesus answers that he came to call sinners not righteous people. They respond by grumbling about Jesus’ disciples eating and drinking instead of fasting.
            Jesus responds to that by explaining that guests don’t fast at a wedding but there will be a time when they fast, when he is taken away. He used a parable to explain further. You can’t patch old cloth with new or put new wine in old wine skins. After drinking old wine no one wants new because the old is better.
            Jesus and the disciples pass through a grain field and the disciples pluck grain and eat it. The Pharisees complain that is illegal on the Sabbath. Jesus tells them that David broke the Law by eating bread of the Presence and that the Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath.
            On another Sabbath Jesus sees a man with a withered hand in the synagogue. He knew the Pharisees were waiting to see if he would heal the man so they could accuse him. Jesus knows their thoughts and asks if it is lawful to do good or evil on the Sabbath. Then he healed the man and the Pharisees were outraged and discussed what to do about Jesus.

What Stood Out

            Deuteronomy: “Even with me the Lord was angry on your account and said, 'You also shall not go in there’” (Deut 1:37).
            Psalm: “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Ps 66:18).
            Proverbs: “One who waters will himself be watered” (Prov 11:24).
            Luke: “But he knew their thoughts” (Luke 6:8).


            Deuteronomy: Moses tells all the people who have survived the wilderness experience for forty years and were born in the wilderness what happened after they left Horeb. It is a second telling of the Law. Many of the people were either too young to have experienced or remembered most of the original events, others were in their teens and should have remembered. So Moses uses the time before his death to bring educate the people.
            When we tell about events, we don’t always give the same details and sometimes tell it in a different way. Even in the first chapter of Deuteronomy, this can be seen as Moses tells about the spies that were sent into Canaan and brought back a bad report. Moses says that not one in the evil generation will see the land except Caleb and Joshua. He even says that it was because of the people that the Lord was angry with Moses and wouldn’t let him go in.
            Did you catch what Moses did? Do you remember why the Lord wouldn’t let Moses and Aaron go into Canaan? “And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them’” (Num 20:12). Nearly forty years after the incident at Meribah, Moses subtly blames the people for his own sin of not upholding the Lord as holy.
            Isn’t that just like us? As time passes, we often tend to look back at our sinful rebellious ways and think they weren’t so bad. Maybe we even find ways to blame others. No wonder, we need to have “second tellings” to remind us that we really are not as great as we think. We need to remember so that we don’t repeat our sins. While we know that the guilt of our sins has been erased and that God doesn’t remember them, we still need to be alert so we don’t repeat them.
            Psalm: God doesn’t listen to our prayers when we cherish sin in our hearts. That sound quite simple. As I’ve said before, this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t hear but he will not respond in a positive way to our prayers while we really want something only for our own sinful desires. We need to remember that the problem isn’t with God, it is with us. Cherish means:
Protect and care for (someone) lovingly: he cared for me beyond measure and cherished me in his heart.
- hold (something) dear: I cherish the letters she wrote | [as adj.] (cherished) cherished possessions.
- (of a hope, idea, or memory) think of longingly or lovingly: we will cherish your memory.
(The New Oxford American Dictionary).

            Think about his definition of cherish and see if you can see why cherishing sin will keep God from answering our prayers. We often lovingly protect our sins. We do what we can to keep them, even when they hurt others. We hold them dear and lovingly think about them, remembering how much we want and love them.
            If that doesn’t make you gag, then there is something very wrong. The psalmist said that God keeps our soul among the living and doesn’t let our feet slip (Ps 66:9). Sometimes he has to take us through troubles to wrench that sin from our hearts so we will turn to him and live.
            Proverbs: The paradox of giving is one of God’s blessings for us. When we give, we are always better off than when we are stingy. Even when we don’t have much, we can find ways to give something. We shouldn’t give to become rich as that motivation doesn’t honor God. We give because he has given us everything we have and we care for others. We may not become rich by worldly standards when we give, but we will become satisfied in what we have and that is better than all the riches of the world 1 Tim 6:6-10).
            Luke: In the other reading today, I’ve seen how sin is in our hearts and we even forget about them as time passes. Jesus is the only remedy. If we are like the Pharisees and believe we are all right, we don’t stand a chance at salvation because we won’t admit our need for a Savior. We can’t hide our sins from Jesus either. He knew the Pharisees’ thoughts just as he knows ours.
            The Pharisees had a system of righteousness. It involved austere adherence to their traditions as well as the Law. Jesus shows them a new way of coming to God by grace. Jesus extends grace to the tax collectors by eating with them. The Pharisees would have him fast and stay away from those who need forgiveness. They would have him ignore the needs of people on the Sabbath so that the Law would not be broken. Jesus would rather allow a person to eat and be healed on the Sabbath to demonstrate that the purpose of the Sabbath is to glorify God.
            When we see that our sins can be forgiven and that the way of grace is better than the way of legalism, we don’t want to go back to that old system. We would rather have the good, aged wine of Jesus rather than the sour new wine of the Pharisees.[1]


            I need to remember that in Jesus, I have the ability to stop cherishing sin and have forgiveness. It isn’t by keeping a bunch of rules, but by abiding in him.

[1] Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes, (Seattle: Biblesoft, 2005), Luke 5:33-39, Electronic Database.

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