Monday, March 6, 2017

March 6: Numbers 6 – 7; Psalm 49; Proverbs 10:27-28; Mark 12:38-13:13



Overview

            Numbers: The Nazirite vow is for a person who wants to separate himself to the Lord for some specific time. He is to let his hair grow during this time as a sign of his vow. He must not eat or drink any grape products. He must not go near any dead body, even a close relative. If someone dies beside him, he must go through a cleansing ceremony. At the end of his Nazirite time, he must bring offerings to the priest. He must shave his head at the entrance of the tent of meeting and put his hair on the fire. The priest will present the offerings before the Lord.
            The Lord specifies a blessing that Aaron and his sons are to give to the people (Num 6:24-26). This blessing puts the Lord’s name on the people and he will bless them.
            At the consecration of the tabernacle, the chiefs of the tribes brought offerings. The first was six wagons and twelve oxen. Two wagons and four oxen were given to the sons of Gershon to carry the things of the tabernacle under their care. Four wagons and eight oxen were given to the sons of Merari to carry things under their care. The sons of Kohath did not get any wagons because all the holy things must be carried on their shoulders.
            During the next twelve days, a leader from each of the tribes brought the same offering. They brought silver articles with flour and oil; gold dishes with incense; animals for burnt offering; a goat for a sin offering; and animals for a peace offering.
            Then Moses went into the tent of meeting to talk with God. He heard the Lord speak from above the mercy seat.
            Psalm: The psalmist calls everyone in the world to hear what he is about to sing. He does not fear though there are sinful cheats all around him. They trust in their wealth but that won’t redeem them from the pit because no one can pay the costly price to God to do that. Wise, fools, rich, and poor all die. The proud die and go to Sheol, but God will ransom the psalmist. His advice is not to fear or envy the rich man; if they are proud with all their pomp, they will end up like beasts that die.
            Proverbs: Fear God and your life will be longer than the wicked’s life. The righteous’ hope brings joy but the wicked’s will die.
            Mark: Jesus warns about the scribes who like their religious position and prayers but will cheat a widow out of her house. They will have great condemnation.
            Jesus contrasted all other contributions to the treasury to a poor widow’s gift of a penny, which was all she had. He said she gave more because she contributed from her poverty while they gave from their wealth.
            The disciples are really impressed with the temple buildings and point them out to Jesus. Jesus tells them it will all be torn down. After leaving Jerusalem and arriving at the Mount of Olives, they ask Jesus when it will happen along with the signs for the end of the age.
            Jesus explains the beginning of the signs:
·         There will be false Messiahs leading many astray.
·         There will wars and rumors of wars.
·         There will famines.
·         There will be earthquakes
            Jesus tells the disciples they must be on their guard for they will be persecuted for his sake. They must witness before governors and kings. The Gospel must be proclaimed to all nations. So when they are delivered over, they shouldn’t be anxious about what to say because the Holy Spirit will speak through them. Family members will betray each other and they will be hated because of Jesus’ name. The one who endures will be saved.

What Stood Out

            Numbers: “He [Moses] heard the voice [of the Lord] speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him.
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            Psalm: “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life” (Ps 49:7).
            Proverbs: “The hope of the righteous brings joy” (Prov 10:28).
            Mark: “Do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit” (Mark 13:11).

Insight

            Numbers: The Nazirite vow was a very serious undertaking. Their uncut hair was a sign of their vow to be separate. The requirements for keeping ceremonially clean were so strict that they couldn’t even come near their parents or wife if one of them died. Even an accidental death near them caused them to start over again with their vow, as they had to save their head.
            When we become Christians, we have made a vow to the Lord that is even more stringent than the Nazirite’s vow. Their time was temporary with a set time to end their dedication to the Lord. Some Nazirites were dedicated for their life, but that was unusual. The Christian’s vow to the Lord is forever and has no ending time.
            The Nazirite vow of separation to the Lord could be interrupted by accident or intentional uncleanness. Christians can also sin and experience a breach in our fellowship with the Lord, but we are still set apart for him. Like the Nazirite, we also have to do something to regain that fellowship with the Lord. We must confess our sin and he restores us (1 John 1:3-9).
            When we read about the Nazirite vow, we should consider how much greater our vow to the Lord is than theirs. It should make us understand that external ascetics are only an outward sign of what has occurred in us. We can’t even make a vow unless God first changes our hearts so that we can understand spiritual things. When we recognize our sinfulness and his holiness, we realize we are totally unworthy to make a vow. But the blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sin and suddenly we are acceptable in his sight. So we ought to act like it and live holy lives.
            Psalm: What a remarkable Psalm! How much clearer can the Word of God be than this? No one can pay anything so that his life or another’s is spared from hell; it is too costly (Ps 49:7-9). His wealth or good works can save no one. The only ransom for our sinful souls is the blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:18-19). The wonderful conclusion is that we do not have to fear those who cause us harm. We will survive in the presence of the Lord (Ps 49:15) while they perish. We must set our minds and hearts on eternal things rather than on things of this world or we will be come just like them, seeking the pomp and basking in pride that leads only to hell.
            Proverbs: The proverb seems to support a long life for those who fear the Lord. If we look at Psalm 49, we see that the promised life is eternal while the wicked’s life is not. All they have to call life is on this earth. We hope for heaven and it brings us joy now as well for the future. The wicked hope for riches and comfort, but that all perishes.
            Mark: With all the things that will be happening in the end times, one thing is certain. There will be Christians and they will be persecuted. Jesus speaks to his disciples in explaining this. However, we know that all of them are dead and the end hasn’t come yet. So it is safe to assume that his message wasn’t just for them. Certainly, they were dragged before governors and kings. Most were executed for their faith. Since then, the same thing is repeated year after year. Whether so-called Christians persecute Christians or those who consider Christians infidels persecute them, it happens daily.
            In the midst of wars, famines, and persecutions, Jesus makes the statement that we don’t have to be anxious about what to say when faced with the persecutors. The Holy Spirit will give them and us what to say at that time He will actually be the one speaking. Isn’t that a wonderful promise? We don’t have to worry if we will be able to keep our testimony. The Holy Spirit will be there with us to ensure that we do.
            So if the Holy Spirit is with us in those dire situations, what is keeping us from speaking up about Jesus when we aren’t threatened? Lord, increase our faith.

Application

            I need to be more about like the psalmist. He had God’s wisdom to tell others. He wrote a song about God’s redemption from the pit. He didn’t know about Jesus yet, but I do. Witnessing before people who are not hostile should be easier than before persecutors. Perhaps I need to practice now so the Holy Spirit can use me even under trial.

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