Tuesday, March 7, 2017

March 7: Numbers 8 – 9; Psalm 50; Proverbs 10:29-30; Mark 13:14-37



Overview

            Numbers: Aaron to set up the lamp as he was told. It is then described. Then the Lord told how to consecrate the Levites. They were to be sprinkled with the water of purification, had to shave their whole body, wash themselves and their clothes. They were to take the proper offerings and gather the whole congregation before the tent of meeting. The people were to lay their hands on the Levites; Aaron is to offer them as a wave offering. Aaron then sacrificed the animals and grain. This must be done before they enter the service of the Lord.
            This separates the Levites from the people because they are a replacement for the firstborn of Israel. They are a gift from God to Aaron and his sons. They are to do the service at the tent of meeting for the people of Israel so that no plague comes upon the people. So they did all that was prescribed.
            Levites from twenty-five to forty-nine may do the service but when they reach fifty they are to retire. From then on, they may help by standing guard.
            In the first month of the second year after leaving Egypt, the Lord told Moses to celebrate the Passover. However, some people were unclean because of touching a dead body. They asked Moses why they were kept from bringing an offering. Then the Lord told Moses that if anyone could not keep the Passover, then they could do it during the next month. However if someone does not keep the Passover without a valid reason they are to be cut off from the people and bear their sin. Foreigners may keep the Passover.
            When the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it by day. In the evening, it appeared as fire. When the cloud lifted the people set out. Where the cloud stopped, they camped. They stayed camped as long as the cloud was over the tabernacle. The cloud stayed put for varying lengths of time. The people kept the commands of the Lord by Moses.
            Psalm: God is our judge. He doesn’t keep silent and there will be a day when his people are called together for judgment. His judgment is righteous. He has some things against his people who have been offering sacrifices. Since all the cattle and bird belong to him, he is not hungry and does not require sacrifices for that reason. He rejects sacrifices because the people are not thankful as well as wicked. He lists many sins that they condone and practice. The sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifies God and saves those who order their ways rightly.
            Proverbs: God’s ways provide security to the righteous but the opposite for the wicked.
            Mark: Jesus describes the tribulation that will occur at the end of the age. This part begins with the abomination of desolation appearing. It is a warning to flee from Judea into the mountains in such haste as to not turn back and retrieve any belongings. It will be worse than any other terrible time in history. God will cut the time short to save the elect. During this time, false christs will arise to lead people astray but the elect will not be deceived.
            When that time is finished, the sun and moon will be darkened, stars will fall, and powers in heaven shaken. The Son of Man will come in the clouds to gather his elect.
            When all these signs appear, we’ll know the time is near. It will happen during the generation that sees them. It is sure because Jesus words will not pass away even if the heavens and earth do. But the specific day and hour is only known by the Father. Since no one knows, we need to stay alert like servants of a man who goes on a journey. We must keep on doing what he has told us because we don’t know when he will return. He doesn’t want to find us asleep.

What Stood Out

            Numbers: “They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard” (Num 8:26).
            Psalm: “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Ps 50:23).
            Proverbs: “The way of the Lord is a stronghold to the blameless” (Prov 10:29).
            Mark: “False christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect” (Mark 13:22).

Insight

            Numbers: I hear people say that retirement is not prescribed anywhere in the Bible. Sorry, folks, Numbers 8:23-26 clearly specify a retirement age for the Levites. However, that doesn’t mean they sat around and did nothing. They didn’t spend all their time on the golf course or pestering their wives who were still working. They got to be security guards! Note that this was so they could help their brothers. Retirement was a move from one form of labor to something that was less strenuous. If you are retired and not doing something to help your fellow Christians, neighbors or others, then you don’t have a biblical retirement plan.
            Another important thing to note is that God is the God of second chances. The people who couldn’t participate in the Passover at the prescribed time were able to do it the following month. This doesn’t mean we have a second chance at salvation after we die because Hebrews 9:27 tells us that death happens once and judgment comes right after death. But God gives us every opportunity to come to him during this lifetime. We may reject him and curse him and do everything in our power to keep him at arm’s length. However, Jesus clearly said that none of those things will prevent a person from being forgiven (Luke 12:10), they always have a second chance. That doesn’t mean that they have unlimited chances or that they will always be saved. Those who had the opportunity to observe the first Passover but didn’t will be cut off. Those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
            Psalm: There is nothing physical we can give God as a true sacrifice. Everything already belongs to him. He isn’t looking for people who will attempt to appease him with their goods. People who do things “unto the Lord” in order to have their endeavors blessed by God are simply trying to manipulate God. They perform their liturgy not out of thanksgiving or gratitude for God’s provision, but as a formula no different from an incantation performed by pagans to appease their gods. God knows the hearts of those who worship him. He knows what they do outside of worship that betrays their real motives in worship. When their way of life is wrong, then so is their worship.
            Proverbs: These proverbs fit right in with what Psalm 50 was saying. When we are walking in God’s ways, we can be secure in our salvation. It shows that our hearts and our lives are in agreement with what God has done in our hearts through Jesus. If we are not really saved, then our ways bring destruction.
            Mark: Jesus said that the tribulation at the end of the age will be worse than anything that has ever happened before (Mark 13:19). During that time, there will be false messiahs appearing to deceive everyone on the earth. Daniel foretold the same thing in Daniel 12:10. Many will be purified but the wicked will continue to act wickedly. They will not understand. The Lord promises us something very important during these times. Those whom he has chosen, the elect, will not fall away. They will not be deceived. In addition to this, he will shorten the time of tribulation so that they will not all perish. Mark 13:20 explains this, but note the tense of the verbs. They are all in the past tense specifically identifying them as already done. Only God can say that a future event is something that is already done. This emphasizes that this is a done deal. We don’t have to lose hope when we see tribulation because we know it will end before we give up. The same applies to any trial in our lives. 1 Corinthians 10:13 lets us know that God always provides a way out.
            In addition, we also have the promise that we will be tempted to believe the false messiahs. However, we have the promise that if we are his chosen ones, we will not believe them, we will not be deceived (Mark 13:22). That little phrase, “if possible,” simply means that it is impossible for a true believer in Jesus Christ to be completely deceived to follow a false christ. Surly, some may wander away but we have God’s promise that it will not be forever.

Application

            I need to make sure that my time is used wisely. While I want to do everything “unto the Lord,” I don’t want to turn that into a formula for success or a way of thinking he then owes me anything. I want to be alert for his return and be doing what he wants when he returns or calls me home.

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