Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March 8: Numbers 10 – 11:23; Psalm 51; Proverbs 10:31-32; Mark 14:1-21



Overview

            Numbers: Moses is instructed to make two silver trumpets. The trumpets are to be used to assemble the people (both blown at the same time) or just the elders (one trumpet sounded). They are also used for alarms to set out from camp and going out to war so that they will be remembered by God. They will also be blown at the beginning of feasts and each month. They are also to be blown over the different offerings.
            On the twentieth of the second month of the second year, the cloud lifted from the tabernacle and Israel set out from the wilderness of Sinai and traveled to the wilderness of Paran. They set out in the prescribed order. When the tabernacle was taken down, the priest carrying everything set out followed by the remaining tribes. When the Kohathites arrived with the holy things, the other priest had already set up the tabernacle.
            Moses asked his brother-in-law Hobab to stay with them but he said he would leave. But Moses encouraged him by saying he would know where to camp. So his family accompanied Israel.
            They went three days with the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord going before them. The cloud was over them by day when they set out. When they set out, Moses asked the Lord to scatter their enemies and when they stopped, he asked the Lord to return to Israel.
            The people started complaining and the Lord was angry. He caused fire to consume some of them. Moses interceded and the fire stopped. The place was called Taberah, meaning burning.
            Some rabble had a strong desire for meat and scorned the manna. They remembered the food they had in Egypt. The Lord and Moses heard the people weeping. God was angry and Moses was displeased. Moses complained that the Lord had laid the responsibility of the people on him. He said it was too much for him and asked the Lord to kill him.
            The Lord told Moses to gather seventy elders to share the burden. He also said he would feed the people so much meat for a whole month that they would get sick of it. But Moses questioned how that would be and the Lord said he was able and it would show if his word comes true or not.
            Psalm: This is a Psalm of David after his sin with Bathsheba was exposed. David pleads with God to forgive his sin and cleans him. He recognizes his general sinfulness and that this one will haunt him all his life. He contrasts that with God’s desire for truth and that his sin is primarily against God not just others.
            He continues to plead for God to cleanse him and restore him. He realizes that he needs cleansing not on the outside but in his heart. He doesn’t want God to abandon him. He promises to teach others and praise the Lord if he will be cleansed. He understands that the Lord desires a broken spirit and a contrite heart more than sacrifices.
            He asks for blessings on Jerusalem so that right sacrifices may be made there.
            Proverbs: Righteous people speak what is wise and acceptable but garbage comes from perverse people.
            Mark: The chief priests and scribes wanted to arrest Jesus secretly after the Passover. They didn’t want people to find out or they might object. So two days before the Passover, Jesus was eating at Simon the Leper’s house. A woman came in and poured a flask of nard on Jesus’ head. Nard was very costly. Some of the people thought it was a big waste of money. It could have been sold and given to the poor. Jesus rebuked them, saying the poor will always be around but he won’t. He said she anointed him ahead of time for his burial and she will be remembered for it wherever the gospel is preached.
            Then Judas went out and arranged to betray Jesus.
            The disciples asked Jesus where he wanted to eat the Passover. He told them to go into the city and find a man carrying a water jar. They were to follow him and ask his master where Jesus was to eat the Passover and they would be shown a furnished room prepared for them. So they did and found it.
            In the evening they came and as they were eating, Jesus said one of them would betray him. They were sorrowful and each asked if it was he. Jesus told them it was one of the twelve who was dipping in the dish with him. Jesus said it would be better if that one had not been born than to betray the Son of Man.

What Stood Out

            Numbers: “And he said, ‘Please do not leave us, for you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us’” (Num 10:31).
            Psalm: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation” (Ps 51:12).
            Proverbs: “The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable” (Prov 10:32).
            Mark: “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!” (Mark 14:21).

Insight

            Numbers: The Lord provided all the means for the people to set out when the cloud left the tent and when it settled back down, they would set up camp again. Since the cloud determined where they would camp, it is puzzling why Moses asked his brother-in-law Hobab, to go with him to find places in the wilderness to camp. I’m sure he just wanted his wife’s brother and family to be near and share in God’s blessings. Yet there isn’t one example in the Bible that says Hobab actually helped locate a single place to camp.
            I think this is one of those instances in the Bible that we simply don’t understand unless we look in other places. The decedents of Hobab were later called Kenites. They went into the promised land with Joshua and settled in Judah (Judg 1:16). Many years later, when Deborah and Barak fought against their oppressor, Sisera, he fled and hid in the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite and she killed him (Judges 4:11, 17-21). This could have been a story of what-ifs. What if Moses hadn’t persuaded Hobab to go with him? What if Hobab didn’t stay in Israel? What if Heber hadn’t decided to move near Kedesh? What if Sisera survived and rallied his troops?
            That’s the great thing about our omniscient and sovereign God. He takes things we don’t understand and works them out for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes (Rom 8:28). We can live in the what-ifs of our mistakes or when things simply don’t go the way we think they should. Or we can trust that our Lord is working things out exactly the way they should. Life is much better when we trust that God is in control even when we make a decision on a whim, which is what Moses did asking Hobab to go along with them. A lot of anxious thoughts and worries can be eliminated when we don’t dwell on the what-ifs.
            Psalm: We are all sinners and have always been sinners. David admits that from the time of his conception, he was a sinner. But thanks be to God, that isn’t where it ends. While we admit to our sin, we also have to admit to our salvation through Jesus Christ. David didn’t have the assurance of salvation that we do. He was concerned that his sin could result in the Lord removing the Holy Spirit from him. Under the blood of Jesus, we know we have forgiveness (Eph 1:7) because of God’s grace that he has lavished on us (Eph 1:8). We have a promised inheritance and the Holy Spirit guarantees that we will receive it (Eph 1:13-14).
            David asked to have the joy of God’s salvation restored to him; we can be in the same boat. We may know that our salvation will never be taken away but we can lose the joy of that salvation when we sin. When we’ve failed to measure up to the Lord’s standards (we never can measure up), or when we have blown it with some very pernicious sin, depression can accompany us. That is when we need to pray along with David to have the Lord restore the joy of his salvation and to grant us a willing spirit to sustain us. Note this spirit is not the Holy Spirit but the Holy Spirit working in our spirit to keep us from sin and learning to repent when we do.
            Proverbs: If we are wise, we will speak what is acceptable. However, is what we speak acceptable in the eyes of everyone or in the eyes of God? If it is in the eyes of man, then we will only end up trying to please everyone. We won’t be able to tell the truth to someone who is sinning because that would not be wise or acceptable in their eyes. As with all proverbs, if we are wise, we will connect its meaning with all other Scripture to see what it means in light of God’s word and aim to please God (Gal 1:10).
            Mark: Jesus said that it would be better for Judas not to have been born than to betray the Son of Man (Mark 14:21). That is a pretty grim prognosis. Judas died in a state of unrepentance and despair. It was so bad that he committed suicide (Matt 27:3-5). Because of what Jesus said, he obviously was not saved and was not going to have eternal life with Jesus. As a side note, Jesus statement reveals that a person who dies before birth is not going to face eternal judgment.
            What about other people? There are people who simply disown Jesus. This is almost a casual dismissal of who Jesus is. It is saying that he was a good teacher but not the Son of God. It is saying that you care nothing for who he is, was, or might be in the future. It is apathy and disinterest at its worst. Jesus says he will disown them before the Father (Matt 10:32-33).
            The black and white distinction between salvation and damnation comes into sharp focus when we examine Jesus’ statements. There is no way a person can believe in God, “love,” being sincere, being good, some other guru or prophet, or anything else and not owning Jesus as Lord, Savior, and God in the flesh and have eternal life in heaven. No, they will be right there with Judas in eternal torment. It is frightening to think that they would be better off never surviving birth than dying without Jesus. We need must not back down on this and let people know.

Application

            Wise speech includes telling people that hell is real and it is not where they want to spend eternity. It isn’t an acceptable subject with many people. What is the option? I need to consider where Judas is and where others who disown Jesus will end up and do a better job telling people about Jesus. I can be wise and focus on Jesus but not neglect to warn them if they disown Jesus.

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