Thursday, March 9, 2017

March 9: Numbers 11:24 – 13; Psalm 52; Proverbs 11:1-3; Mark 14:22-52


            Numbers: Moses gathered the seventy elders before the tent as the Lord had commanded. The Lord spoke to them. He took some of the Spirit (ESV) from Moses and put it on the seventy. They started to prophesy. Two men were still in the camp and they also prophesied. Joshua wanted to tell them to stop but Moses said not to be jealous for him.
            Then a wind brought quail three feet deep beside the camp a day’s journey on either side. The people gathered the quail and while they were still eating it, God’s anger brought a plague on them.
            Next, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because his wife was a Cushite. They asked if God had only spoken by Moses and not by them also. So the Lord came down as pillar of cloud before the tent. He told them that he spoke through prophets by visions and dreams but with Moses it was face to face and not in riddles.
            The Lord was angry and Miriam became leprous. Aaron confessed their foolishness to Moses. So Moses asked the Lord to heal Miriam. God said that she sinned so she must be set outside the camp for seven days. They all waited the seven days then moved on in the wilderness of Paran.
            The Lord told Moses to send spies into the land that he was giving Israel. He sent one chief man from each tribe. They were to report back if the people of the land were few or many, weak or strong, the land was good or bad, and the cities were fortified or not. They were to bring back some of the fruit of the land.
            They went throughout the land for forty days and brought back a huge cluster of grapes, figs, and pomegranates. They also brought back a report that the cities and people were too strong for Israel to overtake. They saw giants in the land, the descendants of Anak. The giants discouraged them because they felt like grasshoppers in their sight.
            Psalm: David tells how boastful people plot destruction and love evil and lying. He affirms that God will bring destruction upon them. The righteous will fear and laugh at their downfall. They will recognize that the evil people didn’t trust in God but in their own abundance and riches. David affirms that he trusts in the Lord and will thank him and wait for him along with the godly.
            Proverbs: God doesn’t like cheating, pride, or crookedness. He delights in honesty, gives wisdom to the humble, and guides the upright with integrity.
            Mark: Jesus explains the Lord’s Supper. The bread represents his body and the wine his blood of the covenant poured out for many. He will not drink it again until he does so in the kingdom of God.
            They sing a hymn then go to the Mount of Olives and Jesus tells them that they will all fall away but after he is raised, they are to go to Galilee. Peter and the other say they will never fall away but Jesus says Peter will deny him three times before morning.
            They arrive at Gethsemane and Jesus has eight of the disciples sit and wait while he takes James, John, and Peter a ways off and tells them he is distressed. He asks them to watch while he goes a bit farther to pray. Jesus prays to bypass the cup if it is possible, but submits to the Father’s will. He comes back to find the three sleeping. He repeats this two more times before coming back to wake the disciples and let them know he is about to be betrayed.
            Judas brings a crowd with swords and clubs to seize Jesus. He betrays Jesus with a kiss. When they grab Jesus, a disciple whacks off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus asks them why they didn’t arrest him in the temple but at night and like a robber. He submits, saying he will let the prophecy be fulfilled. The disciples flee. But one young man wrapped in a linen cloth followed. They tried to size him but they only got the cloth and he ran away naked.

What Stood Out

            Numbers: “The Lord … took some of the Spirit that was on him [Moses] and put it on the seventy elders” (Num 11:25).
            Psalm: “I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly” (Ps 52:9).
            Proverbs: “The integrity of the upright guides them” (Prov 11:3).
            Mark: “And he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you” (Mark 14:36).


            Numbers: One of the things that I learned in my theology classes is that God is one and that means God cannot be extended nor divided.[1] So we read in Numbers that the Lord took some of his Spirit and put it on the seventy elders (Num 11:25 ESV). It is times like this that I shake my head and wonder what is going on. So I looked up a couple of commentaries. The first said nothing about it and the second quoted the King James translation. What a difference! So I looked at other translations and of the few I have, only two said that the Lord took some of his Spirit. The other say, the same Spirit or simply that he took of the Spirit. Translations, however good in other areas all have flaws and this is a flaw with the ESV and RSV.
            So what’s really happening here is that the Lord, in response to Moses’ complaint, decided that he would put his omnipresent Spirit on these men as well as on Moses. He even put his Spirit on the two men who were called but had not come to the meeting. This is God demonstrating his sovereignty and omnipresence in equipping his people for his work.
            I’m very thankful that he operates differently now that Jesus has come. Everyone who believes in Jesus and is saved has the Holy Spirit living in us. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit come upon some people and then left. King Saul is good example. David didn’t have assurance that he would always have the Holy Spirit as evidenced in yesterday’s Psalm (Ps 51:11). Now we know that if we are Christians, we have the Holy Spirit and if we don’t have the Spirit we are not Christians (Rom 8:9, 14). Once we become Christians, we have Jesus’ assurance that we will always be his, nothing or no one can remove us from his hand (John 10:27-30).
            Psalm: The background of this Psalm is that when David fled from Saul, he stopped at the tabernacle to get some food. The priest, Ahimelech, gave him some of the showbread and Goliath’s sword (1 Sam 21:1-9). A man named Doeg was there and saw it. He then reported it to Saul and Saul had Doeg massacre Ahimelech’s family and priests, eighty-five people. He also killed everyone in Nob, where Ahimelech lived. One of his sons escaped (1 Sam 22:9-20).
            In the face of this disaster, David blamed himself because he should have known Doeg would do what he did (1 Sam 22:22). However, David didn’t take revenge on Saul or Doeg. Instead, he expressed his thoughts in this Psalm. We see the same things happening in our society. We see mass killings and ungodly laws being enacted. We can’t blame these things on ourselves but there are evil people who are responsible for the societal problems. What is our response? We may feel like revenge but the Lord doesn’t want us to act that way. If we did, we would be no better than the one who perpetrate the evil.
            Instead, we need to have the same attitude as David, we must trust in God’s unfailing love, thank him for what he is doing in our lives, and dwell in his presence as we wait for him.
            Proverbs: It is amazing how easy it is to be dishonest. It can be in little ways or big but the world has all sorts of temptations. I had an expired coupon for an oil change. It was only a week past the date. My temptation was to give it to the man and hope he didn’t look at the date. I’ve had cash left at the self checkout counter that I could have easily scooped up. None of these things pleases the Lord. If I’m not faithful in the little things, how will the Lord ever trust me with the big (Luke 16:10-11).
            Mark: We have many mentions of Jesus going away from others to pray. However, this is only one of a couple of instances where we read what Jesus prayed. This isn’t like his prayer before raising Lazarus, he prayed aloud so that the people would believe the Father sent him. It isn’t like the prayer for his disciples and us in John 17. This is a personal prayer for the strength to overcome the temptation to avoid the cross. He starts his prayer with “Abba, Father” (Mark 14:36). This phrase is used only three times in the New Testament, here and in Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6. We don’t see anyone addressing the Father as Abba, Father except for Jesus his son and Christians who are his adopted sons.
            Jesus is crying out to his Father in desperation. The same sense is conveyed in Romans. When we find ourselves in difficult situations, we can call to our Father in heaven, but we don’t just call on him in the sense that he is a distant God. No, we call on him only as sons may do. By adding Abba before Father, we are coming to him as his children. Slaves could not address the head of the house as Abba but only as Father. [2] We are no longer slaves to sin but are free and adopted as sons. We have the same right to call upon God the Father in the same way that Jesus called upon him in the Garden of Gethsemane. W. E. Vine explains the combination of using both Abba and Father together:
Abba is the word framed by the lips of infants, and betokens unreasoning trust; "father" expresses an intelligent apprehension of the relationship. The two together express the love and intelligent confidence of the child.[3]
            Does this express our relationship with the Father when we pray? Jesus had that trust and so should we. We can trust him because we have an intellectual knowledge of who he is and what he has done. We can trust him because we come to him as infants, realizing we really don’t know an iota of his infinite nature, but we can and do trust him.


            I always need to improve my trust of God. I need to come to him more with the intimate relationship that I intellectually know of him as well as with a child to father relationship.

[1] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology: The Complete Three Volumes, (Louisville: GLH Publishing, 2015), 7176-7180, Kindle.
[2] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr., Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, s.v. “NT:5,” (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1985), Biblesoft edition.
[3] Ibid.

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