Archive for January 2008

“… they will give you trouble …”

January 31, 2008

50 On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho the LORD said to Moses, 51 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. 53 Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. 54 Distribute the land by lot, according to your clans. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one. Whatever falls to them by lot will be theirs. Distribute it according to your ancestral tribes.

55 “‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. 56 And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.'”
(Numbers 33:50-56; NIV. Please ready Numbers 31-36.)

He told them what to do … that should have been enough. He didn’t have to warn them … but He did. They could please Him and protect themselves by just being ready to “trust and obey”.

He chose to warn them, however … to make sure they understood the wisdom behind the command.

God is good to us like that. He could just say, “Do this or do not do that … because I said so!” (Or, “Because I am your Father!”) But He takes the time … shows the patience … to not only tell us what is best … but why it is best … and what will happen if we decide not to do what is best.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: I wonder if they will remember, when they get into the promised land, to do what God commanded them to do? Will they obey? If they don’t and then they suffer the consequences, will they remember that God warned them? Will they remember that their suffering is “their own fault”? (I know the answers to these questions, but if I tell you now – you might not read the book of Judges, when we get there in about a month.)   
 

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“… one who will lead them …”

January 30, 2008

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim range and see the land I have given the Israelites. 13 After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, 14 for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.” (These were the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.)

15 Moses said to the LORD, 16 “May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

18 So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your hand on him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the LORD. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”

22 Moses did as the LORD commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. 23 Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the LORD instructed through Moses.
(Numbers 27:12-23; NIV. Please read Numbers 26-30.)

The Lord chose Aaron to be His first High Priest; but when Aaron was about to die, the chose Eleazar to serve in his place. When it came time for Moses to rest from his labors; Joshua was selected to lead in his place.

Such is the way God’s plan works through the life-cycle of men. No man … no one man … is indispensible, for God works all things to His good pleasure; but He chooses to use men and women – even donkeys at times. 

For every Moses … there is a Joshua.

For every Joshua … there is a Othneil … Ehud … Shamgar … Deborah … etc.

For every Saul … there is a David.

For every David … there is a Solomon.

For every Isaiah … there is Malachi.

For every Malachi … there is a John, the Baptizer.

For every Paul … there is a Timothy.

For every Jesus … there is a disciple, who wants to become like Him.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Who will God raise up to take your place? Your children? Are they prepared? Are they being prepared? Will they be ready to be the next generation of husbands or wives … the next fathers and mothers? For every Big Bill … there is a William David. For every Granny … there is a Cheri Jo. For every Rex … there is a ????? (I have some work to do – don’t you?)

“… the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth …”

January 29, 2008

21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.

24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat her again.

26 Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

31 Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

32 The angel of the LORD asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.   33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.”
(Numbers 22:21-33; NIV. Please read Numbers 22-25.)

Balaam was a sorcerer … a covetous and devious man. By his counsel many of God’s people will suffer and die. For his sins, he will die – suffering the righteous wrath of God Almighty. (Consider: Joshua 13:22; 2 Peter 2:15; Revelation 2:14)

But in this moment his life is spared by a beast that shows more wisdom – more fear of God than this temporary prophet.

The Lord moves in mysterious ways.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: I wonder how many times God has spared me … taught me … led me in ways that I never understood – could never explain. Thank you, Lord.     

“Lifted Up”

January 28, 2008

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

6 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

8 The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
(Numbers 21:4-9; NIV. Please read Numbers 16-21.)

A people, who would not thank God … would not ask God … would not trust God … had to learn the hard way – trust God or die. I  have had to learn some lessons – the hard way – but by the mercy of God it was never a life or death issue. This example should teach me – ‘once and for all’ – to thank God for what I have – ask God for what I want – trust God for what I need.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: When the snake of sin bit me … when I deserved to die for my foolish and shameful behavior … I looked to the One lifted up for me and found salvation – life. Look up – look for Him – who knew no sin but became sin for us, so that we might have life.

“… in our own eyes …”

January 27, 2008

When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? 20 How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees on it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)

21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. 22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 When they reached the Valley of Eshcol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshcol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there. 25 At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land.

26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”

30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
(Numbers 13: 17-33; NIV. Please read Numbers 11-15.)

These people had seen grasshoppers (locusts) humble the lord of Egypt.  But when they compared themselves to the giants of the land, they saw themselves – not as instruments of God to bring judgment against His enemies – but as harmless, ineffective insects. They saw themselves that way, because that is the way they thought the giants saw them. Rather than see themselves as God sees them … His mighty army … they chose to see themselves as their enemies see them.

We face the same dilemma. We see ourselves the way others see us … rather than the way God sees us. We often pray, “We are weak and sinful in thy sight”. We are “weak and sinful” – but not in His sight! He sees us as “good” … “wonderful” … “precious” … “redeemed” … “chosen”. If anyone does not see us in that way … if we do not see ourselves in that way …

ON SECOND THOUGHT: If God can take a clod and make a man, what can He do with a man who acts like a clod? If God can use a donkey to convert a prophet, what can He do with a prophet who acts like a (donkey)? If God …
 

“The Lord bless you …”

January 26, 2008

The LORD said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:

24 “‘”The LORD bless you
and keep you;
25 the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.” ‘ 

27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
(Numbers 6:22-27; NIV. Please read Number 5-10.)

Hear this blessing: “bless you and keep you”. When no one else wants you … when all others betray you … the Lord will “keep” you.

Hear this blessing: “make His face to shine upon you“. Look at His face – there is no stern frown – no grave shadow – only light for you.

Hear this blessing: “be gracious to you”. Gracious – merciful – compassionate – considerate – generous – the Lord toward you.

Hear this blessing: “turn His face toward you”. The Lord is attentive. He is listening … watching … searching your heart’s desires.

Hear this blessing: “give you peace”. The war has been won – the enemy has been defeated – you are safe with Him – in Him.

This is how the Lord wanted His people to have His name placed on them. May His name and this blessing rest on all who read these words. 

ON SECOND THOUGHT: What is the nicest thing anyone ever said to you? (Not your mate or children.)   

“You Count!”

January 25, 2008

Thus they were counted, as the LORD commanded Moses.
(Numbers 4:49; NIV. Please read Numbers 1-4.)

I believe God knew how many people there were in that mob of ex-slaves that walked out of Egypt. I believe He knew their names and the names of their parents and/or their children. I believe He knew the number of hairs on their heads and the secret desires of their hearts.

So why does He have them counted? I believe He wanted Moses to count them – so that they would know that they count!

They could not count the stars of the heavens – couldn’t count the dust of the earth; but God counted them – each one of them. They counted to God!

ON SECOND THOUGHT: Do you realize that God knows you? He knows your name … and it is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and has been since before the foundation of the world. (Don’t try to figure all of that out … just trust Him, so one day He will be able to confirm it.)