Miracles of Jesus
40 Days in the Wilderness
Today’s reading has 2 sections with 1 central focus – purity. There’s the law which calls for a separation from those who are unclean (v. 2-4). Then there’s the lengthy section over the test of fidelity between a husband and wife (v. 11-31). The aim for each law is the same: purity. There’s the purity in one’s body as he stands before God undefiled. Then there’s the purity in one’s marriage relationship, standing before God, the Priest, and their spouse proving their innocence (purity – v. 28).
Pure means free from filth, spot, or stain. Think of a pure stream – crystal clear – so fresh and inviting. Think of the Mississippi River – looks like chocolate milk – murky, filthy, gross. You wouldn’t drink that water if you were dared. Which describes you? Which describes your heart, your mind, your words, your actions? Are you living a life of purity and innocence, or are you stained by the influence and ways of the world – caught in your own faults. Today – seek purity. Think pure thoughts. Say pure words. Ask God to create in you a clean heart (Psalm 51:10). The defiled are removed from the camp (v. 3, 27). The pure dwell in peace with God and His people (Matt. 5:8). Be pure.
“Holy and Righteous God, You are holy – You are separate and distinct from the world around us. You are always pure, clean, good, and right. The world seeks to defile my heart with its filth, with negative thinking, with cruel words, and immoral behavior. Help me to be like You. Let me live in purity today. Remove the stains of impurity from my mind, and create a clean heart within me. Help me to remember that a day in Your courts are far better than a thousand elsewhere. Let me dwell in Your camp, following Your example, cleansed by the blood of Your Son, O merciful Father.”
God Is A God Of Order
When the cloud began to move, it was time to move the camp. Moving this many people would have been difficult without some sort of order. It would have been chaotic to move this many people by just saying, “It is time to go, grab your stuff.”
With God setting each tribe in its place and arranging them in the order He did He shows us once again, He is not a God of confusion but of order. Each tribe had their assigned place. Later in Numbers we see each tribe had their own responsibilities too.
God is a God of order. When chaos appears something is out of balance with God. It has been that way ever since the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Sin results in chaos and a breach with God.
Even the way God designed the church there is order. There is order when people follow the Lord and when they are united together.
Yet, each separate tribe kept their own identity. The number and arranging of each tribe seems to be useless information. Yet, we see in this God’s wisdom. Each had their place. Each had their family. When they moved it was orderly and they were able to accomplish more.
God wants us all. He wants our hearts. He wants us to belong. He wants us attached to others. He wants us protected. He wants us to live lives that reflect His glory.
In our reading today we have God’s instructions regarding the priests. Something I find interesting are the duties laid out for the Levites (v. 25-37). Some of their roles appeared to be lowly labor – maintenance, guarding, packing, and hauling. Yet all of this work was honorable and important because it was in service to the King.
Sometimes we see our labor in God’s kingdom as small and insignificant. However the smallest, most insignificant tasks can make a great difference. Preparing food, cleaning, visiting someone who is sick, encouraging a neighbor – they all make a difference. Remember the words of Jesus, “Whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Matt. 10:42). Nothing that is done for God is small.
“Almighty Father, what an honor and privilege it is to work in your Kingdom. Thank you for giving us work to be done, talents to put to use, and opportunities to seize and utilize. Help me to realize that my efforts for Your work are necessary and important, no matter how great or small they may seem to others. And in all I do, I do so for Your name’s sake, for Your glory and Your praise.”
Numbering The People
In the numbering of the people God assigns each family a responsibility, as relates to the care, movement and protection of the tabernacle. Nothing is left to chance or human ingenuity. God has taken of every detail. Everyone knows his responsibility.
Also, with each assignment we see not every one had the same assignment. Each tribe had a different responsibility. There are some burdens we can share and then there are some burdens that are ours to bear.
God ordered a pattern for them. With this pattern they could move orderly, engage in battle successfully and carry on the work of the tabernacle orderly.
God had purpose in all He designed and created. Even here God established a pattern. Following God’s pattern in the family, the church and life is not simply “traditional.” Following God’s pattern is from our God. It was when Israel left the pattern of God that they had trouble. So it is with us. If we follow God’s pattern our lives will be peaceful.
For the next 40 days we’re going to go on a journey with Israel. They were led by God to a promised land, one which flowed with milk and honey. But the journey to that land of abundance took them through a wilderness. The path through the dry, desolate, desert was no accident – it was by design. God would use the difficult journey through the wilderness to test Israel’s obedience, to strengthen their faith, to see what was truly in their hearts (Deut. 8:1-2). The journey that should have taken a few weeks lasted 40 years. Their failure to trust and obey God cost them greatly.
The path to a stronger faith, a deeper trust, and a richer commitment to God is not found on the smooth, easy ways of life. Rather it’s a path that leads us through the wilderness. It’s a place where faith is not given, it’s proven. The various trials we face on this journey have the ability to shape, mold, and perfect us (Jas. 1:2-4). But, just like Israel, that’s up to us. Will we trust in the Lord to see us through our trials, or will we rebel and go our own way?
We encourage you to join us as we read, reflect and pray through Numbers and Deuteronomy these next 40 days. May these words from the past help encourage our faithful commitment to God.