Walking Through Ephesians

Walking Through Ephesians

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Day 26 (Numbers 26)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Their Inheritance
At Kadesh-Barnea and at Baal Peor Israel had sinned greatly and God had chastened them but in His grace he forgave their disobedience and gave them a new start (Numbers 26).
First, there was the second numbering. By the time Israel had entered Zared valley the old generation had died off, except for Joshua and Caleb. And, very soon Moses would die.
Moses had two purposes in mind when he took the second census. As with the first, he needed to know how many men were available that were fighting age. Second, he wanted to get an idea how much land each tribe would need when Israel settled in Canaan (Numbers 26:52-56). Settling in the land required giving the tribes their inheritance.
First, there was the tribal inheritance (No. 26:52-56). Once the land had been conquered and God had given His people rest, Joshua, Eleazar and ten tribal representative would cast lots to determine each tribe’s portion of the land.
Next, came the Levitical inheritance. The Levites were not given their own land to possess but were scattered throughout the nation in forty-eight assigned cities. This was a fulfillment of Jacob’s death bed prophecy where he said the sons of Levi would be scattered widely. Also, by scattering them through the land the Levites had a better opportunity to teach the Law to more people and influence them to be faithful to the Lord. God was their inheritance so the Levites needed no land.  The Levites were to devote themselves wholly to the service of the Lord and His people, receiving what they needed from God’s hand through His people. 
As God scattered the Levites through the land to teach the law, it seems a forerunner of the great commission the Lord would give His twelve apostles. He told them to go into all the world to teach the gospel. All men needed to know the gospel so they could be saved. Then, they were told to teach those they had taught. All needed to know the will of God. God has always provided an opportunity for man to know Him and His will. While no land is inherited, as then. There is the promise of “The Promised Land.” An eternal home with God.

Day 25 (Numbers 25)

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Israel arrives in Shittim, in the plains of Moab, where they begin to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab, and in so doing were influenced to “join themselves to Baal of Peor” (v. 3).
The bright light in this chapter is Phinehas, son of Eleazar, grandson of Aaron. While Israel was weeping before the tent of meeting (likely due to God’s anger and the death from the judges and the plague), here’s a man who has brought a Moabite woman into his tent! Phinehas sees it, and responds through killing those two (v. 8). His action turned away the wrath of God (v. 11). Twice it ways he was “jealous for his God” (v. 11, 13).

This is a dark chapter, but it comes with a serious thought – am I moved to righteous anger over sin like Phinehas? When I see blatant disregard for God’s word, am I affected? We’re saturated in a culture that knows little distinction between right and wrong. It’s easy to be so calloused to the continual exposure to evil that we barely bat an eye towards wrong being done. Injustice, profanity, immorality – when we see or hear of it, it ought to bother us. We need more Phinehas’s today. Not stabbings with spears – but people who stand up and speak up against that which is wrong. Without Phinehas sin remains in the camp. When confronted, it ends.

We speak with an understanding that I too have sinned, and need God’s grace, the gift of His Son. It’s not self-righteous – I’m better than you.  And I speak, not out of hate toward the sinner, but a hate of that sin which I know destroys all that is good. So I’m kind, loving, and respectful.

Nevertheless, I speak. I speak up. I stand up for the sake of truth and for God. I try to point people to God, His standard, His will. I try to help people who are drifting from God’s path, being pulled by the way of the world. I speak up to those who’s hearts have become so hard and bitter that they leave a path of hurt wherever they go. I speak up because someone spoke up to me. Someone loved me enough to talk to me, to correct me, to point me to God, and help me get my life where it ought to. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov. 27:6). Will I be a friend or an enemy towards others? Enemies watch as others drift into danger, into harm. Friends have others best interest at heart, and will speak the painful words of truth to try and save them from harm. Whom will I be – a friend or an enemy? Will I sit and watch, or will I stand and speak?

Righteous Lord, we know that You hate sin, evil, and all that is wrong. Our sin has separated us from You, broken Your commandments, rejected Your love. Forgive us Father. We need Your grace, Your forgiveness. We’re amazed at Your mercy, in awe of Your longsuffering. Help us to see sin as You see sin – a disgrace, an evil, a monster. Yet help us to see others as You see them – lost, unaware of Jesus, distracted by the world, caught in a chain of addiction, and needing help, needing a friend, needing a Savior. Help us to speak up with love, to speak words of truth, to offer words of hope. Thank You for the hope we have in You – hope for forgiveness, hope for a better and brighter tomorrow, hope for a home prepared by You. Give us courage to stand, conviction to speak, and compassion to act. 

Day 24 (Numbers 24)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Balaam speaks for the third time and when the spirit of God came upon him, he praised God and Israel. Balak is enraged. He claps his hands, for emphasis I guess, and tells Balaam, “I said I would honor you, but, in fact, the Lord has kept you back from honor.” (Numbers 24:11).
That is laughable.  Balak wants to honor Balaam for cursing God’s people. God will not permit Balaam to  curse His people and God gets the blame for Balaam failing to receive honor from Balak. The very reason Balak wants Balaam to curse Israel is because he is afraid of Israel because of what Israel had done to the Amorites (Numbers 20:23). So he figures if Balaam curses Israel, Israel will not be able to harm the Moabites.
Balak misses who destroy the Amorites. It was not the Israelites who destroyed them. It was God. Israel was the instrument God used to destroy them. Cursing Israel is not going to stop God. Satan used this tactic earlier in the Bible narrative. He used this tactic with Eve. He blamed God for Eve being restrained from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan tells her it is God who is keeping you from fulfilment. Now Satan is using Balak to blame God for Balaam not getting the honor this puny Moabite offers him.
Balaam did what he wanted to do. But, God used him to praise and prevented him from cursing. How many times do we do what we want to do and then when it goes south we blame God for not giving us what we wanted? We blame God for failing to receive the applause we think we so richly deserve. We cry, “It is God who keep us from our due honor. It is God who keeps us from having our fun.”
Balak and Balaam show us God’s will, will be done in spite of what man wants to do. We can act in harmony with His will or we can cut ourselves against it. God is going to win!

Day 23 (Numbers 23)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I find today’s chapter humorous. Balaam arrives before Balak, and Balak wants Balam to pronounce a curse on Israel. So Balaam has Balak prepare the offerings, and then goes to hear a word from the Lord. When he returns he blesses Israel instead of cursing them. Of course Balak is upset (v. 11). He’s blessing the enemy, not cursing them. Balak then takes Balaam to another location to try again, but the Lord’s words are the same – blessings not curses (v. 18-24). Does this stop Balak? Nope. Let’s try one more time. Let’s try one more location – as if the location has to do with the curse (v. 27). Despite all his efforts, what Balak intended for evil, God turned into good. What started as an attempt to curse ended with blessings.

Balaam had the right attitude in this chapter. “Must I not be careful to speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?” (v. 12). In other words, “if I speak on behalf of God, I’m going to be careful to say exactly what God says -not to add any of my words, or take out anything He said.” He had told Balak before, “The word that God puts in my mouth, that I shall speak” (Num. 22:38). That should have been enough for Balak. God has spoken.

But isn’t that what’s interesting – God has spoken and Balak’s response? Let’s get a second opinion. Let’s try again. Well they did, and when God spoke the 2nd time, and the 3rd time, His answer had not changed. Isn’t this the challenge of today? God has spoken, but I don’t like it. I don’t like what He says about morals, about purity, about marriage and divorce, about worship, about holy living. So what do we do? We can either bend our will and submit to God’s words, or we can be like Balak and seek a second opinion. That sounds a lot like 2 Timothy 4:3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
So here’s a question for you to consider today: what do I do when I don’t like what I’ve read/heard from the word of God? You might start with the tough/honest question: “why?” Why don’t I like it? Is it because I’m struggling with this? Is it because it doesn’t line up with what I’ve been taught/believe? Is it because I know I’ll have to make some changes in my life?

The word of God that is described as sweet as honey (Ps. 19:10), is also called a sharp two-edged sword that pierces/penetrates, and is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb. 4:12). Have you ever been pierced? Stepped on a piece of glass? Been poked by a thorn? It hurts. Being judged hurts. That’s a good hurt. It’s a good pain. We’re seeing who it is we are compared to who it is we ought to be – looking to the true standard of God’s word.

So many want to use the Bible like a butter knife and smooth everything over - everything is fine. God said it is a sharp sword, meant to pierce, penetrate the soul. It is the surgical blade of the Spirit used to cut away all the sinful cancers of the heart.

Don’t be like Balak. Don’t change God’s words. Don’t seek a second opinion. Let the Bible say what it says – and listen. If it hurts, let it. That hurt might produce a change in your life. It might be what brings you closer to Jesus.

Wise and all understanding God, today I thank You for Your words. What a gift they are. Through Your words we come to know You. Through Your words we see ourselves as we really are. We see Your love, Your will, and Your purpose and plan for us. They are sweet like honey, able to encourage our spirit, and comfort the brokenhearted. They are a like a lamp in a dark world, showing us truth – real truth – and guiding us to You. They are like a sword – they pierce the soul, they judge the heart, they convict the guilty. When I open Your words, help me to listen. Help me to apply what I’ve read to my life, and to obey what You’ve commanded. Soften my heart to receive correction, to be ready for instruction. Help me to better know You, and be like You, through my time spent in Your holy words.  

Day 22 (Numbers 22)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Balak send for Balaam. He wants Balaam to curse the people of God.  Balaam just had to have his way (Numbers 22).  There are many sad stories in the Bible, especially in Numbers. This is certainly among the saddest. 

Balaam was bound and determined to get his way. He thought he had until God prevented him from cursing Israel.  When cursing Israel did not work he lead her to idolatry and sexually immorality. 

What is sad, and humorous at the same time, in this story is that Balaam’s donkey knew more than he did. Even more amazing is the donkey talks to Balaam (Numbers 22:28-30). A person has to reach a really low point in life for God to use a beast of burden to communicate His mind.  The donkey noticed the Angel of the Lord but Balaam did not. At last the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam and he admits his sin. Balaam is remembered for his greed and prideful heart. 

However, God would use Balaam to reveal great truths about Israel. First, God had blessed the people of Israel and He would not allow them to be cursed. Second, blessed by God the nation had been set apart. Third, was the emphasis on the size of the camp (Numbers 22:41). 

As long as Israel walked with God and obeyed His will they were undefeated.  The battles we fight today are not with flesh and blood but heavenly hosts (Eph. 6:16). Just as with Israel of as old, even so, with spiritual Israel today, as long as we walk with God and obey His will He will not allow us to be defeated. 

Pride and greed are effective tools in the arsenal of Satan. Our protection is the whole armor of God. Chief among our weapons is the sword which is the word of God. And then finally prayer.  Nothing Satan offers us is worth the price we will pay. Balaam learned that the hard. He too, lives in infamy throughout the Bible story.

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