Posts Tagged ‘Numbers’

A Great Prayer

Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them,

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:  The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:  The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

Numbers 6:23-26

I came across this prayer the other day and thought it was perfect (of course it’s perfect, because it’s in the Bible!).  I have seen pictures and plaques with little prayers like this on them, but never really noticed this passage before.  I think it would be great to have this prayer hanging on a wall or sitting on a table where a person would see it and be reminded of it often.  It would be a perfect prayer to pray for anyone.

“The LORD bless thee and keep thee…”  We know that we have been greatly blessed by the Lord.  We know that it is the Lord Who keeps us.  And we surely want the Lord to bless and keep those that we know.

“The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee…”  The Lord’s face has surely shone upon us and He has most definitely been gracious to us.  What more can we ask for our friends and family?  We want Him to be gracious to them, as He has been to us.

“The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”  When we think about what is really important to us, we probably value peace with God and peace with men above most other things.  Isn’t it wonderful to be at peace?  We have experienced it, and surely we want those we know to experience the same peace of God.

What a great prayer for every person for every day!

How Long?

And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me?  and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?

Numbers 14:11

In this passage, the Israelites have been to the doorstep of the Promised Land and have decided that they are not strong enough to take the land.  They have decided that they are not going to trust the Lord.  After all He has done for them and all the “signs which I have shewed among them”, they have decided that they are going to get a captain and return to Egypt (vs 4).

The Lord then asks an interesting question: “How long will this people provoke me?” and “How long will it be ere they believe me?”.  Those are good questions to ask ourselves.  With everything that God has done for us and all the wonderful things He has shown us, how long are we going to continue not believing Him?  When will we start believing Him? 

The answer is different for every person, but I hope the answer is “now”.

No Iniquity in Jacob

Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it.  He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and a shout of a king is among them.

Numbers 23:20-21

As I have been reading through the book of Numbers, I have noticed many, many times that the Israelites disobeyed God.  I have noticed that they have been a faithless, complaining, murmuring, and rebellious group of ungrateful people.  When I first read this verse, I thought that it couldn’t be true.  Just two chapters earlier,  they complained so much that the Lord sent fiery serpents to punish them.  Time and time again they failed the Lord.  Time and time again they disobeyed.  Time and time again, they complained.  Yet this verse clearly says “He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel.”.  How could it be? 

Like the beautiful picture this passage provides, we as God’s children often fail Him.  He blesses us and we complain.  He tries to help us and we rebel and disobey.  Time and time again, we sin against Him and disappoint Him.  And yet when He looks at us, He does not see our sin, He sees only the pure, unspotted, beautiful sacrifice of His Holy, sinless Son Jesus.  

No matter how often the Israelites strayed and didn’t do what they were supposed to do, they were still the Lord’s people.  Balaam found this out when he tried to curse Israel and God would not allow it.  Like the Israelites, we have no righteousness on our own.  But also like the Israelites, and thanks to the complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can also say that “he hath not beheld iniquity in us”.

Look and Live

And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.  And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

Numbers 21:8-9

In Numbers chapter 21, the Israelites became discouraged because of the difficulty of the journey.  They started to complain and question God.  God did not like this and he sent fiery serpents among the people; because of this judgment, the Bible says in verse 6 “much people died”.  The people came to Moses and asked him to pray that the Lord would take away the serpents.  The Lord came up with the solution outlined in verse 8.  Moses would make a fiery serpent, set it on a pole, and whoever was bitten would have only to look upon the serpent and he would live.  “Look and live”.  This serpent was mentioned by Jesus in John 3:14-15, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”. 

Just as the Israelites had to look to the serpent to be healed, we must look to Jesus to be healed.  Isaiah 45:22 says “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”.  All we have to do is “look unto Him”.  Of course, before we are willing to “look unto Him”, we are going to have to realize that we need to look unto Him.  Of course, it was easy for the Israelites to realize that they had been bitten by the serpent; in the same way, we have been bitten by sin.  The only healing for our sin is to “look unto Him”.  Everything is in Him; may we look to Him today and never take our eyes off of Him!

When It’s Already Over

And they turned and went up by the way of Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan went out against them, he, and all his people, to the battle at Edrei.  And the Lord said unto Moses, Fear him not: for I have delivered him into thy hand, and all his people, and his land; and thou shalt do to him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon.  So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed the land.

Numbers 21:33-35

I love passages of Scripture like this one.  In verse 34, the Lord tells Moses to not fear Og, king of Bashan.  He then goes on to tell Moses that Og is not to be feared because “I have delivered him into thy hand”.  The battle had not yet even begun, but God had already given the Israelites the victory.  He had already decided who was going to win and what was going to happen.  The battle was over before it even began.

Like the Israelites at this battle, the Lord has already promised us the victory if we will just follow Him.  I John 4:4 tells us that we have “overcome the world, because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world”.  The Lord Jesus Christ has already overcome everything that need to be overcome.  As Christians, we have His mighty power available to us at all times.  It is a great and comforting thought to know that the battle is already over.  God has already decided who wins.  The victory has already been won- all we have to do is decide to get involved in the fight.  What a wonderful thought!

Discouraged Because of the Way

And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

Numbers 21:4

Has there ever been a time when you have been discouraged?  This verse says that the Israelites were discouraged “because of the way”.  Sometimes the way that we travel is a cause for discouragement.  Not everything goes smoothly all the time.  Even though the Lord was leading them and there is no indication that they weren’t following Him, they were still discouraged in the way.  Problems will come for all of us.  The issue is not whether or not problems will come, the issue is how we will react to the problems that are sure to come our way. 

The Israelites reacted in the wrong way: verse 5 says that “the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.”.  The Israelites reacted to problems and a rough road by doing several wrong things:

1.They started questioning God and God-appointed leaders. “The people spake against God, and against Moses.”  No matter what the trial, we should never “speak against God”.  That is not an argument we are going to win.

2.They started despairing.  “Wherefore have ye brought us up out of the Egypt to die in the wilderness?”  The Israelites use this exact statement five different times during their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.  Of course God hadn’t brought them out of Egypt to let them die in the wilderness.  He hadn’t wrought great miracles and given them great victories just to let them die.  He hadn’t borne them on eagles’ wings and brought them to Himself (Exodus 19:4) just to fail them at the end when the journey got hard.

3. They started exaggerating their problems. “There is no bread, and neither is there any water.”  The Israelites had bread- they had the heaven-sent manna straight from God.  In the previous chapter, they had water gushing out from a rock.  Sometimes when things get difficult for us, we start to look at our problems too much and we start making mountains out of molehills. 

4. They started complaining about God’s provision.  “Our soul loatheth this light bread”.  They were complaining about God’s provision for them.  God was miraculously providing them with food to eat, and they were critical and complaining about it.  How often has God been good and merciful to us, but we have still found some reason to complain?

When our path gets hard and we get “discouraged because of the way”, instead of complaining and griping, we need to keep trusting the Lord and “looking unto Jesus”.  In the end of the story, the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people as punishment for their attitude.  Job would be the perfect example of what to do when we get discouraged.  If anyone had reason for discouragement, it was Job.  Yet in everything that happened to him, “Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly”.  Let his be our example and not the Israelites.

Standing Between the Dead and the Living

And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.

Numbers 16:48

In this chapter of Numbers, the Israelites are having some trouble figuring out who they should be following and listening to.  This is the chapter in which the Earth opens up and swallows Korah and everyone and everything associated with him.  God is not happy because the Israelites are questioning Him and not obeying Him.  Twice He tells Moses to stand back and let Him destroy the people. Verse 21 says “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment” and verse 45 says “Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment”.  God wants Moses to get out of the way and let Him destroy the people.

In verse 46, Moses tells Aaron to “…go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the Lord; the plague is begun”.  And that brings us to verse 48 where we find Aaron standing “between the dead and the living”.  When you think about it, that is exactly what we do today.  As Christians, we stand between the dead and the living every day.  We live in a dead and dying world every day but we have life and we know who can give life. 

We cannot “make an atonement” as Aaron did in verse 46, but we can “go quickly unto the congregation” and tell people of the One who has “made an atonement”.  The plague has started- sin is the plague and it is killing people all around us.  We should be willing to go quickly and tell the people who are dying about the atonement that has been made for them.  We are the only ones on Earth standing between the living and the dead.  May we have the attitude of Moses and Aaron and be willing to go quickly and help the people who are dying because of the plague of sin!

The Rebellious Heart

And the children of Israel murmered against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!  And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?  And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.

Numbers 14:2-4

Obviously, the Israelites are in the wrong here.  They believed the doubts and fears that the ten spies came back with and they refused to trust God and go into the Promised Land.  God brought them out of Egypt for a reason and it wasn’t to let them die in the wilderness.  He brought them out to bring them into the land that He promised.  But they didn’t have the faith to take it.

Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.  And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes…  If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.  Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.

Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb tried to persuade the people to follow the Lord and take the land that He was trying to give them. They were pleading with the people, trying to get them to understand that it was the Lord who would bring them into the land and it was the Lord that would give it to them.   They asked only that the people not fear the inhabitants of the land and that they follow the Lord.  These leaders only wanted what was best for the people.

But all the congregation bade stone them with stones.

Numbers 14:10b

After all Moses and Aaron had done for Israel, they wanted to kill them.  After the encouragement that Joshua and Caleb had given them to follow the Lord, they wanted to stone them!  But that is the way the backslidden, rebellious heart works.  The rebellious heart doesn’t want to hear about what God wants to do with them.  The rebellious heart hates the very people who are the most interested in helping them.  The rebellious heart just wants to “go back to Egypt”.  The rebellious heart is not interested in entering into the Promised Land and living the victorious Christian life. 

The question is this: into which group do we fall?  Are we among the Moses’ and Joshua’s who want to follow the Lord into battle, trusting Him to give the victory?  Or are we in the camp with the Israelites, who just want to go back to Egypt?

Take It!

And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.  Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.

Numbers 13:27-29

The Israelites entering the Promised Land is often thought of as a picture of the Christian entering into a victorious life in the Lord’s will.  The problems the Israelites encountered are often the same problems that we encounter in our Christian walk.  In this passage, Moses has sent the twelve spies into the land to see what the land is like and what the people are like.  Other than Caleb and Joshua, they come back with a conflicting report.

On the one hand, they do describe the land as everything God has said it would be.  It is flowing with milk and honey.  It was a great land.  It was literally “the Promised Land”.  But they said “nevertheless…”.  They decided in verse 28 that the people were strong.  The cities were walled and well defensed.  The people were giants.  In verses 31 through 33, the men decided that they could not go up and possess the land that the Lord had already promised them and given them.  The people were, in the words of verse 31 “stronger than we”.  They went so far as verse 32 tells us: “…they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched”.  They went so far as to speak evil of the land that God had promised them!

How often does that describe our Christian life?  How often have we seen the “land flowing with milk and honey”?  How often have we seen a glimpse of what the Lord wants to do in and through our lives?  Deep down, we all know that the Lord’s way is the best way.  We all know that we would be happier doing His will and following Him than we would doing what we want.  But how often have we allowed doubts and fears to cause us to stop short of what He wants for us?  How often have we turned our backs on His will because we think we aren’t strong enough?  Doubt and fear destroyed an entire generation of Israelites and they have destroyed many Christians’ lives. 

Let us live like Caleb and exclaim with him: “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.”!  There are always going to be obstacles in living a victorious Christian life, but those obstacles are overcome by faith in Jesus Christ.  I John 4:4 tells us “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world”.  We already have the victory given to us through Christ- all we need to do is “go up at once and possess it”.