Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 121
Read the “0304 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.” – (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)
The choice that God “set before” the people of Israel 4000 years ago is the same choice that he places before His people today. If we love Him and live for Him, His hand of blessing will be upon our lives and families and we will also be fruitful and productive in our ministry for Him. However, if the world with all of its attractions lures us out of the will of God and causes us to live for ourselves, then we will lose God’s blessings of provision and protection.
It is very frightening to me to observe the number of casualties that there are among the ranks of Christians. It scares me because I know that it is only by the grace of God that I haven’t fallen myself. But I believe that our chances of surviving this wicked world with our faith intact will greatly increase if we heed the commandment that God gave the people in the verses prior to v. 26:
“Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.” – (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)
“For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him; Then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves. Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be. There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you.” – (Deuteronomy 11:22-25)
The Bible teaches very plainly that our faith in God will grow proportionately to the amount of time we spend in the Word of God (“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” – Romans 10:17 ); not merely reading the Word, but also meditating on it, memorizing it, and applying it to our lives. If we spend time daily in the Word our faith in God will increase and if our faith increases, we will then have a desire in our hearts to obey Him; and if we are obedient to Him, He then can bless our lives.
Are you struggling with your faith? Get back into your Bible and get back into the church services. Increasing your time in the Word will increase your faith, which will increase your obedience, which will increase your blessing. The choice is yours.
Posted in Thoughts from Deuteronomy by Phil Erickson with 7 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 119:105
Read the “0303 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read a previous post from today’s passage – “Remember Who Butters Your Bread“
“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
Just before the children of Israel entered into the Land of Promise, God gave them a few important instructions that, if heeded, would guarantee their success in their new home. He told them that if they loved Him with all of their hearts, and obeyed what He commanded them, they would “increase mightily” in the land. He also warned them to completely drive out all of the inhabitants of the land. They were not to make any covenants with them, but were to completely remove or destroy them. The people of God were also warned not to forget God Who gave them this wonderful and fruitful land, and could easily remove them from it if they forsook Him.
God didn’t just want the people to hear these commandments one time, He wanted them to be constantly reminded of them. In Deuteronomy 6:6 – 9, God tells them that He wanted His Word to be memorized, and it was also to be posted everywhere so the people could always remember what God had done for them, and what God expected of them. His Word was also to be diligently discussed and instructed in the home so the children could learn about and revere God also. Knowing and obeying God’s Word guaranteed the prosperity of God’s people. God reminded Joshua of this very same truth in Joshua 1:8:
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
David also understood this principle and wrote extensively about it in his psalms:
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalms 1:1-3)
In fact, the largest psalm (Psalm 119) is dedicated completely to the Word of God:
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalms 119:105)
This principle is still applicable today. God’s people need to immerse themselves in the Scripture through individual daily reading, studying, and memorization. It is also important to gather together with other believers in the church and hear the Word of God preached and taught from the pulpit. People say that too much of anything is not good, but I can’t imagine that too much of the Bible is bad. In fact, I believe the problems in America today are largely due to a neglect of the Bible.
Let’s get back to the Bible.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:16)
Posted in Thoughts from Deuteronomy by Phil Erickson with 4 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 92:1 – 4
Read the “0301 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God,” – (Deuteronomy 1:32)
The context of the above verse involves Moses reminiscing with the nation of Israel as they were near the end of their wandering in the Wilderness for 40 years. He reminds them of the reason that they had to delay their entrance into the Promised Land, which was their inability to trust God to deliver the “giant” inhabitants of the land of Canaan into their hand. They were afraid, and their fear caused them to doubt that God was powerful enough to give them victory. This was after they had seen first hand the power of God as He delivered them from the Egyptians; as He parted the Red Sea; and as He miraculously provided for their needs in their journey. Notice what Moses said in verse 31:
“And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.” – (Deuteronomy 1:31)
God had certainly never given them a reason not to trust Him. They had seen Him do the impossible, yet they could not trust Him to give them victory in the battle with the people of Canaan.
My thought this morning is in the phrase, “yet in this thing.” Though the people had seen God do great things in the past, and were trusting Him to do many things in the present, there was one thing that they could not trust Him to do. They were “picking and choosing” the specific areas of trust. Do you find yourself doing that? I guess it is something we are all guilty of, if you think about it. There are some specific areas where we choose not to trust God. So what do we do instead? We do what seems right to us. Let’s consider some verses that should challenge that course of action:
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” – (Proverbs 3:5-6)
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” – (Proverbs 12:15)
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” – (Proverbs 14:12)
We need to trust God completely. We need to surrender to Him completely. Either He is the omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent God, or He is not. We need to trust in His provision, protection, and His purpose for our lives. We need to take our hands off the wheel, and allow God to steer our course, and control our direction. I know that this is a very difficult thing for us to do, but it is still what God demands. Let Him have His way in your life. You can trust Him in all things, not just most things. God did bring the Israelites into the land, just 38 years later than He could have. As a nation, they did eventually receive all of the blessing that the land had to offer, but many individuals missed out. What blessings and abundance are you missing out on because of your refusal to believe God “in this thing”?
One more thought. We can apply this principle also in the area of our obedience. We often “pick and choose” which commandments and principles of God that we are going to obey. God wants complete submission to His will.
Posted in Thoughts from Deuteronomy by Phil Erickson with 4 comments.
Happy Leap Day!
Note – today is that extra day in the calendar that comes every four years in a leap year. There is no scheduled reading for today. Read your favorite passage or use the time to get caught up if you have fallen behind. For you second milers, however, there are quite a few extra passages to read as February is a short month.
Today’s Passage – read your favorite passage
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32
“8 Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.” (Psalm 143:8)
As I was reading through these second miler passages this morning, I noticed that the psalmist, David, had the same philosophy that many of us do when it comes to carving out some time early in the day to get alone with God and hear what He has to say to us. Really, you could say that these verses sum up the purpose of this devotional blog. We want to get alone with the Lord early in the morning, before all the cares of the day confront us, and we want Him to remind us of His lovingkindness toward us and to show us the way that we should walk in our day. These moments with God in the morning are very precious. At my house, the mornings are usually very peaceful. I am an early riser, and I love the quietness of the morning. I usually sit in my chair in front of the fireplace and do my devotions, along with my buddy Jack (our Corgi).
David certainly liked to spend time with God in the morning:
“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” (Psalm 5:3)
“But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.” (Psalm 88:13)”
Jesus also was a fan of the early morning hours:
“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
The morning is certainly not the only time of the day that we should get alone with the Lord. David also said:
“Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.” (Psalm 55:17)
Paul stated that we should: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), which means all times of the day.
I once heard an evangelist say that we should get God on the phone in the morning and shoulder the phone throughout the day.
I want to encourage you to find a time in your day when you can get alone with the Lord and listen to what He has to say to you. For many of us, it may be in those early morning hours, but for some, it may be another time in the day. Whatever works for you – just do it. It is amazing what a difference it makes in our lives when we take the time to hear His voice – in the morning.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 89
Read the “Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land of Canaan; (this is the land that shall fall unto you for an inheritance, even the land of Canaan with the coasts thereof:)” (Numbers 34:1-2)
The map in the image above shows the original land distribution for the tribes of Judah as they entered into the land of Canaan after wandering through the wilderness of Sinai for forty years. Each of the colors on the map represent the various tribes of Israel, including the two half-tribes of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim. The sizes of the land portions was determined by the number of people within the tribe, which was determined by the census taken back in Numbers 26:
“53 Unto these the land shall be divided for an inheritance according to the number of names. 54 To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance: to every one shall his inheritance be given according to those that were numbered of him. 55 Notwithstanding the land shall be divided by lot: according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they shall inherit. 56 According to the lot shall the possession thereof be divided between many and few.” (Numbers 26:53-56)
The only tribe of Israel that did not receive land was the tribe of Levi, which was the tribe that serve the nation as priests and ministers within the Tabernacle. They did receive forty-eight cities to live in, however, that were scattered throughout all of Israel within the land borders of the other tribes. See Numbers 35:2 – 3, and our previous devotion, Taking Care of the Preachers, for more information regarding the cities given to the Levites.
Compare the map above to the current land distribution within Israel in the map below. You will notice that much of the original land given to Israel by God now belongs to eh Palestinians. Israel has also lost all of the land to the east of the Jordan River. The Palestinians within Israel, along with the nations that surround Israel, are all Muslim nations, and many of them are Israel’s bitter enemies. Some of them do not recognize Israel’s right to exist at all and if they could they would wipe Israel off of the map completely. God’s sovereign protection and the support of Israel’s few allies, including the United States, are the only things that are preventing that from happening.
Though I have compassion for the Palestinians and other nations who all have a long history within and around the land of Israel and also have claims of their own regarding their right to be there, I will never take a side against Israel. God has promised a blessing to those who are a friend to Israel. When God gave His covenant to Abraham, which included both a seed (children), and the land, He stated:
“3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)
By the way, the covenant that God made with Abraham passed specifically to his son Isaac (not Ishmael), and through Isaac to Jacob, and then through Jacob to his twelve sons, the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.
God has also made it very clear that He is not finished with Israel. Those of us who are dispensationalists believe that God will someday fulfill all of the past kingdom promises that He made to Israel. As a nation, Israel will someday realize that they were wrong about the the Lord Jesus Christ, their Messiah, who came to redeem them:
“10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10)
“7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7)
“25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” (Romans 11:25-26)
In the future Millennial Kingdom, Christ will rule from Jerusalem and the borders of Israel will extend even further beyond what was described here in the Book of Numbers (see Ezekiel 47:13 – 20 and the map below).
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Micah 6:8
Read the “0227 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing, if ye will go armed before the LORD to war, And will go all of you armed over Jordan before the LORD, until he hath driven out his enemies from before him, And the land be subdued before the LORD: then afterward ye shall return, and be guiltless before the LORD, and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the LORD. But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” – (Numbers 32:20-23)
I have used the phrase “be sure your sin will find you out” many times as a parent, as a school teacher, and as a preacher. I usually use it as a warning to people who are in a situation where there are no human eyes on their conduct in order to try to keep them from the temptation of yielding to sin. For example, in our little Christian school, I have often had to walk out of the room when the students were taking a test. I would remind them that cheating is a sin, and that they could be sure that somehow I would find out about it, and even if I never did, God knows what they are up to. I remember telling my children when they became young adults that I could not be everywhere they were, monitoring their every move; but God saw everything that they were doing.
It is interesting, however, that I have never used this phrase exactly in the same way that Moses used it in the context of Numbers 32. In our text this morning, we see the tribes of Reuben and Gad asking permission of Moses to let them possess and develop the land that was on the eastern side of the Jordan River. This particular area was not originally supposed to be inhabited by Israel, at least not yet. Israel was instructed by God to cross the Jordan, and take possession of the land that was on the west side. Moses, at first, objects to their request because he says that the tribes of Reuben and Gad were needed to fight along with the other ten tribes as they took possession of the land on the other side of the river. Moses actually compares the situation to when the 12 men went in to spy out the land; ten of them returning with “an evil report”, which discouraged the people. Moses told Reuben and Gad that their absence from the battles will cause the other tribes to become discouraged as they finished the job of removing the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. An agreement is finally reached when the men of the tribes of Reuben and Gad offer to go with the other tribes across the Jordan, and remain with them until all of the enemies of Israel have been removed from the land, and then when the job was done, they would then cross back over to their families and cattle waiting on the other side. However, Moses warns them that if they don’t follow through on what they promise to do, their sin will find them out.
Perhaps the best way to apply this principle to us today is to use it the way Moses used it. Let me explain. God has given us an assignment today just as he had given the children of Israel. Our job is not, however, to invade the land and remove people. Our job today is to invade the land and save people. Well, we don’t save them, but we can introduce them to the One who can. Then we are to train these people through the teaching and preaching of the Word of God so that they can become less like the Canaanite world around them, and more like the Lord Jesus Christ; and as they become more Christlike, they then begin to influence the people around them. So, how does this relate to what Moses warned the people of Gad and Reuben about? Moses was concerned that the lack of participation on the part of these two tribes would discourage the rest of the congregation from doing what they were called to do. Are you getting it? When we don’t participate in the Great Commission: when we don’t support the services, the studies, the Sunday School, and the soul winning programs of the church with our presence and participation, it discourages others, and may cause them to want to stop coming as well. When we don’t participate in giving our tithes to the local church, and our offerings to special projects like world missions, it can be very discouraging to the others in the congregation. Our support is not only commanded, it is very necessary. When more of God’s people are involved, it encourages, and motivates the rest of the church to get more involved as well. But, if we don’t do our part, we are indeed sinning against the Lord, and that sin will come back to haunt us eventually. Get involved. Find ways to increase your participation in the ministries of the local church. Your involvement will encourage your pastor tremendously, and it will also stir up the people around you to get on board as well.
Posted in Thoughts from Numbers by Phil Erickson with 3 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Isaiah 51:11
Read the “0226 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.” (Numbers 31:15-17)
Numbers 31 is a very somber passage of Scripture. Moses is commanded by the Lord to perform one last task before he dies, which was to “avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites”. 12,000 men from Israel went out and attacked a much greater number of Midianites, and were able to conquer them completely without losing one of their own men. Of course, the Midianites were not so fortunate; they ended up losing everything with all of the adult males being immediately slain. At first, the women and small male children were all spared. However, when the victors returned to camp with the spoils and the captives, Moses commanded that all of the small male children, as well as all of the adult women would also have to be slaughtered. Only the small girls were spared.
I must confess that Bible passages such as this are not the ones I look forward to reading. Later on, in 1 Samuel 15, God would once again order the annihilation of an entire nation of people (the Amalekites), including all of the women, children, and even the livestock. I have often wondered why God would command such a thing. I have examined these Scriptures carefully in the past and have even preached messages from them. I have explained to people some of the reasons why God would need to be so severe, but I was always left with more questions in my own mind. Wasn’t there any other way? Couldn’t God have spared even just the children? How do we reconcile this Old Testament God of vengeance with the New Testament God of love and mercy? My human reasoning cannot fully comprehend the answers to all these questions regarding what God was thinking when He chose such drastic courses of action.
I still don’t have all the individual answers to these and many other questions, but I have come to a place in my faith that has helped me tremendously. I no longer question God. There are a lot of things about God that make absolutely no sense to my finite brain, but I trust that He knows what He is doing, and He does not have to offer me any explanation. Why did God kill all of the Midianites? Why did He destroy the entire world with a flood? Why did He kill the Amalekites? Why did God allow the Towers to come down on 9/11? Why does He permit the pain and suffering of millions of people today? I know why, and yet I don’t know why. I mean, I may understand partially, but I can’t comprehend fully; but I do know God, and I trust Him that He knows why, and that’s good enough for me. I know God loves me, and I know He loves the world and all of the people in it, and I know that God does everything right, even when I can’t see any right in it.
Posted in Thoughts from Numbers by Phil Erickson with 7 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51
Read a previous post from this passage – “Bring Your Cause Before The Lord“
Read the “0225 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered. … Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.” – (Numbers 27:12-13, 16-17)
Notice in Numbers 27:12 – 17 that Moses is being told by God that he is going to die. Can you imagine being given the time and location of your death? Consider Moses’ reaction to the news. There are no complaints, no arguments; just one request: Moses asked God to make sure that the people would be cared for. Moses was a true pastor/shepherd. He was not merely an hireling. He loved and cared greatly the people that had been placed in his care. Moses wanted to be sure that God would give the people of Israel another leader that loved them just as much as he did.
Sadly, there are many people involved in the ministry today who do not have a pastor’s heart, as Moses did. Too many spiritual leaders are hirelings. They may be great administrators, and they can often preach and teach the doctrines of the Bible with passion and clarity; but they lack a love for the people that they minister to. They love the crowd, but avoid the individuals from within the crowd. The people are seen as a means to an end, and not an end in themselves. I find myself falling into this category at times. Perhaps it is because I have been hurt on occasion from individuals within the congregation. For whatever reason, I have caught myself distancing from the flock that God has given me to pastor.
The ministry is people. People have problems, needs, questions, and burdens. God has called pastors and other spiritual leaders to minister to the needs of people. The pastorate is not just about preparing and preaching sermons, though that is certainly important. It is also not just about praying in private for the people. It is not just about administrating budgets, facilities, and staff. All of these things are necessary and good, but they do not take the place of personal ministry – one on one – in the trenches, in the streets and lanes of the city, in the highways and hedges, and in the homes of the people.
Moses loved his people. He preached to them, he prayed for them, he protected them, and he personally cared for them and involved himself in their lives.
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” – (1 Peter 5:1-4)
Posted in Thoughts from Numbers by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Proverbs 3:5 & 6
Read the “0223 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.” (Numbers 22:12)
“And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?” – (Numbers 22:28)
“Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.” – (2 Peter 2:15 – 16)
“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” – (Jude 1:11)
Chapter 22 of the Book of Numbers presents a very interesting and familiar story of a mule that was given the ability to speak audibly by God to her owner, Balaam. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to carefully read the passage in order to get the most out of what I am about to say. Besides, what God says in His Word is far more important that what I will say in this blog, so don’t skip the reading.
Anyway, in this passage we have the prophet Balaam who is living in the land of the Moabites. Why he lived there and not with the people of God is a mystery. The king of the Moabites is watching the nation of Israel very closely as they are sojourning near to his border. He wants them out, so he goes to this prophet of God, Balaam, and asks him to place a curse upon Israel. This king, Balak, doesn’t go himself, however; he sends some of his princes to do his bidding. After hearing their request, Balaam inquires of the Lord and the Lord tells Balaam not to go with these men and not to speak anything against Israel because they are a nation blessed by God. The prophet Balaam then goes to the men and gives them God’s answer. The men return to Balaam a short while later and press him to reconsider. Now this is where Balaam begins to err. He already asked God and God had already said no, but the princes promise him if that he would go with him, their king would give him great honor and a lot of money. Now, he should have just repeated what God had already told him but instead he tells them that he will go back and ask God again. He wanted God to give him what he had already been told that he wasn’t going to get. Balaam’s problem is that he really wants God to curse the Israelites because it would mean that he would receive great riches from this Moabite king. God is not at all pleased with Balaam, but he allows him to go with these men. He permits him to do what is in his heart. He was not permitted to curse Israel but he was permitted to cozy up with the enemies of Israel and receive the rewards that came with it. So, I ask you the question: which one was the real jackass?
This is not the only time in the Bible that God has permitted things that were against His will. He gave Israel a king because they kept asking for one, even though God knew that it wasn’t what was best for them. Notice another example of God granting the continual request of a complaining people when the Israelites complained to God as they wandered in the wilderness:
“They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (Psalm 106:13-15)
I know many people today who keep asking God for things that are clearly against His will. Why don’t we just take “no” for an answer. God knows what is best for us. Don’t keep pestering him to give you what He has already closed the door on. Too many Christians are practically breaking doors down that God has chosen to keep closed.
Posted in Thoughts from Numbers by Phil Erickson with 5 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song –Proverbs 27:15
“2 This is the ordinance of the law which the LORD hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke: 3 And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and one shall slay her before his face: 4 And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times: 5 And one shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn: 6 And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. … 17 And for an unclean person they shall take of the ashes of the burnt heifer of purification for sin, and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: 18 And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it upon the tent, and upon all the vessels, and upon the persons that were there, and upon him that touched a bone, or one slain, or one dead, or a grave: 19 And the clean person shall sprinkle upon the unclean on the third day, and on the seventh day: and on the seventh day he shall purify himself, and wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and shall be clean at even.” (Numbers 19:2-6, 17-19)
For many years, I have heard Christians talking about the Red Heifer when discussing prophecies regarding the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Some claim that when the Temple is rebuilt and dedicated to the Lord that there will be a red heifer sacrificed as part of the ceremony. I do not really know about all that, but I was very surprised to find there was only one verse in the Bible that specifically mentions the red heifer, though it is discussed throughout Numbers 19. There is also a New Testament passage that refers to it:
“11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” (Hebrews 9:11-15)
Here is what we know about the Red Heifer from these two passages:
The Red Heifer was a symbol of Christ in that she was without blemish (see Hebrew 9:14 above and 1 Peter 1:19), and that she was to be slain outside the camp. Hebrews picks up on this idea as well:
“11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. 12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. 13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. 14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” (Hebrews 13:11-14)
The red heifer was to be slain and burnt outside of the camp along with cedar, hyssop, and scarlet (v. 6), and then the ashes were to be stored in a clean place where they could be retrieved when needed and mixed with water to make a “water of purification.” According to the Bible Knowledge Commentary: “Cedar was chosen because it is evergreen and aromatic, the hyssop because of its application of the blood at the Exodus (cf. Ps. 51:7; Ex. 12:22), and the scarlet wool because it symbolizes the blood itself” These three items that were burnt along with the heifer were the same that were used in the purification of a person who had leprosy (Leviticus 14:4 – 6; 49 – 52; see also Psalm 51:7).
The color of the red heifer may also have been symbolic of blood. Wiersbe believes it could have been symbolic of the earth that man came from. He stated: “The red color may point to the blood being shed, but perhaps the color speaks of the red earth out of which the first man was made (Gen. 2:7). The name “Adam” comes from the Hebrew word adamah which means “red earth.”
The slaying of this heifer was not for the same as a sin offering, but rather was for the removal of the contamination of sin. McGee likened it to when the Lord Jesus washed the feet of the disciples. His washing of their feet cleansed away the part of the disciples that came into contact with the filth of the world.
When our Lord Jesus Christ went into the Upper Room with His disciples, the first thing he did was to get a basin of water and wash the disciples’ feet. Now why did He do that? He tells Simon Peter the reason. “… If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me” (John 13:8). If the Lord Jesus had not washed the feet of Peter, Peter could not have fellowship with Him.
Specifically, this water of purification was used to ceremonially purify someone who came in contact with a dead body. As the Israelites wandered in that wilderness for forty years, a lot of people died. You will remember that anyone who was over the age of twenty when the spies went into Kadesh Barnea was not allowed to enter the Promised Land forty years later. The congregation of Israel was estimated to be over two million when they left Egypt, so it is entirely possible that over one million people died during their time in deserts of Sinai. That’s a lot of dead bodies.
Another interesting thing about this purification ritual is that it could be performed by any clean person, not specifically a priest (Numbers 19:18 – 19). The animal itself was slain by someone other than the priest, thought the priest was present and participated when it was done (Numbers 19:3 – 6). The person who mixed the ashes with the water was a layman as well (Numbers 19:9 – 10). The cleansing away of sin can only be done through the atoning work and power of our Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ; but we who are saved (clean) can daily take part in cleansing and purging from the effects that sin has on us when we daily come in contact with it on this earth:
“9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
God wants us to be a holy, clean people. Christ provided the cleansing for sin when He shed his blood on the Cross of Calvary, but we need to stay clean from the effects that sin has on our lives:
“1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1 KJV)
Here is what has been speculated prophetically about the Red Heifer:
According to gotquestions.org:
To meet the requirements of the Old Testament law, a red heifer was needed to help accomplish the purification of the Israelites from uncleanness—specifically, the ashes of a red heifer were needed (see Numbers 19). Because red heifer ashes were necessary for the purification rites held at the temple, many have regarded the appearance of a red heifer today as heralding the construction of the third temple and the return of Christ.
According to rabbinical tradition, there have been nine red heifers sacrificed since Moses’ time. Since the destruction of the second temple, no red heifers have been slaughtered. The rabbi Maimonides (1135—1204) taught that the tenth red heifer would be sacrificed by the Messiah Himself (Parah Adumah, ch. 3, § 4). The Temple Institute, a group advocating the construction of a third temple, reports that five flawless red heifers from Texas arrived in Israel on September 15, 2022 (https://templeinstitute.org, accessed 9/22/22). Many people view this event as a fulfilment of prophecy, since the acquisition of a red heifer is a major step forward in plans for a new temple.
 Eugene H. Merrill, “Numbers,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 237.
 Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Counted, “Be” Commentary Series (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub., 1999), 81.
 J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, electronic ed., vol. 1 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 501.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with no comments yet.