Which One Is The Jackass?

Today’s Passage – Numbers 22 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Romans 1 – 4; Proverbs 23; Psalms 116 – 120)

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.


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The Red Heifer

Today’s Passage – Numbers 19 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click hereto view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 25 – 28Proverbs 22Psalms 106 – 110)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song –Proverbs 27:15

Read previous posts from this passage – Look to Jesus,” and “Keep Going Even When It Hurts”

“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”[1] 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.”[2]

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.[3]

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.

[1] 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.

[2] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Counted, “Be” Commentary Series (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub., 1999), 81.

[3] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, electronic ed., vol. 1 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 501.


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A Tithe of a Tithe

Today’s Passage – Numbers 16 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 22 – 24Proverbs 21Psalms 106 – 110)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

Read the “0221 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – Standing Between the Living and the Dead”

“25 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 26 Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe. 27 And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress. 28 Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD’S heave offering to Aaron the priest. 29 Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave offering of the LORD, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it. 30 Therefore thou shalt say unto them, When ye have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshingfloor, and as the increase of the winepress. 31 And ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation. 32 And ye shall bear no sin by reason of it, when ye have heaved from it the best of it: neither shall ye pollute the holy things of the children of Israel, lest ye die.” (Numbers 18:25-32)

Did you know that the Levites who received their support from the tithes and offerings from God’s people, were also supposed to give a portion of that which they received back to the Lord. It was literally a tithe of a tithe. The Israelites presented their tithes to the priests, which was then distributed to all the Levites to feed their families. The Levites then took ten percent of what was given to them and offered it back to the Lord. It was actually then given specifically to the family of Aaron who served as the priests. Remember, the tribe of Levi was made up of three families: Kohath, Merari, and Gershom. These families had different responsibilities as servants within the Tabernacle (and later in the Temple). From the family of Kohath came Moses and his brother Aaron. Aaron and his sons were given the special distinction of serving as the priests within the Tabernacle.

This offering from the Levites was referred to a few times in vs. 27 – 29 as an “heave offering.” The “heave offering” (תְּרוּמָה – tᵊrûmâ) was first mentioned in Exodus 29:27 and is mentioned twenty other times after that. Bakers Encyclopedia of the Bible describes this offering as: “portions of the sacrifices and offerings set aside for the Lord and for the priests.”[1]

My thought this morning is that these servants of God who received their support from the offerings of God’s people were also expected to participate in the giving of offerings themselves. It almost seems to not make sense. If God is giving the money (or in this particular case, food) to the ministers from the offering, then why should they have to give it back to the offering. Maybe, they should only be given ninety percent of the tithe so that they would not have to go through the process of giving back the other ten percent. But God set it up this way for a couple of reasons:

  • There is great joy in giving.

“35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

People who are inside the will of God and filled with His Spirit receive tremendous pleasure out of giving to God. All of God’s people love to give, and God’s ministers are no different.

  • By giving back the Levites were being examples to the people.

In that great passage for pastors written by Peter, he exhorts them to be examples to the flock:

“1 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: 2 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; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1 Peter 5:1-4)

It has been my observation that some preachers are a little stingy in their giving. I must confess that this is a “pet peeve” of mine. I have heard about preachers who did not give any offerings at all to their churches. Who am I to judge them their motivation in neglecting this basic duty, but I can judge the wrongness of the action itself. Preacher, if we are going to encourage the congregation to give, we had better lead the way in giving. By the way, preachers should not be stingy in other ways, either. Pick up the tab once in a while when eating out with church members; give a generous tip to the waitress; give gifts at Christmas and birthdays, etc.

  • Giving demonstrated their love for the Lord.

Paul told the Church at Corinth that their freewill offering for the poor saints in Jerusalem would prove the sincerity of their love for the Lord:

“1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. 6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. 7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. 8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:1-9)

  • Giving demonstrated their faith in God.

By participating in this process, the Levites were demonstrating that they believed that God was going to continue to meet every need that they had:

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)

[1] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Heave Offering,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 941.


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Obstacles

Today’s Passage – Numbers 14 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 19 – 21; Proverbs 20; Psalms 101 – 105)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 119:105

Read the “0220 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“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.” – (Numbers 14:8-9)

What do you see when problems or trials come your way? Do see the trial or do you see the God Who is much bigger and more powerful than your trial? How about obstacles? Is your God bigger than your obstacles? In Numbers 13 and 14, we see the twelve spies going into the Land of Promise to check it out. It is amazing how that all twelve witnessed the same things but only two of them saw that God was bigger than the obstacles and challenges that Israel would face when going into the land. Ten of the spies came back with nothing but negativity. It is too difficult; the giants are too big; we just can’t do it. Joshua and Caleb, on the other hand, didn’t pay too much attention to the giants, because their God made the giants look like little children in comparison. They saw nothing but victory and the goodness of God in the land that they were to receive.

Let me ask you he question again. What do you see? Do you see the challenges and trials of the Christan life too big or too difficult for God to handle? Do you see God’s will for your life as impossible for God to do through you? Let me share some verses with you:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – (Philippians 4:13)

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” – (Luke 1:37)

“And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” – (Mark 10:27)

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” – (Hebrews 11:6)

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)

“And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.” (1 Chronicles 28:20)

God has got all of your situations and obstacles under His control. You can trust that He is much bigger than any obstacle you might face as you are serving the Lord according to His will.

God was well pleased with the faith of Joshua and Caleb and as a result, they were the only ones that got to go into the Promised Land. Will God be well pleased with your faith?


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And When the People Complained…

Today’s Passage – Numbers 11 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 16 – 18Proverbs 19Psalms 96 – 100)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “0219 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.” (Numbers 11:1)

Boy, I hope that you enjoyed today’s reading as much as I did! Sometimes when we read these Old Testament passages, especially the chapters containing the genealogies, they can be less interesting and lacking of action, but that was certainly not the case for Numbers 11 – 13.

In Numbers 11, we have an account of the people of God murmuring and complaining, which is something they did often, and God hated it. Anyway, here in chapter eleven they are complaining about the manna that God provided for them everyday. Imagine not having to work for your food but simply going out every morning and gathering it up from off of the ground. We do not know exactly what manna tasted like but I’d bet it was good, and since it came directly from God as bread from Heaven, I can guarantee that it provided perfect nutrition. Yet, the people were tired of manna every day. Keith Green wrote a great song that described the frustration of the Israelites with their day to day wander in the wilderness and their lack of desire for manna. Here is a portion of “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt:”

Well there’s nothing do but travel
And we sure travel a lot
‘Cause it’s hard to keep your feet from moving
When the sand gets so hot
And in the morning it’s manna hotcakes
We snack on manna all day
And we sure had a winner last night for dinner
Flaming manna souffle

Well we once complained for something new to munch
The ground opened up and had some of us for lunch
Ooh, such fire and smoke
Can’t God even take a joke? Huh? NO!

Oh, Moses, put down your pen!
What? Oh no, manna again?

Oh, manna waffles
Manna burgers
Manna bagels
Fillet of manna
Manna patty
BaManna bread!

I think the main reason that the people complained was because they were on a different timetable than God. I know I am. I want what I want, when I want it, which is usually immediately. The people liked the manna at first but they got tired of it. I am sure that God knew that they needed a little more variety in their diet but He wasn’t providing it as fast as the people wanted. So what did they do? They griped and complained. They wanted MEAT! And, they wanted it NOW! They more than desired it; they lusted after it. So, what did God do? He gave it to them in the form of quails. So many of them that they were piled up three feet deep in a large area surrounding the camp. They ate so much of it that it came out of their nostrils. They loved the quail that God provided at first but they would soon tire of it as well.

Why is it that God’s people get tired of the good things that He provides for them. Why is it that we always want more; we are never satisfied, never content.

In chapter twelve, we see that the complaints were not limited to just the lay people. Apparently Aaron and Miriam were upset about the fact that Moses had chosen an African wife. God was not pleased with their criticism either, and Miriam was stricken (at least temporarily) with leprosy.

Then in chapter thirteen, God sent twelve spies in to check out the land of Canaan. He didn’t want them to figure out how God was going to bring them in to defeat the Canaanites, He just wanted them to see how beautiful and abundant the land was so they could get a vision for what God had in store for them. Instead of coming back excited, they came back scared. They did not believe that their God was able to defeat the Canaanites and they, too, griped and complained.

When are we going to learn? Why can’t God’s people see that their cups are overflowing with blessings, instead of always viewing them as half-empty. Is this the way you see things? Do you tend to see the negative side of everything? Learn from all of these examples from Numbers 11 – 13. God is good and He is very good to His children. He has dealt with us far better than we could ever deserve.


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Wait Until I Pray

Today’s Passage – Numbers 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 13 – 15Proverbs 18Psalms 91 – 95)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Joshua One and Verse Eight

Read the “0218 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s reading – “Don’t Move

“And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you.” (Numbers 9:8)

In our text today, a group of men come to Moses with a problem: they wanted to observe the Passover, but they were ceremonially unclean because they had come in contact with a dead body. Moses did not just give them an answer based upon what he thought would be right. He told them to wait until he prayed about it, and then he would give them God’s answer. The Lord determined that these men should wait exactly one month and then observe the Passover. The Lord also revealed to Moses that this would also be the rule for people who were on a journey when the Passover was being observed. They would just wait a month and observe it in the second month. 

A similar situation happened in Numbers 27. The daughters of Zelophehad had a question about their inheritance, but Moses did not give them his answer: “… Moses brought their cause before the LORD.” (Numbers 27:5)

My thought this morning is that we need to make sure the counsel that we give other people, and even the decisions that we make for ourselves, are all bathed in prayer. People come to me all of the time for advice, or perhaps to ask me about some new thing that they would like to do in their ministry within the church. Oftentimes, I tell them what I think they should do without first checking with the Lord. That is not a wise thing to do. I should have an automatic reply similar to what Moses said: “Wait until I pray about it.” Of course, we should also seek answers for them from the Word of God as well. Waiting to pray and seek God’s will will ensure that good counsel is given and bad decisions are not made. Take time to pray before you tell somebody else what they should do, and also before you do something yourself. 

“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4)

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:18)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)


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Carry Your Burden – The Saturday Morning Post

Today’s Passage – Numbers 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 10 – 12; Proverbs 17; Psalms 86 – 90)

Read the “0217 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Good morning. Do you remember what you read in the Bible this morning? Being old, I have trouble too, remembering that is. Praise the Lord for the Holy Spirit who will bring all things to light: He’ll help you remember when the time comes. After reading about the burden of the sons of Kohath, I thought about king David, and how we all mess up. Did you know the king had to write a copy of the Bible. Not only that, he had to read it daily…

So what happened here…

David should have known. David should have had the sons of Kohath carry the ark. The oxen wouldn’t have shaken it, and Uzzah would not have had to grab the ark to steady it. But David didn’t, and Uzzah died. Yes, David should have known that when we sin, it affects others. Adam and Eve. Eve believed the lie of the devil, but Adam knew the truth and willfully took of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…

When we sin, it affects others. Jonah, when he ran from God…

The captain lost the cargo he was carrying which equated to what may have been a small fortune. Because of Jonah’s sin, others suffered. How about Pharaoh? He hardened his heart and rebelled against God by not letting God’s people leave Egypt. As a result Egypt was ruined, and the people suffered with the death of their firstborn.

When we sin, it hurts others. Moses sinned, and was not allowed to enter the promised land when he smote the rock to get water, instead of only speaking to it. He ruined God’s picture of Jesus and how we can come boldly before the throne of grace.

God provided a way to forgive us through the Lord Jesus Christ…

When we sin, it affects and hurts others. Have you opened your eyes to see what your sin has done to others? The Lord will forgive your sin, but unfortunately, the results of that sin still remain. It is sometimes very hard to make up for the damage done to others. Just something to think about when you’re tempted to sin.

Peace.


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The Nazarite Vow

Today’s Passage – Numbers 5 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 7 – 9Proverbs 16Psalms 81 – 85)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm Sixty-One and Verses One – Three

Read the “0216 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Lord Bless Thee”

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.” (Numbers 6:2 – 3)

Numbers 6 discusses the Nazarite vow. (Note – don’t confuse Nazarite with Nazarene. Jesus was a Nazarene from Nazareth in Galilee)

The vow of a Nazarite involved these three things:

  1. Abstinence from wine or anything from the vine, including grapes or raisins.
  2. Hair could not be cut.
  3. No contact whatever with a dead body, or even a dead animal.

This vow was a temporary vow of separation in most cases, though there were a few who were Nazarites from birth:

  1. Samson (Judges 13:5 – 7; 16:17) Samson violated his vow by breaking all three of the restrictions of the Nazarite vow. He went to the vineyards, He touched a dead body, and he cut his hair)
  2. Samuel (1 Samuel 1:11)
  3. John the Baptist (Luke 1:15 – though the Scriptures only mention that John would not drink wine or strong drink, but he was definitely separated unto the Lord).

When the Apostle Paul returned to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey, he may have been participating in a Nazarite vow by paying the offering for four men who were coming out of their time of separation (see Acts 21:24).

There was no mandate that anybody take part in this season of separation: it was the free-will choice of whoever desired to do it. The application that we can make concerning this vow is that during the time of this vow, the person was to be completely separated from sin and devoted to the Lord. That is a good thing for us to be at all times, but there may be seasons in our lives and ministries where we may want to refrain from certain entertainments and activities and, perhaps even, fast from food. During this period, we could also extend our time in prayer and Bible study.

According to Manners and Customs of the Bible:

This institution was a symbol of a life devoted to God and separated from all sin—a holy life (Numbers 6:2–21).

When the period of the continuance of the vow came to an end, the Nazarite had to present himself at the door of the sanctuary with three things.

  1. A male lamb of the first year for a burnt-offering.
  2. A ewe lamb of the first year for a sin-offering.
  3. A ram for a peace-offering.

After these sacrifices were offered by the priest, the Nazarite cut off his hair at the door and threw it into the fire under the peace-offering.

As to the duration of a Nazarite’s vow, everyone was left at liberty to fix his own time. There is mention made in the Scriptures of only three who were Nazarites for life, Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist (Judges 13:4, 5; 1 Samuel 1:11, Luke 1:15). In its ordinary form, however, the Nazarite’s vow lasted only thirty and, at most, one hundred, days.[1]


[1] Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & Customs of the Bible (pp. 533–535). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers.


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A Job For Everybody

 

Today’s Passage – Numbers 3 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 4 – 6; Proverbs 15; Psalms 76 – 80

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 3:1

Read the “0215 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him.” (Numbers 3:6)

“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” – (Romans 12:3-8)

In chapters 3 and 4 of the Book of Numbers, we see God’s instructions to the families of the tribe of Levi. They were placed in charge of the ministry of the Tabernacle. Aaron and his sons were the priests and they were put in charge of the service of the other families. The Gershonites were responsible for the setting up, taking down, and transportation of all of the curtains and coverings of the Tabernacle with the exception of the vail. Only Aaron and his sons were permitted to remove the vail and it was to be placed upon the Ark of the Covenant. The Kohathites were responsible to transport all of the furniture in the Tabernacle, though they were not permitted to touch any of the “holy things” or even be present when they were being covered by Aaron and his sons. The Merarites were responsible to set up and transport all of the boards and bars that served as the framework of the Tabernacle. Each family had their responsibility and each family had their place where they were to camp around the Tabernacle.

The thought I had this morning regarding this passage is this: what if one of the Merarites didn’t want to transport bars and boards? Maybe they wanted to transport coverings instead like the sons of Gershon. The point is that these people were not given the choice about what they wanted to do. They were assigned a task by God and were expected to do it. It is sort of like the military. They don’t really care about what you want to do. They are going to assign you a duty and you will be expected to do it.

It is not at all like this in the local church today. We tell people that they can do whatever they want to do. We tell them that they have the liberty to choose where, why, and how they can serve the Lord. But should it really be that way? Shouldn’t we still be seeking to discover what the Lord’s will is regarding who will serve and in what capacity. There are many guidelines given in the Bible regarding service within the local church and that certainly is where we should start the process, but we also ought to be very careful that we are very prayerful about what each person is given to do within the body. We also need to be careful about just sticking people in positions simply because there is nobody else to do it. We see a perceived need so we place anybody we can find in the position. I believe that if the need is genuine, God will supply the right person. Maybe we are creating needs and positions that are not of God. I remember at one church we were serving in years ago, I felt that it was my duty to fill every perceived need that was present. I was working with the youth, junior church, bus ministry, Sunday School, and much more. The problem was that it wasn’t God’s will for me to be doing all of those things, so I began doing them in the flesh, which profited nothing. And maybe somebody else was missing out on their true calling because I was doing too much.

I believe that God has got a job for everybody to do within the local church and I also believe that God has got the right person for every need within the body. Leaders need to be admonished to pray earnestly about finding the right, biblically qualified person to do the job. The people need to be willing to fulfill God’s will for their lives, whether it be teaching people or cleaning toilets. Every task within the church is important and every worker within the church is equal in the sight of God, as long as they are doing what God has called them to do. The ministry is much more than just preaching and teaching the Word of God. In order for the Great Commission to be fulfilled within a local church there are a lot of tasks that need to be performed. God has gifted certain people to perform each of these duties.

I believe that all ministers need to be willing to do whatever is necessary in order for the ministry to function, but we also need to be constantly on the lookout for people who will be willing and able to do all of the things that need to be done. Every duty is important and every person that performs these tasks are also important to the cause of Christ. The janitor that does his job well is just as much in the center of God’s will as the preacher who prepares, prays, and preaches.

What is your job within the local body of believers? What has God equipped you to do? Find your niche within the church and help your church fulfil the Great Commission.


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The Center of the Camp

Today’s Passage – Numbers 1 – 2 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 1 – 3; Proverbs 14; Psalms 71 – 75)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 51

Read the “0214 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then the tabernacle of the congregation shall set forward with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camp: as they encamp, so shall they set forward, every man in his place by their standards.” – (Numbers 2:17)

In Numbers chapter 2, God gives us a description of what the camp of Israel looked like when they were not on the move. A careful reading of this chapter will reveal that the nation of Israel was divided into 13 different groups, which included 11 of the original 12 tribes; and also the two half-tribes of Joseph (Manasseh and Ephraim). These groups were all strategically placed around the tabernacle. Immediately surrounding the tent on all four sides was the tribe of Levi. They were placed there as closely as possible to the tabernacle because that was their place of service. They were the ministers and priests of the Lord. Beyond the Levites the remaining twelve tribes and half-tribes were positioned by threes in each direction. For instance, on the east side of the tabernacle, beyond the Levites, were the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulon. There were also three tribes on the west, south, and north.

The thought that I am trying to develop here, however, is that the tabernacle was in the very center of the congregation. The tabernacle was the place where God dwelt between the cherubims on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies. God and His chosen place of worship was the very center of the lives of the people of Israel.

Now let’s fast forward a few thousand years to the time of the local church. I realize that today God dwells in the hearts of His children but the local church is God’s chosen place for corporate worship, and it is also the place where we are to be organized in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” – (1 Timothy 3:15)

God should still be at the center of our lives and the local church should be at the center of the life of our families. I have been a pastor now for many years and I have been involved in God’s work as a layman even longer. I have observed that the families who place a high value on the local church, recognizing it’s importance, tend to be stronger and happier than the families that do not. Don’t misunderstand, I do not think that the church has a higher priority than the home but I do believe that successful homes are built around a strong, Bible believing, New Testament church. The church’s role is critical to healthy marriages and to the spiritual development of our children.

Take a moment to consider the role that the local church plays in your life and then consider the role that you play within your local church. We need to keep our local churches strong and I believe that there are many ways that you can help:

  1. Participate in the local church – attend the services and find something that you can do that will serve others. God has uniquely equipped you in certain areas that can be used within the local church.
  2. Pray for your church and your pastors and leaders. The ministry can be very discouraging at times for your leaders but you can be an encouragement to the people that minister to you simply by lifting them up in prayer. It wouldn’t hurt for you to let them know on occasion that you are praying for them.
  3. Support your church with your tithes and offerings. The work of God cannot go forward without the financial support of God’s people. When you don’t give financially to the church you are telling God and the church that they have no place of value in your life.

You can also support the church by not bashing it. Let people know where you stand by verbally commending the church and its ministers to others. If you are for the ministry speak out for it, and don’t let others run it down in your presence. Negativity and complaining are like cancers inside the church that will destroy it from within.

Is the local church important to you or isn’t it? God says that it should be. Remember, He died for the church. It’s His body. He places a great value on it and so should we.


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