Archive for February, 2007
Having never actually read all the way through Numbers before, it makes sense that I would never have noticed this before. In all my years as a follower of Christ, I’ve not heard too many sermons from the book of Numbers, either.
I came upon a fascinating passage in the reading today about protecting marital faithfulness. There are specific instructions that the Lord gave to Moses concerning how to deal with a wife who is unfaithful to her husband – or even if the husband simply suspects that his wife has been unfaithful:
11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 by sleeping with another man, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure–or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure– 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest.
The rest of the chapter goes on to describe how the priest would make the waters of jealousy, a sort of “truth serum” made from holy water and dust from the Tabernacle floor. The drink brings a curse of bitter suffering and infertility upon those who are guilty. Those who are not guilty are left unharmed.
Keep in mind that adultry was (is?) considered as exceedingly sinful, particularly in those days. Matthew Henrey’s commentary says:
It is committing a trespass against the husband, robbing him of his honour, alienating his right, introducing a spurious breed into his family to share with his children in his estate, and violating her covenant with him. It is being defiled; for nothing pollutes the mind and conscience more than this sin does.
To be honest, I found this rather creepy. But then again, the whole bloody sacrifice mess is creepy. But, the Lord is showing Mo that there needs to be purity in the camp for them to survive. All the reading today is about how Moses needs to remove anything unclean from the camp – no matter how severe the method may seem.
So I got to thinking about this purity. What unclean things are in my camp? What needs to be removed from my home that is unclean? What things in my life do not honor God, but cause me to take my eyes off Him?
Adultry is a secret sin – done in secret. The eye of the adulterer waits for the twilight, Job 24:15. And the adulteress takes her opportunity when the good man is not at home, Prov. 7:19. If we knew we had to stand before those we loved and drink the waters of jealousy, how would that change our behavior?
What other secret sins exist in our lives? Do we think that we can hide them from God? No.
The good news is that once we confess our sins to Him and repent, He is faithful to forgive us of our sins and forgets all about them – casting them as far as the east is from the west.
Take a moment and take a spiritual inventory of your camp. Ask God to reveal those unclean things that need to be removed from your camp. Deal with them and He will bless your journey through the wilderness.
If you’re just joining us, a few friends and I are reading through the One Year Chronological Bible (NLT) and today we find ourselves in Numbers. It’s year two of Israel’s journey out of the captivity of the Egyptians.
One month after the Tabernacle was first completed, the Lord told Moses to take a census. This was the first step in preparing the Israelites to receive their inheritance, the Promised Land. The Lord actually had Mo count the people two times – this first time to organize them into marching units to better defend themselves. The second time, which we’ll see later on in Numbers (exciting, I know), was to prepare them to conquer the country east of the Jordan River.
Hang in through Numbers. It’s not easy reading, but it tells the tragic tale of a people’s unbelief – but also of God’s patience. It’s a good lesson for us all. God is patient, but that should not be taken lightly. God must punish sin because He is holy. We’ll see how His love for His people saved them.
And that’s the good news.
Thank You, God, for your grace and mercy…
Okay – I have to be honest: I’m OVER Leviticus. I don’t mean to be disrespectful of God’s Word and all, but it has given me a higher appreciation for what Christ did so we wouldn’t have to go through all this bloody mess and legalistic mumbo-jumbo, memorizing detailed sacrifical routines, keeping track of first-born this and flawless that.
I also have a higher appreciation for young Jewish students who actually have to memorize all this…hats off!!!
Today’s reading, as much as my bad attitude wanted me to just skip another day of trying to figure out something interesting to write, caused me to pause on the topic of tithe. Here’s what prompted the pause:
30 “‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it. 32 The entire tithe of the herd and flock–every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod–will be holy to the Lord. 33 He must not pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. If he does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.'”
In “the day” the tithe was required of everyone, as a sign of gratitude to God, for the purpose of supporting and maintaining the ministers who took care of the people and the Tabernacle. Apparently, someone was permitted to substitude cash for the normal tithe of livestock or groceries (and of course this was spelled out in painstaking detail), but the point is, the tithe in some form, was a requirement.
Contrast that to today. Many people I know feel as though the tithe is no longer a requirment. Well, like many of God’s laws which are chronicled in Leviticus, this may be one that has gone away as well. Some say there’s no mention of “tithe” in the New Testament, which is used as supporting evidence.
So – if we say we still believe in the local church, are we still required to tithe? The ministers and pastors of our local churches are like the Levites of “the day” who’s responsibility it is to take care of the spiritual needs of members of the local church body. If we’re no longer required to tithe, then who takes care of the ministers & pastors?
I understand this is a perfect opportunity for my anti-church friends to jump in and say the duties of the local ministers & pastors went away with the Levites and the Tabernacle because of the New Covenant, but I’m not prepared to make that leap.
For the rest of you, I just thought I’d put the question out there and see what kind of responses I get: Is the tithe still required for today?
Love to hear from you…
I read through the section on the treatment of contaminated houses several times. What I was reading was talking about mildew and the treatment of same. However, what I kept thinking about is the importance of a healthy home. And, not just concerning leprosy in the house.
Sin is a plague in a home just as it is in a heart. As the spiritual leaders (priests) of our families, we should be diligent to be aware of the first signs of sin in our families, and deal with it immediately and completely – just as with the mildew on the walls. Otherwise, we might be drawn into sin, and like mildew it may spread, and defile and destroy all within.
God’s law said to take drastic measures – even to the extent of completely tearing down the house – if the mildew could not be eliminated. In the same manner, we must be prepared to take drastic measures to deal with sin in our home. Our future relationship with God depends upon it.
Just like the Israelites (Deuteronomy 20:5), our homes need to be dedicated for we are a holy nation, a royal priesthood. Then, we must also keep our houses clean from all leprosy – sin.
To be perfectly honest, I’m trudging my way through Leviticus. I’m reading and trying to grasp something that applies for me today. The thing that keeps coming to mind is how grateful I am that Jesus came as the ultimate sacrifice and we are no longer required to carry out these elaborate and bloody rituals for cleansing ourselves from sin.
If you’re new to this blog, we’re reading through the One Year Chronological Bible (NLT) this year.
Today we move from clean & unclean food to clean & unclean persons. The first part of chapter 12 talks about purification of a woman after childbirth:
2 When a woman becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son, she will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is defiled during her menstrual period. 3 On the eighth day, the boy must be circumcised. 4 Then the woman must wait for thirty-three days until the time of her purification from the blood of childbirth is completed. During this time of purification, she must not touch anything that is holy. And she must not go to the sanctuary until her time of purification is over. 5 If a woman gives birth to a daughter, she will be ceremonially defiled for two weeks, just as she is defiled during her menstrual period. She must then wait another sixty-six days to be purified from the blood of childbirth.
With a little help from Matthew Henry’s Commentary, I was able to come to an understanding about the circumcision after 7 days – because male children shared in their mother’s “pollution” (his word not mine) during the days of her separation – or her ceremonially unclean period after childbirth.
What I couldn’t grasp was why mothers were unclean for double the amount of time after giving birth to a daughter. Here’s what Mr. Henry says (click here for full page) plus some other very interesting perspectives:
There was also a longer time appointed for their purifying; thirty-three days more (forty in all) if the birth were a male, and double that time if a female, v. 4, 5. During this time they were only separated from the sanctuary and forbidden to eat of the passover, or peace-offerings, or, if a priest’s wife, to eat of any thing that was holy to the Lord. Why the time of both those was double for a female to what it was for a male I can assign no reason but the will of the Law-maker; in Christ Jesus no difference is made of male and female, Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11. But this ceremonial uncleanness which the law laid women in child-bed under was to signify the pollution of sin which we are all conceived and born in, Ps. 51:5. For, if the root be impure, so is the branch, Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? If sin had not entered, nothing but purity and honour had attended all the productions of that great blessing, Be fruitful and multiply; but now that the nature of man is degenerated the propagation of that nature is laid under these marks of disgrace, because of the sin and corruption that are propagated with it, and in remembrance of the curse upon the woman that was first in the transgression. That in sorrow (to which it is here further added in shame ) she should bring forth children. And the exclusion of the woman for so many days from the sanctuary, and all participation of the holy things, signified that our original corruption (that sinning sin which we brought into the world with us) would have excluded us for ever from the enjoyment of God and his favours if he had not graciously provided for our purifying.
Reading this reminded me of the unescapable sin nature of all of us. Sin entered the world through the original Adam and is propagated through our children. Our only hope is to believe and accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our purification so that we may be rescued from our otherwise torturous separation from our loving Creator. And – I’m also grateful that I didn’t have to memorize these passages (along with the rest of the first 5 books of the Bible) as a young Jewish child. These kids have all my respect!
My church is doing a series that relates spiritual aspects to current TV shows. This week’s message is about Heroes. I thought I’d just put it out there and see who responds:
Who’s your favorite superhero? And, why?
Or, if you prefer, if you could have any superpower, what would it be? And, why?
You can make it spiritual if you want, but you don’t have to…
This entire chapter describes how the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel brought gifts and offerings for use and maintenance of the Tabernacle. One leader of each tribe brought their offering each day for 12 days and presented it.
Notice that it was the leaders, the princes of Israel, the heads of the households of their fathers who brought the offerings. A demonstration of leadership? An example for the people? Simply a required ritual?
Near the end of the chapter, the dedication offering is described:
84 So this was the dedication offering for the altar, brought by the leaders of Israel at the time it was anointed: twelve silver platters, twelve silver basins, and twelve gold incense containers. 85 In all, the silver objects weighed about 60 pounds, about 3 1/4 pounds for each platter and 1 3/4 pounds for each basin. 86 The weight of the donated gold came to about three pounds, about four ounces for each of the gold containers that were filled with incense. 87 Twelve bulls, twelve rams, and twelve one-year-old male lambs were donated for the burnt offerings, along with their prescribed grain offerings. Twelve male goats were brought for the sin offerings. 88 Twenty-four young bulls, sixty rams, sixty male goats, and sixty one-year-old male lambs were donated for the peace offerings. This was the dedication offering for the altar after it was anointed.
This was the dedication offering, annointed and presented before God, just as He had prescribed it. What is God telling us to offer today? I’m grateful that we no longer have to sacrifice bulls and goats – Jesus’ cruel death on the cross was our ultimate sacrifice, doing away with that requirment. Still, is God calling on us to make a dedication offering? What would that look like? How can we hear His voice concerning this?
Look at the next verse:
89 Whenever Moses went into the Tabernacle to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the Ark’s cover the place of atonement that rests on the Ark of the Covenant. The LORD spoke to him from there.
Can you imagine hearing the voice of God? We don’t have this today, so how does God speak to us? Through the reading of His word. Through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. To know what He’s asking (in the way of dedication offering or anything else) we need to be in the word and in prayer to Him – always.
It was a huge undertaking. The NLT version says “so at last” several times in this reading. All the effort that went into setting up the first Tabernacle was huge. Many people worked so long and hard to get things just the way God had prescribed to Moses: the inner curtain, the furniture, the utensils. There was ritual involved to prepare each item as well. Even Aaron, the priest, and his sons were washed and clothed with the holy garments and annointed.So at last, it was completed on the first day of the new year. What an accomplishment!
40:34 Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glorious presence of the Lord filled it.” 35 Moses was no longer able to enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the Tabernacle was filled with the awesome glory of the Lord.
The reward for a job well-done! Can you imagine how that would be to physically see the manifestation of God Almighty?!
36 Now whenever the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle and moved, the people of Israel would set out on their journey, following it. 37 But if the cloud stayed, they would stay until it moved again.
What?? What happened to “so at last Moses finished the work”? You mean every time the cloud decided to move on, they would have to pack up all this work they so painstakingly performed to set up the Tabernacle? Then, go to where the cloud stopped and set it all up again?
Now I don’t feel quite as bad about the situation at my church. You see, we meet in a High School auditorium and we have to load in and load out all the sound equipment, welcome station, children’s equipment, etc. each Sunday. Like the people of Israel, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it to see the presence of the Lord and experience His awesome glory.
I hope you’re taking this journey with us as we go through the Bible chronologically.
As I read through these passages again, I’m amazed at the detail that goes into each of the items that are to be used inside the Temple. Each one has such special significance and meaning, even the materials each item is made of has special significance.
There is such detail given as to exactly how these things were to be formed: the Ark of the Covenant (which would house the Ten Commandments), the Table, the Lampstand, the Incense Altar, the Altar of Burnt Offering, the Washbasin.
Even the clothes the priests would wear were painstakingly created according to the plan God gave Moses.
I’m once again reminded that we are now the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Our physical bodies were also prescribed in exquisite detail before we were formed in our mothers’ wombs. God knows every cell, every fiber, every speck and imperfection and has formed them to make each of us function as a part of the whole body of Christ.
Look at Matthew chapter 10:
30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.
He knows us down to the microscopic level – better than we even know ourselves. We have been formed for specific tasks and specific responsibilities that our unique combination of materials can perform like no other.
Our personalities have also been shaped from our experiences – from the people that God has placed in our lives (and those that the enemy has put there as well, who God can turn around and use for our benefit as well) so that our unique combination of gifts and experiences can perform like no other.
Make no mistake – He knows you. He is not embarassed by you. You are valuable – no matter what your past, your mistakes, your failures – these have all contributed to making You what God has intended.
“God couldn’t use me – look what I’ve done.” That is a lie.
“He can use me, but because of my past, I’m less effective.” That is also a lie.
Perhaps you’re not who you’re going to be, but that does not discourage God. Nothing you have done can disuade Him from loving you and putting your unique combination of “materials” and experiences to good use – to glorify Himself.
I encourage you to find the Moses in your life…that person who God has given the plan to gather specific materials to be used in God’s house. Perhaps it’s a pastor or minister at a local church where you need to be serving. Ask God to show you. He will…
Interesting that the day I feel led to jump back into Bible reading would start out with instructions for the Sabbath. If you’ve read my blog for any time, you know that this is a subject that keeps coming up over and over. I think God’s trying to tell me something!!!
The remainder of today’s reading talks about how the children of Israel were asked by Moses to bring gifts for the building of the Tabernacle (or the Tent of Meeting). Moses invited people who felt led to bring supplies that would be needed:
35:5 Everyone is invited to bring these offerings to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze; 6 blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; fine linen; goat hair for cloth; 7 tanned ram skins and fine goatskin leather; acacia wood; 8 olive oil for the lamps; spices for the anointing oil and the fragrant incense; 9 onyx stones, and other stones to be set in the ephod and the chestpiece. (NLT)
In chapter 36 we read:
36:5 “We have more than enough materials on hand now to complete the job the LORD has given us to do!” they exclaimed. 6 So Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: “Bring no more materials! You have already given more than enough.” So the people stopped bringing their offerings. 7 Their contributions were more than enough to complete the whole project.
It’s how God accomplishes His work here on earth. Sure, He could just dump everything from heaven, but there is something special about when people work together, bringing their resources, to accomplish a task. The sacrifice of their possessions pales in comparison to the feeling of accomplishment of building the Tent of Meeting – where they would meet with God. It meant something because they each were a part of it. The finely crafted ornamentation and structure had things they each provided – they each sacrificed – to make it complete.
I think this is a wonderful description of the church today. We each sacrifice our time and resources. It’s a place where we meet God corporately and invite others to come and meet Him as well.
Those who contribute nothing and just come in on Sunday mornings, sit in the back, and don’t participate in worship or offering – often they disappear after a while. They have no “skin in the game” so they loose interest. But those who contribute and sacrifice to see the church grow and prosper – these people are rewarded and blessed. It’s exciting to be used by God – even in the most seemingly insignificant way. Each gives according to how they’ve been blessed by God – that’s how it has always worked.
I challenge you to become involved at a local Bible-believing church. Become involved. Contribute your time and resources as you can – and see what God will do. What’s more important than fellowship with God and telling others about the gospel?