Old Testament Reading: Numbers 34-36
Psalms Reading: Psalm 75
New Testament Reading: 2 Corinthians 12
Looking here at the last three chapters of the book of Numbers, it can often be easy to gloss over it, and miss the bigger picture of what is happening. It is easy to look at this as just some boring passages about land being divided between the tribes of Israel. But when we look at the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) we are supposed to look at it all together as a whole. Really we are supposed to look at the whole Bible that way, as one continuous story that leads to Jesus, and the work that God did through him on the cross.
When we look at the Pentateuch we see that the land of Canaan is referred to as the Promised Land. The reason for that is because way back in Genesis, God promised Abraham that this land would belong to his descendants: “The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:8) And so as we look at the end of Numbers what we are seeing is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. This passage even goes so far as to show that God is providing a place in the land of Canaan for those who are guilty of accidental murder, and for a family of sisters, whose dad had died without any male heirs.
Nowadays we look at that last chapter and say, “Well of course those ladies should inherit their father’s land,” but in those days that was unheard of. In the days of the Israelite conquest of Canaan, the only people who could legally inherit land from their fathers were men. But God had promised to Abraham that all of his descendants would be part of that inheritance. And God keeps His promises.
I think that is a big takeaway for us out of this passage. We can be sure that God keeps His promises no matter what. In II Corinthians (which we will also finish tomorrow) Paul wrote “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (1:20) Just like it was surely difficult for God’s people when they were trapped in slavery for a few hundred years to hold on to the promise of freedom and a land of their own. And like it was most likely hard for the Israelites who were exiled in Babylon for seventy years to hold onto the promise of being returned to their home in Israel. In the same way it may have been difficult for Simeon to hold onto the promise that his eyes would see the Messiah before he died. In the same way, it is difficult for us today to hold onto the promises that God may have given us. But just like in all these stories and so many others in the Bible, God fulfilled all of His promises.
When we read passages like this, we shouldn’t just gloss over them, but instead celebrate with the people that God’s promises were fulfilled in their lives. And we should also remember that just as He fulfilled his promises for them, He will do the same for us. So if you are struggling with fear and doubt about whether something God promised you will happen and take place, take heart because God will never ever ever break a single promise that He makes.
- What promises of God have already been fulfilled, both in Scripture and in your own life?
- What promises of God are you still expecting to be fulfilled? How sure are you that they will indeed happen? What should we do while waiting for them?
- Using what you have read in His Scriptures, how would you describe God?