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Numbers 11 13 Cain

These next three chapters are where things start to heat up in the book of Numbers…literally. In verse 1, we see the Israelites start to complain. After all that God has done for them, I understand why He would be upset. When it says the “fire of the LORD burned among them,” this isn’t a metaphor, but instead literal fire burned throughout the outskirts of the camp. The people obviously didn’t like this fire, so they complained to Moses and Moses prayed to stop the fire. God stopped the fire, but apparently, this wasn’t enough to teach the Israelites their lesson. In verses 4-6, they complain about not having meat and nice food like they did in Egypt; all they had to eat was manna. In verses 11-15 Moses honestly lays out his heart to God to the point where he asks God to kill him. Now, to me, there is an important lesson that we can learn from this outpouring. Even the greatest among us can reach a point where we have had enough. However, we can always bring our troubles and anxieties to God. Even if the problem seems impossible, like feeding millions of people meat in the middle of the desert. God wants to deal with us in a personal way. He doesn’t want the perfect fake versions of ourselves where we have all the answers and are always composed. We can be honest with Him and show Him our true heart. God dealt faithfully with Moses when Moses came to Him with a huge problem and He will deal faithfully with us when we bring our problems to Him.

This interesting incident happens in 11:24-30. The Spirit of God comes upon the leaders of Israel much like what we see in the New Testament on the day of Pentecost. We usually think about the Spirit being a New Testament power, but it is also present in the Old Testament. After the spirit comes on the elders, two of the elders prophesy in the camp. A young man thought this was a problem, so he told Moses. Little did Moses know, God’s big plan was to give His Spirit to each of His followers in the new covenant that was coming. The elders prophesying was just a taste of what God had in mind for His people. I like how Moses doesn’t get jealous about God giving His Spirit to others, but instead trusts and respects God enough to allow Him to deal as He sees fit. I think we too should have this same attitude of trust in God.

In verse 34, Kibroth-hattaavah literally means “the graves of greediness”. They named the place after exactly what happened in that place. The names of places serve as reminders. Imagine going down the interstate and passing the exit to Graves of the Greedy Town. Chapter 11 serves as a good reminder to us about our selfishness and greediness. Do you feel like God owes you something? Are you complaining to God about the things you want? Let’s take chapter 11 as a good lesson for us today. God truly has our best interest at heart and has already rescued us from death and slavery. Let’s not be like the Israelites who are so quick to forget where God has brought them from and so quickly turn to our own desires.

In chapter 12 we read another story of disobedience. Aaron and Miriam get mad about Moses’s wife being a Cushite. This may be because she wasn’t a Jew and in the law people were only supposed to marry Jews. Regardless of the reason for their anger, they think they are justified in thinking they are better than Moses. They say, “’has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us as well?’” (11:2). Almost as to say Moses married a Cushite women and God has spoken through us as well, what makes him think He is better than us? In the way that verses 2-4 talk about the situation, I can imagine Aaron and Miriam colluding in the corner of the Tabernacle, whispering to each other about how they are better than Moses. God sets them straight in verses 5-10, even giving leprosy to Miriam for her disobedience. Even the leaders of Israel were making big mistakes and being divisive. The scope of these happenings highlight the sin nature of man. Even after God has liberated the Israelites from Egypt, with all the miracles that went into that event, they still sin and disobey God. No matter the circumstances, people can’t stay away from sin very long. The only way we can be purified and righteous before God is through Jesus. When God looks at us, He doesn’t see all the mistakes we’ve made today. He sees His perfect son who covers our sin. When I read the Old Testament, it makes me very thankful for Jesus and the role that he plays in my life.

Even though the people have continued to fight and disobey God, He still leads them to the Promise Land. In chapter 13, we see the beginnings of God’s plan to move His people into the Promise Land. God wants the people to spy out the land.  However, things don’t go smoothly, even the spies are disobedient and give a bad report about the land. The only spies to come back and give a good report are Caleb and Joshua. It’s like the spies forgot what they just went through with the Exodus. Did they not see the plagues that God sent on Egypt? Did they not see God defeat the entire Egyptian army in one stroke? Did they not see the manna and quail that God provided? How can they go to the land of Canaan after experiencing all these things and not think God can take care of these people too? Where is their faith? More importantly and real to our lives, are we the same way? We know the stories about what God did. We know who God is and have seen Him work. We know that even death has no power, yet we let our faith fail when we are confronted by hard things. Are we different than the spies of Israel who gave a bad report about the land of Canaan out of fear? Is there a land in which God is leading you? We have seen how He works and He is faithful to follow through. He is powerful to complete any task which He undertakes. I want our faith to be strengthened by chapter 13 and I want us to learn a lesson from the Israelites. Let’s not forget and let’s have faith. Let’s be people who follow God through the wilderness, faithfully, so that we can walk into the place He has prepared for us.

Josiah Cain

 

 

Our God

Numbers 8-10 cain

Have you ever thought about your life as a sacrifice to God? When I see how the Levites were cleansed and given before God as a wave offering in verse 13, it makes me want to be the same way before God. Imagine being born into the tribe of Levi and knowing what your purpose is. Your purpose was to grow up, study the job of your calling, study the scriptures, live a righteous life, and eventually serve God for 25 years. But really, how different are any of our lives from that? Can we not have the same basic path? Can we not come to faith, prepare ourselves through study, serve God in our lives, and present ourselves as offerings before God? People give their lives to all sorts of things. Many people choose to make their lives about the pursuit of a career, the growing of a family, the building of a legacy, etc. As the book of Ecclesiastes teaches, life’s meaning comes from following God and keeping His commandments. There is nothing else that we can pursue which gives us meaning and when I read how the Levites were given into the service of God I am reminded of this. I’m not saying everyone must be a pastor or anything like that because serving the LORD comes in many fashions, but we all need to put our life before God as a wave offering. Nothing sounds more appealing to me than being purified before the LORD and serving Him as we see in 8:21. Through Christ, we can all be purified and serve God with the entirety of our lives.

As we move into chapter 9, there is a question that comes up about observing Passover and being unclean. We find the answer in verse 9:10-14.  To me, there is a personal aspect that comes out of the beginning of this chapter. I see real people seeking to live out God’s word. These people wanted so badly to correctly follow God that they asked questions about seeking the desire of God. I think there is a lesson to be learned from the attitude of these followers: be open and real with God in all things. Open up and ask questions, seek His desire, and listen to His response. Today, I think we should learn to posture ourselves more like this before God. He is real and willing to interact with His people and give us wisdom. Sometimes we think that the time for God to interact with His people has passed, even if we don’t believe that, sometimes we act like that is the truth.

Verses 15-16 are an awesome manifestation of God among His people. His presence was continuous around the Tabernacle. Try to imagine the scene in your head. Imagine you are camping with the Israelites. In the middle of the night you walk out of your tent and in the distance, there is the warm glow, looking like fire, surrounding the Tabernacle in the distance. Have you ever seen a big fire from a distance? The warm glow that casts against the clouds in the sky. Imagine that scene every night, knowing that God is here, living among you, watching over you, and showing you His power. Don’t be so fast to read over verses, use your imagination and try to put yourself in the landscape. Imagine the smells, sights, and sounds that would have been observed by the people in the book. This practice brings the Bible to life for us, especially in the book of Numbers, where there are a lot of mind blowing events that take place. Numbers is a hot bed for God’s power manifested like no other time in history. Take your time reading these words and putting yourself in the shoes of the people. It would have been an awesome time to be alive and to witness God working in miraculous ways.

Another point we see in chapter 9 is just how literally God leads His people through the wilderness. When He moved, they moved. God still wants to lead His people today. It might not be a cloud of smoke or fire, literally leading us to the place we need to go, but through prayer and faith He can lead us to great places He has prepared for us. We should be people like those in 9:23. “At the command of the LORD they camped, and at the command of the LORD they set out; they kept the LORD’s charge, according to the command of the LORD through Moses.” When God moves, we should move. When God stays, we should stay. He is leading us to things prepared for us that we can’t see or imagine, but if we follow faithfully, we will be glad we did.

Here’s an intriguing thought. Let’s say you had no modern-day technology – how would you communicate and organize roughly 2.5 million people? Seems like an overwhelming task to me. The system that God put into place at the beginning of chapter 10 is genius. I’m not surprised God came up with such a good system, but none the less, I’m impressed by the simplicity and effectiveness. Now that all the pieces are in place, the tabernacle, the camp organization, the communication system, and the leading system, it is the time to set out for the promise land. The first move was from Sinai to Paran and took three days (10:11-13, 33). We see the organization it took to move millions of people across the desert in verses 14-28. Then come some of the coolest words in the book of Numbers “35 Then it came about when the ark set out that Moses said, ‘Rise up, O Lord! And let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You.’ 36 When it came to rest, he said, ‘Return, O Lord, To the myriad thousands of Israel.’” The protection of the LORD went before them and watched over them in their journey, clearing the path of any obstacles that would stop them from reaching the promise land. God is for His people. I can’t explain how these verses make me feel, but I know that it’s awesome. I love seeing how God extends His arm to deal in the lives of His people. Even though seeing a cloud move might be more obvious, God still extends His arm to deal in the lives of His people today. Take some time to think about the prayers you have prayed. How have they been answered? This is God working in your life. I have seen people changed and situations work out in unusual ways. At some point, you have to stop saying things are coincidence and say that God is working in His people. The same powerful God we see in Numbers is the same God who deals with us today. Don’t forget, the God who liberated millions of people from Egypt is the same God who seeks your heart.

Josiah Cain

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+8-10&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Numbers 11-13 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

His Tabernacle

Numbers 7 cain

During the building of the tabernacle, the tools and utensils were not holy. Everything was normal cloth or gold material until they were consecrated. Once Moses anointed and consecrated the tabernacle and the things that went in it, they were no longer normal objects.  Instead, they were objects of God. If God can turn a simple lamp stand into a holy object, then what can He do with us? We can be made holy and set apart by God to serve a great purpose. As we have said many times, through the book of Numbers God seeks holiness for Himself and His people. This desire didn’t disappear when Jesus came into the world. God desires for us to be holy. Although we sin, God can redeem us just like He did with the tabernacle in Numbers 7.

There is a moment after the tabernacle is consecrated that the people of Israel begin to bring sacrifices and gifts.  Among the gifts are six carts and 12 oxen that are going to be given to the Levites. Carts and oxen make moving things easier.  This would be a pretty handy gift during the time of the wilderness as they move everything they have across the desert by hand! In verse 9, we see the sons of Kohath weren’t given any of the oxen and carts – what kind of rotten deal is that? Why didn’t any of the carts go to the sons of Kohath? The sons of Kohath were in charge of carrying the holy objects on their shoulders. Each heavy object in the tabernacle, including the Ark of the Covenant, was built with places for poles to slide into so that they could be carried by pole on the shoulders of the sons of Kohath. You may remember the story of Uzzah in 2 Samuel 6 when the Ark was going to be moved back into the city of Jerusalem after being gone for a long time. Notice in 2 Samuel 6:3 they placed the Ark, “on a new cart”. This was a big no-no. The Ark was not supposed to be put on a cart, but instead carried on poles like we see in the law. Then what happens? The Ark begins to fall off the cart on the way into the city and Uzzah, who was just trying to help by catching the Ark, died right as he touched it. God’s holiness can’t be infringed upon. Albeit easier, you don’t put the Ark on a cart. This is why no carts where given to the sons of Kohath. They didn’t need carts to assist in the moving of the holy objects of the tabernacle. Isn’t it interesting how the Bible connects in such unique places? Who knew that around 400 years after God gave the command to not move the holy objects on carts that Uzzah would learn the severity of breaking the command.

The rest of chapter 7 sound maybe like Pete and Repeat wrote it. These aren’t particularly exciting verses and the gifts of each tribe are the same. Between verse 10 and 83, the tribes, their gifts and their offerings are listed. After 12 days of offerings the total was: 12 silver dishes, 12 silver bowls (a total of 2,400 shekels of silver), 12 gold pans (a total of 120 shekels of gold), 12 bulls, 12 rams, 12 male lambs 1year old, 12 grain offerings, 12 male goats, 24 bulls for peace offerings, 60 rams, & 60 male goats for peace offerings (a total of 192 animals). The Israelites would have given a total of around $16,000 in silver and around $71,500 in gold. What a great out pouring from the sons of Israel to God in celebration and honor of the new tabernacle.

After the anointing of the tabernacle and 12 days of offerings, one of the coolest things I can imagine happened to Moses in verse 89. God spoke to Moses from above the Ark of the Covenant. Finally, after all the effort that has gone into getting the Israelites out of Egypt, God now has a place to dwell with His people. The time has come when God speaks to Moses from among His people. No longer does Moses have to travel to the top of a mountain to speak to God. God has moved even closer to His people today. We don’t have to travel to a temple in Jerusalem to be with God because, as we see in the New Testament, we are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 6:19). God can now dwell among us in a more personal way; He has moved into the hearts of His people. We have been anointed and sanctified by the blood of Jesus to become the new temple that God dwells in. We see an ever moving forward march by God to be closer to His people. It started with the tabernacle, then into the hearts of men in the time of the New Testament and now. In the future, we have the hope of God dwelling with us in person in the kingdom! He is with us now in the power of the Spirit that moves among us but, at the time of the restoration of all things, God is going to be with us like it was in the garden of Eden. Revelation 21 says that God is going to dwell among men. There is no part of the Bible without significance. All of it is connected because all of it is the word of God. God’s desires don’t change and He desires to be with us. The creator of the universe, the creator of the estimated 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars wants to be with you. To me, the realization of this fact is humbling and inspiring.  Thank you, God!

Josiah Cain

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+7&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Numbers 8-10 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

His Law & Love

Numb 5-6 CainPicture1

Right at the beginning of chapter 5 we continue the theme of supreme holiness.  This helps me remember that chapter and verse separations are not part of the original scriptures. For me, sometimes using verse and chapter markings can hinder my Bible study because I can see them as walls dividing different ideas or topics instead of a continuation of an idea.  That being said, we see God’s holiness carry over from chapter 4 to chapter 5. He wants His people to be so holy that He doesn’t even want unclean people in the camp. Of course, this could have medical benefits as well, which I think is another reason God instructed His people to leave the camp if they are unclean (verses 1-4).

In verse 6 there is something that grabs my attention. The NASB translation says, “Speak to the sons of Israel, ‘When a man or woman commits any of the sins of mankind, acting unfaithfully against the LORD, and that person is guilty”. The word unfaithful is מַעַל (maal) in Hebrew. It is the same word that is used to talk about unfaithfulness in marriage. You will notice that the rest of the chapter deals with unfaithfulness in marriage. I think it is intriguing how God sees sin and idolatry as unfaithfulness in the same way that people see unfaithfulness within marriage. In fact, this is the premise of the entire book of Hosea. God uses the authentic metaphor of an adulteress wife to show how Israel acts towards Him. In God’s eyes, sin and marital unfaithfulness are one and the same.

Speaking of marital unfaithfulness, the majority of chapter 5 deals with an interesting situation that may arise in the lives of the Israelites. We are presented with a situation where there is a jealous man who thinks that his wife might have been unfaithful in their marriage, but there is no proof. No one saw her with another man; there is just suspicion. Now I think it is important to understand the world in which the Israelites live. Surrounding the time the law was given to the Israelites, there were other nations with other laws to deal with similar situations. Here is what the code of Hammurabi says about a woman accused of adultery, “If a man’s wife should have a finger pointed against her in accusation involving another male, although she has not been seized lying with another male, she shall submit to the divine River god for her husband.” This divine River god test pretty much consisted of her husband making her jump into a raging river and if she survived then the “god” ruled that she was innocent and if she died then she was guilty and her judgment was given to her. Keep this in mind as we go through Numbers 5.

If a Jewish man had suspicion that his wife was unfaithful, he didn’t throw her in a river to see what happened. Instead, he had to go to the tabernacle and see a priest. The couple would bring barley meal as a memorial offering and then the priest would set out the rules for the test that was to come. Essentially, the woman agreed to drink some water mixed with a little bit of dust and ink. A little bit of dust and ink isn’t going to have major adverse health effects unless there actually is some divine judgment involved in the situation. However, jumping in a raging river has been known to kill people even if they weren’t unfaithful in their marriage. This test takes the judgment out of man’s hands and squarely puts it in the hands of God to make the call. I know it doesn’t look like it at first, but this dust and ink water test is a major step forward for women in ancient history. No longer can a man choose to beat his wife or throw her in a river based on his suspicion. He must do the very public act of taking her to the tabernacle and allowing God to make a judgment. If you notice in verse 28, she is free if the judgment doesn’t come over her. This means the man can no longer bring this charge against her. Women weren’t treated this well in any other society on earth during this time in history. The Bible puts men and women on equal playing fields in value. God makes sure that His people cannot take advantage of women the same way other nations do.

Many people want to point a finger at the Bible and say that it’s misogynistic and oppressive to women. However, God’s law ensured that women were taken care of and given the same value as men. God doesn’t hate women; He made both men and women in His image. I think there are two major points we can pull out of Numbers 5. First, God sees sin as a spouse sees marital unfaithfulness and second, God values both men and women the same. God put into effect laws that protected both His holiness and the holiness of His people and He made sure the men of His people couldn’t abuse the women who are also made in His image. This is a true gift of the Bible. In every page, in every sentence, we see the heart of God coming alive to us. Even in obscure laws about obscure situations, we see God’s heart for His people.

Now let’s take a look at Chapter 6. The majority of this chapter is dedicated to explaining the Nazarite vow. A Nazarite vow is a special vow that a person can take to dedicate themselves to God. Notably, Samson partook in a Nazarite vow which is why he lost his strength after his hair was cut. A part of the promise to Samson was to keep his vow with God and once he broke that vow, his strength left him. If you wish to take a Nazarite vow, remember the wise words of Ecclesiastes 5:5, “It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.” The Nazarite vow is so intense it even bars contact with dead relatives which would make a person unclean. Yes, if you were in a Nazarite vow and a close relative died, you wouldn’t be allowed to attend their funeral without breaking your vow. This is how serious the Nazarite vow is.

The last few verses of chapter 6 are an interesting section usually referred to as the Aaronic blessing (Aaronic referring to Aaron, the brother of Moses). The words of the Aaronic blessing are beautiful and tender. God asks for Aaron to make known how much God cares for His people.  In these words we see God’s heart. Later, there is a great promise that proclaims “they shall invoke my name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them”. Ultimately, God wants us to call out to Him in all seasons. When we see Israel go off track in the Old Testament, God desires for them to return to Him so that He can return to blessing them. We see this in Matthew 7:11 as we are reminded that God is our Father.  “So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Don’t these words resonate so well with what we see in Numbers 6?! Our God doesn’t change – He still loves us and wants to bless us. If God didn’t change in the 1,400 years between the writing of Numbers and the words of Jesus, then surely He hasn’t changed between the time of Jesus and our time now. If you are a child of God today, God wants to bless you and wants to take care of you. Take peace and find rest in this truth.

 

Josiah Cain

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+5-6&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Numbers 7 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan (1) (1)

The Key

numb 2&4 cain

Over the last four years I have done a lot of moving. I’ve moved from an apartment, to a house, to a trailer, back to a house, to my in-laws, and now to my home. Not to mention, I have helped plenty of others move during this time. Despite my many moving back aches and cardboard box forts, I’ve experienced nothing in the moving department compared to the Levites in chapter 3-4 of Numbers. These chapters are dedicated instructions for the Levites about how to live around and move the Tabernacle.

A portion of the third chapter is dedicated to uncomplicated, yet purposeful counting of all the male sons of the Levites a month or older.  Remember the Passover in Egypt where God spared the first born sons of Israel while passing judgement over the rest of Egypt’s first born sons? In Numbers 3, we see God take the first born of Israel not to death, but to holiness. Numbers 3:13 says that God is making the Levites “sanctified” to Himself. This word sanctified means to make holy. Instead of killing the first born sons of Israel, God uses them to be mediators between Him and the Israelites. Does this sound like any other first born son to you? Jesus is now the first born son that acts as a mediator between us and God. It is so cool to me that the number of Levite males a month or older and the number of first born sons in Israel are almost the exact same number. God sees the males of the Levites being the ransom in place of the first born sons of Israel. In Numbers 3:39, the number of Levite males comes out to 22,00 and in 3:43 the number of first born males is 22,273. I will draw your attention to the extra 273 first born sons which aren’t covered by the ransom of the sons of Levi. Instead of taking their lives, which is what they would deserve, God only requires the small price of 5 shekels per person. That comes out to a total of 1,365 shekels in exchange for the lives of 273 first born sons. I guess I was wrong in my last post when I joked about Numbers being a math text book. But really, the math should be done from this point on. The point is this: God would rather redeem people than kill people; God opts for mercy instead of judgment. This is just one of the great things about Him that makes Him a God worth worshiping.

Moving on to chapter 4 we again see the detailed and intentional nature of God through instructions He gives the Levites for the Tabernacle. Remember holiness is one of God’s main priorities when it comes to the Tabernacle. We are blissfully reading along in chapter 4, hearing about the job of the sons of Aaron….then we get to verse 15. Things get serious in verse 15. It becomes clear to us that the sons of Aaron took so much caution in covering all the holy objects in the Tabernacle so that when the sons of Kohath come to move the stuff they don’t die! Remember God’s holiness is serious. All it would take for an unclean person to die is to touch a holy object. It doesn’t sound like a simple list of instructions anymore; this is a life or death situation. I thought I had it rough when I had to take the legs off my couch to fit it through the door but at least I wouldn’t die if I accidentally touched it! I like to look at verses 5-20 as the “how not to die when moving the Tabernacle” verses. If you were a son of Kohath, in charge of carrying one of the holy objects, you would be thankful that one of the sons of Aaron did their job well.

Reading though chapter 4 and hearing how the jobs of these different people are broken down reminds me of the body of Christ. We have different positions and skills which allow us to come together and work for God. Moving the Tabernacle in a holy and dignified way was no easy task, so too is serving God and His son, Jesus. It takes a team effort with everyone pitching in to make it a success.

Reading this also gave me another idea. Maybe we should only ask people between the ages of 30-50 to help us move. I should have quoted Numbers 4:3 to all the people who have asked me to move over the years. But in all seriousness, there is one big take away that I see from Numbers chapter 4; it is a lesson taught all over the Old Testament. Keeping God’s holiness and His people being holy are top priorities. We need to be holy as God is holy (Lev. 19:2). That is a direct command from God to us. We see this in how God treats even the moving of the Tabernacle. Holiness is key. When God was setting up the nation of Israel He wanted to make sure that they were going to stay separate from the world, separate from their idol worshiping neighbors. All the laws and rules are supposed to help them stay righteous and holy. Of course, we know that this is an impossible task for us to do on our own. Thankfully, we have a God who understands us and knows that we need help. This is why all of history, all of God’s plans, even back in Numbers with the counting of some Jewish men, was leading to the revealing of Jesus. Don’t think for a second that we are redeemed by accident. God was working out the world to be in such a way that you now, reading this post, have the option to be redeemed and righteous. We might be tempted to skip these boring chapters of the Bible where all we do is read about how many 30-50 year olds were in the household of Gershon, but we would miss out on watching God reveal his plans. Seeing God act with such intentional detail reminds me that God is not too big to deal with our everyday highs and lows. God works in the details of our lives today, just as He did in the lives of the Levites moving the tabernacle.

Josiah & Amber Cain

 

Today’s passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+3-4&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s passage will be Numbers 5-6 as we continue our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

4 Benefits for Christians in This Age

 

Out in the world today, we see a lot of bold claims made by companies. They promise you weight loss, happiness, wealth, status, and anything else that you can think up. What is their purpose in making these bold claims? They want your money. Many of the times the claims are flat out lies and at best they deliver only a fraction of what was promised. What about Christianity? Does the Bible make big claims like companies do?

Personally, I think the Bible makes a lot of claims about those who put their faith in God. But the logical follow up question to that statement is  – are they true? So in this blog post I want to set out to show you four claims the Bible makes about the benefits a Christian receives in this age. The fact that we are talking about this age is important. Obviously a Christian has a major benefit in the age to come with eternal life and the kingdom. However, I want to focus on this life and how being a Christian makes our lives better, now. The four benefits to being a Christian are peace, purpose, perspective, and people.

Peace is a commodity of which the world is in short order. It seems that mental illness is all over the news with illnesses like depression and anxiety sweeping over our nation. Christianity promises to those who put their faith in God that they can find peace. Look at Philippians 4:6-7, “6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Paul, talking to the people of Philippi, is saying that if we hand over our anxiety to God through prayer and thanksgiving in return we will receive peace that surpasses all comprehension. I love how Paul makes the point to say that this peace will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. I think Christianity has the best solution for finding peace in this life.

1 Peter 2 9

Purpose is an elusive things that some people spend their whole lives searching out. I truly think that people thrive the most when they are living a life after the purpose for which God created them. If you are looking for purpose look at 1 Peter 2:9-10 which says, “9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” First look at verse 10 where it says, “you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God”. In other words, once you had no identity and no purpose but now you are the people of God and you have a purpose. The purpose statement is at the end of verse 9, “so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”. I think when we are giving the good news to people, and that is our driving purpose, we find fulfillment with our lives. What could be better than helping someone change their life forever?

Perspective can be a tricky thing to find, especially perspective that is trustworthy and true. Let’s talk about the world’s perspective on one of the most difficult things we deal with in life, death. To the world, death is crushing, scary, oppressive, breaking, and most of all final. The world has no hope when it comes to death but the Bible offers a better perspective on death. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says, “13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.” If you are a Christian, you are offered a perspective on death that doesn’t include fear but instead centers on hope. Don’t get me wrong, death is still a painful and difficult event but it isn’t crushing for Christians. To me, 1 Thessalonians 4 is a clarifying and liberating passage. Because of the Bible I am freed from the fear of death. Christianity offers us a better perspective on death and a whole multitude of other things.

People, who doesn’t want a people to call their own? Community is an essential part of human flourishing and Christians absolutely crush the competition when it comes to community. Look at what Jesus says in Mark 10:29-30, “29 Jesus said, ‘Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.’” In this present age we will receive 100 times the family that we currently have. This doesn’t mean that all of a sudden our family multiples by 100. What it means is that those who are Christians become our family. You are probably familiar with the term family of God. It is short hand for the community of believers that form one large family all around the world. When I walk into church I know that those people have my back, they love me, they support me, and they are my family.

Maybe now you are asking how can I be sure that these claims actually hold up under pressure? Are these claims made by the Bible like the false claims made by big companies? If you are curious about the validity of the Bible, just ask a long time Christian that you know. They will tell you about the peace they have felt in their lives when there should not have been peace. They will tell you about the purpose they have found. They will tell you about how the Bible has shifted their perspectives for the better. They will tell you about the community that they have in the family of God.

If you are looking for peace, purpose, perspective, or a people I think you should give Christianity a serious look. Maybe you have been on the fence about dedicating your life to Christ or maybe you have fallen away and aren’t where you want to be with God. Either way there is a better life out there, it just takes commitment. You need to commit to following God wherever He leads and you need to put your trust in Jesus. If you are thinking about dedicating or rededicating your life to Christ find a pastor or Christian you trust and talk to them about how following God can change your life for the better.

-Josiah Cain

A Lesson from Peru: Faith

peru children

Missions Spotlight: Peru

Within the past five years, ministry in Peru has boomed!  After studying Miguel Cervetes, Pastor Edwin Mauricio came to know the beliefs we hold dear, leaving behind a life of preaching to congregations of thousands. Pastor Edwin mentors several other pastors throughout Peru; we are learning of new pastors and congregations with each visit!  Pictured is a group of youth Yesenia Ruiz Castillo teaches each week in the northern-region of Peru.  

 

The “faith chapter” of the Bible is called the “faith chapter” for good reason.  Did you know, the word “faith” is mentioned 23 times in Hebrews 11? Starting with the first chapter, we are told that “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see”.  People have faith in many different things.  We put our faith in our parents, teachers, doctors, and the government.  I have faith that when I flick the light switch, it will send electricity through the lightbulb and give us light. We as Christians know that faith is important because it is the vehicle of our salvation.  John 14:6 reminds us that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the father but through [him].”  Paul tells us, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).  This is nothing new, right?

 

Although you have most likely memorized the definition of faith in your 6th grade Sunday School class, I want to take a moment to reflect on the truly RADICAL things leaders have done in FAITH.  If they didn’t have faith, they surely would not jump out on a limb like this.  As you read through this list, try to put yourself in their shoes, imagine how they must have felt and thought.  I know these are stories we have likely heard before, but take a moment to capture how boldly these Christians stepped out in faith.

  • Noah – The whole world thought he was crazy for building a boat for the rains that no one had ever seen
  • Joseph – The man who stayed true to God even when he was betrayed by his family and sent to a strange land where he was a slave.
  • Moses – The man who returned to a country that hated him to command that Pharaoh set the Israelites free.  This same man had the faith to walk into the sea of reeds and watch as the sea parted before him and the entire Israelite nation walked on dry ground.
  • Daniel – The man who stood in the face of hungry lions with confidence knowing that God could deliver him from even the mightiest beasts.
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – The men who put their faith in God and told Nebuchadnezzar that God can deliver us from the fire, but even if he doesn’t we will not serve your gods because we know YHWH is the one true God.
  • David – The man who went up against a mighty giant with only a sling knowing that if God is behind him, then no one could stand against him.
  • Peter – The man who stepped out onto the water to meet Jesus, defining the natural laws of the world.
  • Paul – The man who despite his imprisonments, beatings, and shipwrecks kept preaching the gospel to whoever would listen to him.

 

Now I want to share with you several others who have stepped out in faith and inspired me on a personal level.  These are believers that live in Peru, and believe as we do.

  • Maria Poma – The woman who continues to serve her community and church after the tragic death of her husband, the former pastor.
  • Edwin Mauricio – The man who left pastoring a congregation of thousands to shepherd a small group, knowing he held the truth.
  • Marco Gutierrez – The man who spends hours travelling long distances to come to church each week to preach and lead Bible studies.
  • Yesenia Castillo – The woman who leads large groups of youth, even after the flooding and destruction of the church building.

 

God never promises us that we won’t have hardship in this life, but he does promise to be with us in the hard time. He will protect us from the hungry lions of this world, but even if he doesn’t, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we will still serve him. And because of that, we will spend eternity in God’s kingdom.

 

If you would like to support our family in Peru with money for transportation for Pastor Marco to travel to church, along with buying materials for a renovation of the Lima church kitchen, please follow this link. Thank you! https://www.givelify.com/givenow/1.0/MjM0MDg=/selection

 

Love,

Josiah & Amber Cain