Numbers 27-28, Luke 4

As the book of Numbers draws to a close, Moses begins to make preparation for his death. God tells him he will not enter the Promised Land with the Israelites, but he will be able to see it before the Israelites enter in. Moses is (very understandably) concerned for the Israelite people. He has had to intercede for them and guide them away from idolatrous actions again and again. In Numbers 27, Moses passes on the leadership torch to Joshua so that the Israelites will not be like a “sheep without a shepherd” (Numb. 27:17). Joshua would become the next leader who would guide, command, and take care of the Israelite people as they enter into the land of Canaan. 

Luke 4 describes the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Moses had spent years building up trust and confidence from the Israelite people, and Joshua benefited from that. He was able to build on the legacy of leadership that Moses left behind. Unlike Joshua, Jesus had to start from square one when building confidence and trust with the Jewish people. We see him begin this process in Luke 4. After the temptations in the wilderness, he begins preaching in the synagogues. At one point, he reads a passage from Isaiah that begins with “The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because he has anointed me to…” and then lists out all the actions the God has sent him to do (Luke 4:18). Jesus did not have a Moses that told all the Jewish people to listen and follow after him. But, Jesus had something better to establish his authority. Not only did God speak over him after he was baptized, “This is my beloved Son. I take delight in him!” (Luke 3:22). He also had all of the Old Testament scriptures that spoke about him! 

Even so, the Jewish people did not accept him as a leader, because he challenged the way that he led and thought about the world. Just like the leadership example set by Moses, Jesus knew that the Jewish people needed someone to guide them, protect them, and care for them. They needed a shepherd. But, being led by a shepherd sometimes includes being corrected by a shepherd. The Jewish people, especially those in positions of power, were resistant to this. In fact, this section of Luke ends with the Jewish people doing this: “They got up, drove Him out of town, and brought Him to the edge of the hill, intending to hurl Him over a cliff” (Luke 4:29). 

Jesus is the “good shepherd” (John 10:14). His sheep “follow him because they recognize his voice” (John 10:4). When Jesus is leading us, do we follow? Are we resistant and stubborn to correction, choosing to go our own way? Or do we trust that our good shepherd will guide us on the right paths? How do we view Jesus’ leadership? 

My prayer is that we will trust in Jesus as our good shepherd. That his leading, both in guiding and correcting, will be a “comfort” to us as he lets us “lie down in green pastures,” leads us “beside quiet waters,” and “renews our life” (Ps. 23:1-4). 

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Numbers 27-28 and Luke 4.

Numbers 21-22, Luke 1

The Israelites’ wilderness wanderings continue in Numbers 21-22. Even though they had chosen not to enter the Promised Land because of their perceived battles, the battles came to them in the wilderness. They faced the kingdoms of Edom, Arad, Amorites, and Ammonites. In all of these battles, the outcome of the standoff was based not in the strength of the Israelite people, but in the amount of trust they had in God. 

The Israelites were a stubborn people though. They had a tendency to forget the lessons they had just learned. In Numbers 21, they had just shown their trust in God when they defeated the king of Arad. But, in verse 4, they began to grumble and complain against God, asking why they had come out of Egypt to the wilderness. This is a recurring pattern with the Israelites. When they face difficult circumstances, they begin to complain. God always responds strongly to their complaints – sometimes strikingly so. It makes him incredibly angry each and every time they begin to act in this way. In this instance, he sent poisonous snakes among the people. At other times, he sent plagues, fire, or disease – anything to show his displeasure. 

We know that this action – the complaining and grumbling against God’s ordained path – causes God anger. But, as I am reading through the book of Numbers, it’s hard for me to really rectify the description of this wrathful, vengeful God and the God of the New Testament who sent his son to wipe away all sins. Why did it make God this angry? Is it really that bad to complain? 

To answer this question, we can turn to the other passage that we were looking at today: Luke 1. This is the story of the pregnancy announcements of both John the Baptist and Jesus – both of which happened before they got pregnant! John the Baptist parents were Zechariah and Elizabeth, another Levite from the line of Aaron. Zechariah was chosen to serve in the temple, a once in a lifetime opportunity for him, when an angel of the Lord appeared and told him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. There will be joy and delight for you” (Luke 1:13-14). After this, I would imagine that Zechariah would be jumping for joy – the desires of his heart, his deepest prayer, had been answered! But, that’s not the picture that we get. Zechariah responds, “How can I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years” (Luke 1:18). Zechariah’s prayers were answered, but he wanted proof. He wanted God to prove himself to Zechariah. It seemed like an angel of the Lord appearing to Zechariah just wasn’t enough for him. 

In both the Israelites’ and Zechariah’s situation (as well as the situation with Balaam and his donkey in Numbers 22), they wanted God to prove himself to be God. The previous faithfulness God had shown them wasn’t enough; they wanted God to prove himself to be big enough and powerful enough in that moment for them to trust him. But – I don’t think, for any of these people, anything that God could have done in that moment would truly have caused them to trust him more. It wasn’t on God to prove himself to them. For the Israelites, he caused the plagues in Egypt, split the Red Sea, routed whole armies. For Zechariah, he sent a messenger to talk to him face to face and tell him that his greatest desire was answered. They had already received their signs. It was the people’s responsibility to soften their hearts enough to trust in God. They needed to believe that God was who he said he was and would do what he said he would do. 

We are required to trust in the same way. God has done tremendously more than we have ever deserved. He is currently doing more in our lives than we could ever hope for. It is our responsibility to trust him to be God. We just have to follow in obedience to him.

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Numbers 27-28 and Luke 4.

Numbers 19-20, Psalm 51-52

Moses and the Israelites’ wilderness wanderings continue on in Numbers 19-20. In previous chapters as we’ve seen, God faithfully shows up for Moses, choosing him and the Levites as the priesthood to be the leaders and go-betweens between God and the Israelite people. In Numbers 20, Moses has to deal with the Israelites’ rebellious spirit again. They came fighting against Moses saying, “If only we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord. Why have you brought the Lord’s assembly into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? Why have you led us up from Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It’s not a place of grain, figs, vines, and pomegranates, and there is no water to drink!” (Numb. 20:3-5).

Even though God continued to provide for the Israelites time and time again, the Israelites had yet to learn to trust in him. They questioned God’s purpose for them and even stated that they wished they had died with the Israelites who had been killed in the plague after Korah’s rebellion. One rebellion had just been resolved with the blossoming of Aaron’s branch, but the people were again questioning Moses’ leadership because of their circumstances in the wilderness. 

Moses responds as he normally does – by falling face down before God to beg God for help. God responds to Moses and Aaron and gives them specific instructions to follow: take your staff and speak to a rock. Then, water will flow out. However, Moses, heated in the moment, rashly gathers the assembly and says to them, “Listen, you rebels! Must we bring water out of this rock for you?” Then, he struck the rock twice and water gushed out (Numb. 20:9-11). In this pivotal moment of Moses’ leadership, he does not respond with level-headed humility. Instead, he responds rebelliously towards God because of his frustration with the people. By forcefully striking the rock and saying that it was him – Moses – who brought the water out, he took the glory away from God and placed it on himself. Moses decided that he was going to be the one to save the Israelites, and he forcefully showed them what he could do. 

I totally can identify and sympathize with Moses in this moment. He loved God. He loved the people. And, he truly wanted what was best for the people. But, he got frustrated. He was tired and probably thirsty. He was overwhelmed. Because of this, he made a mistake with dire consequences; he would not lead the people into the promised land. He got caught up in the feelings of the moment, the seeming impossibility of shepherding the Israelite people into a trusting, righteous way of living and into the promised land. When he looked at his situation, he may have felt trapped, may have felt hopeless, or may have just felt mad. The one thing he forgot to do was to view those feelings in light of the character of God. He forgot to trust in who God was – to remember that despite what the Israelites were saying, God was always in Moses’ corner. 

We all have times where the circumstances we are in cause us to be blinded by the feelings we have. We may feel stuck, tired, hopeless, mad. Maybe we feel like we just want to hit something. Or we just want to give up. But remember – God is in our corner. When we face those difficult times, we can trust that he will always come through. 

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Numbers 27-28 and Luke 4.

Numbers 15-16, Psalm 46-48

“Clap your hands all you peoples; shout to God with a jubilant cry. He chooses for us our inheritance – the pride of Jacob whom he loves.” Psalm 47:1,4

As Kyle mentioned yesterday, the book of Numbers is anything but boring. And today, we got acquainted with the interesting – and deadly – story of Korah’s rebellion. In chapter 16, Moses and Aaron are approached by a group of Levites led by Korah who had had enough of Moses and his leadership. He confronted them and said, “You have gone too far! Everyone in the entire community is holy, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the Lord’s people?” (Numb. 16:3). 

Moses, raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, had led the Israelites out of Egypt. Not only was he the main leader, but he also acted as a go-between for the Israelites and God, speaking to God frequently on the Israelites’ behalf and receiving the law and the commandments from God. From the outside looking in, Moses could seem to be a pretentious guy giving meaningless commands to the Israelites people with fatal consequences for the people who broke them like the man stoned to death for breaking the Sabbath in Numbers 15:32-36. Korah, the man at the head of the rebellion, was also from the tribe of Levi and had the support of 250 leaders of the community. At this point, they had probably had enough of Moses’ rules and spoke out against what they believed were unjust commandments.

But, little did they know what that would cost them. Moses cried out to God and trusted in God to deliver him. He prayed that the people would see them who was the true messenger of God based on what God did. When they both came to present offerings in firepans to God, the ground opened up and swallowed Korah and all his household with all of their possessions and they went “down alive to Sheol” (v. 31-35). Then, fire came from the Lord and killed the 250 leaders who were presenting offerings in firepans to God. The Israelites, who still believed that the real men of God were Korah and his followers, began to complain about Moses and Aaron. God sent a plague to kill the Israelites, and that plague killed 14,700 before Moses put a stop to it by standing between God and the people. 

This chapter in Numbers is a whirlwind, full of intrigue, suspense, and vengeance. What’s striking to me is the complaint of Korah that sparked this chain of events that led to the death of close to 15,000 people. Korah and his followers complained about Moses and Moses’ power. And like I said, from an outsider who didn’t understand the true purpose and meaning of the law, those complaints would seem valid. But, Korah was missing the whole point of the message Moses was communicating, because that message centered around God. Korah wanted to the power for himself. He didn’t realize that Moses wasn’t doing those things for himself, but instead, he was acting in complete humility and obedience to God. To Korah, those commandments seemed meaningless, arbitrary, and harsh, because he didn’t truly know God. Thus, he wasn’t willing to be obedient to his commands. 

The world looks at the message of Christ and says similar things. It asks us, “Who do you think you are? Don’t you know we all have a little bit of God in us? How dare you try to tell us what to do?” Little do they know that the message we are following is not based on us and our likes and dislikes. It’s not something just made up by human hands. This is a message from God! And that makes all the difference. 

When you find yourself feeling the force of all the world’s questions, you can stop and remind yourself of the promise found in the psalms: You are chosen by God to be his holy set apart people. 

~Cayce Fletcher

Links to today’s Bible reading – Numbers 15-16 and Psalm 46-48

Jesus is Greater : Angels, Moses, Priesthood

Hebrews 1-6

If you are anything like me, you like to have all the answers. When we read a book like Hebrews, one of the difficult realities is that it doesn’t offer a lot of answers on first glance. We don’t quickly see the author, and even upon careful inspection the answer isn’t apparent. We don’t know to whom it was written or when it was written (an author would make these questions a lot easier to answer). It brings up a few stories and images that are strange; not the first stories we are drawn to in the Old Testament. Without this book, the story of Melchizedek, King-Priest of Salem, would be a strange incident in the story of Abraham. It still IS a strange story, but it would be one we wouldn’t look at as much. Hebrews frustrates me because it makes me ask more and more questions without giving me all the answers.

But, there are very few books that have a stronger theme than Hebrews. The theme of Hebrews is simply this : Jesus is GREATER than ANYTHING ELSE in ALL CREATION!  Read Hebrews 1:1-4.  What does this tell us about Jesus?  Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 

Jesus Christ is the heir of all things. 

Jesus Christ is the one through whom the universe is made. (Made with Jesus in mind and for him.)

Jesus Christ is the radiance of God’s glory. 

Jesus Christ is the exact representation of God’s character. 

Jesus Christ purifies the world and then sits down at God’s right hand. 


I reiterate those words and want you to pay attention to them because JESUS IS GREATER. 

Hebrews 1-2 is all about how Jesus is greater than the angels. While we understand this intuitively, in the time of Jesus, angels were the ones through whom God gave the Law. This meant that they were not only the beings who continually stand in the presence of God, but who are essential for the salvation of God’s people. Then, we are shown how Christ is greater than Moses, the Law-giver and prime prophet, in Hebrews 3-4. Moses is not a small figure. He is the central human figure of the Exodus story, which is the central narrative of the Jewish people. In Hebrews 5-6 we get the beginning of truth that Christ brings about a New and Greater Priesthood, based off his own sacrifice. The priesthood interceded to God on behalf of his people, offering sacrifices to show their love and devotion to God. Jesus is greater than any who gave the Law, because the new Law he gives, he also fulfills. Jesus is greater because he is worthy of more honor because he obeyed God in everything as a Son should. JESUS IS GREATER!


If we want to focus on one last set of passages, look to Hebrews 4:15-16. This book is difficult to work through. It will take work for you to read over the next few days. But you do not have a high priest who doesn’t understand hard work. This year has been extremely difficult. But you don’t have an advocate who doesn’t understand your sufferings. Christ knows EVERYTHING you went through. He knows the temptations, the failures, the pains, the struggles of human frailty. And yet he was able to overcome. In our weakness, Christ can make us stronger. We can see God’s throne as a throne of grace rather than judgment. We receive mercy from God who sits on the throne, and we receive grace from Christ at his right hand. That is the beauty of the truth that because Jesus has been raised, JESUS IS GREATER!

-Jake Ballard

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Hebrews 1-6

Tomorrow we continue with chapters 7-10.

Don’t Choose the Curse

Deuteronomy 11-13

Deut 11 26 NIV

We make choices all day long – little things and big things.  What will I eat today, what will I wear, how long will I study, should I stay late at work, should I work out, should I read my Bible (and read my SEEKGROWLOVE) in the morning or at night… You get the idea; there are a lot of choices. In fact, a Psychology Today article stated that some sources suggest that the average person makes 35,000 choices per day.

In Deuteronomy 11, the Israelites are presented with a choice. In verse 26, it states, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.”

This sure seems like a “no brainer choice”. The blessing is so wonderful. Moses goes into detail of how incredible it will be to live in communion with the Lord God in this land of abundance. In chapter 12, he describes a scene that we might imagine as the perfect Thanksgiving, “There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you.”

How could they choose the curse? Our God gives His people many warnings of why they may wander away from Him. One is curiosity of other religions. His people will ask, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.” Remember that these religions even burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to their gods. Let’s consider the difference from choosing idols rather than choosing to follow the One True God. Those who follow His commands will come into His presence with their family, feasting and rejoicing. Those who choose idols will sacrifice their own children.

I can’t imagine anything worse than a parent allowing this to happen to their child. The LORD warns them that some of them may face evil prophets or even family members that entice them. Even if large groups of people like a whole town decide that it is ok to be wicked, they must resist and follow the LORD.

You see we have these same choices today. Let’s decide that no group of people, no person, nothing should be chosen over our God. Out of our love, we will obey Him and do what is right in His eyes.

 

Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+11-13&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Deuteronomy 14-16 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

 

 

Anti-Anxiety

Deuteronomy 8-10

Deut 8 6 7a NIV

Imagine that you are an Israelite that has been taking in all the words of your leader Moses. You have listened as he has given your history. You have committed to love God with all your heart, soul and strength. You have determined to follow the commands, decrees and laws that the Lord directed Moses to teach you. Soon it will be time to enter the land and possess it. You have heeded the warnings of idol worship. You have envisioned this good land flowing with milk and honey. Moses told you of all the good things that wait inside the land, but your mind also fills with doubt. You must face the nations that are physically stronger than you are. As you lie in bed, your mind races over what lies before you. It is then that you remember what else was said. “If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers.” You decide this is in the LORD’s hands, you settle in, smile and go to sleep.

 

We are sometimes faced with the same dilemmas that the Israelites faced. We live in an uncertain world. We daily experience the results of this fallen world-war, pain, sickness, … We can easily become anxious and worried. But God also provided us with a great teacher who gave us instruction. Jesus Christ told his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Our Heavenly Father and His Son are with us. They are aware of our situation. We may have to face difficult and uncertain circumstances, but they are with us as we go through them. We are certain of this, if we are faithful to them, they will always be with us.

Just like the Israelites we will set our minds on the words of God. We will remember that we live on “every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Even in our chaotic world, we should observe the commands of the Lord our God, walk in obedience to Him and revere Him because the Lord our God is bringing us to a good land. This land where righteousness dwells will reside in a new heaven and new earth.

Rebecca Dauksas

 

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

 

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

 

 

Reasons to Obey

Deuteronomy 5-7

Deuteronomy 5 33 NIV

I had an oppsortunity to teach the importance of keeping the Name of God holy a few weeks ago. A five year old was loudly saying “God” clearly showing that she was surprised by something that was going on. I helped her understand that because we love and respect God that we would never use His name this way. Thankfully that is the last time that she has expressed surprise in that manner.

But this experience reminded me of Moses. He was not only the person that was bringing the people the Law-he wanted them to understand and practice it. We may hear that we should not misuse the name of God, but when we really enter into a genuine, loving relationship with God, we would only use His name with sincere words from our heart.

In Deuteronomy 5, Moses summoned all Israel in order to recount the decrees and laws to them. He wanted the Israelites to learn them and follow them. He reminded the people that they were involved in a covenant with God.  The Law showed the Israelites which actions were right and wrong. God wanted them to know how to live as His holy people. He wanted them to know how to interact with Him and others. He wanted them to “walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.”

God still wants us to “live and prosper” today. We are His people, His family.

When we experience God’s love our motivation for doing what is right is produced from a place of love. (Deuteronomy 6) Christ later explained the greatest commandment of the Law. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

Rebecca Dauksas

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+5-7&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Deuteronomy 8-10 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan (1) (1)

 

Learning from Obedience & Disobedience

Deuteronomy 3 & 4

Deut 4 9 NIV

We live near apple country. In the fall we have driven to the mountains and visited apple orchards. The taste of ripe apples from the tree is amazing. The apple trees are pretty hanging with the delicious varieties of apples and the views are really beautiful. In Deuteronomy 3, Moses is told that he can “Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes to the west and north and south and east, and see it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan.” Imagine Moses standing on the mountain looking at the Promised Land. He would not enter the land because of his former disobedience. I think this consequence was important for the Israelites. Moses was so close to God and was an example for the entire Israelite community. He was their appointed leader and they followed his example. They could also learn from his disobedience. Experiencing this consequence of not entering the land probably made a big impact on the Israelites and Joshua. In fact, God tells Moses to “charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he will give them as an inheritance the land which you will see.”

I grew up with siblings. I had an older brother and sister and I learned from their example. If they did something good at school or church, they were rewarded with awards and praise. It was great because I learned what I should do by their example.

In Deuteronomy 4, Moses is giving his all to make the people understand the importance of obedience to the LORD. Not only will the Israelites and their children be blessed by obeying, but if they keep the decrees and laws they will have wisdom and understanding. They will set an example for other nations. People will hear these statutes and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?”

Our personal obedience to God can be a positive example for others. Obedience leads to blessings for us and for others.

Rebecca Dauksas

 

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

Tomorrow’s reading will be Deuteronomy 5-7 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

Most Important Message to Pass On

Deuteronomy 1 & 2

Deut 1 3 NIV

If you only had a short time to live, what would you communicate to those in your circle of influence? I know that is a tough question. I think most of us would want to express our love for special people in our lives, our thanks to those that helped us in life, we might share what we found to be valuable and important in life, we would want to give encouragement and insight…at the top of our list-we would want others to know the importance of a loving, close relationship with God through Christ.

Moses is close to the end of his life as Deuteronomy begins and he has much to convey to the Israelites.  He wants them to learn from the past, he wants them to be prepared for what lies ahead and most importantly, he wants them to rely on God. In the book of Deuteronomy, the title of “the LORD our God” together with “the LORD your God” occurs almost 300 times along with many uses of “the LORD”. Moses wants the Israelites to rely on the LORD. He reminds them that in the wilderness they saw how the “LORD your God” carried you just as a man carries his son. He reminds them that the “LORD your God” went before them to lead the way and gave them places to camp. He was there in fire by night and cloud by day to show them the way to go. Moses wants the Israelites to trust God.

Unfortunately, my dad and mom are no longer living, but one of their messages to me was to trust God. I am eternally grateful for that message. We may lose loved ones through life, but God is always with us and we can trust Him.

Rebecca Dauksas

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+1-2&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s passage will be Deuteronomy 3-4 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan