Archive for October, 2011


Numbers 17:1-2,4-5,7-8,10,12-13 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to bring you twelve wooden staffs, one from each leader of Israel’s ancestral tribes, and inscribe each leader’s name on his staff… Place these staffs in the Tabernacle in front of the Ark containing the tablets of the Covenant, where I meet with you. Buds will sprout on the staff belonging to the man I choose. Then I will finally put an end to the people’s murmuring and complaining against you.”… Moses placed the staffs in the Lord’s presence in the Tabernacle of the Covenant. When he went into the Tabernacle of the Covenant the next day, he found that Aaron’s staff, representing the tribe of Levi, had sprouted, budded, blossomed, and produced ripe almonds!… And the Lord said to Moses: “Place Aaron’s staff permanently before the Ark of the Covenant to serve as a warning to rebels. This should put an end to their complaints against me and prevent any further deaths.”… Then the people of Israel said to Moses, “Look, we are doomed! We are dead! We are ruined! Everyone who even comes close to the Tabernacle of the Lord dies. Are we all doomed to die?”

It is hard to understand this God of Moses and Abraham who punishes 14,950 people with death just a chapter ago and now shows grace upon a hard-hearted people. What are we to understand of God’s character from this? (more…)


Numbers 16:1-2,5,8-9,18-21,31-32,35,41,45-49 One day Korah son of Izhar, a descendant of Kohath son of Levi, conspired with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, from the tribe of Reuben. They incited a rebellion against Moses, along with 250 other leaders of the community, all prominent members of the assembly… Then he said to Korah and his followers, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show us who belongs to him and who is holy. The Lord will allow only those whom he selects to enter his own presence… Then Moses spoke again to Korah: “Now listen, you Levites! Does it seem insignificant to you that the God of Israel has chosen you from among all the community of Israel to be near him so you can serve in the Lord’s Tabernacle and stand before the people to minister to them?… So each of these men prepared an incense burner, lit the fire, and placed incense on it. Then they all stood at the entrance of the Tabernacle with Moses and Aaron. Meanwhile, Korah had stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron, and they all gathered at the Tabernacle entrance. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to the whole community, and the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Get away from all these people so that I may instantly destroy them!”… He had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed the men, along with their households and all their followers who were standing with them, and everything they owned… Then fire blazed forth from the Lord and burned up the 250 men who were offering incense… But the very next morning the whole community of Israel began muttering again against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the Lord’s people!”… and the Lord said to Moses, “Get away from all these people so that I can instantly destroy them!” But Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground. And Moses said to Aaron, “Quick, take an incense burner and place burning coals on it from the altar. Lay incense on it, and carry it out among the people to purify them and make them right with the Lord. The Lord’s anger is blazing against them—the plague has already begun”… Aaron did as Moses told him and ran out among the people. The plague had already begun to strike down the people, but Aaron burned the incense and purified the people. He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague stopped. But 14,700 people died in that plague, in addition to those who had died in the affair involving Korah.

Oftentimes I turn to the word of God for hope in my difficult circumstances and am taught chapters like this one today and the question I ask God is how does this relate to where I am now? (more…)


Numbers 15:14-16,30-36,41 “And if any foreigners visit you or live among you and want to present a special gift as a pleasing aroma to the Lord, they must follow these same procedures. Native-born Israelites and foreigners are equal before the Lord and are subject to the same decrees. This is a permanent law for you, to be observed from generation to generation. The same instructions and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigners living among you”… “But those who brazenly violate the Lord’s will, whether native-born Israelites or foreigners, have blasphemed the Lord, and they must be cut off from the community. Since they have treated the Lord’s word with contempt and deliberately disobeyed his command, they must be completely cut off and suffer the punishment for their guilt”. One day while the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they discovered a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day. The people who found him doing this took him before Moses, Aaron, and the rest of the community. They held him in custody because they did not know what to do with him. Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must be put to death! The whole community must stone him outside the camp.” So the whole community took the man outside the camp and stoned him to death, just as the Lord had commanded Moses… I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt that I might be your God. I am the Lord your God!”

It is not hard to pick up how harsh God is to man as in today’s chapter and it leaves us wondering how the Israelites would have any hope if at all they were to live in peace with God? (more…)


Numbers 14:5-9,11-12,17-22,24,34,41-43 Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the whole community of Israel. Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”… And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them? I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!”… “Please, Lord, prove that your power is as great as you have claimed. For you said, ‘The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.’ In keeping with your magnificent, unfailing love, please pardon the sins of this people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.” Then the Lord said, “I will pardon them as you have requested. But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the Lord’s glory, not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have all seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they have tested me by refusing to listen to my voice… But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land… “‘Because your men explored the land for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years—a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins. Then you will discover what it is like to have me for an enemy’… But Moses said, “Why are you now disobeying the Lord’s orders to return to the wilderness? It won’t work. Do not go up into the land now. You will only be crushed by your enemies because the Lord is not with you. When you face the Amalekites and Canaanites in battle, you will be slaughtered. The Lord will abandon you because you have abandoned the Lord.”

As we read through this chapter, we see God’s wrath clearly and traces of His mercy but how can an all-seeing and all-loving God permit the Israelites to suffer so much? (more…)


Numbers 13:1-2,17-20,25-28,30-31 The Lord now said to Moses, “Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes”… Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: “Go north through the Negev into the hill country. See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps? Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see.” (It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes)… After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!… But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!”

It seems the Israelites reached the end of their journey pretty soon but for the presence of the giants in Canaan.

Why did God instruct the Israelites to go see the land He was about to give them when the land was occupied by hostile people? (more…)


Numbers 12:1-4,9-11,15 While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman. They said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?” But the Lord heard them. (Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.) So immediately the Lord called to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam and said, “Go out to the Tabernacle, all three of you!” So the three of them went to the Tabernacle… The Lord was very angry with them, and he departed. As the cloud moved from above the Tabernacle, there stood Miriam, her skin as white as snow from leprosy. When Aaron saw what had happened to her, he cried out to Moses, “Oh, my master! Please don’t punish us for this sin we have so foolishly committed… So Miriam was kept outside the camp for seven days, and the people waited until she was brought back before they traveled again.

If there is one recurring theme that has been common this far in the lives of the Israelites being led to the promised land, it is the theme of God taking offense at others who try to act as judges.

We live under the new covenant and therefore are in a period of grace. How then does this chapter minister to us? (more…)


Numbers 11:1,5-6,11,16,21-23,33 Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said. Then the Lord’s anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp… “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!”… And Moses said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people?… Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you… But Moses responded to the Lord, “There are 600,000 foot soldiers here with me, and yet you say, ‘I will give them meat for a whole month!’ Even if we butchered all our flocks and herds, would that satisfy them? Even if we caught all the fish in the sea, would that be enough?” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Has my arm lost its power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes true!”… But while they were gorging themselves on the meat—while it was still in their mouths—the anger of the Lord blazed against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague.

Reading this chapter left me with mixed emotions because in one context, the response of the Israelites seem terrible and in another context, God’s reaction to their complaining seems far worse.

How are we to understand this chapter and apply it into our lives today? (more…)


Numbers 10:1-2,8-10,33-36 Now the Lord said to Moses, “Make two trumpets of hammered silver for calling the community to assemble and for signaling the breaking of camp… Only the priests, Aaron’s descendants, are allowed to blow the trumpets. This is a permanent law for you, to be observed from generation to generation. “When you arrive in your own land and go to war against your enemies who attack you, sound the alarm with the trumpets. Then the Lord your God will remember you and rescue you from your enemies. Blow the trumpets in times of gladness, too, sounding them at your annual festivals and at the beginning of each month. And blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and peace offerings. The trumpets will remind the Lord your God of his covenant with you. I am the Lord your God”… They marched for three days after leaving the mountain of the Lord, with the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant moving ahead of them to show them where to stop and rest. As they moved on each day, the cloud of the Lord hovered over them. And whenever the Ark set out, Moses would shout, “Arise, O Lord, and let your enemies be scattered! Let them flee before you!” And when the Ark was set down, he would say, “Return, O Lord, to the countless thousands of Israel!”

Today’s chapter marks the beginning of the Exodus journey it seems as God leads them through the desert in an orderly fashion but in a long-winded route.

In all my years of attending churches in different part of the world, I have never heard a trumpet being used and so what is the context of this in our day and time? (more…)


Numbers 9:1-3,6-8,10-12,17,23 A year after Israel’s departure from Egypt, the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai. In the first month of that year he said, “Tell the Israelites to celebrate the Passover at the prescribed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. Be sure to follow all my decrees and regulations concerning this celebration”… But some of the men had been ceremonially defiled by touching a dead body, so they could not celebrate the Passover that day. They came to Moses and Aaron that day and said, “We have become ceremonially unclean by touching a dead body. But why should we be prevented from presenting the Lord’s offering at the proper time with the rest of the Israelites?” Moses answered, “Wait here until I have received instructions for you from the Lord”… “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: If any of the people now or in future generations are ceremonially unclean at Passover time because of touching a dead body, or if they are on a journey and cannot be present at the ceremony, they may still celebrate the Lord’s Passover. They must offer the Passover sacrifice one month later, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the second month. They must eat the Passover lamb at that time with bitter salad greens and bread made without yeast. They must not leave any of the lamb until the next morning, and they must not break any of its bones. They must follow all the normal regulations concerning the Passover”… Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp… So they camped or traveled at the Lord’s command, and they did whatever the Lord told them through Moses.

What amazes me about this Biblical record is the specificity and clarity with which all that occurred in the lives of God’s people was recorded and is available for us to study and understand.

Obviously what we have documented is what is relevant to us for our spiritual edification but what do ceremonial instructions mean to our lives today? (more…)