Old Testament: Numbers 33:40-35:34
Numbers 33: 40 -56 Footprints In The Sand
Today’s reading completes the account of every stop the Israelites made on their journey through the wilderness. Why all the boring reading about places that we can’t even find on a map nowadays? Was it to show how obedient the Israelites were? No. They weren’t that obedient as we have seen. Perhaps, it was to show that God knew where they were and that He was with them. God promises us today as we attempt to fulfill the Great Commission that He “will be with [us] till the end of the age” (Mat. 28: 19-20). Dt. 1: 31 says while they were going through all their trials in the wilderness, those were the times God was “carrying” them.
Numbers 33: 40 -56 Thorns In Their Sides
The smaller tribes got a smaller inheritance and the larger, a larger inheritance (Nu. 33: 54). Moses warned the Israelites that if they didn’t drive out all of the Canaanites, they would be like a thorn in their side. They didn’t have to kill them all but only drive them out of the land. They failed and the pagans were a thorn in their side. Failure to heed Moses’ warning resulted in the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities. God said He would do to the Israelites what He had planned for the Canaanites.
Numbers 34: 1-29 Shapes Of Things To Come
Yahweh gave Moses the boundaries of their new Promised Land. He names the leaders of each tribe to supervise the casting of the lots for the division of the land. Eleazar, the High Priest, and Joshua were also on hand.
Numbers 35: 1-5 Levite Land
Levites were assigned forty-eight cities to live in (Nu. 35: 6) since they did not receive an inheritance of land. They were dependent on the offerings of the people to live. They were also given pasture land for their cattle and herds. The pasturelands are deemed “suburbs” by Ryrie. The Levites were the first suburbanites? The pastureland they were given was 500 yards from the wall of the city and another was 1,000 yards past the first area (Ryrie). In spreading out the Levites all over Israel they would have the most influence in their communities. Joshua 21 provides more detail on how the apportionment was carried out.
In the book of Nehemiah, as Nehemiah was restoring Jerusalem, he also had to bring the Levites back to the Temple. They had been forced to work in the fields since the people had not been bringing their offerings (Neh. 13: 10-12).
Numbers 35: 6-34 Murderer’s Row
Six of the cities that were given to the Levites were for murderers. Technically, they were for “manslayers” since they were allowed to flee to these cities until proven guilty. They would be protected from those who may want to avenge a death. If the “manslayer” left the premises, he’d be fair game for the avenger and the avenger would not be prosecuted. The “manslayer” would be set free when the High Priest died (Nu. 35: 28).
New Testament: Luke 5:12-28
Luke 5: 12-16 Peppers (Paralytics and Lepers) Come To Jesus
Jesus healed a leper. Leprosy is symbolic of sin in the Bible. It can eat a man up completely (women, too!). People’s fingers, toes, ears, and even noses can fall off due to it! Jesus told the leper not to tell anyone what had happened. He didn’t want the word to get out about His miracles and have too many people following Him for the wrong reasons. He also didn’t want to prejudice the priest who inspected the leper according to Jewish law (Lev. 14).
It didn’t work. The word got out anyway. Jesus had to get away into the wilderness for regular times of prayer (Lk. 5: 16).
Luke 5: 17-28 Going To The Mat
This is the third time we are encountering the story of the paralytic being dropped down on a mat into a house in which Jesus was teaching (Matt. 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12). Luke is the only one of the three to use the phrase, “the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing” (Lk. 5: 17). Luke’s gospel emphasizes the humanity of Christ. Jesus gave up all His Heavenly rights to become a man. He is our model for ministry since He did not do anything that we can not do with the help of the Holy Spirit and according to God’s will. Since the power was present for Him to heal, He did.
However, when the man was first dropped down, Jesus told the man his sins were forgiven. Like all good speakers or even comics, Jesus is always thinking ahead about how He can get people’s gears moving. “Your sins are forgiven” is a good set-up line. He wanted the religious leaders to challenge Him and ask Who He was that He could forgive sins. So Jesus proved that He had the power to forgive sins by healing the man! Snap!
Jesus used an “a fortiori” argument, that is, arguing from the greater to the lesser. “A fortiori” means “with the greater force.” If Jesus could forgive sins which only God could do, it’d be a cinch to heal the man. The religious leaders loved Him for that kind of logic! It was pretty clear He was God. Wait . . . no . . . they hated Him for it! They later killed Him. As a friend of mine used to say, “No good deed goes unpunished.”
Speaking of going to the Mat. Jesus called a lousy tax-collector, the scum of the Palestinian earth at the time. Jesus loves people who are down-and-out. Paul said of the Corinthians, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth” 1Cor. 1:26.
Maybe it’s because the “down-and-out” recognize their need for a Savior. Jesus told Matt to follow Him. Matt dropped everything and followed Jesus (Lk. 5: 28).