Old Testament: Numbers 26:52-28:15
Numbers 26:52-65 Landing On Their Feet
The land was geographically apportioned by lot (Num. 26:55) and the size of each tribe was taken into consideration by God (Num. 26:54, 56, cf. Prov. 16:33, “The lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the Lord”).
The Levites, whose job was to take care of the Tabernacle and later the Temple, increased by 1,000 men between the two censuses. The Levites numbered 23,000 at this point and they were numbered apart from the rest of Israel since they didn’t receive an inheritance of land (cf. Num. 18:23-24).
None of the men in the first census done by Moses and Aaron were still alive. The exceptions were Caleb and Joshua, the only two spies who had brought back a favorable report after being sent on reconnaissance into the Promised Land (Num. 14:29-30).
Numbers 27:1-11 The First Women’s Lib
This passage shows God’s concern for women long before Jesus’ example in the New Testament and decades before any women’s lib movements. Pagans viewed women as mere chattel. The NT views women as “heirs of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7). Five daughters of a man who had died in the wilderness without any sons came to Moses to determine if they could inherit property in the Promised Land. The answer came back from Yahweh. “Sure.” The line of inheritance ran like this: to sons first, if no son then to daughters, brothers next, finally to the nearest relative in the family. Women had received their rights!
Numbers 27:12-23 You Can Look But You Can’t Touch
Moses wasn’t allowed to go into the Promised Land (Nu. 20: 12) but he was allowed to see it. Was Moses ever allowed to go into the Promised Land? Think before you answer. Yes. When Jesus was transfigured, he was there (Matt. 17:2-3).
Moses asked Yahweh to appoint a successor to him to take the people into the Promised Land. Joshua got the job (Num. 27:18). He was commissioned before the people showing a peaceful transfer of authority (Num. 27:23).
Numbers 28:1-15 Date Offerings
Yahweh makes clear the offerings to be given in the Promised Land as the people are about to enter it.
1) The daily offerings: two lambs (Num. 28:3-8)
2) Once-a-week Sabbath offerings: two lambs (Num. 28:9-10
(con’t in tomorrow’s reading)
New Testament: Luke 3:1-22
Luke 3:1-22 John The Dunker
Remember Luke is the one who writes mentioning the most detail? He mentions five Roman officials by name and by title. The fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar would have been 29 A.D. (cf. Bible Knowledge Commentary and the ESV Study Bible). Jesus would have been about thirty years-old.
John’s ministry would have been in a barren area between the hill country and the Jordan River. He calls for a “baptism of repentance” (Luke 3:3). This is not Christian baptism which wasn’t instituted until the Day of Pentecost several years later. “Repentance” literally means a “change of mind” (metanoia: meta – change, noia -mind is the Greek word). John was preaching that the nation needed to “change its mind” and look forward to the new era coming with Christ. Later in the book of Acts, a group of believers in God had only experienced John’s baptism (Acts 19: 1-7) but had not been baptized in the Holy Spirit. They had not yet been saved since all Christians are indwelt with the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9)
John’s job was to ready people for the message of Jesus. “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees” indicated that judgment was coming. There was an immediate need for repentance. JB was a serious dude. Those who were down-and-out responded to his message, the tax collectors (Luke 3:12-13), soldiers (Luke 3:14) and the common people (Luke 3 10-11). He told everyone to straighten out their lives and get ready for Jesus (Luke 3:4).
Everyone wondered if John was the Messiah. If John had allowed any doubt, his ministry would have been ruined. He made things very clear. “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:15). John’s announcement that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit is found in all four gospels (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; John 1:33). This promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit first came to indwell believers.
Luke 3:21-22 “John Debunker”
Jesus was baptized along with everyone else that John baptized. There were a couple differences. One was that Jesus wasn’t being baptized to show repentance. He was being baptized to identify with mankind. Another difference was that when Jesus was baptized, the sky was opened. While Jesus was praying, a dove descended on Him which was actually the Holy Spirit incarnate. A voice came out of Heaven that said, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” People got to see and hear the Trinity! Some people also got to hear the Father speak similar words to Jesus at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:35) and during Triumphal Entry (John 12:28).
John was not one to back down from the truth. It got him in trouble with Herod, the governor of Galilee. He was the one who put John in prison and later had him killed to please a dinner guest (Mark 6:24-25).
Psalm 61:1-8 A Lament Psalm by David
Psalm 61:1-8 A Wing And A Prayer
Psalm 61 is another lament psalm. But it begins a collection of psalms centering on believers’ confidence in God, from Ps. 61-68. It was probably written during the rebellion of David’s son, Absalom (cf. 2 Sam. 15-18).
Does David really think that God won’t hear him (v. 1)? Why does he start so many of his poems by asking God to hear him? I believe he is expressing his earnestness. He really is getting serious with God. If he had a New Testament, he’d know that God will hear the earnest prayer of a believer, like Elijah for example (cf. James 5:16-18).
There used to be a popular Christian group called The Second Chapter of Acts. They sang a great song based on verse 2. It’s called, appropriately, “Psalm 61” and it’s on their How The West Was One album. Maybe you can still find it or download it. It’s a great sentiment and good song.
David again affirms that God has been a person he can flee to for comfort and protection, He is a “tower” and a “refuge” (cf. Ps. 62:8). David would like to move into God’s tent and live with Him (v. 4a). We’ll get to do that someday! It will probably be better than just some canvas though.
Isn’t it comforting to think of being under God’s wings (v. 4b)? David had used wings imagery before in Psalm 55:6. He would’ve liked Paul McCartney.
In the Old Testament, Jews could promise to do things for God as vows but they were not to be taken lightly (v. 5a, cf. Num. 30:2-3).
David knew that God would reward him for trusting Him (v. 5b). Today we would call that salvation (cf. John 3:16). David figured he wouldn’t be entering into eternity in his near future. He believed God would prolong his life on earth (v. 6). It is often the case that God will allow the righteous to live a long life though there are exceptions like heroes of the faith like Jim Elliot or Paul Little who died at too young of an age.
David believed he would rule for a long time. The word “abide” in verse 7 means “to be enthroned.” He mercifully asked for God’s hesed, His binding, covenantal “lovingkindness” (v. 7b).
David ends by stating his intent to sing praise to God throughout eternity (v. 8). Some people think Heaven will be boring. It will be more exciting than the writers of Scripture could convey on paper.
Some think we will all be playing harps all the time in Heaven. Hey, what’s wrong with that? I play guitar, bass, clarinet, and saxophone. Not at the same time, though. I would love to play the harp. After all, it was alright for Harpo, wasn’t it? I will have all eternity to learn the harp and lots of other instruments, if I want.
Wiersbe ends his commentary on this psalm with an illustration of alliteration, “[David] sings forth a song of salvation, a paean of praise, an opus of optimism. It is a song of sanguinity, a thesis of trust, and a work of wonder.”
David desires to pay his vow of praise every day to the Lord. The writer of Hebrews said, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (cf. Heb. 13:15). What a great promise to make!
And David made that promise while his life was being threatened. What faith David had! Wouldn’t you love to have the faith of David? I would!
Proverbs 11:16-17 Sword Swallowers
We tend to think of women as “gracious” (v 16). Men can be “ruthless.” If women are true to form, they are honored. Violent men may obtain wealth but they won’t be honored. See how Solomon did that there? That kind of comparison really brings out the meaning.
In the same way, a kind and “merciful” man helps himself out by having a generous disposition (v. 17a). But a cruel man draws cruelty against himself (v. 17b). As Jesus once famously said, ” . . . all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Matt. 26:52).
Choose Life: Scripture: Luke 3:22 NASB “Three Friends”
” . . . and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”” Luke 3:22
As Jesus was beginning His ministry, He asked John the Baptist to baptize Him. He said it was to fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15). Baptism is a picture of death. Here it is a picture of Jesus’ future death on our behalf. Romans 5:7 that someone who really loves you might be willing to die for you (“Even if we were good, we really wouldn’t expect anyone to die for us, though, of course, that might be barely possible” LB). The following verse in Romans says that Jesus did die for us. John says that Jesus is our friend (John 15:13). Hebrews says that He is our brother (cf. Heb. 2:11).
Now notice in our verse today, when Jesus is baptized, the Father speaks and the Holy Spirit comes in the form of a dove. All of the Trinity shows up for the occasion! They are all involved in the great sacrifice of Jesus on behalf of our sins!
If you didn’t have an older brother growing up and you are saved, you have One now. But you also have two other friends, the Father and the Holy Spirit. They cared enough for you to give the life of Christ. Can you thank God for your new Friends?
If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
Fun Application: There was a popular TV show about friends. Everyone wants a friend. Have you thought of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as your friends? Expect them to take care of you today as friends and trust them for their friendship. Ps. 56:9 says that “God is for me“!
The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: The First Women’s Lib Movement