Spiritual Rants: March 20 “Shake, Shake, Shake . . . Shake, Shake, Shake . . . Shake Your . . .” Readings to read through the Bible in a year: Numbers 30:1-31:54 Luke 4:1-30 Psalm 63:1-11 Proverbs 11:20-21

Old Testament: Numbers 30:1-31:54

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Numbers 30:1-16  The Vow

This is not the movie starring Rachel McAdams but it does have to do with women’s vows.  Women’s vows were included in Leviticus 27 but are detailed here.  Men are mentioned only in verse two and only as a contrast to the women’s vows.  Men’s vows can not be retracted though a woman’s vows could be retracted under certain circumstances.  Vows promised by an unmarried daughter living with her parents could be invalidated by her father Num. 30:3-5).  The vow of a married woman could be nullified by her husband (Num. 30:6-8).  Widows and divorced women’s vows were inviolate (Num. 30:9).

Numbers 31:1-16  The Midian Way

The Midianites were descendants of Abraham through his wife, Keturah (Gen. 25:2).  Moses later married a Midianite, Zipporah. The Midianites over time had degenerated into just another pagan tribe.  Yahweh sent Moses with a thousand soldiers from each tribe to exterminate the Midianites.  The women and children were spared (Num. 30:9) at first.  Later Moses had all the women who were not virgins slaughtered (Num. 30: 17, 18) as well as all the male children.  The reason was that the Midianites had infiltrated the Israelites previously with their immorality (Num. 30:6 cf. Num. 25:16-18).  This was a holy war characterized by the leading of the Lord Himself, the priest, Phinehas, and the holy articles (Num. 30:6).  According to the rules of holy war, all the women should have been slain (cf. Deut. 20:16-18; Josh. 6:15-19) but only those who possibly could have been involved in the incident of Peor were killed.  Moses was actually being gracious.  The idea was to squelch another incident of the same kind.  Balaam who prayed that he could die with the righteous (Num. 23:10) apparently was not repentant over his involvement with the donkey.  He was offed along with five unrighteous Midiante kings (Nu. 23:10).  The cities were burnt to the ground.  This pictures the future judgment when the Judge of the whole earth (Gen. 18:25, Pss. 94: 2, 96: 13, 98:9) will send those who reject Him to eternal punishment.  Since this was a holy war, everything had to be purified in clouding the soldiers (Num. 31:19-20) and things (Nu. 31: 21-25).  Remember there were provisions in the law regarding dead bodies (Num. 19:11-13).

Numbers 31:25-54  Shake, Shake, Shake . . . Shake, Shake, Shake . . . Shake Your . . .

The soldiers were not allowed to keep all the fruit of their victory.  They had confiscated over eight hundred thousand animals and over a million dollars in gold (cf. Liberty Bible Commentary).  The soldiers were to share the spoil with those who had stayed in the camp (Num. 30:26, 27).  David later made this policy a law (1 Sam. 30:24-25).

New Testament: Luke 4:1-30

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Luke 4:1-13  The Temptation of Jesus

Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and was led around by the same Spirit for forty days.  He was being “tempted” by the devil but the word for “tempted” is the same as the word for “tested.”  The devil was trying to throw Jesus off course.  Jesus came to bring the kingdom.  Satan tried to undermine the process by causing Jesus to sin.  The temptations can be categorized according to John’s warning to us in 1 John 2:14-15.  Satan offers the “lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.”  In this case, Satan offered bread, appealing to Jesus’ bodily needs and hunger (“flesh”) after forty days of fasting.  He offered all the kingdoms of the world, the “lust of the eyes.”  Finally, he tried Jesus at the point of His relationship with God by tempting Him to use His powers apart from God’s approval, the “pride of life.”

As our model, Jesus squelched the temptations each time with Scripture (Deut. 8:3, 6:16, 10:20).  We, too, should know Scripture well enough to thwart the devil.  The devil absconded but only until he could attack Him at a more advantageous time.

Luke 4:14-30  A Local Sendoff

People were already talking about Jesus at the time He returned to Galilee.  He was teaching in the local synagogues found in all the small towns.  One day He got up to read Isaiah (Is. 61: 1-2a) and it was obvious He was applying it to Himself (Luke 4:18-19) when He said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).  They all gave Jesus a standing ovation . . . well, in the sense they all stood up and  attempted to clap their hands on Him to throw Him off a cliff (Luke 4:29).

Jesus had said a prophet was not respected in his own hometown.  He cited two Old Testment stories of prophets helping non-Jews (1 Kings 17:1-15; 2 Kings 5:1-14).  This further angered the crowd.

Mark states that Jesus was awestruck by their lack of belief and could not do any miracles there (Mark 6:5-6).  He just walked away from them.

Psalm 63:1-11   A Song Of Thanksgiving or Trust or Lament by David

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Psalm 63:1-11  Better Than Life

Psalm 63 could be categorized as a thanksgiving psalm.  Unless, of course, you see it as a song of confidence and trust.  Or maybe you see it as just a generic lament.   You can decide.

David is being earnest again (see day before yesterday’s blog on Ps. 61, Scraping Enemies).  The word “earnest” in verse 1 can also be translated “early.”  Some have taken this to imply believers should pray in the morning.  If you are going to get up early in the morning for some serious prayer time, then you’d have to be earnest!  It is good to have a time alone with God in the morning, praying and reading the Bible.  If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it is, shouldn’t your best spiritual meal be in the morning as well?

David was most likely fleeing Absalom when he wrote this (v. 1, cf. 2 Sam. 15:23).  He was separated from the ark which would have been considered “the sanctuary” (v. 2) and probably hiding in the desert (cf. 2 Sam. 15:25).  The desert became a metaphor for his parched spiritual condition.  He was thirsty for God.  When we are thirsty, we should drink the water of the Word (cf. Eph. 5:26).

We sing a song in our church based on verse 3.  When I used to sing it, I didn’t understand how God’s lovingkindness (hesed!) could be better than life.  If you had His lovingkindness and were dead, what good was that?  Then I figured out that I’d be alive with Him if I died so His lovingkindness was better than being alive down here!  The thought caused David and should cause us to “lift up our hands” to praise Him (v. 4)!  In fact, praising God is better than a steak dinner at Elmo’s in downtown Indianapolis (v. 5).  I’ve never had a steak dinner at Elmo’s but I’ve heard it’s pretty good.

Sometimes when I can’t sleep at night, I pray.  I don’t like to have insomnia but when I do, I pray.  So did David (v. 6).  Or maybe he just stayed up late and prayed.

Here is the wings thing again (v. 7).  We saw it in Pss. 17:8; 36:7; 55:6; 57:1; and 61:4.  I don’t know what it is but I feel comforted just thinking of being under God’s wings, don’t you?

Some people thought I was crazy years ago but I thought that John 20:17 was an important verse.  They thought I was nuts.  It says,  “Jesus said to her, ‘Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, “‘”I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.”’”  I think that is the place to be, at His feet, “clinging.”  Why wait till you’re at the end of your rope to cling to Him?  Why not always cling to Him?  He may have left the earth but He left the Holy Spirit for us.  No other generations have ever had the indwelling of the Spirit like we do (cf. John 16:7, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you”).  We need to “cling” to Jesus (v. 8).

Why wouldn’t God just crush David’s enemies?  He uses our enemies, trials, and hardships to bring us closer to Him (v. 9).  Look how David grew as he suffered.  Despite what you might hear on TV, suffering is part of the Christian life (cf. Rom. 5:3-5; 1 Pet. 2:21).

David trusts that the Lord will avenge him (vv. 9b-10) while he will end up celebrating (v. 11).  It is OK to celebrate when your enemies (v. 11c) are subdued (cf. Prov. 24:17). So if Butler goes further into the NCAA basketball tournament than Indiana, Notre Dame or Purdue, I can be happy but I can’t really rub it in to anyone.  

Proverbs 11:20-21  Bask-et Makers

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Everyone thinks that God is just all love, love, love.  We call that “sloppy agape.”  Personally, I’m glad that evil people are going to get what’s coming to them (v. 21a).  Aren’t you?   If not, why do you watch Liam Neeson movies or enjoy it when the abused main character finally offs his nemesis in a violent way?  Don’t you think someone like Hitler or Attila the Hun deserve to be punished?  God will set the world straight one day.  It won’t happen after this next election.  It will happen when the Lord comes back.

Evil people are an abomination to the Lord (v. 20a).  He doesn’t like them.  He delights in those who are doing His will and following the Holy Spirit (vv. 20b, 21b, cf. Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18).

Are you trying to do God’s will with all your heart (cf. Jer. 29:13)?  God likes you for that.  In fact, He delights in you.  Do you feel like He delights in you?  You don’t have to.  But He does.  Bask in that.

Choose Life: Scripture:  Luke 4:13   NASB    “Toast For The Devil”

“When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.”  Luke 4:13

The devil tempted Jesus to sin and to submit to him.  He was unsuccessful.  So he retreated for a while and waited in hiding until he could possibly find another time when Jesus was weak.  He thought he had found the perfect opportunity when Christ was crucified but drats! he failed again and even in a bigger way.  Oh, well, such is the life of a devil.  (Or the devil, there’s only one devil but many demons.)

Peter warns us that the devil wanders about looking for someone to eat for lunch (“devour,” 1 Pet. 5:8).  If you don’t know he’s doing that, you’re his chow for the day anyway.  You need to Watch Out!   Then the antidote to his venom is to “resist” him (cf. 1 Pet. 5: 9; James 4:7; Eph. 6:11, “stand” is from the same root as “resist”).  You don’t want to be Lucifer’s toast and jam for breakfast.

Is the devil plaguing you today?  Resist him and stand firm against him.  Put up your shield of faith (cf. Eph. 6: 16) and use your “sword of the Spirit” which is “the Word of God” (cf. Eph. 6:17).

If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!

Fun Application: 

Jesus met the devil’s attacks with Scripture (cf. Matt. 4:4, 6-7).  How much Scripture do you know?  Hold on to the promises of God so you do not turn out to be a meal for the devil.

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:  Shake It Up

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