Old Testament: Numbers 33:40-35:34
Numbers 33:40-49 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” (Matt. 28:19-20). Deut. 1:31 says while they were going through all their trials in the wilderness, those were the times God was “carrying” them.
Numbers 33:50-56 Thorns In Their Sides
The smaller tribes got a smaller inheritance and the larger, a larger inheritance (Num. 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 (Num. 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 (Luke 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” (Luke 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” 1 Cor. 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 (Luke 5: 28).
Psalm 65:1-13 A Thanksgiving Psalm by David
Psalm 65:1-13 Thank God!
Psalms 65 through 67 (and possibly 68) are all Psalms of Thanksgiving as voiced by the entire community of Jews. We just saw at the end of Psalm 64 that believers will rejoice at the culmination of all things because God is going to set everything and everyone straight. There will finally be true justice for all. No one will get away with anything! Well, except those who have trusted Christ to pay the price for them (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Cor. 6:20).
This psalm could be seen as expressing the environment in Heaven at the beginning of the Millennium (v. 1). There will be silence not long before the Millennium begins at the breaking of the seventh seal (cf. Rev. 8:1). Silence is an important part of worship. My son once attended a service in his college town that observed an entire hour of silence every week. That may not be necessary but do you ever take time to just sit before the Lord in silence and worship (cf. 2 Sam. 7:18).
David vowed to keep his promises to God (v. 1b). Do you keep your promises to God?
The best way to begin a prayer to God is with praise (vv. 2, 4-13), followed by confession of sins (v. 3). David has structured this prayer the same way. He inserts confidence that God will hear him and he will be blessed (v. 4) before moving to a description of nature (vv. 5-8) that God has graciously given to us to provide for our bodily needs (vv. 9-13).
Have you ever heard anyone use the expression, “Thank God!” Did they really mean they were thanking God? You can use this prayer to actually thank God for providing everything you need (cf. Phil. 4:19; Matt. 5:25-34).
David praises God for the earth and seas (v. 5), the mountains (v. 6), the seas and oceans (v. 7), and the dawn and sunset (v. 8).
David lived in an agrarian society and depended on God for the harvest each year for sustenance. Farmers and people closer to the earth than most suburbanites can appreciate God’s sovereignty over nature. So David thanks God for water (v. 9), ground to grow crops (v. 10), bountiful harvests (vv. 11-13), and abundant livestock (v. 13a).
Let heavens (v. 8b) and nature sing! And they are (v. 13c)!
Proverbs 11:23 Two Kinds Of People
Jesus said, “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. ‘But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!'” (Matt. 6:22-23). In other words, if you keep your desire pure, you will be pure.
And if you keep your desires pure, then you will “Delight yourself in the LORD . . . He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psa. 37:4).
When you put those two sets of verses together you get: “The desire of the righteous is only good” (v. 23a). You will desire what God wants you to have and then you’ll get what you want. Then you’ll be happy!
On the other hand, “the expectation of the wicked is wrath” (v. 23b). That is because they go against God’s will. God will put them in their place. And you know what that place is.
C.S. Lewis once said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. Those who knock it is opened.'”
Choose Life: Scripture: Numbers 33: 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49 NASB “Interview With Reggie Jackson”
“They journeyed . . . and camped . . . They journeyed . . . and camped . . . They journeyed . . . and camped . . . They journeyed . . . and camped . . . They journeyed . . . and camped . . . . They journeyed . . . and camped . . . They journeyed . . . and camped . . . . They journeyed . . . and camped . . . They camped . . . . ” Numbers 33:41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49
Years ago when I worked in radio, I got free media tickets to see my team, the New York Yankees, play the Chicago White Sox. A couple years earlier the star of the Yankees, Reggie Jackson, had hit three home runs in a World Series game tying a record with Babe Ruth. (Since then two others have equalled that feat but they don’t count because they weren’t Yankees.) At the time, Reggie, a Christian, had given credit to the Lord. So I asked him about it.
He gave a good answer. He asked if he had struck out three times in the game should he blame the Lord? (It was a rhetorical question.) He said to me, “Let me tell you a little story, (punctuating his sentences with spit from his tobacco chew) there once was a person walking along the beach . . . . ” He proceeded to tell the story of Footprints in the Sand as if it was a segment of “Fractured Fairy Tales” from the Rocky And Bullwinkle show. But he got the last line right, “Those were the times I carried you (cf. Deut. 1:31, “and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.’”)! Then he turned abruptly and walked away. (A teammate once said that Reggie was such a big hot dog that all the mustard in the universe wouldn’t cover him. That’s OK. He was one of my Yankee heroes.)
Do you realize there are times God is carrying you?
If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
Fun Application: Can you think of any verses that indicate there are times that God is carrying you? Here are a few that might help you: Isaiah 41: 10; Joshua 1: 9; and Proverbs 3:5-6. Check them out.
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: Footprints In The Sand