Old Testament: Numbers 10:1-11:23
Numbers 10:1-7 Trumped-Up Charges
Trumpet calls were used to signal various moves. One was to announce a continuance in the march, one to assemble all the people, one to call just the tribe leaders, one for the movement of the eastern tribes and one for the southern tribes. Trumpets back then didn’t have finger buttons but were simply long with a flared bell.
Numbers 10:8-36 Move ‘Em Out!
Only twenty days after being given instructions on how to proceed to their land, the cloud lifted from the camp signaling the time to start to move. The first destination was the Desert of Paran (Num. 10: 12). The Tabernacle was taken down according to the tribes’ instructions and the Israelites moved out in the order God had commanded (Num. 2:3-31). The first leg of the journey was three days with the ark being carried in the front of the procession (Num. 3:33). Moses led the Israelites in a type of military cry, “Rise up, O Lord! And let Your enemies be scattered, And let those who hate You flee before You” (Num. 10:35). This presaged the military campaigns to come.
Numbers 11:1-9 Whiney Pants
Not long after the Israelites shoved off, the whining started. It made Yahweh angry and He set the outer fields on fire. In fact, there may have been some people in the field at the time . . . who got burnt! The word “camp” could mean the people in the camp (Num. 11:1). Moses interceded and the fire went out. The field was named Taberah which meant “burning.”
The people missed the free fish they got in Egypt served with vegetables. They apparently forgot the whippings and brick-making. They wanted meat. Man-o, man-o, man-o, they wanted meat but only got manna. The manna was multi-purpose. It was used for baking and could be boiled. It tasted like cake baked with oil (Num. 11: 8). The manna would come with the dew that fell at night (Num. 11: 9).
Numbers 11:10-15 Where God and Moses Meat
Moses started whining, too. “Why do I have to put up with all these bellyaching people? They are so irritating. Why don’t you just shoot me?” I put this in the vernacular.
Numbers 11:16-23 70 + 600,000
Yahweh told Moses to collect seventy elders and God would put His Spirit on them, too. This was to lessen Moses’ load. Then Yahweh would give the Israelites so much meat for an entire month that it would be squirting out their noses (Num. 11: 20)! Moses said, “How are we going to feed all these 600,000 people?” (Remember the disciples and the feeding of the four thousand and the five thousand?) God said, “You’ll see.”
New Testament: Mark 14:1-21
Mark 14:1-11 A Good Drip And A Big Drip
Two days before the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, the religious leaders were trying to figure out the best way to murder Jesus. They were afraid to try anything during the festival days because they thought it could stir up the people who like Jesus.
Meanwhile, Jesus was just outside of town in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper. Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (John 12: 3), broke a very expensive vial of perfume broke it over Jesus’ head. It was probably worth what a man would make in a year. Judas came unglued (John 12: 4). He apparently stirred up the other disciples, too, who said it was a big waste. They said they could have sold the perfume and used it to help a lot of poor people. Jesus said they could help the poor anytime but now was their only opportunity to honor His death while He was still on earth. Jesus said Mary was readying His body for burial. Apparently, Mary caught on to what the disciples had not, Jesus was going to die. Jesus said Mary would be commemorated forever for what she had done.
Judas traipsed off to the chief priests to make a deal to turn Jesus over to them. He was greedy but also disappointed that Jesus was not going to initiate a new government. He had only a worldly perspective on things that opened him to doing Satan’s bidding. The chief priests were glad to see him and offered him cash for Jesus. Judas started contemplating the best way and time to work his evil.
Mark 14:12-21 A Big Dip
The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was when the Passover Lamb was sacrificed. The disciples asked Jesus where they should prepare the Passover supper? Jesus told them to go into Jerusalem and they’d find a man carrying a pitcher of water (Mark 14: 13). Jesus told them to ask the man where the guest room was where they could have dinner (Mark 14:14).
That night while they were eating (they ate laying on their sides around the food), Jesus told them that one of them would betray Him. They all had guilty consciences and asked, “Not me . . . right?” Jesus said it was one who was a dip . . . no, wait . . . He said it was the one who dipped into the bowl at the same time He did. Jesus said it would have been better for that guy to never have been born! Can you guess who it was? Would you have had a guilty conscience, too?
Psalm 51:1-19 A Lament Psalm by David
Psalm 51:1-19 A Con Fessin’
Jeremiah 17:9 says that our hearts are “deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt” and no one can understand our situations. Romans 5:12 indicates that we are all born in sin. One man was not born with sin, that was Jesus Christ because he had a Divine Father.
So even David, who was the “apple of God’s eye,” was sinful. Though he trusted God more than most men who have ever lived, he still let God down and sometimes in a very grave way. He committed adultery with one of his trusted soldier’s wife, Bathsheba. Then to cover it up, he manipulated her husband’s death. It took his very good friend, the prophet Nathan, to gently reveal his sinful nature to David. He didn’t even realize how badly he had sinned (cf. 2 Sam. 12, esp. v. 7, and A Famous Hot Dog).
Once David realized what he had done, he wrote Psalm 51, a penitential psalm, meaning he should have been put in a penitentiary. Well, actually, it means he was sorry for what he had done. It represents a good pattern of prayer for us when we want God to know how badly we’d like Him to restore us.
Notice the first thing about David. He doesn’t try to hide his sin. He did at once point but now he is coming clean with God. He asks God to “blot out” his sin and then “wash” and “clean” him (v. 1b, 2). He is depending on the binding love God has for him that he won’t be rejected (v. 1a, “lovingkindness” is hesed, God’s binding, covenantal love).
Though David may not have written Ps. 66, he would have agreed with the writer’s sentiment that if he had “regarde[d] wickedness in [his] heart, The Lord [would] not have hear[d]” but he knew that “God ha[d] heard; He ha[d] given heed to the voice of [his] prayer” (Ps. 66:18-19).
He knew he had to “come clean” about his sins. 1 John 1:9 is the most famous verse about the confession of sins. It says we need to agree with God about our sins. That is what the word “confess” means in Greek, homologeo. Homologeo literally means “homo,” same, and “legeo,” say. Thus, say the same thing.
Nathan told David what he had done and David was now agreeing with God about it (v. 3).
You might have thought David had sinned against Bathsheba or you might have thought, for sure, he had sinned against her husband. He stole his wife and then killed him on top of it! But David knows that, primarily, he had sinned against God. Did you realize that when you sin, you may hurt others and yourself, but foremost you have sinned against God (v. 4)?
Romans 5:12 indicates that when we are born, we are sinful. We are sinful from birth! The theological term for this is “original sin.” David understood that. He says that he “was brought forth in iniquity” and was even “conceived in sin” (v. 5). That doesn’t mean that his parents committed a sin when they had him but it does mean they were both sinful humans beings (cf. Rom. 3:23).
David realized that God expects all of us to be honest. That is how we come to the truth and how we grow (v. 6). He knew it was God Who had to cleanse him from the inside out (vv. 7-8). Joy comes from the cleansing God gives.
Remember Jesus cleaned the disciples’ feet? Peter objected? Jesus’ answer was that either Peter had to let Jesus clean him or else their relationship was finished (cf. John 13:8). When you come to God in confession, do you expect Him to clean you? Jesus told the disciples that they only needed their feet cleansed if they already knew Him (cf. John 13:10). If they had already been cleansed, which they had when they trusted Him, then they only needed their feet buffed each day. That meant, just as they might pick up dirt off the road when they traveled through life and needed their feet polished, so they needed to take at least a sponge bath every day, spiritually speaking. Such confession results in “joy” (v. 8a) and having all sins “blotted out” (v. 9).
David asks the Lord to cleanse him in his innermost being, his heart and spirit (v. 10).
In the Old Testament era, no one had the Holy Spirit living in them as we do today (cf. Rom. 8:9, 16). David was anointed by the Holy Spirit and was afraid that God might take the Holy Spirit from him because of his sin (v. 11). Again, David asks for his joy to be restored (v. 12, cf. v. 8). He also asks God to help him to do the right things (v. 12b).
Everybody sins (Rom. 3:20). Everybody. Even David. Even Moses. Even Abraham. Even you! Even me! What can we do about it? We can confess our sin, of course. But one good thing we can do is help other sinners. We should “teach transgressors” the ways of God (v. 13). Teachers should not put themselves so high on pedestals that people think we are gods and can’t reach our level. What teachers should do is be models of what good Christians should be (cf. 1 Thess. 1:6; 2 Thes. 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:13; 1 Pet. 5:3) Part of that is to use our past failures to try to help other sinners. Someone once said, “we are all just beggars sharing bread.” That would include introducing people to Christ (v. 13b) as well as teaching them how to avoid sin and sharing how bad the results are of sin.
David asks God to pardon him of the murder of Uriah (v. 14a). Again, he speaks of the joy of being exonerated (v. 14b).
Of course, David will praise the Lord for forgiving him for murder and adultery (v. 15). Wouldn’t you? Would you? You would, wouldn’t you? Do you rejoice every day that the Lord has pardoned you after He saved you? Do you? (Do I? Hey, let’s stay on you. OK. Yeah. I need to work on it.)
God doesn’t care as much about the people’s expensive sacrifices (v. 16). What God really wants is our humility, “a broken and contrite heart” (v. 17) Without humility, we can’t have a relationship with him and we can’t grow (see The Virtue Of Humility). The reason God won’t “despise” a “broken or contrite heart” is because they are at the core of a believer’s life.
If God forgives David, it will be good for Zion, that is, Jerusalem, that is Israel because David is the king of Israel (v. 18). What is good for David is good for Israel.
When a person has a right heart and you are in a right relationship with the Lord, then whatever you do for the Lord, is acceptable when done in the power of the Spirit (v. 19).
And that’s no bull.
Proverbs 10:31-32 Mouthy
A mature believer is someone with whom you’d want to have a conversation (v. 31a). Dorky people should have their mouths sewn shut (v. 31b).
A believer talks about things that are important and you want to hear about (v. 32a). Wicked people sound like their dialogue comes out of a Tarantino movie (v. 32b).
Choose Life: Scripture: Numbers 11:19-20 NASB “A Book Of Whiners”
“‘You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you; because you have rejected the LORD who is among you and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”” Numbers 11:19-20
Have you ever heard the expression, “Be careful what you ask for”? I guess the Israelites hadn’t heard it.
The book of Numbers could have just as accurately been dubbed the book of Whiners. The Israelites continue to complain and complain. They even complained so much that Moses himself started complaining (Nu. 11: 11-15)!
They wondered why they had left Egypt. Of course, when they were in Egypt they wondered why God didn’t lead them out of Egypt. Some people are just hard to please. So I understand Moses whining since he had to lead all of the other whiners. He is in the great pattern of another wonderful whiner, Jeremiah (e.g. Jer. 15:15-18).
The Israelites were upset because they didn’t get any meat to eat. All they got was that manna stuff, day in and day out. They weren’t content with bread from Heaven. They wanted meat. So, since they didn’t know that old adage, “be careful what you ask for,” they kept bugging God for meat. So . . . He gave it to them, as He promised. He said He would give them meat for a whole month till it came out of their nostrils (Num. 11:31-34).
The people picked up about 86 gallons of quails that had dropped into the camp. That’s a lot of meat! And the people had lusted for it. So while they were still chewing, God struck them with sickness (v. 33). Be careful what you ask for.
If you are, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
Fun Application: 1 John 5:14-15 (This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him”) tells us to ask God for things that are His will. That would be a good way to avoid the sin of the Israelites in asking for meat. Ask yourself, “What am I asking God for?” Are you asking for things to satisfy your own lust or are you asking for things that line up with God’s will?
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: A Big Drip and A Big Dip, Too