Old Testament: Numbers 21:1-22:20
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Numbers 21:1-5 The First Arad Raid
The King of Arad attacked Israel. The people of Israel made a promise to the Lord that if He gave them victory, they would destroy Arad’s cities. He did and they did. The place was called Hormah.
They then set out to go around Edom. Guess what? The people started griping again because they were in the wilderness where they could die because the food was bad and they didn’t have any water. I had a day like that just today. Too bad they didn’t have “Rejoice always, again I say rejoice” (Phil. 4:4) or even “the joy of the Lord is my strength” (Neh. 8:10).
Numbers 21:6-20 A Snake On A Stick
The Lord sent some really mean snakes amongst the people. Some of snakes bit them and they died. The people realized their sin of speaking against Yahweh and Moses. They asked Moses to intercede for them [again!!]. Yahweh told Moses to make a serpent out of bronze, probably a similar color to the actual snakes (the word for serpent and bronze in Hebrew are similar), and put it up on a pole. Everyone who looked at the snake on the pole would be healed. Don’t tell the state fair people . . . “snake on a stick”?
The snake on a pole later became an object of worship during King Hezekiah’s reign so he had to destroy it. Paul used it as a warning (1 Cor. 10:9). Jesus used it as an illustration of salvation (John 3:14). Notice that anyone smitten by a snake only had to look upon the serpent on a pole. He or she did not have to go out and do any good works to prove it to be healed. So today, don’t believe anyone who tells you that you have to clean up your life or do anything before you trust Christ. Now afterwards, that’s a different story . . .
Numbers 21:21-35 No Wizard in Og, No Jabberwockys
The Israelites asked Sihon, the king of the Amorites, if he’d let them pass through his land. Sihon said, “No.” They passed through anyway. A battle ensued. The Israelites won. They gained control of Sihon’s land including the Brook of Jabbok, home of the Jabberwockys. Wait, no, sorry Lewis Carrol. It was where Jacob fought the “man,” better known as “The Man” (Gen. 32:22). The “Angel of the Lord”? Jesus?
Num. 21:27-32 is a proverb that basically says “my Dad is bigger than your Dad.” You Amorites beat the Moabites but WE beat you! HA (cf. Num. 20:26-27)!
The Israelites continued their tour of the middle east, going near Bashan. Og was the king there. He was a big boy. He slept in an iron bed that was thirteen and half feet long by six feet high (cf. Deut. 3:11 NIV). His nickname was “The Wizard.” No, it wasn’t. Yahweh told Moses not to dread him because Yahweh was going to give him over to Moses. Subsequently, they killed Og and all the Ogites. There were none left and moved into his land.
Numbers 22:1-20 Zip It Up
Then Israel camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan River across from Jericho.
Balak, the son of Zipper, I mean Zippor, saw how the Israelites were cleaning up Palestine. He figured he’d be the next victim. He figured he might need some extra mojo and thought he’d try some witchcraft, wicked witchcraft.
We first hear about the famous, or infamous, Balaam in Num. 22:5. We don’t know all we’d like to know about him. We don’t know if he was a believer, what kind of prophet he was, or how Balak had heard of him. Balak asked Balaam to put a spell on the Israelites. Balaam apparently had a reputation as a successful, if not always ethical prophet. Balak tried to buy him (Num. 22:7). Balaam told Balak’s messengers that he’d have to sleep on it and check with the Lord. Elohim told him it wasn’t going to work out to curse the Israelites because He was going to bless them. So Balaam sent the messengers back home.
Balak was not one to take “no” for an answer and sent even more of his messengers that were even more highfalutin’ back with an offer of even more money. Balaam told him that he couldn’t help them but if they wanted to spend the night, he’d check again with Yahweh Elohim. God told him he could go back with the messengers but he should only do what God told him. Why did Balaam ask God again? It must have galled him that he had to give up such a lucrative offer and the prestige that went with it.
New Testament: Luke 1:26-56
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Luke 1:26-38 The Big Event
Gabriel had appeared to Zechariah. Six months later he was about ready to inform Mary of the ” big event.” Mary was a virgin so she was just a little surprised but not unbelieving like Zechariah. She didn’t have the normal problem parents have in naming her baby. Gabe did it for her: Jesus. Mary wanted to know the method and the angel told her that the Holy Spirit perform a miracle in her. He told her even her formerly barren cousin, Elizabeth, was six months along. The angel said, “nothing will be impossible with God” (Lk. 1: 37). Mary said she was the Lord’s “bond servant” (v. 38 NASB) and God should feel free to do whatever He wanted. The angel absconded. Mary did, too, to go see her cousin.
Luke 1:39-45 Mary Drops In On Liz
When Mary came in and said, “hello,” the baby jumped in Liz’s womb. Liz was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42). Liz said she was blessed to just have Mary around, the mother of her Lord. And Mary was blessed for her faith (Luke 1:45).
Luke 1:46-56 Mary Sings A Magnificat Tune
Mary was so filled with joy, she sang a song. The song is often called The Magnificat since the first word of the passage in the Latin Vulgate translation is “magnifies.”
Mary stayed with Elizabeth for three months and then went back home to Nazareth.
Psalm 57:1-11 A Lament Psalm by David
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Psalm 57:1-11 A Day In The Life
Psalm 57 is not only a mikhtam like the last psalm but it is also an al-tashheth, according to the superscription. You may have thought he pitched for the old Brooklyn Dodgers. But actually al-tashheth means, “destroy not.” Wiersbe believes al-tashheth was a melody that was used for psalms 58-59, and 75 as well as this one.
David had fled to Gath but had been protected by God. Then he fled to the cave of Adullam (cf. 1 Sam. 22). This psalm covers his lying down (v. 4) until his waking up (v. 8). It is a day in his life as a fugitive.
One of the best ways to study Scripture is to slow down and actually notice the specifics of what you are reading. The wise old yogi, Yogi Berra, famously said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” It’s true. One of the most fruitful observations you can make is to note words and phrases that repeat. “Mercy” and “refuge” are repeated in verse 1, “send” is repeated in verse 3, “steadfast” in verse 7, and “awake” in verse 8. “Be exalted above the heavens, O God; let Your glory be above all the earth” is found in both verses 5 and 11. So what? Those all contribute to the theme of Psalm 57.
David is asking for mercy and refuge be sent from Heaven by God. The result will be that David will be steadfast and secure and alive to wake up the next day. God will end up being glorified (cf. John 14:13; 16:14).
David wants not to fly away as in Psalm 55:6 but to be sheltered under God’s wings (v. 1c). David will be secure despite being amongst lions (v. 4). Satan is like a lion (cf. 1 Pet. 5:8) but Jesus is a lion (cf. Rev. 5:5). His enemies have set up a trap for him but they’ve tripped and fallen into themselves (wait till we get to Ps. 64!).
Thought David can’t know 1 Corinthians 15:58 since it hasn’t been written yet, he knows the gist (v. 7). The thought causes him to rejoice. Acts 16:19-25 tells the story of Paul and Silas beating beaten, thrown in prison, then singing hymns. That’d be my first response. Wouldn’t it be yours? It should be (vv. 8-9, cf. Phil 4:4).
I love when this psalm says God should be exalted above the heavens (vv. 5, 11). Wouldn’t it be enough to be exalted on earth, below the heavens? What’s up above the heavens? Well, it’s Heaven (cf. 2 Cor. 12:1-4). God will be exalted in Heaven for His works!
David repeats the refrain twice to emphasize he is really serious about praising God as far as the highest Heaven. My mother used to say that something could stink to the high heavens. But I think it’s much better to pursue things that exalt God to the highest heavens.
Can you praise God for what He has done for you? As far as the highest Heaven? We should do that all day long. It should be the day in the life of a disciple.
Proverbs 11:9-11 My Kind Of Town
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You can see why the book of Proverbs is sometimes expounded by the various themes in the book instead of going through verse by verse. If you notice a lot of repetition it’s because the several themes are repeated.
Again, we see the power of speech. It can be used to hurt people but also used to help people (v. 9). The tongue is like the rudder of a boat. It can turn a situation to good or evil (cf. James 3:4-5).
People’s mouths can effect situations that cause people to cheer or cause people to jeer (vv. 10-11).
As I write this, the city of Chicago is in turmoil due to the protestors of free speech. They have caused the city to be in chaos. Hopefully, justice will prevail and the city will once again be able to rejoice.
Choose Life: Scripture: Numbers 21:9 NASB “Afraid Of Snakes?”
“And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.” Numbers 21: 9
Are you afraid of snakes? Most women would jump a chair to avoid them. I’m not fond of them myself. Satan came as a snake in the garden.
Yahweh sent a plague of snakes on the Israelites in Numbers 21. Many of them were snake-bit. I believe the snakes represented sin. They were bitten by sin. What was the antidote? God told Moses to put a snake on a pole and whoever would look at the snake would be healed.
Jesus used this passage to explain salvation to Nicodemus (“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life” John. 3:14-15). Nicky was a theologian. I wonder what he thought of such an easy solution to the sin problem.
This kind of solution goes against the grain of human nature. Humans always want to prove their worth to God. They want to think that they could do enough “good works” to make it into Heaven. They don’t want to accept that as sinners, there’s just no way. Scripture says all our righteous deeds are like “filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6, NIV). If our righteous deeds are like filthy rags, what must our bad deeds be like?
If you haven’t trusted Christ yet, today is the day (2 Cor. 6:3)! You don’t have to confess all your sins, just confess that you have sinned (Rom. 3:23). Then realize that Christ died in your place (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:8; Rom. 6:23). He took the place of the snake of your sin on the cross. All you have to do is look to Him in faith (Eph. 2:8-9).
If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
Fun Application: You don’t have to walk down an aisle, say a prayer, do any good deeds, or anything else to have eternal life. If you have just trusted Christ that He took your place and the death penalty you deserve, you will be saved. The Scripture affirms that you are now saved (cf. John 5:24; 1 John 5:13). Can you thank Him for it? (If you are already saved and distracted by all the cares of your world, can you at least thank Him for your salvation?)
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 Arad Raid