Thursday, November 11, 2010

Instructions from Numbers

 "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the
Scriptures we might have hope."  Rom. 15:4


The Old Testament book of Numbers tells the story of Israel's wilderness journey from Mt. Sinai to the plains of Moab.  Traditionally, Moses is the ascribed author.  The story's chief characters include Moses, Aaron, Miriam, Joshua and Caleb.  The closing chapters record Israel's return to God's favor after repenting of their sin of rebellion.  The message that rebellion, unbelief and grumbling hinder God's glory and blessing clearly emerges from the tales of Numbers and is reiterated as a warning to Christians in the New Testament passage of 1 Cor. 10:1-14.


"Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.  Do not be idolaters, as some of them were…The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.  Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and 23,000 fell in one day.  Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.  Nor grumble as some of them did and were destroyed by the destroyer.  Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.  Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall!"  1 Cor. 10:6-12

This lesson takes a different twist: finding instructions from the Old Testament book of Numbers strategically inserted in the New Testament book of 1 Corinthians written by the apostle Paul.  Dr. Henrietta Mears, in her book What the Bible is All About, wrote:

"The wonderful church at Corinth, the brilliant jewel in the crown of Paul's labor, was failing.  The worldliness of the city had infected the fellowship of believers.  It was alright for the church to be in Corinth, but it was fatal when Corinth got into the church."

Paul implored the Corinthians to beware of the evil cravings of this world that lead to destruction but rather to strongly desire God, the only Source of true satisfaction.  Rebellion, unbelief and grumbling hinder God's glory, blessings, work and purposes.

How wise for us as believers in Jesus Christ to take inventory of any worldliness that may have infected our lives, our families, our churches and our communities.  Jesus asked the Father in John 17 that though His disciples are in the world to help us not be of the world. 

Instruction:  Let us heed God's warnings lest we fall into sin!  Let us ask the Holy Spirit, to reveal any act of immorality, evil craving, trying God, idolatry, worldliness or grumbling in our lives and to show us God's way of escape promised in 1 Cor. 10:13.  Let us confess our sins, for God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness!  (1 John 1:9)  May we affect the world around us for Christ without being infected by the world!


"Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, 'Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, 'Thus you shall bless the sons of Israel, you shall say to them:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.'
So (the priests) shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I then will bless them."  Numbers 6:22-27

Zondervan study notes:  "The teaching of (Numbers) has a lasting significance for Israel and for the church.  God does display His wrath even against His errant (straying) people, but His grace is renewed as surely as is the dawn and His redemptive purpose will not be thwarted!"

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your grace, forgiveness and redemptive power!  Thank You that by Your mighty transforming power, we are able to be in the world but not of it!

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be upon you all!" 2 Cor. 13:14

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