Day 59: On the move

Numbers 20-21; Mark 7:24-37

Key Verses

Numbers 20:24
“Let Aaron be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land that I have given to the people of Israel, because you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah.”

Mark 7:37
And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Three days ago we read at the end of Numbers 14… that because of unbelief, the people would have to wait 40 years to enter the land. Numbers 15 begins with, “When you come into the land you are to inhabit, which I am giving you…” In other words, God was gracious and reaffirmed that despite the 40-year delay, He would, in fact, give the people the land.

The next 5 chapters (15-19) described how the Israelites should observe the law – in the land. Their life in the promised land would be different from life in the wilderness – the changes in the law reflected this change.

Today, we come to Numbers 20, and the 40 years are almost complete. The people gather together in the wilderness of Zin – which is just south of Canaan and happens to be the same area the spies first crossed on their way into Canaan years earlier. But that generation has passed away and we see that their children – though still rebellious, are not quite as bad as their fathers… Rather, the focus switches to Moses’ and Aaron’s rebellion. The consequences for their disobedience are severe, as Aaron dies and Moses is prohibited from entering the land.

We also read of the Israelites marching northward through the Transjordan (the land East of the Jordan River) and we see God’s favor return to His people as they defeat the kings of the Transjordan.

It’s an exciting time :) We are on the verge of seeing God fulfill a promise He first made to Abraham hundreds of years earlier!

But ultimately, all of God’s promises are fulfilled in the person of Jesus – who we find traveling to Jews in the outer most regions of Tyre, Sidon and the Decapolis in today’s reading from Mark. This may sound trite, but I love Jesus. I love watching his movements and actions. I LOVE reading about his healings. I can almost imagine myself being pressed on all sides by the crowds – hoping to catch just the glance of his eye…  When I read Mark’s gospel, I feel like I’m watching personified compassion on the move :)

Until tomorrow… when the plot thickens ;)

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Day 56: The Tragedy of Unbelief

Numbers 13-14; Mark 6:1-29

Key Verses

Numbers 14:11
And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?

Mark 6:5-6
And [Jesus] could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.

God does not work in the midst of unbelief…

In today’s passage in Numbers, we read of the gross unbelief of the Israelites. Except for Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb… the rest of the people refused to trust in God’s promises, and therefore they disobeyed God’s good word. The consequences were severe… no one would enter the land – except Joshua and Caleb and the children. God promised that in a span of 40 years, everyone in the current generation would die.

The people, hearing the harsh judgment, immediately backtracked and made a half-hearted attempt to take the land. But God was not with them, and they were brutally defeated.

This is a hard lesson. God does not work in the midst of unbelief. If we are actively disobeying Him, can we expect Him to work in our lives?? Even Jesus, in the midst of his hometown rejection, could not perform the usual mighty display of miracles. His power was limited in the face of rejection.

Ultimately, God’s promises are always fulfilled. The people of the next generation inherited the land. But those who disobeyed missed the blessing! God will accomplish his good plans for the world – with or without us…

God, please help me to obey. Help me to trust in your good word, and give me the faith to choose your ways over my own desires and plans. Please God, don’t let me miss the blessing! Oh God… “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Day 43: The Story of All Stories

Leviticus 16; Matthew 26:57-75

Key Verses

Leviticus 16:34
“And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.”

Matthew 26:65-66
Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He, [Jesus,] has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.”

Leviticus 16 describes the Day of Atonement. It was this day, only once a year, that the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place and make atonement for himself and for the people. The sins of the people were ceremonially transferred to a goat, the scapegoat, and it carried the iniquity of the people away to the wilderness.

The temple, the ceremonies, the High Priest… all of it pointed forward to the Messiah. But the people didn’t expect the Messiah, their Savior, to be a suffering servant. Even Peter, compelled by fear and crushed by the grief of unmet expectations, denied knowing Jesus in the end. And ironically, it is the High Priest, the appointed mediator between God and the people, that sentences the Messiah to death. Christ is left alone to accomplish what He alone could do.

John Bloom writes from the September 18, 2010 entry of the Desiring God blog: “Jesus turned out to be far more than the Messiah had been expected to be. He was the consummate temple, Passover lamb, sacrificed goat, scapegoat, high priest, prophet and the King of kings.”

God can write a story! God is the ultimate author, originating all literary techniques such as irony, foreshadowing, symbolism. And to think… we are actually characters in His story. Amazing…

But when Christ came as the high priest of the good things we now have, he entered the greater and more perfect tent. It is not made by humans and does not belong to this world. Christ entered the Most Holy Place only once—and for all time. He did not take with him the blood of goats and calves. His sacrifice was his own blood, and by it he set us free from sin forever. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a cow are sprinkled on the people who are unclean, and this makes their bodies clean again. How much more is done by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:11-14. NCV).

Day 41: The Priesthood

Leviticus 8-10; Matthew 26:26-56

Key Verses

Leviticus 9:7
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Draw near to the altar and offer your sin offering and your burnt offering and make atonement for yourself and for the people, and bring the offering of the people and make atonement for them, as the Lord has commanded.”

Matthew 26:27-28
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

As first instructed back in Exodus 29, Leviticus 8 records the ordination of Aaron and his sons as priests. It is a glorious time – a monumental event in the history of the Israelite people! The priesthood has been established! God has provided a way for a sinful people to draw near to a holy God!

Leviticus 9 records Aaron’s first priestly duties. It sets forth a model of worship that remains relevant to the believer today…

  • He begins by offering a sin offering first for himself and then for the people. Having atoned for the sins of the congregation,
  • He offers a burnt offering as a sign of total devotion and thanksgiving to the Lord.
  • Finally, Aaron offers a peace offering as a symbol that God and the people have been reconciled through the blood of the offerings.

God was pleased with Aaron, and the offerings were accepted! Aaron and the priesthood would now act as the mediator between God and the people.

Leviticus 10 is a severe reminder that worship is not just a list of duties to be performed, but must come from an undivided heart. All four of Aaron’s sons failed to keep a portion of the priestly duties. Aaron’s oldest sons were killed for offering “unauthorized fire.” The implication was that they were cavalier in their duties. God does not tolerate flippant pride. Aaron’s younger two sons did not eat the sin offering as commanded. But they were spared because their motivation was out of fear for the holiness of God. God has always been more concerned with the heart than with outward actions.

In fact, Jeremiah prophesied that there would be a new covenant and it would be written on the heart.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel… I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jesus is the mediator of this new covenant – the covenant of grace. He institutes “the Lord’s supper” as he eats his last meal with the disciples recorded in Matthew 26. Jesus says that this is the “blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). We celebrate this new covenant each time we take communion. It is a meal that points forward to a day when we will eat and drink with Jesus face to face…

“I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29).

Until that day, we are called to worship our God with all of our heart…

  • Because of Jesus’ perfect sin offering, we can draw near to God.
  • We make our burnt offering as we devote our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to the Lord (Rom 12:1),
  • And we make our peace offering as we confess the gospel of reconciliation to the world.

According to Peter, we are now the priesthood! And we are to offer “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:5).

Day 59: On the move

Numbers 20-21; Mark 7:24-37

Three days ago we read at the end of Numbers 14… that because of unbelief, the people would have to wait 40 years to enter the land. Numbers 15 begins with, “When you come into the land you are to inhabit, which I am giving you…” In other words, God is gracious and reaffirms that despite the 40 year delay, He will, in fact, give the people the land.

The next 5 chapters (15-19) describe how the Israelites should observe the law – in the land. Their life in the promised land would be different from life in the wilderness – the changes in the law reflected this change.

Now we come to Numbers 20. And the 40 years are almost complete. The people gather together in the wilderness of Zin – which is just south of Canaan and happens to be the same area the spies first crossed on their way into Canaan years earlier. But that generation has passed away and we see that their children – though still rebellious, are not quite as bad as their fathers… Rather, the focus switches to Moses’ and Aaron’s rebellion. The consequences for their disobedience are severe, as Aaron dies and Moses is prohibited from entering the land.

We also read of the Israelites marching northward through the Transjordan (the land East of the Jordan River) and we see God’s favor return to His people as they defeat the kings of the Transjordan.

It’s an exciting time :) We are on the verge of seeing God fulfill a promise He first made to Abraham hundreds of years earlier!

But ultimately, all of God’s promises are fulfilled in the person of Jesus – who we find traveling to Jews in the outer most regions of Tyre, Sidon and the Decapolis in today’s reading from Mark. This may sound trite, but I love Jesus. I love watching his movements and actions. I LOVE reading about his healings. I can almost imagine myself being pressed on all sides by the crowds – hoping to catch just the glance of his eye…  When I read Mark’s gospel, I feel like I’m watching personified compassion on the move :)

Until tomorrow… when the plot thickens ;)

Day 56: The tragedy of unbelief

Numbers 13-14; Mark 6:1-29

God does not work in the midst of unbelief…

And [Jesus] could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief (Mark 6:5-6).

In today’s passage in Numbers, we read of the gross unbelief of the Israelites. Except for Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb… the rest of the people refused to trust in God’s promises, and therefore they disobeyed God’s good word. The consequences were severe… no one would enter the land – except Joshua and Caleb and the children. God promised that in a span of 40 years, everyone in the current generation would die…

The people, hearing the harsh judgment, immediately backtracked and made a half-hearted attempt to take the land. But God was not with them, and they were brutally defeated.

This is a hard lesson. God does not work in the midst of unbelief. If we are actively disobeying Him, can we expect Him to work in our lives?? Even Jesus, in the midst of his hometown rejection, could not perform the usual mighty display of miracles. His power was limited in the face of rejection.

Ultimately, God’s promises are always fulfilled. The people of the next generation inherited the land. But those who disobeyed missed the blessing! God will accomplish his good plans for the world – with or without us…

God, please help me to obey. Help me to trust in your good word, and give me the faith to choose your ways over my own desires and plans. Please God, don’t let me miss the blessing! Oh God… ““I believe; help my unbelief!”

Day 43: The story of all stories

Leviticus 16; Matthew 26:57-75

Leviticus 16 describes the Day of Atonement. It was this day, only once a year, that the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place and make atonement for himself and for the people. The sins of the people were ceremonially transferred to a goat, the scapegoat, and it carried the iniquity of the people away to the wilderness.

The temple, the ceremonies, the High Priest… all of it pointed forward to the Messiah. But the people didn’t expect the Messiah, their Savior, to be a suffering servant. Even Peter, compelled by fear and crushed by the grief of unmet expectations, denied knowing Jesus in the end. And ironically, it is the High Priest, the appointed mediator between God and the people, that sentences the Messiah to death. Christ is left alone to accomplish what He alone could do.

John Bloom writes from the September 18, 2010 entry of the Desiring God blog: “Jesus turned out to be far more than the Messiah had been expected to be. He was the consummate temple, Passover lamb, sacrificed goat, scapegoat, high priest, prophet and the King of kings.

God can write a story! God is the ultimate author, originating all literary techniques such as irony, foreshadowing and symbolism. And to think… we are actually characters in His story. Amazing…

But when Christ came as the high priest of the good things we now have, he entered the greater and more perfect tent. It is not made by humans and does not belong to this world. Christ entered the Most Holy Place only once—and for all time. He did not take with him the blood of goats and calves. His sacrifice was his own blood, and by it he set us free from sin forever. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a cow are sprinkled on the people who are unclean, and this makes their bodies clean again. How much more is done by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:11-14. NCV).

Day 41: The Priesthood

Leviticus 8-10; Matthew 26:26-56

As first instructed back in Exodus 29, Leviticus 8 records the ordination of Aaron and his sons as priests. It is a glorious time – a monumental event in the history of the Israelite people! The priesthood has been established! God has provided a way for a sinful people to draw near to a holy God!

Leviticus 9 records Aaron’s first priestly duties. It sets forth a model of worship that remains relevant to the believer today…

  • He begins by offering a sin offering first for himself and then for the people. Having atoned for the sins of the congregation..
  • He offers a burnt offering as a sign of total devotion and thanksgiving to the Lord.
  • Finally, Aaron offers a peace offering as a symbol that God and the people have been reconciled through the blood of the offerings.

God was pleased with Aaron, and the offerings were accepted! Aaron and the priesthood would now act as the mediator between God and the people.

Leviticus 10 is a severe reminder that worship is not just a list of duties to be performed, but must come from an undivided heart. All four of Aaron’s sons failed to keep a portion of the priestly duties. Aaron’s oldest sons were killed for offering “unauthorized fire.” The implication was that they were cavalier in their duties. God does not tolerate flippant pride. Aaron’s younger two sons did not eat the sin offering as commanded. But they were spared because their motivation was out of fear for the holiness of God. God has always been more concerned with the heart than with outward actions.

In fact, Jeremiah prophesied that there would be a new covenant and it would be written on the heart.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel… I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jesus is the mediator of this new covenant – the covenant of grace. He institutes “the Lord’s supper” as he eats his last meal with the disciples recorded in Matthew 26. Jesus says that this is the “blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). We celebrate this new covenant each time we take communion. It is a meal that points forward to a day when we will eat and drink with Jesus face to face…

“I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29).

Until that day, we are called to worship our God with all of our heart…

  • Because of Jesus’ perfect sin offering, we can draw near to God.
  • We make our burnt offering as we devote our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to the Lord (Rom 12:1),
  • And we make our peace offering as we confess the gospel of reconciliation to the world.

According to Peter, we are now the priesthood! And we are to offer “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:5).