Day 53: The Word at work

Numbers 7; Mark 4:21-34

Key Verses

Numbers 7:89
And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim; and it spoke to him.

Mark 4:33
With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.

The Kingdom of God… it’s one of my favorite topics. In an earlier post I defined the Kingdom as a place with a ruler, a law and a people.

Today’s parables define another aspect of the Kingdom… the Word. The Word is the means of growing the Kingdom. What a person does with the Word will determine if he’s in the Kingdom or out… The Word is the picture and message of Jesus. The Word is the call to repent. The Word is the gospel – the good news that Jesus is the sacrifice.

  • The Word sheds light on the human heart – just as a lamp lights a dark room (Mark 4:21-22).
  • The Word will increase in a heart that is teachable, but to a hard heart, it will be taken away (Mark 4:23-25).
  • The Word is sown as a farmer sows a field, and just as the plant grows slowly – almost invisibly at first – so does the Kingdom grow… slowly and steadily until one day its branches will cover the whole garden! (Mark 4:26-34)

The Kingdom is invisible. But one day, we will see the place and the Ruler – face to face… Moses was only able to hear God speak. God would speak from above the mercy seat in between the cherubim (Numbers 7:89). Moses didn’t go behind the veil to the Holy of Holies where God’s presence dwelled. No. The veil had not yet been torn. The way had not yet been opened. The all-sufficient sacrifice had not yet been given.

Jesus comes and opens the way for the sinner to go behind the veil into the Holy of Holies. There will be no tabernacle in the new earth – for God will not need a veil to hide his Glory – Rather, his Glory will shine like the sun and his home will be with… his people.

I take great comfort in the promise that though the Kingdom is invisible and grows slowly – that one day it will be so vast that it will be seen by all! The same principle is true of the Word at work in my heart. It is my responsibility to sow the Word in my heart – to read, meditate and trust. And slowly, steadily the Word will produce fruit in my life. This is the way of faith. This is the way of the Kingdom!

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Day 51: The Precision of God

Numbers 3-4; Mark 3:22-35

Key Verses

Numbers 3:9-10
And you shall give the Levites to Aaron and his sons; they are wholly given to him from among the people of Israel. And you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall guard their priesthood.

Mark 3:35
“For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

Numbers 3 & 4 concentrate on numbering the Levites.

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine” (Numbers 3:12).

The ESV Study Bible explains: “In the last plague, every firstborn male Egyptian and every firstborn of their cattle died, but the Israelite boys and cattle were spared. So after this, all Israelite firstborn boys and cattle were dedicated to God. That meant the cattle were sacrificed and the boys should have served God in the sanctuary Ex. 11:4–13:15. But after the golden calf incident, the Levites took the place of the firstborn boys Ex. 32:25–29. The census showed there were 273 fewer Levites than first-born males in the other tribes. To redeem those 273 Israelites who had no Levite to take their place, five shekels (Num. 3:47) per person had to be paid. This is the tariff prescribed in Lev. 27:6 for boys under five. Five shekels would have been about a year’s pay for a herdsman.”

Do you notice the precision of God? Nothing was overlooked. Every detail was considered and described. God is a God of order, not chaos :)

Mark 3 contains a difficult saying of Jesus that is found in all 3 of the synoptic gospels…

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29).

It is helpful to consider the precise nature of God’s character when interpreting this verse. Jesus was not being elusive. His speech was plain and precise. But what did he mean… exactly?

To blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is to persistently reject his saving work in your life. The Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts that Jesus is Lord. The Holy Spirit softens and humbles our hearts to ask for salvation and forgiveness. To reject the work of the Spirit is, in essence, forfeiting the chance for forgiveness. If you have been saved by the work of the Spirit, then this “eternal sin” is impossible for you to commit. Only those who refuse to be saved remain “unforgivable.”

God is clear. God is precise. There is one true God and one way to salvation….only through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. There is no sin we can commit that can trump the power of His sacrifice – except to reject Him. That would be a very sad, “eternal” mistake.

Day 50: Encamped Around the Presence of God

Numbers 1-2; Mark 3:1-21

Key Verses

Numbers 2:1-2
The
Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
“The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ houses. They shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side.”

Mark 3:9-10
And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they crush him, for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed around him to touch him.

We begin the book of Numbers today! Numbers chronicles Israel’s time in the desert and begins with the people making preparations to go to war. If they wanted to take the land, they had to prepare to fight…

From twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go to war, you and Aaron shall list them, company by company (Numbers 1:3).

Numbers 2 goes on to detail exactly how the people were to camp and march. The Tabernacle would be guarded by the Levites and remained in the center of the people when they camped and when they marched. Remember, the tabernacle was God’s house. God dwelled there. The people were to camp around the presence of God. Numbers vividly portrays God’s presence dwelling with the Israelite people!

Both of today’s passages contain imagery of great numbers surrounding the presence of God. The account in Numbers is ordered and precise. Everyone had a place – so much so that it would be very obvious if a family or clan went missing. There would be an empty spot around the tabernacle! This was a model of community. This is a model for the church*!

By contrast, the scenes in Mark seem frantic. The crowds pressing in on Jesus were desperate. This is also a picture of community. Our churches are made up of hurt and broken people, desperate for the healing touch of the Savior.

Both passages teach valuable lessons about community and church life. The church needs each of us. If we go missing, there will be a noticeable gap that goes unfilled. But we also need the church. For that’s where God’s presence is found!!! If you don’t believe me, read Ephesians…

…you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

The dwelling place of God is in the midst of a community of believers… being built together into a holy temple.

Are you desperate for the Savior?? Oh, I hope so. Now… go to church :) …And encamp together around the presence of God!

*I am indebted to author and teacher, Susan Hunt, for the application of Numbers 2 to church life.

Day 53: The Word at work

Numbers 7; Mark 4:21-34

The Kingdom of God… it’s one of my favorite topics. In an earlier post I defined the Kingdom as a place with a ruler, a law and a people.

Today’s parables define another aspect of the Kingdom… the Word. The Word is the means of growing the Kingdom. What a person does with the Word, will determine if he’s in the Kingdom or out… The Word is the picture and message of Jesus. The Word is the call to repent. The Word is the gospel – the good news that Jesus is the sacrifice.

  • The Word sheds light on the human heart – just as a lamp lights a dark room (Mark 4:21-22).
  • The Word will increase in a heart that is teachable, but to a hard heart, it will be taken away (Mark 4:23-25).
  • The Word is sown as a farmer sows a field, and just as the plant grows slowly – almost invisibly at first – so does the Kingdom grow… slowly and steadily until one day its branches will cover the whole garden! (Mark 4:26-34)

The Kingdom is invisible. But one day, we will see the place and the Ruler – face to face… Moses was only able to hear God speak. God would speak from above the mercy seat in between the cherubim (Numbers 7:89). Moses didn’t go behind the veil to the Holy of Holies where God’s presence dwelled. No. The veil had not yet been torn. The way had not yet been opened. The all-sufficient sacrifice had not yet been given.

Jesus comes and opens the way for the sinner to go behind the veil into the Holy of Holies. There will be no tabernacle in the new earth – for God will not need a veil to hide his Glory – Rather, his Glory will shine like the sun and his home will be with… his people.

I take great comfort in the promise that though the Kingdom is invisible and grows slowly – that one day it will be so vast that it will be seen by all! The same principle is true of the Word at work in my heart. It is my responsibility to sow the Word in my heart – to read, meditate and trust. And slowly, steadily the Word will produce fruit in my life. This is the way of faith. This is the way of the Kingdom!

Day 51: The precision of God

Numbers 3-4; Mark 3:22-35

Numbers 3 & 4 concentrate on numbering the Levites.

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine, for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both of man and of beast. They shall be mine: I am the Lord.”

The ESV Study Bible explains: “In the last plague, every firstborn male Egyptian and every firstborn of their cattle died, but the Israelite boys and cattle were spared. So after this, all Israelite firstborn boys and cattle were dedicated to God. That meant the cattle were sacrificed and the boys should have served God in the sanctuary Ex. 11:4–13:15. But after the golden calf incident, the Levites took the place of the firstborn boys Ex. 32:25–29. The census showed there were 273 fewer Levites than firstborn males in the other tribes. To redeem these 273 Israelites who had no Levite to take their place, five shekels (Num. 3:47) per person had to be paid. This is the tariff prescribed in Lev. 27:6 for boys under five. Five shekels would have been about a year’s pay for a herdsman.”

Do you notice the precision of God? Nothing was overlooked. Every detail was considered and described. God is a god of order, not chaos :)

Mark 3 contains a difficult saying of Jesus that is found in all 3 of the synoptic gospels…

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29).

It is helpful to consider the precise nature of God’s character when interpreting this verse. Jesus was not being elusive. His speech was plain and precise. But what did he mean… exactly?

To blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is to persistently reject his saving work in your life. The Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts that Jesus is Lord. The Holy Spirit softens and humbles our hearts to ask for salvation and forgiveness. To reject the work of the Spirit is in essence forfeiting the chance for forgiveness. If you have been saved by the work of the Spirit, then this “eternal sin” is impossible for you to commit. Only those who refuse to be saved remain “unforgivable.”

God is clear. God is precise. There is one true God and one way to salvation….only through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. There is no sin we can commit that can trump the power of his sacrifice – except to reject Him. That would be a very sad, “eternal” mistake.

Day 50: Encamped around the presence of God

Numbers 1-2; Mark 3:1-21

We begin the book of Numbers today! Numbers chronicles Israel’s time in the desert and begins with the people making preparations to go to war. If they want to take the land, they have to prepare to fight…

From twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go to war, you and Aaron shall list them, company by company (Numbers 1:3).

Numbers 2 goes on to detail exactly how the people were to camp and march. The Tabernacle would be guarded by the Levites and remained in the center of the people when they camped and when they marched. Remember, the tabernacle was God’s house. God dwelled there. The people were to camp around the presence of God. Numbers vividly portrays God’s presence dwelling with the Israelite people!

Both of today’s passages contain imagery of great numbers surrounding the presence of God. The account in Numbers is ordered and precise. Everyone had a place – so much so that it would be very obvious if a family or clan went missing. There would be an empty spot around the tabernacle! This was a model of community. This is a model for the church*!

By contrast, the scenes in Mark seem frantic. The crowds pressing in on Jesus were desperate. This is also a picture of community. Our churches are made up of hurt and broken people, desperate for the healing touch of the Savior.

Both passages teach valuable lessons on community and church life. The church needs each of us. If we go missing, there will be a noticeable gap that goes unfilled. But we also need the church. For that’s where God’s presence is found!!! If you don’t believe me, read Ephesians…

…you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

The dwelling place of God is in the midst of a community of believers… being built together into a holy temple.

Are you desperate for the Savior?? Oh, I hope so. Now… go to church :) …And encamp together around the presence of God!

*I am indebted to author and teacher, Susan Hunt, for the application of Numbers 2 to church life.