Tuesday, 18 February 2014

(50) February 19: Numbers 1-2 & Mark 3:1-21

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider why these details are significant when we recall God’s promises.

To ponder:
We begin with God speaking to Moses from the tent of meeting within the tabernacle at Sinai. A month has passed since it was erected, and thirteen since the Exodus (Ex 40v17).
Immediately we see why the book has its name. But the numbers are important. God had promised to bless the world through Abraham, by establishing a great nation from him, to live under his rule and rulers, and inhabit the land of Canaan. The first two stages are now complete. The census records the greatness of the nation at 603,550 men over 20 years old. That’s over two million people in total! And having received God’s law, we see Israel orderly here, doing “everything the LORD commanded Moses” (2v34). The nation is under God’s rule and enjoying his presence. Levites are therefore not counted because they are to care for, dismantle and erect the tabernacle, and provide a buffer zone around it so the people don’t approach God and experience his holy reaction to their sin or uncleanness (1v52-53).
We also see that God has the next stage of his promise in hand. The men are being counted for serving “in the army.” Moreover, they are arranged according to tribes around the tabernacle, under their standards, and so ready to set out and conquer Canaan. With God’s tent in the middle (2v17) they are reminded that this all depends on his presence. They need him to fight for them.
Genesis 12-50 recounted Israel becoming a nation, and Exodus-Leviticus, God establishing his rule. Now the books of Numbers-Joshua will focus on Israel preparing for and then entering the land, with the rest of OT history focusing on how they fare under their various rulers. God has proved himself faithful to his promises, to our reassurance.
            It is significant that Judah is mentioned first, encamped “on the east, towards the sunrise.” Adam and Eve were cast out to the east of Eden, and Babylon and Sodom were in the east. So just as the sunrise brought the hope of the new day, humanity looked east for God’s deliverance from sin and death. And Judah are there, ready. Theirs is the tribe God promised to bring rulers from, and from whom one will come to rule the nations (Gen 49v10). As Zechariah said in speaking of John the Baptist: He will give God’s peoplethe knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Lk 1v76-79). Come Lord Jesus.
Praying it home:
Praise God for that he will fulfil all he has promised to us in Christ. Pray that he would deliver you and those you love from evil and bring you through faith to his eternal rest.

Thinking further:
Have a read of the NIV study Bible introduction to Numbers by clicking here.

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