Saturday, 1 March 2014

(61) March 2: Numbers 26-27 & Mark 8:22-38

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

To discover:­­
As you read note how God prepares the people to enter the land.

To ponder:
God fulfils his promises in his good time. So after forty years the people prepare to enter their land (the theme of this third section to the book). They are just over the Jordon river from Jericho with the land in sight.
The census reminds us of the one taken forty years previously (c1-3). Yet it includes “not one” of those originally counted, except for Caleb and Joshua. God had kept his word that the previous generation would die in the desert for failing to trust him to bring them in. The total count is 2,000 less (2v32, 26v51). So God had partially withheld his blessing from that generation. The fact that God always keeps his word wonderfully assures us of our salvation, but also means what he has spoken on judgement stands.
            The land is to be allotted proportionally, according to the size of groups comprising a number of clans from a tribe; and fairly, by God according to lot, so there can be no charge of bias (Prov 16v33). The Levites have none because, like ministers today, they are to be freed from other business to serve God (2 Tim 2:4).
In appealing to the God who cares for the fatherless (Jam 1:27), the daughters of Zelophelad approach the tent of meeting, standing before Moses. The inclusion of Eleazar the High Priest and “the whole assembly” affirms the validity of the coming decision for all Israel. Their father died and left no son. So “his name” will die out and his daughters be left with no property, effectively excluded them from God’s kingdom and covenant people! God responds that in such instances the property should go to any daughter, and if none, then the man’s brothers, then uncles, then nearest relative “in his clan.” This ensures no clan looses part of its inheritance.
            God allots the times and places where everyone lives (Acts 17v26), and will personally give us our eternal inheritance. It can never be taken away, nor “perish, spoil or fade;” but is kept in heaven for us (1 Pet 1v3-6). And it too will be allotted as God decides; although perhaps in proportion to ability and faithfulness in service (Lk 19v16-19, 1 Cor 3v12-15).
            God tells Moses he is about to die because of his sin in chapter 20. Modelling good leadership, Moses’ concern is for the people. He asks for God to “appoint a man over” Israel to “lead” and “bring them in” so they are not like a sheep without a shepherd. God chooses Joshua (Jesus in greek), because his “Spirit” is in him. He is commissioned before Eleazar and the assembly by Moses laying hands on him as a sign of passing his authority to him, so that he is obeyed. But Joshua will not be able to enquire of God “face to face” as Moses did. He will have to go to Eleazar “before the LORD” at the tent and obtain decisions by the Urim. These were previous stones in the High Priest’s breastplate that were probably drawn out, with God’s decision being determined by the configuration they were in.
            So we see the need of leadership to keep God’s people from wandering from him like sheep, and to bring them to the fertile pastures he has for them. Christ our Good Shepherd does this perfectly. He is the very Word of God who is given the Spirit without limit. How much more should we therefore follow and obey him.

Praying it home:
Thank God for providing not just a great inheritance but the perfect leader to bring us to it. Pray that he would keep you and your family always following and obeying Christ.

Thinking further:
None today.

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