Numbers 6:1-7:89; Mark 12:38-13:13;
Psalm 49:1-20; Proverbs 10:27-28
When the kids were little my husband decided that for Mother's Day they would do something different for me. When the day arrived I went down to the kitchen for my morning coffee. I could tell that they were all anticipating my reaction to something. I puttered around putting away dishes and then I saw it! As I looked out the kitchen window, I saw that the hill in our back yard had been mowed. No, that was not the gift. The gift was that my husband had cut the word "MOM" into the back yard! It was a living, growing tribute to me. It became the envy of our neighbor, who asked my husband to do it in their yard. Now that was a creative gift! Some people have designer clothes, but I had a designer yard.
Today we see that God lists in detail the gifts that the Israelites give to Him prior to breaking camp. He also provides another way for a person to give to Him, the Nazarite vow. This vow was voluntary and was a gift of self-sacrifice. It took humility and discipline to give this gift. Here are the rules for the Nazarite vow:
- They were not to drink wine and alcohol, or eat grapes.
- They were not to cut their hair.
- They were not to touch a dead body.
Chapter 7 of Numbers is the second longest chapter in the Bible. It might surprise you that these 89 verses are repetitive, but beautiful to God. They list the gifts of the princes of Israel to their King (God). These verses show love and obedience to the One True God of Israel. I think this chapter is God's thank you note to the nation of Israel. Do you know that God records your gifts to Him? One day a record of our feeble attempts to follow God will be revealed to all. Some of our smallest acts will be shown to shine like the silver these princes gave. What can you give God today? I will close the Old Testament section by quoting the blessing that Aaron gave over Israel:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
This begins a discussion on when all of this will take place. Jesus gives warning signs for the end of time, but even this list does not clarify for us the exact time. Here is the list:
- Many will come in my name claiming to be the Messiah and lead people astray. Vs. 6-7
- Nations will go to war with each other, and the earth will have earthquakes and famines. Vs. 8
- Disciples and followers will be prosecuted in courts and synagogues and taken in front of kings and governors in order to witness about Jesus. Vs. 9
- The Good News about Christ will be proclaimed to every nation. Vs. 10
- Family members will betray each other. Vs. 12
- Everyone will hate you because of me. Vs. 13
Sounds like a barrel of monkeys, doesn't it? But seriously, Jesus' last statement in this section is the key: Those who persevere to the end will be saved. This is a marathon, folks. Stay faithful. What gifts have you given to God lately with a pure heart? Are you prepared to run a marathon with God? What if everyone hated you and you were like a Nazarite?
Vs. 5-6 "There is no need to fear when times of trouble come, when enemies are surrounding me. They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches. Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God."
Still in the gift theme...God cannot be bribed with gifts. Salvation is not bought by us. It is bought by Christ's death. That is the only ransom that God accepts. Salvation is God's gift to us!
"Fear of the Lord will lengthen your life." Yes, if you fear the Lord, you will live forever in eternity with Him. That is a lengthened life!
What did you see today?