Leviticus 27:14-Numbers 1:54; Mark 11:1-26;
Psalm 46:1-11; Proverbs 10:23
Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.
~George S. Patton
~George S. Patton
Congratulations!! You just finished the second book of the Old Testament. That was not an easy book to read. Leviticus showed us God's Holiness and Christ's work through the picture of the offerings and sacrifices. The book begins with the required burnt offering and ends with the voluntary vows that the Israelites could offer to God. Notice, they were never to offer a shoddy, second-rate vow. You and I can learn from this. We are to offer God our best in all that we do.
We are told that this census was taken in the second year of the Israelites' release from Egypt. The purpose was to determine the number of men eligible to fight in an army. After dividing them according to their tribes, it was determined that 603,550 men were available to form an army. This gives us a clue as to how the Jews were to take the Promised Land. You may remember that when the Israelites left Egypt God fought for them. They were simply to be still and wait. That is no longer the case. Now, God's intention is for the Israelites to fight for their land. We learned earlier that God intends to vomit the pagans out of Canaan. This is not going to be a pretty process. But first, we will see that because of a lack of faith, the Israelites wander in the desert for quite some time. One other note of interest is that God is consistently a God of order. We see God's order in the formation of the universe in Genesis, the division of the tribes of Israel in Exodus, the configuration of the Tabernacle in Exodus, the development of the sacrifices and offerings of worship in Leviticus, and now, the formation of an Israelite army in the book of Numbers.
So what can we learn from this first chapter of Numbers? How does this story of the census relate to us? You and I, as believers, are part of God's standing army in this world. In Ephesians 6:13-18 it says:
"Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addtion to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can exstinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Tak the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."If you like a good Star Wars movie or Lord of the Rings where good and evil clash, then you are close to the heartbeat of God. He likes that, too. You and I are in that kind of battle. An epic fight of mega proportions. This fight also results in us claiming a Promised Land. God promises us a new heaven and new earth in the future. Let's make sure that we are in the army of the good guys! When God takes the census for his righteous army, let's stand up to be counted!
Do you recognize the fight you are in each day? How does your life reflect your membership in God's army?
Jesus curses an unproductive fig tree that soon withers. Why did Christ do this? Some commentators say that Jesus is making a judgment on the fruitless type of religion that the Jews and the nation of Israel were practicing. The fig tree is a scriptural representation of the nation of Israel. Christ is predicting that as a nation they will not have the fruit of belief in their Messiah at his first coming. For the most part, the nation will be unproductive and reject their Savior. Jesus judges this lack of faith and fruitfulness by blighting the tree. As it withers, we see the future spiritual condition of the majority of the Jewish nation during the Church age. Jesus is a prophet.
Peter is amazed when he sees the tree that Jesus cursed (pronounced judgment upon) is now dead. Jesus uses the picture of this dead type of faith to encourage Peter to have a living and active faith. This type of faith is powerful and effective. It believes in Jesus as Messiah. Jesus tells him that much more can be done by this type of faith, but there is a key to the type of faith you must have. It must be the kind of faith that forgives people when they sin against you. Jesus forgave those who sinned against him. This is not the type of faith that the majority of the Jewish nation were practicing at this time. The Pharisees and Sadducees did not practice or teach this concept. Do you have that kind of faith? Have you forgiven people who have wronged you unjustly? This is one of the strongest swords you can wield in the spiritual war in which we are engaged. The powerful weapon is forgiveness.
How's your spiritual arsenal these days? Prayer, forgiveness, obeying God's Word, living in truth, having faith in things you cannot see, these are the weapons of God. These are the fruit on the tree of a living faith.
vs. 1 God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. vs. 11 The Lord Almighty is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.
This says it all, folks.
Doing wrong is fun for a fool. Wise conduct is fun for the wise. Makes sense to me.
What did you see today?