Numbers 13/Deut 1 Trusting God…
Why is that we need to have proof that we can trust God? Has He ever not provided just what we need when we need it? Has He ever abandoned us? The enemy of our souls, Satan places these “deadly d’s” into our path and God allows them to test what we know with what we do.
The Israelites needed proof that they would be able to succeed in their attempt to take the land. What more proof did they need? God had provided their deliverance from Egypt, provided a flame of fire by night to keep marauders and beasts from them, a cloud by day to guide them, food to eat and the Tabernacle to remind them of His presence. Nevertheless. When we read or hear that word our hair should stand up on its end. Nevertheless is a warning signal that, like the Israelites, we have opened the door to the questions of the enemy. Reading between the lines we can surmise that these Israelites had gathered men around them and began to think: what “if” and what “if.” It was then that they brought their concerns to Moses couched in these words “Let’s send some men ahead of us to scout out the land and bring us back word as to how we should attack it and what the cities are like there.” If God had gone before them in the past why did they need to know what the land was like to move forward? As Moses listened he began to think this might be a good idea. That is a warning signal: When we begin to think what someone else thinks just might be a good idea that we had not considered, we should stop and ask: I wonder what God would say to this? Would he concur? Would he agree? The chapter in Numbers might lead us to consider that it was God’s idea but Moses wrote in Deuteronomy it was the people’s idea and God allowed it. God may allow us to consider such an avenue to “test us” as to whether we will trust Him or not. We, like Moses, often hear the voices around us and we begin to think in our minds that this might be God’s way of knowing His path. We find ourselves saying, well this is something I had not considered. Perhaps this is a good idea…BUT and we need to insert that word “BUT” here. But means that we have failed to consult God. That is the time we need Psalm 19 more than ever: Keep me back “from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me;” [Ps 19NASB]. Joshua also failed later to do this as well as in the case of the Gibeonites. And, guess what, we do it now in our time. Failing to consult God brought grievous consequences for the people.They failed to recall what God had done and how he had prepared them. The people went and saw the land but came back with these words: “the land is just as God said NEVERTHELESS there are giants in the land.” Could not God overcome them?
And guess what? We do it now in our time. When we fail to consult God just as Moses and Joshua, God may allow grievous consequences.The Israelites loss was that they had to do ‘another lap around the wilderness.’ In fact, they did it for 40 yrs! Is that what we want?
Our Challenge: Recall what God has done for us in the past trusting Him to do it in the future. The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah remind us that God is greater, His thoughts are higher than ours and He has a plan not to harm us but to walk before us and provide for our every need. [Jer 19:1/Is 55] He is faithful and does not sleep nor slumber…He is ever before us and will direct our path. [Prov 3:5-6]
The book of Leviticus and Numbers are heavy reading but so vital. Here we are brought front and center for what God requires to be a holy people. Yet today we find that churches are going more, as Tim Challies says, “pragmatic” and we are on a slippery slope to doing “whatever seems right in our own eyes” as in the book of Judges. It seems that in many ways our church services are becoming more cafeteria style or a “freestyle religion” as B. Deffinbaugh calls it in his article.
Here’s a question to ponder: Are we becoming careless and so much so that we are failing in one key area that God requires: reverence?
Take a walk with me through Numbers chapter 4 where God gave specific steps for the Levites to be a part of the “worship team.” Each man was to between the ages of 30 to 50. They were to be “probationers” at the age of 25. [M. Henry] (Numb 8:24) They were to be mentored and taught what they were to do and how to do it. To fail was fatal. Hung over their head was the warning that to fail was to “fall into the hand of the living God.” [Heb 10:21]
Thankfully, today, because of the sacrificial death of Jesus who tore open the veil, we no longer have that fear and do not need to be so fearful–yet the “rules” still apply as to the how. We are to come boldly but reverently. [Hebrews 10 and Eph 3]. The NT gives us examples for our instruction as to what happens when we trespass. Ananias and Sapphira fell flat down dead and fear came over the church. Paul warned the Corinthians about why some were “weak and sick, and quite a few are dead.” [1Cor 11]. Paul also warned us in Galatians that God will not be mocked. What you sow you reap.
So how do we handle all of this biblically? It starts when we ask ourselves:
- Are we praying not just for our pastor but also the worship team?
- Have we prepared our hearts for entering and worshiping with a reverent mindset?
- Have we examined ourselves?
Today in our secular world we find that movies, billboards, TV shows and more seem to “yawn” at the Ten Commandments but Leviticus 24 proves that God takes it seriously. A young man loses his temper in a fight, over what we are not told, but he utters a curse taking the Lord’s name in vain. Others hear of it and he is taken into custody. In today’s world that happens often but it is with a sigh and a yawn and our ears have become less inclined to understand the gravity of this sin. Perhaps it is because of that we come to this story and realize how serious God takes it. He is a jealous God and will not share his glory with another.
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.”
The young man is put into custody until a clear decision is made since it seems this was the first time for this occurrence. The Lord spoke to Moses on his decision; the young man is to be stoned. We see this as harsh but God sees it as a lesson that we are to learn. I AM the Lord and My Word is to be obeyed.
Question for us to ponder: Where are we disobeying this commandment by our words OR even by not correcting those who disobey it out of ignorance or choice? The commandment is clear-revere God and His Name.
God loved his people so much that he established memorial days that they might focus in on who He is and His provision for their every need. The seven feasts all pointed to Christ who was yet to come because the fullness of times had not yet occurred. They all point to God’s eternal plan to be completed at His appointed time and, although as NT believers, we are not responsible to keep them; to explore them is to enhance our faith. Only in the NT are we commanded to keep the Lord’s Supper as a way of remembering Jesus Christ as our perfect sacrifice.
The Hebrew word for “feasts” is (moadim) and means “appointed times.” The feasts reveal God’s story of His plan of redemption through the Son of God’s death and resurrection and the promise of his future coming. The one requirement for all is that we see them as a sacred observance. We are to honor the Lord as his called sanctified saints and should be done in holiness and reverence.
Challenge for us: Be ye holy as God is holy. Honor Him by celebrating the Lord’s Supper in reverence
One thing we must remember as we study Leviticus and its list of “you must not and you must” is that these are the very words of God. They were written that we might be instructed in beware of what we think is right and instead honor and obey what God thinks is right. As Ken Boa said “God only has to say “no” once for something to be wrong.” God’s purpose is that His people who are set apart for him are to be holy because he is holy.
In addition, they were written so that we remember that
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
God was preparing to send the Israelites into a polluted nation. He did not want them polluted with what he considered abominable and thus why he spent an entire book explaining the “must not’s and the musts.” It is because He loved them and He loves us that these are written “for our instruction.”
Challenge: Is there some place where God is speaking to you about what He says is right and you are not obeying?
Have you ever experienced a spiritual high only to find yourself in the valley of despond? Aaron as the new High Priest faced this. His sons, who had been consecrated, presented strange fire before the Lord and instantly were consumed by the fire from God. Events like this bring this question to mind: where is your God of mercy? This is a fair question and the answer is that God is just. He requires holiness whether you are laity or leader.
Aaron might have asked; wasn’t my sin greater? After all, I was the one who made the golden calf. Further—I lied to Moses. We ask, why did God not strike him and why did God strike Nadab and Abihu? They, like Aaron, were consecrated and now were in a higher position and more accountable as leaders. They were to be holy as God for they stood in the place of God before His servants and were next in line for the High Priest. But, presumptuously they failed to realize that to trifle with sin is to experience “the wages of sin is death,” just as later in the case of Ananias and Sapphira.
Aaron’s sons were consecrated and anointed placing them in a privileged position; thus more accountable as leaders. They were to be holy as God for they stood in the place of God before His servants and were next in line for the High Priest job at Aaron’s death. But, presumptuously they failed to realize that to trifle with sin is to experience “the wages of sin is death,” just as later in the case of Ananias and Sapphira.
As then, so now, we can’t rely on our spiritual high experience. There comes a time when we must return to the valley and it is there that our arch enemy, Satan, who seeks to devour, has already planned his next attack. Are you prepared?