29.4 Moses 29, Day 4

Avoiding Battles?

Deuteronomy 33:26-29 reads like a battle cry to rev up the troops to take up arms.  Look at the language:

  • He will drive out your enemies before you
  • “Destroy them!”
  • Ride across the heavens to help you
  • On the clouds in His majesty
  • You will live in safety, grain, new wine, heavens dew
  • He is your shield
  • Your glorious sword
  • Your enemies will cower before you
  • You will tread on their heights

All of this language convicted me of how much I hide from battles in my faith walk.  How often I don’t say something because it might come across the wrong way.  My fear and doubt of possibly offending someone that prompts me to not speak when I should.

I’m not talking about taking up arms to slay the enemy and I’m not talking about going out and picking fights.  But when you read this language of God, I think there is a message that we aren’t supposed to “just go along with the crowd so we don’t make waves” either.

It just made me think about the times I don’t speak up, the times I don’t speak Jesus’ name, the times I sit quietly in the midst of what I know to be sin, the times I fail to witness or to comfort or to just speak the truth.  Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.”  Am I so afraid of battles that I come across as ashamed of my faith and my Savior.

One of the central themes of the book of Acts, when the new Church was being formed, is the call to speak boldly. (see below).  Paul’s letter to the Ephesians calls us to be strong in the Lord and put on the full armor of God.

Are you like me?  Do you need to speak up?  Do you need to reach out?  Do you need to face the fight with the truth of the gospel instead of hiding it under a basket?

The greatest news of all in this, and throughout the bible, is that when we choose to stand for God, He always stands in front of us.  God never takes the position of having our back.  He always takes the front.  He may require us to take the first step into the water, but then He lifts us up to walk across it or parts it as we move forward.

Here are some of the bold references from Acts – Take Strength Mighty Prayer Warriors!:

Acts 4:29
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
Acts 4:31
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 9:28
So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
Acts 13:46
Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.
Acts 14:3
So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of his grace by enabling them to perform signs and wonders.
Acts 18:26
He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
Acts 19:8
Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.
Acts 28:31
He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!

 

My Answers:

8.
Because they were the Lord’s possession, His portion.  He was their king.  He is holy.  There is no one like God.

9.
There is no one like the God of Jeshurun. He rides across the heavens to help you. On the clouds in His Majesty. The eternal God is your refuge. Underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you. “A people saved by the Lord.” He is your shield and your helper. He is your glorious sword.

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29.2 Moses 29, Day 2

Praising on the right side of the Income Statement

It wasn’t difficult to think of people I would consider to be a “man or woman of God”.  But, it took a few minutes of reflection to identify what they had in common.

I mean, they have lots in common.  The love the Lord.  They study the bible.  The are extremely generous with time and talent.  But they were also unique different.  Men and women, family, friends, younger and older.

I finally realized the unique attitude each of them have is their attitude toward time with God.  Many people either talk about or do spend time with God.  Often there can be more talking about it than doing it in some circles.  But, in accounting lingo, “spending” is on the expense side of the Income Statement, and that is not how they view time with God.

It isn’t that some how their time is multiplied or changed.  They have the same number of hours in their days that everyone else has.  They have the same pressures, the same challenges and the same very lengthy to-do’s.  Often, their to-do’s can be even longer than most because of the commitments to charity, teaching and those in need.  An hour with God is one less hour in day.  They don’t somehow get that hour back.

The difference is that because they first and foremost have a relationship with the Lord, the time with Him is time with a friend.  Because their friend is the all powerful, everlasting, Creator, He is a friend that cares for them and provides beyond their needs.  Time in the relationship keeps them connected with the one in charge and the more time with Him deepens the relationship, understanding, love, grace and power.

It is like we have seen in the Life of Moses.  When major challenges came along, Moses got down on his knees.  When Moses had complaints, he went to God.  He walked with Him and he talked with Him, he worshiped Him and obeyed Him.  He led and taught and judged and gave, not of his own strength, but of His Lord God’s.

I also thought it was interesting that Moses’ first words in these verses about God is also the first step to be on the path with God.  He starts by saying “God came”.  God always shows up.  God is ever present.  Wherever people gather in His name, God is there.  But do we?  Do we show up?  Do you intentionally put time each day with God?  Do you have a plan for study and time with the Lord this summer?  Do you think of your time with Him as a time of obligation or a time of deep interaction and relationship?  Is your devotional time something you look forward to checking off of your list or something you simply look forward to?

My Answers:

3.
Of currently living people that I have a personal relationship with: My wife, son and daughters and future daughter in law.  Fellow children’s leaders.  Friends: KH, DF, KR.  These people are absolute prayer warriors.  I desire to be considered in this lot as well!  Of others, biblical characters, apostles, pastors, missionaries, some authors

4.
a.
came, dawned, shone forth, with holy ones, love, worthy of praise, instructor, giver of the law, king

b.
You love the people, King of the upright, you are the dawn, your shine forth over all the holy places

27.5 Moses 27, Day 5

Personal Choice / Personal Accountability

One of our questions today regarded the choices we have made and what words we could use to tell others about choice.  As I thought about this I was confronted by the denial of accountability I see in those around me such as neighbors, people I work with and others that I know.  Everything seems to be someone else’s fault.  There is always someone else to blame: politicians, educators, big business, religion, even God.

There is anger, fear and resentment, but mostly it comes from a spirit filled with discontent.  As Deut 28:65 says, “an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!”

We like to hide behind the “no one is perfect” line as justification for a life of rebellion.  But in Deut 30:11 God says through Moses, “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.”  He goes on to say it isn’t hidden in heaven or some foreign land. “No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

We are given freedom of choice, obedience or disobedience.  We choose the path.  But the path we choose has consequences.  A journey of disobedience brings hardship and curses.  These are not threats, they are reality of what an eternal life on the path that veers away from God looks like.  A journey of obedience brings blessings.  That does not mean there will not be trials and hardships, in fact, God promises His people there will be those things.  The difference is that, while neither path is without difficulty, the path of righteousness is one traveled along side God who promises to lift us up and carry us along when things get too tough.

Think about this in the “then and there” of it being delivered by Moses to the Israelites.  God has committed to take them as His and given Himself to be theirs.  He has formed an everlasting relationship with them.  But, even as He recommits to that relationship, He knows they will cheat on Him.  He knows they will disobey and worship other gods.  He knows they will commit atrocious and deplorable acts meant to cause Him pain.  He knows they will become so distant and callous to the gift that He is giving them, a gift of peace in the promised land, that they will completely lose this book of the bible and it will remain lost in a pile of debris in the back of the temple for years until it is uncovered during a remodeling project.  And, yet, not only does He commit to the relationship with them but He promises that after they do these hurtful things, He will still take them back and even cut those things out of their heart as if they never had occurred.

The choice, the path that leads to life and prosperity or the path that leads to death and destruction, was theirs as it yours and mine.  But make no mistake, we choose our own path and live with the consequences of that choice.

If you are on the wrong path, if you are traveling alone or living a relationship with God that treats Him as a spare wheel to be pulled out in times of trouble instead of a steering wheel to keep you out of trouble, you are not stuck.  God always provides and on-ramp to bring you back onto the road of salvation.  He is one prayer away from sending in the rescue crew of Son and Spirit to save you from the mess you have made.

I choose to make my own choice.  I choose obedience to God.  I choose life.  What do you choose?

My Answers

10.
a.
return to the Lord and obey Him with all your heart and soul

b.
circumcise their hearts

c.
While God wants and expects me to be obedient, He will forgive my disobedience, even to the extent of “cutting it out of my heart” so that it is no more and welcome me back and reconfirm His relationship with me

11.
a.
life and prosperity, death and destruction

b.
I choose life.  I choose a sacred relationship with God to belong to Him and to put all my trust in Him

12.
Because He loved them.  Because He knew the sin they would commit and, in love, wanted to warn them to change their ways.
The law was a guardian to protect the people (protective custody) as those belonging to God until the day that Christ came and paid the ransom for their souls

27.4 Moses 27, Day 4

A Holy Covenant Relationship

All of our study this week in Deuteronomy, starting in Deuteronomy 26:17 and continuing through Deuteronomy 29, reminds me of a wedding ceremony.  You can hear it in the language of the scriptures:

17 You have declared this day that the Lord is your God and that you will walk in obedience to him, that you will keep his decrees, commands and laws—that you will listen to him. 18 And the Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised

Then Moses and the Levitical priests said to all Israel, “Be silent, Israel, and listen! You have now become the people of the Lord your God.

10 All of you are standing today in the presence of the Lord your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, 11 together with your children and your wives, and the foreigners living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water. 12 You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, a covenant the Lord is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, 13 to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

I believe this analogy is fitting.  God wants an intimate relationship with you and with me.  He actually wants a vow larger than a wedding vow.  A wedding vow lasts for a lifetime.  God’s desired relationship lasts for eternity.  God’s commitment in His covenant is you will be His and He will be yours.

As we grow in our relationship with God we see and understand more of Him.  More time in the Word also builds a closer relationship with God and opens our eyes to His nature and attributes.  As God reveals Himself to us, that revelation is something that can never be taken away.  God wants to continue to reveal the secret things, the things we cannot understand without first understanding who God is.  Each of those “things revealed” is a gift, an everlasting gift.  Our mind may not be able to fully understand all of who God is, but that doesn’t mean it is something that is held as a secret from us, it is just something we cannot yet understand.  If someone were to ask me a question about Quantum Physics, I wouldn’t know enough to begin the conversation.  Yet, someone who has spent their life in study of it may grow in their appreciation of how much there is yet that we don’t know or understand.  God is bigger and deeper than quantum physics, yet, like an amazingly patient teacher, each day He is willing to teach us more about Himself.

 

My Answers:

7.
13. confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you

8.
Idolatry

9.
a.
God’s judgments and His paths

b.
The law, the covenants, God’s love and mercy

c.
God’s warnings to His people out of His love for them.  God’s patience.  God’s willingness to listen to prayer, that God is approachable.  The correct posture for obedience: up/worship, around/love, down/fear of God.

27.3 Moses 27, Day 3

I do it myself

When our kids were younger we would often here them say, “I do it myself”.  They didn’t want help.  They didn’t want direction.  They wanted to exercise their independence.

God doesn’t restrain or restrict our independence.  He made us and He made that as part of our nature.  He wants us to make choices.  But, like a loving parent, He wants us to make the right choices.

God lines up the events of our life.  Some to encourage us, some to challenge us and make us stronger.  This is in the same way that a parent or teacher or coach would line up controlled events for us to practice and learn and grow.  God is in control.

And, He wants to bless us along the path of life.  He wants us to be blessed.  He wants us to be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.  Blessed when we come in and blessed when we go out.  Blessed in our work and in our leisure.  Blessed in our families and against our enemies.

I think of it like a special protective coating that God has for us every single day, like sunscreen or the de-icing solution on airplanes.  God wants to wash a blessing over us every single day that permeates our physical self, our thoughts, our words and our actions.

But how often do we side step the blessing or shove it out of our way like a child wanting to “do it myself”?  How often do we reject not only the blessing but reject God pushing him to be behind us instead of the one who goes before us?  How can you stop right now (seriously, right now) and ask God to pour His blessing over you to change the rest of the way you live out this day?

 

My Answers:

5.
To be blessed, to be blessed when you come in and go out, to enjoy God’s provision of food/shelter/defeat of enemies, To be established as His holy people, to walk in obedience to Him, abundant prosperity, opening the heavens, the storehouse of His bounty

6.
a.
32.  Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation, and you will wear out your eyes watching for them day after day, powerless to lift a hand.

b.
They disobeyed by not driving out the enemy in the promised land, disobedience led to famine during the time of Elisha, and ate their own children

c.
To have increased obedience.  To enter obedience joyfully.

25.4 Moses 25, Day 4

(1) Charging Station or Garden? and (2) Honoring to Women

Many of us have shaped an image of our relationship with God and church and the bible and worship like a charging station in a technological age.  We plug in to worship and devotion.  We recharge.  We then unplug and go out into the world.  As we wear down, we plug back in.  We talk about how worn down we get, how drained we feel and the energy of the spirit.

We have adopted this relationship analogy because it is one we use in other parts of our life.  Juggling between different priorities and responsibilities we apply some processing resources to one or the other.  We try to have “quality time” with our kids and family.  We even do the same thing to our kids and family by getting them plugged in to the right schools, teams, groups and activities.

But, I think our lesson today in Numbers 28-29 shows how that is a flawed mindset.  It is one that leads to an idea that we can justify delayed connection time if we “supercharge”.   Along the lines of, I can’t be at all of my kids games but when I’m there I’m on the front line, cheering the loudest and all decked out in the appropriate colors and uniform.

But in the list of worship activities for the Hebrews they look less like a recharging station and more like a garden.  God is getting ready to move them into their new home, the Promised Land, and He wants them to put down strong roots.  He wants to nourish those roots daily in worship to him.  He wants to tend the soil around the plantings weekly.  He wants to prune the plants and clear the weeds monthly.  He wants to prepare the soil and harvest the fruit at appropriate times each year.

How would our lives change if we changed our mindset to a more organic and living garden with God?  Would it help us understand the importance of steady nourishment and sunlight (Son-Light)?  Would it help us see the storms of life as part of the rhythm of what strengthens us?  Would we see our connection with God as a living connection?  Would it reduce the amount of up-rooting we do to ourselves with the constant un-plugging and plugging in and the stresses and strains all of that involves?  Couldn’t we produce for more spiritual fruit for God’s kingdom if we are firmly rooted in the Word of God?

 

On a separate note, I thought both Chapters 27 and 30 speak to God’s special love for women.  Many have formed an idea of the bible as being demeaning or derogatory to women.  I understand this argument when situations like the census where only the men are counted.  But, I think these 2 chapters also speak to the love and provision God intended for women.  Contrary to any other nation of their time, the nation of Israel in the promised land would have been very progressive.  Not only could women own property in their own name and retain title to it (ch 27), but they could also independently enter into binding contracts and agreements (vows) that were impacting not only on themselves but also on their families.  I don’t think the people of God did a good job of continuing to walk in the intent of these chapters, but it was heartening to see God’s love and appreciation for all of His creation, not just the male members.

 

My Answers:

7.
a.
They were children when the Israelites were first at Mount Sinai when the law was first communicated

b.
The pattern, daily, weekly, monthly, passover, first fruits,   Builds on past but points to the future.
God expects us to worship him daily, weekly, monthly and on special holidays

8.
Many think the bible message is derogatory to women.  This chapter helps show is protective and honoring, progressive and empowering (at least in parts).

24.5 Moses 24, Day 5

Phinehas: Skewered Sinfulness Stops Fury

Our verses for today start at Number 25:6 but I believe you have to go back and include 25:5 to get the story of Phineas correct.

Moses called together THE JUDGES of Israel.  As you might recall, on the recommendation of his father-in-law, Moses had set up a hierarchy of governing men from the community.  From Exodus 18:21, 22 we learn that Moses was counseled to, “select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times.

These were the people that God, through Moses, commissioned to “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord.”  It was their job and their duty.  In the same way a judge in our courts may be commissioned to deliver a severe sentence to a convicted criminal or a police officer or soldier may be put in a position to use deadly force in the conduct of their duty.

But the judges did not go into this duty with a carefree attitude.  In Numbers 25:6 we read that this whole assembly (not just some of them but all of them) were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting.  They were crying because of the sin, but also because of the seriousness of the burden placed on them by the sin of the people.  They did not want to kill their brothers and cousins, fathers and sons.

When, in the middle of all of this, with 24,000 people dying, with the judges assembled in mourning and repentance, crying tears at the tent of meeting, along boldly strides Zimri with a Midianite women in tow, taking her brazenly into his tent in broad daylight to defile and reject God’s commandments.  Multiple witnesses, verdict delivered.

The fact that all of the judges did not rise up against this man is a testimony of how shocking the immoral act was given the situation.  But zealous Phineas, raised as the grandson of the High Priest and the son of the current High Priest stands up and delivers justice.

With that one bold act, the plague stopped.  It was not the death of Zimri that paid the price.  It was the dedication and conviction of Phinehas that restored God’s faith in His people.

We are not called to be executors of God’s wrath.  Yes, there is grave sin in our time committed by brazenly spiteful and wicked people.  Pick any abomination and there are not only people practicing it, but those who promote it.  But we are not ordained as judges tasked by God will carrying out His sentence on these people.  Phinehas was.  That is the difference.

In Matthew 7, Jesus taught, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

But that does not mean that we are not supposed to demonstrate zeal in the duties that have been commanded of us.  We just have different duties than Phinehas and the judges of Israel had (praise the Lord for that!).  We should be zealous in being holy.  We should be zealous in being nourished by the Word.  We should be zealous in obedience.  We should be zealous in parenting and teaching.  We should be zealous in generosity.  We should be zealous in the chastity and fidelity of our relationships.  We should be zealous in going and making disciples.  We should be zealous in ensuring others will “know we are disciples by our love.” (John 13:35)

We close our lesson with Balaam and the fact that he, a mortal man, was killed by the sword of the Israelites.  But he has a legacy.  His legacy is what not to do.  In every situation he is mentioned it is always a negative.  Despite delivering 7 fold blessings on the Israelites and coming face-to-face with the Angel of the Lord – there is nothing positive in his legacy, just what not to do.  How do you want to be remembered – for being zealous or for being greedy?  For being the one who God finds loyalty and bravery and the justification for ending the plague or as the one who brings on the anger of the Lord and plagues on people?

 

My Answers:

10.
a.
He did it in zealous obedience.  24,000 people were dying from sin and it was Phinehas’ job to follow the verdict given by the Lord.

b.
by staying obedient to Him and His word

11.
a.
taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin

b.
Killed by the sword by Israelites

12.
a.
He does not tolerate sin in His people

b.
To be holy – to not be lured into wickedness and evil.  To avoid temptation