Numbers 21 Part 1–Don’t Mess With God’s Chosen!

Never mistake discipline for disinterest.  Israel had ticked God off, no doubt. Their unbelief caused them to miss entering the promised land and drove them to march in the desert.  God was truly angry with their choice.  That was, in no way a decision to quit loving or to quit protecting them.  He still led them each day, fed them each day and protected them each day.  So when the Cnaanite King, Arad, decided to attack and vanquish Israel, he made a deadly assumption–he assumed they were an abandoned group of nomadic wanderers.  That mistake would cost him and his people everything.
God allowed Arad to become an example to all the nations. God helped Israel to completely wipe them out in payment for their attack on the nation.  All people and livestock dead; all cities burned, and nothing left to remember of Arad or his people.  They changed the name of the land to “Destruction”.  It must have been an invigorating experience to Israel.  The people that were captured were now free. The Armies of Israel, under God’s protection wiped out the enemy, and the world once again learned that these were God’s folk–under His Hand and protected from all enemies foreign or domestic.
Like Israel, we can get cross-ways with God. When we do, the enemy likes to lie to us and tell us God has abandoned us.  Nothing could be less true.  God disciplines those He loves, but, he will never leave or forsake them.  If someone thinks God has abandoned us, they are going to be sorely surprised as He protects and fulfills us.  We have to continue to trust and follow The Lord–allowing Him to continue to protect, prepare and provide for us.  As we do, God will then send the message to the enemy–“Redeemed! Bought with a price!” and we can rest safely and confidently in God’s arms!
God Bless You
When the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that Israel was coming along the road to Atharim, he attacked the Israelites and captured some of them. Then Israel made this vow to the Lord: “If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy[a] their cities.” The Lord listened to Israel’s plea and gave the Canaanites over to them. They completely destroyed them and their towns; so the place was named Hormah.[b

Numbers 20 Final–Aaron’s Death…

It must have been difficult to see Aaron die.  Moses had relied upon his brother as he carried out the leadership of Israel. From the beginning of the Exodus adventure, Aaron had acted as Moses right hand. He carried the staff Moses used to convince the Pharaoh to release Israel. He moved with Moses, he helped to build the alignment of the nation and acted as the chief among the Levitical order. So on this day, as God called Aaron home, it must have been a heavy blow to Moses.

Still, God had warned both Moses and Aaron that because of their disregard for His authority at Meribah; they would not enter Canaan. So Moses and Aaron did all God said to do. Aaron’s authority was passed to His son Eleazar and God literally took him home.  It was a sad moment for Israel, and for Moses. It was also a reminder to Moses that sin does, in fact, have a cost.  Moses had now lost both his sister and his brother. He must have felt quite alone in the world.  But, truth was, he still had God. It would be God that continued to guide him and meet his needs.  By this time, Moses had truly learned that God was all he needed to live. Moses had seen that apart from God, he was nothing and could do nothing.  So, Moses soldiered on through the grief and continued to humbly lead Israel.

In our lives, we also experience great loss. That loss often leaves us feeling alone and to some extent helpless to proceed. In the midst of that, we have to recognize God’s authority in our lives.  He will continue to walk with us, protect us and fulfill our needs–we simply need to accept his leadership and provision.  Like Moses, we are never truly alone as long as we trust and follow God. We may have to deal with grievous situations, we may lose all we think we have. Truth is–its all God’s; and, no matter our depth of loss, God will be there for us; until he calls us home.

God Bless You 

The whole Israelite community set out from Kadesh and came to Mount Hor. 23 At Mount Hor, near the border of Edom, the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 24 “Aaron will be gathered to his people. He will not enter the land I give the Israelites, because both of you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah. 25 Get Aaron and his son Eleazar and take them up Mount Hor. 26 Remove Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar, for Aaron will be gathered to his people; he will die there.”

27 Moses did as the Lord commanded: They went up Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community. 28 Moses removed Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar. And Aaron died there on top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain,29 and when the whole community learned that Aaron had died, all the Israelites mourned for him thirty days.

Numbers 20 Part 2–The Edomites

Israel had enough issues. So as they approached Edom, they just wanted a nice quiet journey through. They would be respectful, stay on the road and simply move on to the next spot.  Sadly, however, The King of Edom was not having any of it.  Not only did he refuse Israel’s kind request, but he gathered up his army and was ready to attack.  It was quite a shock to Moses and the Israelite people.  But, What that selfish refusal would cause in later years would be the end of the Edomites.
God looks at His people and does keep track of how they are treated. When a nation opposes Israel, they oppose God.  It is critical to note, No one has opposed God and won.  NOBODY! God would long remember the acts of the Edomite king.  Through the ages, many have opposed Israel and all have eventually regretted it. We have to trust and honor God.  We also must recognize He cares for His own.  That being the case, we can rest assured he also cares for us. We can trust him to guide us, provide for us, and protect us; no matter the enemy or circumstance.  We may not always see the immediate affect of God’s hand; but, we can rest assured He will prevail.
God Bless You

Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, saying:

“This is what your brother Israel says: You know about all the hardships that have come on us. 15 Our ancestors went down into Egypt, and we lived there many years. The Egyptians mistreated us and our ancestors, 16 but when we cried out to the Lord, he heard our cry and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt.

“Now we are here at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory. 17 Please let us pass through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the King’s Highway and not turn to the right or to the left until we have passed through your territory.”

18 But Edom answered:

“You may not pass through here; if you try, we will march out and attack you with the sword.”

19 The Israelites replied:

“We will go along the main road, and if we or our livestock drink any of your water, we will pay for it. We only want to pass through on foot—nothing else.”

20 Again they answered:

“You may not pass through.”

Then Edom came out against them with a large and powerful army. 21 Since Edom refused to let them go through their territory, Israel turned away from them.

Numbers 20–Hitting a Rock!!??

No matter how close one’s relationship with God is, on any given day–people forget to let God be God.  Moses was leading the people to the desert landmark. Since it was a desert–water was scarce.  The people, as usual, were complaining about thirst. Moses was grieving the death of his sister.  Still he came before God, and once again, sought God’s lead regarding water.  God told Moses and Aaron go speak to the rock and it would gush water.
Moses and Aaron went to the rock and said, “Listen you rebels, must WE bring you water out of this rock?” Moses then struck the rock, and water poured out.  Sadly, God then pulled the brothers aside and said–because you did not honor me in front of the people, you will not lead them into the promised land.  What a heartbreak.  I must be honest, this passage always bugged me. The amount of trouble that Moses accepted as he led the people was staggering. So on a bad day; after his sister died, for God to disqualifying him for hitting instead of talking to the rock seems harsh.  Truth is, though, It was Moses’ heart at issue.  Ok, must WE bring water from this rock-speaks to Moses’ perception of power; not a simple misunderstanding.
So often, we feel like life simply is not fair. Consequences are too harsh; or circumstances are not kind to a good person. We do not understand the apparent imbalance between actions and outcomes. Take heart, we are not alone. From the beginning, we have tried to understand God size issues with a man size understanding. It is simply impossible. That is why prophets, priests and kings have simply trusted God–not second guessed him.  Paul, the most prolific New Testament author,  reminded us several times, that our Job was to trust God, follow Him, and seek His eternal perspective. Otherwise, our hearts grow weary and our faith grows thin. Then, on any given day, we could decide we know better; and feel empowered to take charge and help God out. That never ends well.  Like Moses, we cut ourselves out of God’s blessing for our lives. Let’s follow the direction of Solomon, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways…And HE will make your path straight!” Proverbs 3:5-6
God Bless You

In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.

Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell face down, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

13 These were the waters of Meribah,[a] where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he was proved holy among them.

Numbers 19 The Water of Cleansing

 There simply is no cleansing without sacrifice. Even as early as the journey through the desert, the Israelites had to deal with sin.  God Gave Moses and Aaron a method for cleansing.  The method was elaborate, and those that prepared for it paid a price of being ceremonially unclean. Still, God made provision for the people to be able to be cleansed for their sin. 

​The ashes for purification would be a way to continue to be in community; even when there was sin. God never wanted to be separated from his chosen people. Still, God hated sin. He never wanted it in his presence. So, to deal with sin, He made a way for cleansing. The reality is that the people’s sins were not truly wiped away by spreading ashes in water, but, there would, one day, be a sacrifice that would actually and completely cleanse sin.  The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

​We are blessed to walk in the forgiveness of sin. Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross made a full and final payment for that sin. We no longer need to kill heifers, spread ashes, or wash our clothes to be cleansed. Instead, we simply need to confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord; and, believe that God truly raised Him from the dead–and we will be saved. Romans 10:9.  We can never underestimate the depth and breadth of God’s Love for us. Instead, we can only thank and praise the Lord for what He has done.  He has made provision for our sin and given us the opportunity to experience full, meaningful and eternal life. 

God Bless You  

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “This is a requirement of the law that the Lord has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke. Give it to Eleazar the priest; it is to be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. Then Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the tent of meeting. While he watches, the heifer is to be burned—its hide, flesh, blood and intestines. The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and throw them onto the burning heifer. After that, the priest must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water. He may then come into the camp, but he will be ceremonially unclean till evening. The man who burns it must also wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he too will be unclean till evening.

“A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and put them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp. They are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin. 10 The man who gathers up the ashes of the heifer must also wash his clothes, and he too will be unclean till evening. This will be a lasting ordinance both for the Israelites and for the foreigners residing among them.

Numbers 18–Giving and the Levites

The Levites had a unique role among the Israelites. They were to be the ones that served as the priests and caretakers of God’s tent of meeting and God’s stuff.  In that role, they had no assigned lands, nor any fields from which to build an inheritance for their families.  they lived among the rest of the tribes, and carried out the spiritual functions.  In that role, God allowed them to take the tithe for Him from the people of Israel.  God made it clear, the people were to give back to him.  They were to give a tenth of what they brought in, and it was to be the  “best” and not the rest.
The Levites were to receive the tithe; and, they were to give a tithe of that to Aaron and his family. That 10th was also to be the “best” and not the rest. Aaron and his family were to sacrifice as well–you got it…”Best” and not the rest. The purpose was to remember that God provided it all. It was also a reminder that as a community, God’s people were to do their part to support the ministry. The priests and Levites were God’s Liaisons. As such, they were given special responsibilities. They were not given typical lives to grow and build an inheritance. Everyone had to give; and as everyone gave, God blessed it, and allowed the nation to grow and thrive.  
God still calls us to give-we need to give our best and we need to do so knowing that it supports the ministry and allows God to bless us.  In 2nd Corinthians 9:7 Paul says, “As each man purposes in his heart, so let him give. Not grudgingly or out of necessity–for God loves a cheerful giver.”  God never strong arms us. He simply reminds us that our gifts are from His wealth and as we trust him, God will provide for our needs.  It is a difficult part of faith to release our treasure.  God understands. But, as we continue to give; rest assured, that the Lord will make sure our needs are met!  Thanks Lord, for sharing your stuff with us!

“I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting. 22 From now on the Israelites must not go near the tent of meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and will die. 23 It is the Levites who are to do the work at the tent of meeting and bear the responsibility for any offenses they commit against it. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites. 24 Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the Lord. That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.’”

25 The Lord said to Moses, 26 “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering. 27 Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor or juice from the wine-press. 28 In this way you also will present an offering to the Lord from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the Lord’s portion to Aaron the priest. 29 You must present as the Lord’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.’

30 “Say to the Levites: ‘When you present the best part, it will be reckoned to you as the product of the threshing floor or the wine-press. 31 You and your households may eat the rest of it anywhere, for it is your wages for your work at the tent of meeting. 32 By presenting the best part of it you will not be guilty in this matter; then you will not defile the holy offerings of the Israelites, and you will not die.’”

Numbers 18 Part 1–Picking Up The Pieces

Despite the chaos of the priests, God took Aaron aside, and appointed he and his family to take over the duties of the Kohathites. God already made clear that Moses and Aaron were His picks, but since Kohath and his family rebelled, God expanded Aaron’s families responsibilities to include the care and moving of God’s precious things.  It must have been both an honor and a sadness to be the family to care for the temple treasures. 
Aaron and his family would gladly and honorably complete the assignment; but, it would also be a reminder of the rebellion.  God was still aligning the people with His plan.  Such an alignment was difficult. God was in a way, starting from “square-one”. But, God straightened His own house first, then the Lord would work to align the remainder of the people.
This passage is a simple reminder that God never quits on us. No matter the disaster or sin, God will pick up and move forward with His plan.  It is also a reminder that sin leaves a hole. When we rebel, it not only affects us; but, it also affects many innocent people around us.  We cannot undo the damaged caused. God can, however, begin to move forward and replace and restore what is loss with His best and His brightest.  We have to remember that God knows everything and has a plan for us and our lives.  Jeremiah said it best, “I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord! Plans to prosper you–and not to harm you. Plans to Give you hope and a future!” Jeremiah 29:11.
God Bless You

The Lord said to Aaron, “You, your sons and your family are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the sanctuary, and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the priesthood. Bring your fellow Levites from your ancestral tribe to join you and assist you when you and your sons minister before the tent of the covenant law. They are to be responsible to you and are to perform all the duties of the tent, but they must not go near the furnishings of the sanctuary or the altar. Otherwise both they and you will die. They are to join you and be responsible for the care of the tent of meeting—all the work at the tent—and no one else may come near where you are.

“You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that my wrath will not fall on the Israelites again. I myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord to do the work at the tent of meeting. But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary is to be put to death.”

Numbers 17-A Failure to Communicate

There was a great classic movie called Cool Hand Luke. In the movie, Steve McQueen was a prisoner that acted as escape artist.  He drove the prison warden crazy. As McQueen would be recaptured, the punishments would become more severe.  The warden, as he issued the punishment, would say these classic words, “What we have, here, is a failure to communicate.” Such was the case with God, Moses and the children of Israel.
God set Moses as the leader of the people. God set Aaron, Moses brother, as the head of the Levites who were the spiritual leaders of the people. Well, after the people rebelled against these men and God, many died. So now, to end the unrest, God told the people to designate a leader from each tribe, and put the leaders name on a staff.  God then had the staffs brought to Him, in the Tabernacle, and He told them he would make the staff of His leader sprout!  Pretty clear assignment; and a pretty clear sign from God.
God told them that He would choose so that people would quit rebelling and then have to be punished and or die.  Seemed like a clear message.  So Aaron’s staff budded, sprouted and produced almonds. No other staff did anything. Aaron was God’s clear choice–end of discussion. So the people’s response was a clear “Failure to communicate”! They came to Moses and cried, “We are lost now, are we going to die?” 
Really? God just said–“I will choose; so no one else has to die!”…What they had there was a failure to communicate.  God loved His people. He wanted to lead them, bless them and simply make them the greatest nation on earth. They simply could not understand. So, they continued to miss the point.
In our lives, God wants the same. He wants to lead us, guide us, and prepare us for eternity. All God asks in exchange, is for us to allow Him to lead us and have a relationship with us. We are constantly looking for the other answer. Like the Israelites we miss the point–God always wants to mold us, bless us and make us the best we can be. It is sometimes very difficult training, but, if we will simply trust Him, we will be blessed. Seems reasonable to me!
God Bless You

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write the name of each man on his staff. On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe. Place them in the tent of meeting in front of the ark of the covenant law, where I meet with you. The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.”

So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron’s staff was among them. Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the covenant law.

The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the Lord’s presence to all the Israelites. They looked at them, and each of the leaders took his own staff.

10 The Lord said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” 11 Moses did just as the Lord commanded him.

12 The Israelites said to Moses, “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! 13 Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord will die. Are we all going to die?”

Numbers 16 Part 2–God, the Vindicator

Moses and Aaron went to the only place they knew to quash the rebellion–God. They could tell immediately, that God was on their side.  God told Moses and Aaron to have the people move away from the tents of the rebels.  The rebels and the disloyal priests were ready to humiliate Moses and Aaron–well, that was right before God destroyed them and swallowed them up into the earth.  
God will not be mocked.  He set Moses and Aaron as the leaders, and He would protect His chosen against any enemy–even an enemy within the camp.  What the rebels failed to discern was that God that would take action against any enemy; even them. It’s strange; these men saw the plagues, the Red Sea, the golden calf.  Each day they ate food that God provided and saw God’s very presence in the camp.  Still, despite God’s consistent presence, they thought they knew better than God himself.  They were wrong, and the error cost them their lives, and the lives of their families.
There are difficult days. In the midst of those difficult days, the enemy whispers in our ears that we can do better on our own. He tells us that God is fine and all, but, He is kind of busy. If we believe Satan’s lie; we begin to second guess God’s plan, and risk destroying our lives and the lives of many others.  When we trust and follow the Lord, He will protect us from those that would destroy us.  He may not swallow them up, but God will make sure His people are protected and vindicated. At day’s end, Moses and Aaron were vindicated. It did not please them to see these people lose their lives, but, it made their leadership easier and it caused the people to realize it was God, not Moses and Aaron that set and executed the plan.
The people would not soon forget the importance of following God closely. They would not question God’s, Moses’ or Aaron’s authority. They now knew that it was their job to follow, and God’s to do the rest–a generation’s lesson for preparation to take what God was giving them.
God Bless You

But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, “O God, the God who gives breath to all living things, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”

23 Then the Lord said to Moses, 24 “Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’”

25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 He warned the assembly, “Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.” 27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.

28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: 29 If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”

31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. 33 They went down alive into the realm of the dead,with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. 34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!”

35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

36 The Lord said to Moses, 37 “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to remove the censers from the charred remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy—38 the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives. Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar, for they were presented before the Lord and have become holy. Let them be a sign to the Israelites.”

I Thessalonians 5–Thanksgiving

This is a rare Saturday post. I am writing this one to remind myself and you that we are to be Thankful and grateful.  Paul was telling the people that they were to encourage one another, they were to acknowledge the efforts of those that worked hard. They were to be grateful and Thankful in all circumstances.  Not because it was easy, but simply because it was God’s will for Christian’s lives.

While it is often difficult, we are to rejoice always, pray continually and be thankful in any and every circumstance. If we will trust God and follow that plan, it is certain that we can overcome the struggles that we face and honor God with our lives.  

This is a week to be thankful. We celebrate it, we stop our business for it.  We gather as families to remember that we have been prepared, protected, provided for by a God that sees and knows all. Let us never take that for granted, and let us always remain thankful.

God Bless You

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Final Instructions

12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

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