Numbers 28-30, Daily Living and Keeping Vows

As God was wrapping His time with Moses, He took the people through some basic life rules.  He told the Israelites about the various offerings and festivals they were to be apart of and that they were to present. God next turned His attention to the importance of keeping one’s vows to the Lord.  God was clear, If one makes a vow to the Lord, he must keep it. God takes vows seriously, and He would rather His people not make a vow; than He would have them make it lightly and then break it.

The people of Israel needed to hear that message.  They had not been faithful. From the moment of their deliverance from Egypt, they did nothing but complain and continuously dishonor their commitment to trust and follow God. Literally thousands lost their lives due to their sin and unbelief. They marched through the desert for years because they failed to trust God. Now, as they approached the promised land for the second time, God was preparing them to live a life as His chosen people.  Critical to that, was their integrity for keeping vows.

In our lives, we are similarly situated. God does not require that we make a plethora of vows. He only asks that we have a relationship with Him.  In that relationship, however, we need to take vows seriously. As with Israel, God would rather us not make a vow, than to make and then disregard it.  He loves us and has a incredible capacity for grace and mercy–but, as with any parent, He expects us to keep our word and honor our vows.  It is not too much to ask and we should be glad to honor him in it.God Bless You

Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: “This is what the Lord commands:When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.

“When a young woman still living in her father’s household makes a vow to the Lord or obligates herself by a pledge and her father hears about her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand. But if her father forbids her when he hears about it, none of her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand; the Lord will release her because her father has forbidden her.

“If she marries after she makes a vow or after her lips utter a rash promise by which she obligates herself and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her, then her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand. But if her husband forbids her when he hears about it, he nullifies the vow that obligates her or the rash promise by which she obligates herself, and the Lord will release her.

Numbers 27 Part 2–End of Mission

It was a heart rending moment, I am sure, for Moses when the Lord said–it is time to go. He had led the Israelites for over 40 years and now at the edge of the promised land, he had to die. There were many days that Moses wished he had simply honored God’s command–but, he knew this day would come and he met it bravely and thoughtfully.  As a great leader, his first thought was not to beg for a second chance–it was to make sure the people had a worthy leader.Joshua had been with Moses since Egypt. He had always honored Moses and God. He was one of the spies that said,”Lets do this!”  He was ready to lead the people.  So God transferred the authority of Moses to Joshua through God’s priest Eleazar. Moses laid hands on Joshua and commissioned him to lead the people into the promised land. At that, Moses had completed the mission God had given him. It was a daunting mission, and clearly it took an amazing servant to complete it.  Moses was that servant.It is the prayer of my heart to be that kind of servant. To follow the Lord’s leadership and commands.  To walk faithfully to the end of the mission.  It is often thankless, frustrating and daunting. Still, we are assured that God is with us and will lead us throughout the amazing journey.God Bless You

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim Range and see the land I have given the Israelites. 13 After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, 14 for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin,both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.” (These were the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.)

15 Moses said to the Lord, 16 “May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things,appoint someone over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

18 So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership,[a] and lay your hand on him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”

22 Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. 23 Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him,as the Lord instructed through Moses

Numbers 27–The Dawn of Women’s Rights

The people of Israel were coming to the end of their marching through the desert.  As Moses and the people sat across the Jordan, some daughters of the Israelites came before Moses and asked to receive the property of their father who died.  Up to that point, the inheritance went to the 1st born son and then to each of the sons.  So when the daughters approached Moses; there was no provision in place. 

So Moses took it to the Lord.  The Lord was clear. If a person died without sons, daughters would inherit. if no children then brothers. If no brothers, then closest family in the clan.  Thus, the beginning of estate law was passed from God to Israel.The greatest message here was that God held all people in high regard. He cared that people were treated properly no matter the age, race, gender or family.  He has, and always will act on our behalf, because God loves us unconditionally.

Then and now, God does not play favorites.  The Lord simply asks that we trust and follow Him.  God wants the best for all people.  God saw men’s greed, and knew that He would be somehow blamed for their desire to steal. So God set out a plan for all people to be treated fairly.  

It is critical  even today, that we remember that God is at the center of human rights.  He does not manipulate of politicize them–no, He simply reminds us that we are to live as He has and treat people with respect and dignity no matter their race, age, gender, nationality or financial status. If we would do that, the chaos which is our culture would be stable; and people would see life as God always intended us to live it.  

God Bless You

The daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, belonged to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. They came forward and stood before Moses,Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of meetingand said, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.”

So Moses brought their case before the Lord, and the Lord said to him, “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and give their father’s inheritance to them.

“Say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter.If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. 10 If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. 11 If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to have the force of law for the Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.’”

Numbers 25 Part 1–Even After All God’s Blessings…

Unbelievable, The Moabite King spent days trying to destroy Israel by having a prophet curse them.  He literally tried every angle to make it happen and God protected Israel. That should have been the happy ending, but sadly it was not.  The Israelite men started sneaking over and sleeping with the Moabite women and taking part in the idol worship, sacrifices and sexual rituals.  

Aaron’s grandson who was now the priest saved Israel from God’s wrath and stopped the ridiculous behavior. He followed  one of the men while he was with 2 Moabite women in camp, walked into the tent and killed them for their horrid behavior! That stopped God’s wrath against His people. Really?!!?

Sadly, as a result, over 24,000 folks died of plague.  How one could think it was safe to act so horribly with God right in camp– it is beyond belief…well, that is until we look at our own lives! We are all notorious of committing acts that are sinful knowing that God is right there! We are, therefore, blessed to have so great a salvation–that forgives us when we sin.  Only God can forgive that sin.  We must trust the Lord, and follow Him daily–to reach a place where we follow Him humbly and gracefully. 

Help me Lord to trust, follow and walk with You daily.

God Bless You

While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them.

The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.”

So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.”

Then an Israelite man brought into the camp a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.

10 The Lord said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites. Since he was as zealous for my honor among them as I am, I did not put an end to them in my zeal. 12 Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. 13 He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood,because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”

Numbers 23-24–It’s Not About Location

As God’s chosen, today, we too live under His provision, preparation and protection. It often feels as though the world has the upper hand; but, truth be known, nothing happens without God’s permission.

The Moabite king was convinced that he could curse Israel.  So, he summoned a local mystic–Balaam, to come and do the job.  Balaam asked God if he could take the job, and God said no. The King’s men came back and got Balaam to come–Balaam told them he would not do it, they urged him to come anyway.  God said fine, go, but only say what I tell you to say.  So, for the next several days, Balak, King of Moab, ushered the mystic from place to place. In each place, alters would be built, sacrifices made, and then–Balaam would bless Israel.

The King became furious–but, the prophet  would simply respond, I can only say what God has told me to say–and again the prophet would bless Israel. In the end, the King knew he had been stupid, his nation, and the allies of his nation were put on notice–Israel is and will be blessed by God–do not expect to defeat them.  In addition, your peoples will be destroyed, Have a nice day.

The bottom line is that the natural man does not understand the things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:14+ says it well, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” 

People think that they control their destinies. They simply do not.  There is a God who created and controls everything. The world simply thinks that because God allows evil to exist; that He must not be in control. SO Wrong! God has a plan and He will execute it to the letter. Israel was marching through the desert–awaiting the day they could enter the Promised Land. While they waited, they still were being prepared by God, provided for by God and were living under God’s protection.

As God’s chosen, today, we too live under His provision, preparation and protection.  It often feels as though the world has the upper hand; but, truth be known, nothing happens without God’s permission. That is why the promises of Roman 8:18, 28 and 34 are so significant. No matter how difficult our struggles–they cannot compare to the blessings that lie ahead. Further, all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. Finally, there is nothing in this world that can separate us from our God. Israel saw that daily. Paul wrote about it as a testimony to an amazing journey; and, we can live it–if we will simply trust and follow God!

God Bless You

Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not resort to divination as at other times, but turned his face toward the wilderness. When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came on him and he spoke his message:

“The prophecy of Balaam son of Beor,
    the prophecy of one whose eye sees clearly,
the prophecy of one who hears the words of God,
    who sees a vision from the Almighty,[a]
    who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:

“How beautiful are your tents, Jacob,
    your dwelling places, Israel!

“Like valleys they spread out,
    like gardens beside a river,
like aloes planted by the Lord,
    like cedars beside the waters.
Water will flow from their buckets;
    their seed will have abundant water.

“Their king will be greater than Agag;
    their kingdom will be exalted.

“God brought them out of Egypt;
    they have the strength of a wild ox.
They devour hostile nations
    and break their bones in pieces;
    with their arrows they pierce them.
Like a lion they crouch and lie down,
    like a lioness—who dares to rouse them?

“May those who bless you be blessed
    and those who curse you be cursed!”

Numbers 22 Part 2–Out of the Mouth of Donkey’s…

Balaam was a prophet of God. God had made it clear that Balaam was not to curse what God had blessed.  The Moabite king was trying to enlist Balaam to destroy Israel.  God had already warned Balaam–yet, Balaam was drawn to go and meet the Moabite King.  An Angel of God stood, sword drawn ready to stop the prophet. Fortunately, Balaam’s donkey refused to put his master in danger, as a result, the prophet beat the donkey for not walking him to his death. God opened Balaam’s eyes and the mouth of the donkey; and made His point clear, God was large and in charge.  The prophet was so repentant–to God, and to his donkey.  He realized the foolishness of flirting with sin and with God’s enemies. He then followed God’s lead.
 
So often in life, we are faced with opportunities to flirt with the world. It always seems exciting and romantic–but, it never ends well. Interestingly God used a donkey to expose the truth.  It is a great irony, using the simplest creature to expose the truth.  The donkey saw the danger and avoided it despite 3 beatings.  We need to be as smart as a donkey and avoid the world’s inducements.  We need to listen to God’s lead, and submit to him humbly and completely.  In His time, God will reveal the traps, entanglements and dangers that stand in our way.  We simply need to trust the Lord.  Balaam was a prophet, but his pride kept him from seeing the truth.  Help me , Lord to have the sense of a donkey and turn away from the traps of this world.
 
God Bless You

 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road.

24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again.

26 Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

32 The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.[a] 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”

34 Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”

35 The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials.

Numbers 22 Part 1–Do Not Curse What God Has Blessed

The Israelites were on a roll.  Now as they approached Moab, Moab’s King and the Moabites were getting scared. They had already heard of the destruction Israel completed on the Amorites.  So Balak the king sent a message to Balaam a local prophet to come and curse the Israelites.  As Balaam prepared to answer the King, he sought God’s leading.  God was clear–DO NOT CURSE WHAT I HAVE BLESSED!  The message was in fact very clear.
 
Sometimes the right answer seems so simple.  I have a problem, let ME fix it.  So, Balak thought–I will get God to curse these people so I can defeat them.  The only problem was, Balak forgot to seek God First.  Fortunately, Balaam, the prophet did seek God first–God said DON’T  DO IT!
 
In our lives, often we do the same thing.  We have a problem and we seek to solve it in the best way we can.  Sadly, often the best way WE can flies in the face of God’s plan.  So we have to go back and follow Jesus own words, “Seek First the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  If we will focus on seeking God, and not try to take matters into our own hands, then we can walk in His blessing and allow Him to work.  God is flawless in His execution.  We must continue to follow and trust Him.
 
God Bless You

Then the Israelites traveled to the plains of Moab and camped along the Jordan across from Jericho.

Now Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites, and Moab was terrified because there were so many people. Indeed, Moab was filled with dread because of the Israelites.

The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field.”

So Balak son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor, who was at Pethor, near the Euphrates River, in his native land. Balak said:

“A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed.”

The elders of Moab and Midian left, taking with them the fee for divination. When they came to Balaam, they told him what Balak had said.

“Spend the night here,” Balaam said to them, “and I will report back to you with the answer the Lord gives me.” So the Moabite officials stayed with him.

God came to Balaam and asked, “Who are these men with you?”

10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me this message: 11 ‘A people that has come out of Egypt covers the face of the land. Now come and put a curse on them for me. Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.’”

12 But God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.”