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Month: October 2016

Understanding God’s Plan in the Journey We Have Traveled

Understanding God’s Plan in the Journey We Have Traveled

As we are closing out another month in our travels and we are almost through the Book of Numbers; I am again reminded of the many historical stories that are so important for us to understand and remember as they are mentioned so many times in the New Testament.  I am completely convinced that understanding the New Testament relies in part on understanding the Old Testament.  It  is all connected together to form one big picture, like a puzzle.  Some nights when I have difficulty falling asleep, I start in Genesis and mentally put the pieces together to make sure I don’t forget any of God’s perfect picture He has planned. I can always see the evidence of God’s hand in everything that is told.

Lets review where our journey together has taken us so far.  By understanding the survival of Noah and his family from the flood; we see God choose Abraham to be the father of His chosen people.  By Abraham’s faith to follow God, we learn about faith and trusting God, too.  It’s understanding the Covenant God made with Abraham that leads us into the rest of the story of the Israelites and all that they have been through.  We see their failures and their triumphs and recognize them to be so much like our own failures and triumphs.

We realize that Joseph had to end up in Egypt in order for his family to be saved during a terrible time of famine.  Remember God told Abraham what his seed would be: “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.”  And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed in the Lord..”  Genesis 15:5-6 NKJV

Knowing that makes it easier to see that  the Israelites could still be there in Egypt  400 years later, but now as slaves.  They had grown from a family of 60 to a large group of 600,000. This could be quit a threat to a Pharaoh if he would lose control.  But, that was all part of God’s plan. Now Pharaoh had ordered the Israelite baby boys to be killed in order to keep their population from increasing so fast.  Enter Moses!  Having being saved by the Pharaoh’s daughter, he had never been a slave.  But, he remained an Israelite at heart.  It would take 40 years before that part of God’s plan began to unfold.  God choose Moses to finally lead His people out of slavery and to the land He had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  A lesson for us that God is true to His Word…in His own timing!

We have seen God’s Almighty power when we read of the plagues He had brought on Egypt before the Israelites were allowed to leave. We have read and understand the symbols related to the Jewish Passover meal that reflect Jesus.  We know that they left Egypt with treasures and all they would need and more for their journey.  How can we ever forget the parting of the Red Sea so they could cross over on dry land!  And the miracle of the Angel of the Lord leading them as a pillar of cloud during the day and a light of fire during the night!

We spent a lot of time on the building of the Tabernacle: God’s dwelling place among them.  Each article made was symbolic of Jesus and His saving grace!  The Ten Commandments given to God’s people are still  moral rules that a community should live by; and are laws given for believers even today!  The laws that followed in Leviticus and Numbers were necessary for them to live together and for atonement for their sins because their Messiah had not yet come.

We have journeyed with them in the wilderness through all the complaining and whining and then forgiving; only to be repeated over and over again.   We have watched as God divided them into 12 tribal groups according to the linage of Jacob’s sons. We understand, too, that the tribe of Levites were to be the priests and would be treated differently from the other tribes.  We recognize how sacred and holy the Tabernacle and it’s furnishings were and the seriousness of the Pentecost festival when the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies!

We have seen severe punishment to those who refused to listen to God.  We are in awe of the miracle of Aaron’s staff blooming and budding.  The image on a pole that saved those who looked upon it, reminds us of the saving grace we have been given by the death of Jesus on the cross!  The miracle of water appearing when Moses struck the rock; and the cost he paid for losing his temper and disobeying the LORD!

We know that the Israelites could have reached their Promised Land in very few days; but God knew they were not wise enough; they weren’t strong enough; and they had to find their faith in “I AM” before they would be ready to take the land!  Because of their lack of faith demonstrated when eight of the ten spies exaggerated what they saw in Canaan; the generation that left Egypt would never enter into the Promised Land, except Joshua and Caleb. It would take 40 years instead.  In all that time we see that God furnished them food for each day, the Mania; and their clothing and sandals would never wear out.

This all makes me think of the special service we had Sunday morning at Mountain Grove Church.  The Youth Pastor gave his testimony and it was a great one!  It served as a reminder to all of us, that God is still in control; everything has a purpose and God acts in His own timing if we only believe and accept Him!  How about your testimony?  Can you look back and see God’s hand?!  Isn’t it exciting to know He still is at work in your life!  His plan is still in the making!!!  Be sure to share that with someone else today!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Bronze Serpent On A Pole

The Bronze Serpent On A Pole

When we left the children of Israel, they were at Mount Hor.  Both Miriam and Aaron, Moses sister and brother that had been with him since they left Egypt, have died.  Most of the people over 21 that had come out of Egypt have also died.   And Moses has been told by the LORD that he would not be going into the Promised Land either; because he had struck the rock with his rod in anger instead of just speaking to it, as God had commanded him!

Now they are leaving their camp once more and traveling again; this time  on the long route around the Red Sea!  I hope you are interested in their final days of traveling and how God was with them in fighting battles to conquer the land He had promised.  It helps explain why they are traveling on such an “out of way” trail.

I am not going into the conquests; but choose instead to look at at what I consider some  important and interesting occasions that apply to our lives, too!

I find the first occasion as they become irritated and start complaining again!  The same old story!  “We should never have left Egypt! ”  “We are going to die here in the wilderness! ”  “We are so tired of the this manna!”  Have you ever found yourself complaining about everything?  I think we are given a choice!  We can either complain about everything or look for the positive side of everything!  It’s more pleasant for you and everyone around you if you try to look for the positive side!

My favorite verse for this is: Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 HCSB)  You do have a choice and the Israelites had a choice; but they chose to complain again!

When the LORD heard His children complaining again, (He had just brought them victory over the Canaanites); He sent poisonous snakes into their camp.   Whenever a poisonous snake would bite them, they would die.  They realized they had sinned against God and confessed to Moses and asked him to intercede for them!

God heard!  “And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.   And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.”  (Numbers 21:8-9 NKJV)

  “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.    For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  (John3:14-16NKJV)

Praise Him LORD of all!!!

 

[How about a little assignment to work on over the weekend!?  As I have been reading the book of Numbers, I noticed that I read so many times:  “The Lord said to Moses”  Just for fun, count how many times you find that phrase in Numbers.  Doesn’t have to match exactly, but has the same meaning!  Good hunting!]

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Coming to the End of Their Journey

Coming to the End of Their Journey

Like I have said before, it was never my intention to actually follow the Israelites through the wilderness on their way to the land God had promised their forefathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  But here we are camped right beside them at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin.  Chapter 20 in the book of Numbers has too many important historical moments to skip over!

[I do hope and pray that you have been able to find time to read along and fill in the stories that I haven’t written about.  Please let me know when I have made a mistake.  For an example: in my blog, Learning Lessons the Hard Way, posted on October 24; I made the statement that “Korah and the men that had followed him (and their families) were swallowed up when God opened up the earth!”.  However, I found while reading ahead that they took a census of the Israelites and it included the children of Korah!  “….and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up together with Korah when that company died, when the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men; and they became a sign.  Nevertheless the children of Korah did not die.”  (Numbers 26:10-11)  So, please be sure to check facts no matter where you read or hear them!!]

Numbers chapter 20 begins with Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, has died and was buried in the Wilderness of Zin.  Even though the year isn’t mentioned here;  you will see in Numbers 33 the full account of Israel’s journey.  In  that chapter we find that it probably was the first month of their 40th year since they left Egypt.

It was while they were camped at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin that they found it was dry and without water this time.  As was their characteristic way whenever things didn’t go exactly to suit the people;  they started arguing with Moses and blaming him for bringing them out of Egypt to a place without water!  And as Moses always did at these times; he and Aaron fell on their faces before the LORD for an answer.

  “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” Number 20:7-8

Now, all Moses was told to do was to ” speak”  to the rock, but I think Moses must have hit the last of his patience with the Israelite children!  He even called them “rebels”!  In his anger, Moses struck the rock twice with this rod (staff)!!  Because of God’s gracious nature, water did flow from the rock!  But now it may have appeared as if Moses had caused the water to flow, when it was to be seen as another miracle from God!

Because Moses had drawn attention to himself, God now informed Moses and Aaron (who had been with Moses in calling the people together), that they would not be entering into the Promised Land.  (Numbers 20:12) So, we find in the end of the chapter 20 in the book of Numbers, that God has fulfilled His punishment sentence and Aaron died.  They had traveled from Kadesh to Mount Hor, which was very close to the land they had been promised.  Moses took off Aaron’s priestly garments, as the LORD had told him to do, and put them on Eleazar, Aaron’s  son. And the people of Israel mourned for thirty days!

“Then Aaron the priest went up to Mount Hor at the command of the Lord, and died there in the fortieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, on the first day of the fifth month.    Aaron was one hundred and twenty-three years old when he died on Mount Hor.”  (Numbers 33:38-39)

 

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