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Numbers 1-6 Commentary: God's Guide for the Lost in Life
-This is a very popular passage because it reminds us that God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives. The Four Spiritual Laws cover this very well. Throughout scripture we see that God has not only made His will something we don't have to speculate on, but that He's more interested in guiding us through it then we are often times willing to be guided.
“Human beings are unique in that we are the species that tends to pick up more speed the more lost we get.” -Chuck Swindol
+The Skeptic always asks God to directly speak to them and then they'd be willing to believe, yet we see in the nation of Israel's history that when God tried that the people begged Him to stop or they'd die from the exposure to such power. Israel needed this radical wake up call concerning who they were dealing with, however, because it shows that no matter what understanding of God you had yesterday, it doesn't mean you are immune to falling into scams like the Golden Calf a month later. That's exactly what ended up happening as recorded for us in the Book of Exodus. Following that God continues to pursue a relationship with the nation of Israel by providing a preview of coming attractions concerning His plan for mankind's salvation through the Tabernacle and Priesthood in the Book of Leviticus. And now in the Book of Numbers, we begin Israel's departure from Sanai and the receiving of God's Law to see what they did with that information.
-The Book of Numbers, Arithmioi in the Greek, usually scares those who try to avoid math problems back to the Psalms. Yet in Hebrew the book is called “Bemidbar”, literally “In the desert” in the Hebrew. Other Rabbinical titles for it also include calling it the “book of wanderings” and “the book of murmurings.” You may not relate all that much in life or your walk with God concerning matters of mathematics beyond pleas for mercy. Yet we all relate to times where we find ourselves wondering why God's timetable and our own always seem out of alignment.
-The Book of Numbers is divided into 3 parts; 1. Preparation for their time in the wilderness.
Numbers 1-10: God would give them everything they would need going forward for what should have been an 11 day journey from Sanai to the promised land as well as what they would need entering into the promised land going forward.
2. Prolongation in their time in the wilderness.
Numbers 11-25: God wouldn't allow Israel to wander far from where He wanted them to go in life, and take them through the same lessons over and over until they finally learned from them.
3. Purification in their time in the wilderness.
Numbers 26-36: God would use Israel's time in the wilderness to do a lasting work in their hearts and lives to receive something greater.
1. God's preference for our lives is that we would walk with Him and enter into His rest.
2. God's priority for our lives is that we aren't going to move on from any lessons until we have learned them and understand them.
3. God's product of what He plans to accomplish in our hearts and lives. People who are ready to see Him face to face and enter into the ultimate rest.
-Unlike the book of Leviticus, which only ended up covering a month of Israel's history, the Book of Numbers covers a period of 39 years. Leviticus showed the things of God in a vertical sense. Numbers demonstrates how they often end up looking in a horizontal one.
-This Numbering of the people of Israel sparks a bit of controversy since it was one of King David's greatest sins.
2 Samuel 24:1-9:
-David does the same thing on paper that God commanded Moses to do in the book of Numbers. Yet almost immediately after, his conscience calls him on it immediately.
2 Samuel 24:10:
+First, it's important to understand that when the nation of Israel was numbered in Numbers, it was to count the total needed to dedicate them all to the Lord for an offering as a reminder that they were God's people and not King David's.
+Second, numbering the people of Israel wasn't a sin across the board. It's why you do something that ends up making it sinful more often then not. David was numbering the military strength of Israel because it would give him a reminder of all that God had provided for the nation militarily, but so that he could have some confidence and comfort in the physical strength of Israel instead of God. David was judged very harshly for this because he knew better from experience that physical strength has had absolutely nothing to do with his own victories in the past. The first and greatest example is his encounter with Goliath, a 9'6 tall man whose spear tip weighed the same as a world class shot put, that he defeated when he was just a child because of the sole fact the Lord was on his side.
-God isn't against numbering the people. He does have a problem with trusting in humanity more than Himself. God isn't as interested in math as He is interested in people. That's why such a level of detail is included in going through these families by their tribe and family with the exception of one tribe.
-The Levites weren't to be numbered with the nation of Israel for war because their purpose in serving God wasn't for war, but for worship.
+When God uses us in one area, that doesn't mean He will use us in every area. God has different tasks for different people and we need to be aware of the fact that the number one temptation we will face in serving God is to be distracted from the areas God has gifted us in. If we serve faithfully in areas we haven't been equipped for, two areas of ministries are going to end up suffering.
-There are only a few things that we can do very well. Our focus should be to find the area we are most effective in by coming to God with a willing heart, and what God calls you to from there with the most joy is where you should start to get comfortable. You can get tired in the ministry, but someone called by God to serve Him in an area should never get tired of the ministry or they may have just not been called to that area of service. Rabbits aren't slow animals, but they perform poorly in the swimming pool. Israel needed a strong army, but they needed an even stronger spiritual support to remind them all where their strength came from.
+The Apostles dealt with an issue of administration by raising up and praying over people who were called by God to be effective administrators. Instead of setting aside the ministry Jesus called them to in sharing the gospel, they delegated the areas they knew they were not called by Jesus to serve in and ended up raising 7 extremely effective and faithful servants of God. They didn't deviate from their ministry and ended up equipping seven others for theirs.
-Judah and the tribe's leader were placed first, followed by Issachar, then Zebulun, then Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Ephraim, and so forth. They would all be organized based on a standard, or a flag, that would mark the place where their tribes would gather all surrounding the Tabernacle of God.
-The Tribes would be set out in a way that would not only see them organized by tribe, but set out according to their families so their means of defense would be close to home.
+The Standard we defend and establish our homes is the mind and heart of Jesus Christ.
-Family ties and their love for one another would be what motivated them to not only keep each other safe, but know the ones they loved the most would be the first ones they would be defending.
+The Family of God isn't out for itself. We need to do the things we do for the Lord to be for those we love and are closest to us as well. And hopefully the number of those individuals is growing all the time.
+The ultimate priority of Israel wasn't just their physical safety, but their spiritual security as well. Their spiritual leadership structure was based on the family of Aaron and the reasons why his direct sons didn't inherit that role are explained again.
-One tribe was to minister to the spiritual needs of 12 others. They wouldn't have their own territory, but be so invested in the lives of God's people and their needs were being met. This 12 to 1 ratio would seem a little daunting if the Levites would have to perform this task all by themselves. That's where the concept of discipleship would come in. You would build into the lives of others to continue the work into the next generation so God continues to do the work through people instead of a specific person.
2 Timothy 2:2:
-Paul communicated his message and ministry to Timothy, who then passed them on to other F.A.T. Christians. Faith, Available, and Teachable.
+The ministry of multiplication is to continue building into the lives of as many people as possible that as they are lead in their own spiritual gifts, will naturally fill roles that the few in leadership aren't called to.
+The Firstborn of every tribe would be dedicated to God, and the Levites would perform a substitution role for the people who were redeemed back into their families before God. Their presence in serving before God would allow the rest of the tribe's firstborn to go free.
2 Corinthians 5:21:
1 Peter 1:18:
-This ministry would not only allow the Levites to be supported by the other tribes of Israel through their financial redeeming of all the firstborn, but also effectively pour into them a message of discipleship that would cause God's word to be practically and powerfully applied to each and every one of them personally.
Judah would be a Tribe that knew the word of God.
Zebulun would understand the seriousness of sin and the price necessary to redeem us from it.
Issachar would understand that God is holy and they would also be called to do the same.
It doesn't take rocket science to bless an entire nation.
+If every Christian spent a year pouring into one individual discipling them, then they went on to do the same and continued the pattern of each person sharing the gospel with and ministering to one person for a full year, the law of multiplication would conclude that based on that statistic, the entire world's population would be reached in 32 years. The only hitch in the get-a-long is making sure you're finding faithful people who will do the same and not wasting a full year.
+There were 3 main families in the tribe of Levi who had direct responsibility concerning the transportation of the Tabernacle and handling of the materials. The first group were the Kohathites who would handle the cloth based materials like the Tent itself along with the veil and other workings. The second group were the Merarites who would handle the works of metal that made up the frames and supports for the Tabernacle. And lastly the Gershonites would be the ones who would transport the Ark of the Covenant along with the other significant furnishings within the Tabernacle.
+Praying to God for specifics concerning where your role is in the body will never go unanswered. The only prerequisite is that you have to be willing to respond to said calling obediently and faithfully. He's not going to tell you what to do if you aren't willing to do it.
-People who are called by God to a specific area of ministry are also given hearts that love that particular area of ministry. If God's calling you to Africa, you're going to wonder why everyone else doesn't want to go there. If you're called to changing diapers, you're going to love babies so much you'd consider it an honor. Understand that's the God you serve and you won't hesitate to respond to where specifically He has called you in ministry.
+This passage continues to speak wisdom to the management of infection in a community to this day in the department of disease theory.
-Concerning the matter of sin, specifically giving the example of adultery, the matter not only needs to be confessed but needs to have a tangible example of how sorry you are about this that you're willing to do anything within your power to make it right again. This is shown through finances when confession of sin is brought up to illustrate the point. If your relationship with God and others matters so much to you, how far are you willing to go in order to restore that relationship when it is damaged by your actions?
+This practice that was to deal with the suspicion of adultery in a marriage. If the husband suspected his wife of unfaithfulness, they'd both bring the matter before God and the priest would ask her in God's presence and have her drink bitter water. If she lied before God about the adultery and a resulting curse came on her, the matter was settled. If the husband was just being paranoid and dishonoring his wife through this accusation, he would be culturally shamed.
-The point of this isn't the ooky spooky ceremony of the bitter water. It was when a dispute that couldn't be settled in a marriage needed to be resolved, it was to be brought before the Lord. This test of bitter water would not only prove that you can hide things from people but you can't fool God. It would also be an opportunity for God to tell the husband to cool his jets about nothing. The only thing that gave the bitter water power wasn't some archaic superstition like a Monty Python sketch about burning witches. It was a test of conscience in the presence of God. The results were either natural or supernatural. The husband would be proven a moron before God or the wife would be proven an adulteress before God.
+The Law of the Nazarite was someone who dedicated themselves to God. This would be by temporarily not drinking wine, not shaving their head or faces, or coming into contact with dead things. The abstinence from wine would represent the fact they were not going to get involved with things that could bring them under the influence of anything but God. The neglect of shaving would represent the individual not putting their confidence in outward appearances in order to determine a walk with God that people would honor or be attracted to. And the extra consideration towards the things that are dead would be to show they weren't going to go the way of the world.
-There are 3 individuals in scripture who were Nazarites for their entire lives and not just a short period of time. The first was the judge Sampson until Delilah shaved him. The second was the prophet Samuel. And the third was John the Baptist. This dedication to God would set the people of Israel at a sharp contrast to the rest of the world concerning their appearances, their conduct, and even their diet, in order to set an example that God mattered more to them than all these things.
-Why did God set things in this order, with these practices, and with this opportunity to outwardly express an inward dedication to Him? Because He wanted to be able to bless them. The person who thinks the God of the Old Testament is a God of judgment and wrath hasn't read it. Nor do they know Him.