May 22, Reading 1 – Numbers 35:9-36:13

Reading

Audio, Visual

SAA Notes

The Cities of Refuge were places that people guilty of manslaughter could live – restricted but productive lives with their families. Justice was served as far as the victim’s family was concerned too because the person guilty of manslaughter didn’t get off scot-free. Justice in family, church and society needs to show fairness, common sense and humanity.

SJA Notes

“If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the evidence of witnesses. But no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness.”

It’s interesting to think about these verses with respect to Jesus and the events leading up to His crucifixion.

When we understand these laws that God gave to the people through Moses, it becomes obvious that the chief priests, leaders and pharisees (in Jesus’ time) were hypocrites, two-faced, not caring about the actual law of Moses when it stood between them and what they wanted.

Mark tells us in Mark 14:56 that at the trial when Jesus was before the council (chief priests, elders, scribes),

“For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree.”

And in v59,

“Yet even about this their testimony did not agree.”

They were clearly not obeying the law of Moses.

In Mark 14:63 this is highlighted again after Jesus says He is the Christ, as the high priest tears his clothes and says,

“What further witness do we need? You have heard his blasphemy.”

They don’t seem to truly care about God’s law.

In today’s passage in Numbers we read further down,

“Moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death.”

Mark would no doubt have had this in mind when he describes Barabbas,

“And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas.”

The chief priests knew this law, they were fully aware of what God had said through Moses. The action of swapping Barabbas for Jesus went completely against God’s commands.

What do we do when God’s word gets in the way of something we want? How do we react when the mirror that is God’s word reveals the truth of who we are, of our brokenness?

James tells us what we should be doing in James 1:25,

“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”

It is hard to have the reality of our broken thoughts and desires be shown for what they are against the holiness of God. It is hard to choose the narrow way when we really want the thing that is glittering down the broad road.

Let’s be encouraged to persevere as the perfect law is revealed to us, planted and grown within us.

“In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.” Psalm 119:14

* All-Powerful God,

You have given to us Your laws, Your commands, Your precepts and statutes.

These are for our good. You as the Sovereign Creator God have told us what is best for us.

Please help us to listen to Your word. Please open the eyes and ears of our hearts that we might not sin against You.

Amen.

May 21, Reading 1 – Numbers 34:1-35:8

Reading

Audio, Visual

SAA Notes

God set the boundaries of the Promised Land. John in Revelation 21 describes the boundaries of Jerusalem Above. Boundaries remind us that He is our Lord – we respect His will and desire. The Ten Commandments also are boundaries of a different sort. People who accept the boundaries make good neighbours!

SJA Notes

“… From the larger tribes you shall take many, and from the smaller tribes you shall take few;”

The tithing principle of giving a portion of what the Lord has given to you is seen here.

The tribes were to give cities to the Levites, the number determined by the size of the land they had (which was determined by the size of the tribe).

We read in God’s word the importance of the first-fruits, the first-born.

In Numbers 3 we read God’s intent in consecrating (setting apart) the firstborn (who opens the womb) – And swapping in the Levites for the rest of Israel’s firstborn.

Romans 12 gives us another layer on this understanding,

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

We are all in Christ set apart and consecrated, and so all that we do is to be first-fruits, given to the Lord.

It is important for us to give back to God from what He has given to us – The best of our work, our time and energy, our worship.

And as with Israel, so with us – We do not need to give the same as someone else, we do not measure our giving against others in God’s church. We give out of whatever measure God has given to us (large or small across many different means and areas).

* Dear Lord God,

Thank You for Your love, for Jesus Your Son, for His sacrifice – You have given to us so very much!

Thank You for allowing us ways to give back to You with whatever You give to us.

Please help us to wrestle with what we need to give, how we give, our heart – Not under compulsion but in the freedom that comes through You.

Thank You Lord.

Amen.

May 20, Reading 1 – Numbers 33

Reading

Audio, Visual

SAA Notes

Moses recorded every stage of their journey. The succeeding generations needed to know that God kept Israel throughout all their journeys. He knows each stage of your life too. The invasion of Canaan is founded in God’s judgment – with the warning to Israel that the same awaits them if they too are unfaithful to their Creator.

SJA Notes

“On their gods also the LORD executed judgements.”

There is a symmetry between the exodus from Egypt – God stamping down judgement on the Egyptians, on their gods – And the entry and order into the promised land, the eradication of other gods,

“… And destroy all their figured stones and destroy all their metal images and demolish all their high places.”

Have no other Gods but ME, says the Lord.

He said it loud and clear as Israel left Egypt.

Here the Lord gives Israel the responsibility. They need to act and drive out the people and wipe their gods from the land. Other gods, NOT-YAHWEH gods.

We are called to do the same. To have a single God, the LORD; No other gods but Him.

And the land we are promised, the kingdom that cannot be shaken, Jesus (God) has been and continues to prepare it!

Hebrews 12 has some wonderful words on this,

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”

We have a kingdom that cannot be shaken!

What is it then to us but to offer ourselves to God as living sacrifices, acceptable worship, with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28).

This will guard us against idolatry here on earth while we wait for the NOT YET THERE.

* Dear Lord,

You are a holy God who does not accept other gods.

Please help us to have no other gods but YOU.

Please guard our hearts and minds against idolatry, in whatever form or function it might come to us.

Please write Your word on our hearts, to protect us Lord, to teach us Your ways.

Amen.