Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Numbers - "Desert Grumblings"|
Chapter: Numbers 27
Passage: Numbers 27:12-23
A. Find out :
1. What did the Lord tell Moses to do for what to happen? v.12-14
2. What did Moses ask the Lord to do? v.15-17
3. Who did the Lord say to choose? v.18
4. How was he to go about that? v.19,20
5. What was Joshua's relationship to the priest to be? v.21
6. So what happened? v.22,23
1. What time has now arrived?
2. How does Moses show his leadership nature?
3. Why do you think Joshua was chosen?
We now come to the end of Moses' life. He is a hundred and twenty, a remarkable age for that (or this) time. It's time for him to go to join the Lord and even in his going he will be a signpost to Israel , reminding them that the Lord is holy and always to be honoured.
The Lord shares with him that it is time to go. Perhaps we almost take for granted now the constant interchanges between the Lord and Moses. He communicated with the Lord more than any other man in the Old Testament. It is quite remarkable. But then Moses shows his pastoral leadership heart. Even then he was concerned for Israel 's future. They needed a shepherd to go on leading them, a man to represent the Lord before them.
So the Lord tells him to appoint Joshua because he is a man of the Spirit. In other words he is a man who has been blessed by God and responds to the Lord. Over the years Joshua was Moses' young helper. He had already been a warrior leader (see Ex 17:9-13), he had gone part way up the mountain with Moses (Ex 24:13), and had also spent much time at the Tabernacle (Ex 33:11). He had been one of spies who had gone into the land (Num 13:16) and with Caleb had been one of the only two who gave a good report and lived (Num 14:38 & 26:65). He is, therefore, well qualified to take over leadership as Israel enter the land.
1. God's leaders are those who gain experience.
2. God's leaders are those who are faithful.
Chapter: Numbers 31
Passage: Numbers 31:1-31
A. Find out :
1. What did the Lord tell Moses to do? v.1
2. How did Moses instruct the people? v.2-6
3. What then happened? v.7-12
4. Why was Moses angry & what instructions did he give? v.13-20
5. What instruction did the priest give? v.21-24
6. What instructions were given in respect of the plunder? v.25-31
1. How had Midian recently been a problem to Israel ?
2. How had the army initially had wrong understanding?
3. What was the message coming throughout this passage?
At first sight we may find some of the things in this passage shocking. Possibly if we hold it in the light of the history of the West over the past hundred years it may come into perspective. War is evil but sometimes it is the lesser or two evils. However that may not be the key issue here; it may be more a matter of judgement. If we recognise that the wages of sin is death and ALL deserve God's judgement (Rom 3:23 ) we also see that it is pure grace and mercy that any live. Recently here in Israel 's history the enemy has sought to bring down Israel by immorality and idolatry (25:1,2). These struck at the very nature of the people of God – holiness – and threatened to utterly destroy them.
What therefore follows in this passage is the judgement of God on that people – a total judgement where none are spared (only those who might become part of the Jewish family). The men would be killed because they were warriors, the women because they were the cause of the undermining, and boys because they would become warriors in the future. The girls alone could be saved. In the taking and dividing of the plunder from this warfare, there is a clear reminder that the camp of Israel is holy and nothing pagan is to be brought into it. The dividing up of the spoils enables the priest to be included and the Levites who were servers in the Tabernacle. All are looked after.
1. Judgement is deserved. Only our low view of sin denies that.
2. God's mercy and grace are wonderful expressions of His love.
Chapter: Numbers 32
Passage: Numbers 32:1-33
A. Find out :
1. Who asked what of Moses? v.1-5
2. What does Moses say this does? v.6,7
3. Of what does he remind them and then warn them? v.8-15
4. How did they respond to this? v.16-19
5. How did they leave it? v.20-32
6. So what did Moses do? v.33
1. What did the tribes of Reuben and Gad want to do?
2. Why did this upset Moses?
3. How did they overcome the problem?
They are on the edge of the Promised Land, to the east of the Jordan and two of the tribes look around and, liking what they see, ask Moses can they stay there and inhabit that area.
It is at that point that Moses reveals his wisdom and understanding – and is upset! If some of the tribes start dropping out of the job of clearing the whole land, it is going to discourage those who are left who will feel that the job will be too much for them – and fighting is always difficult when the rest of your family is settling down and enjoying the fruits of the land. No, if these two tribes do that it will have a very detrimental effect on the rest of the people. Reuben and Gad have obviously not thought about that!
Moses reminds them of the Lord's anger when some thirty eight years ago the spies had come back bringing discouragement. Reuben and Gad are in danger of doing the same thing and thus incurring God's anger again. Their response is good. They see the point and say they will settle their families and their flocks and then all the fighting men will be free to come with the rest of Israel to help them in the job of clearing the land. The two tribes are joined by the half tribe of Manasseh (v.39-) and so the land to the east of the Jordan is settled. It is a good start. Doing it like this encourages everyone.
1. We are to encourage not discourage our brothers and sisters.
2. Before we act, we need to think what the effects will be.
Chapter: Numbers 35
Passage: Numbers 35:1-28
A. Find out :
1. To whom was Moses commanded to give what? v.1-5
2. How many towns were to be given? v.6,7
3. How were they to be divided? v.8
4. What were 6 of those towns to become? v.6,9-15
5. What was to happen to a murderer? v.16-21
6. How was it to be different for manslaughter? v.22-28
1. Why do you think these rules were given for Levites?
2. What was the purpose of the cities of refuge?
In this last study of this particular series, we find the Lord giving Moses instructions to pass on to the people to cover two different situations.
The first situation was in respect of the Levites, the tribe chosen to look after the tabernacle (and eventually the Temple). They were a tribe set apart to God to specifically be available to maintain the location of God's meeting place with his people. Because of this they were to consider themselves available to the Lord at all times and were not, as a tribe, allocated a portion of the land in which to settle. Instead there were to be forty eight towns set apart with surrounding pasture land for them. In this way they would be looked after and in this way they would be spread around the land and be a constant reminder of the Lord.
The second situation was in respect of ordering society in the years and centuries to follow, in respect of people being killed. There is a clear distinction in God's commands between murder and manslaughter. Murder is where there was a clear intention to harm someone (not necessarily kill them) in that weapons were involved. Where that was so, then the murderer was to be put to death. Manslaughter was when someone was accidentally killed, and in that case there were these 6 cities where the person could flee until the anger of the family abated, a recognition of human emotions and a counter of them.
1. Those who minister before the Lord are to be cared for.
2. Law distinguishes according to intent.
RECAP - "Closing Scenes" - Numbers 27 - 35
In this final group of 4 studies we have seen :
- Joshua being appointed to replace Moses (27:12-23)
- Instructions to destroy the Midianites (31:1-6)
- Fighting Midian (31:7-12)
- Moses scolding them for saving people (31:13-18)
- Instructions for purifying the army (31:19-24)
- Instructions for dividing the plunder (31:25-31)
- 2 tribes wanting to settle east of the Jordan (32:1-5)
- Moses scolding them (32:6-15)
- Their commitment to go in and fight (32:16-28)
- Instructions of giving the Levites towns (35:1-5)
- Instructions for establishing cities of refuge (35:6-28)
Our temptation may be to look at these last passages and write them off as of minor importance. However, all of them convey the same message: this people have to move under the specific instructions of the holy God. Holiness is behind all that takes place: Moses needing a replacement is because he failed to remember he represented a holy God; dealing with Midian is because they had the temerity to try to lead this holy, covenant people away from God; after battle there is to be a cleansing before coming back into the holy community; planning for settling the Land must be done under God's supervision in God's way to ensure the holy nature of this people is maintained. There is nothing casual about any of this! This is a holy people!
1. God's leaders are to be experienced and faithful.
2. The sins of adultery & idolatry in God's people receive God's wrath.
3. We are part of Christ's body and are to serve in harmony with others.
4. God looks after His servants.
Thank the Lord that you, as a Christian, belong to a new covenant people, a holy people, chosen by God, guided and directed by the Lord and looked after by the Lord.
1. "Guidance & Grumblings" Numbers 9-12
2. "Failure to Enter the Land " Num 13 & 14
3. "Challenging the Leadership" Num 16 & 17
4. "To Trans-Jordan" Num 20 & 21
5. "Curses and Blessings" Num 22-25
6. "Closing Scenes" Num 27-35
As we come to the end of these studies in the book of Numbers, the following are some of the things we may wish to consider further:
1. The Holiness of God
Under-girding all that we have read is this truth: that Israel were a people who had been called into being by God who is described as holy. If we remember back to Exodus 19, we remember that the Lord creates fear in the presence of the people by His might and power and ‘differentness'. Moses has learnt something about this along the way and therefore he feels how terrible it is whenever the people grumble and complain and rebel. This God is utterly perfect and therefore sin is like graffiti on a masterpiece painted by one of the world's best painters – it is terrible! God is love and therefore all of His plans and purposes for His people are good. When one or more of the people break into these plans with their rebellion, they must be dealt with so that they will not infect and harm the rest of the people.
God's objective is to get a holy people into this Land of plenty so that they can be a light to the rest of the world, showing them God's love and goodness. That is why these chapters are so crucial, because they show us the Lord dealing with a people who keep on going astray, and yet He perseveres with His Plans. He has got to get a holy people who are in relationship with Him into the Land. It's part of the plan to let the world see Him. Part of this holiness, this ‘differentness', is God's grace, His goodness which continually restrains Him. Again and again, the people defy God and really deserve to be wiped out – but they're not! Yes, individuals are removed, and an entire generation is removed, but it is done in such a way that the next generation are given the chance of going in still.
Do you see that ‘holiness' is much bigger than the concept of moral perfection – it is perfection in every way possible, so that God's dealings with His people are the very best that can be in the light of the circumstances. You may find this difficult to believe, but if you really have a teachable heart, can we challenge you to go back and skim read the historical narrative parts of this book again, with this in mind, and ask the Lord to show you the reality of this – what it really means to say God is holy, utterly perfect, utterly good in all His dealings with His people..
2. The Sinfulness of Mankind.
If you have read many of these sets of studies you will know that so often these two headings come out in the conclusion. The reason for this is very simple: the holiness of God and the sinfulness of mankind are the two interacting forces that make up the Bible. From the outset of our studies in Numbers, we saw the Lord providing supernatural guidance in the form of a cloud and a pillar of fire that went ahead of the people. We have seen the Lord provide food and drink for them in the two weeks it took to reach Kadesh. He provided them with excellent leadership and gave them all the guidance they needed. Indeed some of this was pretty scary!
So how was it then, that we kept finding ourselves reading about grumblings, complaining and rebellion? How could the people be so stupid in the face of the awesome presence of this miracle-providing God? The answer has to be Sin. This self-centred, godless tendency that seems to rise up in every person, that the Bible calls Sin, that is the answer. What makes the whole thing even more incredible, is that when you look coldly and dispassionately at the goings on of Israel , if the power had been in our hands, we'd have probably wiped them all out very early on and gone and looked for another nation to work with! Yet God doesn't! Why not? Well certainly for the reason we gave in the first paragraph, that He still wanted a people who would be a light to the rest of the world, but perhaps also because He wants us to see and to understand something of the reality of Sin.
In a day when sin is dismissed as a figment of the Bible's imagination, these accounts scream back, “Who are you kidding! Look at this! Think about this! Realise it is something inherent in the human race that utterly condemns us!” When you really see this, you'll understand a bit more why the Son of God had to come and give His life for us, and worship him. May it be so!
Matters Covered and Not Covered by these Studies