Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 4 Mar 18:
1. Numbers 7:6-9 — “Moses took the wagons and the oxen and gave them to the Levites. Two wagons and four oxen he gave to the sons of Gershon, according to their service. And four wagons and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service, under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because they were charged with the service of the holy things that had to be carried on the shoulder.” Moses distributed the resources among the Levites according to the work and responsibilities of the Levites: Gershon received two carts and four oxen to support their work of transporting the fabrics of the tabernacle (Numbers 4:25-26). However, Merari received four carts and eight oxen because they had the job of transporting the boards and framework of the tabernacle (Numbers 4:31-32). Koath received no carts or oxen because they were instructed to carry the holy furniture of the tabernacle on their shoulders (Numbers 4:4). Had Koath received a cart they did not need for their service to God, it might have been a temptation for them to disobey God’s instructions to them. So, Moses did not give them one. God has given what you need to serve Him in the assignments He has for you. There is no sense in comparing your “carts and oxen” with anyone else’s sin God has a different purpose for each of us. And, don’t expect God to give you what you don’t need that you might be tempted to cut corners.
2. Numbers 7:12-88 – These were large, generous offerings, but each tribal leader’s offering was exactly the same, and the Bible makes that clear by restating the offering from each leader. This exact accounting prevented any special honor being attributed to any tribal leader. Repeating the offering in detail over and over with each leader also demonstrates that, though identical, God recognizes each offering individually and specifically, without favoritism. A group of faithful people are honored by God corporately and also individually.
3. Numbers 8:8, 12 – Ministers are sinners too who need atonement.
4. Numbers 8:13 – God sees ministers as an offering to Him – see Romans 12:1.
5. Proverbs 4:7 – “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.” The beginning of wisdom is to understand that you don’t have it. Socrates said, “Wisdom is knowing you know nothing.” The moment you think you have achieved wisdom, you have stopped growing in wisdom and have begun to drift away from it, like a boat on the ocean that has lost power. God is the source of all wisdom. To grow in wisdom is to grow closer to Him, more obedient to Him, more responsive to His Spirit. Our pursuit of “knowing Jesus” and growing in wisdom is never-ending. When you are far from an object, it may appear very small; but the closer you get the bigger it becomes and the smaller you feel. As we grow closer to God, He only gets bigger from our perspective, and we only get smaller, driving us to greater and greater humility. Humility and wisdom go hand-in-hand. The wisest people are the humblest people, not the most prideful. Many take great pride in their education, their professional status, their degrees, titles, etc. But not only are these things not wisdom, they threaten your humility and your potential ability to obtain wisdom. The world is full of smart people but very lacking in wise people.
6. Proverbs 4:18 – “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” We were made righteous (right with God) through the blood of Jesus Christ the moment we were born again, but we grow into that righteousness for the rest of our lives, the light in us shining brighter and brighter every day.
7. Proverbs 4:19 – “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” Jesus said it like this on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
8. Psalm 26:1-3 — “Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For your steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in your faithfulness.” Psalm 26 is fascinating, coming from David who murdered a great warrior to cover up David’s adulterous relationship with the warrior’s wife. Scholars speculate as to whether Psalm 26 was written pre-Bathsheba or post-Bathsheba, but perhaps it doesn’t matter for our consideration of these powerful, inspired verses:
– David understood he was a sinner before Bathsheba. However, David confidently walked in “[his] integrity but in “[God’s] faithfulness,” with his eyes fixed on God’s “steadfast love.” David is not asking God to vindicate him on his personal righteousness, but rather to vindicate him on his faith in God and heart for God. David loves God and seeks to live a life of loving obedience, but David knows that his integrity is limited. David knows his love and fidelity are imperfect but trusts in God’s perfect love and fidelity, in God’s grace.
– “Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind.” David was a man after God’s own heart; he wanted a pure heart for God. David understood that his heart was deceptive and God would need to reveal to David the hidden sin in his heart. Perhaps, this is where God allowed Bathsheba to enter into the picture. It is painful when God exposes the truth of you, but the pain does not compare to the “immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:7)
– In Psalm 26:4-8, David describes his integrity in action. Personal holiness was important to David because he loved God and knew it was important to God. David avoided the company of sinners (26:4, 5), remained innocent, frequented church, and constantly proclaimed his faith (26:6-8) because his focus was on pleasing the Lord, not on pleasing others or gratifying self. In Psalm 27, David reveals the source of his motivation for holiness: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple…. I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (27:4, 13)!” David’s actions revealed the bent of his heart. Why do you do what you do? What is your motivation? Is it to “look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living?”
– Still, David knew his integrity wasn’t enough – “But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.” He relied on God’s grace and redemption. To David vindication (the word he started this psalm with) and redemption go hand-in-hand.
9. Psalm 27:1 — “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Fear is a lack of perspective of who God is and what He has done for you. It takes the right perspective on God to have the right perspective on life’s trials. What then shall we say to these things? “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-39).” How does the love of God change everything in your life?
10. Psalm 27:14 – “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” Waiting for the Lord takes strength and courage, but it is essential.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 4 March: Once again, wait on the Lord today. Seek God’s guidance before acting. Don’t get wrapped up in business, activities, even good deeds, but seek to only do or say what God tells you to do our say. (Psalm 27:14)