Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 30 April 2022:
Note: Here is a short video overview of Numbers: https://thebibleproject.com/explore/numbers/
Number 1:2, 2:2, 2:34 — “Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by clans, by fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male, head by head…. The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ houses. They shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side…. According to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so they camped by their standards, and so they set out, each one in his clan, according to his fathers’ house.”
God built his nation on families with fathers leading their families and taking responsibility for their families. God started from scratch with Abram (Abraham) and slowly built from him 12 tribes, now 603,550 fighting men (not counting woman, children, elderly, and Levites). The nation organized in families, clans, and tribes, with the senior father (elder) maintaining responsibility for their tribe which would number in the tens of thousands (fighting men). What united the families, clans, and tribes was their faith and commitment to God. The “tent of meeting” was at the center and was where all business occurred. I believe this is a model for the Kingdom of God on earth. We need to rebuild families in the church, and Christian families should be united in effort and action by their faith and commitment to the Great Commandment and Great Commission. We need revival among fathers to return to positions of leadership within their homes, and we need to reestablish in them a sense of generational responsibility and accountability. How many men today lead their families with a vision of building a clan or tribe, organized to glorify God with great effect on earth?
The family unit is the foundation of society, the place where character is established and competencies are taught from which culture and society is established. Strong families make a strong nation. Weak families make a weak nation. God’s most important institution is marriage, from which strong families are established and character and competence are passed from generation to generation. As the family goes, so goes the nation.
- Malachi 2:13-16 – “You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, ‘Why does he not?’ Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did He not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. ‘For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.’”
Numbers 1:46 — “All those listed were 603,550.”
Throughout the Bible, we see that God expects His leaders to keep accountability of every person for which they have been given responsibility, to know their condition and to have a plan for them. Today, our readings deal with accountability of the warriors. In places like Ezra chapter 2, and Nehemiah chapter 7, the people of Israel are counted by families down to the individual. God cares about every person individually, knowing every hair on every person’s head. God has given us the mission of loving others, caring for them as He does. God has placed people in your family, in your church, in your community, in your life intentionally and has entrusted you to care for them. Do you have accountability of all the people God has intentionally placed in your life so that you could care for them? Are you fulfilling your responsibility for them? The Bible says that God has also placed you intentionally within a body of believers with each member of that body fulfilling a very specific role, much like the parts of a human body serve specific purposes and work in unison. But what does it mean when one part of a body is hurting and the rest of the body doesn’t feel that hurt? What would it mean if your foot was broken but you couldn’t feel it? That would be the symptom of a very serious, life threatening disease. But how often have we lost sensitivity to the pains of those who God has intentionally connected with us? What does that say about our condition? If you haven’t already done so, make a list of those God has intentionally placed in your life and make the commitment to begin praying for them weekly by name. Yes, your list will likely be in the hundreds and will take some serious thought. But start with an inside-out approach. Start with your immediate family, then your extended family, then your church family, your neighbors, your friends, etc. Keep accountability of your relationships, and as you commit to pray for people individually, you will begin to increase or revive your sensitivity to their needs, and you will grow in love for them.
Numbers 1:1-54 – God prepared His people for action rather than stagnation.
Psalm 49:5 — “Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me.”
If you are serving God faithfully, you having nothing to worry about even if everyone is against you.
Psalm 49:7 — “Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life”
Only Jesus in His perfection is worthy to pay the price of our sin and give us salvation.
Psalm 49:10 — “For he sees that even the wise die; the fool and the stupid alike must perish and leave their wealth to others.”
Knowledge and wealth can’t bring you salvation.
Psalm 49:13 — “This is the path of those who have foolish confidence; yet after them people approve of their boasts.”
Popular opinion favors humanism over submission to God.
Psalm 49:15 — “But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.”
Only Jesus can save you.
Psalm 49:15-20 — “…Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him. For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed —and though you get praise when you do well for yourself— his soul will go to the generation of his fathers, who will never again see light. Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.”
The psalmist points out the foolishness and blindness of pursuing blessings and praise on earth rather than the blessings and praise of God. Jesus said, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul (Mark 8:36)?” It is quite easy to get caught up in the worries of the world and lose the eternal perspective. However, when our daily pursuit is nothing but Jesus Christ, when our eyes remain affixed to Him, we will not be distracted or deceived.
- James 4:14 -- What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. - Job 14:1, 2 -- Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble. He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not. - Psalms 90:12 -- So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. - Psalm 89:47 -- Remember what my span of life is; for what vanity You have created all the sons of men!
- 1 Peter 1:24 — All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls.
Psalm 49:20 — “Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.”
Without spiritual rebirth through salvation in Jesus, a person is not much different than an animal.
Proverbs 30:7-9 – “Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”
Trust God to give you what you need, not what you want.
Agur understood the limits of his own integrity and character. So, he prayed to God for strength of integrity. Wisely, Agur understood that the most important thing in life was the quality of his character before the Lord. Reputation is what others say about you, but character is what God knows to be true about you. With what sins are struggling? Are these issues at the center of your prayer life? The things that hinder your relationship with God (sin) should be your greatest prayer concern. Remember, self-control, the power to do what you ought, is a fruit of the Spirit, not of the intellect. For the most part, people know what they should do; they just fail to do it because the sinful desires within them (the flesh) has not been surrendered to the Holy Spirit. Pray for God to reveal the truth of you and to strength your faith, hope, and love that you would be “one” with God in thought, word, and deed. This was Jesus’ prayer for you before His crucifixion. (see John 17)
The bookends of sin are fear and pride.
Contentment is critical for a Christian. Paul learned to be content in any situation, and we need to do the same. Be satisfied with what God has given you, and trust Him enough to give to others in need.
Proverbs 30:8 — “Remove far from me falsehood and lying.”
We take falsehood far too lightly. There are many forms of deceitfulness, many we justify, but all are serious and damage our character.
Proverbs 30:8, 9 – “Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.”
Sin, all sin, is to reject the Lord and profane His name. We take it so very lightly, but God does not. Sin always starts with desires that become bigger in our life, more important, and more influential than God. Even desires that are, in the right application, good, such as the desire to eat, can become sin when they start to control us and lead us to depart from God’s will. When the God-given desire to eat becomes gluttony, we are caught in sin and need to recognize the remove the idol we have created.
Both good and bad circumstances can tempt us to sin. Good times can make us complacent and prideful; bad times can make us desperate, disgruntled, and disobedient.
God will not give you more than you can handle; if you choose to be unfaithful, it is not because you couldn’t have remained faithful – “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
God may be withholding from you what you want because He knows you cannot handle it faithfully.
Proverbs 30:10 — “Do not slander a servant to his master, lest he curse you, and you be held guilty.”
Don’t judge the standing of others before God; you don’t have God’s perspective on their lives. God is the judge of people. We can only judge behavior. You can speak to whether or not a person is doing what is right or wrong, but you cannot judge the value of the person. What a person does today isn’t the sum total of who they are or who they are becoming. At one point, both Moses and David were murderers, but God was making them into people after His own heart. You have to assume that God is doing great things in the lives of every person you meet, even the difficult people.
Be very careful what you think and say about a fellow Christian. You don’t know what God is doing with them and within them. We are quick to see the faults of others, but we cannot know from where they have come and to where they are going. In God’s economy, He may view them as more worthy to be praised than you. For example, the one who grew up in a good environment might act better than the one who grew up in a bad environment, but the latter might still have a more receptive heart for the Lord than the former.
Proverbs 30:10-23 – After the writer of Proverbs 30 proclaims in verses eight and nine the requirement to maintain God as your highest desire, honoring Him as KING, obeying Him, and rejecting competing desires, he describes the attributes of those who lack proper humility and are self-serving rather than disciples. They are slanderers (v 10), disrespectful (v11), self-righteous (v12), arrogant (v13), sharp-tongued (v14), greedy (v14), never satisfied (v15-16), disobedient (v17), unpredictably driven by human passions (18-19), callously deceptive (v20), and unfit for service (v21-23).
Proverbs 30:11-14 – “There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers. There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth. There are those—how lofty are their eyes, how high their eyelids lift! There are those whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, the needy from among mankind.”
Once again, the Bible reminds us that character is formed in the home. The way people treat their parents is how they will treat others. The respect they have for their parents reflects the respect they have for God. If parents allow their children to speak disrespectfully to them, they will grow to be disrespectful, unloving people. The power of the Holy Spirit can heal old wounds and change old habits that were forged during childhood, but it will also take much effort on the part of the person who learned the bad habits.
Proverbs 30:12 – “There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth.”
If you don’t think you need it, you won’t ask for it, and your need will remain unfilled to your loss.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 April 22: Today, recommit to trusting God with all your circumstances, challenges, and concerns. Resolve not to worry. Just pray, trust, and obey. (Psalm 49:5)