Got Questions explains the significance of the red heifer, “To meet the requirements of the Old Testament law, a red heifer was needed to help accomplish the purification from sin—specifically, the ashes of a red heifer were needed. The red heifer was a reddish-brown cow, probably at least two years old. It was to be “without defect or blemish” and to have never borne a yoke. The sacrifice of the red heifer was unique in the law in that it used a female animal, it was sacrificed away from the entrance to the tabernacle, and it was the only sacrifice in which the color of the animal was specified.” (full article – https://www.gotquestions.org/red-heifer.html)
The ashes of an unblemished red heifer were needed for the purification of anyone who had become unclean due to a dead body (Numbers 19:11-20). According to Rabbinic tradition there have been nine red heifers sacrificed since Moses’ time, but since the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, there have been none to sacrifice. However, according to the Temple Institute, a group advocating the construction of a third temple, a flawless red heifer was born in August 2018 in Israel (see articles)
Many see the birth of the red heifer, the first in two thousand years as a sign of the times.
In Numbers 20 Moses experiences the passing of his two siblings, first it was his sister Miriam (Numbers 20:1).
Not to make excuses for Moses in any way, but sometimes there are “reasons” that may, in some way, explain our behavior. Once again the children of Israel contended against Moses and Aaron for all the reasons in the world, and once again Moses and Aaron fell on their faces to pray and seek God. The LORD spoke to Moses:
Numbers 20:8 (NKJV) “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.”
The commandment was clear, it was simple. Moses was to simply SPEAK to the rock in order to bring forth water for the people. But Moses yelled at the people, he struck the rock, and did so twice, it seems to me that Moses was extremely angry and frustrated. In spite of Moses’ emotional outburst, God still provided water for the people, but then God broke the bad news to the brothers:
Numbers 20:12 (NKJV) “Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.’”
Moses misrepresented God, and in a moment of rage, (we’ve probably all been there) he forfeited his right to lead the people into the Promised Land. Besides the obvious and mentioned reasons, Bible teachers also point out two truths as to why Moses was not allowed entrance.
1. Moses represented the Law. The Law can never lead anyone into that place of Grace. We read in:
John 1:17 (NKJV) “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
2. Moses marred God’s typology. The Rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). When Moses struck the Rock the first time (Exodus 17:6) in order to bring forth water, it was a perfect picture of Jesus who was “struck” in order to give us the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). Now, as Christians, Jesus doesn’t have to be “struck” again in order for us to receive the Holy Spirit. We simply need to speak to Him, to pray, and God will grant us the baptism and fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. Moses marred the typology.
The nation of Edom were the descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob. They should have helped their brethren, but they were obstinate and didn’t allow Israel to pass through their land. They would later pay for that decision.
Numbers 20 closes with the death of Aaron and the passing on of the High Priesthood to his son Eleazar.
In this section Moses lost his sister, his temper, his lifelong goal, and finally his brother…and yet, he still had God to keep him. Sometimes you won’t realize that God is all you need, until He’s all you have.
The Gospel of Luke is a literary masterpiece. Luke (who also wrote the book of Acts) was a Gentile physician (Colossians 4:14) who accompanied Paul on many of his missionary journeys, joining the team in Troas (note the word “we” in Acts 16:10). Luke, no doubt, was a friend to a number of Christians and even Apostles and therefore had a “perfect understanding.” Luke did his homework in presenting the life of Christ, for he wanted to write an “orderly account” to a man named Theophilus, so this man would know the certainty of Jesus and His mission, things that Theophilus had been instructed in.
Some believe Theophilus to be Luke’s former owner, or master; others believe Theophilus to be a Roman official, while others see it more of a general letter, noting that Theophilus means, “lover of God.”
As I’ve frequently mentioned, Matthew was written to the Jews and presents Jesus as the King. Mark was written to the Romans and presents Jesus as a Servant. John was written to the world and presents Jesus as God. And Luke was written to the Greeks and presents Jesus as the perfect man (the Greeks were fascinated with the best of humanity). Since Jesus is presented as a man you will notice an emphasis in this Gospel on His prayer life and the need we all have for the personal power of the Holy Spirit.
Since Luke is giving an orderly account, he must have conducted many interviews to get the story from the very beginning. After 400 years of silence the angel Gabriel appears to a priest named Zacharias who has been selected by lot to offer incense in the Holy Place. The angel informs Zacharias that he and his wife Elizabeth had been chosen to bear the forerunner to the Messiah.
It’s a blessing for every person and especially married couples, to read the way these two are described:
Luke 1:6 (NKJV) “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
They were both obediently blameless, but not perfect. Zacharias unfortunately doubts the possibility of having a child, since he and his wife are much older, and Gabriel is therefore forced to make Zacharias mute until the child is born. Why? I like what Sandy Adams said, “It is amazing how faith grows when we are forced to stop talking and start listening.”
John the Baptist would be a fascinating forerunner to the Messiah. Two things stand out to me from our text.
1. How John was filled with the Spirit, even in the womb. (His parents were filled too – Luke 1:41, 67)
2. That John would be used to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. I believe this has to do with reconnecting Israel to God (Luke 1:16), that it connects John to the ministry of Elijah (Malachi 4:5-6), and would even bear the fruit of biological families coming together, centered on Christ.
The background to this Psalm is when David fled to Gath, the land of the Philistines, and they were able to identify David as their former enemy. The situation became dangerous very quickly (1 Samuel 21:10-15; see also Psalm 34).
David admitted he was afraid, but he also chose to trust (Psalm 56:3).
As we read Psalm 56:4 David essentially says, “When I am afraid, I will not be afraid.” That’s faith over feelings.
Man can only do to us what God allows. Twice David asks leading questions, “What can flesh do to me?” “What can man do to me?” Nothing, apart from God’s permission.
Life as a child of God means we will always have His protection, but it doesn’t mean we won’t go through very trying times. David had his trials, tribulations, and many, many tears. David experienced years of wandering, but God was there and aware of it all.
Psalm 56:8 (NKJV) “You number my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?”
In His book, God keeps track of our wanderings, He even stores every single tear we’ll ever cry, in a bottle. I wonder if one day He’ll show it to us. Some of those bottles are going to be very, very big.
This Psalm is another source of inspiration for Paul’s Romans 8:31. Did you notice those words there in Psalm 56:9, “…God is for me.”
Yes. He is.
This happens in time or eternity.
The Jews were delivered from Pharaoh’s plan of widespread death in the Nile River, but Pharaoh’s army drowned in the Red Sea (Exodus 1:22; 14:27).
Daniel was delivered from the Lion’s Den, his accusers were devoured instead.
Daniel 6:24 (NKJV) “And the king gave the command, and they brought those men who had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the den of lions—them, their children, and their wives; and the lions overpowered them, and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever came to the bottom of the den.”
Haman was hung on the seventy-five foot gallows he made for Mordecai (Esther 7:9-10).
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.