In this section we begin to see Israel fight her battles and wage her wars. The king of Arad the Canaanite had taken some of the Israelites as prisoners – so Israel prays to God, vowing to utterly destroy their cities, to take none of the spoil for themselves, as a type of tithe, or first fruits offering.
God agrees, for at this stage of history, Israel was God’s instrument of judgment upon a people that were completely perverse – they were ripe for judgment.
It seems to be in their DNA – the children of Jacob once again speak against God and against Moses. It mattered not that they were free, they preferred their life and death in Egypt, especially the food. They even loathed God’s supernatural provision.
So the LORD sent fiery serpents, and again, people began to die (Romans 6:23). They then confessed their sin and asked Moses to pray for them, at which point the LORD gave Moses further instruction.
Numbers 21:8 (NKJV) “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.’”
Jesus would later point to this incident as a picture of how He would save His people. We read His words in:
John 3:14–15 (NKJV) “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
You see, the world has been “bitten” by the sin of the serpent. Jesus bore our sins (in one sense “became sin for us” 2 Corinthians 5:21) and was lifted-up on the cross of Calvary. Bronze is symbolic of judgment, and Jesus suffered the judgment we deserved. Now, all we have to do is to look to Him by faith, just look up and believe, we will from the venomous poison of sin. I’m reminded of the passage in:
Isaiah 45:22 (NKJV) “Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”
Have you “looked?” Can you see Jesus nailed to that cross for you and me? They put Him in a grave but He rose from the dead. Can you see? Do you believe? It’s there we find salvation.
The Jews continued their journey toward the Promised Land and there were many adventures along the way.
Below are some maps from the website: https://www.thebiblejourney.org/
The defeat of Sihon, King of the Amorites, and Og King of Bashan, on the east side of the Jordan would be spoken of frequently, for these nations consisted of giants (Deuteronomy 3:11) (see more of Deut. 3)
As you can see, Moab lies at the brink of the Promised-Land, and as the mass of millions of Jew draw near Moab, fears that their very existence is in jeopardy, so they send men and money to this mysterious prophet named Balaam who is known throughout the land. When the men initially come, Balaam checks with the LORD who says, “No, do not go with these men.” But the enemy doesn’t give up that easily and he sends more prominent men with even more money. The enemy had discovered Balaam’s weakness. I believe Balaam should never have entertained the thought or given these men the time of day, but he reconsiders and takes it to the LORD again. Balaam would now enter in to the permissive will of God who would accomplish His purposes, including Balaam’s ultimate judgment.
Six months after the conception of John the Baptist the angel Gabriel is sent to a young lady named Mary who found favor with God and had been chosen to bear the Messiah. Mary didn’t doubt the possibility, but she did ask how this could happen since she was a virgin. Isn’t it beautiful the way the Triune God is involved in this conception?
Luke 1:35 (NKJV) “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’”
The angel shares something helpful for all of us to always remember as we face the challenging missions in life:
Luke 1:37 (NKJV) “For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Mary was open and willing; even though no one would believe her story, she was willing to lay down her life, “Behold the Maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to Your Word.” (Luke 1:38).
We get a better understanding into what type of person Mary was in that she went to Elizabeth to help her during her pregnancy; and we get a glimpse of the joy of John when he leaps in Elizabeth’s womb at the presence of Jesus (imagine that).
Mary’s song magnifies the Lord her Savior (Luke 1:47) and shows her spiritual maturity at such a young age (most believe her to have been in her early teens).
Some believe David was on the run for ten years from Saul, even though David had done nothing wrong. Living life in the caves of Adullam, hunted down like a beast, must have had some very, very dark times. As we read the Psalms, David is honest about those trying times, but we also see his faith shine.
David didn’t just hide in the caves, he hid in the shadow of God’s wings – and he knew it would one day pass.
Psalm 57:1 (NKJV) “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by.”
It’s important for us to know where we are (in God’s hands, under His protection) and to know that it’s only for a season. God will lift us up one day. David was hurting but David was confident of his eventual victory. He knew God would perform all things for good for him, that God would send from heaven and save him.
Notice David’s heart and determination to praise, even in the pit, confident – even in the crisis, that God would deliver him:
Psalm 57:7–8 (NKJV) “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. 8 Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn.”
Proverbs 11:9 (NKJV) “The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.“
We’ve touched on the sin of slander; here the Spirit refers to such a person as a hypocrite.
This is not a small and insignificant thing, it has the potential to destroy our neighbor.
When it comes to deliverance, our knowledge of God and the application of His Word are all we need. There’s no need to defend ourselves!
Proverbs 26:4 (NKJV) “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, let you also be like him.”
Generally speaking, we shouldn’t defend ourselves. I can fight my own battle, but I don’t always/usually win. If I let God defend me, I’ll win every time.
Proverbs 11:10-11 (NKJV) “When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices; and when the wicked perish,there is jubilation. 11 By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.“
Here we have two word necessary to fill a community with joy – righteousness and justice. Good people are rewarded; bad people are eventually and inevitable brought to justice. Be good, follow and place your faith in our good, good Father.
Wow, what a difference an upright person makes – to individuals or to a community.
I always think of the city of El Monte when I read Proverbs 11:10-11 – it’s my prayer for her and the surrounding areas, “By the blessing of the upright, the city is exalted.”
O Lord, please bless this city.
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.