March 18

Numbers 26:52-28:15

The day would eventually come when the children of Israel would inherit the promised land. The land was a gift from God, so in that sense the soldiers would fight – not FOR victory, but FROM victory. At that point the land would be divided to each tribe and family by lot, the LORD would be the one who decided who received what. We read in:

Proverbs 16:33 (NKJV) “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

In the midst of listing the number of Levites, who totaled 23,000, we have the family of Moses mentioned – his parents Amram and Jochebed, as well as Moses’ siblings Aaron and Miriam. We also have woven in, the incident of Nadab and Abihu who died for offering profane fire before God. The Lord has His gracious way of repeating His warnings to us (Leviticus 10:1-2; Numbers 3:4; 1 Chronicles 24:2).

Something that hadn’t been covered in the inheritance laws, was what to do if there was no son born into a family. The daughters of Zelophehad were in that predicament, a family with five daughters and no sons – so they approached Moses with the matter. We read Moses’ reaction in:

Numbers 27:5 (NKJV) “So Moses brought their case before the LORD.”

Pastor Chuck Smith, “Whenever an issue came up where God had not given a specific command, Moses wouldn’t decide things on his own. He wanted the mind of the LORD. Good leaders will always seek the LORD and encourage the people to do the same.”

The LORD revealed to Moses that in such cases where there was no son, the inheritance would be given to the man’s daughter, if there was no daughter, it was to be given to his brother, if there was no brother, it would be given to his uncle, if there was no uncle it would be given to the closest relative. It was extremely important in the laws of Israel that property stayed within the family, it was God’s way of protecting His people.

As things get closer and closer to that time of transition, Moses’ departure (death) was at hand. God lets Moses know that it’s time. Moses asks God to select a leader for the people, so that they would not be as sheep without a shepherd. God chose Joshua as Moses’s successor. Although Joshua’s spirit and character was the reason for his selection (he was a faithful assistant) it’s not a coincidence that his name is Joshua. Jesus is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Joshua and both mean, “Jehovah is Salvation.” Literally, Yeshua = “Yahweh is Salvation.” The law (represented by Moses) can’t lead us into the Promised Land, only Jesus can.

Numbers 28:1-15 deals with the various sacrifices the priests would offer on behalf of the people, twice daily, on the Sabbath, and on the first day of each month. Today we are not required to offer such sacrifices, for Jesus has paid it all in order for us to be saved, and in that single sacrifice has made a way for us to be in right relationship with God. But, Christians are called to present our bodies as living sacrifices all day, everyday, not to BE saved, but because we ARE saved (Romans 12:1). It’s our appropriate response.

Luke 3:1-22

Luke definitely did his research, and by naming the rulers of the day, we are able to get an accurate date of the timeframe of events. John the Baptist bursts onto the scene in the year AD 28. It all began because the Word of God came to John, with a message of repentance for the remission of sins. John the Baptist could be found in the region around the Jordan, and the people came to him, and identified with his message by being baptized.

The coming of this prophet had been prophesied in Isaiah 40:3-5, he was a voice crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord – the Christ, the King is on His way! In those days whenever a king would come to or through your town, you would clean it up, fill the pot-holes, trim the trees that might be obstructing his path; anything that might get in the way was taken away, for the king was coming. John did his best to prepare the people for the coming of Christ. John didn’t know who it was, all he knew was that God had sent him to baptize and when the Messiah showed up, God would reveal it to him. John would see the Spirit descend and remain upon this person (John 1:33).

John the Baptist did not attempt to please man with his message. He didn’t mince words, he didn’t use the seeker-friendly approach. Not at all. Imagine calling the LEADERS a “Brood of Vipers!” John didn’t hold back, he warned everyone to stop playing church and to stop trusting in their ancestry; if anyone is the real deal, it’s not by mere profession, it’s not though lip service, we must bear fruits worthy of repentance. Everyone needs to search his or her heart, and ask that question, “Am I really saved? Have I truly changed?” Is there evidence of your salvation? Paul the Apostle told the church in:

2 Corinthians 13:5a (NLT) “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves.”

Just as John gave the people specific things to look for in their own lives, I believe God will do the same for us. Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty, let’s listen for the Divine details. Yes, we’re saved by faith, but where there’s true salvation, there will be true works. Are there? If the root is right, the fruit must follow. Has it?

I’m sure you’re aware how easily rumors start, and the people were wondering if John was the Christ. But he set them straight – “I’m not even worthy to untie His shoes. I baptize with water (big deal) but when the Christ comes, He will baptize people with the Holy Spirit and with fire!” (big difference)

Just as a quick side-note, it’s good for us to ask ourselves if we’ve been baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire?

The Holy Spirit gives us power for ministry, He gives us power over sin; when we’re under the influence of the Holy Spirit there’s a passion for God and the Christian life “flows” and glows with His glory and goodness. Even Jesus needed the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is what we see took place when He was baptized. It’s important for us to capture the details of Luke, “…while He prayed,” the Holy Spirit descended upon Him (Luke 3:22). Luke, who emphasizes Jesus’ humanity, emphasizes to us all as human beings, the importance of prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had emptied Himself of His Divine privileges (Philippians 2:5-8) never ceasing to be God, but choosing to be dependent upon the Spirit. What a perfect example He is for us.

When the Father spoke, it’s interesting that HE spoke TO HIS SON of HIS love and approval. 

Luke 3:22 (NKJV) “And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.”

When you harmonize the Gospels, you’ll find that the Father spoke to the masses, “This is my beloved SON in whom I am well pleased,” (Matthew 3:17) AND to HIS SON personally whom HE loved and with whom HE was well pleased.

Psalm 61:1-8

In the midst of the masses who were praying, David pleaded, “O God, hear my cry, please, listen to my prayer!”

David was a rugged soldier, but he was also a tender warrior. It’s hard for me to picture some men admitting that there are times when their heart is overwhelmed, when their heart is growing faint, that they have days of despair, but blessed is the man who is emotionally healthy and seeks to have a sensitive heart.

David prays for God to meet him there when he’s down, and to lead him, and lift him up “to the Rock that is higher than I.” The rock is a solid foundation, the Rock is Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).

David knew where to turn, and he knew how to turn; he also knew that this in turn would work out for his deliverance. Imagine that, being right smack dab in the middle of depression and even danger – and yet KNOWING that God will preserve me. That’s the heart of faith.

I’m blessed by the way David ends the Psalm, with an eternal perspective of praise, and yet – it affects him to obey, day by day.

Psalm 61:8 (NKJV) “So I will sing praise to Your name forever, that I may daily perform my vows.”

Proverbs 11:16-17

Proverbs 11:16 (NKJV) “A gracious woman retains honor, but ruthless men retain riches.”

Both ladies and men can’t go wrong by being gracious; God is gracious to us and He expects us to extend that same grace to others – we even read here that it’s honorable.

But we also read the contrast, that ruthless – terrible, violent, oppressive people (the word “men” is actually not in the Hebrew text), retains riches.

More than likely the context of this grace, in v. 16 is a grace to forgive debts, when a person owes you money. Should you take it to court – “squeeze it out of ‘em?” I can’t say for certain in every situation, but keep this passage in consideration.

Proverbs 11:17 (NKJV) “The merciful man does good for his own soul, but he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”

The NLT says, “Your own soul is nourished when you are kind, but you destroy yourself when you are cruel.”

Why is that? At least two reasons:

1. The way you end up feeling about yourself, you can’t escape it, your self-image will take a hit if you don’t show mercy to others.

2. The law of the Lord, in that the way we deal with others, will be measured back to us; God will deal with us according to our own standards (Matthew 7:2).

Matthew 5:7 (NKJV) “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

If we’re not merciful to others, how can we expect God to be merciful to us? (Matthew 18:33-35).

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.

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