Moses finishes up the journeys of Israel – now at the brink of the Promised Land, with an exhortation to be sure to drive out the inhabitants they are to dispossess from Canaan; to destroy their engraved stones, the molded images, and their pagan altars. God clearly warned them:
Numbers 33:55 (NKJV) “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.”
This was to be taken literally back in their day, but over the years I’ve heard many Bible teachers compare this impending entrance into the Promised Land and the conquering of its inhabitants as our personal entrance into a life of Victorious Christian Living. As we cross through the Jordan we are baptized with the Holy Spirit and we are to “conquer” our flesh – we are not to allow any sin to thrive or settle within. If we let sin live, it will be irritants to us, cursed thorns to our sides, and those sins will “harass” us.
In Numbers 34:1-12 God gives Israel her borders, in detail, from the south, to the west, to the north, and to the east (Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh would have their inheritance east of the Jordan).
In Numbers 34:16-29 the leaders who were to divide the land are named. We’ve all been called by name to different places in the body of Christ; to divide the land would be a responsibility.
In Numbers 35 God commands the children of Israel to appoint forty two cities for the Levites and six cities of refuge. I’ve always been amazed at God’s wisdom in appointing cities of refuge. If anyone was killed intentionally or accidentally the person who killed was able to flee to the closest city of refuge. A trial would take place and if that person was convicted of murder, they would be put to death by the avenger of blood, someone no doubt related to the murder vicim. But if the death was accidental, it would be considered manslaughter, not murder, and the person was allowed to live in the city of refuge until the death of the High Priest. If that person stepped outside the city of refuge, there was a heavy warning:
Numbers 35:26–28 (NKJV) “But if the manslayer at any time goes outside the limits of the city of refuge where he fled, 27 and the avenger of blood finds him outside the limits of his city of refuge, and the avenger of blood kills the manslayer, he shall not be guilty of blood, 28 because he should have remained in his city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest the manslayer may return to the land of his possession.”
God considered any innocent blood not accounted for as “pollution” of the land (see Numbers 35:33; 2 Samuel 21:1-14)
In the New Testament, the writer to the Hebrews makes Jesus our city of refuge. May we all flee to Jesus – and stay there, where we belong (Hebrews 6:18).
The Lord Jesus was the leper’s only hope. A life ostracized from society, constant suffering, separated and unclean; but he’d heard that Jesus could heal him, so he does everything he can, crosses all boundaries and falls before Jesus pleading for help. He wouldn’t be disappointed. Jesus loved the leper so much, that He not only healed him, He touched him, and immediately the leprosy left him. Jesus directed the leper to do what the law prescribed after such a healing, to be cleansed ceremonially and restored to fellowship – it would be a testimony to the priests (Luke 5:14; Leviticus 14:1-32).
Jesus asked the leper to keep it low-key, but he couldn’t, and the people came to Jesus from every direction, it was a ministry of preaching, teaching, and healing.
Jesus knew that the needs would be many and He would need direction and unction from His Father, so we read those beautiful words in:
Luke 5:16 (NKJV) “So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.”
When I read those words I get convicted; if He needed to pray, often, how much more do I need to make that time to be alone with God, in prayer, asking for forgiveness, direction, and strength?
The house was completely packed, there was no more room for anyone else. Four men had brought their friend to Jesus, but they couldn’t get in. Bummer, closed doors, right? Wrong! They were so determined to bring their friend to Jesus that they carry him up to the top of the house, dig through the roof and ceiling, and let their friend down to Jesus. Wow! Talk about some good friends! Jesus, of course is impressed by their faith, and forgives the man of his sin. The religious leaders were thinking in their hearts. “Blasphemy, only God can forgive sin!” They were right…Jesus knew their thoughts, forgave the man, and healed him to prove He was God.
A demonstration of true friendship. A revelation of God providing what we all need most – the forgiveness of sins.
First fishermen, then tax collectors? Yep! Jesus calls Matthew, at a time when tax collectors were considered the worst…to follow Him. Matthew wisely does the same thing the fishermen did, he leaves it all to follow Jesus.
I like the way Warren Wiersbe outlines this Psalm: the Worship goes up, the Witness goes out, and the Wealth comes down. “This is a harvest Psalm for believers who want to thank God for His goodness and care during another year.”
We also thank Him for His grace in the way He deals with us personally. I praise Him for what we read in v. 3:
Psalm 65:3 (NKJV) “Iniquities prevail against me; as for our transgressions, You will provide atonement for them.”
Have you ever been there? I know I have, when I feel like I’m losing the battle, I stumble, I fall, I fail the Lord at times. I’m eternally grateful for the atonement, and how Jesus really does wash away my sins. (1 John 1:8-9)
I also thank God for the way He stills the storms. He does it literally (Psalm 65:7 – Jesus did it as a demonstration of His deity – Matthew 8:26). But He also does it spiritually, God stills the storm within me and around me.
Thank You Lord, I give You all my praise.
When we’re right with God, our desires will line up with His, and He will grant us the desires of our heart.
Psalms 37:4 (NKJV) “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
But when one is not right with God, as the NIV puts it, “…the hope of the wicked ends only in wrath.”
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.