- Towns for the Levites
- Cities of Refuge
- Inheritance of Zelophehad’s daughters
The Levites were given 48 towns but 6 of them were called Cities of Refuge. (just the thought that Jesus is our Priest and he gives a city of refuge to flee to makes me goosebumpy) I think the chapter is pretty easy to understand but what I loved about it was, we were not to JUDGE the act, the motive or the person. They were to flee to Jesus, sorry I mean the priest, and the priest would decide who is guilty and who is not.
Inheritance: Go back to Numbers 27. One of the Tribes from Joseph’s line had only daughters, and until now the land was divided by a lot system to the men. So the Lord told them that the woman could inherit land, but we read here something important:
This is what the LORD commands for Zelophehad’s daughters: They may marry anyone they please as long as they marry within the tribal clan of their father. No inheritance in Israel is to pass from tribe to tribe, for every Israelite shall keep the tribal land inherited from his forefathers.
So they do inherit the land, they married their cousins. No this is not Kentucky, (Just kidding) The Lord was very clear that land was not to pass from tribe to tribe.
And that my friends is the end of Numbers.
How long have you owned a Bible and you would never have read this chapter, right? The Lord is having Moses record this for a reason…to see where we have been. Sometimes we have to look back to know how to better go forward. Let me tell you how cool it is to read now. Get your pen out and look for places you recognize and write in the margin the significance of some of the places. (I knew them all by memory….just kidding ha! that was a lie, I used the cross references in the margin) but seriously, some of them I actually did know and that was a great moment for me in my heart.
Vs 3: Passover, yup I remember that. Vs 3 makes sense.
Vs 5: Succoth, during the Exodus they stopped there and made the bread so quickly that they didn’t wait for it to rise. (they now celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread).
Vs 6: Etham….the Parting of the Red sea!
Vs 8: Marah….remember the bitter water. God turned the Marah water sweet.
Vs 9: After the sweet water God brought them to the Springs and the Palm trees to hang out.
Vs 12: Desert (or Wilderness) of Sin. This is when God brought the Israelites all they needed to survive in the Desert….Manna and Quail!
Vs 14: Rephidim….no water to drink. The Lord told Moses to put his hand on the Rock and he brought forth water by Faith.
Vs 15. Mt. Sinia…(no need to look up that one…10 commandments!)
Vs 16. Kibroth Hatttaavah…after their whining and complaining God gave them what they asked for…too much Quail!
Vs 17: Hazeroth after the quail incident they stayed here. Here is where Miriam and Aaron complained about Moses wife (for no good reason) so God gave her leprosy for a week.
Vs 37 (self explanatory)
Vs 40: King Arad. This was where they asked the Lord to help them in battle…and the Lord did, and they WON and then 2 minutes later was complaing! SO he gave them the plague of the snake bites…..the bronze snake story. (If you are Calvanist this is my attempt to show you Free Will)
Vs 43: Oboth. On their way, near the outskirts of Moab (picking up bad habits I am sure)
Vs48: Plains of Moab near Jericho…we met up with Balaam and the Donkey. I love that account!
Vs 49: Shittim….not a good day. Gave a new meaning to the word Shittim!! This was the day Phinehas stabbed the couple while….you know….
Well here we are. God now tells Moses the South, West, North and Eastern boarders of the Land they are to inherit (exciting isn’t it) It says divide it out to the 9 and 1/2 tribes (2 1/2 tribes are Transjordan from yesterday’s readings). And a leader is appointed to all 12 tribes.
Note: Levites do not get land allotted to them. The Levites are the priests and are supported by the offerings ands tithes. The line of Joseph has 2 tribes….if you don’t remember why, ask in comments and I will answer…otherwise I will assume you know.
(Here are the boundaries of the intended Promise Land, verse current Israel today)
Big Difference huh. One Day the Lord WILL CLAIM that Land Again HIS!
Chapter 31:Vengeance on the Midianites. Midianites may sound familiar from the past few months. Moses father-in-law, Jethro was a Midianite, so obviously Moses’s wife was too. But these people, unfortunately were nomads that were responsible to leading the Israelites astray in chapter 25. (The Phinehas/stabbing/sex/ chapter) Balaam (our Donkey rider) we find out in 21:15 was the influence behind the Moab women coming into the tribe. SO the Lord has the Israelites take vengeance, take all their belongings, split it up and then they realize in 21:49
”Your servants have counted the soldiers under our command, and not one is missing. So we have brought as an offering to the LORD the gold articles each of us acquired
There have been a great many moments so far in the bible where God has done some great things and the people immediately worship him. The ones I can think of is the alter Noah made after the Ark was opened or the Song of Praise they sang as soon as they crossed the Red Sea. Today 12,000 men went to battle and not a single causally in God’s army. SO they came with an offering.
Transjordan Tribes. (Everytime they are mentioned I put TJ in my margin. Not sure why) Anyway, I enjoyed this chapter. Two and a half tribes are requesting the land on the East side of teh Jordan River. They ask Moses for the deed to that land. Moses assumes they are asking for it In Spite of entering the Promise Land. I found humor in Moses “quick to assume” personality. Do you blame him after the 12 Spies incident a mere 40 years ago Good Golly, he was probably saying “not again!”. But it was not the case. The Israelites did trust in Lord in the taking of the land, so the land on the East side (the right)was granted to them. (If you have not read the reading yet really take not to the words IF, BUT and THEN.
Below is a map, the Jordan River is in the Middle and 32:33 says
Then Moses gave to the Gadites, the Reubenites and the half-tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph the kingdom of Sihon king of the Amorites and the kingdom of Og king of Bashan—the whole land with its cities and the territory around them.
Here is a visual of what it will look like when the land is divided (sneak peak)
- Instructions for Offerings
OK, before you roll your eyes and say…”we are reading this again”, consider the circumstances. The Lord is going to have Joshua be their Shepherd. These are all the new generation people. They were not at the base of Mt. Sinai to learn about this the first time, and from the way they are acting I am assuming their parents didn’t do a good job telling them how to be holy or live a holy life. So I encourage you to read it and try to “get it” There were 5 types of offerings (Burnt, Grain, Fellowship, Sin, and Guilt) 3 were voluntary 2 were mandatory. Each one had a reason. SO as you read it try to pick out why we make these sacrifices.
The 2 paragraphs that interested me were Daily Offering. “See that you present to me at the appointed time the food for my offering by fire”. I could not help but to think of praying at the dinner table as my daily offering. A voluntary worship.
The Other was the Day of Atonement. This time when I read it I saw that it was a Sin Offering. A Mandatory offering. The ONLY way to have sins covered “atoned” is from a Sin Offering. Why did God allow Jesus to be sacrificed for our sin…because he had to be. It was not a choice. In order for us to be set free from sin, a Sin Offering had to be made. That was our day of Atonement.
Vows: When we make a VOW it is binding. So if say to anyone OR to the LORD….”I am going to….” then do it. The part I like about this was actually 2 things:
1. Parents can override their childrens’ decisions. The Lord is saying Parents…BE parents! We are the decision makers….not them.
2. When a daughter gets married it is now the responsibility of “them”. It is NOT, well…that is your obligation….not mine” All the way back in Genesis, God said something like you LEAVE your parents and a marriage now becomes the UNION.
- The second census
- Zelophehad’s daughters
- Joshua to Succeed Moses
A second census of the New Generation. The only 2 original men are Joshua and Caleb. Why anohter cencus? The first one is gone. All those people have died tand the next generation will now attempt to go into the Promise Land. The reason for the census is stated in verse 53
The LORD said to Moses, “The land is to be allotted to them as an inheritance based on the number of names. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one; each is to receive its inheritance according to the number of those listed. Be sure that the land is distributed by lot. What each group inherits will be according to the names for its ancestral tribe. Each inheritance is to be distributed by lot among the larger and smaller groups.”
|Tribe||First Census||Second Census|
If you read (instead of skimmed, well??) you may have noted that the descendant of Gilead (26:33): Zelophehad only had daughters. Well if the reason for the census was for land distribution in the promise land this is a problem since it was being divided according to the number of men. Zelophehad’s daughters were 7th (If I counted correct) generation to the JOSEPH. The Lord would want this family to have land. SO in Chapter 27 the Lord grants them land AS LONG as the land Will REMAIN in the family.
What I think is cool: is that as I read it I “get it” (well most of it ha snort ha) Like in verse 62 it says the male Levites were not counted because they received no inheritance”… Just a few years ago I would have been like why? Now I understand that the priests are supported by the tithes of the camp. In verse 58, the Levite clan….Amran, Jochebedm Miriam,…Nadab and Abihu who had died….I know what they are talking about! That is so cool.
Joshua to Succeed Moses: Let me just highlight the character of Moses for a minute. After all he has been through shepherding these people through the desert, they have threatened to stone him to death, their lack of faith caused him not to get into the promise land, their complaining weakened his faith when it came time for the Lord to give them water (the final test that he failed) and NOW the Lord says….”Your not going to touch the promise land. You can go up and look at it, but you cannot touch it” SO here we are with the Lord saying…it is soon time for you to go up the mountain as Aaron did (to die). Let me ask you….how would you react?? Like Moses?
Moses said to the LORD, “May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
All I can say is back in Leviticus God gave us Laws. Leviticus 19: 18 says
” ‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
- Balaam’s first Oracle
- Balaam’s second Oracle
- Balaam’s third Oracle
- Balaam’s final Oracle
- Moab Seduces Israel
So what man intended for evil God used for good. An oracle is a divine communication or revelation (The Lord put the words directly into his mouth). So God used Balaam’s mouth to speak. First, three times Balaam blesses Israel with increasing anger to Balak (Moab King).
”May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed”.
But the fourth oracle was the big one, :
17 “I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
a scepter will rise out of Israel.
He will crush the foreheads of Moab,
the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.
This is a prophecy of the Messiah Jesus.(read it again)
Chapter 25. A little background here, this is the whole next generation of Israelites that are living now and their neighboring nations are not holy people. So once again who we hang with or near is a huge influence on us. We will later read in chapter 31 that bringing Moab woman into camp was advice from Balaam the sorcerer above, and he will be put to death for it, but it does not help the people here. Recap: The Israelite men were invited to the camp to have sex with Moabite woman to HONOR the moab god. Baal of Peor was a god that should not have been worshiped. God showed his power over all the false gods in Egypt with the plagues. Baal of Peor was the fertility false god of the Canaanites, so even the sex they were having was a worship to a false god. So Phinehas stabs them both at the same time. (think about it 😉 )
Often I pray for the Lord to anger me for what angers him. I want things of the “world” to break my heart if they break His, sadden me if it saddens Him. If you pray that, it will change your whole heart. Phinehas was a priest with a zeal for the Lord. The Lord’s judgement was swiftly put on all the people in the form of a plague. In order to honor God, as a priest Phinehas made a sacrifice, an “atonement for their sin”. Oh he did alright. He shed blood to save the others. Just like at the Golden Calf, the priests needed to shed the blood of their brothers in order to cleanse the camp. Blood is the only atonement. And when he did the plague stopped immediately.
The priest is the ONLY one who can make atonement. He is the only one who can shed the blood. Jesus is our High Priest now.
Click here for chapters (sorry so late! again…..)
Chapter 21: The Israelites relied on the Lord, and the Lord was faithful. How do they repay the Lord? They complained! (By the way if you learn nothing else from these past chapters get this…the Lord loathes grumbling and complaining ….adjust the mirror! Seriously, look at how grumbling about lack of stuff affects the Lord)
Anyway, the bronze snake was just a bronze snake. It had NO POWER. The healing of the people was their Faith. This is also a foreshadow that would later be used in one of the most popular conversation in the Bible. John 3. Jesus was talking to a VERY educated Pharisee on the ruling council named Nicodemous, who would obviously know the story of the bronze snake from his scriptures . I urge you to read it.
(John 3:14,15) No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
We have all been bitten by the deadly snake called sin. We must look up to Jesus who was raised up on the Cross to save us. It is Faith. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” is the very next verse in John.
So they did,and Faith was renewed and we are given a second chance, a tougher route but nevertheless, a route. And with the Lord leading them, they obeyed and did not attack as instructed, yet they were attacked and while defending themselves the Lord allowed them to conquer the Ammorites and then the Lord said in 21:34 “Do not be afraid….” and the Lord had them conquer Bashan from their King Og too. So the land on the East of the Jordan now belonged to the Israelites.
Chapter 22 1. Let’s just state the obvious…that is hysterical! An ass talking to an ass. Ok, let’s see who we are dealing with here. Moab. Sounds familiar doesn’t it…go back to Genesis 19:37 Lot’s descendants. Ahhhh now that makes sense now. So the King of Moab, Balak, hires a sorcerer named Balaam to curse the Israelites….well you know the story. He goes on his way, (a donkey NEVER changes route without a prompt), the Lord tries to get his attention…again…again. But what was Balaam doing that he did not see the angel? Was He thinking of all the gold and riches he was going to get? Was he adding up money or his prize? Well, he was doing something that made him so preoccupied with HIMSELF that he never saw the Lord’s direction. (this story has meant a lot to me through the years)
I think first and foremost that we forget that even if our actions say one thing, we have to always remember God knows our motives and our hearts. He knows when we are “headed down the wrong path” as stated in verse 32. When we are on the wrong path on the inside, often we won’t see God redirecting us…even if it is so obvious, even a donkey could see.
- Duties of Priests and Levites
- The water of Cleansing
- The New Generation
I am skipping right to 20. Water from the Rock. Was Moses treated unfairly? Becuase of one little wrong he will be denied his entrance into the Land. No it was not unfair. Let me state my case: Flip back to Exodus 17 (click on it) . God told him to put their hand on the rock and water would come out. God was testing their faith and they passed. So they called the place Massah (testing).
So here we are 37 years later. I told you that along the way God is going to SHOW himself to the people…why? Because it is VERY important that they know WHO they are following. Were they following Moses or the Lord? This is a WHOLE new generation. They did not see the Plagues, the Passover, the parting of the Red Sea, OR the 2 times the Lord Provided water in the desert before. SOOOOO this is a HUGE point in the Bible. This generation is about to enter the Promise land and it is VERY VERY VERY important that they know WHO is taking them in. (pssst…..it’s not Moses…it’s the LORD) So what happened that was so wrong?
They were probably standing on a bedrock of Limestone. Limestone holds big pockets of water. So two things went wrong:
- They were supposed to SPEAK to the rock
- They were to give all honor and Glory to the Lod.
Moses struck the rock twice and said “Must WE bring you water out of this rock” was not only an acknowledgement of WE but hitting the rock was not a true faith that the Lord would do as he said. That would be like building a boat at the parting of the Red Sea just in case God couldn’t do it…they could do it themselves. This is a HUGE moment in the Bible. All the Lord has provided and done…and Moses not only took credit for the water but hits is to make sure (not once but….twice!!). The reality is you either believe and trust or you don’t.
Well that is really the end of the blog for today. It is just such a personal read, you really need to just sit still for a minute on this one. But here are all the other things that caught my eye (or my heart)
20:2 they gathered in opposition (turn on the news these days) What would have happened if instead they had gathered in prayer. Hmmmm.
20:5 it has no grains or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water…. oh how we complain about today…we won’t be able to go to go on vacation, get manicure, and play golf, get my hair done as often, have my cleaning lady….oh yeah and buy groceries or tithe.
20:20 You may not pass through….and Israel turned away from them. Lack of faith…it was their land to take! When the Lord says GO…We should GO! or we will miss the Promises he made for us!
So in these chapters almost 40 years is over. And it says in verse 16 they are on the edge of the territory, they are in Kadesh. (I personally feel like I am in Kadesh). Both Aaron and Miriam have died and before the year is over Moses too will pass away.
(I warn you, I read this blog back..it is confusing…read at your own risk)
Let’s first flash back to Genesis 36. The Edomites…Esau’s descendants…Jacob’s “hairy arm” brother. Remember all that? When we read chapter 36 we talked about the names that had been familiar to us so far. We found Job’s friends and I joked about “well of course their theology would be messed up, look at the lineage!” Well, go back and circle Verse 5. Korah! Here we go again!
Yesterday I think I mentioned Psalm 90-106 is relevant…look at this from the middle of 106:
13 But they soon forgot what he had done
and did not wait for his counsel.
14 In the desert they gave in to their craving;
in the wasteland they put God to the test.
15 So he gave them what they asked for,
but sent a wasting disease upon them.
16 In the camp they grew envious of Moses
and of Aaron, who was consecrated to the LORD.
17The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan;
it buried the company of Abiram.
18 Fire blazed among their followers;
a flame consumed the wicked.
Do you realize Moses was a Levite? One of his own people were bucking him. But Follow the conversations. Who is talking to who. Moses talked to God first, then the people. Look at verse 11
” It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together.”
I know I am just scattered today but what a powerful reading. Such a roller coaster. No wonder God chose Moses and Aaron. After the Lord “handled” the situation look at verse 41, look who got blamed for it? (I wrote in my Bible…”are you kidding me”. And then the very next paragraph Moses and Aaron interceded on their behalf. (quite the parallel of our High Priest, Jesus, huh)
Verse 36: Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to take the censers out of the smoldering remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy-
The censers were what the priests carried the coals in around the Tabernacle. It was used to bring to the table of incense. I found a picture, but many of us have been to an Orthodox church and the leaders still use them today. Here is the picture of a modern one.
The reason they kept them was because the Lord reminded them that they were Holy because (and I don’t remember where in the reading) all the items that were made for the Tabernacle were considered Hoy because they were all cleansed and consecrated to the Lord.
Eleazar sound familiar? We have actually read about him quite a bit already. This is actually the 11th time he is mentioned. (out of 73 though).
Eleazar son of Aaron married one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas. (Not Phinehas and Ferb)
Go back to a few chapters to Numbers 3. Remember the brother priests mentioned , and 2 of them were killed by the Lord ON THE SPOT:
The names of the sons of Aaron were Nadab the firstborn and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. Those were the names of Aaron’s sons, the anointed priests, who were ordained to serve as priests. Nadab and Abihu, however, fell dead before the LORD when they made an offering with unauthorized fire before him in the Desert of Sinai. They had no sons; so only Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of their father Aaron.
I am just speculating but do you think Eleazar is nervous going near the smoldering remains and coals? I bet yes, but he still does. Faith!!
The Budding of Aaron’s Staff. How Beautiful. God chooses who He chooses, and sometimes it’s not us He chooses. You may remember (may not) that I said there were 3 things inside the Ark of the Covenant. The 2 tablets from Mt Sinai, a collection of manna (God said keep to show your children that I really did provide for you in the desert and Aaron’s budded staff). Well here we are, God will let the people know that Yes, He chose Aaron as High Priest by having his dead wooden rotted staff not only bud flowers but Almonds! (as if I had nothing better to do I researched the Almond growing process, a lot about it caught my eye but one particularly and that is that they are not self pollinating, and takes 5 years to harvest! I found that interesting for sure)
Well. That was a lot. Here is my question? Am I the people or am I Caleb/Joshua?
When you read 14, (or reread it) Follow each sequence, Follow the key words… Then, But, If, . I think the basics of the story are obvious, so here are the parts that really interested me.
1. How Moses prayed for them AGAIN and God relented AGAIN. Maybe this hit me because right now prayer is a big part of my life (or lack of prayer). Also asking someone to pray with/for you. But think about how prayer has changed the course of action of the Bible. Moses prayed for God’s people in Exodus 32:7-14, the Golden Calf Incident then for his sister Miriam, again in Numbers 11:2 and the Lord’s anger died down, again today and Moses will actually plead again for them again tomorrow and again in a few days (are we seeing what a vehicle God has given us called prayer). Before I go further it is important to note that God never would have broken His promise, His covenant, look at 14:12
“I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they”
2. The second thing that hit me today was in 14:22 the Lord says that have disobeyed me 10 times. I think it is unfair to read this chapter and think God’s consequence didn’t fit the crime. Look at how patient God has been with His children. But God disciplines the ones He loves. Verse 17 says
“The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion, yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.
And the Lord did forgive them. Nevertheless…after all God has done and shown for them; they were untrusting at the Red Sea, complained over water a few times, disobeyed more than once, engaged in idolatry, collected too much manna and on the Sabbath, complained about what was provided for them and NOW after All God has done they fail to trust him (wait, let me flip my mirror, I have the magnifying side on the reverse)
3. Verse 42: Do not go up, because the Lord is not with you. Reminded me of the time the Lord was so mad (the golden calf) He told Moses to go ahead to Canaan, but that He would not be with them and Moses said “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here” (Ex 33:15) But that was not the case here in this chapter. And for the second time in this chapter we read the word “Nevertheless….” (verse 44)
Chapter 15 I am going to just sum it up as “Do you know it’s not right??”….then Don’t do it! God is very clear that all sin is serious but Intentional Sin is a sin directed at the Lord.
Psalm 90: (actually Psalm 90 through Psalm 106 would all be relatable here) But we are reading 90 because Moses wrote it (the only Psalm He wrote) . Psalms are a collection of poetry writings that are an expression of praise or worship, or a writing of confession. They speak to people in need because they are written from people in need. I hope when you read Psalm 90 you read it personally to the Lord. It is poetry, so if you struggle with it a little read it slower or try a different version.