Numbers that even “non-numbers” people can understand

Ever wondered why there are two censuses in the book of Numbers? The answer lies in the theme of the book.  God was being faithful to keep his land promise to the people, however the people were unfaithful to God.  This didn’t prevent God from fulfilling his purpose & keeping his promise.  This only excluded the older generation of Israel from being a part of the fulfillment of the promise. Thus, the 2nd census was necessary because the 2nd generation was going into the promise land.

Here are so more details about the book of Numbers to help you in your reading.

NUMBERS OVERVIEW

Theme: Faithful Yahweh keeps his covenant & prepares fickle Israel through wilderness wanderings.   God is keeping is covenant land promise to Israel despite their faithlessness.

Author:      Moses

Outline:

1. Preparation for the Land at Sinai (1-10)

2. Banishment from the Land in the Wilderness (11-25)

3. New Preparation for Land in the Plains of Moab.

NOTE: Numbers reminds us that our faithlessness doesn’t prevent God from keeping his covenant; it only prevents us from being a part of it. (cf. 1 Cor 10:11)

Key Chapters:

11 The grumblings of Israel and Moses; the provision of God

12 Miriam’s rebellion is punished by leprosy; Moses intercedes for her

13 The journey and return of the 12 spies into Canaan

14 Older generation banned from land as punishment for rebellion

16 Korah’s rebellion

20 Moses Strike the rock and is punished

22-25 Balaam, Balak, and the talking donkey

Key Verses:

6:24-26 Aaronic Blessing

16:31-35 God’s destruction of Korah

21:4-9 Bronze serpent as God’s means for healing. (cf. John 3:14, 15)

 

Key Dates:

Numbers covers a period of 39 years (1444 – 1405 B.C.)

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Don’t Let Tradition Bind Your Conscience

As a pastor I am constantly faced with questions about what is appropriate, effective, & beneficial for our church to be doing.  Over and over again two issues arise on this front, tradition & conscience.  Tradition says “we’ve always done it this way.”  Conscience says “we shouldn’t do it that way.”  Neither tradition nor conscience is bad & the answers that they provide can often times be helpful.  A problem, however, arises when tradition & conscience are are given priority over the bible.  Ironically, it is usually tradition & conscience that work together in a church to marginalize the bible.

Let me explain…

Traditions often arise based on decisions of the conscience.  For instance, in many churches a style of music has been chosen out of sensitivity to the consciences of individuals.  This would fall under the category of pastoral wisdom.  However, over time if the conscience of the congregation is never challenged with scripture it will become informed by tradition.  In other words, people’s conscience will tell them that certain styles of music are right & others are wrong because that is what their tradition has made them comfortable with.  This is a problem.  If we are going to make a moral judgement about anything–especially forms of worship–it needs to be based on scripture.

How do we guard against this problem of letting our traditions bind our conscience? Here are some practical suggestions:

  1. Be saturated with the bible – know your bible so well that you can tell the difference between your preference & God’s preference.  Usually the two are more distinct than we would like to admit.
  2. Never violate your conscience, but never be satisfied with your conscience – God gave you a conscience to help you stay away from sin.  Listen to it, but never be satisfied that your conscience is always right.  Always seek to inform your conscience with scripture & make sure that if something is bothering your conscience it is because it violates scripture.
  3. Embrace your church’s traditions with a loose grip – tradition is only a bad thing if overshadows the bible.  It’s ok to enjoy the way your church does things, but don’t let tradition become the idol your worship.
  4. Sacrifice tradition for the good of others – you can’t impose your conscience on someone else & you can’t ask them to violate their conscience.

 

 

An Overview of Leviticus

Sometimes it is tough for us to make it through certain OT books in our bible reading. This has nothing to do with the literary quality of a book of the bible.  The problem is that we don’t know the significance or context of what we are reading.  This is especially the case in a book like Leviticus.  When you understand what is going on in the book of  Leviticus is becomes one of the most interesting & crucial books of the bible for New Covenant believers.

Here is some info that might help you as you read through Leviticus.

Intro:

In the book of Exodus God redeemed for Himself a people & dwelt with them through the tabernacle.  The book of Leviticus follows this up by revealing what was required of the people to be in God’s presence.  What is abundantly clear in Leviticus is that man must come to God on his terms.  As Nadab & Abihu learned, there are severe consequences for attempting to come into God’s presence on our own terms.

Main Point:

God Requires Holiness in His Presence

Outline:

1. Positional Holiness is Required (1-17) – The sacrificial system was required for the people to have fellowship with God (cf. Heb 9:11-12)

2. Practical Holiness is Required (17-27) – Holiness in everyday living, i.e. sanctification, was necessary for the people to have fellowship with God (cf. 1 Pt 1:15)

My Favorite Psalm, The Summary of the Entire Psalter

My favorite Psalm is also the shortest Psalm and it is the shortest chapter in the entire bible.  What makes it so appealing to me is that it packs so much theological punch into so little actual space.  My favorite Psalm is Psalm 117:

Praise the Lord, all nations!
Extol Him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever
Praise the LORD!

I found a great little summary of this Psalm in Kingdom through Covenant by Peter Gentry & Stephen Wellum.  Here is what they have to say:

This is the briefest and shortest hymn in the whole of Israel’s Songbook (Psalms). According to the format standard for a hymn, there is a call to praise Yahweh, followed by the reason for praise.  In Psalm 117, verse 1 is the Call to Praise and verse 2 the Reason for Praise.  In the section giving the reason for praise the word pair hesed [steadfast love] and emet [faithfulness] is split over parallel lines. Thus the reason for boasting about the Lord is his faithful loyal love in his covenant with this people Israel. In fact, the celebration of this quality summarises the entire Psalter.  When a budding scholars completes a doctoral dissertation, the dissertation must be summarised in three hundred words.  This is called a dissertation abstract.  And Psalm 117 is the dissertation abstract for the entire book of Psalms.  It summarises in just a few words all the Laments, Hymns, and Songs of Thanksgiving in Israel’s hymnal, including the enormously long Psalm 119.  The Lord is worthy of the worship of his people Israel because he demonstrates faithful loyal love in the covenant relationship. (pg. 145)

Evangelism in your sleep

Mark 4:26-29 – 

And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”

The parable of Mark 4:26-29 reveals that God uses our evangelism to grow His kingdom. In this passage we see that we sow Gospel seeds, and God grows Gospel seeds.  God sovereignly grows his spiritual kingdom & He allows us to be a part of that work through evangelism.  This fact that God uses our evangelism impacts the way we do evangelism in three ways:

v. 26-27a: a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day

 1Because God uses our evangelism to grow his kingdom WE MUST BE FAITHFUL IN EVANGELISM.

a. faithful in the practice of evangelism

b. faithful in the content of evangelism  

vv. 27b-29a: He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe

2. Because God uses our evangelism to grow his kingdom WE MUST BE DEPENDENT IN EVANGELISM

a. dependently humble in evangelism
b. dependently patient in evangelism 

v. 29b: at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.

3. Because God uses our evangelism to grow his kingdom WE MUST BE READY IN EVANGELISM

a. ready for an opportunity for evangelism. 
b. ready for the work of evangelism. 

Sermon Audio Available HERE.