Today’s Bible reading: Numbers 16:41-18:32; Mark 16:1-20; Psalm 55:1-23; Proverbs 11:7
Aaron and Moses can’t seem to catch a break. Yesterday Korah tried to usurp power from them and was killed by God. Moses probably thought the worst was over. But today in the completion of Numbers 16 we see that the very next morning, the “whole community of Israel” began to complain against Moses. God threatens to kill all of them but Moses intercedes by falling onto the ground in prayer. This is a tremendous picture of love and mercy from Moses. These very same people were accusing him of all kinds of false things. Yet Moses cares enough for them to prayer for them. Moses was a very strong leader. He knew who he was. His value did not come from the people. His value came from his relationship with God. It did not matter what people did or said to him. He chose to love even the unlovable. We need to do the same.
Aaron intercedes by going into the midst of this angry mob. In this case Aaron is foreshadowing Jesus. Both interceded for sinners who faced a dismal fate. Both were unjustly accused. This is the only way that people get saved. Someone had to intercede for them, both then and now. I think it is so interesting how the Bible is so complete. Everything about it points to Jesus, even the parts (Old Testament) that were written thousands of years before Jesus was even born by people who had no idea that Jesus would even becoming to earth. The Bible is so cool that way and proves that it is from God.
To prove to the people that Aaron was the one He chose to be the high priest, God performs a miracle. He causes Aaron’s rod to sprout. It only sprouts but produces buds and blossoms as well as ripe almonds (Numbers 17:9). This is amazing because all this happened over night from a dead piece of wood! God was definitely making a big statement here. He could have caused a single tiny leaf to appear and that would have been amazing enough. But instead God goes crazy to show them that He is a very powerful God who can do greater things that anyone can dream of — even conquering the giants in the Promised Land that Israel was afraid of. Aaron’s rod was placed in the Tabernacle as a reminder to the community of how they were wrong and God was right. I don’t think God did this to be mean or spiteful. He did this because we all need to be reminded of His greatness. Do you keep anything around your house to remind you of God’s greatness and love for you? I keep small picture frames with my favorite Bible verses all around my house. Seeing and reading them often keep God in my mind.
We finish up the book of Mark today with the women discovering the empty tomb of Jesus. Notice that they went to the tomb with spices. Spices were used to cover up the odors of decomposition. So here we see that the women fully expected to see the body of Jesus in the tomb. They were not expecting the tomb to be empty, nor was anyone else. Despite the many times Jesus told them He would rise from the dead no one understood or believed Him. And why should they? Who would have thought that a dead person could come back to life?
Inside the tomb was an angel who tells the women that He has risen from the dead (Mark 16:6). I wonder what they were thinking when they heard those words. I’m sure they were stunned and confused especially when the angel tell them that Jesus is in Galilee. The angel tells them to go “see” Him there and to tell the disciples. Notice that Peter is singled out. While all the disciples ran away and abandoned Jesus, Peter actually denied knowing Jesus. We read how Peter was ashamed of himself. I think by specifically mentioning Peter God is telling Peter that He still wants to be with him. Jesus wasn’t going to keep a grudge against His friends. Our God is a forgiving God. No matter what we do or say He is willing to forgive us if we repent just like Peter did.
What is interesting about this passage is that the first witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection are women. Back in those days women could not give testimony at a trial. They were considered unreliable witnesses. This is just more proof that the Bible is not made up. No one writing back then, such as Mark, who wanted to be taken seriously by his readers would invent a story in which women were the primary witnesses. The only way that such a story could have been believed would be for it to be true. God knows what He is doing. There are no holes in the Bible. There are no contradictions. There are only facts. And the more unbelievable the facts are the more believable the Bible is.
Jesus then appears to His followers and disciples several times. Jesus’s resurrection was no secret. He was very public about it. This is not a made up story with no witnesses. As we will read in the two remaining Gospels Jesus appeared to even more people after His resurrection.
In Mark 16:15-16 Jesus gives the command to His 11 disciples to tell everyone about Him. He goes on to say that anyone who “believes” will be saved [from their sins] and will go to heaven. But those who reject Him will be condemned (spend eternity in hell). It doesn’t get much plainer than that. That is how you get to heaven. From a group of 11 ragtag, bickering, slow-to-understand teenagers Christianity spread around the world including taking a place in the heart of a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth atheist (me). That in itself is a miracle.
Even though someone may be a devout follower of Christ, that person will still face trouble in this life. And it is great to read that some of the people in the Bible faced challenges just like we do. In Psalm 55:2 David writes that he is “overwhelmed” by his troubles. I’ve been there. He was so distraught that his heart was pounding and was afraid he was going to die (Psalm 55:4). A few verses later we read that this was because he was being chased. Not by an enemy but by someone he had considered a close friend. Even the best of relationships can unravel on this earth. Every relationship is made up of two sinful, imperfect people. But someday we will have perfect relationships in heaven.
David reminds us that God hears us when we call to Him (Psalm 55:17) no matter what time of day it is. God never sleeps. He is like 911, only better. What a great feeling to know that you have someone to go to anytime you need to talk. And its even better to know that someone is the God of the universe who created every atom. There is no one better to talk with than God. God wants our burdens (Psalm 55:22). He wants to take care of us. The problem is we are too proud to let Him. But that is exactly why He created us. So that He could shower us with His love.
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