Today’s Bible reading: Numbers 26:1-51; Luke 2:36-52; Psalm 60:1-12; Proverbs 11:15
We see why the book of Numbers is called “Numbers” in our reading today. In chapter 26 God orders another military census and the number of able-bodied men are counted and listed. The first census was taken almost 40 years earlier in preparation of entering the Promised Land. But that didn’t happen due to Israel’s unbelief. Now the unbelieving generation has died out and their offspring are getting ready to do what they refused to do. So God again counts the troops to get them organized.
The first census recorded over 603,000 men aged 20 years or older who were able to fight. The second census records slightly less, a little more than 601,000. This is a about a .3% decrease. But notice that of the tribes that were counted some lost much more than that (Simeon lost a staggering 63%) and some gained much more (Manasseh gained 64%). But overall the population of military men stayed about the same.
We can see that Israel was no stronger now than they were 40 years ago. If they were hoping that they would gain in strength over time and that strength would help them overcome the inhabitants of Canaan they were wrong. I think their population didn’t grow because God wanted to show them that their victory was not based on human strength but on His strength. If Israel had more men now than before they could attribute their upcoming victory to themselves rather than God.
That is the same lesson God wants to teach us today. When we try to overcome our fears and struggles in our own strength we will lose. God is stronger than all of us put together. And the cool thing is… He wants to fight for us. God is a God who loves to take care of His children. If you are a parent you know how it is when your child thinks she can do something on her own but you know she really can’t. You don’t want to see her fail. You want to help because you love her. God is the same way. He loves us and wants us to be victorious but He knows that cannot happen without His help.
We read more about Jesus’s childhood in Luke today. I wish we knew more about Jesus when He was a boy. It would be interesting to hear stories from Mary and Joseph about what Jesus was like.
Notice that Jesus’ parents followed the law (what we call the Old Testament) after His birth (Luke 2:39). We also see that they went to Jerusalem every year for the Passover (Luke 2:41). We’ve already seen that Joseph and Mary were very poor. Yet despite this they made the trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem every year. Jesus grew up in a family that was devoted to God. I pray for all parents to be like this – raising their children according to God’s will so they grow up with a knowledge of Him.
One year when Jesus gets left behind after Passover they find Him in the Temple which He calls His “Father’s house” (Luke 2:49). As a 12-year old boy Jesus knew exactly who He was even though His parent didn’t (Luke 2:50).
Over the next 18 years Jesus grew physically as well at intellectually (Luke 2:52). He also grew deeper in His knowledge of God and made friends. Since Jesus was God it is hard to understand exactly how He grew in His knowledge of God but we do know that Jesus was subject to some human limitations while in on earth (e.g. He had to eat and sleep). This was intentional as it allowed Him to more closely identify with us.
After Jesus went through every stage of life we go through. First He was a zygote (although no sperm or egg was involved). He then grew into a baby and was born. He had to be fed and cared for. He learned to walk and talk. He ran and played. He made friends and went to school. He got a job. Along the way He experienced the same joys, fears, hopes, and disappointments we all experience. He knows exactly what it is like to live life in a human body.
Psalm 60 reminds us that God will let our enemies attack us (Psalm 60:1-3) but He always offers hope for those to cling to Him (verse 4). God allows this for many reasons. One of which is to test us. Another reason is to grow us. We cannot grow without being challenged. Everything God does for us and allows into our lives is for our good.
Notice Psalm 60:11 reflects something we learned today in our Old Testament reading. Only God can give us victory over our enemies. Relying on other people to conquer our demons is useless.
There is an awful lot of financial wisdom in the Bible and we see some of it in Proverbs 11:15. Never co-sign a loan for another person. It may seem like a “nice” thing to do, to help someone get a loan who may not qualify on their own. But it is dangerous. If that person doesn’t pay then you are liable.
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