Today’s Bible reading: Numbers 26:52-28:15; Luke 3:1-22; Psalm 61:1-8; Proverbs 11:16-17
We continue our Old Testament reading in Numbers today with God continuing to prepare the new generation of Israel to enter the Promised Land. After the census was completed it did not include one person who had been counted in the first census (Numbers 26:64). God said that the entire previous generation would die out before He gave Israel the Promised Land and He kept His promise.
Some people think that God will keep His “good” promises but will not keep the “bad” ones. First, there are no bad promises. All of God’s promises, in fact all of God’s thoughts and activities on our behalf, are for our good. But this is where people go wrong about hell. They think that God will change His mind or make an exception on their behalf. But that is not true. If God did that then He wouldn’t be God. He would be at best manipulatable and at worst a liar. God keeps His word 100% pf the time for many reasons but one of those reasons, I think, is to show us what the standard is. We keep trying to apply human behaviors to God. But that is the wrong approach. Instead we should apply Godly behaviors to ourselves.
In Numbers 27 several sisters ask for land in Canaan to be given to them since their father had no sons. God solves the problem (Numbers 27:8) but more importantly I think is the fact that these women demonstrated faith. Israel had not yet entered the land yet and they were already asking for some of it to be allocated to them. They were believing God’s promise, unlike the previous generation. The other day we read Psalm 56:4 which reminded us to praise God for His promises. These women are doing just that.
Moses had forfeited his right to enter the Promised Land when he disobeyed God in Numbers 20. Before Moses dies God allows him to climb a mountain and look into the land. Notice how Moses doesn’t complain about his fate. When he first met God he was immature and a bit whiny. He argued with God over the task God asked him to do. But it is now over 40 years later and Moses has matured.
Moses concern is not for himself but for the people. He asks God to appoint a new leader so the people will not be like sheep without a shepherd. God appoints Joshua (Numbers 27:18). We have seen Joshua a few times thus far, mainly in a role of assistant to Moses. Now it is the time for him to lead.
In Numbers 28 God orders Israel to begin and end every day with an atoning sacrifice (Numbers 28:4,8). I think it is appropriate for us to do something similar. We should begin and end our days with God in prayer. Even if it is just for a few minutes you will find that it is incredibly worth while. I have been doing this for some time now and I can say that I enjoy talking with God so much that in the morning I am usually late for work and in the evening I am late to bed! But the time I spend with God is absolutely incredible. The conversations flow so smoothly now. It definitely took some practice at first but talking with God is the best part of my day by far.
One thing I like about Luke’s gospel is that he mentions a lot of historical people and places. This lends much credibility to the Bible. We know all the people mentioned in Luke 3:1-2 lived. These are historical facts that are easily verifiable. If the Bible is so accurate with this type of information why would we think that any other part of it is a fairy tale?
The 15th year of Tiberius would put these events around 27 – 29 AD.
We don’t know much about John the Baptist prior to these verses but we do know from Luke 3:2 that “at this time” God called him to a public ministry that lead people to Jesus. I can relate to this. I have been a believer for many years and have often helped out in my church or Christian-based charities. Not all the time, but sometimes. But in January of this year I felt God calling on me to do more and that is why I started this blog (and have since started another one). I think God has even more for me to do and I am very excited about what it might be.
John the Baptist taught people that they should be baptized, not that they needed to be baptized (Luke 3:3). Baptism is a public expression of repentance from sins and trust in God for forgiveness. Baptism does not send anyone to heaven. By participating in the baptism John spoke about a person was identifying himself as a sinner in need of a Savior. That is slightly different than getting baptized today where we identify ourselves with Christ.
Luke 3:4 shows us that John the Baptist was prophesied about in the Old Testament. Just more proof that the Bible was authored by God. Who else could predict the future hundreds of years in advance?
John’s message to the people was to not assume that they had a free ride into heaven because they were descendants of Abraham. This was a popular way of thinking amongst Jews back then and even today. John tells them “that means nothing” (Luke 3:8). We see that salvation is a personal thing. It is not inherited.
John also told them to show evidence of their repentance by their lifestyle (Luke 3:9). Although everyone will still sin while on this earth, true believer’s lives should demonstrate their faith. He gives a couple of examples.
I think it is interesting that when Jesus was baptized all three members of the Trinity were present. The Holy Spirit descended on Him and God spoke from heaven (Luke 3:21-22). Some people claim the Bible does not support the idea of the Trinity. It certainly does and these verses are one of the most obvious places.
Psalm 61:3 really spoke to me today. I have been going through some pretty serious spiritual warfare lately. But God has been right by my side every step of the way. He has been the place where I have gone for refuge. And even though Satan taunts and tempts me, he can’t touch me.
When we are kind we will be rewarded (Proverbs 11:17). But our acts of meanness will be our downfall. Is there any reason not to be kind?
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