Today’s Bible reading: Numbers 33:40-35:34; Luke 5:12-28; Psalm 65:1-13; Proverbs 11:23
As I read through the final verses in Numbers 33 today I couldn’t help but think of God as the “landlord” of all the earth. He owns it all but He gives us the privilege to live on it. If we abuse that privilege, He will evict us and give the land to new tenants. That is precisely why God was giving the land of Canaan to Israel to occupy. The previous tenants had no respect or recognition of God. They worshipped pagan gods that were associated with detestable acts including child sacrifices. So, while on the verge of entering the Promised Land, God reminds Israel to drive all the people out of there (Numbers 33:52). The word “all” means “all”. It means 100%.
But God also gives Israel a warning in Numbers 33:55. If Israel fails to drive out all the people those that reamin will be like “splinters in [Israel’s] eyes”. Ouch. That is not pleasant. Sadly, as we will see, this is exactly what happens. Israel does not obey God’s wise advice and they do not clear the land of all the pagan-god worshippers. This causes all kinds of problems for Israel going forward.
Based on these passages, does the United States have any hope of surviving? I honestly don’t think so. I think our days are numbered. I think God will send our enemies against us if we do not turn away from our pride and selfish acts and return to Him.
I find it ironic, not to mention sad, that there are people in our world today (including some I know) who avidly follow their horoscopes or seek advice from psychics. These things have absolutely no value to our society beyond curiosity (and even that is debatable). Yet these same people willingly and admittedly ignore God who knows everything and who is willing and able to guide us into the future. God wants you to have a great life. We’re less than 25% of the way through the Bible so far this year yet we have seen dozens of examples where God wants His people to have the absolute best. Yet we ignore Him and seek our own avenues to happiness.
In Numbers 34 God makes it clear that Israel is entering Canaan not because they earned it. They did not. The land is an inheritance (Numbers 34:2). It was a gift from God.
Notice how God wants the land assigned to the various tribes while still on the east side of the Jordan. Like any inheritance, the division of the land could be a divisive issue. God wanted the assignments made before everyone had a chance to see the land and develop any attachments to it. So He appoints the two most respected leaders, Eleazar and Joshua, to parcel the land among the 9 1/2 tribes.
In Numbers 35 we see God’s plan regarding the Levites. This tribe was assigned to be priests among the people back in Exodus. Here God does not give them one single block of land but rather He gives them cities dispersed among the other tribes so they can be an influence to the entire nation.
In Luke 5 we see Jesus heal a leper. Its interesting that the leper asks Jesus to both “heal” him and make him “clean”. This man not only wanted the physical aspect of leprosy to go away, he also wanted the consequences to go away. People with leprosy were shunned from society because they were “unclean”. They would have had very difficult, solitary lives. This man wants his life back.
Jesus was willing to help. Jesus never turned anyone away who truly wanted help. That is part of His character. And since He is still alive (having risen from the dead) we can say that He is still willing to help us today. Jesus wants to “heal” our sin so we can have the life that God planned for us from the beginning. Sin takes away life. Jesus restores it.
Touching this man would have gone a long way to healing this man’s emotions and feelings of emptiness. No one touched a leper back then. Except for Jesus, that is. Jesus did not have to touch him to make the leprosy go away. But He does so in order to show the man that he (the man) is not an outcast. I remember back in the 80s and 90s when AIDS was still a new and mysterious disease. People were afraid to be near someone inflicted with it. People with AIDS were made to feel like lepers – outcasts in their own society. A hug from another person would have done wonders to restore such a person’s sense of value. That is exactly what Jesus is accomplishing by touching the leper.
A paralytic man is brought to Jesus through the roof of a house in Luke 5:19. His friends must have had 100% faith in Jesus because I’m sure they didn’t want to pull him back up — they wanted him to walk out the front door. What good friends these men were. They went through a lot of logistical and physical trouble to bring their friend to Jesus. I wonder how much trouble we are willing to go to in order to introduce our friends and family to Jesus.
But not being able to walk was not this man’s greatest need. As bad as AIDS is, it is not the worst problem a person can face. Neither is cancer. The most serious condition is one we all suffer from: sin. We all have the disease of sin for which the only cure is forgiveness from God. Without curing this problem before we die we end up separated from God for all eternity in a place we call hell. I’m not trying to minimalize cancer or AIDS — we should do what we can to cure diseases and help people afflicted with them. But the reality is we all are going to die one way or another, sooner or later. If we die without having our sins forgiven we end up in hell. That is a much more tragic situation than any earthly disease or condition.
Jesus knows this so He forgives the man’s sins even though everyone was expecting Him to cure the man’s paralysis. As we read on we can see that He did this to each everyone something. Jesus often used His miraculous powers to teach. In the end the man gets a two-for-one deal. His sins were forgiven and he is able to walk. Jesus always gives us more than we expect.
In Psalm 65 David praises God because He forgives all sins (remember, “all” mean “all”) even those sins that are weighing us down (Psalm 65:3). The only requirement is that we must come to God in prayer to seek forgiveness (verse 2). God will often answer prayer with “awesome” deeds (Psalm 65:5). The word “awesome” is ubiquitous in our culture today. We use it all the time. But it is not new: the word is used many times in the Bible to describe God. Note also that God’s forgiveness and blessings will produce abundance in our lives as described in verses 9-13.
Did you know that God is going to give out rewards in heaven? We’ll see the details of these rewards when we get to Paul’s writings in the New Testament. But Proverbs 11: 23 confirms this. The reward is not just heaven itself. The rewards will be in addition to heaven. They will be permanent, everlasting gifts from God for the life lived here on earth as a believer. Those who reject Jesus will get no such rewards. They will only get God’s judgment. This will not be a good thing.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post