Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Mar 3, Num 21-22

Today's readings are Num 21-22. Tomorrow's are Num 23-25.

In spite of Israel's rebellion, God continues to show His faithfulness by giving them victories and protecting them. 

Yet, while they continue to grumble and complain, God continues to show that there are consequences not only for rebellion, but for being ungrateful as well. He sends poisonous serpents among them (Num 20:6) but grants delivery from them if they are willing to look upward for their salvation (Num 20:9). The bronze serpent they are to gaze upon is not a charm or an icon. It is an example of God’s provision and would later serve as a picture of Jesus bearing God’s curse and being lifted up on a tree for our salvation (Jn 3:14, Gal 3:13). The lesson to be learned here is to look upon God’s provision for salvation and deliverance and nowhere else.

God remains faithful to deliver Israel's enemies into their hands. As Israel’s reputation spreads, more and more tribes become fearful of them and prepare for war with them. 

They arrive in Moab where King Balak unites with Midian and seeks help from a prophet and diviner, Balaam. Balak pays Balaam to pronounce curses on Israel. Balaam is not one of God's people. He is actually a type of anti-Moses. (2 Pete 2:15-16) But, Balaam's story shows us that no one is beyond God's sovereign control and influence as God uses him to bless Israel instead of curse them. 

Balaam is warned by God not to oppose Israel. He is instructed to go with Balak's emissaries but to say only what God tells him to say. God uses Balaam's donkey to make His instructions clear. Balaam may be blind to the presence of God but God will not be thwarted. Unlike Moses, who speaks directly with God, God speaks to Balaam through a dumb animal. 

Balak is so anxious over the situation, he runs out to meet Balaam. After engaging in pagan sacrifices, he brings Balaam to Bamoth-baal and shows him the people. Balaam has been filled with the fear of God but looks for a way to cooperate with Balak. In so doing, Balaam will issue oracles that Balak hopes will become curses. Instead, God will turn each one into a blessing for Israel. 

God's plan for all of this is to bring Israel into the Promised Land. In this we see another way God functions in the world, He will use everything and everyone in his creation to accomplish His plan and fulfill His promises, even those who don’t believe in Him. 

1 comment:

  1. I always like to remember the picture of the serpent in Christ's work as John 3:14ff reveals, as it reminds me that the very sin that condemned me must be faced - by Christ on the cross - to be delivered from God's punishment that we are due. Israel had to look at the punishment (serpents brining death) represented on a pole (as the cross), and we need to see Christ's atoning work for us to be delivered from His wrath...