Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Feb 26, Num 35-36

Today's readings are Num 35-36.

In Num 35:1-8, God directs the Levites to be given cities in which to live and resources to live by when Israel takes the Promised Land. The Levites are priests who serve in the Temple. The cities they receive will be scattered throughout the land. God is arranging for the priests to be spread out among His people. In other words, all the people will be served by the priests as the priests serve God. So that they can remain entirely dedicated to the ministry, the Levites will be supported by contributions that come from the people. Everyone contributes according to their ability.

God directs the establishing of six cities of refuge (Num 35:9-34), three on each side of the Jordan so as to make them easily accessible. They are protection for someone who has shed blood innocently.  They are a refuge against a "blood avenger," someone who takes it upon himself to avenge the blood of a loved one. Because the cities of refuge guarantee a fair review of the circumstances before a group of objective judges, the manslayer is protected from being murdered, and the blood avenger is protected against becoming guilty of shedding more innocent blood. Both are examples of God's mercy, justice, and protection.

What we also see in the cities of refuge is God’s mercy on those whose hearts are true but struggle with stumbles and mistakes. The way the system is set up, the manslayer realizes his error, flees to the city and throws himself on the mercy of the leaders of the city who will judge his motives and intentions. If they determine he acted foolishly or carelessly, but has a contrite heart and did not intend or plan to take a life, the manslayer is given mercy. He experiences grace. If the leaders determine he planned for and carried out a murder, he is executed.

Similarly, when we sin and run to God, confessing our sin, He who knows the intent of our heart will forgive. He will shed His mercy if our heart is contrite. He judges the state of our heart, and we receive grace.  The Lord is our city of refuge.

Female heirs are guaranteed their inheritance in Num 36:1-4. In God's economy, there is no Jew, no Gentile, no male, no female. We see the practical application of this guarantee in Num 36:5-12.

We see another lesson in God’s promises as well. The inheritance (the gifts) He gives can come only by the act of His giving. No one can gain His gifts by marriage or association. Furthermore, His gifts cannot be lost, “…each of the tribes shall hold on to his own inheritance.” (Num 36:9). These rules are an imperfect guideline, intended to demonstrate a perfect truth about God. They are a shadow of the guarantee we have in His promises and the assurance we have in His greatest gift, our salvation.

The stage is set. Israel is ready to enter Canaan. Numbers began with God speaking to Moses at Sinai (Num 1:1); it ends with God speaking to Moses on the plains of Moab (Num 36:13). God has brought Israel through the wilderness and done everything He has promised. Now, in the Book of Deuteronomy, they will pause while God reiterates the terms and conditions of the covenant before sending Joshua and His people into Canaan.

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