Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Daily Bread for Feb 20, Num 21-22

Today's readings are Num 21-22.

Despite Israel's rebellion, God continues to show His faithfulness by giving them victories and protecting them (Num 21:1-3). The triumph depicted in these first three verses is in Arad, near the southern border of Canaan. Israel is on their way south, moving away from Canaan, destined to continue their wanderings until the generation that fashioned the golden calf passes away. Arad is in the Negeb (Negev), an arid region bordering the desert. Here’s what it looks like today.

Evan as the Hebrews continue to grumble and complain, God continues to show that there are temporal consequences for not only rebellion but also for being ungrateful. 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 serves as a foreshadow of Jesus being lifted on a tree for our salvation (Jon 3:14, Gal 3:13). The lesson to be taught here is to look to God’s provision for salvation and deliverance and nowhere else. Click below.

God remains faithful to deliver Israel's enemies into her hands. As Israel’s reputation spreads, other pagan tribes in the region become fearful of her and prepare for battle. As the Jews arrive at the plains of Moab, God begins giving Israel land on the eastern banks of the Jordan River (Num 21:21-27), first between two rivers, the Arnon and the Jabbock. Then, Israel takes Bashan, further north (Num 21:31-35).

In the Plains of Moab, King Balak unites with Midian and seeks help from a prophet and diviner, Balaam (Num 22:1-14). Balak pays Balaam to pronounce curses on Israel. Even though God speaks to Balaam (Num 22:9) and uses him, Balaam is not one of God's people. His belief in and awareness of God is like that of demons (James 2:19). He is a type of anti-Moses (2 Pete 2:15-16). This is not the only time in the Bible where we see God speak to someone other than His children to warn them not to work against His people (Gen 20:3, Gen 31:24). 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 cursing them.

God tells Balaam what to say (Num 21:12-13), but He uses Balaam's donkey to make His instructions clear (Num 21;22-30). Apparently, God can speak to and through anyone or any animal!

Balaam has been filled with the fear of God but wants to please Balak as well (Num 22:36-41). In the following chapter, 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 these events 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 and worship Him as the One True God, like Balaam and Balak.

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