Today’s Deeply Rooted Devotion is from Numbers 35-38.
“Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the Israelites because he was zealous among them with my zeal, so that I did not destroy the Israelites in my zeal.” Numbers 25:11, CBS (emphasis added)
Immediately today’s reading leads you to be broken. Sin is prevalent from the beginning. Numbers 25:3 says that Israel aligned themselves with Baal and God’s anger burned against them. Punishment comes. It’s difficult to read about the harshness of the punishment on those who joined in other religions and sinful practices. But what the harshness does reveal is God’s zeal for holiness and the horribleness of the nature of sin.
Phinehas is listed as one who had a passion and zeal for holiness like the Lord does. What would it look like to want a zealousness for holiness like God’s zeal? The Lord held off His wrath because of Phinehas’ zealousness for holiness. Ultimately God would pay for the debt of our sin through another man zealous for holiness. Jesus, God’s Son, perfect in every way, was and is completely holy and zealous for holiness. The punishment of death because of our sin may seem harsh, but it’s fair. What isn’t fair is that Jesus took our place in that punishment and died our death on that cross. That’s not fair, that’s grace. Living in that grace results in a zeal and passion for holiness. Living in the grace Jesus made possible through the cross will look like us imitating Jesus in adopting His zealousness for holiness. What would it look like for you to be zealous for holiness?
Randy Hemphill is a new friend. I met him last year when he was a guest speaker at our church for a month long sermon series on marriage. He has recently written a new book titled, The Restored Man. I was privileged to be on the launch team for the book and cannot be more excited about it. I highly recommend this book to all men for personal reading. I also recommend it for any men’s groups or Bible studies. In the book, Randy provides a group with questions to work through together in a Restored Man Bible Study. To whet your appetite a little I’ve provided my top quotes from the book below.
The book, The Restored Man by Randy Hemphill is available here.
“Jesus is interested in your heart and in your desires. Far more than a behavioral program or an external washing, Jesus wants to restore and redeem your masculine heart.” Page 7
“Life on your own is a tragic way to function as a man.” Page 20
“The journey of knowing self and knowing your story functions as a guide to knowing God. We are not talking about self-help or self-discovery as much as God-help and God-discovery. Every man must take the journey of knowing self if he is to know God.” Page 41
“Humility is fertile soil for strength.” Page 75
“The disciplines are avenues of fathering…A disciplined man is a fathered man. The disciplines put us in a place or a posture to be fathered by God.” Page 103
Today’s Deeply Rooted Devotion is from Numbers 21-24.
“The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away from me, I would have killed you by now and let her live.” Numbers 22:23, CSB
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Ephesians 1:11, ESV (emphasis added)
Today’s reading has it all. Did you catch the humor? There was a talking donkey after all. Not only did God open up the donkey’s mouth to speak, but it didn’t seem to surprise Balaam. He has a normal conversation with the donkey. Did you catch the irony? God used a false pagan prophet to bless His people when they were on the brink of worshipping a false and pagan God. The story of Balaam and the donkey makes the point that sovereignty wins over superstition.
Our sovereign God in heaven overrides the superstitious schemes of people. God is so sovereign and powerful that He sometimes works to accomplish His purposes through people who don’t believe in and follow Him. Look at Jesus on the cross. God used the unbelieving Jews and Romans to accomplish His will to provide salvation to all through the crucifixion of Jesus. Balaam was summoned to curse Israel, but because he was changed by God and obeyed God, instead, He blessed Israel. Jesus came and brought a greater blessing for His people through His death and resurrection. He brought us the gift of justification and redemption by His blood.
Praise God today for His sovereignty. Thank Him for the many ways that He is at work in your life, even the thousands of ways that You are unaware of or that He has not yet revealed to you. Ask God to make you more aware of His presence and work in your life.
Today’s Deeply Rooted Devotion is from Numbers 17-20.
“The one who is clean is to sprinkle the unclean person on the third day and the seventh day. After he purifies the unclean person on the seventh day, the one being purified must wash his clothes and bathe in water, and he will be clean by evening. But a person who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person will be cut off from the assembly because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. The water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean.” Numbers 19:19-20, CSB
“For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” Hebrews 9:13-14, ESV
Today’s reading tells us that Israel finally came to the end of their forty days in the wilderness and began to move toward entering the Promised Land. They had been preparing for this in the wilderness and now the time to enter was finally here. The preparations continued and in Numbers 17-19 there is a big emphasis on cleanliness versus uncleanliness. Distinctions are made between what is clean and unclean. Instructions and procedures are given on what to do when someone is unclean. Ultimately the sacrifice of Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, is what was needed to be able to make us clean and purify our conscience from “dead works” so we can serve the living God. Praise Jesus today for His perfect sacrifice on the cross that allowed you to be made clean. In the battle for holiness and cleanliness we must rely on Jesus.
Before they entered the Promised Land, God’s people stand on the outskirts of the Promised Land and quarreled. We see that they began to battle against different people groups. Today our conflicts are different. Oh, there are still battles against people, but we must remember that our battle ultimately is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers and authorities and cosmic powers over the present darkness. Yes, we put on the armor of God to be equipped for this battle, but the greatest thing we can do to prepare ourselves is to stand firm in the Lord. Look to Jesus the author and perfect or of our faith. Take some time today to look at Ephesians 6:1-10 to identify ways to fight this battle.
Today’s Deeply Rooted Devotion is from Numbers 14-16 and Psalm 95.
“So now, may my Lord’s power be magnified just as you have spoken: The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in faithful love, forgiving iniquity and rebellion. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity of this people, in keeping with the greatness of your faithful love, just as you have forgiven them from Egypt until now.” Numbers 14:17-19, CSB
The people did not like the report of the spies regarding the Promised Land (Numbers 13) so they complained and began to rebel against God and their earthly leaders, Moses and Aaron. The complaints were directed toward their earthly leaders but their sin and rebellion was against God. Their rebellion comes to a climax in Numbers 16:3 when Korah confronts Moses and Aaron.
God is gracious and forgives them of their sin, but the consequences of their sin remains. They won’t get to enter into the Promised Land. Their children will, but they won’t. After reading Numbers 14-16 and Psalm 95 do you see the difference between a life of devotion and worship versus rebellion? When we approach God with worship and devotion we do so with thanksgiving in our hearts (Psalm 95:2). When we have an attitude of rebellion we come to God and God’s appointed leaders with complaining and anger (Numbers 16:23).
A pattern of worship will work against rebellion. A regular habit of corporate and private worship provides you with a weapon against rebellion in your heart towards God. Examine your pattern of worship are you regularly gathering with a local church to worship the Lord? Do you have a habit of regular worship privately through reading the Word of God and prayer?
Today’s Deeply Rooted Devotion is from Numbers 10-13 and Psalm 90.
“Lord, you have been our refuge in every generation.” Psalm 90:1, CSB
“Whenever the ark set out, Moses would say:
Let your enemies be scattered, and those who hate you flee from your presence.
When it came to rest, he would say:
To the countless thousands of Israel.” Numbers 10:35-36, CSB
One step forward and two steps back. We know this phrase well from our own life experiences. So did Israel. They experienced progress with problems. It was now the second year after the exodus from Egypt (Numbers 10:11). Israel was moving forward toward Canaan, the Promised Land. Today’s readings show that they do not move forward without problems. There are leadership struggles, complaints about their resources and food, and lack of courage. The Israelites problems (in these chapters) crescendo to the lack of courage seen by the men who were sent in as spies to scope out their new land. They were impressed with the land and verified that it did flow with milk and honey. They even brought some fruit samples back as evidence. Caleb is the only one who speaks up to still say that they should go and take possession of the land that God has promised them (Numbers 13:30).
Their problems reveal to us that we are not the only ones who can experience the promises and progress of God and still complain and struggle. Their problems also reveal a root problem in our hearts. We can easily forget that the Lord is our refuge for every generation (Psalm 90:1). May our prayer be for the Lord to “teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts” (Psalm 90:12). May our prayer also be that the Lord would satisfy us in the morning with His faithful love, humble us through adversity, and let His favor rest upon us. May He establish the work of our hands! (Psalm 90:14-17).
The ‘work of our hands’ refers to the work that we do in pursuit of God’s calling on our life. When the Lord establishes the work of our hands, problems or not, we will remember that He is our refuge and that our satisfaction is found in Him. We must remember that we can only have true satisfaction in God because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. His work on the cross provides salvation for our souls and forgiveness for our sins. His death and resurrection show us that work can have an eternal meaning and impact. Maybe you are currently experiencing some problems in the midst of progress. Bring your problems to God in prayer. Pray the words of Psalm 90.
Today’s Deeply Rooted Devotion is from Numbers 6-9.
“May the Lord bless you and protect you; may the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; may the Lord look with favor on you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26, CSB
The highlighted verses from today’s readings are some of my favorite in all of God’s Word. My kids know them well. We say and pray them as a prayer over our kids each night as they are going to bed. This is the way that God instructed Moses to tell Aaron and his sons to bless His people. In these chapters God’s people are beginning to make preparations to leave the wilderness and to enter into the land of Canaan. God continues to be the center of the story of Scripture. We see this to be true in how He instructs them to prepare to enter into the Promised Land. There were preparations for the priests and the tabernacles. There were instruction given on how to interact with the people they would come into contact with in the new land when they entered it. Numbers 9:15-23 are particularly important as God’s presence in the preparation and coming Promised Land is emphasized. It was His presence that guided His people. Through His presence the Lord blesses us, protects us, shines His face upon us, is gracious to us, looks upon us with favor, and gives us peace.
The Lord continues to guide us today with His presence. The difference is huge on how we experience His presence though. Today, His presence literally dwells within every one of His children. Jesus came and dwelt among us (John 1:14) and said that it was better that He leave than stay (John 16:7). It was better that He leave so that He could send His Spirit to live within us (John 14:16-17). Are there things that you are preparing for? In your preparations seek the guidance of the Spirit and seek to dwell in His presence.