Showing posts from February, 2010

All He Commands

Numbers 28-30

“Moses told the Israelites all that the Lord commanded him” —Numbers 29:40

Simple, isn’t it?

“all” – Moses didn’t “fudge” but faithfully delivered the whole message like it or not.

“that the Lord commanded him” — he made nothing up, didn’t put words in the Lord’s mouth or apply his interpretation to what the Lord said. This latter might be the biggest issue we (I) have—shifting the Word of God to head it in a direction that it might not be meant to go.

I realize more than ever how important this truth is. Since my book, Divine Design for Daily Living has been published, I've received all kinds of comments and questions. The response has been very gratifying but, at the same time, it has been sobering. What I write is believed, so what I write had better be what God said and not what Lynda wants him to say. It had better be all the truth and not just the part Lynda wants people to hear.

The responsibility is nothing to consider lightly.

The same is true as I take on my new …

Defending God's Honor

Numbers 25-27

Phinehas did a hard thing. He chose to do what was right in order to defend God’s honour. Israel had sinned by worshipping pagan gods promoted by women the Israelites had been told to avoid. God was angry and the punishment took the lives of 24,000 people until Phinehas stepped in, made a decisive move, and the angel of death removed his hand from God’s people.

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them. Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites’” —Numbers 25:10-13.

My curiosity bump is working overtime as I read this passage. The Lord told Moses to punish the leaders of those who had committed the sin (25:4). Moses told …

The Board of Education Divinely Applied

Numbers 21-24

They got impatient and started to complain that God wasn't keeping up with their needs.

“Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died” —Numbers 21:6.

The punishment seems a mite excessive until we remember that this was only one of the countless number of times Israel rebelled against God. Like little kids, sometimes reasoning doesn’t work and you have to “apply the board of education to the seat of learning” as my mother used to say.

This event was the backdrop for the beautiful illustration of what Christ would do one day many years later. As Moses raised the bronze serpent and Israel was instructed to look at it if they wanted to be saved, so those who look to Christ can also be saved.

God had his ways of dealing with Israel, but that didn't mean he was willing to allow other people to deal with them in any way they chose. Take Balak, for example. He called on a prophet, Balaam, to put a curse on Israel. The conversat…

Cloud Cover

Numbers 7-10

Everyone loves a sunny day. But clouds can be good too. Take the experience of Israel as an example.

The people have received their instructions, the Tabernacle has been prepared, the priests and the Levites are set aside for their duties. Everything is set to go. All eyes are on Moses, the leader of this brave band…oops, all eyes are NOT on Moses. All eyes are on the cloud covering the Tabernacle.

“Whenever the cloud lifted fro above the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the Lord’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. Sometimes the cloud stayed from evening till mo…

On the "Little" Things in Life and Ministry

Numbers 4-6

“And the appointed guard duty of the sons of Merari involved the frames of the tabernacle, the bars, the pillars, the bases, and all their accessories; all the service connected with these; also the pillars around the court, with their bases and pegs and cords” —Numbers 3:36, 17 ESV.

One of the questions people ask as they try to read through the Old Testament is why God wanted all these “boring” details recorded. Seemingly endless lists of who fathered whom, what colour the pomegranate on the bottom of the priest’s garment was, and who looked after the tent pegs, seems like too much information.

Personally I like the tent pegs. As I read through these chapters I always get a chuckle out of the picture. If Joe Merari neglected a tent peg when he was cleaning up in preparation for a move, the next time Israel put up the Tabernacle after one of their hikes, they would be in big trouble. One missing tent peg could spell disaster.

Even the so-called little duties had a huge imp…

Go to Bed, Lynda

Numbers 1-3

I've tried to always made it a rule never to pull a verse of Scripture out of its context and force it say something it doesn't. But I'm going to do it on this occasion.

In the context, God is speaking about the Levites. He told Moses that Aaron and his descendants were to be treated differently from all the rest of the Israelites because of their unique calling. He then stakes a special claim of ownership on them because of that uniqueness.

These days I have lots of things on my mind, mostly items that are "up in the air" and haven't been successfully resolved as yet, concerns that so easily cross the line into anxieties. Two of those "items" are Abby and Lou who are about to embark on the journey of their lives, a journey I know they are going to hate, and a journey not without its dangers. They are about to fly to Canada from Venezuela in the cold hold of an A319. The whole process is complicated and throughout it God has constantly been…

Never Too Far From A Promise

Leviticus 24-27

I’ve seriously toyed with the idea of buying rather than renting an apartment. With the coming of Abby and Lou the possibilities of finding something to rent have shrunk. The cats are complicated. I can’t say that the Lord orchestrated their coming to Canada to force me to take yet another leap of faith and entrust the majority of what I have saved over the years to a piece of property. However, I know enough to be able to say that nothing happens by accident.

This morning’s reading included a section on buying and selling. I won’t apply what I read too literally, but I will claim the promise that comes with this passage, should the Lord open the door to buying a place of my own.

Part of my concern about buying is using all the resources I have put aside for retirement and ending up with nothing to sustain me when I stop working.

That concern, so quickly turned to anxiety, means that I am forgetting again the “God factor.” The issue in Leviticus 25 was the Year of Jubile…

Community Responsibility

Leviticus 20-23

It’s a common complaint that the regulations instituted by God throughout the Old Testament, particularly in these first books, are impossible to keep. Even if every effort to obey was made, there would always be times when some sacrifice wasn’t quite free of defect, or something unclean was touched unintentionally and unnoticed.

But that is the point. God needed to show Israel, and us, that no matter how much we try, we can’t be holy as he is holy. The preparations for a Saviour, a Holy One who would fulfill God’s requirements, were being made.

For many people it is easier just to walk away from God than it is to acknowledge that it is impossible to come to him except through bending the knee to Jesus. The argument is that if they say it doesn’t matter whether or not they obey God, or come to him as he has ordained, then it doesn’t matter.

That’s self-deception at its “finest.” If I say that the freight train barreling down on me as I sit in my solitary splendor in the …

Keep Your Germs To Yourself

Leviticus 11-13

Disease ravages the world in spite of all our medical advances, technology and the availability of pills, syrups, patches, and therapies of every kind and description.

The common cold, the flu, even the old standards like measles and chicken pox, pop up often. I sneeze into my sleeve—most of the time. But how many doorknobs, taps, and other things have I, or someone else, already contaminated during those times when we forgot to do the right thing?

Someone should read Leviticus and follow the instructions:

1. Keep your germs isolated and to yourself.

2. Go and see an expert for things that might be dangerous to others.

Funny, the advice is several thousand years old and we still don’t get the point. God had his way of keeping Israel from being devastated by communicable diseases—without benefit of pills, syrups, advanced science, and universal health care.

Mind you, unlike the Old Testament priests, I’m not sure my pastor would know HINI from the mumps. (*sigh!*)

Ignorance Or Otherwise, There's No Excuse

Leviticus 8-10

I shouldn’t be surprised, but I always am. We mess up even the best of things so easily. At the end of chapter 9, after all the preparations and sacrifices have been made, God appears before his people. The final verse says: “And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown” —Leviticus 9:24.

And then it appears that immediately Nathan and Abihu, Aaron’s sons, broke the rules, offering fire that wasn’t as the Lord prescribed (10:1,2). The punishment was swift and severe, similar to what happened in those first days of the early church when Ananias and Sapphira lied about what they had given to the Lord (Acts 5). It was necessary for God to make his point.

Just a little while later, God reminds Moses and Aaron: “This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You must distinguish between the holy and the common, between the clean and the unclean, and you must teach the Israelites all the decrees the Lord had given them through Moses” —Leviticu…

Whiter Than White

And speaking of snow…

"Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow."

Psalm 51:7

A promise to remember in the midst of a spiritual winter.

The Burden of Leadership

Leviticus 1-4

Something unusual pops out of the description of the offerings so carefully detailed as the book of Leviticus begins.

“If the anointed priest sins [unintentionally], bringing guilt on the people, …” (4:3). Then follows the instructions concerning the appropriate sacrifice that must be made to atone for that sin. As the chapter progresses, others are singled out:

“If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden…they are guilty” (4:13).

“When a leader sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden…he is guilty” (4:22).

“If a member of the community sins unintentionally…he is guilty” (4:27).

In Israel’s history there were often corporate consequences to the sin of the individual, Achan being a prime example (Joshua 7). But here in this particular list the sin of the priest, however unintentional, is specifically mentioned as having consequences for the people not just for the individual who sinned. Beyond simple consequences, the writer uses the…

Thanksgiving Every Day

Exodus 38-40

“The Israelites had done all the work just as the Lord had commanded Moses. Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded. So Moses blessed them” —Exodus 39:42, 43.

I’m glad those last four words were included in the sacred record.

Acknowledging a job well done is like putting icing on a cake. The cake is great without the icing, but oh the joy that a finishing touch of sweetness brings.

The labourers had done an incredible job of the construction and furnishing of the Tabernacle, of the preparation of the priestly garments—just read for yourself the extensive description that covers a large part of the book of Exodus. Everything was done “just as the Lord commanded…,” a phrase repeated an amazing number of times throughout the book.

Can you imagine the workers holding their corporate breath as their leader inspected the finished product? Would he find some fault, some flaw, some tiny detail that didn’t quite measure up? Would the shin…

Celebrating God

Exodus 18-20

“Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them” —Exodus 18:8.

If anyone has worked through the series of studies called “Experiencing God” he might remember the section on signposts. The author reminds us of the importance of looking back on how God has worked as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and how God uses even the most impossible circumstances to bring glory to his name and to fulfill his purposes in the lives of his children.

Moses shared with Jethro the story of Egypt—the impossible made possible because that’s how God wanted it to be.

“Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law. Brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron come with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of the Lord” —Exodus 18:12.

The result was worship. And the worship was shared not just with those…