Do you wonder
if you are following the Lord's leading to the place where He wants
you to be? The Israelites cried out to God, and He heard them,
raising up Moses to deliver them out of slavery in the land of Egypt
and lead them towards the Promised Land. Because of their sin,
however, they suffered the consequences and wandered in the
wilderness for nearly forty years. What can you learn from the
children of Israel so that you won't make the same mistakes?
Resources Resources that
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Mackintosh, a Plymouth Brethren, was a gifted teacher and writer. D
L Moody said that "it was C. H. Mackintosh who had the greatest
influence" upon his learning of the Word of God. One of his most
respected works was Notes on the Pentateuch.
Further biographical Note
Resources on Numbers
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A gifted and active Christian woman was stricken with an illness that
confined her to bed. On her wall hung a motto, 'Be Strong - And Work For
the Lord', based on 1 Chronicles 28:20. But those words, which used to
bring her encouragement and strength, now brought only distress.
A friend recognized her troubled state of mind and read the last
part of Numbers 9 to her. She pointed out that during Israel's
wilderness wanderings, they rested whenever the guiding cloud remained
over the tabernacle. But when the cloud moved on, they journeyed forward.
The friend then said that there are times when God expects us to move
ahead in our work for Him. At other times He expects us to rest. To
emphasize her point, she walked over to the wall, took down the first
motto, and replaced it with a new one: 'Be Still, And Know that I Am God'
All of us need to recognize that God in His wisdom not only leads us into
service but also provides times of rest. Often we desire the thrill of
activity when He knows we will draw closer to Him through peaceful
stillness. A real test of consecration is the ability to wait when we
prefer to work. - H G Bosch
Whenever your plans are thwarted,
Just Quietly keep still,
And wait for God's sure leading,
His timing, and His Will.-Anon.
Thought for the Day: God orders our stops as well as our steps.
Our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this
manna before our eyes! —Numbers 11:6
Many of our
recurring complaints focus not on what we don't have, but on what we
do have and find uninteresting. Whether it's our work, our church,
our house, or our spouse, boredom grumbles that it's not what we
want or need. This frustration with sameness has been true of the
human spirit since the beginning.
Notice the protest of God's people about their menu in the
wilderness. Recalling the variety of food they ate as slaves in
Egypt, they despised the monotony of God's current provision: "Our
whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna
before our eyes!" (Numbers 11:6).
God provided exactly what they needed each day, but they wanted
something more exciting. Are we tempted to do the same? Oswald
Chambers said: "Drudgery is the touchstone of character. There are
times when there is no illumination and no thrill, but just the
daily round, the common task. Routine is God's way of saving us
between our times of inspiration. Do not expect God always to give
you His thrilling minutes, but learn to live in the domain of
drudgery by the power of God."
During the boring times of life, God is working to instill His
character in us. Drudgery is our opportunity to experience the
presence of the Lord. —David McCasland
then, in our endeavor,
Heavenly Father, may we be;
And forever, and forever,
We will give the praise to Thee. —MacKellar
"Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman
whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman)" (Nu 12:1)
"Some indeed preach
Christ even from envy and strife" (Philippians 1:15).
When the famous sculptor Michelangelo and the painter Raphael were
creating works of art to beautify the Vatican, a bitter spirit of rivalry
rose up between them. Whenever they met, they refused to speak to each
other. Yet each was supposedly doing his work for the glory of God.
Jealousy often parades behind the facade of religious zeal. Miriam and
Aaron criticized their brother Moses for marrying an Ethiopian. But God's
anger revealed that it was actually jealousy that prompted their
criticism. Out of jealousy, Saul sought to kill David, whom God had chosen
to succeed Saul as king. And when the apostle Paul was in prison, some
people were so jealous of the way God was using him that they preached
Christ in order to add to the apostle's distress.
We can overcome this harmful attitude, but first we must identify it.
Jealousy believes that someone else is getting what we deserve—whether
money, popularity, wisdom, skill, or spiritual maturity. Second, we must
confess it. Call it what it is—sin. And third, we must give thanks. The
moment we see someone enjoying any advantage, we must accept it with
gratitude. We can keep jealousy in check by refusing to compare ourselves
As we learn to find our satisfaction in God, His grace enables us to
rejoice with those who rejoice. When we do that, we have little room for
envy. —D. J. De Haan
When we turn green
with jealousy, we are ripe for trouble.
"Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through
us also?" (Numbers 12:2).
In the world of technology, friction is an enemy of efficiency. That's why
auto engineers put so much emphasis on aerodynamics, easy-rolling tires,
and short-stroke engines. They want to reduce the friction caused by air
resistance, road contact, and moving parts.
In Numbers 12, we read about a form of friction that creates discord,
makes everybody uneasy, diminishes our witness, weakens our worship, and
hinders the Spirit's work in our lives. Miriam's jealous revolt against
her brother Moses brought God's rebuke and slowed the Israelites'
progress. The energy-robbing friction she caused was not unlike
personality problems among jealous church members today.
Probably all of us have felt the sting of cruel verbal barbs shot at us by
"envious archers." But the greatest pain caused by envy is felt by the
person who harbors it. A God-centered, loving attitude is at the heart of
the believer's life and health, but envy eats like a consuming disease
into the bones and marrow of a person's moral fiber. That's why Socrates
called envy "the soul's saw."
Whenever we begin to feel friction due to our envy or jealousy, we must
confess it as sin and ask the Lord for His help. Then we must forgive
those who have wronged us or apologize to those we have wronged. The
friction will disappear, and we'll once again become spiritually
energy-efficient. —H. V. Lugt & H. G. Bosch
"He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." - 1 John 4:4
Like the children of Israel in today's Bible reading, Hannah Hurnard,
author of "Hinds' Feet on High Places," was once paralyzed by fear. Then
she heard a sermon on scarecrows that challenged her to turn her fear to
The preacher said, "A wise bird knows that a scarecrow is simply an
advertisement. It announces that some very
juicy and delicious fruit is to be had for the picking. There are
scarecrows in all the best gardens...If I am wise, I too shall treat the
scarecrow as though it were an invitation. Every giant in the way which
makes me feel like a grasshopper is only a scarecrow beckoning me to God's
richest blessings." He concluded, "Faith is a bird which loves to perch on
scarecrows. All our fears are groundless."
Hannah testified that this humble parable has encouraged her to walk along
some frightening but fruitful pathways
more times than she could number.
What is your scarecrow today? Difficult circumstances? Personal
inadequacy? Uncertainty? The enemy of your soul wants to keep you away
from the place of God's blessing. Perch on your scarecrow by faith, start
singing, and expect an abundant feast! -- J E Yoder
So let us trust Him in our troubles,
For He is loving, kind, and wise;
And most often trials and troubles
Are but blessings in disguise.-- Jarvis
When you fix your eyes on God, your fears will vanish.
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and
do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.- Galatians 5:1
Some people go through life looking into the rearview mirror. They yearn
for the "good old days" when life seemed better. Families were stronger,
Christians were nobler, people were happier -- or so they think!
The ancient Hebrews were masters of glorifying the ugly past. As slaves in
Egypt they had been desperate! Yet after Moses led they out of bondage,
they were soon idealizing the "good old days." Many of them actually
wanted to go back to Egypt and again stick their necks under a yoke and
feel Pharaoh's lash. Little wonder that God canceled their passport to the
Some Christians would like to get back to the "good old days" of the
church. But which church? Believers have faced huge difficulties since the
days of Paul. The early church was plagued by sexual immorality (1 Cor.
5:1), heresy (Gal. 1:6-7), and dissension (Acts 15:1-2). There were no
good old days for the church -- not in the first century, not in the
sixteenth, and not in the twentieth.
Avoid the trap of looking back -- unless it's to recall a lesson learned
or to glory in what God has accomplished. Remember, for those whose lives
are centered in Christ, the best is always yet to come. - H W Robinson
How often God gives
And then we revel in the deed,
While present opportunity
Slips past its bloom and turns to seed.- Gustafson
When we live in
the past, we tarnish the present and ignore the future.
"Then the whole congregation ... murmured against Moses and Aaron in the
wilderness (Exodus 16:2).
Fred Grimm, a Christian probation officer, told of a father who made a
scapegoat of his son by blaming him for family conflicts. Although the man
and his wife had been fighting for years, the father told his son, "It's
always because of your big mouth that your mother and I fight. If I leave
you and your mother, it will be your fault." The youngster's problems were
compounded when the father died suddenly from a stroke and the mother
accused her son of having caused his father's death. The boy was
Blaming others for our problems is not only unjust and cruel, it's
displeasing to the Lord. The children of Israel did this in the
wilderness shortly after their deliverance from the land of Egypt. When
food and water were short, they panicked and blamed Moses and Aaron for
getting them into their predicament. They made scapegoats of their
leaders. Yet God mercifully overlooked their lack of faith and unfair
criticism of His servants in those two incidents. Later, though, when the
Israelites committed the same sin again, He judged them severely (see
Scapegoating can do great damage. Instead of looking for someone else to
blame for our problems, we need to analyze our situation, acknowledge our
failures, and ask God for forgiveness and help.—H. V. Lugt
We won't get
closer to God by passing judgment on others.
"The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to
overlook a transgression." Proverbs 19:11
A man from Michigan had an idea for removing a tree stump from the yard of
a friend. He decided to use some dynamite he had stored away in his house.
It did the trick. The explosion turned the stump into an airborne missile
that traveled 163 feet downrange before crashing through a neighbor's
roof. The stump opened a 3-foot hole in the roof, split the rafters, and
pushed through the ceiling of the dining room.
If we are honest, we can see ourselves in the actions of the dynamite
user. We have used explosive words and actions to try to solve problems,
which only made things worse. We get action, but we leave much damage in
We are not the first to let anger make trouble for us. It happened to
people in the Bible too. Moses, for instance, became extremely frustrated
with his murmuring followers (Numbers 20:10). So, instead of
speaking to the rock to get water, as the Lord had instructed him, he
angrily struck it twice (Numbers 20:11). He did get water from the
rock, but there was a problem—Moses had disobeyed God. Because of this,
God told him he could not enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:12).
Anger, like dynamite, is explosive. Unless it is handled with wisdom and
self-control, it can do great damage. —M R De Haan II
Angry words take just
And bring forth a flood of tears,
But the wounds they have created
Linger on for months and years. —Stairs
When a person's temper gets the best of him, it reveals the worst of
ON THE BOOK OF NUMBERS
C H SPURGEON
Morning and Evening
“They shall go hindmost with
their standards.” — Numbers 2:31 (from Morning and Evening)
The camp of Dan brought up the rear when the armies of Israel were
on the march. The Danites occupied the hindmost place, but what
mattered the position, since they were as truly part of the host
as were the foremost tribes; they followed the same fiery cloudy
pillar, they ate of the same manna, drank of the same spiritual
rock, and journeyed to the same inheritance. Come, my heart, cheer
up, though last and least; it is thy privilege to be in the army,
and to fare as they fare who lead the van. Some one must be
hindmost in honour and esteem, some one must do menial work for
Jesus, and why should not I? In a poor village, among an ignorant
peasantry; or in a back street, among degraded sinners, I will
work on, and “go hindmost with my standard.”
The Danites occupied a very useful place. Stragglers have to be
picked up upon the march, and lost property has to be gathered
from the field. Fiery spirits may dash forward over untrodden
paths to learn fresh truth, and win more souls to Jesus; but some
of a more conservative spirit may be well engaged in reminding the
church of her ancient faith, and restoring her fainting sons.
Every position has its duties, and the slowly moving children of
God will find their peculiar state one in which they may be
eminently a blessing to the whole host.
The rear guard is a place of danger. There are foes behind us as
well as before us. Attacks may come from any quarter. We read that
Amalek fell upon Israel, and slew some of the hindmost of them.
The experienced Christian will find much work for his weapons in
aiding those poor doubting, desponding, wavering, souls, who are
hindmost in faith, knowledge, and joy. These must not be left
unaided, and therefore be it the business of well-taught saints to
bear their standards among the hindmost. My soul, do thou tenderly
watch to help the hindmost this day.
“All the days of his
separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree,
from the kernels even to the husk.” — Numbers 6:4 (from Morning
Nazarites had taken, among other vows, one which debarred them
from the use of wine. In order that they might not violate the
obligation, they were forbidden to drink the vinegar of wine or
strong liquors, and to make the rule still more clear, they were
not to touch the unfermented juice of grapes, nor even to eat the
fruit either fresh or dried. In order, altogether, to secure the
integrity of the vow, they were not even allowed anything that had
to do with the vine; they were, in fact, to avoid the appearance
of evil. Surely this is a lesson to the Lord’s separated ones,
teaching them to come away from sin in every form, to avoid not
merely its grosser shapes, but even its spirit and similitude.
Strict walking is much despised in these days, but rest assured,
dear reader, it is both the safest and the happiest. He who yields
a point or two to the world is in fearful peril; he who eats the
grapes of Sodom will soon drink the wine of Gomorrah. A little
crevice in the sea-bank in Holland lets in the sea, and the gap
speedily swells till a province is drowned. Worldly conformity, in
any degree, is a snare to the soul, and makes it more and more
liable to presumptuous sins. Moreover, as the Nazarite who drank
grape juice could not be quite sure whether it might not have
endured a degree of fermentation, and consequently could not be
clear in heart that his vow was intact, so the yielding,
temporizing Christian cannot wear a conscience void of offence,
but must feel that the inward monitor is in doubt of him. Things
doubtful we need not doubt about; they are wrong to us. Things
tempting we must not dally with, but flee from them with speed.
Better be sneered at as a Puritan than be despised as a hypocrite.
Careful walking may involve much self-denial, but it has pleasures
of its own which are more than a sufficient recompense.
“The Lord bless thee, and keep
thee.” Numbers 6:24
THIS first clause of the
high-priest’s benediction is substantially a promise. That
blessing which our great High Priest pronounces upon us is sure to
come, for He speaks the mind of God.
What a joy to abide under
the divine blessing! This puts a gracious flavor into all things.
If we are blessed, then all our possessions and enjoyments are
blessed; yea, our losses and crosses, and even our disappointments
are blessed. God’s blessing is deep, emphatic, effectual. A man’s
blessing may begin and end in words, but the blessing of the Lord
makes rich and sanctifies. The best wish we can have for our
dearest friend is not “May prosperity attend thee,” but “The
Lord bless thee.”
It is equally a delightful
thing to be kept of God: kept by Him, kept near Him, kept in Him.
They are kept indeed whom God keeps: they are preserved from evil;
they are reserved unto boundless happiness. God’s keeping goes
with His blessing to establish it and cause it to endure.
The author of this little
book desires that the rich blessing and sure keeping here
pronounced may come upon every reader who may at this moment be
looking at these lines. Please breathe the text to God as a prayer
for His servants.
Our heavenly Father sends us frequent troubles to try our faith.
If our faith be worth anything, it will stand the test. Gilt is
afraid of fire, but gold is not: the paste gem dreads to be
touched by the diamond, but the true jewel fears no test. It is a
poor faith which can only trust God when friends are true, the
body full of health, and the business profitable; but that is true
faith which holds by the Lord’s faithfulness when friends are
gone, when the body is sick, when spirits are depressed, and the
light of our Father’s countenance is hidden. A faith which can
say, in the direst trouble, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust
in him,” is heaven-born faith. The Lord afflicts his servants to
glorify himself, for he is greatly glorified in the graces of his
people, which are his own handiwork. When “tribulation worketh
patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope,” the
Lord is honoured by these growing virtues. We should never know
the music of the harp if the strings were left untouched; nor
enjoy the juice of the grape if it were not trodden in the
winepress; nor discover the sweet perfume of cinnamon if it were
not pressed and beaten; nor feel the warmth of fire if the coals
were not utterly consumed. The wisdom and power of the great
Workman are discovered by the trials through which his vessels of
mercy are permitted to pass. Present afflictions tend also to
heighten future joy. There must be shades in the picture to bring
out the beauty of the lights. Could we be so supremely blessed in
heaven, if we had not known the curse of sin and the sorrow of
earth? Will not peace be sweeter after conflict, and rest more
welcome after toil? Will not the recollection of past sufferings
enhance the bliss of the glorified? There are many other
comfortable answers to the question with which we opened our brief
meditation, let us muse upon it all day long.
“Thou shalt see now whether
my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.” — Numbers 11:23
(from Morning and Evening)
God had made a positive promise to Moses that for the space of a
whole month he would feed the vast host in the wilderness with
flesh. Moses, being overtaken by a fit of unbelief, looks to the
outward means, and is at a loss to know how the promise can be
fulfilled. He looked to the creature instead of the Creator. But
doth the Creator expect the creature to fulfil his promise for
him? No; he who makes the promise ever fulfils it by his own
unaided omnipotence. If he speaks, it is done—done by himself. His
promises do not depend for their fulfilment upon the co-operation
of the puny strength of man. We can at once perceive the mistake
which Moses made. And yet how commonly we do the same! God has
promised to supply our needs, and we look to the creature to do
what God has promised to do; and then, because we perceive the
creature to be weak and feeble, we indulge in unbelief. Why look
we to that quarter at all? Will you look to the north pole to
gather fruits ripened in the sun? Verily, you would act no more
foolishly if ye did this than when you look to the weak for
strength, and to the creature to do the Creator’s work. Let us,
then, put the question on the right footing. The ground of faith
is not the sufficiency of the visible means for the performance of
the promise, but the all-sufficiency of the invisible God, who
will most surely do as he hath said. If after clearly seeing that
the onus lies with the Lord and not with the creature, we dare to
indulge in mistrust, the question of God comes home mightily to
us: “Has the Lord’s hand waxed short?” May it happen, too, in his
mercy, that with the question there may flash upon our souls that
blessed declaration, “Thou shalt see now whether my word shall
come to pass unto thee or not.”
“He had married an Ethiopian
woman.” — Numbers 12:1 (from Morning and Evening)
Strange choice of Moses, but how much more strange the choice of
him who is a prophet like unto Moses, and greater than he! Our
Lord, who is fair as the lily, has entered into marriage union
with one who confesses herself to be black, because the sun has
looked upon her. It is the wonder of angels that the love of Jesus
should be set upon poor, lost, guilty men. Each believer must,
when filled with a sense of Jesus’ love, be also overwhelmed with
astonishment that such love should be lavished on an object so
utterly unworthy of it. Knowing as we do our secret guiltiness,
unfaithfulness, and black-heartedness, we are dissolved in
grateful admiration of the matchless freeness and sovereignty of
grace. Jesus must have found the cause of his love in his own
heart, he could not have found it in us, for it is not there. Even
since our conversion we have been black, though grace has made us
comely. Holy Rutherford said of himself what we must each
subscribe to—“His relation to me is, that I am sick, and he is the
Physician of whom I stand in need. Alas! how often I play fast and
loose with Christ! He bindeth, I loose; he buildeth, I cast down;
I quarrel with Christ, and he agreeth with me twenty times a day!”
Most tender and faithful Husband of our souls, pursue thy gracious
work of conforming us to thine image, till thou shalt present even
us poor Ethiopians unto thyself, without spot, or wrinkle, or any
such thing. Moses met with opposition because of his marriage, and
both himself and his spouse were the subjects of an evil eye. Can
we wonder if this vain world opposes Jesus and his spouse, and
especially when great sinners are converted? for this is ever the
Pharisee’s ground of objection, “This man receiveth sinners.”
Still is the old cause of quarrel revived, “Because he had married
an Ethiopian woman.”
“And all the children of
Israel murmured.” — Numbers 14:2 (from Morning and Evening)
There are murmurers amongst Christians now, as there were in the
camp of Israel of old. There are those who, when the rod falls,
cry out against the afflictive dispensation. They ask, “Why am I
thus afflicted? What have I done to be chastened in this manner?”
A word with thee, O murmurer! Why shouldst thou murmur against the
dispensations of thy heavenly Father? Can he treat thee more
hardly than thou deservest? Consider what a rebel thou wast once,
but he has pardoned thee! Surely, if he in his wisdom sees fit now
to chasten thee, thou shouldst not complain. After all, art thou
smitten as hardly as thy sins deserve? Consider the corruption
which is in thy breast, and then wilt thou wonder that there needs
so much of the rod to fetch it out? Weigh thyself, and discern how
much dross is mingled with thy gold; and dost thou think the fire
too hot to purge away so much dross as thou hast? Does not that
proud rebellious spirit of thine prove that thy heart is not
thoroughly sanctified? Are not those murmuring words contrary to
the holy submissive nature of God’s children? Is not the
correction needed? But if thou wilt murmur against the chastening,
take heed, for it will go hard with murmurers. God always
chastises his children twice, if they do not bear the first stroke
patiently. But know one thing—“He doth not afflict willingly, nor
grieve the children of men.” All his corrections are sent in love,
to purify thee, and to draw thee nearer to himself. Surely it must
help thee to bear the chastening with resignation if thou art able
to recognize thy Father’s hand. For “whom the Lord loveth he
chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye
endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons.” “Murmur not
as some of them also murmured and were destroyed of the
“How long will it be ere
they believe me?” — Numbers 14:11 (from Morning and Evening)
Strive with all diligence to keep out that monster unbelief. It so
dishonours Christ, that he will withdraw his visible presence if
we insult him by indulging it. It is true it is a weed, the seeds
of which we can never entirely extract from the soil, but we must
aim at its root with zeal and perseverance. Among hateful things
it is the most to be abhorred. Its injurious nature is so venomous
that he that exerciseth it and he upon whom it is exercised are
both hurt thereby. In thy case, O believer! it is most wicked, for
the mercies of thy Lord in the past, increase thy guilt in
doubting him now. When thou dost distrust the Lord Jesus, he may
well cry out, “Behold I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed
that is full of sheaves.” This is crowning his head with thorns of
the sharpest kind. It is very cruel for a well-beloved wife to
mistrust a kind and faithful husband. The sin is needless,
foolish, and unwarranted. Jesus has never given the slightest
ground for suspicion, and it is hard to be doubted by those to
whom our conduct is uniformly affectionate and true. Jesus is the
Son of the Highest, and has unbounded wealth; it is shameful to
doubt Omnipotence and distrust all-sufficiency. The cattle on a
thousand hills will suffice for our most hungry feeding, and the
granaries of heaven are not likely to be emptied by our eating. If
Christ were only a cistern, we might soon exhaust his fulness, but
who can drain a fountain? Myriads of spirits have drawn their
supplies from him, and not one of them has murmured at the
scantiness of his resources. Away, then, with this lying traitor
unbelief, for his only errand is to cut the bonds of communion and
make us mourn an absent Saviour. Bunyan tells us that unbelief has
“as many lives as a cat:” if so, let us kill one life now, and
continue the work till the whole nine are gone. Down with thee,
thou traitor, my heart abhors thee.
Sins of Ignorance
“And it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance.”—Numbers
BECAUSE of our ignorance, we
are not fully aware of our sins of ignorance. Yet we may be sure
they are many in the form both of commission and omission. We may
be doing in all sincerity, as a service to God, that which He has
never commanded and can never accept.
The Lord knows these sins of
ignorance, every one. This may well alarm us, since in justice He
will require these trespasses at our hand; but on the other hand,
faith spies comfort in this fact, for the Lord will see to it that
stains unseen by us shall yet be washed away. He sees the sin that
He may cease to see it by casting it behind His back.
Our great comfort is that Jesus, the true priest, has made
atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel. That
atonement secures the pardon of unknown sins. His precious blood
cleanses us from all sin. Whether our eyes have seen it and wept
over it or not, God has seen it, Christ has atoned for it, the
Spirit bears witness to the pardon of it, and so we have a
O my Father, I praise thy
divine knowledge, which not only perceives my iniquities, but
provides an atonement which delivers me from the guilt of them,
even before I know that I am guilty
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set
it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that everyone that is
bitten, when he lookethupon it, shall live.”—Numbers 21:8
THIS is a glorious gospel
type. Jesus, numbered with the transgressors, hangs before us on
the cross. A look to Him will heal us of the serpent-bite of sin,
will heal us at once: “When he looketh upon it, he shall live.”
Let the reader who is mourning his sinfulness note the words,
“Everyone that looketh upon it shall live.” Every looker will
find this true. I have found it so. I looked to Jesus and lived at
once. I know I did. Reader, if you look to Jesus you will live
too. True, you are swelling with the venom and you see no hope.
True, also there is no hope but this one. But this is no doubtful
cure, “Everyone that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall
The brazen serpent was not
lifted up as a curiosity to be gazed upon by the healthy; but its
special purpose was for those who were “bitten.” Jesus died as a
real Savior for real sinners. Whether the bite has made you a
drunkard, or a thief, or an unchaste or a profane person, a look
at the Great Savior will heal you of these diseases and make you
live in holiness and communion with God. Look and live.
“Then Israel sang this song,
Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it.” — Numbers 21:17 (from Morning
Famous was the well of Beer in the wilderness, because it was the
subject of a promise: “That is the well whereof the Lord spake
unto Moses, Gather the people together, and I will give them
water.” The people needed water, and it was promised by their
gracious God. We need fresh supplies of heavenly grace, and in the
covenant the Lord has pledged himself to give all we require. The
well next became the cause of a song. Before the water gushed
forth, cheerful faith prompted the people to sing; and as they saw
the crystal fount bubbling up, the music grew yet more joyous. In
like manner, we who believe the promise of God should rejoice in
the prospect of divine revivals in our souls, and as we experience
them our holy joy should overflow. Are we thirsting? Let us not
murmur, but sing. Spiritual thirst is bitter to bear, but we need
not bear it—the promise indicates a well; let us be of good heart,
and look for it. Moreover, the well was the centre of prayer.
“Spring up, O well.” What God has engaged to give, we must enquire
after, or we manifest that we have neither desire nor faith. This
evening let us ask that the Scripture we have read, and our
devotional exercises, may not be an empty formality, but a channel
of grace to our souls. O that God the Holy Spirit would work in us
with all his mighty power, filling us with all the fulness of God.
Lastly, the well was the object of effort. “The nobles of the
people digged it with their staves.” The Lord would have us active
in obtaining grace. Our staves are ill adapted for digging in the
sand, but we must use them to the utmost of our ability. Prayer
must not be neglected; the assembling of ourselves together must
not be forsaken; ordinances must not be slighted. The Lord will
give us his peace most plenteously, but not in a way of idleness.
Let us, then, bestir ourselves to seek him in whom are all our
Among the Redeemed
“Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall notbe reckoned among
the nations.”—Numbers 23:9
WHO would wish to dwell
among the nations and to be numbered with them? Why, even the
professing church is such that to follow the Lord fully within its
bounds is very difficult. There is such a mingling and mixing that
one often sighs for “a lodge in some vast wilderness.”
Certain it is that the Lord
would have His people follow a separated path as to the world and
come out decidedly and distinctly from it. We are set apart by the
divine decree, purchase, and calling, and our inward experience
has made us greatly to differ from men of the world. Therefore,
our place is not in their Vanity Fair, nor in their City of
Destruction, but in the narrow way where all true pilgrims must
follow their Lord.
This may not only reconcile
us to the world’s cold shoulder and sneers, but even cause us to
accept them with pleasure as being a part of our covenant portion.
Our names are not in the same book; we are not of the same seed;
we are not bound for the same place; neither are we trusting to
the same guide. Therefore, it is well that we are not of their
number. Only let us be found in the number of the redeemed, and we
are content to be odd and solitary to the end of the chapter.
there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any
divination against Israel.”—Numbers 23:23
HOW this should cut up root
and branch all silly, superstitious fears! Even if there were any
truth in witchcraft and omens, they could not affect the people of
the Lord. Those whom God blesses, devils cannot curse.
Ungodly men, like Balaam,
may cunningly plot the overthrow of the Lord’s Israel; but with
all their secrecy and policy they are doomed to fail. Their powder
is damp, the edge of their sword is blunted. They gather together;
but as the Lord is not with them, they gather together in vain. We
may sit still, and let them weave their nets, for we shall not be
taken in them. Though they call in the aid of Beelzebub and employ
all his serpentine craft, it will avail them nothing: the spells
will not work; the divination will deceive them. What a blessing
this is! How it quiets the heart! God’s Jacobs wrestle with God,
but none shall wrestle with them and prevail. God’s Israels have
power with God and prevail, but none shall have power to prevail
against them. We need not fear the fiend himself, nor any of those
secret enemies whose words are full of deceit and whose plans are
deep and unfathomable. They cannot hurt those who trust in the
living God. We defy the devil and all his legions.
“Shall your brethren go to
war, and shall ye sit here?” — Numbers 32:6 (from Morning and
Kindred has its obligations. The Reubenites and Gadites would have
been unbrotherly if they had claimed the land which had been
conquered, and had left the rest of the people to fight for their
portions alone. We have received much by means of the efforts and
sufferings of the saints in years gone by, and if we do not make
some return to the church of Christ by giving her our best
energies, we are unworthy to be enrolled in her ranks. Others are
combating the errors of the age manfully, or excavating perishing
ones from amid the ruins of the fall, and if we fold our hands in
idleness we had need be warned, lest the curse of Meroz fall upon
us. The Master of the vineyard saith, “Why stand ye here all the
day idle?” What is the idler’s excuse? Personal service of Jesus
becomes all the more the duty of all because it is cheerfully and
abundantly rendered by some. The toils of devoted missionaries and
fervent ministers shame us if we sit still in indolence. Shrinking
from trial is the temptation of those who are at ease in Zion:
they would fain escape the cross and yet wear the crown; to them
the question for this evening’s meditation is very applicable. If
the most precious are tried in the fire, are we to escape the
crucible? If the diamond must be vexed upon the wheel, are we to
be made perfect without suffering? Who hath commanded the wind to
cease from blowing because our bark is on the deep? Why and
wherefore should we be treated better than our Lord? The firstborn
felt the rod, and why not the younger brethren? It is a cowardly
pride which would choose a downy pillow and a silken couch for a
soldier of the cross. Wiser far is he who, being first resigned to
the divine will, groweth by the energy of grace to be pleased with
it, and so learns to gather lilies at the cross foot, and, like
Samson, to find honey in the lion.
ON THE BOOK OF NUMBERS
The 11 months at Sinai had brought about many changes in the life of Israel.
The people had arrived at Sinai a fugitive and unorganized people; they left
a well-organized nation, molded into a commonwealth of 12 tribes. All was
Moses had spent the first 40 years of his life being trained in the courts
of Pharaoh as a possible successor to Pharaoh. As such, Moses was trained in
organization, and the writings of Josephus assert that he was the general of
the Egyptian army."
He learned all that would be necessary to lead the greatest nation on earth
at that time.
Moses used all the knowledge he had accumulated in leading the Israelites.
It was not, however, the unaided genius of Moses that God used. God leads
through minds competent to receive and transmit His teaching.
In Moses' case, his mental abilities were used to transmit to the Israelites
an order of organization that was second to none. What Moses had learned in
the world was translated into use for the glory of God.
The Israelites left Sinai as a mighty nation in battle array. They had been
furnished with a code of laws, including sanitary regulations, which have
been a model for civilized peoples of the world.
They had also been provided with a system of sacrifices that continued for
centuries. These sacrifices prophetically pointed to the priesthood of the
Lord Jesus Christ for believers.
"Be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am
with you, saith the Lord of hosts" (Hag. 2:4).
The mixed multitude (Num. 11:4) was probably a group of Gentiles who left
Egypt with the Israelites. Although the complaining was started by the mixed
multitude, the Israelites were also guilty of complaining.
This indicates how infectious a complaining attitude can be. Because every
person has a sin nature, it does not take long even for believers to become
disheartened and to develop an attitude of complaining against the goodness
After salvation, Christians too often remember what they enjoyed in the
world and occasionally long for the pleasures of sin. When this happens, the
believer is guilty of leaving his first love.
Christians who have not grown spiritually as they should, through the
reading of God's Word and applying it to daily life, find it easy to murmur
as the Israelites did.
Only a small minority may begin the complaining, but the Christian who is
not mature is also susceptible. Just as the bark of one dog can start a
whole group of dogs barking, one complaining believer can affect an entire
Many pastors have had their hearts broken, and church work has been greatly
hampered by a few disgruntled people who influence the entire church.
Every church group seems to have a few people who find it easy to complain
about anything. Unless the other believers are mature, they will soon follow
the pattern of the murmuring, weak believer.
"Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not
be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door" (James 5:9,
Miriam and Aaron were Moses' older sister and brother. But even they took
issue with Moses' leadership, although at first their complaints concerned
Numbers 12 does not specifically say what Miriam and Aaron found
objectionable about Moses' wife, but jealousy must have been the main
This jealousy took its usual hypocritical turn. Miriam and Aaron did not
talk to Moses about his wife; instead, they complained about his authority.
How easy it is to disguise jealousy beneath a cloak of zeal for the law of
God or to think of oneself as pure while rebuking somebody else's faults.
Real jealousy originates from power hunger, and it usually breaks out in
faultfinding, just as it did in this case.
We need to spend time in the Word and be alone with God until we are more
concerned about His honor than our own. We do not have to worry about
competition from other believers; our concern is only to glorify the Lord in
all that we do.
When a Christian is more concerned about God's honor than about his own, God
will take care of his worries about competition from fellow believers.
Granted, it is much easier to say this than to really live it, but we must
come to grips with this problem if we are going to have victory in our
Christian lives. We must be aware of the indwelling Christ and rely on Him
to give us victory in these areas.
"For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every
evil thing" (James 3:16, NASB).
In reviewing Isaac's life, we should also take special note of his spirit of
meekness. All through his life his temperament was of a passive nature
rather than of an active or aggressive nature.
In childhood he was subjected to the insults of Ishmael, but there is no
record that he became angry about them. As a young man he was taken to Mount
Moriah to be offered as a sacrifice, and in meekness he surrendered and made
He did not even choose his own wife, as she was chosen for him through his
father's arrangements and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Isaac also accepted the rebuke of Abimelech in meekness. There were no
reprisals. He and his men yielded whenever they were wrongly driven away
from the wells they had redug.
Isaac's meek spirit brought forth praise from even his enemies. They
testified concerning his great power and might and their realization that
the Lord was with him.
The world thinks little of meekness, yet it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit
(Gal. 5:23). The Apostle Paul urged all Christians: "Let your moderation be
known unto all men. The Lord is at hand" (Phil. 4:5).
Meekness involves the self-sacrifice of our own desires and interests.
Because Isaac gladly gave up his own personal desires, it pleased God to
refer to Himself as "the God of Isaac."
"For thus saith the Lord God,... In quietness and in confidence shall be
your strength" (Isa. 30:15).
They… cut down … a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it
between two upon a staff. - Numbers 13:23
God has sent over into our earthly wilderness-life many samples of the good
things of the heavenly life - foretastes of the full glories there awaiting
The joy, peace, love, and grace we get here are very sweet, but they are
just little specimens of fruits that grow everywhere in the Better-Land. The
old rabbis say that when the famine began in Egypt and the storehouses were
opened, Joseph threw the chaff of the grain upon the Nile, that it might
float down on the river and show those who lived below that there was
abundance of provision laid up for them farther up the river.
So the blessings of divine grace, which we enjoy in this world, are little
more than the husks of the heavenly good things, sent down on the river of
divine grace as foretastes or intimations of what is in store for us in
heaven. The joy the Christian has here is deep and rich, but heaven's joy is
infinitely deeper and richer.
In addition to being characterized by unbelief, the Israelites were also
characterized by self-will.
Concerning the Israelites, the psalmist said, "They quickly forgot His
works; they did not wait for His counsel, but craved intensely in the
wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. So He gave them their request,
but sent a wasting disease among them" (Ps. 106:13-15, NASB).
The King James Version translates this last verse: "He gave them their
request; but sent leanness into their soul" (v. 15). This reveals that God
sometimes permits what is not in His direct will. It also reveals that the
individual loses out spiritually.
What a paradox! The Israelites were to walk by faith, but they wanted to
send spies into the land (see Deut. 1:19-23). What does faith want with
spies? Apparently they were more concerned about walking by sight than by
Many believers today find it extremely difficult to take God at His word.
Instead of walking by faith, they want proofs about the future beyond what
God has said and the power He has demonstrated.
They are just like the Israelites who wanted to send spies into the land so
they would know what it was like and how strong it was. Then they would
choose whether or not to go in.
Every believer should remember 2 Corinthians 5:7: "(For we walk by faith,
not by sight.)"
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him"
Even Joshua and Caleb, who dared to believe God, had to return to the
wilderness with the others. Joshua and Caleb had to suffer along with them
for 38 more years. This is an example of the way decisions affect other
But the faith of Joshua and Caleb was characterized by great patience.
Because they believed God, they were able to endure even the experiences of
the desert without losing hope.
After God pronounced that none would enter the land except Joshua and Caleb
and the younger generation, the Bible records God's judgment on the ten
spies. They were judged by physical death right there and then.
"The men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all
the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the
land, even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died
by the plague before the Lord" (Num. 14:36,37).
Surely this judgment caused the others to realize that the Lord was not to
be trifled with. This surely underscored in their minds that God expects to
be taken at His word and not mocked by unbelief.
"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb.
"I am thy portion and thine inheritance
among the children of Israel."-- Numbers 18:20.
"The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him."-- Lam
IT IS a wonderful thing when we can look upon God as being our portion, when
we can lay our hand upon all His nature and say there is nothing in God
which will not in some way contribute to my strength and joy. It makes one
think of the early days of the settlement of emigrants in the Far West of
Canada or Australia. The settler and his family would slowly travel forward,
with their implements and seeds, till they reached the plot of ground
allocated to them by the Government. At first the family would encamp on the
edge of it, then they would prospect it, and go to and fro over its acres
with a sense that it all belonged to them, though it needed to be brought
under cultivation. In the first year, within the fence hastily constructed,
the farmer and his sons would begin to cultivate some small portion of their
newly-acquired territory. This would yield the first crops; next year they
would press the fences farther out, until at the end of a term of years the
whole would have been brought under cultivation.
So it is with the mighty Nature of God. when first we are converted and led
to know Him for ourselves, we can claim to apprehend but a small portion of
the length and depth and breadth and height of His Love; but as the years go
slowly on, amid the circumstances of trouble and temptation and the loss of
earthly things, we are led to make more and more of God, until the immensity
of our inheritance, which can never be fully explored or utilized, breaks
upon our understanding. No wonder that the Psalmist breaks forth into
thanksgiving in Ps 16:6-7, and Psalm 91.
The devout soul rejoices in God as his great Inheritance. When He is always
present to our mind, when we are constantly making use of Him, when we find
ourselves naturally turning to Him through the hours of the day, then such
quiet peace and rest settle down upon us that we cannot be moved by any
anxiety of the present or future. Death itself will make no difference,
except that the body which has obscured our vision will be left behind, and
the emancipated soul will be able more fully to expatiate in its
inheritance, which is incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading (1Pe 1:4-5).
PRAYER: We thank Thee, O Lord, that all things are ours in Christ, working
for us, co-operating with us, and bearing us onward to that glorious destiny
for which Thou art preparing us. AMEN.
The rock mentioned in Exodus 17 foreshadowed Christ on the cross because
there He was smitten. However, the rock of Numbers 20 foreshadowed the
ascended Christ, who now intercedes as a High Priest for believers.
The significant difference in the rocks of Exodus 17 and Numbers 20 is also
indicated in that a different word for "rock" is used in these two passages.
Although both rocks speak of Christ, God was endeavoring to communicate two
different things to us concerning the Person of Christ.
In Exodus 17 the rock was smitten, just as Christ was "smitten of God" (Isa.
53:4) and was "bruised for our iniquities" (v. 5).
The rock of Numbers 20 foreshadowed Christ in the heavens, as referred to in
Hebrews 9:24: "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with
hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to
appear in the presence of God for us."
In the incident of Numbers 20 the rock foreshadowed the exalted Christ, and
that is why it needed only to be spoken to.
It is so important that this distinction between the smitten Christ and the
exalted Christ as He is foreshadowed in the two rocks be maintained.
Since the Lord Jesus Christ has been judged on the cross by having all of
the sins of the world placed on Him, those of us who have received Him as
Saviour need now to speak to Him for our needs.
"And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that
spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10:4).
As Good As Your Word by Tony Beckett and Woodrow Kroll
Numbers 29-31, Mark 9:1-29
Key Verse: Numbers 30:2
Although today a Christian is not under responsibility to fulfill the
ceremonial law, the New Testament emphasis on the moral law is strong. We
may not make vows as is referenced in Numbers 30:2, but we are to be
truthful people. Moses commanded the Israelites that a man "must not break
his word but must do everything he said."
In the course of a year, a person makes many more "vows" than is probably
realized. For example, each credit card slip we sign is a vow. Don't sign
unless you intend to pay. A tax form will ask if the answers given were
truthful. Don't sign unless they were. A code of conduct may be included in
the regulations for a student or an employer. Don't sign unless you plan to
live by it.
Then there are the other slips-not of paper, but of tongue. "I'll get back
to you about that." "The check is in the mail." "We will get together for a
meal while you are in town."
Jesus said, "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything
beyond this comes from the evil one" (see note
How good is your word? And are you as good as your word?
Think before you speak today. Ask yourself, "Will I do what I am about to
say?" Keep your word.
Discouraging by Default by Tony Beckett
and Woodrow Kroll
Numbers 32-34, Mark 9:30-50
Key Verses: Numbers 32:6-7
"Looking out for number one" is an old saying, but its sentiment is as
popular as ever. We have been taught that we can have it our way and that we
deserve a break today.
Too often a Christian can be subtly sucked into thinking about self with
little regard for others. The follower of Christ, however, must remember
that every believer is part of the Body and must consider how individual
actions affect others.
This is not a new problem. The Reubenites, Gadites and half the tribe of
Manasseh liked the look of the land east of the Jordan. It was suitable for
livestock. Their request to stay there seemed reasonable.
But Moses saw the effect it would have on Israel: "Shall your countrymen go
to war while you sit here? Why do you discourage the [nation]?" (Numbers
To their credit, when reminded of similar past situations and when made
aware of how their action would affect others, these tribes did not choose
to be discouragers. Yes, their families and livestock remained, but the men
went to war with the rest of Israel.
Too often people in the church think of themselves and not how their choices
might discourage others. Determine to encourage others by your actions as
well as your words.
You can be an encourager or a discourager. Putting your interests first can
discourage others. Choose to be an encourager.
Before you "go to the commentaries" go to the Scriptures and study them
here for 3 part overview of how to do
Inductive Bible Study) in dependence on
your Teacher, the Holy Spirit, Who Jesus promised would
guide us into all the truth (John
16:13). Remember that Scripture is always the best commentary on
Scripture. Any commentary, even those by the most conservative and orthodox
teacher/preachers cannot help but have at least some bias of the expositor
based upon his training and experience. Therefore the inclusion of specific
links does not indicate that we agree with every comment. We have made a
sincere effort to select only the most conservative, "bibliocentric"
commentaries. Should you discover some commentary or sermon you feel may not
be orthodox, please email your concern. I have removed several links in
response to concerns by discerning readers. I recommend that your priority
be a steady intake of solid Biblical food so that with practice you will
have your spiritual senses trained to discern good from evil (see note