Has someone ever asked you, “Why do you live by so many rules?”
What are the rules for? Why do we follow the commandments of God?
There are two types of people in the world. The Bible names them, but that will come in a moment. As a description, the first group boasts of their ingenuity. They are progressive thinkers. They are social inventors. They are eager to try something that makes sense to them. So you can trace throughout history the philosophies and “isms” man has constructed. It really is their blueprint for life. As you study these blueprints, you find sensible things such as love, respect, freedom, etc. The problem is, they have spent a lot of time and energy to reinvent the wheel, but they can not get the wheel to work!
The second group realizes God already figured out how the world works because he created it. His blueprint is available to any who wish to use it. God gave Israel the statutes and judgments. He says, “For this is your wisdom, and…the nations…[shall] say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people'” (Deuteronomy 4:6). Israel was supposed to be on the cutting edge of human social development. No one else would have such an economic system, balance of power, or devoted worship. If they used God’s blueprint, they would be the image of wisdom and the ideal all nations would emulate.
Sounds familiar to the time Christ commissioned his disciples and told them “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). The instructions given by God and received by the people who choose to follow Him are supposed to present an undeniable illustration of divine wisdom. Yet, the world rejects God’s blueprint for life. Obviously part of the denial rests in man base desire to rebel against God. However, could it be that those who profess to love God have failed to live according to His blueprint? Could it be that the world has not seen in recent years the supreme example of divine wisdom incarnate in the lives of believers?
Jesus named the two groups of people at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. He describes the ones who refuse to hear and instead attempt to reinvent their own way and the ones who hear and do the words of God. The first group is called fools and the second, wise (Matthew 7:24-27). The foolish attempt to replicate the God-designed existence without God. They wonder why it does not work. The wise accept the God-designed pattern for life. The fools need to stop reinventing the wheel and instead reinvent their will. Simply hearken and do and you will live and possess the blessings from God (Deuteronomy 4:1).
Sometimes the biggest study help for a test is the review beforehand. The teachers who took the time to make a review game were always a favorite. This is not a game, but the review Moses gives the Israelites in the first eleven chapters of Deuteronomy is the preparation they need for the test of their lives.
Moses begins by revealing the test results for the previous generation. They failed to trust God when the spies discouraged the hearts of the people. As a result, the people wandered in the wilderness for an additional thirty-eight years because of their failure. A point which the current audience knew all too well. Moses then highlights God’s faithfulness toward the current generation. He takes the time to mention the giants who have been defeated and the victories God has given to them. The Israelites were strategically given the victory over Sihon in order that God might “put the dread…and the fear” upon all the nations so they “shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee” (Deuteronomy 2:25). God, like a perfect teacher, has provided everything possible so they can pass the greatest test of their lives. They simply need to trust the faithfulness of God and they will succeed.
The same decision is presented to believers today. Trust God’s faithfulness, proceed with the God-given promises and preparation, and you can be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37). You will have to “endure hardness as a good soldier” (2 Timothy 2:2). However, “hereunto were ye called…to follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). We are blessed to have the supreme Example who was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Only look “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
He came. He conquered. Now He commissions you to follow His lead. Without Him, you can do nothing.
What defines a leader?
Many words could fill a page and most of them would wonderfully describe great leadership. Moses is the most celebrated leader of all Israel’s history. It’s worthwhile to study his example of leadership, but even a summary of the last few chapters in Numbers would provide substantial material.
In Numbers 27, you see a leader full of compassion. He intercedes for the needy. He represents the bereaved sisters and advocates for them before God and the people. When God tells Moses to prepare to die, Moses’ foremost concern is for the people to finish strong. He pleads for a leader who would direct Israel to possess the Promised Land.
In Numbers 28, you see a consecrated man to the things of God. Complete devotion to the One who makes all things possible was the only way to live. Everything you have belongs to God, so honour Him with yourself and substance.
Finally, in Numbers 31, you see a courageous leader. One who stands for righteousness. One who pursues purity The voice of this leader echoes through the halls of time, “Who is on the Lord’s side” (Exodus 32:26)? You never had to wonder where Moses stood. He stood with God.
Are you full of compassion? Do you represent the physical and spiritual needy?
Are you consecrated to serve only God? Do you delight in His presence? Do you crave more of God?
Are you courageous? Do you make the difficult choices in life? Will you fight for righteousness and justice?
You are a leader whether you think you signed up for the job or not. The option is what quality of leader you will be.
The current status of our justice system is bloated and overreaching. Sometimes we wonder if our representatives are actually advocating for our wishes or their own tenure. It’s easy to become disenchanted with all the branches of government. In Numbers 27-29, we see the original care of a God who desires equal representation and equal opportunity.
An equal opportunity social issue arises before Moses, the lawgiver, is taken to be with the God of Abraham. The daughters of Zelophehad appealed to Moses for their deceased father’s name’s sake. They were in danger of coming into a land totally deprived of any opportunity. Why should they lose out on the blessing of God? Moses could have made a decision. He was trained in the best schools in Egypt and had been walking with God for over forty years, but he does not. As was his habit, he counselled with God regarding this situation.
The second equal opportunity issue was a successor issue. Who would secure the nation’s possession for them? The nation of Israel needed a shepherd who could provide and protect. Without one to represent them, they would be scattered and vulnerable.
The third equal opportunity issue was a spiritual one. The spiritual need of Israel surpassed all other needs. Clearly, Moses’ summary of these final details was to instil in them the importance of the sacrifices. If you calculate the number of sacrifices the Israelites offered up in a year, it is astounding. Every year 1,035 lambs, 29 rams, and nearly 100 bulls were slaughtered! Sin’s price tag is always more than we want to pay.
All three of these issues required a mediator. Whether it was God, Moses, or the priests, someone had to bridge the gap between blessing and bereavement, victory and vulnerability, favor and fate. Jesus Christ is our mediator. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). He ushered us into the inheritance of blessing because we have an advocate in Christ (Ephesians 1). Jesus sees the multitudes and has compassion. He took the initiative to provide (Mark 6) and protect (John 10) His flock. All of our weaknesses are complete in Christ and now we can come before the throne of grace with our requests (Hebrews 4:14-16).
We have an advocate who leads us into favor with God. Praise God for our Great Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5)!
Do we truly understand peace? If you were to search throughout Scripture for models of peace, who would you select other than the Prince of Peace Himself? It probably would not occur to you to consider the man to whom God extended a covenant of peace. Partly because his story is obscure, but it also seems ill-fitting to believe a man such as Phineas should be linked with peace.
In Numbers 25, the children of Israel are yet again in the throws of rebellion. This time they have flung themselves into the gutter of immorality and idolatry. It appears they have bowed themselves to the worship of lust. Moses is speaking to the leaders, warning them of the need to act aggressively against the infidels, when the most belligerent display of rebellion occurs. The son of one of the family princes, Zimri, parades his whoredom before the face of Moses, the people, and God. It shocks the people incredulously. No one moves.
Could it be they doubted the seriousness of sin?
Could it be they were unsure how to respond to an elite family?
Could it be they were simply unprepared to address the sin in others because they had not consecrated themselves to holiness?
Phineas rose up, took a javelin, and fulfilled God’s instruction by killing the perpetrators within their tent of wickedness. The rhetoric of the leaders did not halt the plague. The regret of the people mourning at the Tabernacle did not stem the tide of God’s wrath. One man rose to action and by his act of righteousness brought peace to the nation. Only a handful of people in Scripture were personally blessed with a covenant from God. This vigilant and valiant act launches Phineas into the prestigious company of the uniquely blessed.
Peace is not biting your tongue indefinitely. Peace is not tip-toeing around the elephant in the room. Peace is not sweeping everything under the rug.
To speak about sin yet do nothing does not embody peace.
To sorrow about sin yet do nothing does not embody peace.
To spear the evil to the floor at the command of God, this is the messenger of peace.
Peace sometimes is a mighty warrior as much as a feathery angel’s wing. Peace is not for the faint of heart or the passive. In the name of peace, the Prince of Peace marched against the powers of darkness liberating mankind from the plague of God’s wrath. In the name of peace, Jesus Christ victoriously wielded the Sword of the Spirit and pierced the darkness. One day the righteous will witness evil’s final twitch before it is eternally expired. Give thanks, today, for God’s peace is not passivity but activity. His peace passes all understanding.
Will you be a warrior of peace against spiritual darkness in your life, in your home, and in your community? Rise up!