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Posts Tagged “Numbers”

1Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. 2When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down. 3So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the LORD had burned among them.

4The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

7The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. 8The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a handmill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into cakes. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. 9When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.

10Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11He asked the LORD, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? 13Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”
Numbers 11:1-15

Moses has been through a lot. Standing up to Pharaoh all those times. All those plagues. The faith required to lead the people to this point. Finally he reaches a breaking point, crying out to the Lord “If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now.”

Wow. Pretty strong statement.

What drove him over the edge? It was the complaining of the people. Moses heard the people of every family wailing. Hearing the people entrusted to his care complaining is what sent him over the edge. I wonder how many times I’ve complained and it caused my pastor to cry out to the Lord in frustration? I don’t complain a lot…but any is too much. It grieves me to think of the impact that our complaints have on the men and women God has sent to encourage and strengthen us.

I could go on about how the people were really complaining about God, or how they were dissing the miraculous provision He was faithfully sending each day, or how the people were begging to go back to Egypt – the place where they were in bondage to slavery. But I won’t. I’ll let you glean those lessons for yourself. Today, I’m grieved that it was the complaining that caused their spiritual leader to doubt himself. “What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?” he asked God.

Let’s not be people who cause our leaders to throw up their hands in frustration and defeat. Let’s not be people who cause our leaders to doubt their own position and behavior.

Encourage your pastor today!

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15The Tabernacle was set up, and on that day the cloud covered it. Then from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle appeared to be a pillar of fire. 16This was the regular pattern—at night the cloud changed to the appearance of fire. 17When the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel followed it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel camped. 18In this way, they traveled at the LORD’S command and stopped wherever he told them to. Then they remained where they were as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle. 19If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed for a long time, just as the LORD commanded. 20Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days. Then at the LORD’S command they would break camp. 21Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and moved on the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and followed. 22Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on. 23So they camped or traveled at the LORD’S command, and they did whatever the LORD told them through Moses.
Numbers 9:15-23

This passage always fascinates me. On a number of different levels.

Visible Presence
God made His presence visible to all the Israelites – in the form of a cloud or fire. Imagine living in a place and time when God’s presence was always within sight! How would that impact you throughout the day? How would it impact…

  • Your actions?
  • Your speech?
  • Your decisions?
  • The way you think about yourself?

I can’t help but think that I’d be a better “me” if I was so obviously aware that God is always so close. Of course, He is always that close (or closer, actually).

Lord, help me to remember that You are always with me – not only when I cry out for help, but ALWAYS! May all my actions be molded Your presence.

Living a Life without a Plan
God made it very clear when and where He wanted the Israelites to go. I’m struck by how little the Israelites knew about their future plans. They had the big picture – the knew that God was taking them to the Promised Land, a place that would be their own, in which they would prosper and in which they would be free to serve their God; but they didn’t have a clue about where they would be tomorrow. Their lives were dependent on whether the Lord’s presence, either in the form of a cloud or fire, descended over the temple or lifted. Where they went depended on which direction the cloud went.

This is so foreign to me! My life is planned. My calendar reminds me what I will do tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. And I like it that way. To live without even being able to plan what I will do tomorrow is pretty much beyond my comprehension. Now I know it was a hugely different society and their life revolved around making the trip to the Promised Land. All the same, when I went to sleep each night, I’d like to have an idea whether or not I was packing up camp when I woke up or continuing life in the same place.

My point is that there is a mindset that they must have had that is radically different from mine. They went to sleep without knowing where they would be the next day – other than knowing that they would be following the Lord. Although the context is quite different, I am reminded of this passage in James:

13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.
James 4:13-16

I’ve never thought of my planning as a means of boasting or bragging, but I can see how it is. My calendar becomes “MY plans” – I easily lose the perspective of “If it is the Lord’s will.” The Israelites were totally dependent on God to define their schedule, and to the extent that our schedules define our lives, they were dependent on God to define their lives.

Lord, may I always submit my plans to Your plan. Create in me a total dependence on You.

Obedience 101
The Numbers passage makes it clear that the Israelites stayed when God hovered over the temple and they moved when His presence lifted. When the cloud/fire moved, they moved. When it stayed, they stayed. I am tempted to ask: If I knew God’s will as clearly as the Israelites did, would I respond with such obedience? Would you? I’m afraid there’s enough evidence in my life to not be able to answer that question affirmatively. In other words, “Well, I don’t have a track record of always doing so!”

Lord, build in me the desire and impulse to follow closely after you – when you hover, I want to stay put; when your presence moves, I want to follow.

Here’s a little experiment for us: Purpose for today, to respond to every prompting from the Lord that you recognize. I wonder how doing that would change my day? How will it change your day?

Father, I pray that you would open our eyes and ears to recognize Your promptings today! And give us the desire and impulse (and courage) to respond to them.

It’s interesting that the verse that follows the James passage I quoted earlier is this:

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
James 4:17

James is saying that we fall into the trap of allowing our plans to keep us from following God’s will. When that happens, we are sinning. I’m sure this is true of me sometimes.

Lord, make me more responsive to You.

Responding to the Invisible God
But we can’t be responsive to God if we don’t see Him moving. God doesn’t reveal Himself as a cloud or pillar of fire any more (at least I haven’t heard about Him doing that for a couple thousand years!). Our challenge (or at least one of our challenges), is following the invisible God. That sounds like a great topic for my next blog. I’m off to write it. In the meantime, practice responding to what God has revealed. And let me know how it changes your day!

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2010-2011

Census, Sermons, the Holy Spirit & Doctrine – All in One Month!

It’s Census Time
Have you ever done any research into your family history? If so, you probably looked at old census records to learn about your great grandparents or great-great grandparents. It’s that time again. Have you received and completed your US Census form yet?

It’s also census time in our Resting at the River’s Edge reading. The book of Numbers records many census that God instructed the Israelites to make. God instructions the Israelites to take several census, and we have the privilege of looking at the records. What always surprises me the most is how many Israelites there really were! This was no small community that God had Moses leading!

Deuteronomy – Moses’ Final Messages
After reading through Numbers, we’ll begin Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is a great book! It’s made up of a series of sermons that Moses preached as he prepared to leave the Israelites. It represents his last advice to those he has led before dying.

Acts & Romans
We’ve already read the first half of Acts and I am thoroughly enjoying it this year. It’s a book chock full of the Holy Spirit moving in people’s lives, and shows how people who were just coming to know the Lord established His Church, which is alive today.

When we finish the book of Acts, we move on to Paul’s letter to the Romans. The book of Romans was instrumental in me coming to Christ. It just made so much sense, portraying God as the just God that He is. You’ll find my favorite verse in chapter 5 of Romans –

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

When I read that verse, my heart was pierced through – Christ died for me when I was so very far from Him – when I was metaphorically kicking His shins and running the other way. It was the point in time in which I quit running from Christ and began sincerely seeking to understand Him.

I pray that as you read God’s Word this month, that He speaks to you and inspires you to pursue Him more diligently. Because He is worth it all.

The recommended reading schedule is below.

To download a PDF of April’s recommended reading plan, click here.

2010 April Resting at the River's Edge Reading Paln

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Resting at the River's Edge Logo 2010-2011

Old Testament
We’ll read from three Old Testament books this month: Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. In Exodus, we’ll read one of my favorite passages:

15Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
Exodus 33:15-16

If the Lord doesn’t go with me, I don’t want to go, but when He does, His presence ought to change me and the way I live such that the rest of the world notices a difference.

Leviticus is a manual for Old Testament priestly responsibilities. The New Tesatments teaches that we are a “a chosen people, a royal priesthood.” According to the Zondervan NASB Study Bible, “the key thought of Leviticus is holiness – the holiness of God and man (man must revere God in holiness). In Leviticus, spiritual holiness is symbolized by physical perfection.”

Finally, the book of Numbers – Israel is being counted, a census is being taken. I find this book easiest to read in the New Living Translation. It’s not all counting, though. The Hebrew title of the book is “In the Wilderness” and chronicles 38 of the years the Israelites spent in the wilderness. It tells of Isarel’s journey from Mt. Sinai to the border of Canaan.

New Testament
After finishing the book of Matthew, we’ll read the first sixteen chapters of Acts. Acts continues the storyline of the gospels. While it’s called the “Acts of the Apostles,” many feel it would more accurately be called the “Acts of the Holy Spirit” because it records the coming of the Holy Spirit and His working in the lives of the first century church.

Acts begins with Peter as the most prominent of the apostles but transitions to a focus on the Apostle Paul as he carries the message of the gospel to the Gentile world.

Enjoy your March reading!

The recommended reading schedule is below.

To download a PDF of March’s recommended reading plan, click here.

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 Our Resting at the River’s Edge reading for Tuesday included Numbers 13 – the story of Moses sending out the thirteen leaders (note that they were the leaders of their tribes) to spy out the land God had promised to give them.

     Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
    But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
          Numbers 13:30-33

It seems to me that there will always be giants in the land the Lord has promised us. If there weren’t, there would be no need for us to conquer it.

As I read the passage, the Holy Spirit was whispering a question in my ear. I’d like to share it with you.

“What giants are in your life that you need to conquer?”

Sometimes the answer to that is obvious – you know you’re fighting giants and you’re calling out for God’s help. Other times, though, we get so caught up with life that we don’t recognize the giant that has his hand on our forehead holding us in place while we pump our arms and legs trying to run.

I immediately stopped writing and started journaling – listening to the Lord and praying, then writing what Giants I am allowing to keep me in place so that I am not entering the land the Lord has promised me. I confessed unbelief that I didn’t realize I had, and I expressed confidence in God’s ability to take me into the promised land.

Now it’s your turn. What giants are in your life that you need to conquer?

I concluded my journal with the following simple prayer:

“Lord, You are greater…Help me to walk with confidence into the land, knowing that You have gone before me and have paved the way….Lord, I want to be Joshua and Caleb, not all of the other ten…Lord help me to move to that place beyond faith where I know, despite what I see…”

Do you want to be like Joshua and Caleb or the other ten? I encourage you to take time today to ask God for the vision and courage to fight the giants He has allowed to inhabit your promised land.

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March took us through the Old Testament law presented in Leviticus and then we began reading in Hebrews, a book that was written to the Jews and draws the relationship between the grace of the new covenant available through Jesus and the law of the Old Testament. In April, we’ll finish the book of Hebrews, take a few days off in the New Testament, then move into Romans. I love Romans. It was a verse in Romans that made the most impact on me when I was resisting the influences of God on my heart. He was trying to reach me, but I was running the other way. And then I read Romans. Wow! But I’ll save more about that until the middle of the month!

We’ll also read Numbers. Don’t get bogged down in the book! You might try reading it in the New Living Translation – it puts all the counts in a table, the way we would record the information today. If you find yourself in overload, take a step back…what’s the significance of the size of the total number — is it large or small? What’s the relative size of the various tribes? Know this: Each one of us is important to God. He keeps track of each of us. I’m so thankful for that!

Shortly after mid-month, we’ll begin Deuteronomy. It’s a great book — Moses is preparing to die and he wants to say to remind Israel of all that he has taught them on their journey. We’ll be journeying ourself into Job at the same time. What a perplexing book! But God has a great message in the book, so stay tuned.

I  hope you’re continuing in the journey through the Bible. Please don’t get discouraged if you fall behind…just keep reading. God will honor your efforts as you rest at the river’s edge with him a little each day. He will speak to you as you pursue Him.

To download a PDF of April’s reading schedule, click here.

April ReadingApril Reading

Enjoy your time at the river’s edge this month!

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We’ve read through Genesis and Exodus and are now turning our attention to Leviticus. Leviticus is an instruction manual for priests. There are times when it may seem repetitive, but it reveals the holiness of God and his gracious recognition of the imperfection of man. The provisions in teh book made it possible for our perfect, holy God to live among the sinful Israelites. It points to our need for a Savior. For those who want to dig deeply, all the sacrifices and feasts point to Christ in some way.

We’ll also finish the book of Esther and read Ruth, Joel and Jonah before delving back into some of the Psalms. Jonah is one of my very favorite books – I’ve subtitled him “The Petulant Prophet.”

In the New Testament, we’re going to read the Acts of the Apostles.

I  hope you’re continuing in the journey through the Bible. Again, don’t get discouraged if you fall behind…just keep reading.

Recommended Reading Plan for March

To download a PDF of March’s reading schedule, click here.



Recommended Reading

March 2009
M Mar 2 Leviticus 1-2 Esther 6-7 Acts 1
Tu Mar 3 Leviticus 3 Esther 8-10 Acts 2
W Mar 4 Leviticus 4 Ruth 1 Acts 3-4
Th Mar 5 Leviticus 5-6 Ruth 2-3 Acts 5
F Mar 6 Leviticus 7 Ruth 4 Acts 6-7
M Mar 9 Leviticus 8-9 Joel 1-3 Acts 8
Tu Mar 10 Leviticus 10-11 Acts 9-10
W Mar 11 Leviticus 12-13 Jonah 1 Acts 11-12
Th Mar 12 Leviticus 14-15 Jonah 2-3 Acts 13
F Mar 13 Leviticus 16 Jonah 4 Acts 14-15
M Mar 16 Leviticus 17-18 Psalms 42-43 Acts 16
Tu Mar 17 Leviticus 19 Psalms 44-45 Acts 17-18
W Mar 18 Leviticus 20 Psalms 46-47 Acts 19
Th Mar 19 Leviticus 21-22 Psalms 48-49 Acts 20
F Mar 20 Leviticus 23 Psalms 50-51 Acts 21-22
M Mar 23 Leviticus 24 Psalms 52-53 Acts 23
Tu Mar 24 Leviticus 25 Psalms 54-55 Acts 24-25
W Mar 25 Leviticus 26 Psalms 56-57 Acts 26
Th Mar 26 Leviticus 27 Psalms 58-60 Acts 27
F Mar 27 Psalms 61-63 Acts 28
M Mar 30 Numbers 1-2 Psalms 64-65
Tu Mar 31 Numbers 3 Psalms 66-67 Hebrews 1
W Apr 1 Numbers 4 Psalms 68-69 Hebrews 2-3
Th Apr 2 Numbers 5-6 Psalm 70 Hebrews 4-6
F Apr 3 Numbers 7 Psalms 71-72 Hebrews 7-8


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“The LORD said to Moses, Tell Aaron that when he sets up the seven lamps in the lampstand, he is to place them so their light shines forward.’” Numbers 8:1-2 (NLT) 

I was struck by this detailed instruction to Aaron to set up the seven lamps so that their light would shine forward. Duh! It’s not like we want to see backwards, right? And it struck me. Last week I did some journaling about looking backwards and the negative impact that can have on my life. I don’t want to be a backward-looking person. Who’s the “Duh” now? I guess it’s me sometimes? We’re to place our lamps so that they shine forward, lighting our path, directing our vision forward, not backward. 

Jesus said “The eye is the lamp of the body…” (Matthew 6:22)

Let your eyes shine forward, not backwards. Comand your mind to set your eyes to shine their light forward. A little retrospective is a good thing – evaluating one’s behavior and performance for improvement is a good thing. But once the moment of evaluation has passed (notice I used the word “moment”) your forward shining lamp will leave that event in darkness and your focus should be where the light is shining – into the future that God has for you. 

Paul put it a different way: “No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” Philippians 3:13-14 

We are called upward, not backward. We’re called to look to Christ, not to look at our past failures and successes (both can trap us). It is this upward/forward looking that gives us hope. It is this upward/forward looking from “whence my help comes” (Psalms 121:1-2, KJV) 

A search on the phrase “look forward” in my New Living Translation of the Bible, found 25 uses of it, all in the New Testament. We are to be a forward-looking people, keeping our eyes on the One who holds the future in His hands and who has laid out that future in a way that we cannot even begin to imagine. So I feel compelled like David to speak to my own soul at times: “Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Put your hope in God” (Psalms 42 and 43, NIV) 

Friends, let me encourage you to set your lamp so that it shines forward. Look into the future God has for you. It’s better than you can begin to imagine.

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