Sunday, 31 January 2010


They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?" – Numbers 16v3

Rebellion. Later on in scripture it is described as ‘as the sin of witchcraft.’ There are several aspects to this story, but I thought is wise to pause for just a moment here at the very start to look at this sin of rebellion.

Korah and a small group of rebel leaders, along with another 250 men decided that they could lead the nation as well as Moses and Aaron could. ‘All of us are just as holy as you are Moses, why have you taken the role of our leader?’ In other words – ‘Who made you the boss?’

God is going to punish this rebellion quickly and severely. There can be no doubt how God feels about it. Jude will look back to Korah as part of the description of the sin of the false teachers.

Submission to authority is a major part of God’s expectation of His people, even into the New Testament. The church is instructed to submit to church leaders, to submit in the family, and to submit to governing authorities.

I read a lot today of Christians advocating or supporting some kind of rebellion against governing authorities. This concerns me. I never see God supporting any kind of rebellion in His word. Even in dealing with authorities God’s people show respect and honour the position of leadership. God’s people cannot always comply. Sometimes, we must obey God instead of man. But even then we see no Bible basis for an attempt to overthrow a leader.

Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. God judges rebellion severely. We had better be very careful when we consider assuming the role of rebels.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

The Lord is not among you

Do not go up, lest you be defeated by your enemies, for the LORD is not among you. – Numbers 14v42

Israel thought they could go now. ‘Okay, okay Moses, we get it now. Let’s go conquer that land!’

But they had waited too long. They only moved when they knew they were going to suffer for not moving. Their hearts were not right and their motivation was fear instead of obedience. They were controlled not by the spirit, but by their own flesh. Now God was not in it and they were promised that if they went now they would fail.

Success only comes when God is in it. Our fleshly endeavours, even if they seem like good endeavours, will not to nothing if we try to go in our own power and motivated by our own flesh.

Too often we are moved by something other than God. It might be emotion, fear, peer pressure, pride, or any number of other reasons.

We had better be sure before we go that ‘the Lord is among us.’ Otherwise we cannot succeed.

Friday, 29 January 2010

A different spirit

because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it. – Numbers 14v22-24

‘All these men,’ God says, and catch that, all these men, ‘have seen my work and tested me. They did not listen to me. They will not see the land that I have promised.’

What an indicting statement. The whole nation had rejected all that God had done. Over and over and over they had refused to trust Him. Their mistrust resulted in a failure to enter into God’s rest in Canaan. Their children would get the chance, but they had rejected God for too long.

‘But Caleb.’ Right in the midst of the judgement on the nation we find one man who sticks out. It reminds me of Noah, the one man who found grace in the sight of the Lord. This passage is always special because it spurred on the name of our third son.

Caleb was an amazing man. He had a different spirit than the rest of the nation. He ‘wholly followed the Lord.’ Caleb was one of the men who said that the people should enter Canaan. He went against the flow. He, along with Joshua, trusted God more than his own flesh. Later on, as an old man he will not take the easy route, but insists – ‘I want that mountain!’

It was the words, ‘wholly followed the Lord’ that grabbed my attention when Mary was pregnant for the fourth time. That phrase still captivates me. Caleb had a different spirit, he wholly followed the Lord.

Whenever I read this my heart is smitten. The words, ‘ “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him. By God’s help, I aim to be that man.” are often attributed to D.L. Moody. (As a side note, it appears that Moody adapted this from British revivalist Henry Varley when they met in Dublin).

A man fully consecrated to God. Moody, or Varly possibly, had a right heart, but was mistaken here. Caleb was that man fully consecrated to God.

There is a whole lot to expound how here except to ask ourselves, ‘What could God do with me, in my place and time, if I had a different spirit, if I wholly followed God, if I were fully consecrated to Him? Will I, like Moody, strive to be that man that we know Caleb was?

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Forgiving but holy

'The LORD is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He by no means clears the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation.' – Numbers 14v11

Sometimes it can be difficult for us to find the balance between God’s righteousness holiness and His loving forgiveness. How can a God who is love and a God whose righteousness demands judgement?

I am glad that God made Moses think this thing out. The passage us, in just a few words, is a great explanation of how this plays out.

God is longsuffering. He is overflowing in His mercy. He forgives sin. All of that is clear. Notice that Moses lists this part of God first. God is willing to forgive anyone. In fact, we know from New Testament teaching that it is not His will that anyone would perish.

Yet there is a huge problem. While God is loving and merciful He is also perfectly righteous. His righteousness demands holiness and perfection.

None of us can achieve that standard. That is where the forgiveness part comes in to play. God’s love motivated Him to provide a way. It was not cheap, it cost Him the burden of the cross.

God’s patience, mercy, and forgiveness is there for all who will repent and accept it. The rest must pay the price for their sin.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

How long?

Then the LORD said to Moses: "How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? – Numbers 14v11

As a teacher I always enjoy seeing God’s teaching methods. There can of course be no better example to follow that than the Master Teacher.

I think there are couple of things in this passage. It is obvious that God knows His will and His plan so He was not asking Moses anything He did not know. His question was instructive and to help Moses get his own proper perspective on the people of Israel. Maybe this was something like, ‘What do you think Moses, maybe I should just kill them all?’ We will look at Moses response later, but from that it appears that the reason God asked this question was to make Moses think about the people before he responded the same way.

There is another point here. We know from the New Testament that it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit. In some way that we can’t really grasp God does have a personality. Unlike our personalities His is not tainted by sin or selfishness, but He does have a personality that can be touched by man.

The people here had grieved God by their rejection and disobedience. When we act there needs to be an awareness of the fact that our actions can grieve Him. That very fact should break our hearts. How can we hurt the One who did so much for us?

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Don't be afraid of them

Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them." - Numbers 14v9

So how do we deal with those giants in the land?

All twelve spies agreed that the opposition was great. The only difference was how to deal with it. Caleb's opnion was that there were well able to handle the giants. At one point Caleb said ‘Let’s go! We can beat these guys!’ Later on Joshua said what is quoted above, ‘Don’t rebel against God, these people are ours. They have no protection. Don’t be afraid of them.’

The ten spies only saw the problems. Joshua and Caleb saw the God who is bigger than the problems. Fear controlled the ten spies. Faith controlled Joshua and Caleb.

So we come back to the question. What do we do about giants? When those giant of family problems, finances, illness, persecution, political instability, and natural disasters strike how do we respond?

Are we going to be controlled by fear and mistrust and follow the example of the ten spies or will we follow the faith of Joshua and Caleb.

Twelve men went to spy on Canaan, ten were bad and two were good. What did they see when they spied on Canaan? Some saw the giants big and tall. Some saw grapes in clusters fall. Some saw that God was in it all.

What do we see?

Monday, 25 January 2010

Giants in the land

There we saw the giants a (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." - Numbers 13v33

It looked like the journey was over. Moses led Israel to Kadesh-Barnea on the border with Canaan. The land was tantalising close. The people could see it in the distance. There must have been great excitement.

Before they went in they sent twelve spies into the land to survey it. What that saw was amazing! It was a land ‘flowing with milk and honey.’ Fruits grew in abundance to astounding sizes. They all agreed that this was an amazing place.

They saw something else though. They saw a mighty people. The people there were giants, either literally or figuratively. Taking the land would not be easy.

The twelve men returned with their report. They all agreed that it was an amazing place, but ten of the men were focused on the giants in the land. Only Joshua and Caleb focused on the blessings.

I think there is a lesson here for all of us. How do we see challenges? Do we see them as tasks that we cannot face, or do we see the blessings that come with the challenges.

How big are our giants today?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

The forgiveness test

So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, "Please heal her, O God, I pray!" – Numbers 12v13

God’s judgement on Aaron and Miriam was quick. For some reason, maybe because she was rhe older sister, the judgement came on Miriam. God departed and Miriam was struck with leprosy.

At least the two of them did not argue with God or try to finagle a way out. They immediately confessed their sin. They admitted they foolishness and asked for forgiveness.

We see the mark of Moses’ in his response. Immediately he prayed and asked God to take away the leprosy. God answered the prayer, but only after she lived with consequences of the sin for seven days.

I am impresses here by Moses Christ-like spirit. He could have borne a grudge. He could have had an attitude. He could have made them miserable. After all, their sin was not only against God but against him personally!

But none of that mattered – ‘Lord, I beg you, heal her.’

What a wonderful spirit. It reminds me of Christ on the cross, Stephen in the pit, and Paul’s closing word to Timothy. It is a spirit that should manifest itself in our lives.

One of the toughest tests we face is the forgiveness test. How well do we do?

Saturday, 23 January 2010

My servant Moses

I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?" - Numbers 12v8

There is an interesting family squabble here. First Moses marries this Ethiopian woman. His big sister and his brother apparently don’t like this. Then they start thinking about how Moses gets all the attention and they get nothing. The ugly monster of jealousy rears its ugly head.

‘Why does Moses get to speak for God? What about us? Why don’t we get the prestige? He always gets to be the ‘go to guy. What about us?’

God’s response was clear. He had chosen to speak with Moses. That is why Moses spoke for Him. Why were Aaron and Miriam not afraid about speaking against God’s choice?

I think there is a picture here for us. I want to preface this with the statement that this is not accusatory, but one of those ‘if the shoe fits statements.’

I wonder how often criticism for other men of God is motivated not by a true desire to expose error or defend the faith, but instead are made out of jealousy like Aaron and Miriam? Someone else has more prestige or recognition than we do so we find a way to be critical and to justify our criticism.

I suspect that we need to be very careful about speaking against the servants of God and mae sure of our motivation when we have to do so.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The meekest man alive

(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon on the face of the earth.) - Numbers 12v3

Matt tells a Bible college story about a class where they were discussing Biblical meekness. This story came to mind immediately when I read this passage this morning. At least I hope I have the story right.

The teacher asked a question something ‘Who were some of the great meek men of the Bible?’ Matt answered ‘Moses.’ The teacher replied, ‘No, not Moses.’

That was an amazing answer since we read in Numbers that Moses was the meekest man on the face of the earth.

The meekness is even more amazing when we read about the setting for this statement. Moses had married an Ethiopian woman. Something about her rankled them. They got together and asked each other, ‘Does God really want to speak through Moses? Why can’t he speak through us as well? We are going to deal with Aaron and Miriam tomorrow.

The comment about Moses makes me think that this kind of thing was beyond him. Why would they even me fighting over this? His meekness was unassuming. He accepted his leadership with meekness and humility. Remember, he never thought he was worthy for the job anyway!

Moses, the leader of the nation for forty years was a strong, powerful leader. Meekness does not negate strength.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

They yielded to their cravings

And the people stayed up all that day, all night, and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers); and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was aroused against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very great plague. So he called the name of that place Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had yielded to craving.- Numbers 11v32-34

I realise that some of what we are seeing is media sensationalism, but when we see footage of the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake we see an illustration of human nature. Many of the relief truck coming to bring supplies are dealing with mobs of people who attack the trucks and stop the delivery. In fact any time there is a disaster of any sort one of the first things we see is footage of looting.

It is an image something like this that I have in mind when I think of God’s provision of quail for the people of Israel. They complained about the manna so God gave them quail. When they saw the quail they gathered it all that day, all night, and all the next day. Then they laid out their loot before them.

Then they dug in, but before they could even chew their food God struck them with a great plague.

I can’t of course know the mind of God, but I suspect that the judgement did not come because they ate the quail, but because of the way they did it, because, as He says here, they ‘yielded to their cravings.’

If we are honest I think there is an attitude here that we can all identify with. There is a nature that we see in young children where they want all that they can see, especially if another child has it. Recently I saw this in one of my grandchildren. This young one was holding a massive armful of toys, so much in fact that the toys were useless. The most important thing to this young one was possession of those toys.

Very bold indeed, but no worse than Israel when they gathered the quail. In reality it is no worse than us when we forget to yield to the Spirit and instead yield to the cravings of our own flesh.

It is an ugly scene when people are consumed by their cravings. Next time we are tempted to do so may we see the ugliness and think how it must look to God.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Eldad and Medad

Then Moses said to him, "Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the LORD's people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!" – Numbers 11v29

I always like it when we come across people in the Bible who we know little about. Eldad and Medad were two of the seventy elders Moses chose to help lead Israel. At the beginning the Holy Spirit came on them and they prophesied, but after that the prophecy was over.

Over, that is, except for Eldad and Medad. They kept on prophesying. One young guy ran and told Joshua what they were doing. Joshua was Moses’ assistant and so he went and told Moses. ‘Eldad and Medad are still prophesying Moses – tell them to stop!’

I am a bit surprised at this coming from Joshua. He reminds me of the disciples who wanted Jesus to stop the men who were not part of their group to stop preaching.

It is easy to get caught in this trap. If people aren’t doing it the exact way we want we are quick to criticise them and try to discredit them. After all, if they do it different they can’t possibly be doing it right.

Moses responded a lot like Jesus would much later. He questioned Joshua’s motivation for his zeal. He did not stop them. In fact he said that he wished that all the people of Israel were filled with the Spirit and would prophesy as well.

I am not one for compromising the truth. We must stand firm on the word of God. We must hold ourselves to high standards of holiness and righteousness. I do however realise that everyone is not going to serve God exactly like I did. I think I need to be very careful before I attack them for doing it their way.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Has the Lord’s arm been shortened?

And the LORD said to Moses, "Has the LORD's arm been shortened? Now you shall see whether what I say will happen to you or not." – Numbers 11v23

Moses still was not convinced that it was possible to get Israel to Canaan. After all, it was an overwhelming task to move six million people across the desert to Canaan. They had to be clothed and fed. They had proven to be stubborn, rebellious, and discontent. They had all the problems of every day living. I am sure he crawled into his tent some nights wondering how he could ever do it. If he were anything like me he woke up in the night fretting about all the petty details.

God gave him seventy men to help him take care of things, but still he was not convinced. So finally God said to Moses, ‘Has my arm been cut off? Just watch and see if I will do what I said.’

Why is it that we act like God has had His arms cut off? He makes promises, we watch Him fulfil them, and still the next time a difficult task comes along we act like He is crippled.

God’s arms are just as strong to day as they were when He delivered Israel from Egypt. His power to deliver has not been cut off.

May God give us the grace to watch and see if He will do as He has promised!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Many hands make light work

Then I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you may not bear it yourself alone. – Numbers 11v17

Moses obviously had an immense task. The burden he was called to bear was huge. He was trying to lead this immense rebellious complaining crowd through the wilderness to their deliverance in Canaan.

There must have been night when he crawled into his tent exhausted and wondering if there was ever going to be any end to the task at hand. The whole burden was on his shoulders and it was an incredible burden to bear.

But God knew all about the work load. He told Moses to gather together seventy elders to assist in the task. God knew the need of sharing the work load and he provided the help for Moses. The phrase ‘many hands make light work,’ attributed to John Heywood in the mid-16th century comes to mind. Work, in fact any burden, is easier when there is someone to share it with.

There are times when we today are facing heavy loads. I think, of course, about Michelle’s illness and the how we are dealing with it. I can’t imagine if we had to face this all by ourselves. It has been such a blessing to see the numbers of people joining with us in prayers and practical support to see us through this time.

One thing that I want to come out of all this is that I would have a greater desire to awareness of others in when they are carrying loads. I trust that I will be able to help them in not carrying their burdens alone.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

We want our cucumbers!

We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; - Numbers 11v5

I like cucumbers. I even like those cucumbers sandwiches, those girlie delights. I didn’t think about them until Beth made one on a warm summer day a few years ago. It looked so light and refreshing that I tried it and loved it.

I also like sliced cucumbers soaked in vinegar and sugar with little pieces of ice floating around. Wow! They are delicious.

With that in mind I can somewhat understand the feelings of the people of Israel. They really missed all that good food. They missed their fish and cucumbers and melons and leeks and onions and garlic. They may have been slaves, but they ate well.

Shortly after they left Sinai they were stirred up by the ‘mixed multitude’ amongst them and they let their discontent grow. They were tired of eating manna everyday. I can understand that because I am fleshly minded just like them.

So what did they do? Did they suck it up and move on? Did they learn to be content where they were with what they had to hand?

Sadly, the answer is no. Stirred up by the outsiders they cried out about how miserable they were. In reality they were complaining about what God was doing. They were placing themselves and their desires above a perfect and holy God who knew what was best for them.

Contentment is one of those vital lessons that we really must get. It is a theme that runs throughout the entire word of God. It is a lesson we have to learn and a choice we have to make. We can’t be hung up about what we miss or what we have to do without. It never honours God and it is a slap in His face when we are not happy with our present state.

Paul got it right when he said, ‘I have learned to be content no matter that my present state.’

Saturday, 16 January 2010

At the command of the Lord

At the command of the LORD they remained encamped, and at the command of the LORD they journeyed; they kept the charge of the LORD, at the command of the LORD by the hand of Moses. – Numbers 9v23

We teach our children the importance of obedience. We teach the little song that says ‘obedience is the very best way to show that you believe.’ Of course I don’t know the heart of all the people of Israel here, but we do have a clear of example simple obedience with Israel.

God’s leadership was simple. He manifested Himself in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. The directions were simple, when the pillar moved they were to move. Simple enough.

The great thing is that they obeyed it. Whether it was ‘two days, a month, or a year,’ when they camped where they were until the pillar moved, then they broke camp and moved as well. They went were God sent them and stayed till he moved them.

How do we do when it comes to that kind of standard? What moves us? Is it really God, or is it our own feelings, discontentment, pressure from other, or circumstances.

Lets learn to go where God sends us and then stay put till he moves us, be it ‘two days, a month, or a year,’ or maybe many years.

Friday, 15 January 2010

And be gracious to you

"The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." ' "So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them." – Numbers 6v24-27

This is another neat picture here. In the middle of this blessing is the phrase, ‘The Lord…be gracious to you.’

I looked at this word ‘gracious’ a little bit. From what I learned it is a word that suggests one bending down to an inferior. It deals with showing grace and favour to a lesser.

When I read this I thought of a ‘real life’ picture that I think we can all identify with. Think of an adult talking to a young child. There are some adults who don’t know any better, don’t think about it, or don’t care who will tower over a young child when talking to them. Try to imagine what it would be like to talk to a big person a good metre taller than you! How comfortable could it possibly be?

On the other hand those how know something about children know that to get anything done we must get down t the level of the child. When one really cares about a child they know that we must ‘bend down’ to them instead of trying to communicate from our own altitude.

Where would we be if God did not show His grace to us by ‘bending down’ to us? We have no hope of reaching up to Him. He had to bow down and He did that ultimately when He sent His Son to earth, in the form of a man and the role of a servant.

Praise God that He is gracious to mankind, else where would we be?

Thursday, 14 January 2010

And give you peace

"The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." ' "So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them." – Numbers 6v24-27

I thought I could move on with just one mention of the priestly blessing, but a couple more caught my eye, and not necessarily in order.

Today’s thought is similar to yesterday’s in some ways. They both deal with God and His appearance to us. When I think of a countenance I think of the look on someone’s face. Is it a good or a bad countenance? Is it an approving or a disapproving countenance? Is it pleased or displeased?

The part of the blessing here is that God’s countenance would be ‘lifted up.’ None of us are going to literally see His face here on earth, but we can be assured that His countenance toward us is a positive approving one.

We all treasure that look of approval toward one that we care about. We want them to be pleased with us.

As children of God we can be assured that we are always His. He always will love us and look on us as His children. But there are times when God is surely displeased with our behaviour. Our status as His children is not affected, but we can walk in a way that brings about a disapproving countenance.

In a sense God’s countenance is always lifted up to us because we are his. Our desire should be that His countenance is also would of approval of how we live for Him.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

The Lord make His face to shine upon you

"The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." ' "So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them." – Numbers 6v24-27

I am afraid that one part of our lives is going to pop up a lot in the next few months. Michelle’s illness has become a major part of our lives and has caused us to see life, living, and eternity in a whole new light.

Yesterday Matt went to the hospital early. Later in the day Mary and I loaded the girls in the car and headed to the hospital for a visit. We have a really long run of icy and snowy weather. As we headed in the snow started back again, and I was dreaded the rest of the trip, the visit, and the drive home, but we headed on in to Tallaght.

We got there; I dropped Mary and the girls off and went to the car park. I meant for them to go on up to Michelle, but I am glad they didn’t. When we walked into the room together Michelle lit up like a light bulb when she saw her girls. Her face shone on the sight of the daughters that she must miss so desperately. It was a shine of love, caring, and compassion. Mary and I were able to see a true picture of Michelle’s face shining on her little girls.

That look that Michelle gave Morgann and Maddie must be something like the shine that Moses is talking about here.

What a blessing to think of God looking on us the same way Michelle looked on those little girls yesterday.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

It is the blood

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. – Leviticus 17v11

On the morning of 20 December 2009 we were getting ready for church when our son Matt rang us. It was one of ‘those’ telephone calls. ‘Dad, Michelle fell in the shower and her head is bleeding.’ We hurried over and something crossed my mind that was a harbinger of what was to come. I noticed that the blood on the towel was pinkish instead of deep blood red.

About 9.00 that night Matt and I were sitting in the ICU at Tallaght Hospital. The doctor, a haematologist, came out with the news. She informed us that Michelle had APL, am acute form of leukaemia. She was ill enough that her treatment had already started.

We are now three weeks into the treatment. The problem is that her blood cells are being attacked by cancerous cells. Basically, her body is not able to produce the blood she needs to sustain life. Her prognosis is good. If the cancerous cells can indeed be defeated her body will once again produce the blood she needs to live.

We have fully learned the lesson that the life of the flesh is in the blood. We read in Leviticus 17v14 that it is the blood that sustains life. We are now aware of daily updates regarding blood counts, platelet levels, and cell counts. We watch her blood daily to see how it is doing in sustaining life. Together we are all facing a battle for her blood, and hence and battle for her life. So far the news is good and we are looking at an eventual healing if there are no changes or setbacks.

In the light of this Leviticus 17 takes on a whole new meaning. We have no doubt that it is the blood that sustains the life of the flesh.

But look at the very end of Leviticus 17v11. Yes, the life of the flesh is indeed in the blood. It goes a step further – ‘it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’ Not only is the life of the flesh in the blood, but the eternal life of the soul is also in the blood. Not in the blood of bulls and goats as we learn in Hebrews, they were only a forerunner of the true fulfilment of this verse. Atonement for soul, the life of the soul, is only possible in the blood of Christ.

It is the blood, the healthy blood that is going to restore Michelle’s body to health. It is only the blood of Christ that can provide spiritual life and health to the world.

Monday, 11 January 2010

You shall be holy

For I am the LORD who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. - Leviticus 11v45

God's holiness is one thing. That makes sense. It is logical that God would be holy. Sin cannot be a part of His nature. In fact it cannot be any part of Him or He would not be God. God and holiness are synonymous.

But here we have a whole different matter. God tells His people to be holy based on His own holiness.

Whereas God's holiness makes sense my holiness really does not. How can I hope to be holy? I know me. I know my nature. I know my leanings and inclinations. I know my thoughts and my emotions. I know how I act left to my own

And yet God says be holy. He doesn't just say this to Israel; He repeats it to the church. So how do we do this? How do we be holy according to His standard?

First, at salvation we were declared holy with the holiness of Christ. Positionally we are holy in Him. What we are called to do is to practice holiness in our daily living. Our challenge is to live up to what we already are.

Our motivation to live holy lives cannot be to satisfy a list of rules and requirements. It can be to make someone happy with us. It can’t be for any reason but one – we are to be holy because He is holy!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

I must be regarded as holy

And Moses said to Aaron, "This is what the LORD spoke, saying: By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified. "So Aaron held his peace. – Leviticus 10v3

This is a profound passage and I suspect that I am dealing with sacred ground that I cannot possibly hope to cover in a short, simple, basic, devotional thought.

Nadab and Abihu were punished for bring a strange fire to the altar of the Lord. They did not think that His standards were important. They thought that their way was good enough. It was not really important, in their minds, to do it the way God wanted it done.

So God responds. ‘I must be regarded as holy by anyone who wants to come close to me.’ This is, as we say, heavy stuff. It is not something we can take lightly. It reminds me of the immensity of our responsibility in our relationship with a holy God.

None of us are going to be guilty of the exact same sin as Nadab and Abihu. We are not charged with burning a sacrifice. But we are responsible for even more than they are.

If we want to walk close to the Lord the key is to regard Him as holy. When it comes to dealing with sin and temptation we are wise to do all we can to protect ourselves and stay away from those things. All those guards and protections and safety measures and filters are good things.

But we are not going to have real victory until we truly regard God as holy. We cannot walk in fellowship with Him until we do so. When we regard Him as holy we see just how unholy we are in our flesh and we see just how horrendous our sin is in His eyes.

Only when we regard Him as holy can we ever hope to really walk close to Him.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Strange fire

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. – Leviticus 10v1

I often wonder about Nadab and Abihu. What motivated them to offer this strange, profane fire before the Lord? From verses 8-9 it may very well have been because they were drunk, but it not totally clear.

Either way these two young men were careless about their service for the Lord. Their service was serious and specific and yet they took a very light and cavalier attitude toward the sacrifice. The offered a fire what was not what God wanted. They acted according to their own plans and ideas.

I think that this is related to anytime man tries to take his own ideas and make them God’s. Men still do that today. Churches of all types can add their own traditions and preferences and try to make them equal to the word of God.

Is there really a difference between Nadab and Abihu’s strange fire and the strange teachings that far too many churches add to God’s way?

Friday, 8 January 2010

I don't want to tidy up my toys

Then Moses looked over all the work, and indeed they had done it; as the LORD had commanded, just so they had done it. And Moses blessed them. - Exodus 39v43

'Finish the job, finish the job, get things done. Finish the job, finish the job then have fun. If you have a job to do stick with it till you are through.'

These words ran through my head this morning when I read this passage. I also thought about how small children handle tasks. With Michelle being ill we have had the opportunity to mind the girls a bit more. Yesterday Maddie, as three year olds are apt to do, made quite a mess with her toys. I set her to the task of tidying up. Of course she got started, but when she saw the other toys in the storage place she got distracted.

When I reminded her of her job she honestly said 'I don't want to tidy up my toys.' Nothing unusual in that. She is three and some other toy caught her eye and kept her from her job.

While a little bold that is kind of cute coming from a three year old. I set her back to work and things were fine.

However this kind of attitude is not at all cute when it comes from grown men and women. The people of Israel reflect the proper attitude here. God gave them a job to do – build the tabernacle. They simply set out and stayed at the task until it was done. What if they had said, like Maddie, ‘We don’t want to build the tabernacle?’

Sadly, I know from my own life that there are times when I am more like Maddie than Israel. I set about to do something that really needs done and some new toys grabs my attention and I leave the needed work undone.

What a challenge to stay at the job until it is finished. I love my Maddie, but she is not a real good role model when it comes to finishing a task.

May it be said of me ‘…and indeed Roger did it.’

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Too much

for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done-indeed too much. - Exodus 36v7

Here we have a situation that I cannot even imagine happening today. We already know that when if came to giving to build the tabernacle the people hearts were stirred and their spirits were willing.

The problem is that a willing spirit does not always results in willing hands.

This was not the case for Israel. When they gave they really gave. They gave so much in fact ghat they had to bs told to stop bringing in their offerings.

Can you imagine a church telling it's people to stop giving? These people had giving figured out. Giving hearts without giving hands are useless. Let's make sure that our hands match our hearts.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Stirred hearts and willing spirits

Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the LORD's offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments. – Exodus 35v21

The time had come to build the tabernacle, which was God’s dwelling place among the people while they wandered in the desert. God had already described it and the cost was going to be phenomenal. The people might have thought that God was just going to provide the materials so it could be built, but He had another plan.

God told those who had willing spirits to bring their offerings to the leaders for the construction of the tabernacle. It was the responsibility of the people to give, but that was not all. God did not want just anyone to give, but only those who had a willing spirit.

So they came, all those whose hearts had been stirred by God’s work and who had willing spirits brought their offerings to build the tabernacle, pay for its upkeep, and provide for the needs of the priests.

Stirred hearts and willing spirits are essential for Biblical giving. That standard had not changed for the church. God loves the cheerful giver.

It is not and never has been enough for God’s people just to give. We are wasting our time if we only give because we feel like we have to. He wants us to give willingly and cheerfully. Giving is not just the act, it must be motivated by the right kind of heart.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

His face shone

So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. – Exodus 34v30

What an amazing sight when Moses had been with God and came back down to speak to the people. He was so close to God that his face literally shone with the reflection of God’s glory. It was so bright in fact that the people could not stand to look at it.

I realise that the chances are that none of us will ever be in this exact kind of situation. Only Moses ever had that kind of encounter with God.

However, have you ever been around someone who you just knew by their appearance that they walked close to God? Do you know that kind of look I am talking about? There is a look that is kind of like they are not really here. Like their mind is somewhere else.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that we have to live here and deal with this world. I know that we have to pay attention to the every day tasks that we have before us.

I remember are saying that I used to hear. ‘He is so heavenly minded that he is of no earthly good.’ I know what the saying is trying to say, but is it really possible to do that? Is it possible to be too heavenly minded?

While it may not be physical and blinding, there is going to be something different is the appearance and demeanour of those who walk close to God. When people meet us do they sense that kind of heavenly difference in us?

Monday, 4 January 2010

His name is Jealous

"(for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), - Exodus 34v14

This intrigues me. To our minds, to mine at least, jealousy has such a negative connotation. And yet, here God tells us that one of His names in Jealous!

How can jealousy be a good thing? The problem is that like so often we think of terms and ideas from a human perspective. We think of sinful, silly, petty childish jealous that is motivated by our own pride.

Would I be treating my wife right if I did not guard her with a right kind of jealousy? My wife is my wife. Her deepest love is reserved for me. I am not jealous of her friends, even her male friends, but I am jealous of the affection that is reserved for me as her husband.

God’s jealousy is a righteous jealousy. It is a guarding and protective jealousy. He is jealous of our deep affection. There can be no other gods before Him. Everything else comes after Him.

He is jealous with a perfect jealousy. He knows that only a relationship with Him leads to eternal joy and peace. He knows that when our affections are directed elsewhere they will only lead to our hurt and pain eventually.

One of the definitions for ‘jealous’ in is ‘solicitous or vigilant in maintaining or guarding something.’ The illustrative sentence is ‘The American people are jealous of their freedom.’

Perhaps it is this definition that describes God righteous jealousy the best. He is and always will be ‘solicitous and vigilant in maintaining or guarding’ His people.

Praise God that His name is Jealous.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Take heed to yourself

Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. - Exodus 34v12

Serving God and staying true to Him is not a one way street. Yes God told Israel that He would do an awesome work among them, but at the same time they had something they had to do as well.

‘Take heed to yourselves,’ God told them. Later on He told the nation about the same thing through Haggai when He said ‘consider your ways.’

Here God’s warns them about covenanting themselves with the world. People do not change, covenanting with the world is as much a problem for us today as it was for the nation of Israel. We go out into the world with all of its temptations and allurements and draws and amusements and if we are not careful we make our home in Vanity Fair.

God’s warning is as clear today as it was then. Take heed to yourself. Don’t covenant yourself with the world. It will be a snare of destruction.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

It is an awesome thing

And He said: "Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. - Exodus 34v10

Moses and Israel could have had no idea about all that God meant when He told them, ‘It is an awesome thing that I will do with you.’ He said He was making a covenant, that He was would do marvels that had never been seen, and that every one would see the work of the Lord.

I am sure, that they were thinking like we tend to do, about material things. They must have been excited that this nation of former slaves was going to be known among all the nations. God was going to do things that the world had never seen before through them.

But let’s look at their history. They had a few great years, but only in one small part of the earth. No race has been more abused, attacked, and persecuted. More than one tyrant has tried to wipe out the Jews. They have been vilified by a multitude of groups. Even today anti-Semitism is rampant.

Is this really an awesome thing? Has God done this awesome thing for Israel?

I think when we look at that we are looking in the wrong place. God has done the ‘awesomest’ work through them. He has done a work that no nation has ever seen or will ever see.

What was that work? Through sinful, fleshly, rebellious Israel God provided His Son, the Redeemer and Saviour.

Amazing that God would use a people like that to give the world their only hope of eternal salvation. Just as awesome is the truth that He chooses to use a fleshly, rebellious, weak, foolish, and sinful people like us to carry that message to the world today.

Our God is an awesome God and He does an awesome work!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Lord…go among us

Then he said, "If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance." – Exodus 34v9

'I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year, with Thee, O Father, as my harbour, Thee, O Son as my helm, Thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.'

These words from 'The Valley of Vision' came to my mind this morning as I read over Moses' prayer as God's Law for His people was established.

I find these thoughts apprpriate as we launch our barks on 2010. None of us has any idea what this year will bring. Our lives may change at any moment. Michelle's illness has reminded me of just how quickly everything can change.

If God does not go among us this year what hope do we have?

As we enter the year ahead may we, from the words of the book mentioned above have God's:

Grace to sanctify us

Comforts to cheer us

Wisdom to teach us

Right hand to guide us

Counsel to instruct us

Law to judge us, and His

Precense to stabilize us