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Psalms 114: Dominion over Nature

Psalms 114 has some unique imagery. The pattern and rhythm are also quite a bit different than what we have seen before.

We are talking here about the children of Israel leaving Egypt and all of the miracles that happened on their trip to the Promised Land.

Psa 114:5  What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?

Psa 114:6  Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs?

Psa 114:7  Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob;

Psa 114:8  Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters.

The presence of God is doing this stuff. None of this happened because Moses was a fantastic man. It wasn’t because Aaron was a great priest. By and large, both of these statements are true; they were both pretty good at what they did. However, these kind of things can only happen through the power of God.

Of course, as we have talked about before, all of these types of miracles show that God had dominion over nature. At the very least, it indicates that God is an incredibly powerful being, but it also is a decent evidence toward God being the creator. If God has control over nature, while it doesn’t guarantee that He created it, it is definitely possible that He created it. If you create something, you have some degree of control over it.

I think that this is an interesting chapter. It shows us something about the power of God. If there is a God who is this powerful, and if we believe that as Christians, then He certainly deserves our praise.

Psalms 99: Answers to Prayer

Psalms 99 gives some examples of people who called upon the Lord. When they called upon the Lord, they received an answer.

Psa 99:6  Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them.

Psa 99:7  He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them.

Now, it doesn’t specifically say what they called on God for, but maybe we can go back into the Bible and find what this might be referring to.

Moses called upon God several times as I remember, but here is one example for you.

Exo 32:11  And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?

This was after Aaron and the other people had created the golden calf. Moses asked God to be merciful to the people of Israel even though they had been stubborn and disobedient. God immediately answered in this case and said that He would not destroy the people.

I had a harder time finding when Aaron was directly speaking without Moses beside him, but there was a time when the people of Israel were thinking of having a revolution against Moses and Aaron, and here is the prayer that the two men said.

Num 16:22  And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?

Again, God was very angry, and even though He could have easily destroyed all of the rebels in one shot, we see a similar prayer from Moses and Aaron. Most of the people had been deceived by the leadership which is why you get the verse above. They didn’t want everyone to be punished, and they received an answer from God that He would not destroy everyone. The earth did open up and devour the ringleaders, but again, we see an answer to prayer.

Finally, Samuel had a pretty cool situation. The Philistines were threatening to overtake Israel like they always seemed to be, and Israel was asking Samuel to pray to God on their behalf for His assistance.

1Sa 7:9  And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.

1Sa 7:10  And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.

Not surprisingly, we see that his prayer was answered. God prevented the invasion that had been coming to Israel.

So what?

I know that some people will deny this, and I don’t have time for a full-fledged defense of the historical reliability of the Bible, but if we take for granted that the Bible is at the very least a reliable historical document, we see records of prayers being answered.

People often say that prayer doesn’t work, but it seemed as if this Psalm is kind of encouraging people to investigate the evidence themselves. See, it worked for Moses, Aaron and Samuel among others. Using these kinds of drastic examples, it is easy to see that, if they are true, there is no doubt that God did them. They are pretty miraculous answers.

1 Samuel 6: Respect the Word of God

1 Samuel 6 most definitely inspired a certain scene in Indiana Jones.

1Sa 6:19  And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter.

1Sa 6:20  And the men of Bethshemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up from us?

That is a lot of people who all died at once, but this passage particularly stood out to me because God does not change.

The Ark of the Covenant was one of the most respected items in Israel, and God would literally communicate with the people of Israel from the mercy seat on top of it.

We found out yesterday that it was not good to worship it, but it is not good to totally dismiss it.

Lev 16:2  And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.

Even Aaron had very specific rules that he had to obey when he went before the Ark. The Levites were assigned to take care of the Ark, and because God was very specific about that, it is no wonder that it was a major problem when people were opening it and not respecting the way that things were supposed to be done. God had set rules in place, and they did not change just because time had passed.

Many people want to make the argument at times that the rules that God laid out change. Somehow, God, who is unchangeable, changes. Doesn’t that seem a little bit contradictory?

The Word of God is the Word of God. It hasn’t changed. Parts of it have been fulfilled by Jesus Christ, and that explains why we do not need to perform ritual sacrifices anymore. Jesus finished it out once and for all. However, it does not change what the Word says.

This is just a great illustration of how the Ark of the Covenant still need to be treated a certain way even though time had passed. God makes His rules for a reason, and it is our duty to follow them.

Numbers 20: Give God Credit

In Numbers chapter 20, Moses and Aaron got themselves into some big trouble. By big trouble, I mean that they were not going to be allowed to enter the Promised Land because of their disobedience.

Num 20:7  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Num 20:8  Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.

Num 20:9  And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him.

Num 20:10  And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?

Num 20:11  And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

Num 20:12  And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.

It is somewhat hard to tell what exactly went down and why God was so upset with Moses and Aaron. There are various interpretations online, but I think the one that makes the most sense comes directly out of verse 10.

Moses and Aaron took credit for fetching water out of the rock when it was clearly the work of God that made this possible.

God does not want people to start taking credit for things that they really had no doing in. A similar thing happened with the Tower of Babel. The people started to get excited about what they could do, and they eventually were punished for that.

I don’t have very many of us will be hitting rocks to make water come out and taking credit for it anytime soon, but I do think that we all will have to contend with our attitude at some point soon. We have to be careful that we do not become too proud about what happens around us.

God takes pride seriously, and we need to make sure that we give Him all the credit He deserves.

Numbers 18: The Inheritance of God

Numbers chapter 18 made me think a little bit about the nature of possessions. Basically, this situation involves God speaking to Aaron about the Levites. He is outlining all of the rights and responsibilities of being the tribe of priests, but one particular thing stood out to me.

Num 18:20  And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.

I think it is particularly interesting in this situation that this is very similar language to what we see in the New Testament. Because we are believers in Jesus, we also have an inheritance in heaven.

1Pe 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1Pe 1:4  To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

1Pe 1:5  Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Essentially, we have hope of living with God forever because of the resurrection of Jesus. In fact, God Himself is our inheritance on some level.

The reason I am jumping to that conclusion is because, without faith in Jesus as well as His mercy, we would spend eternity separated from Him. Consequently, if we do know Him, our inheritance is spending eternity with Him. That is how I drew that conclusion.

Think about the implications of this though. The Israelites needed to have a specific tribe that had God as their inheritance. Now, we are allowed to directly approach Jesus Christ who acts as our mediator. It is an amazing privilege.

Numbers 17: God Uses Us for Great Things

Numbers chapter 17 follows directly after our last story. God wanted to prove one more time that He put Moses and Aaron in charge for a reason.

Num 17:5  And it shall come to pass, that the man’s rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you.

Num 17:8  And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.

Moses would not have been able to know this on his own. He would have had no idea that one of the rods would bloom. It would have been obvious then to everyone that Moses received information directly from God and was truly chosen to be the leader.

Similarly, because of the fact that Aaron’s rod was the only one that budded, it was obvious that he should be in charge with the tribe of Levi.

Yesterday, I wrote a lot about the dangers of disobedience.

Today, let’s look on the positive side.

As much as God had a purpose for keeping Moses and Aaron as leaders, He has purposes for all of us. He knows exactly how He wants to use us, and we need to do our best to follow that plan.

Sometimes, we will definitely wander away, and that is regrettable. We need to try not to let that happen, and it should happen less and less as we grow closer to God. However, we are still humans and are by definition imperfect.

Fortunately, God uses imperfect people all the time, and because of His strength, great things can and do happen.

Moses and Aaron definitely made mistakes, but God was able to use them to do great things. I hope that we all are receptive to God’s leading.

Numbers 16: God Sets Things the Way He Wants Them

Numbers chapter 16 must be one of the most depressing in the entire Bible.

Essentially, the entire premise of the story is that it not a good thing to rebel against God.

God commanded Moses and Aaron to lead the people of Israel. 250 princes of the people rose up to challenge that authority. Moses essentially challenged them and said that God would ultimately decide who was really supposed to command the people of Israel.

Num 16:28  And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.

Num 16:29  If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me.

Num 16:30  But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.

Num 16:31  And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:

Num 16:32  And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.

Num 16:33  They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.

It is interesting to think about this situation.

On one hand, it seems awful severe. However, these men challenged God while they were challenging Moses and Aaron. In a way, they were doubting the wisdom of God.

They thought that God made some type of mistake by putting Moses and Aaron in leadership positions, and, since God was among the entire congregation anyway, there was no reason not to have a revolt so to speak.

God obviously had a plan for Moses and Aaron. If He didn’t, He would not have put them in charge anyway.

I think that the application for us today is basically that when God shows us something as obviously as He showed the people of Israel that Moses and Aaron were in charge, we have to listen.

I think that it is highly unlikely that the earth would ever open up under us, but the point is that God takes disobedience seriously. If we truly have faith in His plan, we will actively seek and try to follow it.

Numbers 12: God Hears Everything

There are some incredibly obvious statements in the Bible, and I found one of them today in Numbers chapter 12.

For a little bit of background, Moses had married an Ethiopian woman, and Aaron and Miriam were not too thrilled about that. They began to question whether or not Moses really had such a unique relationship with God.

One thing that is interesting to notice is that God was perfectly okay with biracial marriages. Obviously, until recent history, many people had problems with this relationship, but God understood the humanity of all people. Race does not bother God; He created all of us after all. Humanity made an incredible problem because of racism, and the effects are tragically still being felt, but God was already breaking that down in this passage of scripture. That is not really the main point of what I was writing today, but I thought it was worth pointing out.

God did not react very kindly to their lack of faith in Him.

However, I was intrigued by a verse in the middle of this passage.

Num 12:2  And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.

God hears everything. This is a lot like Jonah who thought that he could run away to the ends of the earth and hide from God. The simple fact of the matter is that God is omnipresent, and, as such, He knows everything that we do.

Psa 139:7  Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

Psa 139:8  If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

Psa 139:9  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

Psa 139:10  Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

God wants to be with us, and He is with us all of the time. Although in this situation it did help expose this lack of faith, having God with us is still a good thing. Exposing our sin is a good thing because it is the only way that we can ask for forgiveness.

We are always going to make mistakes, but God will always offer us forgiveness. He sees and hears everything we do, but He loves us and wants to help us with our problems. It is nice to have a God like that.

Leviticus 10: Sin Can Have Huge Consequences

Leviticus chapter 10 discusses what seems to be a very challenging time for the Israelites.

Lev 10:1  And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.

Lev 10:2  And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

Lev 10:3  Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.

Two of Aaron’s sons used the wrong type of fire in the censer. God had commanded them not to do that, and they ended up dying because of it.

Although it might seem a little bit cold coming from me, I keep coming back to a New Testament verse when I think about this passage.

Rom 6:23  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Wages are earned when services are performed. When sin is performed, in order to satisfy that sin, death is what is required. Jesus paid that debt for us when He died on the cross almost 2000 years ago.

Of course, we do not all physically die when we sin. If that was the case, there’d be no one left alive on earth right now. Jesus would have been the only human being to make it through life.

However, our sin is a type of spiritual death. It separates us from the life of God. In a physical sense, when we are separated from life, we are dead.

It is hard to tell exactly what made the sin of the sons of Aaron so bad that they needed to be killed, but this passage did make me think about how bad sin really can be. Because of all of our sin, we do not deserve the eternal life of God, but Jesus died in our place so that we might live eternally with Him. Forgiveness is a major gift to say the least. I know that I departed from Leviticus a little bit, but I hope that these two passages made some amount of sense when they were put together.

Leviticus 9: Be Available for God’s Use

Leviticus chapter 9 is interesting because we can see the power of God in action.

Lev 9:23  And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people.

Lev 9:24  And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.

When Moses and Aaron did what God commanded, they were able to witness His true power. I think that a lot of that is applicable to us as well.

When we do what God wants us to do, His power is really able to shine through. It is kind of what happened to Jonah. When Jonah finally got to Nineveh (albeit not very willingly) and started preaching like God had told him to do in the beginning, many people repented of their sins. While Jonah may have been a great preacher, the power to make that type of change in the hearts of many different people must have come from God.

While I do not believe in salvation by works, I will say that works are very important in our testimony. If we are Christians, we definitely should act like it so that we are good witnesses for other people who want to know more about God. This verse explains our purpose very well.

Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

We are created by God, and we should act like we are. When we do that, God will use it to help advance His kingdom. Not only that, but as we do what God wants us to do, we will draw closer to Him which will help us build a stronger relationship.