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ROUTE 66

4 Numbers: The Divine Will

September 24, 2017

 

Today we are in the fourth stage of our journey on Route 66 through all the Books of the Old and New Testaments.

We began three weeks ago:

  1. Genesis – Beginning
  2. Exodus – Deliverance
  3. Leviticus – Holiness

This week we have arrived at the Old Testament Book of Numbers.  This book carries that name because at the beginning and end it is framed by a counting or census of all the people of Israel who had left Egypt for their new home in Canaan, the land that God has promised to His people.

 

4 - Numbers / Wandering

Author: Moses           Date: 1445-1400 B.C.

Significant Events: National Census, Complaining Against God, Miriam and Aaron Challenge Moses, Exploration of Canaan, People's Rebellion, God's Judgment, God Protects His People from Evil Forces.

Key Verse: “The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion." – Numbers 14:18

 

Numbers is also a book about Rebellion and the subsequent Wandering in the wilderness that God decreed as a result of this Rebellion.

Let’s briefly summarize the Rebellions against God’s Divine Will and Word that are recounted for us in the book of Numbers:

Rebellions against God’s Divine Will in Numbers

  • Numbers 11:    The people complain about manna and desire meat to eat.

                                     (Not prayerful petition, but disregard for God’s blessing.)

  • Numbers 12:    Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses’ leadership. 

                                     (They were focused on their own position, status, placement so they criticized Moses’ leadership, which he

                                      only undertook because of God’s call and command.)

  • Numbers 14:    Israel refuses to enter Canaan, the Promised Land, because of fear.

                                     (Amazing that the people lost the blessing of the Promised Land, not because of something they had done that 

                                      was forbidden – like the golden calf idol worship – but because they refused to do the very thing God had called 

                                      and prepared them to do.)

  • Numbers 20:    Moses deviates from God’s command because he is angry with the people.

                                     (Moses knew what God had told him to do – speak to the rock – but he did not understand the significance.)

 

Back in Exodus 17 right after the people had left Egypt, God had Moses strike a rock.  Now God says speak to the rock and it will pour forth water. 

God intends for these events to foreshadow Christ, who was struck once for the sins of the people, then when called upon He gives living water to quench the desire of people thirsty for forgiveness.

Maybe it’s hard for us to understand how the people could go against God’s will so many times.

But we are all prone to go our own way and to prefer our own will when we are:

  • Dissatisfied with God’s Provision
  • When we are Impatient for God’s Promises
  • When we are Tired and Angry with People and Situations that are Difficult

 

What can we learn from Numbers?

  • When we resist God’s leading, we can miss out on the good things He has planned.  And we can bring pain and heartache on ourselves and our families.
  • More critically, these accounts are warning to us if we do not truly respond to God’s leading, we can miss out on the fullness of His goodness and blessing in the eternal Promised Land.

 

But Rebellion is Not All the Book of Numbers is About!

I’m so glad for this.  What I’m about to show you is reason for gladness and celebration and thanksgiving.

God’s people are revealed to be faithless and restless and heartbreaking.

But here is who God is revealed to be in the Book of Numbers:

 

 

 

This is what Moses says about God in the middle of all the rebellion.  This is what God has said when He was giving His law on Mount Sinai.  God declares His character, and He says, this is who I am!

You may be faithless at times, God says, but I am faithful. 

When we respond favorably to God’s leadership, when you repent of your sin and you trust Christ and strive to live faithfully according to His Words, then there will be consequences to your choices, but God still is working for your good and He’s still counting you as His child. 

In the second half of the Book of Numbers, you have a ruler named Balak who is concerned about all the people of Israel who are now living on the plains of Moab along the Jordan River, and he calls on Balaam, who is a fortune teller, a worker in the black arts of divination, to come up and put an evil curse on the Israelites.

And Balaam wants to do this, because Balak is going to pay him well for this service.  The evil one doesn’t have a problem getting people to act against the people of God.

But Balaam tries four times to curse Israel, and every time God stops him and puts words in his mouth that actually bless God’s people and curse their enemies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you will stick with God, if you will keep trusting in Him, if you will be faithful, He will not let your enemies triumph over you. 

You will go through hardship, but the end is not destruction.  It’s all for God’s good purpose.  And He will fulfill for you all the promises He makes to His children.

When you are God’s child, you have no guilt because of Jesus.  You will lose nothing in this life.  And you will gain an eternal family and every good thing in God’s kingdom.

Numbers teaches us to understand who we are.  And know who God is. 

He is the God who takes you through the wilderness so that you may be strengthened, your love may be tested and tried, you may falter at times, but God will restore you, He will protect you and lift you up, and in the end, you will be prepared to take possession of the future that He has promised to you.

God’s Divine Will is for your good, your salvation, your blessing.  

You are His people. 

You are His son, His daughter. 

And He is going to bring you to the home and the future that He has planned and prepared just for you.

Thanks be to God!

“The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.  Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished.” – Numbers 14:18

“The oracle of Balaam, son of Beor, the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly, the oracle of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty:

How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!

May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!

I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near.

A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” – Numbers 24:5,9,17

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