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Behold Your God! (Deuteronomy 3-4)

Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 3-4

The address to Israel, that Moses began in Deuteronomy 1, continues in today’s Scripture reading. It is good to pause in our study, and remember Moses is 120-years-old. He finds himself standing before a new generation, the majority of whom had been born in the wilderness over the course of forty years.

Four-hundred years of slavery in Egypt was a fact of history, but not something that generation had experienced. The consequences of their forefather’s faithlessness, and rebellion had befallen that generation, and it was essential that they not only knew the character of their God, but understood their covenant relationship with Him as a nation.

Deuteronomy 3 – God is Gracious, But Choices Have Consequences

With the urgency of a man who knows his death is imminent, Moses reviewed the LORD’s care, and compassion for Israel. He reminded the people how God had delivered Og, the king of Bashan into their hands. Israel had conquered sixty walled cities (3:4-5), and utterly destroyed the “men, women, and children, of every city” (3:6). The LORD had enriched His people, and given them “all the cattle, and the spoil of the cities” (3:7). Moses reviewed that the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had requested the lands on the east side of the Jordan River (3:12-20).

The LORD had chosen Joshua as his successor (3:21a), and Moses recalled that God promised to drive out the inhabitants on the west side of the Jordan (3:21-22), even as He had defeated the two kings on the east side (Sihon, the Amorite, 2:24-36, and Og, the king of Bashan, 3:1-11).

For a second time in the Book of Deuteronomy (1:37), Moses reminisced how He had asked the LORD to permit him to enter Canaan. God had refused his request, and remembered that He had commanded Moses to speak to the rock to bring forth water in the desert, but he had disobeyed, and in anger struck the rock.

He had violated the LORD’S command, and His judgment was that Moses would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land. The LORD had rebuked him, saying, “Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter” (3:26); yet God, in His grace promised, Moses would have opportunity to gaze upon Canaan from the top of Pisgah (3:27; 34:1-5).

Deuteronomy 4 continues Moses’ exhortation, and he reminded the people of Israel’s unique covenant relationship with the LORD.

Unlike any other nation, Israel was chosen by the LORD, and privileged to know Him personally (4:1-6). By His statutes and judgments, He had revealed His person and character to them (4:7-8). The people knew the LORD, like no other people, and they were the custodians of His Laws and Commandments (4:7-14).  It was their covenant responsibility to not only “heed [and] keep” the statutes and judgment of the LORD, but also “teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons” (4:8-9).

The new generation was told how their forefathers had gathered at Mount Horeb, and out of the “midst of the fire” they had heard the LORD’s commandments, and accepted His covenant with them as a nation (4:10-13; Exodus 20:1-23:33). Moses warned them to abstain from all forms of idolatry (4:14-40), and not to worship objects of God’s creation, as was the way of the heathen (4:16-19).

Remembering God is sovereign, Moses retold how Israel had been delivered out of Egypt, though that nation was the most dominant, and powerful nation in its day (4:20).

Moses warned, the LORD is a righteous judge, and jealous God (4:23-24). Then, calling upon heaven and earth to be his witness, Moses warned: Should the people corrupt themselves, and turn to idols, many would perish (4:26), and the people would be dispersed, and scattered among the nations (4:27-28).

Who is Israel’s God?

He is the Creator, and the God of heaven (4:21). He is God alone, and “there is none else beside Him” (4:35).  He is the Sovereign of heaven and earth (4:39).

He is my God, my LORD, and my Savior! Is He yours?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

You are invited to join Hillsdale for our Sunday Morning Services (9:15am; 10:30am)

Good Morning, and Welcome to Hillsdale!

Whether a long-time member, a regular attender, or a first-time guest, we are privileged you have chosen to join our fellowship this Sunday morning. While COVID is a concern (and we make every effort to ensure the health of our membership), many have realized what God observed in the first man: “It is not good that the man should be alone”(Genesis 2:18). For Adam, the need for human fellowship was met when the LORD created “an help meet.”

We are beings that need, and seek fellowship. We were born with a longing for purpose, and a need for fellowship that only God could meet. We also have a need for human fellowship, and an urgency to “consider [be concerned about] one another to provoke [and promote] unto love and to good works” (Hebrews 10:24). Of course, a ministry of love, and good works can only be fulfilled if it is our practice to come, and “not [forsake] the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25).

“The Work, and Character of the Minister”

Our study of Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy, continues as we turn our focus to 2 Timothy 2:14-26. Written during his second imprisonment, and knowing his martyrdom was imminent, Paul’s letter evidences the urgency of a man who longed to challenge, prepare and equip those ministers who would follow him. Having challenged Timothy to the disciplines of a teacher, soldier, athlete, and farmer (2:2-5), Paul then defined the work and character of a faithful pastor in three metaphors (2:14-26).03 – Three Metaphors for the Work of the Minister – 2 Timothy 2.7-21 – student blank

Mother’s Day and Memorial Day

Mother’s Day, May 9, is a special day for our church, and a Mother’s Day Breakfast has been a tradition for decades. Mrs. Jan Bailie is this year’s speaker, and all ladies, and daughters, are invited to breakfast for the Sunday School hour (9:00am-10:10am). A combined class for men and sons will meet in Cox Hall next Sunday.

Hillsdale’s annual Memorial Day Weekend Picnic, will follow the morning service, May 30. The picnic will be held on the grounds of our Bellamy Road parsonage, and you are invited to bring a change of clothes for outdoor activities, lawn chairs, and blankets. Hillsdale will furnish hot dogs, hamburgers, and other amenities for lunch.

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith
Senior Pastor
www.HeartofAShepherd.com
https://tv.gab.com/channel/HeartofAShepherd1
https://mewe.com/p/heartofashepherdinc

The Hand of the LORD Was Against Israel (Deuteronomy 2)

Scripture reading – Deuteronomy 2

Moses’ speech to Israel, and his recall of that nation’s wilderness wanderings continued in Deuteronomy 2. Thirty-eight years had passed since Israel turned back from the Promised Land, until the LORD spoke to Moses, and said, “3Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward” (2:3).

Israel was warned that there were nations whose people they were not to distress, because they had some kinship with them.

The Edomites (2:4-7) were descendants of Esau, who was the brother of Jacob (later named Israel), and the son of Isaac. The LORD commanded Israel, “meddle not with them [Edom]; for I will not give you of their land…I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession” (2:5). The LORD had blessed the children of Israel, they had “lacked nothing” (2:7); therefore they were not to spoil Edom, but “buy meat…[and] buy water of them for money” (2:6).

The Moabites were not to be distressed by Israel, for they were of Lot’s lineage (2:8b-12). Likewise, the Ammonites were not to be distressed by Israel, for they were of Lot’s lineage, and the LORD had given them their land (2:19-23).

The Amorites, whose king was Sihon, were to be destroyed. When Moses offered peace, for safe passage, and requested that Israel be sold “meat…[and] water for money” they were denied (2:24-36). The LORD determined to providentially use the king Sihon’s refusal, and He “hardened [Sihon’s] spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver” his land to Israel (2:30-31).

Closing thought: In the midst of his discourse to Israel, and his review of the events that had brought the nation to the threshold of Canaan, Moses reminded the people how their forefathers had refused to have faith, and cross over into the Promised Land as the LORD had commanded. “Thirty and eight years [had past] until all the generation of the men of war” had perished (2:14).

It is a dreadful thing when “the hand of the Lord [is] against” a nation, a people, and a man (2:15).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Only a Nation of Fools Eradicates Its History (Numbers 36; Deuteronomy 1)

Scripture reading – Numbers 36; Deuteronomy 1

Numbers 36 – Women’s Rights, and a Question of Inheritance

The Book of Numbers ended on an interesting note, as a concern regarding inheritance was raised once again. We considered in an earlier devotional the matter of a man’s inheritance, should he die without a son as heir (Numbers 27:7-11). A Hebrew man named Zelophehad had died without a son, and his five daughters had petitioned that they were their father’s heirs, and rightful heirs of his possession in the Promised Land (27:4-5). The LORD had directed Moses that Zelophehad’s daughters would be given their father’s inheritance (27:6-11).

Because the lands were assigned by tribes, and families, there was concern for what would become of tribal lands should a man’s heirs be his daughters (Numbers 36:1-4), and marry outside their tribe. It was contended that the lands would be lost to a tribe, should the daughters marry outside their tribe. The quandary was resolved, by the daughters being required to take a husband from their father’s tribe (36:5-9), thereby keeping the land within the tribe.

Numbers 36 concludes with the “daughters of Zelophehad,” submitting to the LORD’s will, and marrying men within their tribe. Thus, the land was secured for future generations of their tribal family (36:10-13).

An Introduction to the Book of Deuteronomy

Our chronological study of the Scriptures brings us to the Book of Deuteronomy, the fifth book, of the first five books of the Bible known as the Pentateuch. Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers chronicled Israel’s journey in the wilderness, and gave us a record of God’s Law and Commandments.

The Book of Deuteronomy begins at the conclusion of Israel’s wilderness wanderings, with that nation encamped at the threshold of the Promised Land. With the exception of Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, the generation that had departed Egypt, and were twenty years old and older at that time, was dead.

Deuteronomy 1 – The Final Words and Exhortation of Moses to Israel

Deuteronomy records the final words, and exhortations of a man that had shepherded Israel forty years.  We read: “And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them” (1:3).

It was important for Moses to rehearse with that generation who they were, from whence they came, and God’s plan for the nation. Moses challenged the people, “8Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them” (Deuteronomy 1:8).

Much as a man might research his ancestral family tree to know the history of his lineage, Moses sought to pass to the new generation a knowledge of not only their physical ancestry, but more importantly, their spiritualheritage as God’s chosen people.

The balance of the first chapter of Deuteronomy served as a recap of Israel’s forty years in the wilderness, and the previous generation’s refusal to trust the LORD. For any who might question why the generation before them had perished in the wilderness, Moses reminded them as a nation:

Deuteronomy 1:32–3832Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God,
33Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.
34And the Lord heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying,
35Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers,
36Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord.
37Also the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither.
38But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.

History is important, and only a doomed society dare deny its history, and fail to learn from its past. Eradicating the history, and symbols of a nation might pacify a few, but it will invariably destine its people to repeat its failures.

In the words of the British statesman, Winston Churchill: “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Shedding the Blood of An Innocent Life, Defiles the Land, and Demands God’s Judgment (Numbers 34-35)

Scripture reading – Numbers 34-35

Numbers 34 records the boundaries of the land the LORD had promised Abraham, and his seed as their inheritance (Genesis 15:18-21; 26:4; 28:13-14). Although the land would not be formally divided by tribe until Joshua 15-19, we are given the southern boundaries (34:3-5), with the western boundary being the “great sea” (the Mediterranean Sea, 34:6). The northern most boundary of Israel was to be Mount Hor (34:7-9), and the eastern boundary was the Jordan River (34:10-13). Per their request, the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had “received their inheritance on [the east] side Jordan [River] near Jericho” (34:14-15).

With the assistance of “Eleazar the priest, and Joshua the son of Nun” (34:17), the LORD chose a man from each of the tribes, to represent his tribe when the land would be divided (34:18-29).

Numbers 35 – The Inheritance of the Tribe of Levi, and the Laws Governing Murder

Unlike the other tribes, the priestly tribe of Levi was not assigned a portion of the land. Their inheritance would be forty-eight cities, and suburbs that would be allotted to the Levites. These cities and suburbs were to be located in the midst of the lands apportioned to the Twelve Tribes, both on the east and west sides of the Jordan River (35:1-5,7).

Of the forty-eight Levite cities, six were to be designated “cities for refuge,” to which men would flee in the event they had taken the life of another (35:6-8). Three cities of refuge were to be located on the east side of the Jordan, and three on the west side (35:9-14).

The cities of refuge offered haven to a man killer (“man slayer”), until he was tried by the congregation, and a determination was made whether or not he was guilty of murder (35:15-29). The cities of refuge could not serve as a safe haven for a man guilty of murder.

Taking the life of another was a violation of the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13), and the judgment of God was: “The murderer shall surely be put to death” (35:16). A blood kinsman had the right to avenge the death of his loved one, and to him fell the responsibility of slaying the murderer (35:17-21).

Should a man slay another “unawares,” an unintentional, accidental killing, he could seek sanctuary in a city of refuge, and so long as he stayed within the city, he was safe. Should a man guilty of manslaughter depart from the protection of his city of refuge, a blood kinsman could avenge the death of his loved one (35:25-28). Only the death of the high priest would release a manslaughterer from the borders of the city of refuge (35:28).

In cases of capital punishment, it was required that more than one witness would give testimony before a man could be convicted of murder, and killed (35:30). Ransom or bribes that were intended to spare the life of a murderer were forbidden (35:31-32).

Numbers 35 closes with a dire, sober warning:

Numbers 35:33–3433So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. 34Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the Lord dwell among the children of Israel.

Take a moment, and weigh the seriousness of taking the life of another. When there is no justice for the slain, and the murderer goes unpunished, the innocent blood “defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood” (35:33b). The only means of cleansing a land of innocent blood, and a nation of its guilt, was by exacting justice, and taking the life of the murderer.

When justice for the innocent fails, a nation is cursed, and its people live under the shadow of God’s judgment.

What hope is there for a people, and nation that is guilty of injustice, and the slaying of the innocent, and unborn?

2 Chronicles 7:1414If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Obey the LORD, and He Will Bless You (Numbers 33)

Scripture reading – Numbers 33

It is fitting that Numbers 33 begins with a look back at the providences of the LORD, and His compassion on the children of Israel during their forty years in the wilderness. Admittedly, the names of the places where Israel encamped seems belaboring; however, each place reminds me that God is sovereign, and He orders the stops and the starts of His people.

He had been with His chosen people from their exodus out of Egypt (33:3-7), and passage through the midst of the Red Sea (33:8), to their return to “the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho” (33:50). The LORD had miraculously provided water and food along the way, and proved He was a compassionate, and loving God (33:9-37).

Nearing their journey’s end, we are suddenly, and unceremoniously reminded: “Aaron the priest went up into mount Hor at the commandment of the LORD, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt…[he] was an hundred and twenty and three years old when he died in mount Hor” (33:38).

Aaron’s death serves as a reminder that a whole generation had perished because they refused to trust the LORD, and enter into the land. With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, all who left Egypt, twenty years and older, had died short of their destination.

Now, the LORD had promised His people a fertile and fruitful land; however, it was inhabited by the Canaanites. To take possession of their inheritance, Israel would have to drive the inhabitants out of the land (33:52a). Israel was commanded to destroy all the ways of the Canaanites, including their idols, and the high places where they worshipped (33:52-53).

The land was to be divided by casting lots, and each family would receive their inheritance by the size of their families (33:54).

Numbers 33 closes with a warning: Should Israel not drive the Canaanites out of the land, they would become “pricks in [their] eyes, and thorns in [their] sides, and [the Canaanites would vex them] in the land wherein ye dwell” (33:55).

The LORD warned: If Israel failed to fulfill His command, and drive the Canaanites out of the land, He would do to them what He would have done to their enemies (33:56).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Safe, and Satisfied is a Dangerous Place to Live (Numbers 31-32)

Scripture reading – Numbers 31-32

We are closing in the final chapters of the Book of Numbers, and though our study has been historical in context, it is foundational to a broader, and deeper understanding of the Scriptures! Don’t get weary, for the journey is worth it, and enriching.

Numbers 31 – A War of Revenge Against the Midianites

The LORD spoke to Moses, and as one of his last acts as Israel’s leader (31:1-2), he was commanded to raise up an army of twelve thousand men, to war against Midian (31:1-4). Strategically, it was important for Israel to eliminate all nations on the east side of Jordan that might threaten their campaign in Canaan. The LORD had determined to avenge Israel against Midian, because the kings of Midian had employed Balaam, the seer to curse Israel, and their women had enticed the men of Israel to sin (Numbers 25:6).

Thus, the LORD ordered Moses to wage war against the Midianites (31:1-10, 16). The LORD gave Israel’s army of twelve thousand a glorious victory, and not one soldier was lost in the battle (31:49b). Israel slew all the men of Midian, including five kings, and Balaam, whom “they slew with the sword” (31:8).

The spoils of war were the women and children of Midian, their cattle, flocks of sheep, and possessions (31:9). Israel burnt all the cities, and fortresses to the ground (31:10-11). Returning from battle, the soldiers were met outside the camp by Moses, Eleazar the priest, and the chief leaders of the tribes (31:12-13). Moses, seeing the women of Midian in the midst of the spoils, was furious, for he remembered they had wreaked havoc by luring the men of Israel (31:14-16). With the exception of virgins, Moses ordered all the women of Midian be slain, and “every male among the little ones” (31:17-18). Before they were reunited with their families, the soldiers were commanded to remain outside the camp for seven days, purify themselves, their clothes, and all their goods (31:19-24).

The balance of Numbers 31 addresses the large sum of people, livestock, and goods that had been taken in the victory over Midian (31:25-35), and the distribution of the spoils of the war with Midian. A half-portion of the spoils was awarded to the soldiers (31:36-40), the other half was divided up among the congregation (31:42-47), and the tribute or tithe was then given to the priests (31:41, 48-54).

Numbers 32 – The Division of the Land on the East Side of the Jordan River

Two and a half tribes of Israel, Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, petitioned Moses to assign them land on the east side of the Jordan, reasoning the land was fertile, and could support their livestock (32:1-5). Moses’ first reaction to the request was swift, for he feared those tribes were deserting the nation, and shirking their obligation to assist in conquering the Promised Land (32:6-15).

Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh responded to Moses’ concerns, and assured him they were ready to go to war. They desired, after Canaan would be conquered, to return to the grassy fields on the east side of the Jordan (32:16-42).

The compromise reached between Moses, and the tribes appeared to be, “all’s well that ends well.” Such, however, would not be the case. While the leaders of those tribes kept their vows, and fought beside their brethren in Canaan; their decision to build their homes, and raise their children short of Canaan proved disastrous.

Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh were not only geographically distant from the other tribes, but they also became spiritually distant from the LORD in the generations that followed.  We will later read of those tribes: They transgressed against the God of their fathers, and went a whoring after the gods of the people of the land” (1 Chronicles 5:25).

Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh were convinced the land “just short” of the Promised Land was good enough. That decision, however, would become a great sorrow for their children. Those tribes were the first to turn from the LORD, and were taken captive by Assyria (1 Chronicles 5:26).

Lesson – No half-way, half-hearted service for the LORD will ever be acceptable!

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Men, the Axe of God’s Judgment Hovers Over Your Head (Numbers 29-30)

Scripture reading – Numbers 29-30

We began a study of instructions regarding the Offerings in Numbers 28, and continue with the same through Numbers 29. Having considered the same sacrifices, and feasts in earlier devotionals (Leviticus 16 and Leviticus 23), I will limit my study of Numbers 29 to a summary of the offerings and feast days.

Numbers 29 – The Law of the Offerings (continued)

The “Feast of Trumpets” marked the beginning of a new year on the Hebrew calendar (29:1-6), and was followed by the holiest of days, the “Day of Atonement” (29:7-11).  Also known as “Yom Kippur,” the Day of Atonement was the only day the high priest entered the holy of holies with the blood of sacrifice (Leviticus 16). Of course, believers no longer need a high priest or the blood of a sacrifice, for Jesus Christ fulfilled the requirement of the sacrificial Passover, or paschal lamb, by His death on the cross (1 Peter 1:19; Hebrews 7:22-28; 9:11-28; 10:19-22).

The “Feast of Tabernacles” (29:12-34), also known as Sukkot, followed the “Day of Atonement,” and was observed by Israel as a celebration of the harvest. Lasting seven days, the Feast of Tabernacles began with a Sabbath rest (29:12), and ended with a Sabbath of Rest (29:35-38). The sacrifices were presented to the LORD for all the congregation of Israel (29:39-40).

Numbers 30 – The Making, and Breaking of Vows

In my lifetime, I have witnessed the character of our culture move from a time when a man’s word, and a handshake were binding, to today when contracts are breached, even by believers, without as much as an apology.

It may surprise you to learn the LORD’S judgment in the matter of promises and vows (Leviticus 27). King Solomon warned, “4When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. 5Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay” (Ecclesiastes 5:4–5)

Vows and covenants were not to be treated lightly, and once a man made a vow, it was binding. There was no exception for men; however, God benevolently allowed for an exception in the matter of daughters, and wives who might have made hasty, ill-advised vows (30:3-8, 10-15).

Spiritual lesson – Fathers and husbands are accountable, and responsible for the protection, and care of the women in their lives.

Sadly, that reality has all but been lost in the 21st century. Consider the matter of vows, pledges, and contracts, and notice God’s compassionate care of the woman (Numbers 30:3-16).

An Unmarried Daughter’s Vow (30:3-5)

A daughter, living in her father’s household, was by law under his protection (30:3-5). Should a daughter bind herself with a vow, and her father learn, and say nothing, she could not be released from her vow (30:4). Should a daughter vow, and the father hear of it, he had authority to recant her vow, and her vow would not be binding (30:5).

A Young Wife’s Vow (30:6-8)

When a woman married, she was no longer under her father, but her husband’s authority. Should she make a vow, and her husband hear of it and say nothing, a wife was bound by her vow (30:6-7). A husband, hearing of a wife’s vow, had authority to cancel her oath, and “the LORD [would] forgive her” (30:8).

The Vow of a Widowed or Divorced Woman (30:9)

Women who were widowed, or divorced, were not under the authority of any man. They were bound by their vows to the LORD, and could not recant them (30:9). They were under obligation to fulfill their pledges.

A Wife’s Vows (30:10-15)

The law concerning the vows of a wife, serve as a reminder that a wife is not only under her husband’s authority, but she is also under his protection. A husband had authority to intervene, and terminate the vow of his wife, or allow it to stand (30:10-16). Once he learned of her vow, he carried the weight of determining whether or not he would intervene. Should the husband cause the wife to break her vow unadvisedly, he would do so bearing the weight of “her iniquity,” and therefore her judgment (30:15).

Summary lesson: A man is bound, and accountable to God for the care of his daughter(s) as long as they are in his household. When making decisions in life, a daughter, and wife should take comfort in this: The weight of the axe of God’s judgment is over the neck of their father, or husband.

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Sacrificial Offerings and Feast Days to the LORD (Numbers 28)

Scripture Reading – Numbers 28

Today’s Scripture reading is the first of two chapters that reviews the Law of Offerings (Numbers 29 being the other chapter). Given the Scriptural context, a review of sacrifices seems out of place; after all, with the census of the tribes complete (not only numbering the men of war, but serving as the basis for assigning the tribal lands), one would think it is time to go to war! Instead, lest the people forget to honor the LORD with offerings, a review of the sacrifices begins, and the people are reminded they are commanded by the LORD.

The four types of sacrificial offerings are prescribed in Numbers 28.

The first is the daily offerings, also known as the burnt offering (28:1-8). The daily offerings consisted of two lambs that were to be “of the first year without spot” (28:3). The first lamb was to be offered and sacrificed in the morning, and the second was offered in the evening (28:4). The lamb offered in the evening was accompanied by a drink offering of the best wine (described as “strong wine”), and flour or grain (defined as a meat, or meal offering, 28:4-6). The morning and evening offerings were sacrifices offered by the priests on behalf of the nation, and were a daily reminder of Israel’s dependence of God’s grace.

Sabbath day offerings, described in Numbers 28:9-10, were weekly offerings, in addition to the daily offerings. They were observed by Israel on the Sabbath, and were a reflection on the Creator resting on the seventh day.

There was also the New Moon Offering (28:11-15), and it was observed “in the beginnings of your months” (28:11), and was a “burnt offering unto the Lord; [and consisted of] two young bullocks, and one ram, seven lambs of the first year without spot” (28:11). The New Moon Offering sanctified the month that was ahead, and was a reminder that the LORD is both the Creator and Sustainer of His creation.

Israel was to observe several festivals, referred to as the Feasts of the LORD (28:16-29:40). The Passover was observed on “the fourteenth day of the first month” (28:16). The week following the Passover meal was identified as the Feast of Unleavened Bread (28:17-25). Lasting for seven days, in addition to the daily offerings, the days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread required an additional sabbath of rest (28:18), and the same sacrifices as the New Moon Offering on each of the seven days (28:19-22).

Pentecost, identified as the fiftieth day after the Passover, was known as the Feast of Weeks, or the Harvest Feast (28:26-31), and was the day the “firstfruits” were offered to the LORD (the first-fruits were the first to ripen). Burnt offerings also accompanied the “firstfruits” (28:27-31).

A closing thought: The sacrifices required, and the number of sacrifices commanded by the LORD, may surprise young believers, and those unfamiliar with the Old Testament Scriptures. All the sacrifices served as a constant reminder to Israel of that nation’s dependence on God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

We who have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior, are not required to offer those types of sacrifices, because they were all types of the ultimate, and final sacrifice – Jesus Christ. Instead, we are to offer sacrifices of prayer, and praise to the LORD, and our “bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Romans 12:1).

Hebrews 7:27 – “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he [Jesus Christ] did once, when he offered up himself.”

1 Peter 3:18, 20 – “18For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.”

Knowing the “wages of sin is death,” we who trust Christ as Savior, have the promise of eternal life, for “the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our LORD” (Romans 6:23).

Is He your Savior?

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith

Women’s Rights, and the Changing of the Guard (Numbers 26-27)

Scripture Reading – Numbers 26-27

The gross adultery, and idolatry recorded in Numbers 25 had provoked God to send a plague in Israel that occasioned the deaths of twenty-four thousand people (25:9). With the plague past, the LORD commanded Moses to take a final census before crossing over the Jordan River, “from twenty years old and upward, throughout their fathers’ house, all that are able to go to war in Israel” (26:2).

Numbers 26 – The Final Census, Before the Promised Land

A census of the Twelve Tribes of Israel had first been taken in Numbers 1-4. A comparison of that census, with this later one reveals a slight decrease in the Twelve Tribes overall (the first totaling 603,500 men, and the second 601,730 men, who were twenty years or older). Some tribes had experienced a decline (Simeon declining from 59,300 men, to 22,200 men, twenty years and older). Other tribes had experienced a large growth in population (the men of the tribe of Manasseh had increased from 32,200, to 52,700 men, twenty years and older). The names and the numbering of the Twelve Tribes is recorded in Numbers 26:5-50.

The census was important, for it became the basis for assigning each tribe their own territory in the Promised Land (26:52-56). The Tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe chosen by the LORD to serve Him, did not receive an inheritance of land in Canaan (26:62).

Numbers 26 concludes with a sobering reminder of God’s judgment upon Israel (26:64). The prior generation of people who had come out of Egypt, but refused to trust the LORD and obey Him, had all perished in the wilderness, save two men: “65For the Lord had said of them, They shall surely die in the wilderness. And there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun” (26:65).

Numbers 27 – Women’s Rights, and the Changing of the Guard

The Scriptures prove the LORD’s judgments are just in the matter of women’s rights. Numbers 27:1-11 is a wonderful case study regarding the rights of women, and reveals the inequitable laws women protest are not God’s way, but men’s! If men would follow the ethics of the Scriptures, they would realize the ways of the LORD are wise, benevolent, and compassionate.

Five daughters, of one man of the tribe of Manasseh, came to Moses, and Eleazar the high priest (27:1-2). Their father had died, with no son, and leaving no male heir. The daughters were permitted to plead their case regarding their late father’s right-of-inheritance in the Promised Land (27:1-4). According to the law, a man’s inheritance was to pass to his son; however, without a son, what was to become of a man’s possessions?

The daughters reasoned, “4Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son?” (27:4) Arguing they, and their father had been slighted, the women petitioned, “Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father” (27:4).

Rather than make a hasty, ill-advised decision, or trust men’s opinions, Moses withdrew, and “brought [the] cause [of the daughters] before the LORD” (27:5). The LORD, affirmed the sisters assertion (27:6), and answered Moses: “Thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter” (27:7). Ensuring a family’s possessions would remain within the tribe, should a man die and have neither a son or daughter, his inheritance would pass to his next of kin (27:9-11).

Numbers 27:12-23 – End of an Era

The LORD commanded Moses, “Get thee up into this mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. 13  And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered” (27:12-13).

Moses was reminded that he would not enter the Land of Promise (27:14; 20:7-13), and accepted the consequence of his sin with grace. Like a true shepherd leader, Moses requested the LORD “set a man over the congregation” (27:16). Moses desired to ensure his successor would be a man of God’s choosing, and a man with a shepherd’s heart (27:17).

God chose “Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit [of God]” (27:18).  Leaving no uncertainty that Joshua was God’s choice (27:18), the LORD directed Moses to confirm him before “all the congregation” (27:19-20). Moses obeyed the LORD, and took Joshua, and “laid his hands upon him, and gave him a charge, as the LORD commanded” (27:23).

A closing thought: Although he was one of the greatest men to ever live, Moses did inevitably go the way of all flesh, and was “gathered unto [his] people, as Aaron [his] brother was gathered” (27:13).  Miriam was dead; Aaron was dead; and because he had sinned before all the people, Moses would die, without crossing into the Promised Land (27:14).

The author of Hebrews writes, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). “So teach us to number our days, That we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

Copyright 2021 – Travis D. Smith