Tag Archives: Separation

The Whole Duty of Man (Deuteronomy 8-10)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 8-10

Remembering Israel is at the entrance to the Promised Land, and knowing he will not accompany them when they invade, one senses an urgency in Moses’ challenge to the people.

It was important for those who stood before Moses to remember how the LORD had sustained them as a nation. Remember His commandments and providential care. Remember He had preserved them, even down to their raiment and sandals (8:4). Remember, as a father chastens the son he loves, the LORD had chastened and tried them (8:5) that they might fear and revere Him as their God (8:6).

Knowing the land was all the Lord promised (8:7-9); Moses warned that some would forget the LORD and boast in their hearts, “My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth” (8:14-17).

Is that not like you and me? When we are in trouble, facing trials and have needs, we earnestly call out to the LORD. However, when we have no needs and there is no crisis, we are tempted to be proud and self-sufficient.

Moses reminded the people the land the LORD promised to give them was occupied by nations “greater and mightier” (9:1-2) than Israel.  The LORD promised to give Israel victory, not because they were more righteous or powerful than their enemies, but because the LORD was with them (9:3-5).

Moses reviewed several historical examples of how difficult and proud the people had been during their forty-year journey in the wilderness. He rehearsed how their wickedness had provoked him to wrath and he had cast the LORD’s Commandments to the ground (9:17). When the LORD threatened to destroy the nation in his wrath, Moses had interceded and God answered His prayer and spared the nation (9:7-29).

Deuteronomy 10 continues Moses’ account of the LORD’S mercy and Him renewing His covenant and inscribing His Commandments on stone a second time (10:1-5). Moses challenged the people to obey the LORD with five imperatives:

Deuteronomy 10:12-13 – “And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fearthe LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13  To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?”

Who is the God of Israel (10:14-22)?

He is the Creator (10:14).  He is “God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible [i.e. to be feared]”.  He is Just (10:15-18).

The LORD could have chosen any nation; however, He chose Abraham and his lineage.  He chose Israel, not because they were greater (for the LORD “regardeth not persons”), but in an act of grace He chose to “love them” (10:15, 17).

What was Israel’s duty in light of God’s grace and love? (10:20)

Solomon summed up a believer’s duty in this:

Ecclesiastes 12:13 – “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Charge to Joshua and a Challenge to Israel (Deuteronomy 3-4)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 3-4

Moses rehearsed with Israel the LORD’S faithfulness in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 2-3:17).  He reminded Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh (the tribes that had chosen the land on the east side of the Jordan) of their covenant with the nation to go to war with their brethren (3:18-20).

Yearning for the LORD to grant him a reprieve, Moses prayed he might be permitted an opportunity to enter the Promised Land (3:23-25). The LORD, however, denied Moses his request and commanded him to “speak no more” of it (3:26).  True to God’s nature, in an act of grace Moses was promised an opportunity to see the land (3:27).  Sin had cut short Moses’ leadership and the consequences were a lesson for all Israel to heed (4:21-22).

Joshua, Moses’ successor, must now take up his mantle and lead Israel into the Promised Land. As a final act of leadership before he is taken, the LORD commanded Moses to “charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see” (3:28).

Accepting the LORD’s prohibition on entering the Promised Land, Moses challenged the people to hear and obey the statutes and judgments of the LORD (4:1).  Unlike any other nation, Israel was chosen by the LORD and were custodians of His Laws and Commandments (4:2-20).

All that the LORD had promised, He wished to fulfill; however, the covenant He had established was conditioned on the nation’s heeding and keeping the vows they had made.

Lest the people be disheartened, Moses acknowledged he would not accompany them into their inheritance for, “I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan” (4:21-22).

Who is Israel’s God? 

He is a “consuming fire, even a jealous God” (4:24). He is merciful, longsuffering, and forgiving (4:29-31). He is man’s Creator and the God of heaven (4:32).  He is God alone, and “there is none else beside Him” (4:35).  He is Sovereign of heaven and earth (4:39). He is just and ready to pour out His blessings on those who obey His law and commandments (4:40).

Moses was aware his days on the earth were ending and he would soon perish. Choosing not to wallow in self-pity, he challenged and encouraged the people to remember the LORD’s providences and claim His promises.

Words and example matter, and some of the most powerful words you will ever speak are parting words.

May your words be Truth and seasoned with grace.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

A Memorial to the LORD’S Faithfulness (Deuteronomy 1-2)

Daily reading assignment – Deuteronomy 1-2

Our chronological journey through the Bible continues today with the book of Deuteronomy, the fifth of the first five books of the Bible known as the Pentateuch.

While Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers chronicled Israel’s journey through the wilderness, the book of Deuteronomy begins at the journey’s end and the threshold to the Promised Land.  With the exception of three men, Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, the generation from twenty years and above that departed Egypt has perished along the way.

Deuteronomy is a record of Moses’ final instructions and exhortations to a people he had shepherded for forty years.  We read:

Deuteronomy 1:3 – “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.”

It was important for Moses to rehearse with that generation who they were, from whence they came, and God’s plan for their future as a nation (1:8).  Moses realized his days were numbered, and he wanted the people to know not only their physical lineage, but more importantly, their spiritualheritage as God’s chosen people.

The men and women who were 19 years old and younger when Israel exited Egypt were now in their late fifties, and Moses feared their children and grandchildren might be tempted to turn back from the challenges of the new land. Many were too young to know the hardships of Egypt or remember when the people rebelled against the LORD.

Concerned the youth lacked an understanding of what faithlessness had cost their parents and grandparents, the aged and wise leader rehearsed the tragic consequences of their disobedience.  Moses made certain they understood the challenges they would soon face.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The Coronavirus of Ecumenical Compromise: Are You Infected?

Proverbs 22:28“Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.”

Twentieth century philosopher George Santayana observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  I fear that truth has befallen many churches, Bible colleges, and institutions in recent years.

Beloved leader and mentor of BJU “Preacher Boys”

I am old enough to remember the reminisces and exhortations of Dr. Gilbert Stenholm, Dr. Richard Rupp, and Dr. Bob Jones Jr.  Those men and many others of their generation (Drs. Bob Jones Sr., Monroe Parker, Wayne Van Gelderen, Sr., Ed Nelson…) had fought ecumenical battles against progressives of their day and warned Bob Jones University “Preacher Boys Classes” in the 1970’s that the day would come when faithful Bible-believing pastors of my generation would have to take our stand.

I have never forgotten the passion of those men when they warned us that a failure to identify men who denied the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith and separate from those who fellowshipped with them would inevitably prove disastrous to our ministries (Romans 16:17).

In those days an oft-cited example of the tragedy of compromise was Evangelist Dr. Billy Graham who practiced, if not spearheaded, evangelical pragmatism by openly embracing various stripes of “Christianity,” including Roman Catholicism and Russian Orthodoxy. Graham’s compromises and the effects of pursuing a lifetime of theological inclusivism were undeniable when he stated in an interview with his friend Robert Schuller,

“I think that everybody that loves or knows Christ, whether they are conscious of it or not, they are members of the body of Christ … [God] is calling people out of the world for his name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world or the non-believing world, they are members of the Body of Christ because they have been called by God. They may not know the name of Jesus but they know in their hearts that they need something they do not have, and they turn to the only light they have, and I think that they are saved and they are going to be with us in heaven.” (Cited in Iain MurrayEvangelicalism Divided (2000), pp. 73–74)

A half-century has passed since those men waged war for the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.  Although in the latter years of their ministries when I sat under them, their passion had not abated. They were determined to pass on to the next generation not only a knowledge of the past, but a warning against compromise and cooperation with evangelicals.

I graduated Bob Jones University knowing collaboration with those who reject the fundamentals of the Christian faith or trifle with the doctrine of sanctification and personal holiness would eventually introduce a cancer that would destroy ministries, churches, Bible colleges, and mission boards.

Sadly, I have lived to witness the failures of venerable Bible-preaching churches, closures of Bible colleges, and compromises of Christian institutions led by men either ignorant of the lessons of the past or dismissive of the spiritual heritage of the fundamental institutions.

The result of leadership that either lacks spiritual discernment or is contemptuous of the past is the same: those fundamental Bible institutions either close their doors or become a shadow of what they were in their golden years.

Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., Evangelist and founder of Bob Jones University.

Whether in word or practice, when spiritual leaders compromise, distance themselves from, or deny the spiritual legacy of the institutions they lead, they inevitably forget God’s providences past, and, in the words of Dr. Bob Jones, Sr.,

“Sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate.”

With the heart of a shepherd,

Travis D. Smith

Senior Pastor

www.HeartofAShepherd.com

* The majority of readers who follow “Heart of A Shepherd” do so for the daily devotionals. It is my joy to have hundreds across the globe who are part of my faith journey. In addition to devotionals, I periodically post articles that I pray will move my peers “on the frontlines” of fundamental Bible ministries to sincerely evaluate their course and convictions. Today’s article is such an appeal.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

The LORD: His Sovereignty and Providential Care (Numbers 33-34)

Daily reading assignment – Numbers 33-34

The sovereignty of the LORD, His providential care, and compassion for the Twelve Tribes of Israel are rehearsed as we come to Numbers 33.

From Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt (33:3-7), her exodus through the midst of the Red Sea (33:8), her stops and starts along the way (33:5-37), and the LORD’S miraculous provision during the nation’s forty-year journey in the wilderness… we marvel at what God hath wrought! Suddenly and unceremoniously we read:

Numbers 33:38-39 – And 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, in the first day of the fifth month. 39  And Aaron was an hundred and twenty and three years old when he died in mount Hor.

Aaron’s death at the threshold of the Promised Land (33:38-39) and the dawning of a new era remind us a whole generation has perished since Israel’s exodus. This was a generation who stubbornly refused to trust and obey the LORD.  With the exception of Joshua and Caleb, all are dead.

Numbers 33:40-49 records the nation’s journey to the encampment where the nation will soon cross over into Canaan, the Promised Land.

The land is everything the LORD had promised: a fertile and fruitful country. However, it was a land inhabited by Canaanites, an idolatrous, heathen people whom Israel would need to drive out in order to possess it (33:40, 50-54). The LORD commanded Moses to tell “the sons of Israel” (33:51-52) to destroy all the ways of the Canaanites, their idols and the high places where they worshipped.

Israel was to be intolerant of the Canaanites. Should they fail to destroy the heathen, God’s people were warned the Canaanites would become “pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell” (33:55, 33:56). Sadly, Israel would fail, and the nation would suffer perpetual sorrows as a result (Joshua 15:63; 16:10; 17:11-13; Judges 1:21-35).

The Borders Determined, the Land Divided (Numbers 34)

Numbers 34 records the borderlines of the land the LORD promised His people: the southern boundary (34:3-5), the western boundary (34:6), the northernmost boundary (34:7-9) and the eastern boundary (34:10-12).

Nine tribes and the half tribe of Manasseh would be assigned their portion on the west side of the Jordan River (34:13b; Joshua 14-19).  Per their prior request, the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh had already determined their inheritance east of the Jordan River (33:14-15).

Lest there arise jealousy and discord among the tribes, the LORD determined to divide the land by lot (34:13) with Joshua presiding and Eleazar acting as the LORD’S priest (34:16-17).  A leader of each tribe, described as a “prince,” represented their tribal families as the land was divided (34:18-29).

In case you might be tempted to conclude the casting of lots (34:13) to determine land assignments was left to fate, the presence of Eleazar the high priest implied the LORD, not man, was sovereign in the portions of land that fell to the tribes and families.

Be encouraged: The same LORD who directed Israel’s portions to fall to her tribes by lot is our God who “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11)!

2 Corinthians 5:7 – “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Stopping Short of God’s Best (Numbers 31-32)

Scripture Reading – Numbers 31-32

Moses: The Final Battle (Numbers 31)

Knowing the men of Israel would soon cross the Jordan River and begin the conquest of the Promised Land, it was important that her enemies on the east side of the Jordan be eliminated as a threat to the people in their absence.  Thus, the LORD ordered Moses to wage war against the Midianites, slaying the men of Midian, their kings and the old nemesis of Israel, the prophet Balaam (31:1-10, 16).

Having gloriously conquered their enemies without the loss of a single man (31:49), the spoils of war were to be divided among those who went to war and those who did not. The Midianite men were all slain (31:7-8); however, their women and children, flocks and herds were spared (31:9-12).

Being reminded it was important for Israel to be holy and consecrated to the Lord, Moses and Eleazar, the high priest, went outside the encampment to meet the soldiers as they returned from the battle with the spoils of war (31:13).  Lest the people be tempted to fall into sexual immorality, Moses ordered the deaths of every adult woman who had “known man by lying with him” (31:13-18).

Those men who had gone to war were commanded to purify themselves seven days before entering the camp (31:19-24).  We are once again reminded that God is just, and a fairhandedness is expressed when the spoils of war are divided.  Those 12,000 men who had warred were rewarded with half of the booty; the other half was divided among those who had not hazarded their lives in battle (31:25-54).

A Crisis of Perspective (Numbers 32)

Two and a half tribes of Israel, Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh, made an unexpected request (32:1-5). Reasoning the land on the east side of Jordan was fertile, and could support their livestock, they entreated for Moses to assign them their portion before crossing the Jordan River.

Moses’ response to their request was swift and direct, fearing those tribes were deserting the nation and would refuse to join the conquest of the land the LORD had promised Israel (32:6-15).

Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh answered Moses’ concern with assurances. They would go to war beside their brethren and then return to the grassy pastures on the east side of the Jordan after the battles in the Promised Land were ended (32:16-42).

Stopping Short of God’s Best, Proved Disastrous (Numbers 32; 1 Chronicles 5:26)

Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh fulfilled their obligation to go to war (Joshua 22:1-4); however, their decision to return to the east side of Jordan made their families vulnerable when enemies made war against Israel.

They were convinced the land shy of the Promised Land was good enough; however, that decision would become a great sorrow for their children.   Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh were the first to turn from the LORD and be taken captive by Assyria (1 Chronicles 5:26).

Lesson – Half-way, half-hearted service for the LORD is unacceptable. 

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Familiarity with Sin Breeds Contempt for God (Numbers 23-25)

Daily reading assignment – Numbers 23-25

Our Scripture reading in the Book of Numbers continues the spiritual joust between Balak, the king of Moab, and Balaam the reluctant prophet (Numbers 23-24).

Arriving in the mountain range overlooking the encampment of Israel, Balaam was met by an anxious king who chided the prophet for not coming at his bidding (22:36-37).  Balak, king of Moab, asked the prophet, “Wherefore camest thou not unto me? Am I not able indeed to promote thee to honour?” (22:37).

Numbers 23 and 24 record a contest between a king who demands Balaam curse Israel and the LORD who was determined to bless His people. Four times Balak demands Balaam curse Israel (22:41; 23:1-2, 7, 13-14, 25, 24:10-11); four times Balaam obeyed the LORD and blessed the nation (23:8-12, 18-24; 24:1-9, 15-25).

Tragedy: Israel Plays the Whore with the World (Numbers 25)

The opening verses of Numbers 25 come as a shock after the three prior chapters where the LORD exhibited His protection and loving care of Israel (Numbers 22-24). We read,

Numbers 25:11  And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.

Shittim was the staging ground for Israel before that nation crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land.  Consider three spiritual lessons on display in Numbers 25.

The first is a tragic lesson concerning the Lure of Sin, in particular, sexual immorality.

Provoking the LORD to wrath, some men in Israel had committed sexual immorality with heathen neighbors (25:1). Having become familiar with the sinful ways of the heathen, some had cast aside all moral restraint. Whoredom, offering sacrifices to idols, eating meat offered to idols, and worshipping Baal, the Canaanite god of fertility represented as a bull, displayed the complete moral degradation of the people (25:1-3).

The apostle Paul warned New Testament believers of the lure of sin, writing: Be not deceived [seduced; led astray]: evil [worthless; wicked; immoral] communications [companions; company] corrupt [defile] good [kind; gracious] manners [morals; character] (1 Corinthians 15:33).

A second lesson is the tragic Consequence of Sin (25:3b-5). 

The sins of the people were so egregious the LORD demanded swift justice (25:3b-4).  Rather than punish the nation, the LORD demanded His judgment fall upon the leaders, described as “the heads of the people.” These men were either party to the wickedness or had knowledge of the sins and failed to address it in the midst.  The leaders were hanged in the sun as a warning to the nation (25:4-5).

A third lesson is the swift justice required when a faithful minister witnesses a man’s contempt for the LORD, His commandments, and the LORD’S congregation (25:6-18).

One sin led to another until one man, a prominent prince of the tribe of Simeon (25:14), openly sinned “in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel” (25:6).

Phinehas, the son of the priest Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the late high priest, rose up and slew the man and the Midianite woman (25:7-8).  Commended by the LORD for his zeal and swift action to stay God’s judgment, Phinehas was promised he and his family would be benefactors of the LORD’s blessings (25:10-13).

Nevertheless, twenty-four thousand “died in the plague” (25:9).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Three Men Went Up, But Only Two Came Down (Numbers 18-20)

Scripture Reading – Numbers 18-20

What difference does it make?

You may be wondering if Old Testament passages that state laws and guidelines for sacrifices have any relevance for New Testament believers.  Unfortunately, there are some preachers who foolishly assert the Old Testament scriptures have no application for the Church.  They could not be further from the Truth!

Christ “offered one sacrifice for sins for ever” (Hebrews 10:12), His death satisfying the penalty of our sins, we no longer observe the laws and guidelines for sacrifices. However, the Old Testament scriptures give us eternal principles that we find reflected in New Testament doctrine.

For example, unlike the other tribes that would be assigned an inheritance in the Promised Land, the tribe of Levi would have no inheritance of land (18:20-21).  The LORD’S will was for His ministers to be wholly dedicated to the LORD. Provision for the priests, Levites, and their families came from the tithes and sacrifices offered to the LORD by the people (Numbers 18:8-19, 23-24).

The laws directing the people to support the high priest, priests, and Levites through their sacrifices is reflected in the New Testament principle that a faithful minister of the Gospel is to honored and rewarded for his labor (1 Timothy 5:17-18).

Numbers 19 gives us ceremonial laws for cleansing should a priest come in contact with a corpse, whether beast or man. Modern science has revealed what ancient Israel may not have known…the ever-present danger of disease and contamination.

The Deaths of Miriam and Aaron (Numbers 20)

Several events are recorded in Numbers 20 that give us pause to consider the ever-present consequence of sin…Death.  Miriam, the sister of Moses dies (20:1) and near the close of the chapter Aaron, Moses’ brother dies (20:28).

Returning to a sin that has been their pattern, the people began to chide Moses and Aaron when there was no water (20:2-5). The LORD mercifully commanded Moses to take up his rod, speak before all the people, and water would come forth from the rock (20:7-8).

Frustrated and angry, Moses disobeyed the LORD and spoke harshly to the people. Striking the rock with his rod, water came gushing forth, supplying water for the people and their beasts (20:9-11).

Moses’ actions met the desires and needs of the people; however, the consequence of his sin was tragic for himself and his brother Aaron. We read, Numbers 20:12 – 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.

Our devotional ends with a dramatic ceremony that took place at Mount Hor. Remembering Aaron would not be allowed to enter the Promised Land (20:23-24), Moses was told to strip his brother of his priestly robes and place them on his son and heir, Eleazar (20:25-26).

Moses, Aaron, and his son Eleazar ascended Mount Hor; however, only Moses and Eleazar “came down from the mount (20:28).

Numbers 20:29 – 29 And when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, they mourned for Aaron thirty days, even all the house of Israel.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

 

“Standing Between the Living and the Dead” (Numbers 16-17)

Scripture Reading – Numbers 16-17

Korah and his followers, convinced they were equals to Moses, challenged his spiritual authority in their lives. 

Moses warned the young men, “Ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi…seek ye the priesthood also?” (Numbers 16:7, 10).

Undaunted by the question, Moses invited Korah and his company of rebels to take up fire in censers and on the next day approach the LORD to see whom He would choose (16:5-7, 16-18).

Indulging the young men, we read, “Korah gathered all the congregation against” Moses and Aaron (16:19a). Why? How did the people come to turn against Moses and follow their youth?

I suggest proud parents and grandparents saw in their young men the beauty and strength of youth. They foolishly listened as those young men dared to accuse Moses of failing the nation (16:13-14). The next day, those young men and their families stood outside the doors of their dwellings, and the “glory of the LORD appeared” (16:19, 27).

The LORD stated His intention to bring judgment upon the whole congregation; however, Moses, standing with the elders of the tribes against the young men, interceded with the LORD to not “be wroth with all the congregation” (16:22).

Seeing the LORD’s glory, the people withdrew from the rebels (16:25-27), and Moses declared a test:

Should the young men die a common, natural death (perhaps in their old age), then the people would know, “the LORD hath not sent me [Moses]” (16:29).  However, should the earth open up and swallow the rebels, the people would know they had provoked the LORD to wrath (16:30).

Displaying the His wrath and affirming the leadership of Moses and Aaron, we read, “the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them up, and their [families]” (16:31-33). As the congregation fled God’s judgment, the LORD sent a fire and “consumed the two hundred and fifty men” who had followed Korah (16:35).

Incredibly, the next day the people, grieving the deaths of their young men, gathered against Moses and Aaron, and accused them of being the cause for their deaths (16:41-42).

Once again, “the glory of the LORD appeared,” and He sent a plague in the congregation that consumed them until Moses interceded and Aaron ran through the midst of the congregation with a censer of burning incense seeking to placate the wrath of God (16:44-49).

In Numbers 17, the LORD determined to leave no doubt the priesthood would descend from Aaron’s lineage and no other, in a simple, but visible sign.  The LORD commanded Moses to instruct the heads of each tribe to bring a wooden rod, a symbol of authority, to the tabernacle with the names of the elders of the tribes inscribed on them (17:2). Aaron’s name was inscribed on the rod for the tribe of Levi (17:3).  A visible testimony of God’s favor was the rod of the man whom God had chosen would blossom (17:5-7).

On the next day, of the thirteen rods that represented the twelve tribes and the tribe of Levi, only the rod of Aaron miraculously budded and “bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds” (17:8-9).  Moses displayed Aaron’s rod to the children of Israel as a sign his lineage alone was chosen to lead the priesthood (17:10-13).

There are many lessons and cautions we might derive from Numbers 16.  One is, while this passage is instructive, it does not suggest the LORD will swiftly judge critics of His ministers.  I have known too many pastors who aspire to pedestals and presume to be above accountability.

The same might be said of some in the church who are all too ready to level veiled criticisms at spiritual leaders and not give them the respect due their office.  If your minister is called by the LORD, examined, confirmed by an ordaining assembly, and chosen by a body of believers whom he faithfully serves…his office and role is to be respected.

Pastors are far from perfect, and some engaged in ministry lack the Biblical qualifications of the pastor\shepherd (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9); however, those ministers who are qualified and faithful should be honored for their sacrifices and endeavors.

As purveyors of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, pastors stand “between the dead and the living” (16:48).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

An Opportunity Lost Might Never Be Reclaimed (Numbers 14-15; Psalm 90)

Scripture Reading – Numbers 14-15; Psalm 90

Caleb had urged the people to “go up…we are well able” (13:30); however, the bad report of the ten spies prevailed (13:31), and the people began to murmur against the LORD, Moses, and Aaron (14:1-2).

A spirit of insurrection broke out among the people, and they accused the LORD of bringing them into the wilderness to die (14:3). As Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before the people, Joshua exhorted them to trust the LORD (14:5-9).  As the people threatened to stone Moses and Aaron, the LORD suddenly appeared in a display of His heavenly glory and majesty (14:10b).

Moses pled for the LORD to spare Israel for His own testimony among the heathen (14:11-16).

Modeling a believer’s prayer of faith, Moses rehearsed the character and divine attributes of the LORD, praying, “The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression…Pardon…the iniquity of this people” (14:18-19; note Psalm 90).

The LORD spared the people from immediate judgment; however, the consequences of their faithlessness would be borne by the people as they were commanded to turn from the Promised Land and go into the wilderness (14:20-23).  Condemned to wander aimlessly in the wilderness for forty years, only two men of that generation older than twenty years of age would enter the land, Caleb and Joshua (14:24-35).

The ten spies who brought the faithless report were immediately slain (14:36-37). The next morning, a remorseful company of Israelites endeavored to enter the Promised Land without the LORD and were slain (14:40-45).

Numbers 15 rehearses the matter of the Law and sacrifices.

Whether one was a native-born Israelite (15:13) or a “stranger” not of Abraham’s lineage (15:14), there was “one law and one manner” when it came to the law and sacrifices (15:13-16).  A distinction is also given differentiating between unintentional sins (“sins of ignorance”) (15:24-29) and intentional sins (15:30-31). An example of the LORD’S justice and the law’s demand is given when one man was guilty of breaking the Sabbath and was stoned (15:32-36).

Psalm 90 is a prayer of intercession and song of praise authored by Moses and is the oldest of the psalms. For the sake of brevity, we will focus on one verse.

Psalm 90:12 – “So teach [help us to know and understand] us to number [make them count] our days [time], that we may apply [give; attain] our hearts [understanding; i.e. thoughts] unto wisdom [discernment; i.e. wise in decisions and choices].”

How different would your life be if you knew the number of your days before you die?

I fear there are many things we allow to consume us that are trivial at best.  The same is true of moments and opportunities we should treasure, but we treat as trivial.  Whether young or old, every day is a gift of God’s loving grace and should be numbered and treasured.

Won’t you set aside pettiness and treasure the life and opportunities God gives you today?  Love the LORD and love your neighbor (Luke 10:27).  Express in your words and actions:

“This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith