Impact on Jesus Week #7
This past week was a journey in going from "What can this possibly have to say to Jesus?" to "Oh my, how can I ever talk about all this in only 7 days? Numbers can literally be mind numbing, dragging through so much detail, but in those details are so many impactful moments that shaped Jesus into the Lamb of God in the form of a Son of Man. I hope you are enjoying this journey as much as me! As I am learning how they impacted Jesus, I am beginning to understand how they were also told in order to impact me! #Impact #Jesus
As I wrapped up reading Leviticus this morning, I was hit with two common sentences throughout the book Moses penned:
"If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey My commands" (26:3)
"But, if you do not listen to Me and carry out these commands...". (26:14)
These two themes are carried throughout the entire writing of the law by God through Moses. The instructions were clear. Obey and I will bless. Disobey and "I will bring upon you sudden terror. . . I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies, those who hate you will rule over you." (26:16-17)
As Jesus pondered these words as he listened to them and meditated on them, can you imagine the deep impact they had on him? As he grew into the understanding of his identity as the Son of God living in the body of a Son of Man, he would hear both of these phrases Moses wrote over and over and he would hear a much deeper word than most others. For those listening to Moses, this was a potential matter of life and death. Obedience would lead to earthly blessings, disobedience would lead to earthly loss and captivity. For Jesus, these were eternal words. His eternal blessing of being with the Father and "dwelling among his people"(26:11-12) were at stake. Then on the flip side of the coin, if he stumbled at any point, his Enemy who hated him would have rule over him for all eternity!
As Jesus soaked in these words, the impact was of eternal consequence. Failure would lead to eternal separation for not only him, but for His Father and all who he came to save. These instructions for Jesus, given for himself so many years before, carried with them an eternal weight. One no man could bear on his own! That is why Jesus would have held dearly to the promises of Gods word and especially those written by Isaiah in chapter 41:8-13
8“But you, Israel, my servant,
Jacob, whom I have chosen,
you descendants of Abraham my friend,
9I took you from the ends of the earth,
from its farthest corners I called you.
I said, ‘You are my servant’;
I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
11“All who rage against you
will surely be ashamed and disgraced;
those who oppose you
will be as nothing and perish.
12Though you search for your enemies,
you will not find them.
Those who wage war against you
will be as nothing at all.
13For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you.
Praise God that Jesus truly grasped the reality of the consequences of any failure to obey and praise the Father for holding Jesus in his mighty right hand, and praise the name of Jesus that he gave himself to fully depend on and trust in the only One who could sustain him.
What a Savior is He!
Okay, so I have one more last thought from Leviticus 27 as I read it this morning. The chapter is about redemption of people, land, animals, and homes. In its entirety it speaks of being able to redeem something that was dedicated to the Lord based on different things. It is a great read.
In verses 9-13 it speaks of a man who has dedicated an animal for an offering to God. It was clear he could not substitute it, "a bad for a good or a good for a bad," it was to remain a holy dedication to the Lord!
However, if the animal was thought to be ceremonially unclean, then it could be presented to the priest to be judged as acceptable or not, and a value was set on it, and whatever value was placed, in order to redeem it the man had to pay its set value plus more. In other words, to redeem it a higher price had to be paid!
What a glorious picture for Jesus as God was sharing in this word picture exactly what He had done with and for His people. God had "chosen" mankind from all of His creation to be set aside to himself, created in his own image! His longing was to be with them, each of them pure and holy an enjoying one another. Yet, Adam, who had been set apart as holy, was now regarded as unclean because of sin and a "good One" must be substituted for the bad in order for "both it and the substitute to become holy." (27:10). God presented to himself, as the Highest Priest, his own creation in mankind to determine if it was acceptable or not, and a price was set, only to redeem us to Himself, a much higher price had to be paid! Jesus was that more valuable price that God sacrificed so that He could forever be with us!
As Jesus pondered these words, as he began to understand his function and role as the "substitute," he would know fully what it was he had been sent for. If the animal mentioned in Leviticus 27 was to be redeemed from death, a high price had to be paid, and he knew if I was to be redeemed from eternal death and separation from my heavenly Daddy, then a substitute of much greater value would have to take my place, and Jesus realized he was our substitute and he willingly accepted the role!
And as He was breathing his final breath, He pondered over these words "the animal must be presented to the priest, who will judge its quality as acceptable or not," and he said to his Father, "into Your hands I commit my spirit" or in other words, "I have done all I have come to do, I have obeyed all Your words, I have fulfilled all the law and the prophets, now I present myself for You to judge and determine whether my life is acceptable or not as the substitute offering in order to redeem and make holy the one who was judged as unworthy! I lay myself before you to judge and trust you to judge me according to Your words."
What a Savior! What Love!
Whew, what a day! Ever had one of those days where you had to choose to "rejoice and be glad in it?" Well, quite honestly that has been one of my days!
I am the first to admit looking for impact moments on Jesus in the opening chapters of Numbers can be somewhat mind boggling. What could he possibly gather or grow from by learning and memorizing how many fighting men were in each tribe or how many males over the age of one month old were in the tribe of The Levites. What would he garner from where each tribe was positioned around the Tabernacle and what difference did their placement really make. Why did it matter which clan of the Levites did which job in the tabernacle. Wouldn't just a Levine do?
Then as I pondered this through my "chose to struggle through it" day, I began to realize that it was not the details of the plan that might have grabbed Jesus, but rather the fact that God had a detailed plan!
I know sometimes I get too wrapped up in figuring out the point of the details (which there is a point for) and completely miss the reality that God has made a very detailed, very structured, specific plan for my life! Jesus would have learned over his years of study to simply trust God, not because of the details of the plan, those details in his life included a lot of suffering and persecution. But rather, he would have learned to trust the TRUTH that his Father had a very detailed plan which would accomplish a very specific purpose!
Many words of encouragement have been sent to me today. Many words to lift my spirit and remind me that my Daddy has a very detailed plan for my life through which He will accomplish a very specific purpose which, like the life of Jesus, and like the detailed instructions about the numbers in Numbers, will bring God a whole lot of Glory!
That is a truth which carries with it a deep impact which for Jesus would have given him the strength to submit to His Father, the courage to follow His Shepherd even through the valley of the shadow of death, and the willingness to lay down his life and commit his spirit into the hands of our Abba, our Daddy, the one who has a detailed plan which we can trust He will accomplish.
Numbers 4 has several things that jumped out at me. First it was the age of the Levine men who were counted for doing the actual work. They numbered men from the age of 30-50. The men who would carry the Tabernacle around and the items inside it began their work at 30! #Impact
The next thing I saw was more details on Aaron and his sons taking down the Tabernacle and precisely covering the ark and the other holy items, preparing them to be moved before any Levite came to carry them to where the Lord would lead. The reason was no eye, other than Aaron and his sons were to see these most holy items or they would die. I imagined Jesus hearing this and reading it as he grew older and the absolute burning curiosity that would run through any young boys veins, wondering what everything that was hidden looked like! Every time he was at the temple, I can see a young boy who would love just one peek behind the curtain, after all, to see God is the longing of every heart, especially that of his only begotten Son! But, in his human flesh, he had removed himself from being able to access what once was his constant dwelling place. In order to enter the Most Holy place again, he would first have to fulfill his purpose of being the Lamb sacrificed before the Lord. Then and only then would he again see His Father face to face! #impact
However, what stood out the most was that after the men from 30-50 of each clan of the Levites was counted and presented to Aaron for service, each one was "assigned" what he was to carry! (v.19, 27, 32). Each man had a specific job! They did not come in and randomly pick up a piece and start going, but rather they picked up only the piece they had been assigned to. Verse 49 says, "At the Lord's command through Moses, each (man) was assigned his work and told what to carry."
Imagine the huge impact this had on Jesus. As he read these words and began to grasp who he was as the Son of God, he knew he too would be assigned to carry what he was told to pick up by none other than God himself. He was assigned to carry a human form in all its weakness and frailty. He was assigned to carry our burdens and our sorrows. He was assigned to carry our weakness and our infirmities. He was assigned to carry our guilt and our shame. He was assigned to carry our sufferings and struggles. He was assigned to carry our rejection and heartache. He was assigned to carry, not some treasured item in the Temple, but rather a crude and rugged cross! He was assigned to carry my sins and my transgressions. He was assigned to carry my death in my place!
Then once he had completed carry all these things assigned to him at the Lords command, he accepted a new assignment from the Lord! Once risen from the chains of death, he now is assigned to carry my prayers and petitions before the Father! He has been assigned to carry my defense as my advocate before the Father. He has been assigned to carry my name before the Judge and present me as "innocent" despite my guilt because the penalty for my transgression has been paid!
What a Savior! Jesus, the name above all names, obeyed the commands of the Lord, and carried, and still carries, out his assignment for me!
The book of Numbers I am finding can be mind numbing. There is so much repetitive wording, like in chapter 7. It list all 12 tribes and their leaders and in detail what each them brought an offering to the Lord when the altar was anointed. From verse 13-83 it is the same thing over and over! Again i can't help but ask "how could this possibly impact Jesus?"
I have found that stepping away and letting it all kind of ruminate for a bit allows for the Holy Spirit to make things start coming to life! The word I landed on was "consistency."
None of the tribes were asked to bring more or less than the other. They were all to bring a consistent offering to anoint the altar. Just because a tribe was the largest or the smallest, nothing more and nothing less was asked of them. Each of them was asked to bring the very same thing!
God was not necessarily interested in what they brought, but in them understanding that what He wanted from each tribe, people, and individual, was consistent. God did not have special favors or rules for anyone! His expectations were consistent for each tribe as it is for each person.
Jesus would have seen in these words that what His Father demanded of him was no different than what he demanded of every person. In order to be anointed, Jesus would not be asked to do any more, and he would not be allowed to bring anything less than what God had said must be done. God's demands on him were consistent with his demands on Adam and all who followed: Holiness.
Being the Son of God would not lesson or increase the demand, it would be consistent with what God required from everyone. As this sunk in, Jesus would also long for what he would read in Numbers 7:89 after the altar was dedicated:
"When Moses entered the Tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the Testimony. And he spoke with him."
Jesus knew that if he was to "enter in" and "hear the voice speaking to him" and then speak with His Father, he would have to be consistent in his obedience to His Fathers requirements. To be anointed he would have to bring to God ALL that was required of him which would be consistent with God's demands on all men. He also knew in order to remain consistent, he would have to "enter in" and listen to the voice speaking to him" and fully depend on the Spirit to lead him and hold him in his pursuit of consistency before a God who had nothing less than consistent demands on all men.
What a moment of impact. To see the consistency of God's requirements. To see the result of an anointed altar as being the doorway to enter in to the presence of God and hear his voice!
May my heart yearn for this consistency as did the heart of Jesus, and may I too enjoy an entering in to both hear my Daddy's voice and to be able to speak to him as a friend.
Today's reading in Numbers 8-9 was a beautiful thing.
In chapter 8 we see the setting up of the lamp stand "just as the Lord had shown". V. 4
Then we see the setting apart of the Levites for service as ceremonially clean, beginning with a sprinkling of water of cleansing (v.7) and once the ceremony was over they could go to work under Aaron's supervision "just as the Lord commanded." (v.22)
Chapter 9 opens with a command to observe the Passover Feast and the Israelites "did everything just as the Lord commanded" (v3)
In verse 6 we find a dilemma with some who ever unclean for the Passover feast but wanted to celebrate and they asked Moses what to do and he said, "Wait till I find out what the Lord commands concerning you" (v8) and they were given a reply from the Lord which allowed them to observe Passover the next month.
And then in 9:15-23 is a beautiful scene of the cloud coming and hovering over the Tabernacle (Tent of the Testimony) and how as long as it was there, the people camped in that spot. Could be just an evening. Could be a few days, a month, or a year. But the people did not move unless the Lord lifted the cloud! They were like a massive herd of sheep being led by a shepherd through the wilderness. We are told in v.21 that "whenever the cloud lifted they set out" but as long as it remained "they camped and would not set out" (v22).
Then the chapter ends with v23 "At the Lords command they encamped, and at the Lords command they set out."
I can envision Jesus as his heart was fully impacted by these words. Things were set up "as the Lord commanded." People were set apart for work and they worked "as the Lord commanded!" People celebrated feast "as the Lord commanded." And, they only moved about "as the Lord commanded."
How these words so deeply trained Jesus, that if he longed to serve his Father, he would have to do "as the Lord commanded." Like the Levites, he was only to begin his ministry as the Lord commanded, but he was also to end it "as the Lord commanded!" (8:25)
Jesus learned his work would be commanded by the Lord! His celebration of God's goodness would be commanded by the Lord! And every step, every move, would be at the command of the Lord. He gleaned these truths from the reading of these stories, and then he allowed them to impact him so deeply that he lived his life according to them!
Jesus said: "I do nothing on my own, but only what I see the Father doing!" John 5:19,30 & 6:38) He learned the value of only moving when his Father moved as the cloud masterfully moved the entire Israelite nation through the wilderness. Therefore, Jesus determined in his heart to only stay in a place for as long as the Spirit was there, and when it lifted to move, so did he!"
What Impact, and may it be true in my life as well. May my heart be so in tune with the Spirit that I realize when I am to stay, and when I am to go, "as the Lord commands!"
Numbers 10 describes the first time the Israelites set out for Sinai and began the journey to the promised land. Horns had been crafted to announce when the time to move had arrived and for the first time the cloud lifted and the people set out "as the Lord Commanded through Moses."
From v14-28 is a very detailed list of how the Israelites moved out. It was in a very orderly fashion that they moved out! With so many people, it would easy to imagine a chaotic scene with each one grabbing their own personal tent and belongings to follow the cloud of the Lord. But there was order given to them and when they moved it was under the banner of their tribe and in a very specific order! When God moved his people, He did so with order, not chaos!
As Jesus read these words he learned that each move he made, following his Dad, would be done with order. His life would not be a random and chaotic movement, so long as he followed the "command of the Lord." There would be confusion because God is not a god of confusion. (1 Corinthians 14:13) but a God of peace and order!
Most importantly, Jesus gleaned from this passage that "the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them" bringing them to a place of rest! If the Israelites were to get where they were going, the only way was to follow the Lord! What an impact this would have had on a young Jesus who desperately longed to be with His Father! His heart was to dwell in His Father's house! To always be where the Lord wanted him! To say what His Father wanted him to say. To judge as he heard His Father judge (John 5:19, 30, 6:38) and he learned from this story Moses wrote, to reach the "place of rest" his heart longed for, then the Lord was going to have to go before him and He would have to follow!
And finally, I can hear Jesus praying with Moses the final words of chapter 10 each time the Spirit led him to move,
"Rise up, O LORD! May your enemies be scattered; may your foes flee before you."
In this Jesus learned to only move when the Spirit of the Lord moved him and he could rest knowing God had a detailed plan, He would always be consistent, and each move would be done in an orderly fashion so that Jesus would ultimately fulfill the final words of Moses' prayer as God himself, through Jesus would
"Return O LORD to your people!"
What a Savior!