It is hard to believe I waited 41 years to start looking at the Old Testament stories as the very ones that were written in order to train up a young child, Jesus Christ, in the way he would go. The impact of these stories on his life is both clear and evident as he walked, taught, and lived here on earth. These are the stories that were used to form his understanding of his Father and who he was as the Lamb of God.
The further I get into the book of Numbers, the more I see the deep impact this book had on Jesus. At times it just seems like there is so much, it is hard to only write about one thing. I never imagined that being the case with this book!
Numbers 11 is extremely rich for one to see the mighty and over abundant provision of the Lord. He promised the complaining people some meat, and even Moses expressed unbelief that over 600,000 soldiers and their families could be supplied for, to which God asked, "Is my arm short (crippled)?" Then he declared "You will see whether or not what I say comes true!" As proof He was able, God stacked up quail 3 ft deep in every direction around their camp for an "entires day journey!" He sent so much meat that they became sick of it (and I cannot fathom the smell of the rotting meat!"
My Father can provide above and beyond my needs, he ask I be content with what He has given - #Impact
Then in Chapter 12 we see Aaron and Miriam complaining about Moses! Now that the Spirit of the Lord has gone upon 70 more men, they have become jealous of Moses' position and started to ask "does God only speak to him? Does he not speak to us also?" Of Course Moses is humble, 12:3, and he is not going to speak against his brother and sister. At this, God called Aaron, Miriam, and Moses to the Tent of Meeting and the cloud comes over them and God declared that he speaks to prophets in visions and dreams, but only Moses got to speak to Him face to face! And it said the anger of God burned against them for speaking against Moses and Miriam is struck with leperousy, and we see Moses praying on her behalf for her to be healed! Moses prayed for the ones who had spoke against him and hurt him!
Pray for those who hurt you, persecute you, say all manner of evil against you! And we see the Impact as Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing!" Luke 23:34
However, it is chapter 13 that struck me the hardest today as the 12 spies were sent to check out the land God had promised the Israelites would be theirs. The land that He said he would drive out the inhabitants from so they could enjoy it (Exodus 23:20-30). But upon return, after seeing it was a land flowing with milk and honey just as God said, these men could only see the giants that they were too weak to defeat! Yes the grapes and fruit was amazing, but the "people were too strong" for them to defeat. In other words, these men forgot the Red Sea! They forgot they manna! They had forgotten the water from the rock. They forgot the quail standing 3ft deep. They forgot God told them to "stand still and watch the salvation of the Lord" when Pharaoh was defeated and they did not have to lift a single finger to help out. They were looking at their own abilities and made the assumption all the sudden that God either would not, or could not keep His promises! They assumed Gods arm was suddenly crippled because these men were so big!
What a warning and a reminder to even Jesus! It was a warning for him to never put his faith and trust in his abilities, but to trust fully in the One who is able! It was a reminder to never forget what God has done which is the evidence that He will always do what He has promised! Jesus learned from these stories how mighty and Awesome his Daddy is and also to always trust Him to keep his promises!
These are the stories that formed into the young man Jesus the truth that he could fully trust his Daddy to always provide, to speak to him face to face, to pray for those who had hurt him, and to trust that his Daddy was able to keep all he had promised which allowed Jesus to trust him in his childhood, as a young man, in the wilderness, throughout his ministry, and even to his death on the cross! His Daddy had promised him a great reward, a promised land of His own, filled with those He came for, and he knew His Father would be able and would follow through on all He had promised!
What a mighty God we serve!
I pray that as these stories impacted Jesus, may they also impact me in my every day walk! I pray I will stop complaining about my provisions and stop long for something different or more. I pray I will not anger the Lord by speaking against those He is speaking to and through in my life because I am jealous! And I pray I will never forget all He has done and will simply trust Him to do All He has promised (because His hand is not short!)
"We can't attack those people, they are stronger than we are."
These words were said in forgetfulness. These words were said in fear! They were said with a faint heart!
Forgetfulness, fear, and faint hearts led to a night of weeping! The despair made the Israelites long once again for Egypt. They even began to look for a leader who would take them back. 14:4
Moses and Aaron were basically put on trial. They fell down before the people who wanted to stone them. Joshua rises up and pleads with the people to remember! Remember, "If the Lord is with us (and the cloud was proof He was), and he is pleased with us (His presence with them was proof He was), then He will lead us into the land." Joshua had not seen giants, he saw the might of God on their side! He knew the giants had no hope as long as the LORD was with the Israelites!
But his words fell of deaf ears as the people began to discuss killing Moses and Aaron (v.10). That is when God showed up and his anger was at a boiling point!
"How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe me, in spite of all the miraculous signs?" And right there God determined to wipe them out and start over with Moses . . .
Until Moses prayed!
Moses reminded God of what He already knew! He reminded God what the Egyptians would say, that God was not able to finish what He started! v.16
The Moses reminded God that He was slow to anger, that He abounded with love and forgiveness! Then Moses asked, "In accordance with your great love, forgive the sins of these people!" 14:19
"The Lord replied, I have forgiven them, as you asked!" 14:20
Despite the forgetfulness, the fear, and the faint hearts, God forgave!
There was still consequences to the sin, but God answered the prayer of Moses to forgive them!
How deep the Father's love for us! And how deep the impact of this story on Jesus!
Jesus walked among a people who were forgetful, constantly forgetting the miraculous signs he had performed! Matthew 16:9. He was surrounded by men who were fearful, Mark 4:35-41. He was constantly dealing with people of faint hearts! John 13:36-38
Just like His Father, he had moments of anger with these same men! He was frustrated by their forgetfulness, their fear, and faint hearts. But Jesus also faced these same battles. He would be tempted himself to forget the faithfulness of God in the wilderness. He would be faced with the fear of many terrifying demons and a horrific death. He would wrestle with a faint heart in the Garden during prayer, yet, unlike the Israelites, he chose to "believe in God!" He put his confidence in his Father to keep his promises! Jesus faced the "giants" and was offered to "go back to Egypt" and avoid the sword of death! But in this story, he learned the consequences of not trusting in God, so he chose to trust!
The reason he was able to trust was he remembered the Faithfulness of His Father! He faced his fears because he remembered the Mighty Hand who would lead him because His dad was "pleased with him!" And he overcame his faint heart by trusting his spirit into the only trustworthy hands he knew!
Then, just like Moses, as His Father's anger burned and the earth shook (Psalm 18:1-6), he cried out "Father, remember, You are slow to anger, You abound in love because You are Love, and You forgive sin and rebellion! So Daddy, please forgive them (all my people), they do not know what they are doing!"
What Love! What Grace! What Mercy! What a Savior!
Numbers 16:28 says "Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea:"
From there Moses shared the sign that would prove that God was the one who sent him:
"If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.” 16:29-30
As the words finished coming out of Moses' mouth, God opened the earth and swallowed them up.
What is interesting before this is how Moses reacted to 250 men coming to oppose him. He did not defend himself. He did not raise his voice in anger at them. We are told that he "fell facedown." He went to God to be his defender, his rock, his strong tower. He told them that God would show in the morning who was his chosen!
Then God tells Aaron and Moses to step aside from the entire assembly because he was going to destroy them all. But again, Moses falls facedown and pleads with God to forgive them by asking "will you destroy the entire assembly for one man's sin?" And God relented!
What moments of impact as Jesus read these stories and learned from them. We see in his life, that he was often accused, but instead of defending himself, he consistently responded by telling them his Father would prove it by a sign. "Tear down this temple and in three days I will raise it again!" And when God brought him back to life we are told his disciples remembered and "believed the scriptures!" Surely this was one of those moments that impacted Jesus to not defend himself, but allow God to show who He had chosen.
And Jesus, learning from Moses' example, gave himself to continuously stand between God and his people and cry out for God to forgive them. "Father, will you wipe them all out because of one man's (Adam) sin? No Father, hear my prayer and forgive them!
And then, just like Aaron when he obeyed Moses and ran and stood with burning incense between the living and the dead and the plague was stopped (16:46-50), Jesus stood between me and death and he stopped the plague from killing me! And once "it was finished," just as Jesus had seen Aaron do, he returned to the "Tent of Meeting", God's side, because the people, including me and you, had been redeemed from the plague!
What impact! What Love! What a Savior!
Oops. I missed a day.
So I awoke this morning to the realization that I completely forgot to journal yesterday. I had it on my mind all day, but just never made the time to stop and do it. However, it was a refreshing blessing this morning as I realized my mistake was nothing more than the opportunity to take a breath and simply breathe. I have done that a few times this week as I stood in my sheep fields with the sheep. I would think of kicking on a live video, but then realized that those moments were meant just for me and my Good Shepherd. What joy it has been just to be in the field with him!
Now on with today:
Wow, these Israelites are hard headed. The opening of Numbers 20 shows them once again gathering in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They again start in on the complaining, longing for death or a return to slavery over how they are currently living. They listed the things they did not have instead of what they did. The last thing they mentioned not having is water.
Now water is essential to staying alive. Without it a human dies. So longing for it would be understandable if you do not have it. So maybe I understand a little of their concern here. They are wandering on the wilderness and they are thirsty. What does not make sense is they are saying they wished they had died(v.3), yet at the same time they crave what will keep them alive. Interesting how this struggle remains in us today.
But that is not the impact moment, just a side note. The impact comes in as Moses and Aaron fall before the Lord (v.6) and are given specific instructions on how to bring about the water supply from a rock to supply for over a million people. Moses is told to "speak" to the rock while the people watched and water would flow out (v.8).
So Moses gathers the people together and has the staff in his hand. However, he strikes the rock, as he had done before. Nothing. He strikes again, then water flowed. However, Moses and Aaron paid a HIGH price for not doing exactly as the Lord had commanded them. The struck instead of speaking. Moses did it his way, "not trusting in God enough to honor Him as holy in the sight of the people"(v.12). For this lack of trust and lack of honor, Moses and Aaron were forever banished from entering the promise land.
What a grave warning Jesus had written through Moses so many years before he would walk on earth. He warned himself that any act that was done in a lack of trust and a lack of honor to God would eternally banish him from returning home! In this very short part of the story, Jesus saw the grave consequences of trying to do things his own way! Not fully obeying, fully trusting, fully giving honor to God in the sight of the people would lead to eternal death! And this warning was needed in his life.
Countless times Jesus was given the opportunity to do it his way! When he was 12 in the temple. He could have usurped his parents authority and claimed to give the rest of his life to God and stay in his Father's house serving under the priest, but he humbled himself and obeyed his parents. When in the wilderness, he could have fed himself, shit the mouths of all those who had made him to suffer growing up, and ruled every kingdom of this world, doing it his way. But he remembered the warning of Numbers 20:12 and chose to live on his Father's word alone, to silence the enemy Gods way, and to rule the universe as King of Kings, not just rule as a king! He took this warning to heart and gave himself to do "only as he saw the father doing" John 5:19. To judge only as he heard the Father judging.
Jesus knew that if he was to succeed in "bringing the community into the land God was giving them"(v.12), the true Promised Land, that he must TRUST & HONOR God as holy in the sight of the people by following God's commands perfectly!
Praise God he did and praise him that in all his wisdom he prepared a warning for himself through this story of Moses and Aaron and thus planting a moment of impact that would guide him directly to the cross so that all who looked upon him and believed would be saved (as pictures in the bronze snake in Numbers 21:4-8)
So we have arrived at the story of Balaam and his donkey (the donkey made it one of our agents of smash in my first attempt at a book) and we see a very short, but impactful story for a young man named Jesus. Numbers 22-23
The Moabites see these "locust" eating up the land and they are afraid. They are so scared that they hire Balaam, to come and pronounce a curse on the Israelites. Of course Balaam defers to God for guidance and he is told not to go the first time.
The second time they return, they are offering him a fortune, to which Balaam responds, "even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I cannot do anything beyond the command of the Lord my God." Balaam was committed to obey God, not serve money.
So God tells him to go, but he was to "do only as God told him" (v20)
In verse 21 though we see God angry about the whole ordeal, not exactly what set him off, but he sent an angel to oppose Balaam, the spiritual seer. This is where the fun starts with the donkey and the conversation Balaam and his animal have. Balaam the seer evidently was blinded to the angel's presence because he was in a hurry (v32 says reckless path). Balaam finally sees him and offers to go home, but God tells him to continue on and to "speak only what I tell you."
The rest of the story sees Balaam pronouncing blessings on Israel and telling Balak "I can only say what God says and do what he tells me!"
This short story to me has clear evidence that it impacted Jesus. Jesus too was given choices along the way to give blessings or curses. He too was offered a fortune in return for obedience to someone other than God (Luke 4). But he would have learned in this story the absolute necessity of "only doing" and "only saying" what God told him to.
I imagined he giggled at the thought of a donkey speaking, but he also knew from this that God can use anything in creation to accomplish His purposes. "The rocks will cry out!"
In his heart, I am sure he faved moments he wanted to call down fire on some people, but he would have been impacted by the words "how can I curse those who God has not cursed? (23:8).
Jesus lived as "a people set apart and who do not consider themselves one of the nations. 23:9
Jesus saw himself as the one who would proclaim "Let me die the death of the righteous and may my end be like theirs!"
Jesus joined Balaam in his actions when the world and religious leaders called for him to change his message! He said "Must I not speak what the Lord puts in my mouth!" (John 5)
And maybe one of the most impactful moments would be the confidence Jesus would find in the words; "God is not a man that he should change his mind. Does he speak and not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?"
Oh these words would have coursed deep in the veins of Jesus as he faced the trouble and trials of his life. When all others opposed him and wanted him to join their way, Jesus held firm to the command to only do and say as God told him! And most of all, Jesus held to the promise that his Father would never change his mind and that He would always fulfill his promises!
These are the words that would hold Jesus up when others despised and hated him. These are the words that gave him confidence to stand firm in what God told him to do and say even when the world and religious leaders wanted to stone him. These are the words that gave him boldness in his approach to the cross knowing that his Father had promised to accept the sacrifice and raise him back to life!
What a major impact such a short, and often overlooked story had on Jesus as he prepared to be the Lamb of God!
Numbers 24 finishes up. Balaam's story in his oracles he pronounces. In 24:9 he quotes Genesis 12:3 when God is speaking to Abraham. "May this who bless you be blessed, and those who curse you be cursed.
Gods word, Gods plan, God's desire had not changed from the day he made a promise to Abraham. He was determined to fulfill his promise and to bless the offspring of Abraham. Yes, they had pushed him several times to the point of wiping them out, but it was this promise that kept Him focused on what He was going to accomplish. Moses would remind him of the promise. Here, he once again declares his promise and His intent to keep it even though the man Balaam had been offered great sums of money, despite his hurry to get there, God had reminded Balaam to "only do as I tell you and say what I tell you to say!" God was not going to allow His people to be cursed! Ultimately, God was going to fulfill His promises and bless His people.
What joy this brought to Jesus' heart. What excitement even when He faced the rejection and despising by men. Even when they cursed him while He was on the cross, Jesus had learned that His Father's promises would be kept. He held tightly to the promise that He would be blessed and no one could rip that blessing from his hands!
But there is more (because I just can't help it). In Numbers 25 we see the men of Israel giving way to sexual immorality and worshipping of false gods. We see a curse brought upon them, not by other men, but by their own actions. The punishment? God told Moses and the leaders to put those men who had sinned to the sword and lay them out, expose them, so the anger of the Lord could be turned away.
While this is happening, Zimri, leader of the Simeonite family, struts by with a Midianite woman on his arm and takes her into his tent. Phinehas, Aaron's grandson, is enraged and grabs a spear and goes into Zimri's tent and thrust the spear through both him and the woman. The God declares:
"Phinehas. . . Has turned away my anger from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in My zeal I did not put an end to them (all)." And because of this God honored Phinehas and his descendants.
1 Samuel 2:30 God says "I will honor those who honor Me!"
Jesus shows us through his driving desire to honor God that these stories had a huge impact on him. Jesus gave his entire being to honoring his Father and nothing turned him from it. When he saw his Father not being honored, Jesus would erupt (John 2:13-17). And because God said he would honor those who honor Him, he has lifted Jesus' name to be above every name! God fulfilled His promise and accepted the "exposed body" of Jesus on behalf of all his people who prostituted themselves in the sight of God, and he knew his zeal for honoring God would also "turn away the anger of His Father" and keep his bride from being destroyed forever!