I am so thankful that I was pushed to look at the Old Testament in a new and fresh way this year. I was led to ask a simple question as I read through these stories of old. I have been amazed at what I have seen and am finding it hard to contain it to small looks into these passages each day as I am finding them so rich with impactful moments that directed Jesus in the paths he should take. I pray you enjoy this journey with me.
Numbers 27:15-17 is a summary of Moses final request to God before he was going to die. God had invited him up on a mountain to "look into" the promised land, but Moses himself could not enter because he failed to honor the Lord at the waters of Meribah.
In these verses, Moses ask God to "appoint a man" who could lead Israel and both take them out and lead them in (both shepherding terms). The reason Moses asked this was so that the "Lord's people would not be like sheep without a shepherd."
I love it when we can see something like this and then see a direct impact on Jesus. There is no doubt this verse and this prayer had a major impact on the Son of Man as he walked here on earth. All we have to do is read Matthew 9:35-38 to see how this prayer of Moses influenced Jesus.
Jesus travels throughout the villages and sees the people "helpless and harassed like sheep without a shepherd," and Jesus immediately turns and tells the disciples to pray that the Lord would send "workers," or "shepherds" to tend to the harvest (people.)
Jesus knew his time would be short, yet even as he faced death, his heart was that God would take care of His people. Jesus prayed in John 17 for the unity of the workers. After his rose again, he commissioned Peter to "tend to the lambs/sheep." Jesus told his disciples to pray for workers to be sent, but like Moses, he prayed himself for those same workers to take care of his people.
It is only a few short verses, but it drove much of what Jesus did. Just as Moses had trained Joshua in the care of the people, and asked that the Spirit of the Lord would be upon the next leader, Jesus gave his life to pour out into a handful of men, then he prayed the Holy Spirit would be sent, then He sent the Spirit as he promised so that his people would not be "like sheep without a shepherd."
Praise God we have not been left to wander about as a flock of lost sheep, but that Jesus, our Good Shepherd, has given charge to the Holy Spirit, through the lives of men chosen by God, to care for us, the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 95:7 & 100:3
If I am being completely honest, Numbers 28-29 did not grab me. I know there is something about these daily & monthly offerings and the Feast that impacted Jesus, but today, my eyes were not opened to it. May of had something to do with having trouble keeping my physical eyes open while trying to read.
Then I began to reread it this evening and one phrase is consistent throughout. "Present to the Lord" and it was "at the appointed time" and each were to be "pleasing to the Lord"
Each offering, each festival, they all had something that God required at a specific time. God set out an exact plan each was to follow in order to be a "pleasing aroma to Him."
As I read over this again this evening, I was struck with the reality that Jesus would have learned there was an "appointed time" at which he would "present to the Lord" an offering without defect, himself, and the aroma of his offering would "please the Lord." He would have seen himself in each Feast he partook in and every offering that was made.
That is why he would have said to his mother "my time has not yet come." He had learned it had already been appointed. This is why he gave himself to "live by every word of God" because he had learned he had to be without defect in order to please the Lord. And when the time came, he "presented himself" as the proper sacrifice and willingly laid down because he had learned that only he could be the pleasing aroma that was needed for God and His people to be restored into a righteous relationship for every feast, and for every month, and every sabbath, and for every day!
Jesus, our Savior from now and throughout eternity!
In Numbers 31:49, we find a word of encouragement for Jesus. In one simple statement made by the commanders of the army of Israel, Jesus would find a foundation of hope that his work would not be in vain!
The armies of Israel have just defeated the Midianites in a battle. 12000 men of Israel were sent out to wage this battle and we are told they killed every man in Midian, wiping them out. Later we see Moses also ordering the deaths of every male child and any woman who had slept with a man from that nation. The only ones spared were virgin girls.
Next we see the division of the spoils, and there was plenty of that. 675000 sheep, 72000 head of cattle, 61000 donkeys, and 32000 virgins, not to mention the gold, silver, and items of value mentioned later.
Yet in verse 49, we see a very interesting conversation between Moses and his commanding officers in the army. A great battle was raged. Many lives were lost, yet, after taking a careful count, these officers announce that "not one of the men under their command were missing."
What an amazing fact! They had fought hand to hand combat against a fierce enemy, but none of the Israelite men had lost their lives. It is not said one way or the other if any were battered, bruised, or injured, but not one was lost! Each man returned home to his family!
Jesus would have taken great comfort from these words as he grew to understand he too would be waging a battle. He knew many of his "sheep" would be sent out among the wolves. He knew many of his would be like him, sheep led to the slaughter. However, in this one sentence, His Fathers promises would again be confirmed, that of the ones that were given to him, he would lose none. (John 6:39)
Jesus, once he learned the promise of this statement made by men, but was true as a result of His Father keeping those men safe, could walk head long into the battle he would fight knowing that he too would have a huge bounty of spoils to divide among his people (Isaiah 53:12)
What confidence Jesus went forth in! What hope he had! Knowing he would not lose any he had been given!
What confidence we have been offered as we walk in Christ, knowing, like Jesus, none of our work will be in vain! Our hours waged in war in prayer will not return void! But rather, Jesus will allow us to join him in the battle in which He never loses any of his own!
What a Savior is Jesus my Lord!
Numbers 32 opens with two and a half tribes of Israel petitioning Moses to allow them to remain where they are and not go into the "promised land." Moses' response is full of frustration as he thinks the Reubenites, Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh attempting to avoid the battles that were ahead. He reminds them that it was because there forefathers did not follow the Lord "wholeheartedly" that they were wandering in the wilderness. He warns that if they do not go and fight with the rest of Israel, then they would receive the same punishment again.
At this, the leaders of these tribes responded that they would build cities for their wives and kids and pens for the livestock and that all the fighting men would "arm ourselves and go ahead of the Israelites until we have brought them to their place." 32:17
Then they finish with this resolution found in v.18 "We will not return to our homes until every Israelite (all our people) has received his inheritance."
Oh what power, determination, and resolution these words declared and how deep the impact we see they had on Jesus.
As he enters humanity, he is offered multiple ways to avoid the battle he would face. He is offered the easy way out by the devil. He could have the kingdoms of the world without the pain of the war at Calvary. However, he has seen the result of not following the Lord wholeheartedly. He has witnessed the penalty of death of those who wandered in the wilderness. And he, like the leaders of these three tribes, committed himself to "go ahead" of the rest of the people and he would learn from these leaders the necessity of being resolute to "not return home until ALL his people had received their inheritance!"
I am consistently amazed at the story Jesus had written by those who went before him which would in return be used to train him up in the way he should go! What an Awesome God we serve!
Numbers 35 details for the Israelites the Cities of Refuge. God clearly states what these places are for and why they were to be there. People accused of murder could run to these cities in order to escape the wrath of the "avenger of blood."
Next is detailed the law on determining if a man was guilty of murder or of accidentally killing a man. The murderer was to be put to death by the "avenger of blood" and those guilty of death by accident had to return to the city of refuge until the death of the high priest. He was allowed to live, but he could never leave the City of Refuge or the avenger of blood could kill him without committing murder (v.22-28)
Verse 30 declares a murderer is to be put to death. Verse 31 states no ransom could be accepted on behalf of a murderer, he had to die. Verse 32 says anyone guilty of death by accident could not be ransomed if they fled the city of refuge. If he left the safety of that city, the avenger of blood was free to take his life.
Then in verse 32, says this, "Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which the blood was shed, EXCEPT BY THE BLOOD OF THE ONE WHO SHED IT!"
Through this passage Jesus learned the grave severity of sin. He learned the painful punishment that sin required. The land was to be kept holy because the "Lord dwelled in it" but the land of Israel had been covered in the pollution of the blood shed by the sins of people against God. Jesus learned that the payment for blood being shed was the blood of the one who shed it! There was no other way to appease the "avenger of blood" whether the death (sin) was murder or accidental!
Therefore, Jesus knew if the "Avenger" of his blood, his Father was to be appeased, blood would have to be shed. He learned in order to make atonement for the people and the land, only the one who shed the blood could pay the price. He gleaned from this that the only way his sacrifice would work is if he "willingly" laid down his own life so his blood would be on his own hands. For the Father's wrath to be satisfied and both the murderer and the prisoner in the City of Refuge to be atoned for, he had to lay down his own life, allow his blood to be spilt, so the Lord could FOREVER DWELL IN THE LAND with his people!
Jesus, what a Savior! What an Impact this story had on him as he grew into the Lamb of God!
In Deuteronomy 1, Moses goes back over the journey the Israelites had made from Egypt to the edge of the promised land. He gives a quick summary of the entire trip, then says this is v.22
"Then all of you came to me and said, 'Let us send men ahead to spy out the land"
This follows where Moses reminds them that he told them to go up as God commanded and take the land! However, Moses admits that sending spies sounded like a good idea. This plan, as we know, backfired completely.
Though the land seemed good to them, the only thing they saw was the size of the enemy. At this, they lost heart. They forgot as Moses says in v.30 the The Lord God . . . Will fight for you. They forgot how far God had "carried them like a father carries a son." In other words, the trembled at the size of the enemy instead of staying steadfast on the greatness of God. They chose to live in fear and not "trust in God."
What a great reminder this was for Jesus for each time he would face an enemy that seemed greater than him. He would take on the traditions of men, the leaders of the people, the teachers of the law, and religious leaders who were considered "Gods chosen." Not only that, he would face hunger, thirst, rejection, hatred, and frustrations. He would be confronted with demons and even the Devil himself. To a man, these were all "giants" who could make your heart grow faint if you chose to forget the Father who was carrying you like a son! Even just the use of the words "like a father carries a son" would deeply impact Jesus as he prepared to fulfill all the law and the prophets. He would face enormous challenges, and if he failed, he too would be left to wander in a wilderness away from his Father for eternity!
However, because Jesus had these words to train him in the way he should go, they would be a constant and fresh reminder that it was not in his power or by his might, but the Spirit of the Lord (a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night v.33) that would lead him through. This story would refresh him when the trials and troubles seemed too big. It would exhort him to keep his eyes on the only One who could carry him through.
So when he faced the greatest foe he had to face, death on the cross, he would remember again that even that enemy would not defeat him as long as he kept his eyes on the Father and not on the size of the enemy.
Deuteronomy 3:2 says "Do not be afraid of them, the Lord your God himself will fight for you."
These were words Moses spoke to Joshua during his commission of him to lead the Israelites into the promised land. They are comforting words, but without some solid foundation, they are just words.
That is why Moses has just spent the previous two chapters recounting the journey they had made together so far. Moses has written a short summary of what God had already brought them through, including the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Even though they were condemned to wander, God never left them. In Deuteronomy 2:7 Moses wrote, "These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything." These words reminded Joshua that God had been with them and would continue to provide for them. Therefore, he did not have to be afraid.
Next Moses reminisces about the first battles and how God had put the terror of the Israelites in the hearts of those they would fight. He reminds Joshua of the victory over Sihon king of Heshbon and all the plunder the people took
Next Moses refreshes Joshua's memory of the time they defeated Og, King of Bashan, and how God had told them "Do not be afraid of Og" (3:2). Why? "Because I (the Lord) have handed him over to you with his whole army and his land." In 3:3-6 Moses sums up by saying God kept his word and 'We struck them down."
So Moses did not just tell Joshua to not be afraid, he reminded him of why he did not have to be afraid!
As Jesus read these stories growing up, what courage he took from seeing how Mighty his Daddy was! Just as Joshua was encouraged (3:28), Jesus too took strength in the knowledge that his Dad would go before him and fight for him. He would have read 2:7 and remembered the provisions made in his own life! A mother who loved him and an earthly father who cared for him and obeyed the visions he received which were used to spare the life of Jesus as an infant. The three gifts given prior to a long journey and stay in Egypt which were provisions for their earthly needs. So when he stepped forth into his role as Lamb of God and began to prepare those who would lead after he was gone, he could do so in confidence that his Father would provide!
Jesus also would be strengthened in his heart and bolstered in his confidence as he read the stories of God putting the fear of him into the hearts of his enemies. He would watch this take place as the demons trembled before him. Those possessed struck fear into the hearts of those around them, but Jesus confronted them with confidence because he remembered his Dad would go before him, striking fear into the hearts of his enemies, and he would strike them down in the power of the Lord, and just like in 2:36, none of the enemies (towns) would be too strong for him!
Finally, Jesus would be restored in these words as Moses referred to the mighty king Og, and how he was a giant of a man who caused others to tremble (3:11). Og was huge and a mighty person. Yet, God told Israel not to fear because God was going to deliver him into their hands. Jesus too would face a battle with his own "Og." The giant enemy he would face was Death and from all appearances it would seemingly be a battle he could not win! Yet, Jesus would face this battle with confidence because he knew he would not face it alone. God was going to deliver this mighty foe into his hands, therefore he could read the words Moses wrote to Joshua as words written to him: Do not be afraid, the Lord your God himself will fight for you!"
What major impact this had on Jesus! But also words we can be impacted by ourselves! Because we are in Christ, we too can live in confidence that he will always be with us, even in times of wandering in the wilderness. We will lack nothing as we walk with Him because He is our provision! And when we face battles, foes way too big for us, we can be like Joshua, like Jesus, and live unafraid because "the Lord our God himself will fight for us!"