Numbers 17-18, Psalm 45
It’s easy to forget when reading Scripture, that when the authors wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they wrote a complete book, without any breaks in it. There were no chapters or verses. Chapters were not placed until 1227 AD, by Stephen Langdon. Verses didn’t come along until over 300 years later, in 1551 AD, by Robert Stephanus. Though these man-made breaks assist in Bible study, allowing us to quote certain areas or delve into certain topics better, they also serve to break the flow of what the Holy Spirit is conveying through the author, in this case, Moses. I remember noticing this for one of the first times while in the Gospel of John. In chapter 9 we see Jesus heal a blind man and make the statement in John 9:5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Though His statement is strengthened by the healing it is further strengthened by the end of chapter 8 when Jesus confronts the spiritual blindness of the Jewish religious establishment. The artificial break weakens the entirety of the message, especially as in our reading plan we read chapters 7-8 on one day then 9-10 the next.
Without these artificial breaks in the book of Numbers, I am absolutely amazed at the patience of God. These confrontations against God and the Israelites were done in rapid succession. We move from Numbers 13-14 with the people disobediently refusing to enter Canaan, to the incident of dishonoring the Sabbath in chapter 15, to the rebellion against Moses and Aaron by Korah in chapter 16. Though God miraculously decided in the confrontation between Korah and Moses, the people respond in Numbers 16:41,” On the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the Lord.” This resulted in a plague brought upon them resulting in the death of 14,700 people. It was only stopped by the Lord after the intercession of Moses and Aaron on their behalf. God patiently reinforces the leadership of Moses and Aaron in chapter 17 with the miracle of the budding rod.
People will often describe the God of the New Testament as one of love, and the God of the Old Testament as a God of harshness, wrath, and severe judgment. But inherent in this view is our pride and an inability to see the seriousness of our own sins. Reading through these books of the Bible should open all of our eyes to just how serious God views sin. So, the wrath and judgment is what they and we all deserve. His love, mercy, grace, and patience is undeserved. We all desire eternity in heaven with a holy and perfect God. Even one sin keeps us out, for imperfect can not share eternity with perfect.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:48, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect”. In Hebrews 10:14, ” For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified”. So, may we all take the time to sincerely thank the author and finisher of our salvation, Jesus Christ.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: