Day 81 - March 22, 2021
Scriptures: Numbers 30, John 12
Our numbers reading speaks of a husbands right to release his wife from the vows that she made. The majority of the chapter is concerned about the vows that women made to God. It was a good thing that they would commit their life to God.
Jesus defends the act of Mary, anointing him with oil, pure nard. It was an expensive perfume and Judas rebukes the wastefulness.
But Jesus says, “Leave her alone.”
It was Mary’s commitment to the Lord. Judas didn’t have the right to say anything. Jesus, as Lord, honors her commitment and sacrifice, and expresses gratitude for it.
Let’s honor our commitment to Christ today!
Day 80 – March 21, 2021
Scriptures: Numbers 29, John 11
The Day of Atonement, a sin offering.
John 11 is one of my favorite passages of scripture, and it is a joy to write about it today. I enjoyed reading it alongside of Numbers 29. A fresh insight into Joh 11 comes when you are thinking about the sin offerings and sacrifices that make up our Numbers reading.
The Jewish leaders are still stewing from the healing, miracles and teaching of Jesus. They are boiling over in anger, and the raising of Lazarus is the for them, a final straw. They must kill Jesus.
The obvious connection is the death of Jesus and the Day of atonement. But what jumped out at me today is the conversation among the leaders. It was a conversation about keeping things as they were. The Pharisees were afraid that if word got out that Jesus was the Messiah and king, they wouldn’t be allowed into the temple, and things would be much worse for the Israelites.
In fairness, they were concerned, in part, about worship. They were also, likely, concerned about the loss of power and control that they had carefully curated for themselves.
Either way, they are missing who this Jesus was, and what he was doing. Jesus would offer himself as the greater sacrifice, and he would be without defect.
In Jesus, we have forgiveness of sins, and the gift of eternal life, believe in Him!
Day 79 – March 20, 2021
Scriptures: Numbers 28, John 10
What a great and precious promise given to those who are in Christ. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Leading us to the Father. Caring for us. Holding us.
Our Numbers reading brings to mind the Passover once again. The celebration of God’s deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. God had his people, in his hands. He never lets them go.
God has a hold of you.
Day 78 – March 19, 2021
Scriptures: Numbers 27, John 9
“We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
I’ve always loved the response to the interrogation that the blind man turns on the Pharisees. “Why are you asking so many questions, is it because you want to be his disciple too?”
They are indignant.
In the efforts and zeal to follow Moses and follow the law, the Pharisees fail to see the gift of healing right in front of them.
They are more concerned about sin than they are the gift of healing and life.
In our Numbers reading, we hear Moses’ heart for the people, “May the Lord, the God of every human spirit, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
The heart of Moses is that the Lord would lead the people. The Lord LEADS.
In John, it seems that the Pharisees are forgetting that. In their passion for all things Moses, they’ve ignored the most important part, trusting and following the Lord.
They are so blinded by it, that they fail to see the Lord right in front of them.
Let our zeal be for the Lord.
Day 77 – March 18, 2021
Scriptures: Number 26, John 8
The Numbers reading highlights the consequences of sin. There were those who didn’t survive the wilderness because of their disobedience and sin.
The Pharisees come to Jesus with the consequences of sin on their minds. They want to know how this radical Rabbi is going to deal with this woman who was caught in adultery. Surely, he will condemn her and have her stoned.
It continues from yesterday’s message, of Jesus standing in the gap of our own tendency to condemn, and the need for recognizing our own sin. We are quick to judge others and give ourselves a lot of grace when we fall short, and sin.
He asks anyone in the crowd without sin to throw the first stone.
They all eventually put their stones down.
Jesus stands in the gap, between a crowd and their hastiness to condemn, and turns a mirror on their own propensity to wander from God and His ways.
Jesus is there, leading them towards Grace and Truth.
The Pharisees lose their minds in John 8. But we know the truth, and who the Truth is, Jesus Christ. And when we read John 8, we are reminded that Jesus was there, in the beginning. A theme that happens throughout John.
Forced to recon with the sovereignty and glory of Jesus Christ, the Pharisees chose condemnation and disbelief.
Jesus says, “I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word.”
“You have no room for my word” is an indictment on the condemning spirit within the Pharisees.
When stones are in our hands, it often reveals the hardness within our hearts. We feel better about our sin when we can shine the light on the failures of others.
“Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
Is there room to hear the Word of God?
Is your heart open to Him?
Day 76 – March 17, 2021
Scriptures: Numbers 25, John 7
Within the Israel camp, there has been a terrible deviation from the way of God. Moses has warned and told the Israelites to not marry outside of the people of Israel.
This law was for the protecting of the Israelites, not simply for their sexual purity, or for the protecting of their family line. God has shown repeatedly that He can work with those outside of Israel to accomplish his purposes.
The point is, that the sexual immorality leads to the worship of other gods. Their hearts have turned from the God of Israel, to the gods of the land. When they make one step away from God, they seemingly make 1000 more.
Sin has a way of doing that. One step turns into many. One deviation of our heart, unchecked turns into a long disobedience, in the wrong direction.
Fast forward to our New Testament text. We have the Pharisees who are stringent in their observance of the law. We get the opposite of the Israelite’s who have their hearts turning away in immorality. The Pharisees have been known for making the law even more strict. If the fence is the boundary of the law, they’ve drawn a 6-foot line in front of the fence. They don’t want a hint of impropriety.
And this has caused another sort of problem. The Messiah who they longed for, God himself, is right in front of them, and they can’t hear, see or know who they are dealing with, the Son of God!
The end of chapter 7 is a debate about the Messiah. Where he will come from, what he will do. There is much debate between the crowd and the Pharisees. The Pharisees, in their certainty, become foolish. They are so certain Jesus isn’t the one, the Messiah, that they too have turned from God. They are so certain, in fact, they condemn God himself.
Jesus stands in the midst of our own certainty and ignorance. He stands in the midst of our brokenness and sin. He stands between us in our wandering and our obedience. He says to us all, ”Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, Scripture has said, rivers of living water will come from within them.”
God’s Spirit now, is something that we can receive. And God’s Spirit stands in the gap of our hastiness to condemn, and our propensity to wander. The Spirit is there, within us, leading us to life of Grace and Truth.
Holy Spirit lead us in a long obedience, in the direction of Jesus.
Day 75 – March 16, 2021
Scriptures: Numbers 24, John 6
Balaam’s message is simple. Nations won’t last forever. They will come and go. Israel stands as a blessed nation because God has redeemed them and delivered them out of Egypt. There is a hint of something ahead, a star out of Jacob. (Numbers 24:17). Is that the star the wise men see? Not sure that’s what is meant in the text at all, but perhaps.
The point is more about the special identity that Israel holds in the world as God’s holy and set apart people. And no amount of coaxing and sacrificing is going to get God to turn on his promise given to Abraham.
It is in John 6, where we see the opposite come true. But first, the good.
We have a Moses sighting in John’s gospel. Not directly related, but certainly, we should get every sense that Jesus is pointing us to the faithfulness of God, caring for the Israelites. God provided food for the Israelites. And Jesus offers himself to the world as the bread of life. He is our hope and salvation.
Unfortunately, as the reading continues, Jesus startles his audience with a demand they aren’t ready to hear. He invites his followers to drink his blood and eat his flesh. Yikes!
We know that Jesus was calling us to a full embrace of his Lordship and benevolence. It was a full acceptance of his sacrifice and the gift of life in Him. Some rejected. Some walked away.
But those who stayed knew the truth about his identity.
He has the words of eternal life.
He was the bread of life. What came to the Israelites, with Moses, was a shadow of the thing to come. Something that would fulfill and complete us in every way.
Jesus, the Bread of Life. His love lasts forever. All will be made new. The Promise is fulfilled. The star is here. The one who rights the world, is Jesus.
Day 74 – March 15, 2021
Scriptures: Numbers 23, John 5
Balaam and Balak go round and round, almost like Green Eggs and Ham. God’s message, “I will not curse them here, I will not curse them there, I will not curse them anywhere.”
I know I’m weird, but that’s where I went with it. There are no scenarios here where Balak will get the cursing of Israel he desires and seeks.
Others are seeking a sort of curse. Jesus is making enemies quickly in the Pharisees in John 5. Jesus calls God his Father and that sets the trajectory forward the rest of the way in the Gospel of John. There are going to be very real consequences for what Jesus says and does. The rest of the way it will be an interrogation of Jesus’ words and actions. Who he heals, who he spends time with – sinners – will be scrutinized. What he says of his relationship to God his Father, will stir anger and cause persecution.
The Pharisees will seek a curse of their own. They think they will get what they want, finally in the crucifixion death of Jesus.
But even then, it will become a blessing.
Not here, not anywhere, will the Balak’s and Pharisee’s get the condemning curses they want.
Day 73 – March 14, 2021
Scriptures: Numbers 22, John 4
Balak sees the Israelites as a threat and is fearful of them. He does all he can to solicit a curse on them through Balaam. It doesn’t happen, but God allows for Balaam to exercise his own sort of free will on the matter. God gives ample warning to Balaam, but allows Balaam to do his own thing.
Let’s contrast that story with our John 4 reading. Jesus says that, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me to finish his work.” (John 4:34)
Jesus, of course, exemplifies faithfulness and trusting in God. In the closing of our reading, we read of the official, and his son who is near death. He asks Jesus to heal him. He begged of him, not to rain down curses, but to give blessings and heal his son. Jesus agrees and heals.
Our OT reading solicited curses. Our NT reading begged of God blessings. Jesus has come to finish the work His Father began. To bring about blessings, renewal, forgiveness and so much more.
Today, let’s seek blessings and turn our will towards the will of our Father in Heaven. Not my will, but your will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven.
Day 72 – March 13, 2021
Scriptures: Psalm 135, Numbers 21, John 3
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him”
It doesn’t take too much effort today to see the connection, John does it for us!
And Psalm 135, well that hits part of our reading as well.
“He struck down many nations and killed mighty kings. Sihon king of the Amorites, OG King of Bashan, and all the kings of Canaan, and he gave their land as an inheritance (Psalm 135:10-12).
We are wise to heed the point of the verses, more so than marvel at their connections. These connections point to the power of God, His all-surpassing power to deliver the Israelites, heal them, and lead them to the Promised Land.
When we look to Jesus, we look to him, hanging on the cross, and trust and believe that he will forgive us and give us eternal life. We look to Christ for our healing. The cross is the display of God’s all-surpassing power to defeat the greatest of enemies, greater than Sihon and Og, God deliver us from sin and death.
Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.