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bible reading may 15



Bible reading for May 15. 

Numbers 24.

"How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, your encampments, O Israel!" (Numbers 24:5) 

TWO MORE ORACLES. This chapter records the third and fourth oracles of Balaam.  The Midianite seer, hired by Moab to curse Israel, instead prophesies God's blessing upon them. For more on Balaam, read the two previous days' posts on the book of Numbers. Again we are struck with the beauty of the language describing God's people: like palm groves, aloes, cedar trees, and gardens beside a river. Also, the nation has strength like a wild ox, and the fierceness of lions.  "Blessed are those who bless you, and cursed are those who curse you" (v 9) repeats God's words in calling Abraham (Gen 12:3). Balaam also speaks of a future king of Israel: "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel..." (v 17). This could refer to King David, at least in part, but likely in its fullness it speaks of the coming Messiah, our Lord Jesus (Ps 2:7-9; Matt 2:2). See Constable's notes on this passage in the NET Bible.  

MY TAKEAWAY. Recently we read in Psalms, "Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts!" (Ps 65:4) In the past at many times, both Israel and the Church (in-grafted into Israel) have behaved poorly, and it is easy to become a critic of Jews, the Christian church, or the Judeo-Christian heritage in general. It is popular to bash organized religion, especially if it is Christianity! But the way God describes his people throughout the Bible shows us that he does not forsake his own, that he cherishes them, and that he will guard them to the end (Isa 49:15-16; Zech 2:8; Jn 10:27-28).  Do you have a high view of the church? Do you value the local church where Christ is honored and his word is preached? Or do you find it easy to be a critic and to hold yourself aloof from the assembly of God's people gathered in Christ's name?   

================  

Psalms 66-67.

"Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul." (Psalm 66:16) 

A GLOBAL FAITH. Both of these psalms have an international scope: "All the earth worships you and sings praises to you..." (66:4). These words are addressed to "all the peoples" and "nations" (Ps 66:5, 7; 67:2,3).  The psalmist calls them all to worship: "Let the nations be glad and sing for joy..." (67:4). God has blessed the earth, and so, "Let all the ends of the earth fear him" (67:7). Yahweh was not, and is not, a tribal deity. His praise is not limited to one culture or ethnicity. His authority is over all the nations (66:7) and he invites all to know and worship him. 

A LIGHT TO THE NATIONS.  Israel was to bless the surrounding nations by making the Lord known to them. One vital part of that was reciting Scripture and speaking testimony in the temple in Jerusalem.  There was a court in the temple specifically for seekers from other nations (the court of the Gentiles). So, an Israelite believer might be healed or blessed by God, and then he or she would come and present offerings and fulfill vows in the temple. This would include giving a verbal declaration of what God has done and offering praise in his name. "I will tell what he has done for my soul" (66:16). In this way, by hearing Scripture, testimonies, songs, and observing the offerings, a visitor to the temple might come to believe in the Lord. 

WHERE ISRAEL FAILED, the Light of the World has shone forth! When Jesus came to the court of the Gentiles it was a noisy, crowded commercial district, and not a place of prayer and reflection. Jesus himself has become the light for the nations (Isa 42:6; 49:6; 60:3; Jn 8:12). And now, as his followers we worship and proclaim the true God: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Pet 2:9). Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden" (Matt 5:14).

MY TAKEAWAY. Are you and I quick to give credit to the Lord for the blessings in our lives?  Are we speaking freely of what Christ has done for our souls? And not just in church -- there is a watching world around us.  We certainly must live well and not discredit his name.  But more, we must also speak clearly that it is the Lord who has blessed us and redeemed us: "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so..." (Ps 107:2)  And, "Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name" (Heb 13:15). Evangelism and worship are inseparable from each other. 


Image credit: photo from above the nation of Turkey looks out across the Aegean Sea, over Greece and onto the Ionian Sea where Sicily and the boot of Italy are barely visible. Taken from the International Space Station, courtesy nasa.gov. 
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. 
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The NET Bible is a free, online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.

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