Bible reading for May 26.
"These six cities shall be for refuge for the people of Israel, and for the stranger and for the sojourner among them, that anyone who kills any person without intent may flee there." (Numbers 35:15)
WITH STOPS ALONG THE WAY. Previously in Numbers: chapter 33 records the locations of Israel's wilderness camps over forty years. Chapter 34 gives directions on dividing the land once they enter and possess it. Chapter 35 tells of the cities to be set apart for the Levites, along with pasture lands. Six of these cities will be designated "cities of refuge", where those who were guilty of manslaughter (without premeditation or malicious intent) could flee for safety from those who would want to avenge the death. In a world where vengeance was common and courts were few, this was a step forward in justice, by providing fair hearings in a neutral city, time to cool off, and protection for those who did not intend harm. Our God is a righteous God who desires justice for all people. Intentions and circumstances do matter in determining justice.
DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HISTORY... Sorry, I was just reminded of that song. Once again, we see that the Bible is not only a book of doctrines about God, humanity, and salvation, but is a book rooted in history and geography. It is filled with the names of people, places, and events. Modern scholars may express doubt about its details but most historians take its record seriously. For more on this topic you may want to read "Archaeology and the Old Testament" here. And Peter Williams' article, "Modern Old Testament Study" here. Also, here's a longer interview on the RZIM site, "Is the Old Testament Fiction?" a podcast (with transcript). Archaeologist William Albright has summarized, "Discovery after discovery has established the accuracy of innumerable details, and has brought increased recognition to the value of the Bible as a source of history."
"He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his inheritance. With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand." (Psalm 78:70-72)
A LOOK BACK ON PSALM 78. This lengthy psalm of Asaph reflects on the dismal history of Israel's failures before God. One great need was for Israel to pass on truth from one generation to the next (vv 4-8). God gave the nation every blessing, but time and time again they rebelled against him and suffered judgment. One bright spot -- and the psalm ends on it -- is that there is hope in the lineage of David (vv 70-72). For a season the nation enjoyed the righteous rule (generally) of King David, who had a caring, shepherding heart to skillfully lead God's people in righteousness. In light of Psalm 2 and Psalm 110 this psalm leaves its hearers with the hope that another like him, and even better than him, will come and rule Israel with justice and into peace (2 Sam 7:16; Isa 9:7). This One is, as we know, the "Son of David" (Matt 1:1; 12:23; 21:9; 22:42), who is the the promised Messiah.
HOW LONG, O LORD? (PSALM 79) This psalm is similar to Psalm 74. See the notes on the May 21 post. One difference: here there is a recognition of the role that their own sin played in bringing about such calamitous judgment (vv 8-9). Sometimes we suffer unjustly, sometimes justly. Sometimes, it may be a mixture of both.
Image credit: photo above by Mukuko Studio on Unsplash.
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.
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