Bible reading for May 4.
"And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes..." (Num 11:1)
AND SO THE COMPLAINTS BEGIN... Instead of talking TO the Lord about what they needed, they talk ABOUT him, with grumbling and complaining in their voices. The people are tired of manna and want some fish on the grill. The problem of ingratitude is one of the fundamental sins of the human condition (Rom 1:21). Adam and Eve, and we their descendants, do not like the boundaries which God places for us. We want more, we want better, we want something else, something other than this. And so we murmur in such a way that God gets the blame. At root is unbelief -- we don't believe that God cares or is able to provide what we need. The LORD says to Moses, "Is the LORD's hand shortened?" (11:23) That is, is God's power limited? We must always remind ourselves that God is able, and that he cares for us as his children. He may withhold things from us in his wisdom, but we should come to him as beloved children with our needs (Matt 7:9-11). We should always trust his wisdom and never doubt his power!
PLURALITY OF LEADERSHIP and the diversity of gifts. In the midst of this squabble, Moses himself is totally worn out with the burden of leading this discontented group of people. He just wants to die. In response the Lord raises up other burden-bearers to share the ministry with him. This distribution of the Spirit to many (11:17) is a picture of Christ giving his Spirit to the church (Rom 12:3-8; 1 Cor 12:4-11; Eph 4:11-15).
"Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever." (Ps 48:12-14)
WALK ABOUT ZION. This psalm, along with 46, 76, 84, 87, and 122, is categorized as a "Canticle [or Song] of Zion". That is, it is a psalm related to the holy city of Jerusalem. This city, built upon the mount called Zion, foreshadows the heavenly Jerusalem (Heb 12:22; Rev 21:2). Bible students differ as to the role of the earthly city of Jerusalem (located in Israel) in future events. Dispensationalists hold that end-time events will center on that city and it will become a glorious city during the millennium (Rev 20) in fulfillment of OT promises. Other scholars believe, now that Christ has come, that all the OT promises relate either to the church itself or to the future eternal state. But all agree on the final outcome: the glorious, eternal City of God is coming, and we share its blessings even now.
THE CITY OF GOD. God saves individuals, but he saves individuals and places them into a home (his Father's house) and into a new community, the City of God. This is the city where God dwells with his people forever. The church, however imperfect she may be, is a foretaste and a training academy to prepare us for our glorious future in that City. I hope that you can sing the following hymn joyfully with all the rest of God's children. It is one of my favorites:
I love Thy kingdom, Lord,
The house of Thine abode,
The Church our blest Redeemer bought
With His own precious blood.
I love the Church, O God!
Her walls before Thee stand,
Dear as the apple of Thine eye
And graven on Thy hand.
For her my tears shall fall,
For her my prayers ascend;
To her my cares and toils be given
Till toils and cares shall end.
Beyond my highest joy
I prize her heavenly ways,
Her sweet communion, solemn vows,
Her hymns of love and praise.
Sure as Thy truth shall last,
To Zion shall be given
The brightest glories earth can yield,
And brighter bliss of heaven.
Lyrics by Timothy Dwight (1752-1817)
Image above: the Citadel in Jerusalem, photo source unknown.
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, recommended online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.