Bible reading for weekend May 9-10.
"And the LORD said to Aaron, 'You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.'" (Numbers 18:20)
AUTHORITY (Num 17). God confirms his choice of Aaron and his descendants for the priesthood. Clear delineation of leadership and authority is vital to the well-being of any community. Who's in charge? Who has the right to say what's right and wrong? Even more fundamental: who has the right to tell us about God and who he is and what he wants? God gave miraculous confirmation to the nation as to his choice of Aaron as priest. In the New Testament God has also miraculously confirmed his Son to be Lord over all (John 20:30-31; Rom 1:4-5). And by sign and wonder he has also confirmed the apostles, whom he chose to be his representatives on earth (Acts 2:43; 2 Cor 12:12; Heb 2:3-4). Several decades ago Carl F. H. Henry (theologian, author, founder of Christianity Today) wrote that the biggest issue in modern life was the crisis of authority. He said, "The problem of authority, which haunts all arenas of thought and life today, turns ultimately on the reality of God in his revelation." This is even more true today!
INHERITANCE (Num 18). This chapter discusses the duties and provisions for the priests and the Levites. The Levites were to guard (protect) the temple precinct. (See Bible reading for April 26.) The "covenant of salt" (v 19) means a permanent, irrevocable covenant, since salt was a preservative and was offered with every sacrifice. For priests and Levites alike, the Lord himself would be their inheritance ("portion", v 20), rather than the land that they would be entering. In Christ we too are heirs, and will inherit a new heaven and earth. Yet our hearts should echo the words of Psalm 73:25-26, "God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Sometimes people think that certain persons or activities in heaven will make it a wonderful place, such as loved ones, pets, golfing, motorcycle riding, etc. But what makes heaven (and the new heaven and new earth) so wonderful is the presence of the Wonder of wonders, our Savior and Lord himself. "They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads" (Rev 22:4).
THE RED HEIFER (Num 19) and the water for purification. For the details on this please read Constable's notes in the NET Bible here. It's ironic that what removes the uncleanness of death is another death, a sacrificial death. The Puritan John Owen once wrote a classic treatise on the atoning work of Christ, entitled, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. That sums it up! What we may see as tragic, namely the shedding of blood and death, when undertaken by the Son of God, results in the death of death itself.
"In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?" (Psalm 56:10-11)
LAMENTS. These three psalms are called "individual laments", that is, King David is praying to God about the opposition he is receiving from others toward his reign in Israel. We shouldn't think of these as people who merely disagreed with David on some matter, but they were those who were working toward his downfall, even violently. Two of the psalms (56, 57) regard such opponents, and one (55) concerns a friend who has become a betrayer. There are many beautiful expressions of trust that we too can echo... "Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you" (55:22); "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you" (56:3); "You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?" (56:8); "...in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by" (57:1).
OUR REAL ENEMIES are not human, or "flesh and blood" (Eph 6:12), but we do face opposition as members of Christ's kingdom. Our salvation is a working of God's power, and there are spiritual forces that actively work against us growing in righteousness and holiness. Psalms such as these are wonderful guides for prayer. Read a verse at a time. Ask the Holy Spirit to illumine you in the way to pray these words back to the Lord. The Psalms are not only for singing but for praying, too.
Image credit: photo by Ben White 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.
The NET Bible is a free, online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.