Wednesday, May 20 2020
WHY DO YOU STAND HERE LOOKING INTO THE SKY? We Christians spend most of our lives consumed with the world around us. How can it be that even the phenomenal events during the 40 days after Jesus’s resurrection seem to be lost in the shuffle of our pandemic woes? If the disciples were here today, they would surely excitedly tell us these were the most precious days of their entire lives!
We NEED this timely lesson from the Almighty to remind us that just as the disciples treasured these divinely appointed days, so should we. Counting forward 40 days from His resurrection on the 16th day of God's 1st month, April 10 on our 2020 calendar, would pinpoint around May 19-20 as the anniversary of Jesus' ascension into heaven.
God's Word records the Resurrected Son of God sharing, worshipping, and performing miracles to as many as 500 of His disciples in Jerusalem and the Galilee during 11 separate occasions.
His more intimate encounters include the description of "Doubting Thomas" as he put his finger into the nail hole on Jesus hand. Still incredulous, he put his entire hand into the wound in the side of His Lord. "Then He (Jesus) said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put in into my side. Stop doubling and believe.'" John 20:27.
Jesus even tucked in a special message to us 21st century believers when He said to Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. John 20:29
Who can forget the poignant pictures in John 21 of the miraculous catch Jesus gave several of the disciples after they had fished all night and netted nothing. Jesus even stayed around to make breakfast for the all of them from their catch. Afterwards, He gave Peter, the disciple who had denied Him three times, the opportunity to say that He loved Jesus, not once, but three times…
The "disciple whom Jesus loved", closed the book of John with this astute observation of Jesus' incredible 40 days: "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." John 21:25
Yes, this second month on God's calendar is the divinely appointed time for Jesus to appear to His disciples after His Resurrection. It is also the month just before the Pentecost fulfillment of His incredible promise that He would not leave us alone as orphans, but would send us “…another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:16-17.
The book of Acts records the last words of Jesus, spoken from the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives at Bethany. "’...you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’” Acts 1:8-10.
Indeed, why do we stand here looking into the vast expanse of this world, seeing only our current woes! Can we not see exactly what has happened, as it was appointed 3500 years ago in Leviticus 23? The Jewish babe born in Bethlehem as foretold by the prophets, was condemned to die on the Holy day of Passover by the same religious folk who claimed to serve the Almighty God of the Universe. The appointed and anointed Lamb of God conquered death, rose from the grave, and became the Holy and acceptable Firstfruit offering for the entire timeline of mankind, guaranteeing our future resurrection. And this same Jesus ascended to heaven as a physical man bearing the bodily scars of His death as proof of His resurrection!
John 14:26 also says He has gifted us with the powerful presence of an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom He promised “…will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
And that is exactly what is happening at this very moment. The Holy Spirit is reminding us that just as the disciples witnessed Jesus returning to heaven, so shall the people of God soon witness the Son of Man returning to rule and reign over this earth, His Kingdom, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords! It makes everything else going on in this world pale in comparison!
WHY DO YOU STAND HERE LOOKING INTO THE SKY?
Thursday, May 14 2020
THEY BURIED THE PEOPLE THAT HAD A CRAVING…3500 years ago, during May 14-17 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar, God sent a plague upon a nation who claimed to worship Him but were never satisfied with His direction and provision. God's Word records many of them complained to death, literally. “Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving...They buried the people who had the craving.” Numbers 11:4,34.
The Hebrew phrase “strong craving” is translated “lusted a lust”. Of course, we Christians will protest that we don’t lust. But that isn't true, and we all know it. Even if we don’t get mired knee-deep in sexual desires, we salivate over a mouth-watering steak or make the statement that a favored object is “to die for”. Nowadays, we also lust for our lost lives and freedoms, and want them back, without considering that it may cost us more than we dream possible.
Without realizing it, restoring our former lifestyle and worship can quickly become our main focus, and effectively, our idols. We need to proceed cautiously. We need God's Word to remind us that the Israelites' craving could have seemed as innocent and justified, too. But in the end many of God’s chosen people were severely chastised to the point of death and buried in unmarked graves in the Wilderness. They never made it to the Promised Land.
The Almighty has appointed this specific scripture for our review during the next few days. In fact, everything that has ever happened and will happen is designated on His calendar for the world He created. According to His appointment, May 14 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar is the 20th day of the second month on God's calendar. It marked the beginning of the Israelites journey to Paran, where many died because of their cravings and complaints about what they had to give up to follow God's direction..
“On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle of the covenant law. Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran..." Numbers 10:11-13
The Hebrew word “Numbers” actually means “in the Wilderness”. Even as God led them by the movement of His mighty presence in the Cloud of Glory, His people grumbled and doubted Him. Just one year earlier, God had provided manna and water to sustain and nourish their physical lives. https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/2957177574362412
Not long after, He set up the Tabernacle of Testimony, the very picture of the death of His Own Son as sacrifice for their sins, to meet their spiritual needs. But their hunger for the ways of the world was seldom satiated by God’s provision.
Remember that the Israelites set out on the 20th day of the second month, May 14 on our 2020 calendar. They traveled 3 days following the Ark of the Covenant and the Cloud of the Lord, probably arriving in Paran on the 22nd or 23rd day of the second month on God’s calendar, May 16 or 17.
It wasn’t long before God’s chosen people started murmuring and complaining, even though He had delivered them from bondage to a corrupt government, just as they had asked. "Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when He heard them, His anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp." Numbers 11:1.
The murmuring didn’t stop. Read these excerpts from the rest of the chapter: "And the people of Israel also wept again and said, 'Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.' "
"Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. The people went about and gathered it and ground it in handmills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in pots and made cakes of it. And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it."
"Moses heard the people weeping throughout their clans, everyone at the door of his tent. And the anger of the Lord blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased. Moses said to the Lord...'Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, “Give us meat, that we may eat…”
"…Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘…say to the people, “Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat...You shall not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the Lord who is among you and have wept before him, saying, ‘Why did we come out of Egypt?’ ”
"But Moses said, ‘The people among whom I am number six hundred thousand on foot, and you have said, “I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month!” Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, and be enough for them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, and be enough for them?’ ”
“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Is the Lord's hand shortened? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.’ ”
"...Then a wind from the Lord sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day's journey on this side and a day's journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the ground. And the people rose all that day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail…While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck down the people with a very great plague. Therefore the name of that place was called Kibroth-Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had the craving."
Be careful what you ask for, and what you think you absolutely must have. God may give it to you by the bucketloads to the point where you will literally gag to death from what you prayed for.
If we have joined the majority of "God's chosen" still fixated on what WE want, instead of what GOD wants for us, even in simple basics like food and lifestyle, we are part of what His Word identifies as “the rabble”. The Hebrew transliteration used here is “asaphsuph" and it is the only place it is used in the entire Bible. It's a a word specifically used to identify the unfaithful “rift-raft” whose cravings for the things of this world spread like wildfire through the congregation of God’s chosen people.
Cravings come in all shapes and sizes, but they always reflect our deceitful hearts. Nowadays, it seems our inner craving is to pursue the freedoms that we deem are rightfully due us as citizens of this country. Many are justifying this by asserting that our worship of the Almighty is hampered and lacking because these perceived freedoms have been taken away. If that is true, perhaps it’s time we see our buildings, programs, and worship grandeur as idols that God is revealing right now through the power of His Word.
Indeed, we Christians today stand squarely in an idolatry issue, just as God's chosen people of Israel did. They had prayed for God’s deliverance but were fearful and unwilling to have their lifestyle and destiny rearranged by God’s direction, just as we are. Perhaps during this time during our own COVID19 pandemic, God is using this memorial on His calendar to warn us that we need to bury our cravings before they bury us, just like they did many Israelites.
The harsh reality is we all deserve the same penalty the rabble of Israel received. But The Almighty has always had a plan in place. He loved us so much He sent His Only Begotten Son "..so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
So now, we won’t end up like the Israelites in the wilderness of Kibroth-Hattaavah, which literally means "Graves of Craving".
Or will we? The choice is ours.
“Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving...They buried the people who had the craving”
Saturday, May 09 2020
IN THE MORNING YOU WILL SEE THE GLORY OF THE LORD…Lately we Christians have been reduced to just plain-old grumbling about our current circumstances. It is no coincidence that God Almighty has appointed this lesson for us at exactly this time. Like the ancient Israelites, we have been crying out to God for deliverance, and our patience is fading fast. Listen now as the Lord speaks: “… In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him…” Exodus 16:6
3500 years ago on the 15th day of God's second month, May 9, on our 2020 Gregorian calendar, a million or so Israelites arrived in the Desert of Sin after a traumatic introduction to a plague that took the lives of many Egyptians.
Though the plague itself was meant to deliver them from toiling their lives away under an oppressive government, which was exactly what they had prayed to be delivered from, they quickly decided that all the changes they were faced with were just too much to handle. Even though it was obvious there were under the protection and direction of the Almighty Himself, they were being asked to leave their old life behind and follow Him out into totally uncharted territory. After only a month of following God Himself and witnessing the miracles He was providing for their deliverance, they were reduced to second guessing His leadership, and grumbling, demanding their old lives back.
“The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.’” Exodus 16:1-3.
After crying out to God for deliverance, they began their exodus from Egypt just hours after the Death Angel miraculously “passed over” their firstborn. The Red Sea literally parted so they could escape the pursuing Egyptians, and then thundered back over, drowning their enemy. Then God led them to the Desert of Shur, where He not only provided water for them, but sweetened it when they complained that it was too bitter. The Almighty then provided an oasis of rest in Elim, right in the middle of a vast desert, complete with 70 palm trees and 12 springs of water.
They certainly had ample time to reflect on how blessed they were to be following the Almighty and be on the receiving end of all those miracles! Instead, after leaving their oasis and arriving in the Desert of Sin, their grumbling only intensified. “Sin”, pronounced “Seen”, is a Hebrew transliteration of the word “thorn”. Indeed, God’s provision was quickly viewed as a thorn in their religious side. Can we hear God’s eternal Word as it crosses the chasm of time to convict us of our own 2020 religious “thorn”?
‘In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?... You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.’… While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.” Exodus 16:6, 8,10.
How incredible would it be to have a Christian leader say to us, “In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord…” 3500 years later, Exodus 16 is still about the glory of the Lord, and our response.
Exodus 16:4, 22-23 explains that the Lord sent manna and commanded the Sabbath. “Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days... Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. He said to them, “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord.' ”
Yes, it is during the Exodus that the very first Sabbath day of rest is biblically appointed for mankind. From this point forward in our lesson, you will need to follow this timing very closely to receive the full blessing of God’s provision.
A week of time was appointed, and during that week the ONLY day of rest from collecting manna was the 7th day counted forward from the 15th day of the second month, noted in Exodus 16:1. That would put the first Sabbath observed by God’s chosen people as the 22nd day of the 2nd month.
The weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread, like the Passover, was revealed to the Israelites at the time of the Exodus (Exodus 12-13) The Israelites were delivered from Egypt on the 15th day, but in the first month on God’s calendar as recorded in Exodus 12 and Numbers 33. That 15th day of the first month was also appointed by The Almighty as the first day of Unleavened Bread and designated a Sabbath in Leviticus 23:6-7.
That means that Sabbath days were reckoned back then by the lunar cycle of each month, and not by the count of 7 days. Each month is 29-30 days long, which makes it impossible for the Sabbath to fall on the 15th day in both of two consecutive months, counting by 7's. Each month counted in that same manner every single month means the Sabbath days were appointed on the 8th, 15th, 22, and 29th. The 1st day of the month was called New Moon Day in 1 Samuel 20:5,18, 24, 2 Chronicles 2:4, 31:3, Ezekiel 46:1-3, and considered a consecrated, holy day with worship and sacrifices. Isaiah 66:23 states the New Moon Day and the Sabbath Day will remain appointments in the New Kingdom of Jesus.
Let’s pause here and receive a true blessing from the precision appointments of the Almighty. Remember we learned that the Israelites left Egypt on the 15th day of the first month, the first day of God’s appointed Holy Week called the Feast of Unleavened Bread, beginning and ending on a Sabbath. We also learned that Moses said on the evening of the 15th, a Sabbath, “In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord”. The next morning would have been the 16th day of the 2nd month.
God’s commandment in Leviticus 23:10-14 for the same time period during the 1st month is to bring the first grain harvested, also known as Firstfruits, wave it on the day AFTER the Sabbath so God would accept it as a pleasing sacrifice on behalf of the people’s sins. Also offered was a year old lamb without defect as a sacrifice, together with flour mixed with olive oil, and a cup of wine. “This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.”
Here we clearly see the sacrificial Lamb of God together with the unleavened bread, which Jesus refers to as “my body” and the cup of wine as "the new covenant in my blood".
On the 16th day of the first month, Jesus, the Unleavened Bread, rose from the dead, from the earth itself, just as the unleavened bread did for the Israelites on the morning of the 16th day of the 2nd month. “I will rain down bread from heaven for you…At twilight you will eat meat. In the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord Your God…In the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost appeared on the desert floor.” Exodus 16:4,13-14
Yes, in the midst of all our grumbling and fear of the unknown, we can clearly see Jesus, having come down from heaven, seeded in the ground as man, rising from the earth, able to sustain and nourish us all the way to the Promised Land. In fact, Jesus Himself is saying to us right now, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.” John 6:51
What more do we need?
IN THE MORNING YOU WILL SEE THE GLORY OF THE LORD…
Sunday, April 26 2020
ON THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD IT WILL BE PROVIDED…Easily the most hotly contested and desired real estate on planet Earth, Mount Moriah’s 4000 year history is literally, out of this world. When Abraham faithfully obeyed God’s call to sacrifice his son on the mount, a ram was provided, and Isaac was spared. After hearing the words of the Lord on the mountain and the gift of the ram, Abraham made this statement in Genesis 22:14: “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided”.
2000 years later when Jesus, the Firstborn Son of God Almighty, was NOT spared, He became God’s appointed sacrifice for the sins of the entire human race on the very same “mountain of the LORD”.
Today, Mount Moriah is not actually a single mountain top, but an elongated ridge that rises on the southern end of current day Jerusalem and continues past the Muslim Temple Mount. It stretches northeast past the present Damascus Gate of the Old City. Historically, the location and name of Mount Zion was used interchangeably with Mount Moriah to refer to the area of the Temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock Shrine currently sits.
About 1000 years after Abraham climbed Mount Moriah, 2 Samuel 24 records that King David purchased the very same site. After he built an altar to the Lord as instructed by an angel, King David gathered together a fortune in materials to build an elaborate temple to the Lord to worship Him there.
David wrote this to his son, Solomon, who would later complete the temple: “…I have taken great pains to provide for the temple of the Lord a hundred thousand talents of gold, a million talents of silver, quantities of bronze and iron too great to be weighed, and wood and stone. And you may add to them. You have many workers: stonecutters, masons and carpenters, as well as those skilled in every kind of work in gold and silver, bronze and iron—craftsmen beyond number. Now begin the work, and the Lord be with you…” 2Chronicles 22:13-16.
100,000 talents of gold, at 75 pounds a talent, adds up to a whopping 7,500,000 pounds of gold alone. Today, gold is trading at $1,750 an ounce, which would make 100,000 talents of gold worth $210,000,000,000.00 That’s 210 billion dollars! At the current trading price of $15.17 per ounce for silver, 1,000,000 talents of silver or 75,000,000 lbs, that’s another staggering $18,204,000,000.00 dollars’ worth of silver. That’s 18 billion, 204 million dollars! That’s a total of 228,204,000,000 in gold and silver alone, by current prices. And that’s not even counting the bronze and iron in amounts too great to be weighed!
“Then Solomon began to build the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David. He began building on the second day of the second month in the fourth year of his reign.” 2Chronicles 3:1-2.
This is certainly timely scripture for us today. If we move past the confines of this world, and follow God’s calendar, using the first month as He appointed in Exodus 12:1, April 26 on our 2020 Gregorian calendar was the second day of His second month, the 3000th or so anniversary for the beginning construction of Solomon’s historic temple.
According to 1 Kings 6:38, it was built on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem and it took 7 years to complete. King Solomon prayed these words at the dedication ceremonies of the temple in 1 Kings 8:27-28. “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.”
Solomon was right. His Temple couldn’t contain the Almighty. The grand and glorious site was destroyed and rebuilt again, with work also beginning again in God’s appointed 2nd month. Solomon’s question “Will God really dwell on earth?” would be answered over 900 years later with the dedication of the infant Jesus in the rebuilt Second Temple. Later, during a Passover, teaching in the same Temple, He would amaze religious sages at the age of 12 with his teachings. “I must be about my Father’s business…” in Luke 2:49.
At the beginning of His three-year ministry many years later, Jesus again got the attention of the Jews near another Passover feast when He drove the money changers with their sacrifices from the Temple, in John 2:13-17. He announced to one and all, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up again in three days.”
Jesus also expressed His great love and grief for His people, and predicted the demise of the very Temple and city they stood in. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’" Matthew 23:37-39.
Fulfilling the words of Jesus, the Romans once again destroyed the Temple in 70AD. Nothing physically remains now except the Western Wall, which was built as a retaining wall on the mountain for the large stone structures that were built on the top. Known as the “Wailing Wall”, it has been a place for prayer for the Jews for many centuries.
Indeed, The Almighty has never really stopped building temples, the dwelling place of God on earth. Jesus said of Himself in Luke 11:31: “Now one greater than Solomon is here…” And He’s paid the ultimate price for His Temple, more precious than $228,204,000,000 in gold and silver!
“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
Heaven on earth?!? Yes, the veil of the Temple has been rent, and mankind has been invited in to testify that Jesus is the Son of God! “When Jesus died, the curtain in the Temple was torn into two pieces. The tear started at the top and tore all the way to the bottom. The army officer who was standing there in front of the cross saw what happened when Jesus died. The officer said, ‘This man really was the Son of God!’” Mark 15:38-39.
It’s interesting to note that the officer could see the outer curtain of the temple as it ripped in two. There is only one place where this would have been physically possible: from the top of Golgotha, on Mount Moriah. Located only 1000 or so feet from the northern ancient Sheep Gate where the lamb sacrifices entered, it fits with God’s pattern for the location of His perfect sacrifice. “And he shall kill it (the sacrifice) on the side of the altar northward before the LORD.” Leviticus 1, 11.
Still, there is absolutely no way to know exactly where Jesus was crucified and buried. And quite honestly, if there were, religious folks would have enshrined the location by now, just like they have done to countless other Biblical sites. But isn’t it just like the Father to remove from our midst any possible physical worship that would detract from true worship “in spirit and truth”!
There have also been questions posed as to exactly how much of Jerusalem the Mount of Mariah actually encompasses, and whether Jesus was technically crucified within its boundaries. But for those of us who have learned how mindful God is of the smallest of details, we already know the answers. And we don't need physical proof to back it up. Because the ultimate sacrifice for all the sins of every single human who has ever walked planet Earth was provided on God’s chosen mount, once and for all, just like Genesis 22:14 pronounced.
Heaven on earth!
ON THE MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD IT WILL BE PROVIDED.
Saturday, April 25 2020
EVERY MAN BY NAME...The Lord said to Abraham in Genesis 15:5: “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them…so shall your offspring be.” Today, astronomers estimate there are ten thousand billion trillion stars. That’s a 1 followed by 25 zeros and lots of exclamation points. 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000!!!
We soar even higher into the heavens as we read Psalm 147:4 “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” This teaches us something very important about the Almighty. He alone creates and decides how it will all come together. And absolutely no detail is overlooked. His creations are so precious that He calls them individually by name, even the stars.
Indeed, every single human on planet Earth is so important to Him that right at this very moment, He knows the exact number of hairs on their head! “And even the very hairs on your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid, you are worth more…” Matthew 10:30-31.
Yes, God is all about order and details. And love. And mercy. The evening of April 24th on our 2020 Gregorian calendar began the 1st day of God’s second month. This month is all about counting and numbers. Noah’s Ark also completed its 40-day journey near the end of this month. We count forward 40 days from Christ’s resurrection in the first month to His ascension into heaven during the 2nd month. We also count forward 50 days from Jesus' resurrection to the date of the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, in the 3rd month.
Also on the very first day of God's appointed 2nd month, God ordered Moses to begin a census of the Israelites in the desert. The Almighty is so detail oriented that He began to record this very census in the 1st verse of the 1st chapter of the Old Testament book called “Numbers”.
“The Lord spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. You and Aaron are to count according to their divisions all the men in Israel who are twenty years old or more and able to serve in the army.” Numbers 1:1-3.
There is a lot to be learned in these opening verses. A chosen group of people, named Israel by God Himself, was called into the presence of their Maker and recognized for their individual worth. The Almighty had specific plans in mind for them and an appointed destiny. And that destiny would include waging a fierce battle against their enemy.
We Christians can look back at this Exodus and literally see the face of Jesus Christ over and over again. We see Him as the very reason Israel was freed from Egypt in the first place. He is the Passover Lamb whose blood that was applied to the doorposts of their homes so that the death angel would “pass over” them. He is the sacrificial lamb that was eaten that evening to sustain them during their coming wilderness journey. He is the manna from heaven that sprang forth from the earth to nourish them during their entire 40-year journey. And He is the living water that flowed from the desert rock to quench their insatiable thirst. In fact, God's word tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 that we all partake of the same heavenly nourishment the Israelites did over 3500 years ago!
"I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel."
"These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Thanks to God's powerful Word as it has traversed the history of mankind, we’re beginning to see where our weaknesses as Christians REALLY lie, and who the enemy really is. And it isn’t COVID19. “Do not be idolaters… We should not test Christ… And do not grumble… These… are warnings for us… So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.”
The journey continues. And so do the struggles. The Exodus of the Old Testament is pointing us toward the final Exodus of the New Testament. And in between there are what? TEMPTATIONS? And no one is immune? And just when you’re tempted to be tempted, He provides a way out?!?
Sadly, because they resisted the Lord and fell victim to their temptations, very few of the men listed in the original census of the Israelites made it to the Promised Land. Numbers 14:30-34 recounts God's judgment for the rebellion of the Israelites.
"Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But you--your bodies will fall in this desert. Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert. For forty years--one year for each of the forty days you explored the land--you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.'
We close today's lesson with this final truth. One day there will be a final census to end all censuses. And if your name is not included in that census book…
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15
“Take a census…listing every man by name…one by one.”