Numbers 26:1-51 + Luke 2:36-52 + Psalm 60:1-12 + Proverbs 11:15
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Old Testament - Today in Numbers chapter 26 we read about Israel's second census, which was commanded by God. (We'll read later in the Bible a census conducted by David that was not commanded by God, which was a sin.) This 2nd census in numbers was taken approximately 38 years after the first census. The first census in Numbers chapters 1 & 2 was taken after Israel had left Egypt. This second census is being taken just before the conquest of the Promised Land. In verse 51 today we read: "So the total number of Israelite men counted in the census numbered 601,730." This total of the second census compares to 603,550 from the first census, so is very comparable. These second census numbers obviously reflect the 24,000 deaths we read about in chapter 25 - so this number would have been higher. To me, overall, to see the numbers so similar over 38 years in the wilderness shows that God's hand of blessing was so clearly upon the Israelites. They were flourishing in the desert. Hopefully this is encouraging to us today. If we are in right relationship with God, I believe our lives will clearly flourish in whatever circumstances we might find ourselves in - even if we are in the desert!
New Testament - In Luke chapter 2 today we read about Jesus' wisdom at the young age of 12. How's this for a profound statement from Jesus to Mary & Joseph when they found him in the Temple in verse 49 - "But why did you need to search?" he asked. "You should have known that I would be in my Father's house." I like that! And I like that Jesus was paying such respect for the Temple as well - essentially calling it the house of God. I do believe this can be carried forward today to Jesus' love for his body, the church. I often think to myself, when I'm on my way to church, that "I'm going to the house of God." Do you believe that we can find Jesus today in his Father's house? Or are you searching elsewhere? I do believe of course Jesus can be found outside of church... but I also know that I oftentimes experience his presence so profoundly at church - and Communion in church clearly being one such a time & place where I cannot help but find Jesus in a profound way. Below is "Jesus in the Temple at Twelve" by Duccio di Buoninsegna from the early 14th century:
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Luke titled "The Day Jesus went AWOL" :) is at this link..
Psalms - I like the imagery of Psalm 60 verse 4 a lot - "But you have raised a banner for those who honor you -- a rallying point in the face of attack." I do believe that if we honor God, he will in some profound way "raise up a banner" for us. A banner that will rally and encourage us in the face of attack - in the face of doubt or despair or sickness or just plain old fashioned attack from the Enemy - I believe God will give us a banner of hope. This banner could end up being one of a million different things I think, depending on the circumstances. For me, certainly a banner that rallies me each and every day is God's very Word, the Bible. I believe the Bible is indeed a banner that rallies us in the face of attack... What are some banners in your life that God is providing to rally you in the face of attack? Uh-oh, this whole banner imagery has reminded me of an old childhood song... :) Remember that children's song that goes something like this (over and over and over again...) - "Peter built the church on the rock of our faith. HIS banner over me is love."? What a great simple song! God's love very well should be a banner in our lives!
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 11 verse 15 is saying one thing - which I get - but for some reason today, something else is being said to my heart. Here's the verse: "Guaranteeing a loan for a stranger is dangerous; it is better to refuse than to suffer later." It's that last half of this verse that is jumping out at me - and in a way unrelated to loan guarantees. :) Here's the tangent this verse brought to mind for me today. I am someone who does not do a very good job of "refusing" much of anything. I say yes to way too much and take on way too much. And part of me really enjoys this - I feel wanted, loved, invited, needed, busy, etc. But then... I suffer later. I then feel overbooked, stretched thin, and just plain tired and grouchy. So, for me, the second half of this verse tonight is a good verse on boundaries - it's better to refuse than suffer later.... I like that.... I need that!
Worship Video: Today's readings remind me of Zach Williams song "Old Church Choir:"
Do you have an old church choir in your soul? Click here and Sing!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "Why were you searching for me?" he asked. "Didn't you know I had to be in my Father's house?" Luke 2:49 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you will look for Jesus today in his Father's house, heaven, seated at His Father's right hand side in glory. Pray that you won't ever need to search for Jesus, but know that He is with you always, even to the very end of the age.
Comments from You & Questions of the Day: Based on my Proverb reflections above, how are you with setting boundaries? Do you know when to say No and when to say Yes? What are some disciplines you practice to make sure you set appropriate boundaries? Has anyone read the "Boundaries" book I show above by Henry Cloud? I hear it is fantastic from friends of mine that have read it! In fact, I heard it's great for small groups too. May be just what the doctor ordered for me... Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our One Year Bible readings at this link.
p.s. #2 - Download a schedule of our One Year Bible readings for the year in PDF format at this link.
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Mike you said, “They were flourishing in the desert. Hopefully this is encouraging to us today. If we are in right relationship with God, I believe our lives will clearly flourish in whatever circumstances we might find ourselves in - even if we are in the desert.”
After reading your statement I was reminded of a verse in Isaiah,
18 Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs forth; do you not perceive and know it and will you not give heed to it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
20 The beasts of the field honor Me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen, (43:18-20 Amp)
Throughout history it has always been under severe hardships when men rise to greatness. Maybe its because we are forced to look outside of ourselves after having tried everything in our own strength and failed, that we turn our focus to God and then and only then He makes “streams in the desert.”
I’ve heard it said that we are always looking for that mountain top experience, that-knock-you-off-your feet high that comes when we have an encounter with God. That feeling is indescribable and incredible, but it is in the valley where the fruit grows. It is in the valley where we get the sustenance to sustain us as we journey up to the mountain ‘cause food doesn’t grow up there. It is in the valley where we learn to live the full life God has planned for us so we can hang out on the mountaintop above the frost line, for a season.
Thanks Mike for giving that original image of flourishing in dry places. Come to think of it when there is no surface water we must send our roots way down into the earth, into God, the Father, where we will find Living Water but where our roots will attach themselves to the bedrock of faith.
The last two verses in this passage, fifty-one and fifty two, give us a clue about Jesus’ humanity.
Jesus was God but God had set aside His royalty and walked this earth as a man. I know that because of these two verses.
51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
1) Jesus subjected Himself to his mother and father, God doesn’t do that: they would subject themselves to Him if He walked this earth as God.
2) God doesn’t increase in wisdom because all Wisdom belongs to Him and came from Him. But this verse says that He increased.
3) Increasing in stature can refer to many things: physical growth, community standing, and importance. God is a “grown” as He is going to get and without Him this universe would not exist so He is already important.
4) God would not grow in favor with God and it wouldn’t matter if God grew in favor with man because whether or not God’s reputation grew with man God is still God.
I am not saying that Jesus is not God because clearly the scripture states, “In the beginning was the Word (Jesus) and the Word was God and Word was with God. (John 1:1) But He did set-aside His Identity, His power, His Divinity to become our Redemptive Lamb of God.
This is an important Psalm and I just found that out because I read the note at the beginning before the 1st verse,
“For the choir director: A psalm of David useful for teaching, regarding …” The emphasis should be on the word “teaching.” This note goes on to say,
“…regarding the time David fought Aram-naharaim and Aram-zobah, and Joab returned and killed twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.”
There must be some great nuggets of “Truth” in these twelve verses that will yield some very valuable lessons in life and there probably needs to be some studying of the history of this battle Joab, David’s nephew and General, commanded and fought. Hmmm!
Guaranteeing a loan for someone you know is dangerous, much less a stranger. When you do this, especially when you don’t have the amount in question just lying around, you set yourself up to serve someone else’s choices. Ouch! It’s hard enough serving our own bad choices let alone a stranger’s.
Grace and peace,
Posted by: Ramona | March 17, 2023 at 02:17 AM
OT - Mike and Ramona - have a different take on flourishing in Wilderness.
Flourishing should indicate a growth in numbers from last census. This census was around 2,000 light from previous count. We will see tomorrow that only Joshua and Caleb were in both body counts. Why? Because of the lack of faith on original try to enter Canaan, sin, disobedience and the death of all who originally left Egypt with Moses.
Siooo...what I see is God maintaining a viable Israelite contingent - establishing a new creation and getting rid of the old. (See a picture of Salvation here?) - God will monitor, provide and is faithful to His word to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
NT - From my first year as a Christian (age 49) have wondered in these passages - Did Jesus ever run into these teachers, from the temple, in his adult ministry? Did He recognize them? Did they remember that precocious boy? Wonder if any were in his disciple group, or were any in the early group of converts in Acts?
Posted by: mitch | March 17, 2023 at 08:19 PM