Saturday, June 14, 2014

Numbers 17

Today's reading in our daily plan is Numbers 17. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • In the previous chapter a man named Korah led 250 influential people from the Israelite community in a rebellion against Moses and Aaron, who were God's appointed leaders. In this chapter God is, again, showing the people that Aaron is his ordained leader.
  • They place the staffs "in the Tent of Meeting in front of the Testimony". This was the place where God would meet with Moses, and also where the Ten Commandments were kept.
  • God miraculously has Aaron's staff sprout in an abundant way, so there would be no question in the people's minds that they were to follow Aaron (and Moses) from now on.
  • The Israelites (finally) recognize the error of their ways and realize that the appropriate penalty for their sin is death. (See the post from June 8 on Numbers 16 for more on this.)

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • This story is one of God's grace. Grace means to get the opposite of what you deserve. God has always made it clear that the penalty for sin is death. The Israelites had sinned against God. They deserved death. But rather than take their lives, God engineers this "showdown" to lead the people to repent, to put their faith back in Him so they can avoid what they deserve.
  • The reason we are still alive is God's grace. But ultimately we will all physically die. At that point our bodies end their journey, but our souls continue forever. The question is where. If we turn to God and put our faith in Him in this life, He will treat us with grace and give us eternity in Heaven in the life to come.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • We see (for instance, in Numbers 16) that the Israelites thought they deserved a lot from God (and complained bitterly that they didn't have it), but the truth is that they had sinned and deserved death. Finally, here in Numbers 17, they recognize what they really deserve from God, and turn in faith to Him. What do you think you deserve from God? How do you respond when you don't get what you think you deserve? What has God done in your life to help you see your sinfulness so you might turn in faith to Him? Have you? If so, how much and how often are you appreciative of the grace gift of life He's given you?