Saturday, June 7, 2014

Numbers 15

Today's reading in our daily plan is Numbers 15. 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?)
  • After their disobedience and unsuccessful attempt to enter the promised land , the Israelites are condemned to wander 40 years in the desert.  
  • We see instructions being given in different areas regarding the Israelites relationship with God: how to bring an offering that is pleasing to God, how to atone (make amends) for unintentional sins, and how to handle those who sin intentionally.  
  • A man is stoned to death for working on the Sabbath.  
  • God gives the Israelites a visual reminder to help them remember His commands.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Our actions and our attitudes matter to God.  God was willing to forgive those who made unintentional errors if they realized their mistakes quickly and corrected them.  However, those who defiantly and deliberately sinned received a harsher judgment.  Intentional sin grows out of an improper attitude toward God.  A child who knowingly disobeys his parents challenges their authority and dares them to respond.  Both the act and the attitude have to be dealt with.  
  • Stoning a man for gathering wood on the Sabbath seems like a severe punishment, and it was.  This incident is probably recorded here as an example of the person who sins defiantly mentioned in verse 30.  This act - gathering wood on the Sabbath day - was a deliberate sin.  Every Israelite knew there was to be no work done on the Sabbath day.   

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • As children, we were taught to monitor our behavior.  We were taught to behave.  If we behaved properly, good things happened, regardless of what was going on in our hearts.  If we mis-behaved, not-so-good things happened.  As a result you and I became much better at monitoring our behavior than our hearts.  But God wants more than just good behavior.  He wants your heart.  In fact, if He has your heart, obedience to His commands will naturally follow.  So how are things with your heart?  What would it take for you to monitor your heart?  
  • While God does not require us to be stoned to death for breaking his commands, this story should remind us of how serious we should take God, His words, and His authority over us.  Are there areas of your relationship with God that you do not take as seriously as others?  Why?  What can you do to begin honoring God in those areas?  Not just with obedience, but with your heart?