June 8 – Vow and Pay
Read Leviticus 27
The principle throughout Leviticus 27 is this: if one vowed to dedicate someone or something to Jehovah and then changed his mind, he was required to pay the value of the offering plus 20 (one-fifth) percent interest to redeem it. (God does not value the souls of females, children, and the elderly less than he does the souls of able-bodied men. The estimated worth of people here is based on their ability as physical laborers.) Why that principle? God desired to discourage rash vows. This is the final chapter of Leviticus, the theme of which is “Ye shall be holy; for I am holy” (ch. 11:44). Our God is forever faithful to his covenant. In light of his faithfulness we are warned, “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it…Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay” (Ecc. 5:4–5).
Have you professed your faith, married another, or presented a child for baptism? On those occasions you made vows before God. Are you faithful to the vows that you made?
Sing or pray Psalter #207.
June 9 – The Numbered People
Read Numbers 1
The book of Numbers can be divided into three sections. The first section takes place at Sinai, the second section in the wilderness of Paran, and the third section in the Moab plains. Prophets, psalmists, and apostles frequently refer to the stories recounted in this book. Numbers includes two censuses, one at its beginning and one near its end.
The men counted in Numbers 1 are those 20 years old and up who were able to go to war. These are same men who were previously required to pay half a shekel as “a ransom for his soul” (Ex. 30:12). Jehovah’s elect are a numbered people. Are you among those purchased by his Son’s blood? Jesus’s work for a person is always accompanied by his work in that individual. Those who are ransomed must take arms to fight against Satan, the world, and their own sinful selves. 2 Timothy 2:19 declares, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Do you claim his name? Then fight your sin.
Sing or pray Psalter #292.
June 10 – God in the Midst
Read Numbers 2
God instructed that when Israel camped, the tabernacle would be in the middle of the people, with the Levities, who were not numbered with those able to go to war, surrounding it. The remaining tribes were assigned stations to the east, south, west, and north. When they marched, Judah, the tribe from which the Captain of the Lord’s hosts would one day come, set out first, followed by the camp led by Reuben, the Levites bearing the tabernacle, the camp led by Ephraim, and the camp led by Dan. Whether camping or marching, the tabernacle was in the middle of the entire company. “God is in the midst of her,” Psalm 46:5 declares of the city of God, “she shall not be moved.” That was true of “the city of God,” that is, God’s people, in the wilderness as well.
The center of something is not just its middle point. It is “the point from which an activity or process is directed, or on which it is focused.” Consider the sun, which is the center of our solar system and the source of all life-giving energy for our planet. Who or what is at the center of your life?
Sing or pray Psalter #128.
June 11 – Station and Calling
Read Numbers 3
Moses now numbers the Levites. The Levites from one month old and upward are numbered, for they were to take the place of the firstborn, whose lives Jehovah claimed when he spared Israel’s firstborn in Egypt. All firstborn were to be redeemed at one month of age (see Num. 18:15-17). Then Moses counts all the firstborn from the 11 other tribes. Finally, Moses collects five shekels for each of the surplus 273 firstborn and gives that money to Aaron and his sons. How tedious all of that counting must have been! Yet Moses did it because Jehovah commanded it.
In the words of my study Bible, “All priests were Levites, but not all Levities were priests.” Aaron’s line was the priestly line; his son was appointed “chief over the chief of the Levites.” Aaron did not take this honor to himself: he was “called of God” (Heb. 5:4). So also Christ was appointed to be our eternal high priest, the “author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:5, 9).
Do you attend to the duties of your station and calling, no matter how tedious or honorable, willingly and faithfully? (HC, LD 39).
Sing or pray Psalter #302.
June 12 – Set Apart for Service
Read Numbers 4
Now Moses numbers the Levite males between the ages of 30 and 50 years. They would serve in the tabernacle. Why did one have to wait until he was 30? As much as we hate to admit it when we are young, “foolishness is bound in the heart of a child” (Prov. 22:15). God mercifully strips away some of our youthful foolishness as we age. This principle still applies in the New Testament. An elder must “not [be] a novice…” (1 Tim. 3:6).
Do you wonder if the sons of Gershon or Merari ever grumbled as they folded up the many curtains or collected the endless pillars and pins that they had to carry? “Why can’t we carry the most holy things?” Notably, it was one of the sons of Kohath, Korah, who rebelled because he coveted a more honorable position. With greater privilege comes greater responsibility – only the Kohathites were in danger of dying if they looked at or touched the furniture they were assigned to carry – as well as greater temptation and greater opportunity to wreak havoc. Those called by God to places of authority must serve humbly, “knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1).
Sing or pray Psalter #9.
June 13 – The Cup of the Curse
Read Numbers 5
In Numbers 5:1-4 Jehovah restates that all who were ceremonially unclean must be put outside the camp. It was not necessarily a sin to be ceremonially unclean; in fact, periodic uncleanness was inescapable. The point was this: spiritually, all are unclean. In verses 5-10 Jehovah commands that those guilty of fraud confess their sin and pay restitution to the one they had wronged. The remainder of the chapter details the strange test for adultery.
As a woman, it is difficult for me to read about this test without feeling some resentment. What if a wife suspected that her husband had been unfaithful? Why does the test for adultery apply only to women? I don’t know the answer to that question. But I do know this: male or female, you and I are all spiritual adulterers. Were we to drink the cup of the curse, we would not be able to withstand the bitter pain of God’s justly inflicted wrath. But our Savior drank the bitter cup that belonged to you and me. His blood has blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us. Thanks to his sacrifice, our cups now run over with blessing.
Sing or pray Psalter #52.
June 14 – The Blessed Sinners
Read Numbers 6
If a Nazarite’s vow was broken unintentionally, he or she was required to bring three offerings to the priest before beginning again. When one successfully fulfilled his Nazarite vow, he or she was required to bring five offerings to the priest. Why? Even one who satisfied the strict conditions of the Nazarite vow was still a sinner in need of atonement. You and I are prone to pick and choose our piety. When we meet our own meager standards, we think that God must be rather pleased with us as well. James 2:10 reminds us that we are all guilty of the entire law. Does that knowledge compel you to the feet of the one who offered himself for your salvation?
In Numbers 6:22-27, God gives Moses the words of the blessing that Aaron was to use when he blessed God’s people. Pronouncing this blessing was not an afterthought. In fact, Deut. 10:8 and 21:5 state that the Levites were set apart for this purpose: “to bless in the name of the Lord.” Do you joyfully receive this blessing from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day? Do you see yourself as one set apart to bless others?
Sing or pray Psalter 176.
June 15 – Offer to the Lord
Read Numbers 7
On the day that Moses finished setting up and consecrating the tabernacle, the princes of the tribes of Israel bring an offering of six covered wagons and twelve oxen. Moses distributes them among the sons of Gershon and Merari, who had the responsibility for carrying most of the tabernacle, according to their need. Do you generously support the cause of the gospel ministry in your congregation, mindful of your pastor’s needs?
Did you read all of Numbers 7? Perhaps not. After all, what is the point of restating the offering 12 times? The point is this: God does not weary of our offerings. Every day we are called to offer to God the same sacrifices of praise: repentance, prayer, growth in the knowledge of God, thanksgiving, doing good, etc. With those small, repetitive sacrifices, our God is well pleased.
Did you note the place from which God speaks in verse 89? He no longer speaks with Moses on Mount Sinai, but in the tabernacle “from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims.”
Sing or pray Psalter #267.
June 16 – Sprinkled for Service
Read Numbers 8
I knew a godly man who insisted that the sacrament of baptism must be administered by full immersion since baptism symbolizes one’s baptism into Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. We are baptized into Christ’s death (see Rom. 6:4 and Col. 2:12). But the mode of sprinkling symbolizes that reality, for it pictures the washing away of our sins by the blood that Jesus shed when he died. This mode of baptism dates back to the sprinkling of Levites with water, which signified their purification from all that was unholy and their consecration to God (Num. 8:7). Are you among the “many nations” who have been sprinkled with the blood of the Lord’s Servant? (Is. 52:15). Then you are consecrated to his service: “Forsake the world, crucify [your] old nature, and walk in a new and holy life” (Baptism Form).
The Levites were excused from their more laborious duties when they reached the age of 50, but they were not dismissed from service all together. Those who were older still brought forth fruit, ministering with their brethren in the tabernacle as those who had oversight. Can you think of ways in which this principle still applies?
Sing or pray Psalter #109.
June 17 – A Clean and Willing Heart
Read Numbers 9
It is the 14th day of the first month, Passover. Several men approach Moses, deeply troubled. They are unclean because of a dead body. (Perhaps they have just buried a loved one.) Now they must remain outside the camp for one week. Remember the strict regulations of Passover? A man was required eat the feast in his house with his family. These men know that they are unable to keep the feast, but they know the seriousness of failing to observe it as well. What are they to do? Moses goes to Jehovah, who makes provision for those who truly desired to worship him. Those who were providentially unclean or on a distant journey at the time of Passover—and only those—would be permitted to commemorate the feast on 14th day of the second month.
When the Shekinah cloud moved, Israel followed. When it settled on the tabernacle, they set up camp, sometimes only for a night, sometimes for several months. They were not to speculate where they might be next but to serve the Lord fully in the present, in the place where he had put them. At the same time, they were to be ready to follow promptly and eagerly. Is that your attitude toward your heavenly Father’s providence and the way you follow the leading of his word and Spirit?
Sing or pray Psalter #325.
June 18 – At the Trumpet Sound
Read Numbers 10
The second section of Numbers begins in chapter 10. Israel had camped at Mt. for nearly a year. What excitement must have filled the camp as the cloud lifted off the tabernacle and led them to the wilderness of Paran! Moses urges his brother-in-law to accompany them to the promised land. Do you have family members whom you must urge to join God’s people on the pilgrimage to the heavenly Canaan?
Before they depart, Jehovah instructs Moses regarding the creation and use of two silver trumpets. The trumpets were to be blown by the priests. The sounds they made depended on the message. They were used to summon and to signal the breaking up of the camp. When the priests blew the trumpets at the threat of war, Jehovah came to their rescue. The trumpets also marked the beginning of Israel’s feasts and the first day of each month. Today the trumpet call of the preaching of the gospel still goes forth from the mouths of God’s appointed servants. Are you among those who gather at that welcome, certain sound, which proclaims the glad tidings of salvation and calls its hearers to prepare for battle? (1 Cor. 14:8)
Sing or pray Psalter #222.
June 19 – The Voice of Complaint
Read Numbers 11
The book of Numbers records several instances of Israel complaining. We don’t know what occasioned the murmuring noted in chapter 11:1, but it kindles the fire of God’s wrath. Astoundingly, God’s judgement doesn’t silence the complaining for long! Soon the mixed multitude begins whining about their food, and how great a matter a little fire kindleth! Before long, nearly every man is weeping in the door of his tent. Many of these complainers God slew while the meat they craved “was yet between their teeth” (v. 33). But it seems that Moses also complains, doesn’t it? Moses complaining is different: he brings his legitimate complaint directly to the Lord. Jehovah regards his cry and lightens his burden.
Do you turn to Jehovah when you are overwhelmed, or are you prone to murmur, in your heart or to others? We live in the day that Moses’s longed to see: all of Jehovah’s people are prophets, for his Spirit dwells in us! Therefore, covetousness and foolish talk must not even be named among us, “but rather giving of thanks” (Eph. 5:4).
Sing or pray Psalter #183.
June 20 – An Example of Meekness
Read Numbers 12
How painful it must have been for Moses when Miriam and Aaron, his own brother and sister and his closest assistants, spoke against him. But he does not retaliate. Indeed, he intercedes on their behalf, proving the statement inserted in verse 3: “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.” As meek as Moses was, our Savior was meeker still. Hebrews 3:1-3 enjoins, “Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house.”
Do you respond to those who despitefully use you as Christ Jesus, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously”? (1 Pet. 2:22-23).
Sing or pray Psalter #113.
June 21 – An Example of Unbelief
Read Numbers 13
God has safely brought his people to the doorway of the promised land, and Moses sends 12 men to search it out. After 40 days, the spies return with glowing, visible reports of the land’s fruitfulness. But ten of the spies insist that even though the land’s fruitfulness is great, the giants that inhabit it are greater still. Indeed, they cannot be conquered, even by the people among whom Jehovah dwells. The congregation hears this report, and their hearing is not mixed with faith, but unbelief.
Fellow Christian, the fruits of the Spirit are a foretaste of the heavenly rest that awaits us. Have you tasted love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control in your own life? Are you encouraged to see those fruits in your fellow saints? Then believe too that Spirit of Christ within you will strengthen you to fight the giants that you face, even unto death.
Sing or pray Psalter #392.
June 22 – A Breach of Promise?
Read Numbers 14
The people respond to the report of the ten unbelieving spies with weeping and murmuring. This is the tenth time they have murmured, and their cup of iniquity is full. They will not enter Canaan. Jehovah declares, “After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise” (v. 34). Wait. “Breach of promise”? Don’t the scriptures teach that “If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips” (Ps. 89:31-34)? Yes. The phrase “breach of promise” is a figure of speech, an anthropomorphism expressing Jehovah’s intense displeasure with his unfaithful people.
Aren’t you thankful that “God is not a man, that he should lie”? (Num. 23:19). In Jesus Christ, all of his promises are “yea” and “amen” (2 Cor. 1:20). Do you look forward to his glorious rest? (Is. 11:10).
Sing or pray Psalter #241.
June 23 – Israel’s Dwelling Place
Read Psalm 90
Psalm 90 is the only psalm with its authorship attributed to Moses. Even if Moses didn’t pen it following the events recorded in Numbers 14, it’s likely he wrote it while he led the Israelites through the desolate wilderness. What defined those wearisome years? Not first strength, followed by labor and sorrow. No, the line translated in the KJV “yet is their strength labor and sorrow” means this: the very best of this earthly life is characterized by struggle and sadness. The Israelites wandered, mindful that their wandering was God’s judgement for their sins. The shadow of death hung over them: most of them, Moses included, would perish outside the promised land.
To what comfort did God’s people cling as they wandered through the harsh desert, homeless? Their dwelling place was the everlasting God. They belonged to the One who was even before there was a beginning. When he commanded, their bodies would return to the dust, a just penalty for their sin. But their God was also a God of mercy. He would establish the works of their hands and remain forever faithful to them and to their children. Is that God your eternal home?
Sing or pray Psalter #247.
June 24 – Ignorance and Presumption
Read Numbers 15
Jehovah spoke these wonderful words during his people’s weary years of wilderness wandering: “When thou comest into the land” (Num. 15:2). Though he chastened them, his word remained steadfast. Next he instructs regarding sins committed in ignorance. Though unintentionally committed, sins of ignorance still required atonement and forgiveness. Ignorance is never an excuse for breaking God’s law. There was no forgiveness for those who despised God’s word and sinned presumptuously, however. How fearful! Let’s join the psalmist in this prayer, “Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me” (Ps. 19:12-13)
Jehovah also command his people to add fringes and a blue ribbon or tassel to the edges of their garments. This detail would distinguish them as his peculiar people, but more importantly, it would remind them to follow God’s commandments from the heart with every step they took. Our Lord Jesus observed this law (Matt. 9:20). So did the Pharisees, but they did so to be seen of men (Matt. 23:5). The borders of their garments were enlarged, but inwardly they were full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Does your obedience come from the heart?
Sing or pray Psalter #40.
June 25 – One Mediator
Read Numbers 16
Korah, a Levite from the family of Kohath, and two Reubenites, Dathan and Abiram, along with 250 well-known leaders of the congregation of Israel, rebel against God’s appointed mediators, Moses and Aaron. Jude warns the New Testament church of false teachers who likewise creep in “unawares” and “despise dominion.” Like Korah, those men will experience God’s just judgement. Does God make an exception in this chapter to the rule that children must not be put to death for the sins of their fathers? (Deut. 24:16). No, all the men who appertain unto Korah are swallowed up, but the “the children of Korah died not” (Num. 26:11). (In fact, the sons of Korah became worship leaders to whom several psalms are dedicated.)
By nature we also despise authority, and we’re quick to excuse our sins and approach God on the basis of our own works rather than through the divinely-appointed Mediator. We take too much upon us. “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). Do you come unto the Father by him?
Sing or pray Psalter #368.
June 26 – The Fruit-Bearing Rod
Read Numbers 17
Following Korah’s rebellion, God works a wonder that puts to silence all who would gainsay Aaron’s priesthood. At Jehovah’s command, Moses places twelve rods, one rod from each chief of the twelve tribes, before the ark. Aaron’s rod blossoms and brings forth almonds. The children of Israel now recognize Korah’s error. Whoever would approach God apart from his appointed mediator would perish. They cry, “Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the Lord shall die” (v 13). Likewise, we will be consumed by Jehovah’s holiness unless we approach him through the One who was called of God to be a priest forever. It is as he declared: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 6:14).
The salvation obtained for us by our eternal High Priest works a wonder pictured in us like the wonder of Aaron’s dead rod blossoming and bearing fruit. We who were dead in sins have been ingrafted into the vine and now live and bear abundant fruit. Are the fruits of his Holy Spirit manifest in your life?
Sing or pray Psalter #303.
June 27 – A Covenant of Salt
Read Numbers 18
The Levites were given no inheritance in the land of Canaan, but Jehovah ensured their provision: the tithes of the children of Israel belonged to them. “All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer unto the Lord, have I given thee, and thy sons and thy daughters with thee, by a statute forever: it is a covenant of salt forever…” (v. 19). As Lev. 2:13 teaches, every offering the Israelites made was to be salted. “It was the one symbol that was never absent from the altar of burnt-offering, showing the imperishableness of the love of [Jehovah] for his people. In its unalterable nature, it is the contrary of leaven” (Barnes). Salt not only preserves, it adds savor. Ezra 7:20-22 implies that the offerors did not bring their own salt; it was provided at the tabernacle. Calvin comments, “The true seasoning which gives grace to sacrifices is found nowhere except in God’s word. Hence it follows that all modes of worship fabricated by men are rejected as unsavory.”
Have you been purified and refined with the salt of the gospel that you might present yourself a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God? (See Mark. 9:49 and Rom. 12:1)
Sing or pray Psalter #111.
June 28 – Purge Me With Hyssop
Read Numbers 19
In Lev. 14 hyssop is used to cleanse a person who had been infected with leprosy. In Num. 19 hyssop is used to cleanse those who were unclean because they had come into contact with a dead body. The hyssop was dipped in water and the ashes of the red heifer that had been burnt without the camp. Our Lord Jesus, “that he might sanctify the people with his own blood” also “suffered without the gate” (Heb. 13:12). The unclean person was then sprinkled with the hyssop.
In familiar Psalm 51, David alludes to these ritual cleansings when he prays, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean” (v. 7a). David knew that no outward rite would cleanse his heart as God desired. He had just declared, “Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts” (v. 6a). But he prayed “that God would effectually accomplish, in his experience, what he had signified to his Church and people by these outward rites” (Calvin). Is that your prayer, too?
Sing or pray Psalter #140.
June 29 – Meribah and the Mediator
Read Numbers 20
We’ve read of place called Meribah in Ex. 17. We encounter a second Meribah in Num. 20. Again the children of Israel chide and tempt Jehovah because there is no water. This is not the same group of people, however. Verse 1 notes that it is the first month; that is, it is the first month of the fortieth year from the Exodus. These are the children whose parents have now all fallen in the wilderness because of their unbelief. Now their children repeat their sin. What a humbling lesson for us, fellow parents! Let’s earnestly pray for the strength we need to forsake our sins, giving our children an honest example of what it means to live the Christian life. Let’s humbly confess our sins to our children. And let’s be careful to guard against the sin for which Moses forfeited entrance into Canaan, rash speaking that flowed out of an angry and bitter heart.
Like every other type of Christ, Moses was not a perfect Mediator. But our perfect Mediator, Jesus Christ, “is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (Heb. 7:25).
Sing or pray from Psalter #213.
June 30 – Again?!
Read Numbers 21
It’s discouraging to read yet again of the Israelites complaining. But let’s consider for a moment the nature of their sins. 1) They accused God of seeking their destruction, not their welfare. 2) They were discontent with and unthankful for God’s provision. How often you and I commit the same sins! Do we believe (and live as though we believe) that God works all things, from the smallest inconveniences to the greatest heartaches in our lives, for our good? And what is our attitude toward his provision? Are we content with the homes, possessions, bodies, and talents that he’s given us? Compared to those who wandered homeless in the desert and ate the same food at every meal for forty years, we have little reason to complain!
Can a serpent represent Christ? Yes, as Jesus himself testified in John 3:14. God sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3). He was made a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). It was not enough that the bronze serpent was lifted up on the pole: only those who looked upon it by faith would be healed. Likewise with the Savior. Only those with faith in him will not perish.
Sing or pray Psalter #203.
July 1 – Balaam (1)
Read Numbers 22
The inspired apostle Peter describes Balaam as one “who loved the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Pet. 2:15). Balaam was fickle and greedy (see Jude 11). His favor could be bought with money. In contrast to Balaam, our God is unchanging and his favor is without price. Those whom he loves he loves everlastingly. He is also sovereign, and, as Numbers 22 demonstrates, he can and will employ kings and even the brute creation to bless his elect and justly condemn the wicked. His eyes “run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (2 Chron. 16:9), and he defends them from danger even when they are oblivious of its threat.
Balaam prostrated himself in the dirt before the angel of the Lord. His bowing was not compelled by reverent worship but by terror. True reverence always incites obedience. Balaam acknowledged his sin, but persisted in his way even though Jehovah had made his displeasure abundantly clear (v. 34). Do you in pride persist in a way that you know is displeasing to him?
Sing or pray Psalter #322.
July 2 – Balaam (2)
Read Numbers 23
Whenever our children have considered the story of Balaam for the first time, they’ve inevitably asked, “Did Balaam love God?” Balaam has a form of godliness, but he denies the power thereof. He puts on a show of religion, but his religion never penetrates to his heart, influencing his life or restraining his sinful passions. You profess Christianity. Is your religion more than outward show? Do you know others whose Christianity doesn’t influence their life or restrain their sinful passions? With regard to acquaintances like that, we’re commanded, “From such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:5).
Balaam not only lacked true faith: he lacked also the assurance that attends true faith with regard to death and the judgement. He cried, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” (v. 10). It is as Prov. 14:32 teaches, “The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death.” Do you face death with hope? “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).
Sing or pray Psalter #99.
July 3 – Balaam (3)
Read Numbers 24
Balaam abandons his sorceries in Numbers 24. “Under the forced influence of God’s Spirit,” he pronounces further blessing on Israel (Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible). He acknowledges God’s blessing on Israel’s past, present and future. In the past, “God brought him forth out of Egypt” (v. 8a). Presently, Israel “hath as it were the strength of an unicorn” (v. 8b). In the future, Israel “shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows” (v. 8c). Balaam also beautifully foretells the coming of Christ, the one on whom God’s favor toward Israel depended. Do you thank God for his care for you in the past, rely on him to give you grace sufficient for today, and trust him with your future?
Balak thought to promote Balaam “unto great honor,” but the Lord prevented him. In loving the praise of men more than the praise of God, Balaam forfeited both. “Wherefore the Lord God of Israel saith…them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Sam. 2:30). Do you covet the praise of men or the praise of God?
Sing or pray Psalter #247.
July 4 – Neither Let Us
Read Numbers 25
Other than the fact that those who entice the Israelites to fornication and idolatry are people from Moab (and Midian, Moab’s close ally), the events of Numbers 25 don’t seem to be directly related to the story of Balaam. But in Num. 31:6 Moses notes, “Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord” (v. 16). Balaam couldn’t curse Israel. Instead, he shrewdly advised Balak to tempt Israel to break the law of God, so that they would fall out of his favor for a time and experience his judgement for their sins.
Calvin comments: “From this narrative we learn assuredly that the people were no more able to bear prosperity than adversity…now, when they have entered a habitable land…they are incited by their more comfortable dwelling-places, and more pleasant mode of life, to lasciviousness, and the indulgence of filthy lusts.” How well do you bear prosperity? For “these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted…Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand” (1 Cor. 10:6 and 8).
Sing or pray Psalter #31.
July 5 – The Second Census
Read Numbers 26
At God’s command, Moses numbers the people for a second time. The reason for this numbering concerned the division of the soon-to-be inherited land of Canaan. Generally speaking, the land would be portioned according to the size of each tribe. “To many thou shalt give the more inheritance, and to few thou shalt give the less inheritance” (v. 54).
The chapter ends on a sobering note. Among all whom Moses numbered, there was not one who had been numbered at the first census, save Caleb and Joshua. It had taken nearly 40 years, but Jehovah’s just sentence on Israel’s unbelief had come to pass: God will have his justice satisfied. That’s true regarding our sins as well. Knowing that, let’s go to the cross of Christ Jesus, “who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption”(1 Cor. 1:30).
Sing or pray Psalter #121.
July 6 – A Godly Request and a Spirit-Filled Successor
Read Numbers 27
The daughters of Zelophehad approach Moses, Eleazar, and the princes of the congregation before the people and request that they be given the inheritance that would have been their father’s. Their father had died and they had no brother, yet they desired a name and a place in the land of promise, which typified heaven. “The modest, candid manner in which they asked, without secret murmurs or discontents, are a good example” (Matthew Henry). When you have a grievance that you would like addressed, do you bring it before the elders of the church as Zelophehad’s daughters did, or do you sow discord by murmuring and grumbling about it among the congregation? Moses’s response is also instructive. He’s not certain how to answer these women, so he goes to God. Do you go to God’s word for instruction regarding difficult decisions that you must make?
Moses’s time to die has come. He has one concern: who will now lead Israel? God appoints Joshua, noting only one qualification that Joshua possessed: the Holy Spirit dwelled in him (v. 18). Is that the qualification you esteem above all others in your leaders?
Sing or pray Psalter #159.
July 7 – Offer to the Lord
Read Numbers 28
Jehovah against instructs his people regarding the daily burnt offering: one lamb was offered every morning and one every evening. Do you come before God with a sacrifice of praise at the beginning and end of each day? On Sabbath days the offerings were doubled. Matthew Henry notes, “The sabbath rest is to be observed, in order more closely to apply ourselves to the sabbath work, which ought to fill up the sabbath time.” Do you apply yourself to the worship and work of the Lord on his day, or is it a day you spend doing your ways, finding your own pleasure, and speaking your own words? (see Is. 58:13). The chapter also details the offerings made at the beginning of each month, the Passover offerings, and the offerings made during the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, was crucified on Passover. He rose, the first fruits of them that slept, at the time of the offering of first fruits (the third day after Passover). And he poured out his Spirit on the day of Pentecost, which marked the beginning of the great harvest of souls that will continue until the day he returns.
Sing or pray Psalter #195.