November 16, 2016
Numbers 25:9; 26:1
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
While this is not a continuation of the story of Balaam, and how, though he would not curse Israel, he advised the Midianites how to corrupt the children of Israel, bringing upon them the wrath of God! The Scripture I want to feature is Numbers 25:9 and Numbers 26:1:
And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand….And it
came to pass, after the plague, that the LORD spoke to Moses and
Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying….
I purposefully left the Scripture ‘hanging’ because from Numbers, chapters 26 through 30 God gave His people specific instructions for both immediate action, and for when they would enter the Promised Land of Canaan!
• First, they were to take a census of all the adults in Israel (see Numbers 26:1-4). This was after the new nation had just lost twenty-four thousand people as a result of their rebellion and idolatry in intermingling with the Midianite women, and succumbing to their leading them to worship their Baal idols! This was the second census since coming out of Egypt (for the first census see Numbers, chapter 1), and it reflected not just the loss of the recent fatalities, but major losses as a result of their many other transgressions over the last 40 years of their wilderness wanderings! (See Exodus 32:19-29; Numbers 11:1-3; 33-35; 14:20-29; 36-45; 16:1-33; 41-50; 21:4-9). In taking this second census, God showed the people how many fighting men were among them to enter Canaan!
• Second, in Numbers 26:52-65, the LORD showed the Israelites how to divide the land among the twelve tribes! This meant that, indeed, God was going to lead them into the Promised Land!
• Third, Joshua was God’s pick to replace Moses, and to bring His people into their new homeland! (See Numbers 27:12-23). Yes, they would occupy their new land under Joshua’s leadership!
• Fourth, in Numbers, chapters 27 through 30, there are several divine laws given to regulate life in the new land!
Now what does this all mean to us? I have spoken to several people over the years of my ministry – people who believe their transgressions are so serious, they would never be able to be forgiven by God, they would never be able to be led by Him in a productive Christian life! They feel they have sinned so greatly, they are beyond hope! Have you ever felt that way?
I am very encouraged by these Scriptures that tell us: though Israel greatly sinned against their LORD, He never gave up on them! And, according to Romans 11:25 (and many other Scriptures) God is going to deal with His chosen nation and greatly use Israel in the future!
I am also encouraged by the Apostle Paul. Here is his testimony from…
• Acts 22:4 and 5 – “I persecuted this Way [early Christians were called ‘followers of the Way’ ] to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.”
• I Timothy 1:12 and 13 – “…I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me in the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”
• I Timothy 1:15 – “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
Yes, I have wondered how in the world could God ever use me? I committed so many sins, even after I became a Christian! But like Paul, I say, “He counted me faithful, putting me in the ministry….” How is that possible? I stand counted as faithful because I am forgiven of all my sins and I wear the robe of righteousness – Christ’s very own perfect righteousness – that He provided for me by His sacrifice on the cross! One of the greatest proclamations in Scripture is found in II Corinthians 5:21: “For He [the Father] made Him [the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” (See also Psalm 31:1, 2; Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3:1-5).
No matter what your sinful past is, you are not irredeemable! You are not thrown away by God! Believe it! Accept it! And live for His glory!