February 12

Read Numbers 1 -- 2

In Today's Reading:

Reminder of the dramatic and miraculous deliverance of Israel from Egypt. But they were not to decide for themselves what they should do next. Read how God issued instructions for every aspect of their lives. Is He any less concerned about our lives?

Verse for Today:

As the Lord commanded Moses, so he numbered them in the wilderness of Sinai (Numbers 1:19).

Highlights:

First numbering (census) of the Israelites for military purposes and encampment location of each tribe in relation to the Tabernacle. The tribes and leaders camp by their tribal banners.

The people were numbered three times in the wilderness. About nine months before this second numbering they had been numbered for the purpose of collecting atonement money for the Tabernacle from every male of 20 years old and upward. Thirty-eight years after this second numbering the next generation would be numbered in Moab in preparation for taking the Promised Land.

The wasted 38 years wandering aimlessly in the desert provided time for the older generation to die there. They had refused to follow Joshua and Caleb, who said: The Lord is with us: do not fear (Numbers 14:9). Because of their lack of faith in Him, God determined they would die in the wilderness (14:26-35). The years also gave their children time to mature and prepare to conquer the Promised Land.

Years pass, opportunities come and go, and life hastens on; but sometimes so little progress seems to be made in transforming our characters and so little of eternal value is accomplished. These wasted years are evidence that much in us of the old nature is not yet buried with Him (Jesus) by baptism into death . . . that we should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). The desire of God is to have people who will follow Him by faith without complaining about their circumstances as the Israelites did.

Too often we fall into the same deceptions as did the Israelites who died in the desert and we fail to reach our "Promised Land." For instance, when things go wrong or we are disappointed, we often look for someone to blame. Questions fill our minds. Why did God allow it? If I don't have what I want, did God hear my prayers? Or, if other people have what I want and don't have, isn't God unfair? The truth is that God loves each one of us, as imperfect as we are, and He always answers our prayers. Don't blame God when your every need isn't met on your terms and timetable. It may be uncomfortable or inconvenient to wait or to do without certain things; but, in the spirit of Joshua and Caleb who desired to do the will of God, we can say: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

A Thought from Psalms: You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently (119:4).

Christ Portrayed:

By Moses as he led the people (Numbers 1:54). Jesus said: I am the Good Shepherd, and know My sheep (John 10:14).

Word Studies:

1:2 Take the sum = take a census; by their polls = one by one; individually; 1:16 renowned = chosen national representatives; 1:17 expressed = designated; 1:18 pedigrees = ancestry; 2:2 ensign = tribal banner; far off about = round about; on every side; 2:9 set forth = break camp.

Prayer Needs:

Government Officials: Rep. Constance Morella (MD) and Sen. Arlen Specter (PA) · Pray for your Pastor · Country: Solomon Islands (455,000) in the southwestern Pacific · Major languages: 120 indigenous languages · Religious freedom · 66% Protestant; 17% Roman Catholic; 4% spirit worship, ancestor worship, and sorcery · Prayer Suggestion: Pray to be considerate to the less fortunate (Psalms 41:1).

Optional Reading: Mark 15

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:9