Numbers 31-33

Numbers 31-33…Vengeance on the Midianites, the Transjordan tribes, and stages in Israel’s journey.

God waged war on the Midianites, and used Israel explicitly for that purpose. He enabled them to conquer by miracles, and the war was just and right. Their war was initiated and carried on expressly by Divine direction, and they were enabled to conquer by God’s hand. Waging war is not as clear today, as there are no theocratic nations selected by God to carry out His purposes like Israel in the Old Testament. There is nothing special about the actual nation of Israel today, nor is the United States “set apart” to carry out God’s purposes in the world in a peculiar way like we see in Numbers 31.

In Numbers 32, the Reubenites and Gadites wanted possession of the land before crossing the Jordan with the rest of Israel. There is much to learn from their selfishness. They consulted their own private convenience more than the public good. We see this in our churches today, as individualism has seeped in and pushed out living as a community. Many Christians go years without any consideration of the other members of their church. Sadly, many Christians go years without joining a church, and try to live out the Christian life on their own.

The people were about to enter the promised land. Now that they were close to getting what had been promised, they entered again into temptation to follow idols. They were warned if they spared either the idols or the idolaters, their sin would certainly be their punishment. This is also the result of local churches who aren’t careful about membership. When the church looks no different than the world, she lies about what Christ is like. Her corporate witness is diminished, and the message of the gospel loses power.

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Exodus 11-13

Exodus 11-13…The death of the first-born is threatened and then brought to fruition, the passover instituted, and the Israelites flee and are rescued by God miraculously parting the Red Sea.

The death of all the first-born in Egypt had been the first threatened, but the last to be executed. See how slow God is to anger. Also, notice that this was for everyone. The prince was not too high to be reached by it, nor the slaves at the mill too low to be noticed. God does not change. He has this same patience with us. We too, are not exempt from His wrath. It doesn’t matter if we grew up in church, know all the Bible stories, and prayed the sinner’s prayer. We desperately need Jesus. The fruit that comes from submitting our lives to Him should be evident. We cannot just agree with the gospel in principle, but need to be transformed by it in our daily lives.

In Exodus 12, the passover was instituted. It was to be kept every year, both as a remembrance of Israel’s preservation and deliverance out of Egypt, and as a foreshadowing of Christ. Their safety and deliverance were not a reward of their own righteousness, but the gift of mercy. They would be constantly reminded that all blessings came to them through the shedding and sprinkling of blood. It is that way for us with Christ. His perfect life had to be laid down for us to be made righteous. Apart from the loving sacrifice of our Savior, we are not safe, and have no hope.

There were two ways from Egypt to Canaan. One was only a few days’ journey, and the other was much further. Through the wilderness was the way in which God chose to lead his people Israel. The Egyptians were to be drowned in the Red sea, and the Israelites were to be challenged and humbled in the wilderness. God’s way is the right way, though it can sometimes seem more burdensome and tortuous. In some of our trials, we may not ever understand God’s purposes this side of heaven. But, God’s wisdom will clearly appear when we come to our journey’s end.

Genesis 33-35

Genesis 33-35…Jacob meets Esau, Dinah encounters the Shechemites, and Jacob returns to Bethel.

Jacob was no doubt afraid of what would happen when he met Esau’s 400 men. But, he prayed, preparing his heart and mind to trust God, then went on his way. There is nothing to fear for the one whose heart is fixed on trusting God. For the believer, death has already lost it’s sting. When Jacob came face to face with this massive group, he bowed to Esau. A humble, submissive behavior can often turn away anger. Esau embraced Jacob. God has the hearts of all men in his hands, and can turn them when and how he pleases. Jacob’s wisdom in praying beforehand serves as a model for us in trusting God, and calling upon Him in the day of trouble. Being constant in prayer shows spiritual maturity, and an understanding that we need God.

In Genesis 34, we see an example of how exercising wisdom even in the small, daily things can be prudent. The young Dinah goes alone out to visit the women of the land, which proves to be a foolish decision. Prayer in even the seemingly small, menial decisions each day is important. God wants this from us, because He loves when we depend on His guidance. Dinah is taken advantage of, which leads to vengeful murder in response, by Simeon and Levi. Our sin rarely stays contained to our own circumstances, and often impacts others. We should pray for wisdom in all decisions, and seek counsel from those in authority over us. For children this involves asking parents. For adults, this involves transparency with the elders in your church.

God renews His covenant with Jacob in Genesis 35. He says, “I am God Almighty.” God is all-sufficient, able to fulfill all His promises in due time, and to support and provide for us in the meantime. Two things are promised here: 1) that he should be the father of a great nation, and 2) that he should inherit a good land.

These two promises had spiritual significance, which Jacob had some notion of (Genesis 3:15), though not as clear and distinct as we now have. Christ is the promised Seed, and heaven is the promised land. Christ is the foundation of all God’s grace toward us, and He is all we need.

Titus 2:13-14

Titus 2:13-14…”While we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” At, and in, the glorious appearing of Christ, the blessed hope of Christians will be complete: To bring us to holiness and happiness was the end of Christ’s death. Jesus Christ, that great God and our Savior, who saves not only as God, much less as Man alone; but as God-man, two natures in one person. He loved us, and gave himself for us; and what can we do less than love and give up ourselves to him! Redemption from sin and sanctification go together, and make a peculiar people unto God, free from guilt and condemnation, and purified by the Holy Spirit.

Malachi 4:2

Malachi 4:2…”But for you who revere My name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.” By the Sun of Righteousness we understand this to be Jesus Christ. Through Him believers are justified and sanctified, and are brought to see light. His influences render us holy, joyful, and fruitful. It is also a reference to the graces and comforts of the Holy Spirit, brought into our souls. Christ gave the Spirit to those who are His, to shine in their hearts, and to be a Comforter to them, a Sun and a Shield.

In terms of perfect, physical healing (which is not the main point of the passage, but is often used out of context in association with this verse), this will be carried out in heaven, but not in this life. Otherwise, there would be no sickness and death for Christians. Can God heal the sick, and does He do so miraculously? Absolutely, and it happens every day all over the world, but every one of those people will eventually die. Should we pray for physical healing? Yes, we should, with the expectation that God is big and powerful and sovereign enough to heal miraculously. What if I prayed for healing, but the person wasn’t healed; does that mean I didn’t have enough faith? No, there is not a guarantee of physical healing in this life, and all humans are still affected by the curse of sin, which includes sickness and death. Does He heal non-Christians? Yes, which shows that He is not a cosmic genie, dependent upon our prayers and/or faith for healing to occur.

Acts 11:2-3

Acts 11:2-3…”So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, “You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.” At this point in the church, there was confusion regarding to whom God granted forgiveness. This has been a controversial, but central question throughout church history: Who is saved? Peter corrects the confusion, and addresses the question directly. According to scripture, those who repent from their sins, believe in Christ, and product fruit in keeping with repentance will receive eternal life. Nothing more is needed, but many have taught that there are additional requirements. These false teachers are misunderstanding and abusing scripture, and should be identified and avoided by believers. The bible is filled with warnings about false teachers, and here is a helpful outline:

1. The warning against false teachers

Christ then said, “Beware of false prophets” (Matthew 7:15). For every true prophet calling people to the narrow way, are a multiplicity of false prophets calling people to the broad way that leads to destruction. Christ’s warning [about false teachers] was not new. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 documents the presence of false teaching during the days of Moses. In Isaiah 30:9-14 chronicles its existence in the kingdom of Judah. There are many warnings about false teachers in Scripture.1. 2 John 7–John said, “Many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”

Romans 16:17-18–Paul said, “I beseech you, brethren, mark them who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ but their own body, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the innocent.” They are dangerous because they claim to be from God and to speak God’s Word.

Jeremiah 5:31–God said, “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so.”

Jeremiah 14:14–God said, “The prophets prophesy lies in my name. I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spoke unto them; they prophesy unto you a false vision.”

2. The description of false teachers

False teachers are dangerous because their deception is damning. And it comes from that most damning deceiver of all, Satan, who disguises himself as an angel of light and his servants as ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Some false teachers are heretics–those who openly reject the Word of God and teach contrary to it. Others are apostates–those who once followed the faith but have since turned away. Then there are deceivers who pretend to still believe the truth. They want to look like orthodox fundamental evangelical Christians, but they are liars.

3. The revelation of false teachers

In Matthew 7:16 Jesus says, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” It’s not what they say but what you see in their lives that matters. A false teacher cannot produce good fruit because evil cannot produce good (v. 17).

False teachers will produce evil fruit, but they will try to cloak it. Inevitably they hide their bad fruit under ecclesiastical garb or isolate it from accountability. People can’t get near enough to them to see the reality of their lives. Some of them hide their evil fruit under a holy vocabulary or an association with fruitful Christians. Some of them cover their evil fruit with biblical knowledge. But they can’t hide it from everyone all the time. If you closely examine a false teacher, you will see his evil fruit.

CONCLUSION

How can we be alert to the infiltration of false teachers? Ask yourself these questions about the Bible teachers you encounter.

A. How Is the Teacher Using Scripture?

Is there error in his understanding of Scripture? Is his interpretation sound? Is it biblical? Is it legitimate? Don’t look at his personality. Don’t look at the religious trappings. Don’t only look only at his associations, although that will tell you something if those associations are negative. Listen to what he says. Do what 1 John 4:1 says: test him to see if he’s from God. What is his approach to Scripture? Is he teaching things that go beyond Scripture? Is he saying things that sound good but you can’t find verses to support it?

B. What Is the Teacher’s Goal?

Does he have a spiritual goal? Is his primary desire in life to produce people who consummately love God? Or is he characterized by self-love, self-aggrandizement, possessiveness, and materialism? What is his objective? Is it love for God and for everyone else? Is his objective holiness, a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith without hypocrisy?

C. What Is the Teacher’s Motive?

Does he demonstrate a selfless motive? Can you see humility, meekness, and selflessness in his life? Or does it appear that while he’s helping others he is also becoming quite wealthy? Is he self-indulgent at the expense of the people he is supposed to be ministering to?

D. What Is the Teacher’s Effect?

Do his followers clearly understand the gospel of Jesus Christ? Do they understand the proper use of the law? Check his doctrine, check his goal, check his motive, and check his followers. As you do, you’ll sense the need for urgency in dealing with false teachers

Acts 8:1

Acts 8:1…”And Saul approved of their killing him.” Stephen was stoned to death by the Sanhedrin. The Apostle Paul (at the time known as Saul) was there, and supported this horrific act. How does someone go from wanting Christians to be killed, to actually being physically persecuted for believing those very same things? Only the gospel has the power to make this kind of dramatic change. Once God puts His Holy Spirit in someone, they will inevitably change. This is encouraging for us in our evangelism, because clearly God can save the worst of all sinners. If we’re saved, we know that we’re included in that category as well (or we wouldn’t have placed our hope in Christ for salvation instead of ourselves). So, since we have no control over who He has elected as His children, our responsibility is to share the gospel graciously, live out the gospel faithfully, and trust the Lord as He knew His elect before the creation of the world.

Ephesians 1:4-6For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Psalm 46:10

Psalm 46:10…”He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’” All our pride, worries, concerns, stress, selfish motives, and fear in this life are put to rest if we believe this verse is true. If we really believe God is sovereign, and if we fight to have an eternal perspective, then we’ll enjoy Him and His dealings with us, regardless of our circumstances. He will be exalted, even if we can’t see that clearly now. Jesus will return, and He will reign, and sin and death will be no more for His people. We need to spend more time being still, and reflecting on God’s sovereignty. We need to meditate on His holiness in order to better understand our sinfulness. We need to reflect on the great chasm that exists between our utter sinfulness, and His perfect holiness, so we’ll esteem Jesus more. We need to rest in His love, which was set on us before He created the world. We need to grow in holiness to have assurance that we are His, and to show the world what He’s like. Ephesians 1:4-10 describes how God will be exalted among the nations through His plan of salvation:

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”

Psalm 46:4

Psalm 46:4…”There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.” The river alludes to the graces and consolations of the Holy Spirit, which flow through every part of the church, encouraging the heart of every believer. It is absolutely true that every one of His elect will be preserved until they are called home or He comes back. If we are saved (demonstrated by authentic Christian fruit, i.e. sanctification) we have great comfort in the truth of perseverance of saints. This is a neglected doctrine, but one of great importance if we are to reflect God’s glory through joy and contentment. When it is actually taught, often it is misapplied and misunderstood alongside the false teaching that praying a prayer (the sinner’s prayer) or walking an aisle (i.e. alter call) equates to authentic conversion. While those events could come in conjunction with authentic conversion, according to the bible it always involves a changed heart and life, and every believer will experience this. It is important to understand that without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

Here are 47 examples of the Bible clearly affirming what Christ taught; John 10:29 – “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

Perseverance Of The Saints
(Job 17:9) “The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.”

(Psalms 1:3) “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

(Psalms 23) “A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. {2} He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. {3} He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. {4} Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. {5} Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. {6} Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

(Psalms 34:7) “The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.”

(Psalms 48:14) “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.”

(Psalms 92:12) “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”

(Psalms 125:1) “A Song of degrees. They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever.”

(Psalms 138:8) “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.”

(Ecclesiastes 3:14) “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.”

(Isaiah 46:4) “And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.”

(Jeremiah 32:40) “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.”

(Ezekiel 11:19-20) “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: {20} That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”

(Matthew 7:24) “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:”

(Matthew 10:20) “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.”

(John 4:14) “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

(John 5:24) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

(John 6:37-40) “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. {38} For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. {39} And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. {40} And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

(John 6:47) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.”

(John 6:51) “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

(John 10:28-30) “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. {29} My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. {30} I and my Father are one.”

(John 11:25) “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:”

(John 17:24) “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”

(Romans 4:8) “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

(Romans 6:23) “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

(Romans 8:17) “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

(Romans 8:28-39) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. {29} For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. {30} Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. {31} What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? {32} He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? {33} Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. {34} Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. {35} Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? {36} As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. {37} Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. {38} For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, {39} Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(Romans 11:29) “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”

(Romans 14:4) “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”

(1 Corinthians 10:13) “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

(2 Corinthians 2:14) “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.”

(2 Corinthians 4:8-9) “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; {9} Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;”

(2 Corinthians 4:14) “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.”

(2 Corinthians 9:8) “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:”

(Ephesians 1:5) “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”

(Ephesians 1:14) “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

(Ephesians 4:30) “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”

(Philippians 1:6) “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

(2 Timothy 2:19) “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

(2 Timothy 4:18) “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

(Hebrews 7:25) “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

(Hebrews 10:14) “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

(1 John 5:13) “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

(Revelation 3:5) “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”

(Revelation 13:8) “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

(Revelation 17:8) “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”

(Revelation 20:12-15) “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. {13} And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. {14} And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. {15} And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

(Revelation 21:27) “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

Colossians 4:6

Colossians 4:6…”Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Christians should be the most engaging people on the planet. Paul’s instruction on Christian speech to the outside world in this passage is one of many texts that allows us to draw this conclusion. The Greek words that are behind “speech,” “gracious,” and “salt” (logos, charis, and halas, respectively) are used together in first-century literature to refer to speech that is gracious and attractive — winsome, even witty words that are also spoken in a humble manner. In other words, the apostle wants the presentation of the gospel to the outside world done in a manner that captures the gospel’s excitement and that is able to answer the unbeliever’s legitimate questions. The idea is similar to that found in 1 Peter 3:15, which commends gentle speech that respectfully presents and defends the gospel of Jesus Christ:

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”