The Law of Grace (2)

“Now the Lord spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying: “Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male individually,” Numbers 1:1-2 NKJV

Thank you for joining us while we begin reading the Book of Numbers. This book has drama and a long journey, which begins well and slowly goes downhill. But it begins a little slow for the readers while they begin to take their census (hence the name of the book). Hang in there – it gets good after all the counting.

Dear Heavenly Father – As always, please open eye to see and our ears to hear what you are saying! Lord – open our understanding that we may know you. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Romans 6:14 NKJV

Yesterday we discussed sin NOT having dominion over us – but when we get into the book of Numbers you really begin to see the rebellion of the Israelites and their sins.  They had the laws which we just read, yet they sinned and sinned and sinned.  God disciplined them, corrected them and punished them. He even tried redirecting them by giving them more laws (as we will see throughout the book). But these grumpy, complaining people continued to sin. 

HOWEVER – There are some beautiful overreaching themes we should pay attention to while reading this book.

First, and most obvious, is GRACE! Obviously God’s favor is on His chosen people. We are also chosen by God and we have that same grace.  We have access to its transformative power while they seemed to take it for granted. Please pay attention to the grace shown throughout this book.

Second is intercession. Moses was an amazing intercessor filled and overflowing with love for the people.  Every time God tells Moses that He is mad at the people, Moses intercedes for them.  In our modern world we often think of an intercessor as just someone who prays for another person and Moses shows that it is a greater task of love. We do not just pray for the lost – we love enough to go get them. We do not just pray for this person’s needs or that person’s needs – we see if we can help meet those needs or if God can use us to lead them out of their needs or through it.

Third, leadership and order.  Intercession is a job of a good leader in God’s community.  As we read let us watch Moses, Aaron and Joshua, and how they led and followed within order. And the grace of it all – that a good leader is empty of himself, humble and just a messenger between God and the people. We see in Moses’s leadership more than all the rest, how humility really raises a person up. And how obedience to God and letting God lead is the key. (Although Moses also struggled and failed at times.)

And lastly – look at the chosen people. These stories are taught to our children in Sunday school over and over as examples of what NOT to do. Yet as I look back at my adult life I see how much I am like these people. Although that does bring us back to that glorious grace – I think we should carry it at the forefront of our minds as we read the book that, again, these are examples of what NOT to do.

When you read a book like this, where God sends deadly snakes and God sends earthquakes to swallow people and God shows His might and judgement, it is easy to forget how much grace these people had and refused. Grace is sufficient. But Moses asked for more grace for them and it was more sufficient. Yet the Israelites continued to harden their hearts that grace might abound. God forbade it then and forbids it in the New Testament and will forbid it in 2021.  There is a balancing act that must happen in your mind while reading. You must understand that: Yes, God can have the earth swallow you but only after you hardened you heart beyond the power of intercession – But you and I have Jesus Christ, Himself, as our intercessor (not Moses) and God’s own son is much more persuasive and effective as an intercessor. And because we are not under law – we can repent immediately and get ourselves right with God.

The law of grace is just that we are no longer under the law because we are no longer under sin. (Technically there is no law of grace – just grace). So unlike the Israelites we can be individually delivered from our sin and free to metaphorically die to our sin nature. Grace does have certain characteristics that jump out at us while we look at it from this perspective and that was where I came up with the silly title.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Romans 6:1-2 KJV

We can be free from sin’s bondage and therefore we would not grieve the Lord to the point of judgment. We can be free from it as individuals.  We may be free from it as communities.  I must say that I am not sure if our nations are free from the judgment of the Lord. Because as we see in Numbers and as Paul says in Romans – God forbids us from continuing in sin that grace may abound. (So this is one of those characteristics of grace that could very well be law.)

Either the stronghold MUST come down or the deliverance MUST happen – or if it is just disobedience, then discipline MUST correct it. And if none of that works – then judgment shall come – because God forbids us from continuing in sin that grace may abound. 

This isn’t a fearful thing – In Numbers, God’s chosen people were under the law and had God’s grace. But we are not under law, we are under grace alone (and can experience its transformative powers to overcome sin and death). I have experienced it myself. I said to God that I needed deliverance from addiction and He said ok – yet day in and day out I struggled with it. There was a point in which I was free, but disobedient – and therefore continued in sin.  God extended me the grace with tender mercies until I finally obeyed and just stopped and accepted the transformative grace to be changed. God did not send snakes or have the earth swallow me.

Maybe we should read the book of Romans at the same time so that we can better compare and contrast the grace without the function to transform in the Old Testament (although there are clear exceptions to this rule) and grace with the sole function of transforming and making new in the New Testament. And of course the New Testament exceptions are greater. They are the people who God has called and purposed but they deny Him because they bought the lies of the world. God has extended more grace to them to draw them in, and they are under grace, but they will not experience the transformative power of grace until they accept it. 

So, without further ado, let us begin counting the generation who would rebel to the point of not being able to step into the promise land. Because Numbers is their story. And if we find ourselves counted among them – let us repent so we won’t disqualify ourselves for our promises as they did.

RELATIONSHIP:
Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

MEMORY WORK: Luke 10:19
NKJV “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
NIV “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
ESV “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.”
AMP “Listen carefully: I have given you authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you.”

Thank you for reading.
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

BIBLE READING: Numbers 1-2 NKJV
The First Census of Israel

Now the Lord spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying: “Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, every male individually, from twenty years old and above—all who are able to go to war in Israel. You and Aaron shall number them by their armies. And with you there shall be a man from every tribe, each one the head of his father’s house.

“These are the names of the men who shall stand with you: from Reuben, Elizur the son of Shedeur; from Simeon, Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai; from Judah, Nahshon the son of Amminadab; from Issachar, Nethanel the son of Zuar; from Zebulun, Eliab the son of Helon; 10 from the sons of Joseph: from Ephraim, Elishama the son of Ammihud; from Manasseh, Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur; 11 from Benjamin, Abidan the son of Gideoni; 12 from Dan, Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai; 13 from Asher, Pagiel the son of Ocran; 14 from Gad, Eliasaph the son of Deuel;[a] 15 from Naphtali, Ahira the son of Enan.” 16 These were chosen[b] from the congregation, leaders of their fathers’ tribes, heads of the divisions in Israel.

17 Then Moses and Aaron took these men who had been [c]mentioned by name, 18 and they assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month; and they recited their ancestry by families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and above, each one individually. 19 As the Lord commanded Moses, so he numbered them in the Wilderness of Sinai.

20 Now the children of Reuben, Israel’s oldest son, their genealogies by their families, by their fathers’ house, according to the number of names, every male individually, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war: 21 those who were numbered of the tribe of Reuben were forty-six thousand five hundred.

22 From the children of Simeon, their genealogies by their families, by their fathers’ house, of those who were numbered, according to the number of names, every male individually, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war: 23 those who were numbered of the tribe of Simeon were fifty-nine thousand three hundred.

24 From the children of Gad, their genealogies by their families, by their fathers’ house, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war: 25 those who were numbered of the tribe of Gad were forty-five thousand six hundred and fifty.

26 From the children of Judah, their genealogies by their families, by their fathers’ house, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war: 27 those who were numbered of the tribe of Judah were seventy-four thousand six hundred.

28 From the children of Issachar, their genealogies by their families, by their fathers’ house, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war: 29 those who were numbered of the tribe of Issachar were fifty-four thousand four hundred.

30 From the children of Zebulun, their genealogies by their families, by their fathers’ house, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war: 31 those who were numbered of the tribe of Zebulun were fifty-seven thousand four hundred.

32 From the sons of Joseph, the children of Ephraim, their genealogies by their families, by their fathers’ house, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war: 33 those who were numbered of the tribe of Ephraim were forty thousand five hundred.

34 From the children of Manasseh, their genealogies by their families, by their fathers’ house, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war: 35 those who were numbered of the tribe of Manasseh were thirty-two thousand two hundred.

36 From the children of Benjamin, their genealogies by their families, by their fathers’ house, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war: 37 those who were numbered of the tribe of Benjamin were thirty-five thousand four hundred.

38 From the children of Dan, their genealogies by their families, by their fathers’ house, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war: 39 those who were numbered of the tribe of Dan were sixty-two thousand seven hundred.

40 From the children of Asher, their genealogies by their families, by their fathers’ house, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war: 41 those who were numbered of the tribe of Asher were forty-one thousand five hundred.

42 From the children of Naphtali, their genealogies by their families, by their fathers’ house, according to the number of names, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war: 43 those who were numbered of the tribe of Naphtali were fifty-three thousand four hundred.

44 These are the ones who were numbered, whom Moses and Aaron numbered, with the leaders of Israel, twelve men, each one representing his father’s house. 45 So all who were numbered of the children of Israel, by their fathers’ houses, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war in Israel— 46 all who were numbered were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty.

47 But the Levites were not numbered among them by their fathers’ tribe; 48 for the Lord had spoken to Moses, saying: 49 “Only the tribe of Levi you shall not number, nor take a census of them among the children of Israel; 50 but you shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the Testimony, over all its furnishings, and over all things that belong to it; they shall carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings; they shall attend to it and camp around the tabernacle. 51 And when the tabernacle is to go forward, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be set up, the Levites shall set it up. The outsider who comes near shall be put to death. 52 The children of Israel shall pitch their tents, everyone by his own camp, everyone by his own standard, according to their armies; 53 but the Levites shall camp around the tabernacle of the Testimony, that there may be no wrath on the congregation of the children of Israel; and the Levites shall keep[d] charge of the tabernacle of the Testimony.”

54 Thus the children of Israel did; according to all that the Lord commanded Moses, so they did.

The Tribes and Leaders by Armies

And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: “Everyone of the children of Israel shall camp by his own [e]standard, beside the emblems of his father’s house; they shall camp some distance from the tabernacle of meeting. On the east side, toward the rising of the sun, those of the standard of the forces with Judah shall camp according to their armies; and Nahshon the son of Amminadab shall be the leader of the children of Judah.” And his army was numbered at seventy-four thousand six hundred.

“Those who camp next to him shall be the tribe of Issachar, and Nethanel the son of Zuar shall be the leader of the children of Issachar.” And his army was numbered at fifty-four thousand four hundred.

“Then comes the tribe of Zebulun, and Eliab the son of Helon shall be the leader of the children of Zebulun.” And his army was numbered at fifty-seven thousand four hundred. “All who were numbered according to their armies of the forces with Judah, one hundred and eighty-six thousand four hundred—these shall [f]break camp first.

10 “On the south side shall be the standard of the forces with Reuben according to their armies, and the leader of the children of Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur.” 11 And his army was numbered at forty-six thousand five hundred.

12 “Those who camp next to him shall be the tribe of Simeon, and the leader of the children of Simeon shall be Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.” 13 And his army was numbered at fifty-nine thousand three hundred.

14 “Then comes the tribe of Gad, and the leader of the children of Gad shall be Eliasaph the son of [g]Reuel.” 15 And his army was numbered at forty-five thousand six hundred and fifty. 16 “All who were numbered according to their armies of the forces with Reuben, one hundred and fifty-one thousand four hundred and fifty—they shall [h]be the second to break camp.

17 “And the tabernacle of meeting shall move out with the [i]camp of the Levites in the middle of the [j]camps; as they camp, so they shall move out, everyone in his place, by their [k]standards.

18 “On the west side shall be the standard of the forces with Ephraim according to their armies, and the leader of the children of Ephraim shall be Elishama the son of Ammihud.” 19 And his army was numbered at forty thousand five hundred.

20 “Next to him comes the tribe of Manasseh, and the leader of the children of Manasseh shall be Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.” 21 And his army was numbered at thirty-two thousand two hundred.

22 “Then comes the tribe of Benjamin, and the leader of the children of Benjamin shall be Abidan the son of Gideoni.” 23 And his army was numbered at thirty-five thousand four hundred. 24 “All who were numbered according to their armies of the forces with Ephraim, one hundred and eight thousand one hundred—they shall [l]be the third to break camp.

25 “The [m]standard of the forces with Dan shall be on the north side according to their armies, and the leader of the children of Dan shall be Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.” 26 And his army was numbered at sixty-two thousand seven hundred.

27 “Those who camp next to him shall be the tribe of Asher, and the leader of the children of Asher shall be Pagiel the son of Ocran.” 28 And his army was numbered at forty-one thousand five hundred.

29 “Then comes the tribe of Naphtali, and the leader of the children of Naphtali shall be Ahira the son of Enan.” 30 And his army was numbered at fifty-three thousand four hundred. 31 “All who were numbered of the forces with Dan, one hundred and fifty-seven thousand six hundred—they shall [n]break camp last, with their [o]standards.”

32 These are the ones who were numbered of the children of Israel by their fathers’ houses. All who were numbered according to their armies of the forces were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty. 33 But the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel, just as the Lord commanded Moses.

34 Thus the children of Israel did according to all that the Lord commanded Moses; so they camped by their [p]standards and so they broke camp, each one by his family, according to their fathers’ houses.

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 1:14 Reuel, Num. 2:14
  2. Numbers 1:16 called
  3. Numbers 1:17 designated
  4. Numbers 1:53 have in their care
  5. Numbers 2:2 banner
  6. Numbers 2:9 Lit. set forth
  7. Numbers 2:14 Deuel, Num. 1:147:42
  8. Numbers 2:16 Lit. set forth second
  9. Numbers 2:17 company
  10. Numbers 2:17 whole company
  11. Numbers 2:17 banners
  12. Numbers 2:24 Lit. set forth third
  13. Numbers 2:25 banner
  14. Numbers 2:31 Lit. set forth last
  15. Numbers 2:31 banners
  16. Numbers 2:34 banners

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