Remembering His Grace – Numbers 33-36

Read Numbers 33-36

Why is Moses recounting all these places? God has Moses recount all these places in order for His people to consider God’s providential care for Him. As generations of people wandered in the wilderness, God wants the people to remember how He walked with them every step of the way – to know it was God was with them.

The older you are the harder it is to remember all the details of life. At times, we fail to remember how God has cared for us in times past. Moses’ travel log teaches us about the goodness and kindness of God. Moses’ trip down memory lane reminds us of God’s miraculous care for His people.

Take a few moments to for a time of private or family worship. Give thanks to God’s goodness and care for how He has guided your family and you. Recount specific ways He has provided for you. Be sure to praise His great Name for His love.

Fires, Idolatry, and Moses’ Skills – Numbers 25-26

Read Numbers 25-26

Midianite women allure Israelite men into promiscuity and the worship of Baal. This act threatens the very existence of Israel and challenges the heart of their relationship with God. Someone must act to stop this national tragedy.

On June 17, 2002 Federal authorities arrested a United States Forest Service employee for starting the largest fire in Colorado’s history. Terry Barton was a 38-year-old woman and had worked every summer for the Forest Service for 18 or 19 years. She had ventured into the forest to burn a letter form her estranged husband. She had evidently become angry with him and burning the note was perhaps her emotional release. Yet, because of dry conditions in the Pike National Forest, she was unable to extinguish the fire as quickly as she had desired and the fire burned out of control.

At the time the fire began, Barton was under orders to patrol for fires in the vicinity where she had started the fire. This fire that was to be the largest in the state’s history burning over 130 homes with an estimated total cost of damage ranging anywhere from $27 million to almost $40 million dollars. In all, more than 137,000 acres burned causing Colorado Governor Bill Owens to say, “It looks as if all of Colorado is burning.”

In this strange juxtaposition of events, Terry Barton who was to prevent fires in the Colorado forest had now begun a fire. The irony of the one who protects instead causing destruction cannot be lost on us. In today’s reading, Phinehas, a priest, shows courage and does the exact opposite of Terry Barton, the forest service worker. Where she failed at her duty, Phinehas rose to the challenge to protect the worship of His God.

Be sure to see how skilled Moses is at composing this story for he tells this incident at Peor so that it mirrors the people’s sin at Sinai. In fact, it is obvious Moses wants us to compare the two incidents and see a pattern.

  • At both Sinai and Peor, the people worshipped false gods. At Sinai, the people worshiped the golden calf (Exodus 32) but at Peor, the people worship false god, called Baal (25:1-2).
  • At both places, the fierce anger of God called for drastic action and those guilty of breaking the first commandment (Exodus 20:3) were put to death (Compare Exodus 32:26-28 to Numbers 25:7-8).
  • The tribe of Levi was set aside to especially serve God after the golden calf debacle (Exodus 32:29) while Phinehas is promised his descendants will always be priests (25:11-13).

God is Here – Exodus 38-40

Read Exodus 38-40

The Book of Exodus closes in a beautiful affirmation of God’s promise fulfilled. When the tabernacle was completed, the glory of the Lord filled the whole place. Don’t lose focus on how important God’s presence really is for this is what Adam and Eve lost at the Garden of Eden. The first couple had the opportunity to be with God Himself until they rebelled. And here again, God descended to be with His people.

It is here in the last event of Exodus, we see a similar pattern: God instructs Moses on how to set up the tabernacle (Exodus 40:1-16) and Moses leads the people to do just what God has said (Exodus 40:17-33). And then God Himself descends. Here is the same God and His glory that came down at Mount Sinai earlier. The cloud of the Lord by day, and the fire by night were still God’s Presence in the sight of all the house of Israel. Because Moses and the people were obedient to God by worshipping in the right way and being led by qualified priests, the people enjoyed the very presence of God.