“Then the Lord spoke to Moses: ‘Speak to the Israelites and tell them, “When you cross over the Jordan River into the land of Canaan, you must then designate some towns as towns of refuge for you, to which a person who has killed someone unintentionally may flee. And they must stand as your towns of refuge from the avenger in order that the killer may not die until he has stood trial before the community. These towns that you must give shall be your six towns for refuge.”’” (Numbers 35:9-13 NET).
God is a God of mercy. We can see this in his providing towns of refuge for the Israelites. These towns were so designated to allow someone who had accidentally killed another person to be safe from any ‘avenger’ who might come after them to take their life. If they were within these towns they were safe. In more recent years church buildings have often served this same purpose as a place of sanctuary. Continue reading “A God of mercy and justice”
“The one who says, ‘I have come to know him,’ and does not keep his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).
Religious leaders will do verbal back flips in order to avoid saying that we need to obey God’s commands. Commentators will write four paragraphs to show that the Holy Spirit really didn’t mean what he plainly said in one simple sentence. People will declare, “Oh surely God wouldn’t condemn us if we didn’t obey that commandment!”
The fact is that the Lord demands that we obey his commands. Continue reading “Obedience”
In Numbers 22 we are introduced to a prophet named Balaam. Most who have heard of Balaam remember him because he had a donkey that spoke. What is significant is not so much the fact that the donkey talked but why the donkey was given the ability to speak.
The Israelites were now at the end of their forty year journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. They were travelling up the east side of the Jordan and encountering various struggles as they travelled. They finally were encamped in the plains of Moab. How would we feel if several million people camped just outside the city where we live? Continue reading “Speak only God’s word”
How often are problems caused because people want to be the one in charge, the one telling others what to do? This is not only a problem today, but one that Moses had to deal with. Keep in mind that Moses did not want to be the leader of the Israelites, but God had selected him and got rid of all his excuses at the burning bush. God selected Moses’ brother Aaron to be his spokesman and later to be the high priest for Israel in the worship of God.
A couple of years after leaving Egypt, the Israelites arrived at the border of the Promised Land. After sending twelve men to get the lay of the land, they were so disheartened by the strength of the inhabitants that they refused to conquer the land. This led to a number of problems including challenging the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Continue reading “Wanting to be ‘in charge’”
God had set the Israelites free from being slaves of the Egyptians. As they camped at Mount Sinai, they were being formed into an orderly nation. As we will see from the census in Numbers 1, there were over 600,000 men, aged 20 and over, who were able to go to war. Conservative estimates, taking into account that there are generally more females born than males, plus the elderly who couldn’t bear arms, those under 20, and the tribe of Levi, would give a nation of at least two to three million people. That would place them around the same size as Lithuania, Nambia or Slovenia today. But they did not yet have land and were living in tents in the wilderness.
To prepare this new nation to enter the Promised Land, God made promises to them. These were conditional on their obedience and living by the commands he gave them. And for a budding nation, these were quite powerful promises. Continue reading “Promises and blessings”
What did Jesus look like? No one knows. Yes, there have been many pictures painted of men as “models,” but no true picture exists.
Does this mean we can’t understand what he looks like? Until the second coming of Christ, it does. But his spiritual likeness is just as important, isn’t it?
Someone may say, “How can we come to understand his spiritual likeness?” All we need to do is look in the scriptures for the answer. Continue reading “See the Prince of Peace”
A person’s greatest possession is eternal life, exactly because it is more than a possession, but very existence. More than quantity, more than longevity, it is by nature the essence of Being.
Eternal life consists of knowing the true God and his Son Jesus Christ. “Now this is eternal life—that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent” Jn 17.3. Continue reading “The ultimate goal: Eternal life”
Many people think it a trifle to talk about the existence of denominations, the details of conversion, or the specifics of discipleship. They see it as a waste of time, an exercise in futility, or, worse, an attempt to proselytize people whom God considers righteous.
Christians committed to following the New Testament, however, seek to be different from the world and, in the renewal of their minds and the transformation of their hearts, follow the complete will of God. Continue reading “The complete will of God”
If God has still allowed me time on this earth, it is because he still has something for me to do. I do not presume to know all his thoughts, but that seems to be a safe statement to make. Others younger and more talented than I have entered eternity. There have been moments when I came close to the exit: car accident, surgery, my own foolishness, perhaps. (You may have your own moments to tell about.) But the Lord rescued me from them all (to borrow Paul’s language, if not his experience, in 2 Tim 3.11). Continue reading “The opportunities of life and time, and why we don’t pursue them”
It is late May, the Day of Pentecost. The past few months have been momentous. Almost two months ago the prophet from Nazareth was executed – crucified – by the Romans, although we hear it was instigated by the Jewish leaders. Yet within days many of his followers were saying that he had come back from the dead. Some claimed to have seen him within the past few weeks! You can’t help but wonder what might happen at Pentecost.
Jews from all over the world have come home for this great Jewish festival. It is now about nine o’clock on Sunday morning. Many have gathered for the morning sacrifice and prayers. Suddenly, we hear the sound of a great gust of wind but, strangely, we can’t feel even a breeze stirring the air. Continue reading “What should we do?”