E-Message Bible/Commentary

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." --- Psalm 119:105

Custom Search

NUMBERS --- The Book of Censuses

Everyone Has a Task to Perform
Aaron and his sons shall go in and assign each to a particular task or burden. But the Kohathites must not go in to look on the holy things even for a moment; otherwise they will die. (Numbers 5:19b-20)
God has given everyone a task to perform. Some people are working backstage, some are playing in the orchestra, some are on stage singing, some are in the audience as
critics and some are there to applaud. Know where you are supposed to be and what you are supposed to do. It is just as important to know what NOT to do as it is to know what to do.
In the above scripture of a seldom read passage, God clearly stated that the Kohathites were not to perform the task of the Levitical priests. In fact, they were not even to look on the holy things; otherwise they would die. Even though Kohath was a descendant of Levi, it was Aaron and his sons who were given priestly duties.
So it is with us. All have been given specific tasks to do for the kingdom of God. When we neglect our duties to do the duties assigned to others, all suffer. We are not to cross crafts because someone else's job, task, or mission looks good to us. God anoints us to do what He has called us to do. To try to do otherwise is punishable by death (no blessings, no anointing, no power).
Crossing Callings Not Allowed! Let's work in our own callings to please God!
Overuse of the Word "Bless"
May the Lord BLESS you and protect you. May the Lord make his face to smile upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
The words "bless," "blessed," and "blessing" have been overused to the point that they are now void of their true and intended meaning. A "blessing" is God's favor and goodness upon others. Unfortunately these words are used when other words would be more appropriate in our conversations. For example, "How are you?" should NOT ALWAYS be answered with the response, "Blessed." If you are blessed all the time, when you are really blessed, what are you going to say? Some people say, "More than blessed" or "Better than blessed." No such thing. There is no comparative or superlative degree of the word bless (no blesser or blessest). What do you say after someone sneezes? "God bless you." What do you say at the conclusion of your telephone conversations? "Be blessed," "Have a blessed day," or "Blessings on you!" How was church last Sunday? "Blessed!" "How was your interview?" "Blessed!" Somewhere in our conversations, we need to return to using plain old descriptive adjectives and let the words "bless" and "blessing" have their proper place.
There is nothing wrong with using the word "bless." It is the overuse that has trivialized it. If you would seriously think about the rich and plentiful blessing God has given us, you would reserve the word "bless" for more sacred occasions instead of merely letting it be just another familiar commonplace expression. Before you use the word "bless" again, know that a blessing such as the one above has five (5) parts conveying that when God blesses, He also (1) keeps and protects; (2) makes his face to shine upon others (be pleased); (3) is gracious (merciful and compassionate); (4) turns His face toward them (gives His approval); and (5) gives His peace.
The key statement actually lies in the verse following this benediction in Numbers 6:27, "This will designate the Israelites as my people." Unless people belong to God, they can't be totally blessed no matter how many times you tell them they are.
When Your Cloud Doesn't Move
At the commandment of the Lord the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the Lord they encamped. (Numbers 9:18)
Even though it took the Israelites forty years to make an eleven day journey, they received divine provision every step of the way to the promised land. The Bible clearly tells us in Numbers 9:1-23 that the children of God waited only for the divine will which was to be made known through the cloud that always covered the tabernacle by day and the pillar of fire that always covered it by night. Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would journey, and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would pitch their tents.
Whenever the cloud moved; so did the Israelites. Whenever the cloud stayed put; so did the Israelites. There was no such thing as lagging behind God or going in front of God. Sometimes the cloud would not move for days, or months. At other times it would move as soon as the Israelites had pitched their tents and bedded down for the night. At God's command, they followed the pillar of fire by night.
Perhaps your cloud isn't moving right now. That means to stay put knowing that God is still surrounding you. When your cloud does begin to move, don't delay. Don't hesitate. Don't procrastinate. Move with the cloud for it is God guiding you toward your destiny.

Move Forward; Not Backward
We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost; also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. (Numbers 11:5)

People often complain, "I'm going through something." Thank God when you go through something. Thank God when you are in the midst of something. That's where the opportunities are.

When you are going through something, visualize yourself in the middle of an ocean. It is the same distance to the shore in front of you as it is to the shore behind you. It takes just as much effort to go backward as it does to go forward. So, why return to the shore behind you rather than striving for the shore ahead of you?

We often settle for what we know is behind us rather than venturing out to discover what's before us. When the Hebrews first left Egypt, they wanted to return because they knew they would get a full meal at no cost. (Numbers 11:5) However, they didn't know what was ahead of them in the promised land.

Let's venture out to see what the end will be. Let's keep moving forward. Our destiny lies on the other side of that next big wave. But we will never know it  . . . unless we keep moving forward and not backward.

Prophetic Vision: Now is the time for us to MOVE forward. This is the time of MOVEMENT. If you are reading this, consider this as speaking directly to you. There is something that you need to MOVE on. There is something you need to MOVE toward. There is something you need to make a decision about, and the answer lies in one simple word: "MOVE." Move from where you are to where God wants you to be. You have been in the wilderness long enough. Going back will take you to the land of a free meal, but you will be in slavery. Don't go back to Egypt. Going forward will involve challenges, but you will reach the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. Move forward; not backward.
Our Own Worst Critics
They said, "All the people we saw there are of great size. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we seemed the same to them." (Numbers 13:33)

We often criticize ourselves worse than others criticize us. We give negative opinions of ourselves when we judge ourselves in comparison to others. The spies considered themselves all right until they saw the size of the giants in the land. Had they not seen the giants, they would not have compared themselves to grasshoppers. Once they identified themselves as grasshoppers, they took on the grasshopper mentality. Two things are to be recognized here. (1) The giants never called the spies grasshoppers. The spies called themselves grasshoppers. (2) The spies assumed they seemed to be grasshoppers to the giants; so they started acting that way based on their wrong assumption.

We are our own worst critics. How many times have people complimented you on what they thought was good, but you counteracted it by saying something negative about yourself?  Leave that grasshopper mentality with those ten negative spies. Get on with living without criticizing yourself. The attitude you take about who you are will surely determine the outcome of your life whether you turn out to be a giant or a grasshopper!

How to Face Big Problems
If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Wouldn't it be better for us to go back to Egypt? (Numbers 14:2-3)

God had led the Israelites out of slavery and for forty years through the wilderness. He had performed great miracles for them. He brought them to the very edge of the promised land, but they refused to go in. They had made it to the end of their journey, so what made them stop trusting God? Why did they refuse to go into the promised land when that had been their goal since leaving Egypt?

The Israelites' refusal to enter the promised land was based on fear. They were afraid. Often we reach a point in our lives when we are afraid to go that last mile. We trust God up to a certain point. Then we refuse to trust God with the serious situations, the tough decisions, the frightening circumstances, and the big problems.

Know that God doesn't measure problems by size, degrees or limitations. To Him all our problems are of the same magnitude. If you can trust God with what you call small problems, you should be able to trust God with what you call big problems.

To God all problems are the same size! And God can handle all of them...even the ones you are encountering today!


Personal Promises
But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. (Numbers 14:24)

Many times God makes promises to groups, families, churches, and nations. Within those corporate promises are also personal promises.

CASE IN POINT: Many of us know God promised Canaan to the nation of Israel.  However, we might have overlooked that God made a personal promise to Caleb concerning that land. As one of the original spies sent into the promised land, Caleb saw great cities and giants; yet he remained faithful that God would deliver on His personal promise.

The nation of Israel did enter into the promised land as God promised. But what about Caleb's personal inheritance of land? That came too, but it came 45 year later when Caleb was 85 years old. (Joshua 14:6-14) Even while waiting, Caleb remained faithful. He was diligent in helping the nation get settled before God gave Caleb his share; the hill country of Hebron, the same land Caleb had walked on when he was spying out the land.

If you have been waiting for God to fulfill a personal promise He had made to you, perhaps it will come after you have helped some group, family, church or other corporate entity get settled in what it has to do.

God will keep His promises . . . His corporate promises and His personal promises.
Doing It the Hard Way
Because the Israelites disobeyed God, they were compelled to wander for a generation in the wilderness. (Numbers 14:30-35)
From experience, we all know that there might be several ways to complete a task. While the ways differ, the goal is the same. Some tasks might take hours to complete or only several minutes depending on our expertise, our attitude, and our discipline about the task. The Israelites were God's chosen people. He had given them instructions and  His presence to guide them; yet they spent forty years in the wilderness because they were serving God the wrong way. They were doing it the hard way. Their aimless wanderings are summarized in the book of Numbers, chapter 33.
Living the way God wants us to live can be hard or easy. It all depends on our longing to please Him. If we kick against the pricks, then it is hard. On the other hand, if we are open and obedient to God, it is easy. Our serving Him becomes pleasure instead of pain. Let's stop doing it the hard way.

 Why Are You Complaining?
And the people spoke against God and against Moses, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless bread. (Numbers 21:5)
The following reasons caused the Israelites to complain:
  1. They forgot the miracles God did for them.
  2. They demanded more than God had given them.
  3. Their repentance was insincere.
  4. They were ungrateful for what God had done for them.
Our complaining often has its roots in one of these thoughtless actions and attitudes. But we can keep complaining from taking hold of our lives by cutting it off at the source. The next time you complain, identify your reason for doing so. Then take the action necessary to remedy the REAL problem.

What To Do With Your Anger
So the Lord's anger burned that day, and He swore an oath. (Numbers 32:10)

Anger is defined as a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism. Anger is a general term for rage, fury, indignation, and wrath. The flip side of God's love is God's wrath. God's displeasure with His people is often described in the Old Testament as "burning anger" or "fierce anger."

It is not a sin to get angry. However, it is a sin to let the sun go down on your anger. (Ephesians 4:26) In other words, get it straight before you go to sleep. What, then, are you to do with your anger?

Be so angry at the way things are going in your home that you are the one to initiate a change. Be so angry at the backbiting, murmuring and complaining in your church that you are the one to refuse to take part. Be so angry at the politics and unfairness on your job that you are the one to take a stand. Be so angry at the injustice and lawlessness of this world that you will make a difference whenever and wherever you can. [Notice I said, "angry AT." One is angry AT things, situations and circumstances. However, one can be angry WITH people]. Be angry at things and not with people.

Do you want to know what to do with your anger? Be soooooooo angry that you refuse to let anyone go to hell? Instead of telling them to go there, tell them how not to go there.

Be so angry that the world will change starting with YOU!

Custom Search