To download the Bible reading plan that our faith family started on January 1st, visit this site. There is also a guide to personal worship that you can download from that site. If you haven’t been reading along thus far, no worries! Jump on in with the current day’s reading.
Readings for This Week
Numbers 28-34 and Psalm 72-78
Where We Are In The Story (Numbers)
Background of Numbers: Within two years of leaving Egypt, the Israelites arrive on the fringes of the Promised Land and enthusiastically send in twelve spies to scout the land, but instead of trusting in God’s promises to give them the land, the people fearfully rebelled and made plans to return to Egypt (Num. 14:1-4). Written by Moses, this book contains the record of what happened to the Israelites during the forty years of wilderness wanderings that occurred because of their disobedience and doubt. The English title of Numbers refers to the prominent census accounts in the book that reflect the fulfillment of God’s promise that none of the people who had experienced God’s deliverance from Egypt would enter into the Promised Land, except for Caleb and Joshua (Num. 14:20-35).
Structure of Numbers:
- Numbers 1:1-10:10 occurs while Israel is still at Mt. Sinai, and it picks up where Exodus leaves off.
- Numbers 10:11-12:16 describes the Israelites’ journey from Mt. Sinai to the outskirts of the Promised Land.
- Numbers 13:1-20:13 contains significant accounts of disobedience by the nation, a Sabbath-breaker, Korah, and Moses, and it includes God’s response and instruction in light of those events.
- Numbers 20:14-22:1 tell of Israel’s military victories against several hostile nations and emphasizes God’s preservation of His people.
- Numbers 22:2-36:13 concludes the book with a census of the people, a reiteration of the laws and feasts given by God, and a transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua as the people prepare to enter the Promised Land after their wilderness wanderings.
This Week in Numbers: Numbers 28-29 contains further instructions regarding what the Israelites were to offer each day, Sabbath, month, Passover, etc. God repeats these instructions to the younger generation because the previous generation that had been delivered out of Egypt and had originally heard the commands at Mt. Sinai were dead as a result of their unbelief (Num. 14). As the younger generation wandered in the wilderness while waiting to take the Promised Land, God instructed them in His ways.
Numbers 30 also relates to worship and vows to God, specifically when such a commitment conflicts with another obligation such as children honoring their parents or a wife whose husband disagrees with her vow. While the attention given to a woman’s vow in Numbers 30 is greater than the focus on men’s vows, this was because woman did not have the financial or the legal situation of women in modern Western culture. While in her father’s household, a female was under her father’s authority and protection. It would not be in the best interest of the family for a daughter or a wife to promise something to God that belonged to the family. As Roy Gane states in his commentary on Numbers, “An Israelite woman’s vow or pledge could be a legal matter that involved her father or husband if she obligated herself to give something that belonged to him, such as an animal for a sacrifice. It would be unfair and generate resentment on his part if he were forced to relinquish something against his will. How would you feel if your child or spouse gave away something that was at least partly yours, which you seriously intended to keep?” While the vows could involve property such as animals for sacrifices, a wife’s vow might also involve self-denial with regards to sexual relations, which is also why a vow of this sort would necessitate her husband’s consent.
God’s command for Israel to take arms against Midian fulfilled God’s instructions from Numbers 25:16-18 and executed judgment on the Midianites as well as Balaam (v. 8). The tribes of Reuben and Gad wanted to settle the land of Gilead (Num. 32), but when they asked Moses not to take them across the Jordan River (v. 5), it created a mess until they clarified that their men would fight with their people for the rest of the Promised Land before settling in Gilead. Moses approved and granted the area to Gad, Reuben, and half the tribe of Manasseh (v. 33). Numbers 33 recounts the Israelites’ journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, which transitions to the commands to fully drive out the inhabitants of the land (vv. 50-56) and to the boundary lines of the Promised Land (Num. 34). This description reminded the people where God had taken them and the purpose for their journey – to claim their inheritance.
Where We Are In The Story (Psalms)
Background & Structure of Psalms: God used many different writers to write Psalms: David, Moses, the sons of Korah, Asaph, etc. The book is arranged in five parts, and this arrangement occurred after the people of Israel returned to the land after the Babylonian exile. A doxology concludes each book or arrangement of psalms (Psalm 41:13 for Book 1, Psalm 72:18-19 for Book 2, Psalm 89:52 for Book 3, Psalm 106:48 for Book 4, and Psalm 150:6 for Book 5), and the entire book of Psalms climactically ends with a grand doxology of several psalms (Ps. 146-150).
- Book 1: Psalms 1-41
- Book 2: Psalms 42-72
- Book 3: Psalms 73-89
- Book 4: Psalms 90-106
- Book 5: Psalms 107-150
This Week in Psalms:
- A royal psalm, Psalm 72 serves as an intercessory prayer for the king and for his rule over the people, and as a royal psalm, the content of this psalm ultimately finds fulfillment in the Messiah, the only truly righteous king. The prayers of this psalm will be fully answered with the messianic kingdom after Christ’s second coming. This psalm concludes Book Two within Psalms, and verses 18-29 contain the concluding doxology for Book Two.
- With Psalm 73, the psalmist sees the prosperity of the wicked and questions God for allowing them to thrive. The change in the psalmist’s perspective comes in verses 16-17 when he entered God’s sanctuary and considered their situation in light of eternity. This psalm presents an example of how one’s thoughts and beliefs can either lead towards doubt or towards confidence in the Lord, and it demonstrates the importance of filtering the present with an eternal perspective.
- Because of the references to the ruins and the destruction of the sanctuary (vv. 3-8), Psalm 74 was either written when the people of Israel were in exile or after they returned to the land after their captivity as a communal lament. Their lament centered on two distressing issues – the destruction of the temple (v. 3) and the lack of a prophet in the land (v. 9). In the midst of their grief, the people earnestly petitioned God for the destruction of their oppressors, appealed to His power and sovereignty as Creator, and reminded Him of His covenant with them.
- In Psalm 75, thanksgiving to God flows into an oracle from God regarding His promise to bring down the proud and to exalt the humble. The psalm calls the proud to humble themselves before the Lord, and it warns them of God’s cup of wrath. The expression of one’s cup signifies one’s lot in life, and here, the expression refers to the cup of God’s judgment that is to come.
- Psalm 76 serves as a Song of Zion (a.k.a. Jerusalem), and it can be divided into four sections (vv. 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12). The first section describes God and His dwelling place while the second section praises God and His ability to overcome armies with His word. The third section describes why people should revere the Lord, and the fourth section exhorts people to praise Him. This psalm forewarns those who oppose God by telling them of His great power, and in doing so, it is a warning to humbly turn from their ways and to fear God.
- Although suffering for a prolonged stretch of time, the psalmist of Psalm 77 appeals to God for favor and relief and reminds himself of God’s character and of His past acts. In doing so, the psalmist bolsters his faith in the present. This psalm is instructful for believers in how to respond faithfully when suffering, for laments do not just contain a description of the trial, laments also contain petitions, declarations of trust, and promises to praise God as a response to God’s actions.
- Because it rehearses God’s relationship with His people and His actions on their behalf from the time of Exodus to the reign of David, Psalm 78 is a descriptive praise psalm. It begins with a call for the older generations to tell the younger generations about the Lord, for the people’s rebellion and unbelief came when they forgot about all that God had done for them in the past and what He promised for the future. Our love for Him and our mindfulness of Him should lead to greater faith and obedience in our lives.