Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Deuteronomy- Chapter 9

Deuteronomy 9

-God’s righteousness verses man’s depravity is the theme of this chapter’s historical narrative for the purpose of remembrance, devotion, and salvation. The LORD wants Israel to “hear” all that He has to say through His prophet Moses in this time before they go in to possess the land He has graciously given to them because of His oath with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Deuteronomy 9:1, 5). He plainly tells them that they have no chance of victory without Him as they face the “great and tall” people of the sons of the Anakim. Their reputation precedes them, but God promises to subdue them and destroy them before the children of Israel, just as He had spoken. He would cross over in advance as a consuming fire so that they could drive them out quickly (Deuteronomy 9:2-3).

-Then God gives warning. When the LORD has driven them out of the land before them, the children of Israel were NOT to say in their heart, “Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land.” God emphatically tells them that it is only because of these nations wickedness that He, and only He, is dispossessing them, for Israel is “a stubborn people.” God is just simply fulfilling His promise, nothing more really. The Hebrews did not deserve His blessing, and He will go on to speak why that is (Deuteronomy 9:4-6).

-They were to remember, and not forget, how they had provoked the LORD to anger (righteous indignation) and wrath in the wilderness from the day they left Egypt up until the present time because of their rebellion. God was at the point of destroying them and raising up another nation through Moses at Horeb (Mount Sinai), but the great prophet interceded for them (Deuteronomy 9:7-8, 14, 18-20, 24-29). He had gone up to get the tablets of stone spoken and written by the finger of God for their covenant commandments. Through fire, 40 days and nights of not eating nor even drinking water (a supernatural occurrence to say the least), and cloud cover, Moses ventured with the Almighty in a dazzling array (Exodus 24:15-18, Deuteronomy 9:9-11). Moses had seen their debauchery when he came down the mountain with the two stone tablets. The people had quickly turned away from their God and acted corruptly disobeying everything He had commanded them to do. They made a molten image of worship in their stubbornness causing Moses to throw the tablets from his hands smashing them before the people’s eyes (Deuteronomy 9:12-13, 15-17). The mediator and servant of the Most High God then took their sinful thing, the molten calf which they had made with their own hands, and “burned it with fire and crushed it, grinding it very small until it was as fine as dust.” Then Moses threw the dust fragments into the brook of water that came down from the mountain (Deuteronomy 9:21). Moses related other instances where the children of Israel by their sin, doubt, and rebellion provoked the LORD to wrath at Taberah (Numbers 11:1-3), at Massah (Exodus 17:1-7), at Kibroth-hattaavah (Numbers 11:31-34), and at Kadesh-barnea (Numbers 13-14; 32:8-10, Deuteronomy 9:22-23). They had been recalcitrant against the LORD from the day He knew them (Deuteronomy 9:24). Moses’ intercession and rational conversation with the LORD at the end of the chapter puts everything back into perspective. Yes, they had been bad, but the LORD had chosen them, and they were His instruments. To destroy them would break the covenant, and God would never do that. They were His inheritance, He had redeemed them (purchased them) through His greatness, He had delivered them, and He would surely have to remember them now. Moses fought for his people because he knew his God. He simply appealed to His reputation, glory, and nature to overlook even abominable sin. His final summation says so much, “Yet they are Your people…(Deuteronomy 9:25-29).”

-*Application* For us, we know that it is only the righteousness of Christ Jesus that makes us holy and purchased in the sight of Almighty God (Romans 3:21-26, Revelation 5:9). Faith is the only thing that this salvation requires (Romans 10:4, Philippians 3:9, 2 Peter 1:1). We cannot work, or merit, redemption before a perfect Creator. It is only by His grace and mercy (Ephesians 2:8-9). We have no room to boast in our own goodness (Romans 3:26-28). We like sheep have gone astray and He has laid the iniquity of us all on His Messiah (Isaiah 53:6). Just like the Israelites were nothing without their God, we are nothing without our Christ. We don’t deserved His blessings, but the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair (see for one of my personal favorites by Relient K)

Verses to Memorize: Deuteronomy 9:4, 7, 29

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Deuteronomy- Chapter 8

Deuteronomy 8

-The LORD confirms His word yet again in this chapter to His children of Israel making sure that they know His requirements for staying long term in the land that He swore to their forefathers for a possession. They were to “remember all the way” in which He led them through the wilderness for the 40 years. His purpose was to humble them so that they would depend on Him rather than themselves for the long haul. He tested them to see what was in their heart as far as their devotion to their God and dependence on His ways. He let them be hungry so that He could feed them manna from heaven, a source they had not known previously in their history. He wanted them to understand that man does not live by bread alone, but by everything that proceeds out of the Mouth of the LORD (Matthew 4:4). Their clothing miraculously did not wear out, nor did their feet swell from constant and unrelenting use. The purpose? So that they would understand God’s graciousness and His abiding and loving discipline in their lives as sons and daughters. They were being taught to fear Him alone (Deuteronomy 8:1-6).

-God was bringing them into a “good land” full of brooks of water, fountains and springs, which flowed from the valleys and hills. It would be a land of wheat and barley, of vines, fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil, and honey. It would be a land of plenty where they would lack nothing as long as they blessed the LORD and His ways. A warning is repeated though for when this happened. If they forgot the LORD their God by not keeping His commandments, ordinances, and statutes and becoming excessively proud with their accomplishments and wandering after other gods to serve them, the LORD testifies against them that they will surely perish like the nations before them. Listening to the Voice (counsel) of their God and remembering His gracious provision and enduring wisdom was paramount for their success in perpetuity (Deuteronomy 8:7-20).

-*Application* It is not by our own hands that we get strength and power and wealth. It is a gracious gift of the LORD God. Never, ever, forget that. We are nothing without our Creator and Sustainer. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). We must allow Him to take us through times of testing and want so that we can come into His abundance with the right heart and attitude. We have to melt into His ways and make Him our entire focus. He will help us to depend on His Sovereignty as we humble ourselves. Then, we will see Him lift us up through His gracious dealings with us. The message for the Israelites becomes a clear message for us in our world today.

Verse to Memorize: Deuteronomy 8:2

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Deuteronomy- Chapter 7

Deuteronomy 7

-It was not a matter of “if,” but “when” the LORD would bring His people into the land which He swore to their forefathers. They were guaranteed to possess it (Deuteronomy 7:1-2a). When that happened, God was very specific that they totally destroy making no covenant nor showing any favor with their defeated foe. Further, they were not allowed to intermarry with these foreigners. The LORD details why this was so necessary. The potential was certainly there for them to turn their sons away from the faith and serve other gods. This would anger the LORD of heaven and earth, and He would quickly destroy them for their idolatry. Specifically, they were commanded to tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars of worship, hew down their wooden symbols of a female deity (Asherim), and burn their graven images with fire. “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 7:2b-6).” Then, the LORD even explains why He choose this common group of people who were few in number from among all the people groups in the earth. It was because of His love and His word, His oath, sworn to the forefathers including Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was fulfilling His good promise to them in this process because He is faithful and true. However, the fact that He repays those who hate Him is again put forth. He will rapidly destroy these who detest His compassion and grace. Therefore, the children of Israel were again warned of the impending doom if they rejected “to do” His commandment, statutes, and judgments (Deuteronomy 7:7-11).

-The promises of God are continued as the chapter moves along. Conditional guarantees are enumerated if they listen to these judgments and keep and do them. God’s love, blessing, and multiplication are listed with some specific applications. In fact, God assures that they will be blessed above and beyond all peoples in their fruit bearing with no sickness like the plagues that destroyed Egypt when He was bringing them out. Actually, with their enemies, the reverse will be true. All who oppose His people will contract the harmful diseases. It will never pay to go against Israel God emphatically says (Deuteronomy 7:12-15).

-The LORD now reiterates that they “consume all the peoples whom the LORD your God will deliver to you; your eye shall not pity them, nor shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you (Deuteronomy 7:16).” God further warns them to not be afraid of them in this venture. They were to “remember well” all that He had done for them in their release from Egypt when He performed incredible miracles in never before seen signs and wonders with His mighty Hand and outstretched Arm. God would even command the hornets to be sent upon their foes in this taking of the land until even those hiding would perish. Therefore, there was to be no dread or fear in their spirit. God was in their midst; they had all they needed for victory and success. He went on to say that “little by little” they would conquer the land by clearing away sections at a time. Why? Interestingly enough, God knew that the ravenous wild beasts would be too much for them if there was a quick conquest of the land. Therefore, it would be a methodical destruction. Also, their enemies would be put into confusion as a tactic by the Almighty. The kings would eventually be delivered into their hands so that they could make their name perish from under heaven; “no man will be able to stand before you until you have destroyed them (Deuteronomy 7:17-24).”

-One last time in this chapter God relates His disdain for graven images of false gods that they would need to destroy with fire. He also curbs their material lust by warning them not to covet the silver or gold of their vanquished. They were not to take any for themselves for it would become a snare to them, just like idols. The material greed was rightly denounced by the LORD as an abomination to Him. They were to utterly detest and abhor anything that came under the ban (Deuteronomy 7:25-26). Unfortunately, Israel had some problems in fulfilling this requirement (Joshua 7).

-*Application* When God gives us a word and action to carry out, He is serious about doing exactly what He says. He lays everything out for us, but it is up to us to fulfill our side of the equation. We often have trouble with this. The follow through is too difficult we think, and we make excuses in not carrying out what we know are clear directives from the LORD. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey (from John H. Sammis, see

Verses to Memorize: Deuteronomy 7:2, 6

Monday, October 26, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Deuteronomy- Chapter 6

Deuteronomy 6

-This is a pinnacle chapter in the exhortation by God through Moses to the sons of Israel, with significance for all of us, right before they go in to possess the land sworn to them by the LORD (Deuteronomy 6:10). This passage is often referred to as the Shema (Hebrew for “hear”). But hearing was not the only thing these children were supposed to do. It is very clear from the text that they were “to do” all that the LORD commanded here in this book (Deuteronomy 6:1-3, 18, 24-25). Their LORD God was One (denoting complete unity in the Trinity), and was to be loved exclusively above everything else (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). These statutes and judgments were designed to be on their “heart” and taught “diligently” to the next generation in all of life’s course (Deuteronomy 6:5-9).

-God makes His point by relating to them they it is He who rescued them from slavery in Egypt when they had no hope, and it is only by His grace that they will accomplish the fantastic things that they are about to accomplish. He is their Provider and Sustainer. They will have “great and splendid cities which you did not build,” “houses full of all good things which you did not fill,” “hewn cisterns (water supply) which you did not dig,” “vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant.” They are guaranteed to “eat” and be “satisfied (Deuteronomy 6:10-12).” They were taught to fear only the LORD their God worshipping and swearing only by His Name and none other. Following other gods from the people that surrounded them would shorten their stay in the land for “the LORD your God in the midst of you is a jealous God.” They were guaranteed the opposite if they disobeyed….they would be wiped off the face of the earth by the LORD (Deuteronomy 6:13-15). They were not to test Him, as they did at Massah (Exodus 17:1-7), but diligently keep His commandments, testimonies, and statutes. They were to do what was “right and good” in the sight of the LORD, their covenant God, so that it would go well for them in the land that their King had given them out of His kindness (Deuteronomy 6:16-18). They were to be purposeful in driving out all their enemies from before them as the LORD had spoken (Deuteronomy 6:19). Reason? God foresaw the temptation and debauchery that these wicked people would bring upon the sons of Israel through the times of the judges, kings, exile, and even unto our modern tense situation in the Middle East.

-Then, God anticipated the questions from generations to come in this chapter dedicated to the preservation of their culture and Godly heritage. When the sons would ask what these testimonies, statutes, and judgments mean which the LORD commanded them, they were to relate to them the exodus journey in which the LORD delivered them from Egypt with His mighty Hand showing “great and distressing signs and wonders” before their eyes against their captors. God brought them “out from there” in order to bring them “in,” to give them the land which He has sworn to their fathers in previous generations. So, for their “survival” and their “good always,” God ordained His righteous regulations expecting complete obedience (Deuteronomy 6:20-25).

-*Application* Pouring into the next generation is an honor and a privilege as we can see from this chapter. Leaving a Godly legacy is the greatest contribution you can make to the future of society and culture. Our lives will quickly pass, and only what we give to the future becomes paramount. Live for God while on this earth. Don’t be filled by greed or self-absorption that leaves no gift for the children and their children. Be responsible and do what is right in the sight of God for those who are coming after you. God will bless your efforts when you take that approach.

Verses to Memorize: Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Deuteronomy- Chapter 5

Deuteronomy 5

-Moses summoned all of the Israelites together to reiterate the Ten Commandments that the LORD gave them, which they agreed to, on Mount Sinai (or Horeb). It was here that God made a covenant with His people; not the fathers, but the sons of Israel at that time. It was a current event, not an affair from antiquity. The glory, fire, awesomeness, fury, and voice of the LORD God Almighty appeared to them there and they survived. Nothing like this had ever happened; it was totally unique (Deuteronomy 5:1-5, 22-26). He was sealing the fact that He was their God and they were His people. He delivered them with a mighty Hand and an outstretched Arm out of the land of Egypt. He was consecrating the fact that He was their Savior and LORD (Deuteronomy 5:6, 15).

-The Ten Commandments were revisited commandment by commandment with some explanation for the preservation of the people in the land (Deuteronomy 5:7-21). The first four had to do with their vertical relationship with their exclusive LORD, and the last six had to do with how to treat their fellow man. Therefore, we can see Christ’s admonition to love God and love people very much evident in these top ten commandments (Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31, Luke 10:27).

-Moses’ intercession for the people of God takes center stage in the remaining verses of this chapter (Deuteronomy 5:22-33). He was the one who could go near and hear all that the LORD said in intimacy and clarity (Deuteronomy 5:27a). The people told him at that time that they would hear him and do the things that God commanded him (Deuteronomy 5:27b). The LORD was pleased with their response in all that they had sponken. His comment on the situation is this, “Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever (Deuteronomy 5:28)!” God knew the future and saw their obstinate rebellion from the beginning, yet He implored them to give Him their whole heart for blessing and security. His greatest desire was that they walk in all the way that they should go with their King for the prolonging of their days in the land (Deuteronomy 5:33).

-*Application* We are under a jealous God who visits the iniquity of the fathers on the children up to the third and fourth generations to those who hate Him. But, think about the reverse side of things. He shows lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Him and keep His ways (Deuteronomy 5:9-10). Our unyielding and abiding love is all He really wants. His desire is to bless us and wants no one to turn Him away. It breaks my heart when I see people get angry with God and provoke Him to anger out their ignorance and misunderstanding. These have totally missed the concept of God’s grace, kindness, and mercy usually because of something that has happened as a result of a marred world rather than His intended design. While God is transcendent and has ultimate control, He gave mankind freedom to choose or reject Him. And our rejection of Him has caused all of our pain and misery. His desperate desire is to bring us back into right relationship with Him through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:3-5, 2 Peter 3:9). Because of God’s justice, He has to punish all sin. But, because of His grace, He takes pity on those who love Him and follow His ways, which are revealed through Jesus Christ’s atonement on the cross. The choice is yours my friend. Where is your heart today?

Verse to Memorize: Deuteronomy 5:29

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Deuteronomy- Chapter 4

Deuteronomy 4

-With a tremendous exhortation Moses now urges Israel to follow all of God’s statutes, judgments, and ordinances that he was teaching them to perform. The purpose? That they would live and go in and take possession of their Promised Land, which the LORD their God had generously given to them. They were warned not to add to the Word of the LORD or take away from it (Deuteronomy 4:1-2). Their eyes had seen all that God had done to bring them to this point by destroying their enemies and providing safe passage in all their wanderings and battles. Keeping God’s statutes and judgments as He had commanded was essential in their new endeavor into the land. It would indeed be their wisdom and understanding in the sight of all peoples making them all say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people (Deuteronomy 4:3-6).” The people of Israel were intended to be a glorious testimony. Moses continues, “For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the LORD our God whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today (Deuteronomy 4:7-8)?” Then Moses turns his attention to the heart of this people. “Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons (Deuteronomy 4:9).” Moses called on them to remember when they stood before the glory of the LORD at Horeb (Mount Sinai). He wanted to instill the literal and abiding fear of the Almighty who reigns in majesty, truth, and splendor speaking with His Voice, though not seen, and displaying “fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom (Deuteronomy 4:10-12).” This was the God of the covenant who commanded them to perform the Ten Commandments written by His Hand on two tablets of stone. God had instructed His servant, Moses, to teach the principles of this Law of God for the purpose of gaining entrance and longevity in the land that they were going to possess avoiding idolatry, which man has a tendency to do (Deuteronomy 4:13-19). The LORD reminded them that He alone had taken them and brought them out of the “iron furnace,” which was Egypt to be a people of His own possession (Deuteronomy 4:20). Moses further noted the pain he had incurred as the LORD was angry with him on their account and his inability, sworn by God, to go into the Promised Land across the Jordan because of their actions in unfaithfulness. But then he did provide hope with the word of the LORD that they, these descendants, would indeed be able to cross over and take possession. He then reiterated that they watch out for themselves when that happened so as not to forget the covenant of the LORD and make vain images to worship other than Him alone (Deuteronomy 4:21-23). “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24).”

-The next section describes how things will be if they transgress and break covenant with their faithful Creator and God. If they act corruptly and create idols, heaven and earth witnesses against them in the sight of Moses, that they will perish quickly from the land where they were to go. They will not live long on it, but be utterly destroyed and scattered among the peoples of the earth where they will be few in number and powerless. But, the LORD will not forget them and beseeches them to call upon Him when they are exiled as evidenced by this word, “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His Voice. For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them (Deuteronomy 4:25-31).” Nothing like this had ever been done before, nor would it ever be like this again. Israel was His chosen people to carry out His redemptive plan for the whole world. Nothing would deter it. They had a privileged position, but incredible responsibility. God revealed Himself to the Jews in special ways through signs and wonders and wars and a mighty Hand and an outstretched Arm and by great terrors. “To you (Israel) it was shown that you might KNOW (emphasis mine) that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him (Deuteronomy 4:32-35).” Out of the heavens God uniquely let them hear His Voice to discipline (yacar- to admonish, instruct, discipline, chasten) them for the journey that would one day result in the salvation of the whole world. He let them see His great fire also from which they heard His words. Why? “Because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them. And He personally brought you out from Egypt by His great power, driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in and to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is today (Deuteronomy 4:36-38).” There was no other God, and Moses emphatically let his people know this before he was to pass on into eternity. He desperately wanted it go well with them in the land that they were going into. He knew that God would not share His glory, and that His statutes and commandments were good for posterity and well-being (Shalom) in the land He would give them for all time (Deuteronomy 4:39-40).

-Then Moses set apart the three cities across the Jordan to the east as places of refuge for unintentional manslaughter. These included Bezer for the Reubenites, Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites, and Golan in Bashan for the Manassites (Numbers 35:14, Deuteronomy 4:41-43). The rest of the chapter sums up the commands of the LORD and the geographical locations where the children of Israel had possession (Deuteronomy 4:44-49).

-*Application* Moses says these things which are well worth considering today: “Give heed,” “Keep your soul diligently,”  “Do not forget,” “Watch yourselves carefully,” and “Beware” (Deuteronomy 4:9, 15, 19, 23). There is only one God, and that is Yahweh (the LORD). He is the God of heaven and earth and controls His creation with wisdom, majesty, and transcendence. He chooses particular things and people to bring about His glory at the proper time, yet gives us choices and decisions in the matter. That is evident from this incredible passage. Will we cooperate with the LORD, who will win regardless, or fight against His sovereignty? Thank Him for His compassion and wonders today. You are indeed blessed if you are His child and part of His Kingdom. Take no part in idolatry and the fading things of this temporary world. He is God, and there is no other. Unite with Him!

Verses to Memorize: Deuteronomy 4:1, 9, 20, 30-31, 35, 37, 40

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Deuteronomy- Chapter 3

Deuteronomy 3

-The history lesson is completed in this chapter as Moses recounts going up the road to Bashan and the total defeat of Og, the king of Bashan, and all his people by the command and strength of the LORD. They captured all his cities at that time, which amounted in sum to 66. Some were fortified with high walls, gates, and bars but some were not. The men, women, and children of that nation were utterly destroyed in this conquest. Only the animals and the spoils of the area survived, just as in the instance of defeating King Sihon of the city of Heshbon and the Amorites. Therefore, from the Arnon Valley, which is mid-way up the Dead Sea area, to the far north where the majestic Mount Hermon is located, the Israelites took possession of the hill country of Gilead and what is today the Golan Heights. The tribes of Reuben and Gad, along with the half-tribe of Manasseh were given these lands east of the Jordan as a possession. For more depth on that, see Numbers 32. Moses reiterated these tribes commitment to go and cross the Jordan with their men of war to assist their brothers in the conquering of the remaining Promised Land. Wives, little ones, and the animals were to remain in their cities and towns, but the men would be constrained to fight with their fellow countrymen until the LORD had given them complete victory and rest on the other side of the Jordan (Deuteronomy 3:1-20).

-The commissioning of Joshua is then taken up by Moses. He exhorted his young protégé with the fact that he had seen all that the LORD had done in giving Israel victory after victory with the promise of future conquest in His Name. Moses continues with powerful words, “Do not fear them, for the LORD your God is the One fighting for you (Deuteronomy 3:21-22).” Moses also pleaded with the LORD at that time to relent, show him favor, and let him be able to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land. He praised the all-powerful God of heaven and earth who could do such great and mighty acts, but the LORD was angry with His servant on the account of his grumbling and unfaithful people. He would not listen to Moses on this issue and said, “Enough! Speak to Me no more of this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes to the west and north and south and east, and see it with your eyes, for you shall not cross over this Jordan (Deuteronomy 3:23-27).” Moses was denied, but he stayed obedient in the face of disappointment. The LORD commanded him at this point to “charge Joshua and encourage him and strengthen him, for he shall go across at the head of this people, and he will give them as an inheritance the land which you will see (Deuteronomy 3:28).” So Israel remained in the valley opposite Beth-peor until God would direct them further (Deuteronomy 3:29).

-*Application* Joshua, or Yeshua (God saves), is the Hebrew name for Jesus. I find it interesting that God providentially chose this name to lead His people across the Jordan into the Promised Land. Jesus, the LORD in the flesh, is the One that God would eventually send to set every man, who believes, free from the penalty of sin and provide a new spiritual birth for eternal life in His Kingdom. This historical-narrative has great spiritual foreshadowing and significance for us as Christians. Have you come into the Promised Land carried at the head by Jesus Christ, the suffering Servant? Another application to consider is Moses’ beseeching unto the LORD. We have to be okay with His answers even when they don’t personally suit us. Don’t insist on your own way. Be humble and obedient even in the face of unrealized dreams and disappointments. God is in control and will work everything out for His glory one way or another. We are not the king; He is. A final application in this chapter revolves around the concept of momentum. Isn’t awesome when we find ourselves enjoying the victorious favor of the LORD in our lives? God has ways of showing us His greatness at times when He decides to shower us with blessings, like He did with the Israelites concerning Bashan and the Amorites. Our acknowledgement of the Almighty is truly key in these kinds of times. Nothing is too hard for the LORD (Jeremiah 32:17). Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets is a great example of this in the 2015 MLB postseason.

Verses to Memorize: Deuteronomy 3:22, 28

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Deuteronomy- Chapter 2

Deuteronomy 2

-The history lesson continues in this chapter as the children of Israel turned and set out for the wilderness by way of the Red Sea after their defeat before the Amorites when they acted presumptuously in defiance of the LORD’s command (Deuteronomy 2:1). They circled around Mount Seir for many days until the LORD spoke and told them to turn north to pass through the territory of their brothers, the sons of Esau, who lived in Seir. The LORD promised to put fear in them and warned them to be very careful as they sojourned into this territory. They were not to provoke them, and they were not allowed to take any of their land, which the LORD had given as a possession unto Esau (Genesis 36:8, 43). They were to buy food from them and water to eat and drink along the way. “For the LORD your God has blessed you in all that you have done; He has known your wanderings through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you; you have not lacked a thing (Deuteronomy 2:2-7).” So the children of Israel passed through as the LORD commanded and came beyond their brothers away from the Arabah road and away from Elath and Ezion-geber. They turned and passed through by the way of the wilderness of Moab, where the LORD again warned them not to harass nor provoke to war the sons of Lot who were given the LORD’s possession in the land of Ar (Genesis 19:36-37, Numbers 21:15, Deuteronomy 2:8-9). Some dispossessions were accounted by Moses in the annihilation of the Emim (Rephaim or Zamzummin) and the Horites by the sons of Esau and Lot (Deuteronomy 2:10-12, 19-23).

-God told His people to arise and cross over the brook Zered. The time it took them to come from Kadesh-barnea to cross over this brook just south of the Dead Sea and near the border of Moab was 38 long and arduous years. This was the time when all the men of war had perished as the LORD had sworn to them because of their lack of faith and disobedience. The Hand of God was against this generation to destroy them from within the camp until they all were extinguished, except for the faithful Caleb and Joshua (Deuteronomy 2:13-16). But, now it was time for the LORD to raise up a new generation that would finally come into the Promised Land at this appointed time. That day they were commanded to cross over Ar, near the border of Moab. They were told that when they came opposite the sons of Ammon, they were not to provoke or harass them either. They would take no land from them as a possession because it had been given to Lot by God (Genesis 19:38, Deuteronomy 2:17-23).

-But, now at this point the LORD invites them to engage in battle as they passed through the valley of the Arnon. He had given them permission to destroy and take possession of Sihon the Amorite, the king of Heshbon. The fear and dread of the LORD’s people was upon them by God Himself. When they heard the report, they feared and trembled in anguish because of the LORD’s plan. Israel did propose a peaceful solution as they sent messengers from the wilderness of Kedemoth to Sidon. They told him they would pass through his land peacefully on his highway and not turning aside to the right or left, and they would buy food and water at the market price. But, Sihon was not willing to let them pass through, for the LORD God “hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, in order to deliver him” into the hands of the Israelites. The LORD emphatically told His servant Moses to “begin to occupy, that you may possess the land.” Sihon with all his people came out to meet Israel for battle at Jahaz. Israel soundly defeated them just as the LORD had spoken. They captured their cities from Aroer even to Gilead. “There was no city that was too high for us; the LORD our God delivered all over to us.” They left no survivors destroying men, women, and children. The only spoil they took was the animals from their sizeable capture. However, they averted the land of Ammon, as the LORD had commanded along the River Jabbok and the cities of the hill country (Numbers 21:21-32, Deuteronomy 2:24-37).

-*Application* The sovereignty and wisdom of God should once again stick out to us here in the meditation of this historical-narrative Scripture. God moves in mysterious ways, but He is clear in His presentation if we are observant. He doesn’t change His overarching will, so it is up to us to comply with him through faith and obedience. He is with us and knows our struggle if we are indeed His children. We don’t have to worry about that. We will have not lack a thing, even if we must go through wilderness times in our lives. Follow Him and live as the conqueror you were designed to be (Romans 8:35-39, 1 Peter 2:9-10).

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Deuteronomy- Chapter 1

Deuteronomy 1

-Introduction: Deuteronomy could be termed “A Book of Remembrance.” Moses, the author, looks back, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, at the journey that His people have had in the wilderness right before they take hold of the Promised Land. These words are spoken and written on the east side of the Jordan River as they look into the future of destiny fulfillment with a remembrance of the past as tainted as it was. This work is laid out in the form of a treaty between a God and His vassals, which was a very common way to look at agreements in the second millennium B.C. This treaty calls for Israel to remember who their LORD was and what He had done for them. It implored them to move forward in faith, in opposition to a lack thereof which had held back their ancestors and slowed God’s intended progress. This was a preparation and a consummation of sorts before Moses turned the reigns of leadership over to Joshua (Deuteronomy 1:37-38). There are history lessons and covenant restatements all throughout this Divine book to clarify God’s purposes and direction to those with a willing heart. Therefore, obedience is extolled as a major theme with the LORD’s Laws the standard. Along with history and obedience, God’s love, superb teaching, and man’s choices round out the powerful emphasis of this work. So as you read and venture through this book in view of Canaan, remember the LORD’s powerful and loving work in your own life with a renewed commitment to trust, hope, and caring obedience.

-Chapter 1: “These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel and Laban and Hazeroth and Dizahab (Deuteronomy 1:1).” This place was only an eleven days journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-Barnea, but it had taken the children of Israel by now the prophesied 40 years of wandering in the wilderness to get to this point. They were now on the brink of taking the Promised Land with a totally new generation with the exception of Caleb and Joshua (Numbers 14, Deuteronomy 1:2-3a, 35-39). Moses follows the command of the LORD to reiterate their journey’s lessons and to “expound this Law” now that the kings of the Amorites and Bashan had been defeated (Deuteronomy 1:3b-5).

-God speaks a history lesson starting from the point of Horeb (Mount Sinai), where God told them to depart after they had received the Law and the Covenant from His servant Moses. They were told at that time to venture to the hill country of the Amorites, and to all their neighbors in the Arabah and to the lowland in the Negev (South country) and by the seacoast, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon and as far to the north and east as the great Euphrates River (Deuteronomy 1:6-7). God promised that they would possess this particular land that He had given them as early as Abraham (Genesis 12:7; 15:18-21; 17:8), and His testaments continued through his line from Isaac and Jacob on down through their descendants after them (Deuteronomy 1:8).

-God now emphasizes delegation from Moses’ experience in the wilderness when his father-in-law set him straight (Exodus 18:13-26). The load of leadership would be a shared burden and organization would be necessary with this large amount of people to govern. Wise and discerning and experienced men from the tribes would be selected and appointed as heads over thousands and hundreds and fifties on down to tens of people. These would be officers for the tribes of Israel. They were to judge righteously between both countrymen and alien sojourners with them in cases that came up. Impartiality was stressed along with the fear of God over the fear of man. If difficult cases arose, Moses would be the supreme authority under the LORD’s direction in this constitution (Deuteronomy 1:9-18).

-The narrative now turns more negative as the saga of Israel’s disobedience takes the limelight. Even though the LORD had promised to be with them and give them victory, the spies came back with the bad report that made the congregation fearful and tentative. Their trust was not strong enough, so God became angry and judged them severely with an oath for their defiance and grumbling in not loving God by thinking that He hated them because of their hardships. They thought success was inconceivable because of the obstacles in their way. Their faith became faint and they were afraid. They forgot about the power of the LORD to work miracles and erase deficits. This evil generation would not be allowed to see the good which God had sworn to their fathers. Again, only Caleb and Joshua were rewarded. Not even Moses was allowed into the Promised Land on the people’s account. His leadership was found lacking in areas. As the children of Israel heard this, they did repent, but they also tried to work in their own power and thought God would recant His oath. They vainly tried to attack the Amorites in the hill country and acted presumptuously in rebellion to the LORD’s commands. He was not among them at all in this courageous, but wayward, action. They were soundly defeated and chased back as if being chased by bees from Seir to Hormah. Their subsequent weeping and wailing did not convince the LORD to listen or give ear to them and they remained in Kadesh many days (Deuteronomy 1:19-46).

-*Application* God is making a point here as to His transcendent (distinct and above) nature in covenant keeping. He is the boss and in total charge. He is higher by far. God is not like us. His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). He takes pity and blesses when He desires, and judges with righteous accuracy when needed. Who can understand or fathom the mysteries of the LORD? For us, keeping His covenant means complete blessings. When we are out of His covenant, we are without hope and will despair. Now that Jesus has broached and implemented a new and better covenant by His blood, rejection of Him is catastrophic (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Luke 22:20, 2 Corinthians 3:4-6, Hebrews 8:8-9:28, especially Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 10:29;12:24-29). Choose wisely, choose Jesus!

Verses to Memorize: Deuteronomy 1:8, 17, 21, 29-30, 42-43

Friday, October 16, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Jonah- Chapter 4

Jonah 4

-The original reluctant prophet, who became the willing and revived messenger, inexplicably now becomes the angry prophet. Instead of rejoicing in the fact that Nineveh, his nation’s sworn enemy, had come to repentance and faith in the Living God, He becomes displeased and angry (Jonah 4:1). He knew God. In contrast the people, like the sailors and the king and people of Nineveh, did not know the LORD. They thought in terms of “perhaps” the LORD would be gracious and compassionate if they turned to Him (Jonah 1:6; 3:9). Their faith was guess work, but Jonah explains in verse two that he knew from the beginning that “You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and One who relents concerning calamity.” This is a constant and consistent theme in God’s revelation to us in His Scriptures (Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Nehemiah 9:17, Psalm 86:15, Daniel 9:9, Hosea 2:23, Joel 2:13, Micah 7:19, Nahum 1:3, Matthew 9:13, 36, Romans 3:24, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Galatians 2:21, Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-9, Hebrews 4:16, James 5:11, 1 Peter 5:10, Revelation 22:21 to name a few). But instead of following the nature of God, Jonah becomes hard headed, unmerciful, ungracious, and wanting to die (Jonah 4:3, 8).

-God asks the question, “Do you have good reason to angry (Jonah 4:4)?” In the text there is no response from the frustrated prophet. Instead, he goes out from the city towards the east and sits there eventually making a shelter for himself in the shade from the sun until he would see what would happen in the city (Jonah 4:5). God “appointed” a plant, just like He had “appointed” a storm and the great fish (Jonah 1:4, 17; 2:10), and it blossomed out to the point of giving Jonah shade and needed comfort from the intense heat of the sun. Jonah was “extremely happy” about this plant that the LORD had provided (Jonah 4:6). But, to teach a point, God now “appointed” a worm when dawn came the next day to attack the plant and make it wither up to nothing (Jonah 4:7). Now, when the sun came up, the LORD made matters more dire when He “appointed” a scorching east wind, which, with the sun beating down as well, made Jonah faint and desperate with all his soul to just pass from this world (Jonah 4:8). A short discourse then ensues. God wisely asks again, “Do you have good reason to be angry about the plant?” This time we hear Jonah’s response in the text, “I have good reason to be angry, even to death (Jonah 4:9).” Then the LORD sums up His point in this short prophetic book, “You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals (Jonah 4:10-11)?” We are left to wonder if Jonah ever came around and accepted God’s wisdom as the narrative now abruptly ends.

-*Application* If we know God and His love, grace, compassion, and mercy, which He has abundantly provided for us, we should never be reluctant to go where He sends or unwilling to be excited over the fact that He sheds His benefits on others, even when they may appear to us to be undeserving and vile. We, like Jonah, can unfortunately develop a “big head” or cockiness with our understanding and knowledge of God and His awesomeness when asked to share, or distribute, it. God is more merciful than we could ever imagine (John 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9). Be willing to give others a chance to participate in His goodness and be grateful for His sovereign pleasure in averting calamity upon those who turn unto Him and away from their sin. He is the God of a second chance; are we being that gracious?

Verses to Memorize: Jonah 4:2, 11

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Jonah- Chapter 3

Jonah 3

-The LORD speaks to Jonah again now that he has had his encounter with the depths of the sea and the great fish, which revived, renewed, and altered his desire to comply with the Living God. This time Jonah accepts the call to arise and go to Nineveh with the prophetic proclamation that he was to deliver. The size of Nineveh is detailed here. It takes three days of walking to cover this exceedingly great city. By the end of the first day of Jonah’s prophetic ministry there, things begin to quickly take place that signal awakening, repentance, and salvation. As Jonah cries out that they have 40 days before their overthrow by the LORD, “the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them (Jonah 3:1-5).

-Word soon reached the king of Nineveh. He arose from his throne of power, laid aside his royal robe from his body and covered himself in humility and repentance signified by sackcloth and ashes (or possibly he just sat on the dust of the ground from the Hebrew word 'epher used here) along with the rest of the Ninevites. He issued a formal proclamation declaring, “In Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. But both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on God earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish (Jonah 3:6-9).” This was a serious deal, and the people of Nineveh were taking strong action in belief and faith. They wouldn’t even take water during this fast. They came to the LORD on His terms and were contrite of heart, even down to their animals. Their pride vanished, and they genuinely wanted to change their wicked and violent ways. They acknowledged His sovereignty much like the sailors in the boat earlier in the book and were resigned to their fate according to God’s desire (Jonah 1:6,14). Their hope for salvation to avert perishing rested in Yahweh. “When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented (nacham- to be sorry, be moved to pity, have compassion) concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it (Jonah 3:10).”

-*Application* When a king and his country decide to go all the way in obedience to the LORD and His direction, things change. God wants to bring our nation back to Himself and purify it, but He cannot work with pride. If we as believers in this modern generation will humble ourselves, turn from our wicked ways, pray earnestly, and seek His face, He will hear us, take pity on us, forgive us with compassion, and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14, Jonah 3:8-10). Nineveh is a case that it is never too late for God to move a large populace to repentance and redirection. When Jonah denied the LORD and went his own direction, a storm resulted, but when he obeyed the LORD and went His way, salvation for an entire city occurred. If God is calling you to be a Jonah to this culture, act in boldness with love to see what God can do. Follow God and proclaim His prophetic message that He gives you earnestly and sincerely.

Verses to Memorize: Jonah 3:9-10

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Jonah- Chapter 2

Jonah 2

-This chapter gives us a glimpse into Jonah’s prayer while in the sea and in the belly of the great fish. He prays from the stomach of the fish in his distress, and the LORD heard and answered him as he cried for help from the depth of Sheol (the underworld, a place of death, the abode of the dead, Jonah 2:1-2). Scholars speculate if Jonah was near death or if he actually died and then became resuscitated. The point is mute, because he is given a second chance by the gracious King of kings. He had been cast into the deep, the very heart of the seas, and the current of death had engulfed him. The currents and breakers passed over him (Jonah 2:3). He was expelled from the sight of God and His goodness, but he looked toward the holy Temple, the place of God’s presence which he had formerly run from (Jonah 1:3,10). His heart was changing in the right direction. Water encompassed him to the point of death as the great deep engulfed him, and sea weeds were wrapped around his head (Jonah 2:4-5). He descended to the roots of the mountains that were under the sea, and in poetic language he relates this place to the earth’s prison with bars around him forever. There was no escape. But, the LORD brought up his life from the pit with His power and authority alone (Jonah 2:6). While he was fainting away, he remembered the LORD and prayed to Him. God’s presence came and it was so real that Jonah knew all who regarded vain idols, like those he would minister to in Nineveh, forsake their faithfulness in worshipping false, temporary, and powerless things (Jonah 2:7-8). Jonah now makes his declaration. He would sacrifice to the LORD God of heaven and earth with a voice of thanksgiving. That which he vowed, he would pay for “salvation is from the LORD (Jonah 2:9).” The conversion was complete. “Then the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land (Jonah 2:10).”

-*Application* When we get down in the pit of despair with distress all around, look up to Jesus who hears and answers us in our deepest times of need. He is waiting for you to come into His presence and thank Him for the deliverance only He can provide. His Temple is the Holy Spirit within us who have believed, and He is always readily available for all who call upon Him (Romans 8:11; 10:13). His faithfulness endures forever and is real. He is not vain like idols are. Remember Him for redemption and salvation. Prayer is powerful when we cry out to the Living God.

Verses to Memorize: Jonah 2:2, 6, 9

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Jonah- Chapter 1

Jonah 1

-Introduction: Jonah, the son of Amittai, is a Jewish prophet who is asked by the LORD to deliver a message of repentance to the nation of Israel’s avowed rival, the Assyrians, somewhere around the year 785 B.C. Jonah is also mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25 as a prophet during the time of Jeroboam II, who was the most powerful and influential king of the northern kingdom of Israel. 2 Kings 14:25 also tells us that he was from Gath-hepher (Modern day Arab village of El Meshed), which is just 3 miles northeast of Nazareth on a hill. Tradition maintains that he is buried near that location. Jonah quite possibly could have been a member of the prophets at Bethel mentioned in connection with Elisha’s ministry from 2 Kings 2:3. The purpose of this book of Holy Scripture was to show the extent of God’s grace, mercy, and compassion as a message of salvation for ALL people. This short historical narrative is unique to prophetic literature in the Bible because it is not centered on the prophecy as much as the story of the prophet who was: 1) reluctant to answer his call, 2) revived by the LORD’s mercy, 3) renewed by his own second chance, and then 4) angry with God’s actions in giving Nineveh a second chance. This book is themed around some very important biblical concepts including: 1) God’s sovereignty, 2) God’s redemptive message to the entire world, 3) God’s offer and call to repent or turn, and 4) God’s amazing compassion on the transgressor. This book is also mentioned by Jesus, the Messiah, as a picture of His death, burial, and resurrection (Matthew 12:38-41). There is sure to be personal application as we immerse ourselves with the man and message of Jonah, so enjoy the journey!

-Chapter 1: The word of the LORD came to Jonah, the son of Amittai, telling him to arise and go to Ninevah, which was around 500 miles to the north and east of Israel where Jonah lived. All God told him was that he would cry out against this great city of Assyria because their wickedness had come up before the LORD, and He was displeased. Nahum gives us more detail into the condition of this pagan and idolatrous culture in later times. They contrived evil plots against God (Nahum 1:9), they exploited the helpless (Nahum 2:12-13), they were known for cruelty in war (Nahum 3:3), and they participated in idolatry, prostitution, and witchcraft (Nahum 3:4). Jonah did arise, but with this knowledge of how vile his audience was and probably fear of them to at least some degree with national disdain for his enemy, he went in the opposite direction “from the presence of the LORD (Jonah 1:1-3a).” He went south and west to the Mediterranean port city of Joppa (Modern day Jaffa just south of Tel Aviv) and bought a ticket for Tarshish, which was some place unknown to scholars but to the west and an important city by its own right (1 Kings 10:22; 22:48, Psalm 72:10, Isaiah 2:16; 23:14, Jeremiah 10:9, Ezekiel 27:12). Jonah boarded the vessel again “from the presence of the LORD (Jonah 1:3b).” As they set sail somewhere out in the Mediterranean Sea, “the LORD hurled a great wind” upon the waters and a great storm occurred to the point of the ship threatening to break apart. The sailors rationally became very afraid as this was happening, and every man cried out to his own god for relief and deliverance. They threw the cargo overboard to keep the ship from taking on water and sinking. However, Jonah was sleeping down in the hold of the ship oblivious to the situation above somehow. The captain of the vessel approached him asking, “How is it that you are sleeping?” Then he implored the sleepy passenger to “Get up, call on your god. Perhaps your god will be concerned about us so that we will not perish (Jonah 1:4-6).” Lots were then cast to see if they could determine who was at fault for all this calamity upon the sea. Of course, providentially the lot fell on Jonah. After they questioned him about why these things were happening, what his occupation was, where he was from, what his country was, and what people he was from, he informed them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land (Jonah 1:7-9).” This intensified the frightened state of these men and they exclaimed, “How could you do this?” The text says that these men now knew that “he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them (Jonah 1:10).” Now that he had their undivided attention due to the circumstances, they asked, “What should we do to you that the sea may become calm for us?” The storm was increasing in intensity and something needed to happen quickly or they would indeed perish. Jonah, knowing that he had disobeyed God and had probably come to the end of his rope offered the suggestion of throwing him overboard. He confessed that it was on his account that this great storm had come upon them, and he predicted that the waters would calm down immediately if he were gone thus ensuring the safety of the sailors (Jonah 1:11-12). Instead of heeding his advice, initially the men renewed their efforts to save the entire body of people on the boat. They “rowed desperately to return to land but they could not, for the sea was becoming even stormier against them (Jonah 1:13).” At that point they called on the LORD God of heaven and earth confessing, “We earnestly pray, O LORD, do not let us perish on account of this man’s life and do not put innocent blood on us; for You, O LORD, have done as You have pleased (Jonah 1:14).” After acknowledging the sovereignty of God Almighty, they threw Jonah overboard, as he had recommended, into the sea, and “the sea stopped its raging (Jonah 1:15).” “Then the men feared the LORD greatly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows (Jonah 1:16).” As this was happening, the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah. He went into the stomach of this huge animal for three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17).

-*Application* Sometimes God has to do extravagant and incredible things to get our attention. He sees all; everything comes before Him. And often He will work circumstances, and even the animals, to carry out His over-arching will and purpose to the fulfillment of His glorious desires. He does as He pleases. Fortunately, the LORD is a God of love, grace, mercy, and compassion. His patience is everlasting, and His call is designed to bring us back to Him. I love the fact that God used Jonah’s disobedience to share His power and goodness with the sailors in this narrative. They went from calling on their gods to worshipping the true and living God through this course of events. They were pursued and the truth hit them like BAM!!! Right in the face!!! In this world with many frightening things going on, it is a reality that we can call upon the LORD and truly be delivered from our distress, no matter what it may be.

Verses to Memorize: Jonah 1:2, 17

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Numbers- Chapter 36

Numbers 36

-The God given laws for inheritance between tribes that intermarried was dealt with in this completing chapter of Numbers. The case of the daughters of Zelophehad came up again. Apparently they had desires for possibly marring outside of their tribe, and the tribal leaders approached Moses on getting a definite ruling on this case since the daughters were given an inheritance that would be lost due to their intertribal marriages. The LORD commanded that they marry within the tribe of their family in these cases to alleviate confusion in years of Jubilee when the rights reverted back to the original ownership within tribes. This law was followed by the daughters and they ended up marrying their uncle’s sons and their inheritance was secured (Numbers 27:1-14; 36:1-12).

-The book ends with this statement, “These are the commandments and the ordinances which the LORD commanded to the sons of Israel through Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho (Numbers 36:13).”

-*Application* Inheritance situations can be very tricky and sticky situations within families. This passage helps us see that compromise and conciliation work best to remedy these arduous circumstances when rational logic and a word from the LORD are used. Also, the Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 that we should learn from the experience of these sojourners in the book of Numbers. As the book comes to a close, reflect on what the LORD has taught you about not longing for the sinful pleasures of the past and taking heed to His every message for you. Resist grumbling and complaining, and do not try the LORD. Have no idols nor engage in immorality. These are the primary lessons of a great book in the Holy Scriptures inspired by God.

Verse to Memorize: Numbers 36:9

Friday, October 9, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Numbers- Chapter 35

Numbers 35

-The LORD speaks to Moses first off in this chapter concerning the portion of lands that the Levites will be given in the cities that they live in. They will have adequate pasture lands for their cattle, herds, and all sorts of beasts that they may have. Their lands will extend from the city walls outward for 1,000 cubits (approximately 1,500 feet) and 2,000 cubits (approximately 3,000 feet) in all directions from the city’s center (Numbers 35:1-5).

-The cities of refuge given to the Levites is also detailed by the LORD through Moses. The Levites will be given six cities of refuge for the involuntary manslaughter escapees to run to in their hour of need along with 42 other cities for the Levites that are to be broken up by the tribes. The bigger tribes would have more and the small tribes would have fewer. The cities of refuge would be a holding place for people to wait until the congregation could hold a trial for them to decide on cases that were in doubt and contested. These cities were not just for the nationals, but aliens and sojourners through their lands also could run to these safe haven cities in their distress. Three of these cities would be in the land of Canaan and three to the east of Canaan across the Jordan (Numbers 35:6-15). Next, some statutes for what constituted capital murder are explained (Numbers 35:16-21). Diverse situations are covered for use of weaponry and intent. Capital punishment is endorsed to clear the guilty from the land, and the blood avenger is excused from murder in these cases. Unintentional mishaps where people die is a whole other situation and needed explanation from the LORD. Protections are instituted for these who have accidentally killed others. However, if strict guidelines are not adhered to in the cities of refuge, the blood avenger had every right and opportunity to execute justice according to the Israeli law. This statutory ordinance was to be perpetual throughout their generations. Freedom for those who had fled to cities of refuge would come only with the death of the High Priest who was anointed with the holy oil. This let some time pass so that emotions could calm down and tranquility be restored in most situations. Here is the summed up point near the end of the chapter: “If anyone kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death at the evidence of witnesses, but no person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness. Moreover, you shall not take ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death. You shall not take ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge, that he may return to live in the land before the death of the priest. So you shall not pollute the land in which you are; for blood pollutes the land and no expiation (amends, compensation, penance, apology) can be made for the land for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the LORD am dwelling in the midst of the sons of Israel (Numbers 35:22-34)."

-*Application* God does not like death. He is opposed to it in every way. The only reason we have death is because of our sin against Him. Where He dwells, no death is allowed. If Christ dwells in you, this affects everything around you. Do you speak and live life, or are you tearing down and creating a climate of death by your daily conduct? Jesus came to give life, and give it abundantly (John 10:10). Only Satan has anything to do with stealing, killing and destroying. Let’s live today with the presence of God in total control of our lives and spread that hope to others in our midst. Don’t pollute your land.

Verse to Memorize: Numbers 35:34

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Numbers- Chapter 34

Numbers 34

-The LORD gave Moses some final commands for detailing the borders of the land of Canaan that would fall to His people as an inheritance for them in perpetuity. Here is a map of the land by best estimates during the time period:

You will notice that Numbers 34:1-12 gives a broader border than Ezekiel did in the book of Ezekiel chapters 47 and 48, but not by much. This has defined the nation of Israel’s Promised Land for millennia, but God has promised His servant Abraham even more property in the future (Genesis 15:18-21). It is amazing how God details to the minutest degree when He delivers this instruction. This is for their well-being, and He was generous in giving so much property for their national development. He even guides Moses to appoint the leaders in the tribes for their portion of the land. Eleazar the priest and Joshua the military commander and leader were assigned the task of apportioning the inheritance (Numbers 34:17). Caleb led the tribe of Judah, Samuel led the tribe of Simeon, Elidad led the tribe of Benjamin, Bukki led the tribe of Dan, Hanniel led the tribe of Manasseh, Kemuel led the tribe of Ephraim, Elizaphan led the tribe of Zebulun, Paltiel led the tribe of Issachar, Ahihud led the tribe of Asher, Padahel led the tribe of Naphtali. 2 ½ tribes, which included Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh had already worked out their portion of land on the east side of the Jordan (Numbers 32; 34:14-15). “These are those whom the LORD commanded to apportion the inheritance to the sons of Israel in the land of Canaan (Numbers 34:13-29).”

-*Application* God’s clear communication through His servant Moses was not difficult to understand. The follow through is what proved arduous for the children of Israel. We typically know what God’s desire and plan is for us, but it is in the process of getting there that we are tried and tested to see how resolute our resolve is to stay faithful and persevere. Know that God has a plan to prosper you today, and make every effort to remain in Him as He delivers on every good word He gives you (Jeremiah 29:11, Joshua 23:14, John 15:5).

Verse to Memorize: Numbers 34:2

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Numbers- Chapter 33

Numbers 33

-As the book of Numbers begins to wind down, we see a chronological listing, from their starting places, that Moses had composed of their wilderness journeys out from Egypt under the direction of God through him and Aaron (Numbers 33:1-2). They journeyed from Rameses in the first month on the fifteenth day on the next day after the Passover. They ventured “out boldly in the sight of all the Egyptians, while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn whom the LORD had struck down among them. The LORD had also executed judgments on their gods (Numbers 33:3-4).” They camped at Succoth, then Etham, which is on the edge of the wilderness. From there, they turned back to Pi-hahiroth, which faces Baal-zehon, and camped before Migdol. Then they journeyed from before Hahiroth and “passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness” going a three days’ journey into the wilderness of Etham and camped at a place named Marah (Marah- bitter, Exodus 15:23-26). Then they went to Elim where there were 12 good springs of water and 70 date palms and camped there (Numbers 33:5-9, Exodus 15:27). They then went and camped by the Red Sea, and after that they went into the wilderness of Sin. The journey took them from there to Dophkah, and from there Alush. After Alush, it was Rephidim, where there was no water to drink (Exodus 17:1-7). After that testing from and quarreling with God, they moved out towards the wilderness of Sinai and then on to Kibroth-hattaavah. From there it was Hazeroth, and then Rithmah, and then Rimmon-perez, and then Libnah, and then Rissah, and then Kehelathah, and then Mount Shepher, and then Haradah, and then Makheloth, and then Tahath, and then Terah, and then Mithkah, and then Hashmonah, and then Moseroth, and then Bene-jaakan, and then Hor-haggidgad, and then Jotbathah, and then Abronah, and then Ezion-geber (Numbers 33:10-35). Quite a journey of vast experiences, right? All in the wilderness and all designed to draw them closer and more dependent on their God. After this, they camped in the wilderness of Zin, that is, Kadesh. Later, they came to Mount Hor, “at the edge of the land of Edom.” It was here that Aaron went up to Mount Hor at the command of the LORD and died in the fortieth year after the sons of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt. He went up on the first day of the fifth month (the month of Ab on the Hebrew calendar). Aaron was 123 years old when he died on Mount Hor (Numbers 33:36-39). At that time the Canaanite, the king of Arad who lived in the Negev (south country of the Promised Land), heard that the sons of Israel were coming. This was a time of victory for Israel as they relied upon the LORD and destroyed the invading army (Numbers 21:1-4). From there in Mount Hor they went to Zalmonah and camped there. Then they journeyed around the land of Edom stopping at places like Punon, Oboth, and Iye-abarim, which was at the border of Moab. They then went out to camp at Dibon-gad, and then Almon-diblathaim, and then the mountains of Abarim before Nebo, which was just east of the Jordan at the north side of the Dead Sea. Finally, “They journeyed from the mountains of Abarim and camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho. They camped by the Jordan, from Beth-jeshimoth as far as Abel-shittim in the plains of Moab (Numbers 33:40-49).” The Promised Land was in sight and the conquest was coming!

-Then the LORD spoke to Moses near the end of his earthly life in the plains of Moab where they were camping opposite Jericho near the Jordan River. He said, "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you cross over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images and demolish all their high places; and you shall take possession of the land and live in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it. You shall inherit the land by lot according to your families; to the larger you shall give more inheritance, and to the smaller you shall give less inheritance. Wherever the lot falls to anyone, that shall be his. You shall inherit according to the tribes of your fathers. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live. And as I plan to do to them, so I will do to you (Numbers 33:50-56).'"

-*Application* Certainly this prophecy and warning has come true through the centuries as the Israelites have had constant and unrelenting problems with those trying to co-habit in the Promised Land that Yahweh gave specifically to His chosen people for the salvation of the nations. Just this morning I read where Israelites were murdered by Palestinians who now declared war on them negating a peace treaty that has been in effect for some time. God knew the future and wanted the enemy eradicated so that a permanent peace could be established. Sometimes we have a hard time with this, since having a Christ-like mind includes wanting mercy over judgment. But, there are times when God, who is omniscient, foresees the terrible results of letting the enemy survive and thrive. We must follow God’s commands even when they may seem contradictory to His nature and goodness. This isn’t easy, but often it is necessary. It is the result of a fallen and marred world. Let us pray for those who make these kinds of decisions every day in defending our nation and its freedoms, abroad and at home. Also, lift up Israel in her time of trouble knowing that the sovereign LORD will always defend them and bless those who support her (Genesis 12:3).

Verses to Memorize: Numbers 33:51-53, 55-56

Monday, October 5, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Numbers- Chapter 32

Numbers 32

-The sons of Reuben and Gad were livestock ranchers primarily and asked Moses and Eleazar for the lands of Jazer and Gilead, which were to the east of the Jordan and well suited for their animals with primo grazing places. Moses’ response considered the rest of the tribes for he was concerned that they would not engage in the wars that were to come for the conquest of the Promised Land with their brothers. This would discourage the process of coming into God’s divine inheritance, and Moses felt like it had the aura of past experiences in shrinking from the ultimate call and faith that they were to display. The great prophet of God did not want to anger the LORD again as in the days of Kadesh-barnea (Numbers 13), which ended up costing the Israelites dearly in them dying in the wilderness, not being able to come into promise. In fact, Moses called them “a brood of sinful men” who had risen up in their father’s place to add still more burning anger to the LORD against His chosen people (Numbers 32:1-14). Moses insisted that they follow the LORD without turning away for the purpose of Him staying with them in their pursuit of the Promised Land and for their perseverance as a people (Numbers 32:15).

-The sons of Reuben and Gad came near Moses and assured him that they would build fortified cities and sheepfolds for protection to the east of the Jordan River, and then arm themselves for battle with their brothers when they crossed the Jordan. They covenanted to stay with them until they had established their place in the land God had given (Numbers 32:16-19). Moses consented to this request with dire warning if they backed out of their commitment. They would have a possession in the place they desired if they fulfilled their obligation toward the LORD and their fellows tribes. But, Moses warned if they did not do so they would have sinned against the LORD, and “be sure your sin will find you out (Numbers 32:20-23).” All agreed to this contract and the work began. “So Moses gave to them, to the sons of Gad and to the sons of Reuben and to the half-tribe of Joseph’s son Manasseh, the kingdom of Sihon, king of the Amorites and the kingdom of Og, the king of Bashan, the land with its cities with their territories, the cities of the surrounding land.” The sons of Machir of Manasseh went to Gilead and took it dispossessing the Amorites who were in it, and that is where they lived (Numbers 32:24-42).

-*Application* Brotherhood and unity always has a cost. Be willing to faithfully sacrifice for the things that your fellow man needs in the course of this life. This is the primary principle for us to glean from this passage. God expects His people to work together for a common call and purpose until its completion. Be willing to give up your own comforts to assist others who are going to have need. When you are willing to do that, God will bless and give you the desires of your own heart more often than not.

Verse to Memorize: Numbers 32:23

Friday, October 2, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Numbers- Chapter 31

Numbers 31

-The LORD commands Moses to authorize full vengeance on the Midianites before he was to pass away from the earth and be gathered to his people on the other side (Numbers 31:1-2). Moses faithfully followed all of the LORD’s directions in this matter sending 12,000 troops out, 1,000 from each tribe, to make war with the Midianites in the areas east of the Jordan River. They were sent out with Phinehas, Eleazar the priest’s son, the holy vessels, and the trumpets for alarm in his hand. The five kings of Midian were killed in the conflict: Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba. They also killed Balaam, the son of Beor, with the sword. The sons of Israel captured the women of Midian and their little ones along with all the cattle and their flocks and donkeys. All their goods they plundered. Then, the Bible says, they burned their cities with fire (Numbers 31:3-11).

-They brought back the spoils of war to Moses from their service, but he was angry with them. They had spared the women, who because of the counsel of Balaam, caused the sons of Israel to trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor and the plague, which ensued (Numbers 25:1-9; 31:12-16). Because of the potential for idolatry, Moses had all the little ones who were male and every woman who had had sexual relations with a man killed. The virgins of the Midianites were spared however and allowed to be taken by the sons of Israel for wives (Numbers 31:17-18). After all, Moses’ wife and father-in-law were Midianites (Exodus 2:15-21). So the issue was over religious belief rather than race.

-Cleaning up after this violent mess was now a priority. The warriors were commanded to remain outside the camp for seven days if they had killed a person or touched any of the slain. Their captives were to remain with them. They were to purify themselves on the third and seventh days according to the statute (Numbers 19:11-22). The things that could pass through fire were cleansed that way and the other things that could not pass through fire were washed with water to remove impurity (Numbers 31:19-24).

-The division of the booty was then spoken by God to Moses in the second half of this lengthy chapter. The warriors would receive half, the congregation would receive half, and the Levites would receive 1/500th to be given as a levy tax offering unto the LORD. There were some mammoth numbers of distribution (Numbers 31:25-47). At the end of this time, the officers approached Moses in a humble gesture of gratitude towards the LORD for all His successes through them. They realized after accounting for their men that they had lost no one at all. Everyone was there, none were missing. Their freewill offering unto the LORD included 16,750 shekels of everything that was found pertaining to golden armlets, bracelets, signet rings, earrings, and necklaces. They made atonement for themselves before the LORD with these gifts, and the priests offered them up to the LORD on their behalf as a memorial for the sons of Israel (Numbers 31:48-54).

-*Application* After times of struggle that finds us victorious, we should be quick and generous to thank God for looking out for us and giving us His blessings and protection from potentially severe loss. When God is our only hope and refuge, He has a way of working things out for His glory and our sustenance. Don’t turn to idols in these times of crisis and don’t support those who do. He is the Living God and capable of delivering you from every evil thing. And, sometimes He puts us on the offensive for that. This is biblical proof for just war and even just invasion to eradicate evil and the enemies of the LORD.

Verse to Memorize: Numbers 31:2