In Numbers chapter 31, we come to the account of Israel’s war with Midian. It was God, who in verses 1 and 2, commanded the children of Israel to take vengeance upon the Midianites.
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people."
The battle would be fought by 12,000 men of war according to Moses’ command in verses 3-6. The Bible records for us in verse number 7 that “they warred against the Midianites, as the LORD commanded Moses…” As we read down through the chapter we are told of the great victory that was wrought by the children of Israel. Truly the victory was wrought in obedience before one sword had clashed on the battle field. This same truth is on display for us in 1 John 5:4 which states:
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.”
As we come to the New Testament we have a similar call to the battlefield. The Christian is in the midst of a raging war. We are Christian Soldiers representing the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Ephesians 6: 12-13
This war, like the former, has already been won by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but each battle is fought under the banner of our faith and obedience to the Lord. As the children of Israel were obedient to the Lord and set out in faith, the victory was assured. Even so, let us look at an even more intriguing part of this passage. In verses number 48 and 49 of that same passage we are told about something unique the takes place. Notice what the Bible says:
“And the officers which were over thousands of the host, the captains of thousands, and captains of hundreds, came near unto Moses: And they said unto Moses, Thy servants have taken the sum of the men of war which are under our charge, and there lacketh not one man of us.”
What an amazing victory! Imagine for a moment, a war waged not like today by buttons and bombs, but by swords and staves. Imagine 12,000 armed men fighting head to head against other men; steel clashing against steel. Even the weakest enemy you would suppose would get lucky and cause a casualty to the other side, but not this battle! The officers take count, no doubt because the battle was spread far and wide. They line the groups up: the captains of thousands, the captains of hundreds, and the captains of fifties. Immediately they are convicted in their hearts. Why are they convicted? What they find is nothing short of the miraculous. Not one man of war has been lost! Amazing! Think about it for a moment, a large-scale battle against a fierce enemy and not one casualty on the winning side. So, what do they do about it? Again, notice what the Bible says,
“We have therefore brought an oblation for the LORD, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before the LORD.”
They brought before the LORD the sacrifice of thanksgiving and an offering because of their sinfulness. They realized that God had kept every one of them. It is interesting to note that God will keep all those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior and deliver them to an expected end as well.
"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." John 10: 28-29
You and I should realize that it is God that is keeping us even in the midst of the battle. This however, should drive us to do as these captains of the host; we should offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving and tell our Heavenly Father how unworthy we are of His graciousness. Too often we get up from the battlefield, dust ourselves off, God having wrought a great victory, and immediately continue on to the next battle. Instead, we should be bending our knee and giving God praise and honour and glory for what He has done. When is the last time you thanked the Lord for giving you the victory? Perhaps you know someone who is gone astray but has a testimony of Jesus Christ as their Savior; you can thank God as well for keeping them unto the end. Let us spend some time today thanking God for the victory we have in Jesus Christ!
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 15:57
Pastor James - Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
May 9, 1841 - George Mueller
It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I have not lost, for more than fourteen years. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, or how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit.
Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer, after having dressed myself in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the Word of God, while meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experiential communion with the Lord.
I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning, early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon his precious Word, was, to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching as it were into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. When thus I have been for a while making confession or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it, but still continually keeping before me that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation.
The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and then my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened, and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart. Thus also the Lord is pleased to communicate unto me that which, either very soon after or at a later time, I have found to become food for other believers, though it was not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word that I gave myself to meditation, but for the profit of my own inner man.
The difference, then, between my former practice and my present one is this: Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time. At all events I almost invariably began with prayer, except when I felt my soul to be more than usually barren, in which case I read the Word of God for food, or for refreshment, or for a revival and renewal of my inner man, before I gave myself to prayer. But what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour, on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc., and often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then began really to pray. I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart, first being nourished by the truth, being brought into experiential fellowship with God, I then speak to my Father and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word.
It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point. In no book did I ever read about it. No public ministry ever brought the matter before me. No private intercourse with a brother stirred me up to this matter. And yet, now, since God has taught me this point, it is as plain to me as anything, that the first thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is, to obtain food for his inner man. As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time except we take food, and as this is one of the first things we do in the morning, so it should be with the inner man. We should take food for that, as every one must allow. Now, what is the food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God; and here again, not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.
When we pray, we speak to God. Now, prayer, in order to be continued for any length of time in any other than a formal manner, requires, generally speaking, a measure of strength or godly desire, and the season, therefore, when this exercise of the soul can be most effectually performed is after the inner man has been nourished by meditation on the Word of God, where we find our Father speaking to us, to encourage us, to comfort us, to instruct us, to humble us, to reprove us. We may therefore profitably meditate, with God’s blessing, though we are ever so weak spiritually; nay, the weaker we are, the more we need meditation for the strengthening of our inner man. Thus there is far less to be feared from wandering of mind than if we give ourselves to prayer without having had time previously for meditation. I dwell so particularly on this point because of the immense spiritual profit and refreshment I am conscious of having derived from it myself, and I affectionately and solemnly beseech all my fellow believers to ponder this matter. By the blessing of God, I ascribe to this mode the help and strength which I have had from God to pass in peace through deeper trials, in various ways, than I had ever had before; and after having now above fourteen years tried this way, I can most fully, in the fear of God, commend it.
In addition to this I generally read, after family prayer, larger portions of the Word of God, when I still pursue my practice of reading regularly onward in the Holy Scriptures, sometimes in the New Testament, and sometimes in the Old, and for more than twenty-six years I have proved the blessedness of it. I take, also, either then or at other parts of the day, time more especially for prayer.
How different, when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, and the temptations of the day come upon one.
Written By George Mueller
"There is great wisdom to be found in learning how those who have gone on before us have walked with God."
- Pastor James Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
When reading through the book of Numbers sometimes it can be difficult to see how we can apply those passages to our lives. The Bible however is always relevant. There are no extra parts, but rather God has given us exactly what we need. Every part of the Bible is relevant and is needed for us and to understand the complete message that God has given us.
In the book of Numbers, in Chapters 3 and 4, after the end of the census of the tribes of Israel, God gives Moses instructions concerning the Levites. The Levites were the special tribe set apart by God to perform the work of the tabernacle of Congregation.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him. And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle.” Numbers 3: 5-7
What follows is a list of each of the major family groups within the tribe of Levi and their responsibilities.
“And these were the sons of Levi by their names; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari.”
Each of these family heads were given a place of dwelling around the Tabernacle, but also a responsibility.
"And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tabernacle of the congregation shall be the tabernacle, and the tent, the covering thereof, and the hanging for the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, And the hangings of the court, and the curtain for the door of the court, which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about, and the cords of it for all the service thereof." Numbers 3: 25-26
"And their charge shall be the ark, and the table, and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary wherewith they minister, and the hanging, and all the service thereof." Numbers 3:31
"And under the custody and charge of the sons of Merari shall be the boards of the tabernacle, and the bars thereof, and the pillars thereof, and the sockets thereof, and all the vessels thereof, and all that serveth thereto, And the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords." Numbers 3:36-37
And yes even:
Moses and Aaron
"But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle of the congregation eastward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel; and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death." Numbers 3:38
If you can imagine for a moment the enormous undertaking of caring for the Tabernacle. The assembly and disassembly surely must have been a marvelous sight to see. Once erected the care for the Tabernacle was of utmost importance. Every item had its place. The offerings that would be offered must follow specific rules. Any misstep could mean losing one’s life as Nadab and Abihu found out. Although the males within a certain age bracket are listed on the ‘official’ roles for the service of the Tabernacle; every member of each family would play a part in accomplishing the task. The flock had to be tended to, the houses had to be in order, every family member would be laboring so that their loved one was free to serve and ultimately the Tabernacle would be in order. The entire lives of the children of Israel would be concerned for the Tabernacle which manifested the dwelling presence of the LORD.
What is it that we can learn from this? Might I suggest a few things:
1. God desires for us to accomplish His work in a particular way. Our God is a God of order.
When Titus was sent by Paul to Crete, Paul exhorted him with this duty:
"For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:" Titus 1:5
You and I should always be measuring our service to the Lord with God’s Word. In other words, we should be accomplishing the work of the ministry ‘decently and in order,’
(1 Corinthians 14:40) but according to His order.
2. God’s work is a magnificent work and should not be taken lightly.
As was stated earlier, even a casual reading of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, will show how specific and magnificent the work was in the service, erection, and fashioning of the Tabernacle. God’s work is magnificent and wonderful and should be approached with great reverence and fear. We are ambassadors for the King of Kings and the Lord or Lords.
(2 Corinthians 5:20, Revelation 17:4) What a high and holy calling that God has allowed us serve Him! Let us not diminish the work of the Lord by halfway effort.
3. God has specific tasks that must be accomplished by each person.
What would happen if Aaron decided not to show up one day? The morning offering would be thrust onto one of his sons. Pray-fully that son would be prepared for the task because the work must go on. The morning and evening offering was to be a perpetual ordinance for the children of Israel. One improper approach to God would result in disaster. (Leviticus 10:1) What if the sons of Kohath decided they were done carrying the Ark of the Covenant; they determined it was just too heavy of a load to carry? Would God allow someone else to touch the Ark? Maybe we could ask Uzzah? (2 Samuel 6:6)
We all have specific tasks to be accomplished at Sharon Baptist Church. The work must go on for the glory of the King!
4. God has different tasks for each person.
God has given to each one of us different works to be accomplished. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) Just as the children of Kohath, the children of Merari and the children of Gershom had differing responsibilities, so you and I have individual tasks to complete. There are commissions that are universal to every Christian (Soul-Winning, Prayer, Bible study, going to church, living separated holy lives, etc.…), but there are also individual specific tasks for us to complete.
5. God’s work will be accomplished the best when all of God’s people are engaged in the work.
Paul in the New Testament gives us the picture of the church as a functioning body. As such, we are the body of Christ. Since the body is tempered together proportionately and every part has a purpose; the body will best function when all of the parts are working together.
"And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another."
1 Corinthians 12: 19-25
6. God’s ways are higher than our ways; His work is not like anything else on earth.
"Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered." Psalm 40:5
The work of the Tabernacle was different from all the surrounding heathen nations and their ‘religious’ exercises. Jesus’ finished work on the cross was unique and never can or will be repeated. Likewise, the work of the local New Testament church, God working through men by the Holy Spirit, is unlike anything else on earth man could possibly come up with. His plan of redemption will be the subject of worship for all of eternity.
“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:7
7. God has blessed us with a great privilege to serve Him and be close to Him.
"And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." 2 Corinthians 6:16
This example we see in the Old Testament ordering of the Tabernacle gives us understanding of how God expects us to be about His work whereunto he has called us. May God gives us understanding of where we fit in this local New Testament church. May we not be deficient to the call of God and may our laboring be acceptable to Him.
- Pastor James, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
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