“And the people of Gad and the people of Reuben answered, ‘What the Lord has said to your servants, we will do. We will pass over armed before the Lord into the land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us beyond the Jordan'” (Numbers 32:31-32, ESV).
In Numbers 32 the Israelites are preparing for the conquest of the promised land. The people of the tribes of Reuben and Gad requested that Moses allow them to settle in lands on the east side of the Jordan River, which was not within the boundaries of the promised land. They wanted to settle east of the Jordan because they owned large herds of livestock and there was good grazing land there.
At first Moses resisted their request pointing out that they were disobeying God just like their fathers who died during their forty-year wandering in the wilderness because they rebelled against the plan to possess the land God had promised.
So, the tribes of Reuben and Gad struck a deal with Moses that they would settle their families and livestock on the east side of the Jordan but their fighting men would take up arms and lead in the battles against the inhabitants of the land until all the people groups in the land of Canaan were subdued. If they stayed until the war in Canaan was over, then the lands on the east side of the Jordan would be their inheritance.
“Every native Israelite shall do these things in this way, in offering a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. And if a stranger is sojourning with you, or anyone is living permanently among you, and he wishes to offer a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord, he shall do as you do. For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the Lord. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you” (Numbers 15:13-16, ESV).
Will Rogers is a folk-hero of mine and of many of my fellow “Okies.” One of his most well-known sayings is this: “I never met a man I didn’t like.” Will Rogers endeavored to affirm the humanity of people–even those he didn’t know–by treating them with respect and good will.
In these verses from Numbers God seems to have a similar perspective about human beings–God never met a person He didn’t love!
Numbers 15, which describes laws for offering and sacrifice, is inserted between the stories of two rebellions: Israel’s refusal to enter the promised land in Chapter 14 and the rebellion led by Korah against Moses’ leadership in Chapter 16. After the Israelites’ rebellion in Chapter 14 God had determined to destroy the Hebrew nation. Upon Moses’ intercession God sentenced the Exodus generation of Israelites to perish in the wilderness.
So, Chapter 15 marks the point where the plan for entering the promised land became the punishment of wandering in the wilderness for the next 40 years. It indicates the beginning of the end of the Exodus generation who rebelled against Moses’ leadership to enter the promised land. Perhaps the Chapter 15 worship statutes are an appeal by God for the next generation to be reconciled to Him despite the severe punishment He had imposed.
“And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them…” (Numbers 11:17, ESV).
During their wilderness wanderings God told Moses to select seventy elders to help him judge and lead the people of Israel. Moses gathered the elders and placed them around the circumference of the tabernacle. Then, God poured out His Spirit on them as they were gathered around the tabernacle and they prophesied.
Two of the elders were not present at the tabernacle when the Spirit was poured out. Yet, these two also received the Spirit and prophesied while they were still in the camp.
“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9, NASB).
What greater way to teach than to model or be an example of the lesson you are teaching! But, when you set yourself up an example, it requires an extremely high level of accountability and responsibility.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16, NASB).
Are you a Light-Under-A-Basket Christian? A Clandestine Christian? A good gal or guy but people don’t know why?
A lot of Christians are Clandestine Christians. They want to conceal the fact that they are Christians because it might be uncomfortable for them or others . More often than not, I am! And, sometimes, maybe you are too…
“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you. Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth, but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you. All nations will come to your light; mighty kings will come to see your radiance” (Isaiah 60:1-2, NLT).
When Jesus told His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount to be the light of the world and compared them to a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14), He may have been alluding to Isaiah’s description of the future glory of Jerusalem in these verses.
“There was a good and righteous man named Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin, who had not agreed with their plan and action. He was from Arimathea, a Judean town, and was looking forward to the kingdom of God. He approached Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body” (Luke 23:50-52, HCSB).
Joseph of Arimathea was apparently a member of the Sanhedrin and a man of wealth. He was a good and righteous man so he had disagreed with the injustice of the Sanhedrin’s decision to execute Jesus.