(Numbers 15, Psalm 51; Optional Romans 16:17-27, Proverbs 22:20-12)
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NUMBERS 15 – What grace! God has just told Israel that only the NEXT generation will go into the Promised Land (except for Joshua and Caleb) and then He promptly goes right back to giving commands about how to worship Him when they get into the land (Num 15:2)! Parents can now re-focus on preparing the next generation not to disobey God like they just did and instead put their hope in God (compare Ps 78:5-8). Too often parents fear that instructing their children in an area where they’ve sinned is hypocritical. Just be honest about how you sinned (in an age-appropriate way), and point them to God’s grace – He helps us take the next step, and enables us to repent and hear about how to honor Him moving forward.
Num 15:3, 7, 10, 13, 14-16 – God makes it clear how to worship Him in a way that’s pleasing to HIM. Too often we come up with our own ideas / agendas or concepts that are more acceptable to our culture.
Num 15:30-31 – Whoa! I started off this chapter reflecting on God’s grace, but it’s NOT a cheap / light grace! And I know there’s a lot of difference about what exactly it means to be “cut off,” but v 32-36 seem to be here as a very sobering example!
Num 15:37-41 – They were to build in visual reminders onto their clothes to NOT follow their heart and NOT follow their own senses (what SEEMS good to them – foundation for the first sin in Gen 3:6 and every sin since). Compare Prov 3:5-8!
PSALM 51 – Ps 51 is David’s prayer of confession when he was confronted with his sin. The sin of adultery and the murderous cover-up is in 2 Sam 11, and many think that Ps 32 is a reflection of the miserable year in between the sin and the confrontation. I love how churchworksmedia.com has carefully paraphrased the Psalm 51 and then added a final verse reflecting on these truths from THIS side of the cross. Here’s the link, but our church uses the tune from the classic hymn “Abide with Me” – https://gracemusic.us/sheet_music/i-plead-for-grace/
Ps 51:4 – David HAD clearly sinned against people, too, but FUNDAMENTALLY sin is against God. In my margin I’ve written: “2 Sam 12:9, 10, 13-14, Gen 39:9”. In 2 Samuel 12, the prophet Nathan makes clear to David how his sin is a rejection of God Himself, and God takes it very personally. Joseph is very aware of this truth in Gen 39:9 and reflecting on that helped him fight temptation.
Ps 51:5 – This is a vital verse helping us understand the TOTAL DEPRAVITY of the human heart. Eph 2:1-3 makes clear that we come into this world a sinner by NATURE. Of course, very early on we also CHOOSE sin, confirming that we are “by NATURE children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Eph 2:3, ESV) Beside Ps 51:5 I’ve written “Sinful DEEP DOWN – from the moment of conception!”
Ps 51:7-10 – The only way to lasting joy and gladness once we’re aware of the depth of our sin is to cast ourselves on God’s mercy and get cleansed from our sin. No sin is greater than the grace of God (1 John 1:9)! John Newton (who wrote the hymn “Amazing Grace”) was a slave ship captain before God saved him and changed him. He reckoned that he was responsible for the death of thousands of slaves. He was asked how he was not crippled by guilt, but able to have a very sweet and helpful ministry to others (including working hard to end the slave trade). He had at least two answers (I’m going from memory, but these quotes will be close): 1) “There is more mercy in Christ than there is sin in me.” 2) “I am a very great sinner, but Christ is a greater Savior.”
Ps 51:18-19 – Although Ps 51 is mostly a prayer of confession for individual sin, notice how the prayer broadens in v 18-19 to include the wider people of God. Often as we pray, our narrow/selfish view widens and we get properly concerned about the whole kingdom of God. Also notice (and cf the notes in Jn 6 early today) that in Ps 51:12-15, 18-19 that we are DEPENDENT on God’s sovereign work, and THEN there can be a correct response from people (cf Eph 2:8-10, and note carefully the order of events – God grants faith and salvation, then strengthens believers to do good works).
Optional Rom 16:17-27 – This whole book has been about the Gospel, and begins and ends (we call this kind of bracket an “inclusio” in Bible study) with OBEDIENCE linked to faith (compare Rom 1:5, 16:19, 26). God SAVES us completely by His grace, totally apart from our obedience (or NONE of us would be saved – see Rom 3). But saving faith impacts OBEDIENCE. Compare Eph 2:8-10 – saved by grace ALONE, but that leads to (by God’s grace) good works.
Optional Proverbs 22:10-12 – Prov 22:10 – Compare Rom 16:17, Titus 3:10. Surprising to a lot of church folks, but Biblical.