May 23, 2022

(Numbers 32, Psalm 77; Optional 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Proverbs 24:15-18)

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See May 11 for SPECIAL NOTE on format change… 

NUMBERS 32 – The kind of huge misunderstandings that WILL arise amongst God’s people! Moses thought that some of the tribes were leading in the same sin of 40 years before (see Num 13-14). But they are very quick to assure Moses that they WILL obey God and help His people conquer the Promised Land.

Num 32:23 – Moses is mollified and encouraged by v 16-19, but still gives this sober warning. A verse worth memorizing to warn ourselves when tempted to think we can sin and get away with it (compare Prov 10:9).

Num 32:33 – “Sihon…Og” – see Num 21:21-35 and parallel in Deut 2:16-3:11 to get details on these victories God had already given as a foretaste of what He’d give in the Promised Land.

Num 32:39-42 – More tastes of victory from Yahweh! This is what the whole book of Joshua SHOULD and COULD have been, if the people had trusted and obeyed God fully.

PSALM 77 – Yet again the Psalmist is in a rough time. He turns yet again to God, though he FEELS forgotten by God and wonders if he’ll ever see God’s favor again (see v 4-9).

Ps 77:10-15 – As with so many Psalms, this is the turning point where the Psalmist brings Biblical TRUTH to bear and re-calibrate his feelings in line with the truth of God’s character and God’s acts in the past.

Ps 77:16-20 – God is both incredibly POWERFUL (v 16-19) and very TENDER with His people (v 20). Psalms 77-80 all have a “God as Shepherd” theme (Ps 77:20; Ps 78:52, 72; Ps 79:13; Ps 80:1).

Optional 1 Cor 3:1-9 – Important humbling applications for our day of following noted personalities and despising others.

1 Cor 3:5-9 – A key text in seeing BOTH the Sovereignty of God AND the responsibility of people. AND for carefully noting the EMPHASIS throughout the Bible on God and His glory and His sovereignty. People really do make decisions and take actions that really do matter (somehow). But in the end, it’s all about God and what He has sovereignly assigned (v 5), about the growth and change that He has sovereignly given (v 6-7)!

A short rabbit trail on “Calvinism” (and why I don’t love the title but have come to allow it to be used for me but also why I’m super careful not to let that keep me from sweet fellowship with other believers that are definitely not that), if you have time…  I think of sections like this (and Rom 9:6-24; Isa 10:5-25; 1 Cor 1:17-31; 1 Chron 29:10-19; Matt 11:25-30; Gen 45:4-11, 50:18-21; Jn 6:35-44, 60-65 and many others) as showing the Biblical balance that God is absolutely in charge of all things AND that human decisions and actions really do matter (somehow). But there is a very clear ACCENT / emphasis in Scripture on GOD’s freedom and power to choose. That HE is the decisive and foundational Actor and Decider and that I am the very dependent actor and decider. I find it very difficult to follow a computer reading a text – they often acCENT the wrong sylLAble. Where you put the accent really matters! Years ago (when I read all the way through the Bible for the first time and was repeatedly struck by the sovereignty and glory of God in charge of all things) I’d regularly get told that I was becoming a Calvinist (though I hadn’t read a word from John Calvin, and still haven’t had time to read very much from him). And yet 1 Cor 3:5-9 ALSO clearly points out that by far what matters most is belonging to God, and we’d better be very cautious about dividing off from other folks who believe that Jesus is the only way by lesser theological issues. End of rabbit trail for now 😊

Optional Prov 24:15-18 – Wow! Pr 24:16, 18 – Both VERY interesting motivations for God to use! He really does use an entire medicine chest of very different motivations to provoke His people to obedience.

Pr 24:17-18 – Very applicable to our day of fast “hot takes” on current issues. But balance with Ps 58:10-11, Rev 19:1-5 (both show there ARE appropriate times for rejoicing in God’s righteous judgment on the wicked). This is yet ANOTHER reason to keep a regular “through-the-Bible” reading plan (even if you fall behind, like I have), and go through it again once you finish. We need the WHOLE Bible to keep us on course. I tend to think our current Proverb refers to a PERSONAL enemy. Compare Matt 5:43ff – “turn the other cheek” does NOT apply when you know about abuse, etc happening to someone. THEN we apply Prov 24:10-12.