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Week 19 August 5, 2020

What we are reading this week (beginning Wednesday, August 5, 2020):

• Numbers 10-16

• Ezekiel 4-10

• Romans 10-16

• Psalms 127-133

Notes on Numbers

The Book of Numbers is an interesting mix of law and history. It jumps abruptly from one to the other throughout.

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At the beginning of chapter 10, Moses is instructed to make two trumpets. Unlike the shofar—a cattle horn—these were to be made out of metal, hammered silver… like mine!

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With the construction of the tabernacle and all of the objects of worship completely, the Israelites set out for the very first time (10.13). The ark (and the cloud) went before them (33-34). Moses led the way, and it must have been a glorious sight!

This journey to the Promised Land should have only lasted about eleven days (see Deuteronomy 1:2). But there would be a slight delay.

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In chapter 11, they were still on course for a rather short journey when they began complaining about food (the manna), with wistful memories of all the Egyptian delicacies (while somehow forgetting that they had been slaves).

“If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” (11.18). Anyone who has ever led any group of people recognizes the frustration that Moses endured here.

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Then it gets worse. Moses’ own siblings begin to criticize him in chapter 12. God gave them quite the scare for this insolence (see 12.10-15).

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The Big Mistake occurs in chapter 13. Even though it says that the Lord told them to send the spies in verse one, we learn in Deuteronomy 1.22-23 that this was only his giving in to a very stupid idea that originated with the people, along with Moses’ foolish agreement of the plan.

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Even after a very public display of God’s own disapproval of the spies’ report, the people as a group rebelled against Moses (14.2), and God was ready to kill them all (14.11-12).

Instead of mass destruction, the Lord settled on adding forty years onto their pilgrimage to the Promised Land.

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Chapter 15 immediately jumps back into Law Mode, with one incident in verses 32-36 which was included (in spite of its harsh outcome) to clarify Sabbath laws.

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In chapter 16, another coalition rises up to challenge Moses as the leader. It does not end well for them or their families.

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Notes on Ezekiel

Ezekiel is called on for another drama lesson in chapter 4, an uncomfortable one that will last over a year.

Instruction for another drama/object lesson are given in the next chapter, as well.

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The prophecy of chapter 6 is directed to the mountains. As we have seen, high places were always associated with idol worship… somehow people felt closer to heaven on the hills, so they would set up their altars to false gods on them. This prophecy was that all of the idol apparatus would be destroyed.

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Chapter seven: “The end has come!” This was a particularly devastating prophecy. But God had been unable to get through the hardness of their hearts in any other way. End result, “Then they will know that I am the Lord” (7.27).

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The Spirit lifts the prophet up in chapter 8 and transports him to a number of places to see the wickedness occurring by the people of God. Other than Daniel and Habakkuk, I don’t know of any of the other prophets that had such intense and astonishing visions, at least on an ongoing basis (Isaiah had one).

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The preparation for the judgment is readied and begins in chapter 8. It is particularly gruesome and terrible.

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After seeing the tabernacle worship established with the accompanying presence of God in Numbers at the beginning of the formation of the nation of Israel, chapter 10 is a horrible scene as the glory of God actually lifts and departs the Temple, Jerusalem, Israel, and the Chosen People.

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Notes on Romans

In chapter 10, Paul continues on about God’s purposes and his desire for the Israelites. In the midst of this are the powerful salvation verses, 9-10.

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The simple definition of faith is given in 10.17: God speaks, we hear the word, and then we respond to it

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Paul closes chapter 10 with the contrast between Gentiles finding faith without asking for it, and Israel missing out when they were his intended target.

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The contrast between Israel and the Gentile world continues through chapter 11. The chapter ends with a beautiful and powerful doxology (33-36), as the book will now transition from theology to practical application.

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Chapter 12 switches (as Paul normally does in his letters) from the theoretical/theological to the practical. He talks about spiritual gifts, then a long list of ways on how to tangibly show love.

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In chapter 13, he begins by speaking about submission to authorities, which is very interesting considering his ongoing battle against false accusations, false arrest, and false imprisonment. He closes the chapter speaking about love once again, and the imminent Day of the Lord.

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Next, in chapter 14, he asks the strong to be sensitive to the weak. Interesting to see that the “weak” according to Paul are legalists.

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He continues this train of thought into chapter 15, then turns back to a short discussion about his ministry to Gentiles, and then closes the chapter with some of his future plans.

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The final chapter, 16, is a series of personal greetings ending with another wonderful doxology/benediction.

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Notes on Psalms

We will find five more songs of ascent this week. The first, Psalm 127, is the only psalm written by Solomon.

Psalms 127 and 128 are particular favorites of those of us with large families.

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Psalm 130 is a wonderful psalm for dealing with waiting.

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The need for a daily devotional life with God: 132.3-5

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Psalm 133 is the unity psalm. I come back to this one again and again.

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