READING IN THE OLD TESTAMENT: Numbers 28:16-29:40.
It is good to remember whenever we gather as believers that worship is for the Lord. The important issue is not whether worship is ‘your style’ but that it is ‘His style’. It is not as much about ‘your experience’ as it is about ‘His pleasure’.
In Numbers 28 the Lord speaks and makes it clear that the offerings are made unto Him.
The offerings speak of the perfections of the person and redemptive work of Christ Jesus. The priest offers what pleases God on our behalf- the perfections of our Redeemer.
There is a reason why God required certain sacrifices at special times of the year in addition to the daily morning and evening sacrifices. The eternal God acts in time. The drama of redemption involves deliverance from the penalty of death (Passover), the removal of sin (Unleavened Bread), the resurrection of a new life (First Fruits), the reproduction of that new life in the first harvest (Pentecost), the calling together of the saints (Trumpets), the calling to account (Day of Atonement), and the dwelling together with God (Tabernacles).
The spring festivals looked back towards events in Israel’s past and forward to events that would be fulfilled in the first coming of Christ. We saw that the Passover not only referred to the angel of death passing over the first born males of the Israelites in Egypt, but also to Jesus as the Passover Lamb who takes away the sin of the world by dying in our place so we might live. He was the Bread of Life and was without the leaven of sin. We who believe are identified with Him- baked into the same loaf. From God’s point of view, our old life of sin was crucified and buried with Him, totally put away. He rose from the dead on the Feast of First fruits and He sent forth His Holy Spirit on the Feast of Pentecost enabling His life to be reproduced in believing Jews and Gentiles, a harvest of all nations. He is coming again with the sound of a trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The Lord says, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” (Zech 12:10). The Day of Atonement describes how the Judgment Seat has become a mercyseat for those who trust in the substitutionary sacrifice of God’s perfect Son, the Lamb of God.
Leviticus 17:11 (NASB) 11 ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’
The Feast of Tabernacles looks backwards to God’s covenant people dwelling together with His presence in their midst as they wandered in the wilderness. It also looks forward to a more perfect and permanent dwelling together with God.
Revelation 21:3 (NASB) 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.
In this section, beginning with Numbers 28:16, we have a repetition of the Lord’s instructions for compulsory offerings during the major feasts of the Lord. They are not voluntary, free will offerings. God’s pleasure is secured by our honoring what He has provided for our complete reconciliation to Himself.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: Luke 3:23-38
In our reading today, Luke records the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry when “Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age” (Luke 3:23).
As we have been reading the Book of Numbers, we discovered that the priests started to serve in the tabernacle when they were thirty years old (Numbers 4:3).
Joseph stood before Pharaoh at 30.
Genesis 41:46 (NASB) 46 Now Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt.
David was 30 years old when he became king (2 Samuel 5:4). Ezekiel was thirty when the heavens opened, and he saw visions of God (Ezekiel 1:1).
There is no age restriction for ministering unto the Lord or His people given in the New Testament, but care must be given that hands are not laid upon someone who is inexperienced (1 Timothy 5:22). It is interesting to note that in the Old Testament men were numbered to be able to fight the good fight of faith from age twenty.
Dr. Luke, the physician, gives consistent testimony to the virgin birth of Christ. He notes that Joseph was not the actual father of Jesus, inserting that he was the supposed father. (v.23)
Luke then records 76 names tracing Jesus’ ancestry (77 if you count the name of ‘God’) connecting Jesus to the line of David’s son Nathan going back as far as Adam. Matthew traced Jesus’ ancestry through the line of David’s son Solomon going back only to Abraham. In doing this, Matthew emphasizes that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Messianic promises given to the Jews. Luke emphasizes that the offer of salvation is for the whole of humanity and not just to the Jews who traced their national history back to Abraham. One possible explanation of the differences between the two genealogies is that Luke records the lineage through Mary and Matthew records Jesus’ legal status through the line of Joseph, proving that both parents were descendants of David.
READING FROM THE PSALMS- Psalm 62:1-12.
David stands silently before the Lord, whom he refers to once again as “My Rock”. He then explains this metaphor. The Rock is a source of salvation (reminding him of the water that came out of the rock in the wilderness). He is our new vantage point. The Rock is a place of refuge, a place of defense, a high tower and a fortress against the enemy. He is the source of protection and success.
But this Rock is a living Rock, a hearing Rock, a merciful and rewarding Rock. He can be called out to in our times of distress.
Psalm 62:8 (NASB) 8 Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Proverbs 11:18-19 (NASB) 18 The wicked earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness gets a true reward. 19 He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life, and he who pursues evil will bring about his own death.
This proverb reminds us that our motives and actions today will affect our outcomes tomorrow. Give attention to the pursuit of righteousness with right motives today, and the outcome will be truly rewarding.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS
British Indian Ocean Territory
Area: 153 sq. km
Mainly the Chagos Archipelago in the central Indian Ocean. 55 islands across 54,000 sq. km of ocean.
Population: 2,000 Annual Growth: 0.00%
Capital: Diego Garcia
The original islanders were removed to the Mauritius to make way for opening the island of Diego Garcia as a strategic US/UK military base. Financial compensation was paid to both Mauritius and the Chagossians. Resettlement back to Diego Garcia is complicated due to the US’s exclusive military lease of the island from the UK government, which administers the territory. Although the UK High Court granted the islanders the right of return in 2006, in 2008 the UK government appealed this decision, and the UK House of Lords upheld the appeal. Islanders still cannot return to their traditional homelands.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
This “Paradise” is one of the most beautiful in the world, yet vice has a strong grip. Most of the population profess Christianity, and church attendance is high, but the fruit of faith is not in evidence. Pray for Christian lifestyles to be in accordance with confession.
The motto of Virgin Islands is “Where there’s no vision the people will perish.” Pray that local Christians might recover a powerful vision for the lost in their own islands and abroad.
State of Brunei Darussalam
Area: 5,765 sq. km
Two small enclaves on the island of Borneo, separated by the East Malaysian state of Sarawak. Tropical, 70% forest, with heavy rainfall.
Population: 407,045 Annual Growth: 1.92%
Capital: Bandar Seri Begawan
HDI Rank: 30 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)
Challenges for Prayer
The Christian Church exists under very difficult conditions. Evangelism is illegal, and although the number of Christians grows, no new registrations for churches are forthcoming. No foreign Christian workers are permitted – visiting ministers must arrive unannounced and in secret. Importing Bibles and Christian literature is illegal for ministry purposes, but not for personal purposes. Religious instruction in all schools, including the six Christian schools, is on Islam alone. Pray for:
- a) Perseverance, boldness and unity. Their harsh treatment has drawn together most of the churches and birthed a holy determination among many. Pray for Christians to stand strong in the face of persecution.
- b) Christian leadership that is schooled in the Word, anointed by the Spirit and able to build up all believers. Almost every Bible study and underground church is run by an untrained layperson.
- c) Numerical growth despite restrictions. Most of those converted are local tribal peoples and Chinese; pray for new believers from among all ethnic groups and segments of society.
PRAYER: Glorious God and Father, how humbled we are at the prospect You ordained from the beginning, that You, the Most Holy would tabernacle in the midst of sinners. Your Wisdom provided the unsurpassed demonstration of love, that while we were yet sinners, Christ would die for us. We look forward to that day when we dwell in Your presence, and You with us, through the glorious accomplishment of Christ Jesus our Lord. Today, we seek first Your kingdom and pursue Your righteousness, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.