March 2, 2013

Today you should read: Numbers 2

It may be tempting to see today’s reading as a bit on the boring side. This passage is describing the order in which the Israelites are to camp and how they are to march. It can seem insignificant at first. However, I hope that you will not miss the significance of the passage. Israel was not just a nation but they were an army. The way that God had them camp and march was for the purpose of battle. We do not understand that thought really because many of us will never know what war looks like. We are blessed to have a great army of men and women who go to battle on our behalf. We must always remember to be thankful for our troops and the blessing that they are. However, Israel did not have a separate army. All of their able bodied men were set up to fight. So what can we learn from this passage?

1. Israel was focused on a purpose. If you remember back in Genesis 12:1-9, God appeared to Abram (who later became Abraham) and promised to make him into a great nation. God went on to tell Abram that his offspring will be given the Promised Land. Yet, there was one problem; the Canaanites were currently in the land. (Canaan was cursed because of the sin of his father and he rejected God and punishment was to come upon the Canaanites, Genesis 9-10). So, Moses and Aaron, through the instruction of the Lord, have ordered the tribes of Israel for the purpose of going to battle. God is sending Israel to the Promised Land which He is giving them but Israel will have to fight for it. However, it is a twofold plan, Israel will receive the land of promise and God will use Israel to punish the Canaanites that are in the land. Israel is preparing to fulfill God’s plan and receive his promised blessing. What can we learn from Israel? Don’t we have a purpose as the Church? Matthew 28:18-19 gives us our battle plans yet often we function more like a country club then an army.

2. Israel had the right focus. All of the tribes were to camp facing the tent of meeting; where the tabernacle and the presence of God were. All of the tribes facing the tent of meeting symbolized their reverence and need of God. God was the one blessing them and giving them the strength to carry out his commands. It also showed that God was their leader and their King. Israel did not have a human king at this time. God was their only focus and God was going to lead them to the Promised Land. We can learn from Israel in this regard as well. If we are focused on Christ as our Lord and looking to God’s word for guidance then we will understand the purposes that God has called us to. Also, God will be the one who gives us the strength to carry out His purposes through the power of the Holy Spirit. The question is: How much time do you spend in God’s word daily? Is it important to you? If Christ is not the center of your world then you will never fulfill the purpose that he has called you to.

Posted by: Chad Wiles

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March 1, 2013

Today you should read: Numbers 1

Introduction to Numbers

Dear CPC Family,

Today we start in the book of Numbers.  It is one of the first five books of the Old Testament which are also called the Pentateuch.  In Numbers, God shows us how He has given us the law which reveals His holiness,  our inability to obey the law and so become holy and, therefore, our great need for our Savior, Jesus.

The book of Numbers specifically consists of God’s people, Israel, leaving Mt. Sinai to fulfill God’s promise of entering Canaan with the tabernacle (the tent where God revealed Himself). On the way to Canaan, Israel (like us) regularly disobeyed, rebelled and disbelieved God, causing them to delay their journey. However, just as God gives great grace, mercy and love to us in spite of our disobedience; He did the same to Israel and fulfilled the promises He made to them by allowing them to conquer and enter Canaan.

Numbers 1 and Men as Protectors

Lately, there has been some controversy in the news regarding the US Army. On Thursday, January 24th, our country’s Secretary of Defense announced that we would now allow women in the US army to be used for combat roles on the ground when fighting enemy forces. For more details on this decision and the potential dangers that come from it, here is a short article telling  how this decision effects women and our country (and it is a CNN article, not a Fox News article in case you’re one of those people who would instantly shout “This is biased, blah, blah, blah…)

http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/25/opinion/boykin-women-in-combat

I can’t help but think of Numbers 1, where God gave specific instructions to Israel on who was to lead God’s people in advancing toward Canaan.

In verses 1-4, God told Moses to take a census of His people in Israel and to pick out the number of names in the father of the families’ houses who were male and over 20 yrs. old. Then from vs. 5-46 he lists the number (and some names) of men who will represent His army. Now I don’t want to get legalistic over here and take these passages out of context. In no way am I saying that every first-born male with those specific numbers and only those people can fight in a war. I’d be hesitant to even say that women can’t join the army and use specific talents and gifts that they have in support of our country. What I do want to point out is this. God created men to be protectors of women and children and this is not just seen in this specific chapter but is consistent with the rest of Scripture (Deut. 20, 24, Josh. 1, Judges 4, Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3). They are to be the protectors in the home and of the nation. This is not a representation of a chauvinistic time either although the majority of history has been chauvinistic. A man fighting for their women and children is God’s way of showing that He uniquely created us as protectors and ultimately something the women and children want and need. This is like me telling my wife, Jessica to confront a robber who just entered our home while I sit back and pray. Even if she is fully capable to kick that robber’s butt, I believe that God created me as husband and father to sacrifice my safety and life for my family’s sake and guess what?.. Women at heart want that and need that.

Now, many may say that this belief is just another example of why Christianity treats women as 2nd class citizens or believe that men are better than women. I’d say that this belief, rooted in Scripture and imprinted in our DNA before the Fall is the exact opposite. In fact, if anything it shows how men were created to value, serve and love women more than ourselves, not treat them as a gender underneath us.

I’ll leave you with this quote and article that John Piper wrote in 2007 regarding this issue and how important it is to be obedient to God in creating and maintaining a culture that reflects Numbers 1 and the rest of Scripture where men are fulfilling their calling as leaders who protect their women and children, not only in the home but on the battlefield:

If I were the last man on the planet to think so, I would want the honor of saying that no woman should go before me into combat to defend my country. A man who endorses women in combat is not pro-woman; he’s a wimp. He should be ashamed. For most of history, in most cultures, he would have been utterly scorned as a coward to promote such an idea. Part of the meaning of manhood as God created us is the sense of responsibility for the safety and welfare of our women.” –John Piper, taken from..http://www.worldmag.com/2007/11/combat_and_cowardice

Posted by: Erik Koliser