Reading #1 – Numbers 1
Reading #2 – Psalms 99
Reading #3 – SSong 8
Reading #4 – Zechariah 11
Reading #5 – 2 Thessalonians 3
Numbers 1 – The Census of Israel’s Warriors. When you consider the number of warriors, you get some idea of how massive this nation was. The “captains of thousands”, the highest-ranking officer 2nd only to Moses, were representatives of their tribe and would be responsible for taking the census (2-3). The Levitical priests would be exempt from the census because they were unavailable to go to war (49). This may seem like the priests had it easy but, they did not. The priests were responsible for the operation of the wilderness tabernacle and ministering before the Lord which was not easy at that time and it was time-consuming in addition to being physically tiresome (50-51).
Psalms 99 – Praise to the Lord for His Fidelity to Israel. This psalm, like many others, is a personal testimony to the awesome power of the Lord G_d (1). For the Lord to be “great in Zion”, the power of the Lord had to be witnessed among those present (2). When the Lord is present, we have two choices “worship Him” or “Ignore Him”. Understand this, when the Lord is present to heal not everybody in the room will be healed because it requires faith and desire on our part. When we do not have faith or desire, we will walk away as empty as we had when we walked through the door (3-5, Hebrews 11:1-2). The reason for mentioning the heroes of the nation was to give proof of G_d’s power to forgive and correct (6-8). Exalt the Lord our G_d (9).
Song of Solomon 8 – The Lovers Speak. This marriage went beyond the physical desire for love, it was founded by the Lord. This was a “covenant” between the two members and the Lord so for it to work, a seal or sign of authenticity was stamped on the arm; the implication is that this person belongs to ____ and it is done willingly (6, Psalm 87:6-7). The forces of nature would not drown out their love for each other. No amount of money could buy this type of marriage (7).
Zechariah 11 – The Doomed Flock. This prophecy was directed at the foolish shepherds who mislead the people. The resources that the false shepherds and leaders had taken for granted were destroyed (1-3). Zechariah was tasked with shepherding the doomed flock to their demise and those who made their money on the backs of the people would lose everything (4-6). Because of his skillful leadership, those who were causing troubles among the people and the false shepherds were removed from the flock by the sword of the enemy (7-9). By breaking the staff called “favor”, the troublemakers knew without a doubt that their goose was cooked and that it was Lord, not Zechariah directing their demise (10-11). Zechariah was not concerned about being paid for being their shepherd; the people gave him 30 pieces of silver the same amount Judas was given to betray the Lord and it ended up in the same place (12-13). The staff called “union” was broken indicating a clear separation between the two kingdoms. The staff called “Union” which tied the two nations Israel in the North and Judah in the South together, was forever broken and the two would be disparate people (14-15). Once the true shepherd broke the staff, a foolish shepherd would fill the void but it would not bode well for the nation (16-17).
2 Thessalonians 3 – Exhortation. Paul’s exhortation to “pray continually for him”, is an important point for the success of the church and of Paul (1-2). As the church lifts Paul up, the Lord also lifts the church up so that both are successful (3); this is a biblical principle. Paul knew these people intimately because he spent time with them building them up and encouraging them so he had faith that the church would continue what they had been taught while Paul was away from the church (4-5). The problem was that while Paul was away, half-hearted brothers and sisters in the Lord came in to spew hypocrisy. For this reason, Paul is adding in the caveat “separate yourselves from people who refused to live a disciplined life (6). The things that cause angst in the church need to be carefully looked into so that the church does not become bitter because of one individual’s bad behavior. Paul did not want to be a burden that would cause problems for the church (7-10). When people have idol hands, they are inclined to cause trouble and become busy-bodies whose mission is to cause problems for the church and community (11-12). Not everybody in the church was wicked or a sloth, for this reason, he leaves the best for last (13). These commands were not mere suggestions, were rules of order for the church that, when employed, would propel the church forward or, move it back. The people causing problems for the church weren’t enemies, they were people who had been misled (14-15).