Reading #1 – Numbers 21:1-20
Reading #2 – Psalms 124
Reading #3 – Job 26
Reading #4 – Matthew 20
Reading #5 – James 3
Numbers 21:1-20 – Arad Destroyed. When the Canaanite king of Arad, which was located in the northern Negev desert, captured some of the Israelites, it set up a battle that would end his kingdom (1-3). Where I get confused in this whole segment and much of Numbers is the term “Lord”. For example, when the people complained against Moses and G-d because of all the hardships they were experiencing. In the end, the people were bitten by the poisonous snakes and scorpions that exist in the desert. When the Lord directs Moses to create this bronze snake and wrap it around a pole so when the people look at it they are instantly healed (4-8). This creates a conflict for me because the first commandment states, I am the Lord your G-d who brought you out of slavery, you shall have no other G-ds before me, you shall not make an idol in the form of anything above the earth, on the earth, or below the earth (Exodus 20:1). “Why would the Lord tell Moses to do two different things”? Unless there is a plausible explanation, the Lord is two-faced which, we know is not true of Him. I hypothesize that the people wanted to be expediently healed but did not want to repent at which time, they are told “go look to your snake and if you do, you will be healed”. Later on, the snake would become an idol to be worshipped (2 Kings 18:4). We are not told anything about this book “Wars of the Lord” any more than we are told about the book of Jashar (Joshua 10:13). The Song of the Well is a victory song and praise for living water (16-18).
Psalms 124 – Our Help is in the Name of the Lord. This song of Ascents decries the need for a bronze snake or any idol of any form or shape. If we do not believe in the power of His name, all of the promises that are uttered will be useless because we won’t believe them. For the entire journey from Ramses to Canaan, the people rode a roller-coaster of belief in the Lord G-d. When times were good, they sang “Spring up O Well” but when times were bad they cursed and complained bitterly. This is not the kind of walk G-d envisions for our lives. When we consider all that we have gone through in our journey from our Rameses to our Canaan land, we need to focus on what He has done in and through us so that when we face future problems, we’ll have a testimony to give to our detractor the Devil (1-5, Strength for the Next Storm-MK). Because the Lord G-d is the strength of my life, no matter what may come I will trust him (6-8).
Job 26 – G-d’s Majesty is Unsearchable. Bildad and Zophar had presented their arguments for why Job was facing such issues. The 900 LB gorilla in the room is the Lord and G-d and what is on His mind. The counselors were presenting common items but had never put them into practice so why were they not afflicted (2-4)? The fringes of G-d’s glory lie in the makeup of our world, the rain that replenishes the water, the sea that is so strong can be calmed by His voice, and seasons that change without a move of our hand. If this is so, then G-d can and will take care of the issues confronting my life (8-14, Matthew 6:24).
Matthew 20 – Laborers in the Vineyard. The commentary says that the parable of the vineyard answers Peter’s question about how he and his colleagues will be rewarded compared to later converts. The answer is that the disciples will receive the same reward (1-16, Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown). Unfortunately, I believe anyway, there was a false expectation of the coming Kingdom. So, when the mother of James and Bartholomew came requesting that her sons get a chair on the right and left hand of G-d in Heaven, she probably thought he had the authority because he would be the King (20-23). The thing is, when we consider this Kingdom of Heaven and King Jesus, we have to understand that the kingdom is 180 degrees out of sync with the kingdoms of the world (25-28). In the Kingdom, faith is a key element. As the blind men found out if they didn’t have faith enough to ask, they never would have received and would most likely have become bitter thinking, “Jesus healed everybody but me” (29-34).
James 3 – Taming the Tongue. Much has been written about the tongue and its power to start wars, infuse hatred, and yet be so small it’s hardly noticeable (2-4). It seems that fires start with sparks and pick speed when the elements are readily available. In the same way, the sparks of bitterness dwell in our hearts and then cause fires in our souls which causes an overflow out of our mouth (5-9). There are a plethora of books written on how to tame animals yet the tongue is untamable until we get our hearts in the right place. Just because we are Christians, it doesn’t mean that our tongue is tamed and we are “now perfect”. The thing is, the Devil knows how to just what chains to pull and just how long to pull it. It is for this reason that we need wisdom, direction, and the ability to close off the Devil’s access to our hearts (13-18).