Torah: Numbers 16:1–18:32
PROPHETS: 1 Samuel 11:14–12:22
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Acts 5:1–11
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 & 2
Here we go again: more rebellion b’midbar (“in the wilderness”). In the last portion, faithless spies led the whole community into rebellion (Numbers 13–14).
Now, it is Korah, a firstborn from the Levitical “household” of Kohath, who is leading a rebellion.
What is his complaint? (cf. Exodus 19:6 for God’s promise for an entire nation that is holy and Exodus 24:8 for the blood covenant ceremony establishing it.) Why is Korah so upset? (Read Exodus 6:18 for Kohath’s line and trace the birth order of his sons in vv. 20–22. Now read Numbers 3:30. Who gets lifted up as a leader according to this verse? Who do you think Korah believes should have been lifted up in view of birth-order rights?)
Moses has various exchanges with those who are rebelling (vv. 4–17) until God shows up and begins vindicating leaders that have been lifted up according to His sovereign choice (vv. 18–19).
Against whom is Korah rebelling—Moses or God? When you wander (or intentionally walk, or even run!) into rebellion, against whom are you always sinning (cf. Psalm 51:4)? How do you respond to your sin? Do you ignore correction, like Korah? Do you receive the conviction of the Holy Spirit but stew in self-deprecating guilt and disheartening frustration? Or do you come to God in prayer and go out trusting in His mercy and faithfulness and thus walking in the power of His Spirit?
Torah 3 & 4
Discipline Serves as a Sign
Numbers 16:20–43 [17:8 Heb]
Moses and Aaron intercede on behalf of the entire community (vv. 20–22) and God responds with instructions for executing a limited judgment (vv. 23–24).
Moses pleads with the community not to side with the rebels (vv. 25–30) and then God executes judgment upon those rebels (vv. 31–35).
Out of this national trial comes a bronze covered altar to serve as a “sign.” What does this “sign” teach about an unholy people living with and relating to a holy God dwelling in their midst (v. 40, cf. Leviticus 10:1–3)?
Despite clear instructions and national chastisement, the community continues in faithless rebellion.
Again, God shows up to continue to vindicate His chosen leaders (cf. v. 19).
Intercession Serves to Save
Numbers 16:44–50 [17:9–15 Heb]
In the face of another act of judgment (vv. 44–45), Aaron intercedes according to Moses’ instruction (vv. 46–48) and thus again judgment is limited to only those who continue in their faithless rebellion against God—His appointed leaders and His appointed way (vv. 49–50).
Is God disciplining you in any way? If so, what does He want you to learn? Remember, Yeshua lives and is interceding for you even now (Hebrews 7:24–25)!
torah 5 & 6
A Priest Must Be Chosen By God
Numbers 17:1–9 [17:16–24 Heb]
A Priest Will Be Provided For By God
Numbers 17:10 [17:25 Heb]–18:20
After the plague had brought God’s judgment, God gives another “sign” to reaffirm His choice of priestly leadership through Aaron’s family line.
The instructions are given (vv. 1–5) and the twelve staffs are brought before the LORD (vv. 6–7).
What is God’s demonstration of power (vv. 8–9) that becomes another “sign” (vv. 10–11)?
What does this sign teach? Why does God perform this sign? Why does God demonstrate His power through “signs and wonders” during the lives of the prophets and the apostles? Does He still work this way?
It is important to distinguish between Priests and Levites (vv. 1–7). Levites constitute the entire tribe of Levi and perform Tabernacle ministry in general (v. 6). Priests, however, come from the descendants of Aaron who is part of the “household” of Kohath, who is from the larger tribe of Levi. Aaron’s sons alone are set apart to perform anointed priestly duties within the Tabernacle (v. 7).
God provides for His priests through portions set aside from the Israelite offerings, which are all “holy.” What is the real provision according to v. 20 (cf. Lamentations 3:24 and John 4:32)?
How do you, as a New Covenant Priest, pursue your “needs” being met and provided for? Is Yeshua your “All in All”?
torah 7 &
Tithing in Israel
Tithing Your Best!
Remember that the community has just witnessed three events: the earth swallowing faithless rebels (16:32), fire devouring 250 community leaders (16:35), and a plague killing 14,700 (16:49). Moses’ leadership has been reaffirmed through these first two events while Aaron’s has been through the third. The people are terrified that these disasters will continue (17:12–13). Aaron’s priestly responsibilities and Levitical supports will ensure that the people can live and worship freely with God living among them without such national tragedies continuing.
As priestly leader, however, Aaron must not only oversee the process of Israelite offerings going to support the priests (18:8–20 above) but also Israelite tithes.
Furthermore, he must see to it that the Levites turn around and tithe off of what they receive (vv. 25–29) and that the absolute best stuff is given as tithe (vv. 30–32).
How are you doing in the area of tithing your absolute best to support God’s community and Kingdom construction? What would it look like in your life to step out in faithful obedience in the area of giving? What goes on in your heart?
A Kingly Theocracy
1 Samuel 11:14–12:22
Just as Moses led a people often “wandering” away from God, Samuel, the last judge and the first prophet, faced similar challenges. Yielding to the people’s complaints, God allows Saul to be appointed as king (1 Samuel 8:4–22; this national transformation from God as King to appointing an earthly king was foretold in Torah, Deuteronomy 17:14–20).
In this haftarah portion, Saul’s kingship is reaffirmed (11:14–15), as is Samuel’s righteousness (12:1–5).
After defending himself, Samuel goes on to defend God’s covenant faithfulness to Israel (vv. 6–11) and point out Israel’s continued lack of trust in God (v. 12).
Samuel then gives a message of instruction (vv. 13–15) that is validated by a display of God’s power (vv. 16–18).
The people are convicted (v. 19, cf. Numbers 17:12) and Samuel comforts them (v. 20a), continuing to plead for Israel’s covenant faithfulness (vv. 20b–21) while re–affirming again God’s faithfulness (v. 22).
In what ways do you uphold Yeshua’s Kingship (cf. 2 Kings 9:13 and Mark 11:7–10) submitting to Him and to those He has appointed over you (cf. Romans 13:1 and Hebrews 13:17)? In what ways do you “buck” authority, chafe against submission and pursue your own agenda? Do you see this as a lack of trusting God? What would it look like to exercise faith in God in this area of your life?
A Priestly “Church”
What is God teaching through the tragedy of Ananias and Sapphira? Honesty is the only policy? Greed is a lust of the flesh that leads only to ruin? Satan fans into flame the seed of greed in the fallen human heart (v. 3)? When you sin against man you are really sinning against God (v. 4)? That God dwells within His covenant community such that offenses which do not uphold His holiness are judged—teaching the covenant community about how to rightly relate to a holy God living in their midst (v. 11; cf. Leviticus 10:1–3)? That being in God’s covenant community requires not only relating to God in a way that uphold His holiness, but also relating to others in such a way as to uphold His holiness (not like Korah and his followers [Numbers 16:3], or Ananias and Sapphira)?
In what ways does your behavior uphold God’s holiness? In what way does your behavior “defile” God’s holiness? Deal with the latter for the sake of the former!
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.