Torah: Numbers 25:10–29:40 [30:1 HEB]
PROPHETS: 1 Kings 18:46–19:21
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Revelation 19:11–21
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 & 2
Be Zealous for God!
God Knows His People By Name
Israel is still at Shittim, east of the Jordan, suffering from the consequences of idolatry. Pinchas (transliterated “Phinehas” and meaning “dark-skinned”) stands out as one who has intense zeal for God. More specifically, his zeal is for upholding God’s honor and holiness in the sight if others (v. 11, 13; cf. Leviticus 10:3). Are you zealous for your own comforts and pleasures? Are you zealous for upholding your own reputation in the eyes of others? What would it look like for you to be more zealous for God and upholding His honor in your heart and in the world?
Pinchas’ zealousness results in a covenant of peace that can be traced through the priestly household of Zadok (cf. 1 Chronicles 6:4,8 and Ezekiel 44:15–16). Chapter 26 begins the second Israelite census. The older generation had been counted at the foot of Mt. Sinai (Numbers 1). This new generation is being counted on the outskirts of the Promised Land in preparation for actually settling it. The two countings reveal that there has been a net loss during the wilderness wanderings of 1,820 (cf. 1:46; 26:51). Though individuals have died in the wilderness, God’s covenant faithfulness is on display as He fulfills covenant promises and shepherds His flock.
In raising up Messiah Yeshua, God has given us a zealous Shepherd who will never let us down. Are you trusting in Him by being fully surrendered to His leading? What would it look like in your life to yield more? What would total surrender look like? Are you willing?
Torah 3 & 4
Inheriting the Promised Land
Inheritance in the Promised Land is to be determined by both size and lot. The size of the clan most likely determined how much land they got (vv. 53–54), and lots were used to determine where the land would be within the tribal allocation (vv. 55–56).
Since Levites do not serve in the military, they are counted from a much earlier age. Whereas the military census counted Israelites beginning at age 20, this census counted the Levites beginning at one month of age. Levites were probably counted now in preparation for allocating them the 48 ‘Levitical’ cities (cf. 35:7), as well as assigning them their Tabernacle ministry duties (vv. 57–62).
How do these verses reveal the faithfulness of God based on His earlier words in 14:29–35? In what ways do you identify with the fallen generation in the desert? How can you be more like the two spies who overcame the fears and rebellion of their contemporaries through courageous obedience?
The program for allocating land through patrilineal succession (from father to son) was threatened by the case of Zelophehad who had five daughters, but no sons.
Preserving the Promised Inheritance
If they got no land because their father had no sons, then their father’s name would vanish along with their inheritance. God’s solution preserves patrilineal descent by maintaining continuity of land transfer through any particular sonless generation (36:6–9 ensures that the family’s land will stay within that particular tribe). God goes to great length to preserve for us that which we need to glorify Him and testify to His covenant faithfulness.
How does this truth give you hope today? Though Moses was not happy about not entering the Promised Land, he kept the faith and maintained a lifestyle of courageous obedience. How does Matthew 17:3 fulfill Moses’ desire to make it into the Land?
torah 5 & 6
Setting Apart (Sanctifying) Time
Chapter 28 gives us supplemental information on how to observe His appointed times in Leviticus 23 and thus remember Him daily, weekly, monthly and annually. Each day is to be set apart with a sacrifice in the morning and in the evening (vv. 3–8). This sacrifice is called tamid, which means “continual.”
God’s instructions for daily sacrificial obedience remind us to walk continually in set apart holiness.
On Shabbat, there is a weekly “musaf” (“additional”) offering that is to accompany the daily offering. Consequently, there is an additional repetition of much of the synagogue service on Shabbat as a way to try to observe this “additional” Shabbat offering (after the Temple was destroyed, the rabbis transferred much of the sacrificial service “at the altar” to a service “at the synagogue,” with prayers replacing animal sacrifice).
Once a month, there is a special Rosh Chodesh (new moon) observance consisting of additional sacrifices including a Chattat (sin or purification offering)along with all of the many Olah offerings (whole burnt offerings) (vv. 11–15).
Remembering God’s Faithfulness
The many annual reminders of God’s faithfulness begin with Pesach (Passover) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The offerings are the same as the ones for Rosh Chodesh. Shavuot (Pentacost), Yom T’ruah (Day of Blowing Trumpets, a.k.a. Rosh HaShanah), and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) stretch out across the year and help God’s people stay focused on Him and His saving acts.
As we approach the High Holy Days, be sure to be in prayer for yourself and the lost whom God wants to reach through us. May these days of remembrance be filled with God’s Presence among us as we celebrate His covenant faithfulness and His steadfast love.
torah 7 &
Offerings for the Nations
A Priestly Nation
Sukkot (Tabernacles) is the last major feast and it involves seven days of sacrifice followed by one day of additional celebration. How many total bulls are sacrificed in these first seven days according to vv. 12–34? This number is exactly the same as the number of Noah’s sons who spread out after the flood. How might God’s calling for Israel to be a “priestly nation” be fulfilled every Sukkot, with 70 bulls serving as intercessory sacrifices for 70 nations who are being pursued by God? The eighth day is a concluding ceremony called Sh’mini Atseret, where one bull is sacrificed for the nation of Israel. In today’s Jewish cycle of celebrations, these eight days are followed by Simchat Torah (Joy of the Torah) which is when we read the final portion of Deuteronomy and begin again with Genesis.
Just as the reading of Torah continues seamlessly from one year into the next, so too is our faith-filled obedience meant to flow seamlessly from one moment into the next. Take a minute to meditate on the value of God’s atoning sacrifice and continual ministry of healing in the person of Messiah Yeshua. Let’s offer up a sacrifice of praise today through the fruit of our lips (what we speak), the fruit of our labors (what we do) and the meditation of our hearts (cf. Psalm 19:14)
A Prophet’s Inheritance
1 Kings 18:46–19:21
“Zeal for the LORD elevates both Pinchas and Eliyahu (Elijah) to national ministry. Like Pinchas, Eliyahu is horror-struck over the introduction of Ba’al worship into life in the nation. Eliyahu takes on 450 prophets of Ba’al and orders them all put to the sword. Izevel (Jezebel) hears, and she threatens Eliyahu, who runs in despair a day’s journey into the Negev to die (1 Kings 19:4). Twice, Eliyahu proclaims his zeal for the LORD, that he is the only one left to openly confront Ba’al worship in Yisra’el (1 Kings 19:10,14). God instructs Eliyahu to finish the task. He must anoint Haza’el as king of Aram, Yehu as king of Yisra’el, and Elisha as his successor (1 Kings 19:15–17). Eliyahu heads to the Jordan Valley and throws his cloak on Elisha as he plows his field. Elisha responds decisively, sacrificing his plow and oxen to break with his former life (1 Kings 19:21). Elisha will train with Eliyahu and inherit a double portion of his master’s zeal for the LORD (2 Kings 2:10)….The sword of Pinchas’ zeal is carried by Eliyahu, who also lives a long life and uses the sword to slay 450 prophets of Ba’al. Eliyahu’s zeal for God is unparalleled in his generation” (Feinberg, J. Walk Numbers! 2002, pp. 150, 152).
How can you exhibit this zeal today in a world that will certainly reject and mock you for it? Read Matthew 5:11–12 to remember why it is that you even want to!
Son of Man’s Inheritance
“Heaven opens to make way for the rider called Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11). Scripture depicts the rider as the Messiah, with many royal diadems. He is called the Word of God, also KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:13, 16). The Second Coming describes a time when Messiah purges evil in order to set up the kingdom of heaven on earth. He smites the nations with the sharp sword of his mouth (Revelation 19:15, 21). He rules with a rod of iron; and in his zeal, he stains his garments with the blood of those who oppose God’s will on earth (Revelation 19:15). Kayin’s [Cain] killing of Hevel [Abel] is now measured out to those who oppose Messiah’s rulership—whether kings, captains, mighty men, horses, riders, slaves, free, rich, or poor (Revelation 19:18). All who oppose Messiah are slain by the sword of his mouth. They become God’s supper for the vultures overhead (Revelation 19:17, 21)….Yeshua displays the same priestly and prophetic zeal against idolatry as Pinchas and Eliyahu, and he also inherits God’s covenant kindness and truth to the patriarchs and to David haMelech. Thus, he combines the callings of priest, prophet, and king in the final battle to establish the kingdom of God on earth. To purge evil, he slays those who oppose God’s rule with the sword of his mouth! Zeal for the covenant and speaking truth lay the foundations for a new world. Once again God speaks, and a new creation begins! (Hebrews 1:1–2)” (Feinberg, J. Walk Numbers! 2002, pp. 151, 152)
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.