Vacationing to the Glory of God

In Numbers chapter 29 God gives Israel the instruction to have a month of dedication to the Lord during the 7th month of their calendar year. Why did God choose the 7th month to do this? Because the 7th month for the Isrealites, and most ancient near eastern civilizations, was a time of leisure because it was between harvest and seedtime.

On the surface it may not look interesting that God chose Israel’s vacation/leisure time to dedicate to Himself. But we must ask, why and for what reason did God choose the time that they would have the most leisure to do this? I see two big reasons:

1) God chose this time to be wholly dedicated to Himself because He does not want the Israelites to be IDLE. Idle hands reach for instant satisfaction in sin and gratification in sin more than busy hands do. During times of leisure in our lives, we become complacent about many things, including our time spent with God in His Word. God wants to keep Israel from things that Proverbs 19:15 says, “Laziness cast into a deep sleep, and an idle soul will suffer hunger.” So the first reason that God chose Israel’s vacation time and leisure time to be wholly dedicated to Himself was to keep His people from being idle.

2) God chose this time to be wholly dedicated to Himself to make His people shine among the nations. Every ancient near eastern civilization near Israel at this time would harvest and pluck during the same time because they have the same seasons. So naturally, all these nations surrounding Israel would have this leisure time at the same time as Israel. So what? So, God chose this time specifically to set apart His people from the other nations. Thus, Israel’s vacation time will look drastically different than the surrounding nations. While everyone else is being idle and lazy, Israel will be having offerings, services, and worship to God. When the other nations hear of this, or see this happening, they will say this, “It seems that the Israelites treasure something more than their own vacation time, it seems that they trust in this God more, I wonder why?” Through this month, Israel will stand out among the nations and show the world that the Lord, the God of heaven, is more valuable than vacationing.

This was the Old Testament version of 1 Cor. 10:31 causing 1 Pet. 3:15. This causes us to ask one question: Does the way that I vacation, or spend my leisure time, show the world that I trust in something else than my vacation, or leisure time?

It should.

Your vacation time should be drastically different than the world’s. How so? That is the aim of your life. To figure out ways to “redeem the time”, spend the time “to the glory of God”, so that people will ask you 1 Peter 3:15.

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“You will know My opposition.”

Israel is on the border of the promise land, and they are told by God to spy out the land to see what it contains.  After everything they have gone through, from Egypt till now, they are for the first time going to see what this land “flowing with milk and honey” looks like.  The spies return and tell all the people that the land truly does flow with milk and honey, but the cities are huge, and the people who live there are giants…and that they are mere grasshoppers in their sight.

Two spies did not agree.  Caleb and Joshua both said that the people should not rebel against the Lord because the He will give the land to them and give the giants (who were the ancestors of Goliath) into their hand.  Upon hearing this, the people were so angered that they tried to stone Caleb and Joshua.  The anger of God was kindled on the people, and if not for Moses intercession the people would have died then and there.

Because punishment always follows sin, God gave the verdict concerning them in Numbers 14:34, “According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition.”  Israel, God’s very people will now know, or become very personal and intimate with, God’s anger and opposition.

Two massive truths come from this phrase: “You will know My opposition.”
a) Those in Christ, will never hear this from God ever.

because of the glorious truth that…

b) Jesus heard this from His Father, on the cross, in our behalf.

The Father was pleased to bruise the Son (Isa. 53:10). Praise God that we who are in Christ, will never, ever, hear the words, “You will know My opposition” from God, because “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse for us.” (Gal. 3:13) and God “made Him who knew no sin, become sin, on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

Cherish that you (if you’re in Christ) will never hear,”You shall know My opposition” because of Jesus.

Benedictions: Blessing and Cursing

Perhaps many of you have heard this benediction at the end of a worship service:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

You know what is astonishing about receiving this blessing?  Jesus received the exact opposite from the Father so that we could receive the real one.  Jesus received this:

I will Curse You and keep You out; I will turn My face from You, and be wrathful to You; I will lift up My justice upon You, and give You death.

Next time you receive this blessing, thank God, for His Son, who became sin so we could become the righteousness of God in Him.

Benedictions: Blessing and Cursing

Perhaps many of you have heard this benediction at the end of a church service:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

You know what is astonishing about receiving this blessing?  Jesus received the exact opposite from the Father so that we could receive redemption.  Jesus received this:

I will Curse You and keep You out; I will turn My face from You, and be wrathful to You; I will lift up My justice upon You, and give You death.

Next time you receive this blessing, thank God, for His Son, who became sin so you could become the righteousness of God in Him.

J: Godly Jealously?

Jealousy is an interesting emotion. Jealousy is usually thought of as being envious or resenting someone else who is more successful than we are. Another definition of jealousy is to be extremely watchful over something. Reflecting on these two faces of the coin of jealousy makes me think of all the passages in the Bible that say God is jealous. What does this mean? Is God jealous in the first way we defined the term, as if He were jealous over the success of another? NO! God is God, and no one compares to Him at all! Is God therefore jealous in the other way we defined the term as if He were jealously watching over something? YES! God is jealous (Ex. 34.14) over His glory, and will not give it to another (Isa. 48:11).

Now, one verse throws an interesting wrench into this realm of thought – Ephesians 5:1 which says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children…” You see the problem? Part of the holy life Christians are called to is to imitate God Himself, so as to be like Him in character, motives, loves, desires, thoughts, etc. BUT, are we to imitate God’s jealousy? No and Yes. No, in that we cannot be jealous over our own glory, as God is. That would be utter arrogance, selfishness, and egotistical for any created being to do so. And no, we cannot be jealous in that we resent others for being more successful than us in any realm, that would be completely sinful. How then are we to imitate God’s jealousy?

Rather than being jealous for our own glory sinfully, we can be jealous for God’s glory with all our might! This kind of jealousy is put on display for us in one place at least. The man’s name was Phinehas, and his story is found in Numbers 25. A certain Israelite grievously sinned by bringing a pagan Moabite prostitute into the Israel’s camp. He not only brought her in, but strutted her before the tent of meeting, where Moses and the people were weeping over this horrendous sin. This man then brought the woman into his own tent, and began to enjoy the services of this pagan prostitute. Phinehas, who was with the group weeping by the tent of meeting, wouldn’t stand for this sin, because God’s name and glory were being defamed by it. So he rose up when no one else would, took a spear, went into this tent, and thrusted the man and the prostitute through with one strike (obviously they were on top of one another by this point). God’s response to his action was stunning. He said that Phinehas acted so zealousy for His (God’s) glory, that he was as jealous as He was for His glory!

Application – What are you willing to do to be holy? What are you willing to do for the sake of God’s glory? What would Phinehas “glory spear thrust” look like in your life? Are you jealous for your fame? Jealousy can be godly, if its God-ward! What are you jealous for? Your answer will reveal much about you.