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March 15, Day #75 – Nothing is Impossible with God

Today we begin the book of Numbers – the fourth book of Moses. Genesis is the book of beginnings; Exodus is the book of redemption. Leviticus, the book we just completed, is the book of worship, whereas the book of Numbers is the book about counting the people, testing the people, and the people wandering. The Israelites have been on their journey from Egypt and camped at Mt. Sinai for a little over a year. Now, they will wander in the wilderness for the next 38 years, and the book of Numbers covers that entire period of testing. The book describes God’s initial steps through His servant Moses to prepare the Israelites for the struggles they will face before entering the promised land. In Numbers, they will confront many trials and difficulties – largely of their own making. The first ten chapters focus on the Israelite departure from Mt. Sinai. Then, chapters 11-20 show us their wilderness wanderings. Chapters 21-36 cover their time of preparations to move toward and enter the promised land. This book begins with a census of the people by God’s command in Numbers 1:2 - “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one.” Part of God’s purpose in numbering the people related to those of military age “who were able to serve in the army” (verse 3). Also, as revealed later in the book, the census served the purpose for allotting the land by inheritance – “to give a larger group a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one” (cf., Numbers 26:52-54). As Moses and Aaron count the people, Moses records the “number of men twenty years old or more” for each tribe except the tribe of Levi, who were counted separately (cf., Numbers 3:39). The total number is 603,550 (cf., Numbers 1:46). A second, later census will be taken and recorded in Numbers 26. And it will reveal a slight loss in the population (601,830; cf., Numbers 26:51). Finally, in chapter two, we see God’s Instructions regarding the orderly set-up of the camp “by divisions” (verse 52) and “around the Tent of Meeting” (Numbers 2:2).

In Psalm 33:12-22, we see several important truths that we need to remember and apply to our lives. We note from verse 12 that a “nation whose God is the LORD, is blessed.” As our country historically has demonstrated widespread faith in God, we see the truth of this verse – God has blessed the United States. However, in recent years, as our people have gradually abandoned their faith and turned away from the Scriptures, we see a gradual “Ichabod” – the glory of the Lord departing from our country (cf., 1 Samuel 4:21-22). In verse 13 – we notice that God “sees” us all, and He “watches” us. He notes our activities, and He cares over, about, and for us. In verse 15, He “formed all our hearts and considers” what we do. He knows our motives and their relationship to our actions. In verses 18-20, we see a distinct, special relationship - for “those who fear Him.” For them, He purposes to “deliver us from death and keep us alive.” Whereas “kings, warriors, and horses” are “vain hopes,” we “wait in hope for the LORD” (verses 16-10). The sovereign Creator of the universe is our “help, shield, and hope.” What a contrast in these two sources of hope!

In Luke 1:26-38, we read of Mary’s initial concern (i.e., “she was greatly troubled”) at the angel Gabriel’s initial greeting – that “she was highly favored” (verse 28-30) as the angel announced that she would “be with child” (verse 31). We need to recognize what it means to come under the Lord’s favor. To know the favor of the Lord is a supremely precious treasure – more valuable than anything. By contrast with Zechariah earlier in the chapter, we note especially that Mary had not the slightest hint of unbelief present in her response, but logically, the announcement didn’t make sense to her because she knew that she was a virgin (verse 34). Notice Gabriel’s explanation: “Nothing is impossible with God” (verse 37). For young Mary, this truth was enough. I have always appreciated Mary’s ready, willing, faithful, positive, and exemplary response to Gabriel (and ultimately to the Lord): “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (verse 38). How beautiful is that?

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