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March 25, Day #85 – What a Difference!

In Numbers 16 – a chapter that contains many serious warnings - we have seen the rebellion of “Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their 250 well-known Israelite community leaders who grew insolent and rose up against Moses” (verses 1-2). We see here that opposition to Moses was equal to opposition to God. When summoned, this group refused “to come” before Moses, and they excused their behavior by saying that Egypt was a land “flowing with milk and honey” (verse 13). Interestingly, no one was saying anything like that back in Egypt. How quickly and easily we forget the truth about the past. Moses stated point-blank that these men had “treated the LORD with contempt” (verse 30), for which “the ground under them split apart and the earth … swallowed them” (verse 31). In addition, we saw that “fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men” (verse 35). In today’s section, we see that God required their “censers to be hammered into sheets to be a sign to the Israelites” (verse 38). A sign for what? “To remind the Israelites that no one except the descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense before the LORD” on pain of death (verse 40). Goodness! These people really are stubborn and unwilling to learn! The book of Numbers - which began with obedience complimented – is clearly revealing that God - not man - sets the standards for obedience and holiness. In chapter 17, we see a physical demonstration of this truth as Aaron’s rod – among twelve other rods – “budded, blossomed, and produced almonds” (verse 8). The metamorphosis of Aaron’s rod symbolizes and points ahead to the resurrection of the body – God is able to take something basically useless and dead – and bring it to life – and He promises to do this for all believers. In chapter 18, we see a continuation of the regulations for priests and Levites. God is going to "hold Aaron and his sons responsible for offenses against the sanctuary and the priesthood” (verses 1-2). The rest of the section itemizes the distribution of the offerings for Aaron and the Levites “as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving” (verse 21).

In Psalm 37:10-20, we see an interesting contrast between the “wicked” and the “righteous.” We must remember that none of us, in fact, possesses any inherent righteousness whatsoever, but through God’s process of justification, we may be declared and viewed as righteous by God when we trust in Christ (cf., Isaiah 61:10). Apart from such faith, we are all “wicked,” regardless of how we see ourselves or how good we try to live. In summary, the major difference between the wicked and the righteous is that God provides special care for those who are righteous, He upholds them, and He promises them an inheritance that will endure forever. As for the wicked, He ensures that they will be no more - their power will be broken, and they will perish.

This same idea is carried forth in Luke 5:17-32, where we see the chief difference between these two classifications of people. What is that difference? It is an issue of the heart. The wicked, here revealed in the persons of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, question and oppose the work of God in life – even the works that ordinary men consider good. In this case, Jesus heals a paralytic. Who would ever question the goodness or the beauty of such a healing? For healing this man and proclaiming, “his sins forgiven” (verse 20), Jesus was accused of blasphemy. His authoritative demonstration over sickness indicated His authority over sin. Everyone else was “amazed and gave praise to God” (verse 26). Later, we see Jesus calling Matthew, “who got up, left everything, and followed Jesus” (verse 27). This is exactly what the paralytic did. The Pharisees and teachers of the law continue their critical opposition for Christ eating with “tax collectors and sinners” (verse 30). Here, we clearly see the difference present within the heart: Whereas, the wicked continue in their sin by questioning, criticizing, and opposing everything that God does, the righteous get up, leave their wickedness behind, and follow Jesus Christ. What a difference!

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