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March 27, Day #87 – The Burden of Acquisitions

We come now to the section - Numbers 21:4-22:20 – where we see another failure of the Israelites and frustration for Moses in the incident with the bronze snake. The people of Israel “traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea to go around Edom, but the people grew impatient on the way and spoke against God and against Moses” (verses 4-5). Grumble! Grumble! Grumble! “Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them …” (verse 6). The words “spoke against” infer that the people engaged in slander against God and against Moses. We need to understand that this is a grave sin – slandering God is akin to blasphemy. For this sin, God’s wrath led Him to send snakes – the instrument through which Satan originally tempted Eve – as a reminder of the Israelites’ sin. The snakes “bit the people and many Israelites died” (verse 6). We are also reminded that “the sting of death is sin” (cf., 1 Corinthians 15:56). Moses was instructed to create a “bronze snake,” upon which bitten people could look and live (verses 8-9). Bronze is a symbol of judgment (cf., the bronze altar, Exodus 27:1-7; the bronze wash basin, Exodus 30:17-21). The bronze snake pictures the One Who was made sin for us (cf., John 3:14; 2 Corinthians 5:21), to Whom we look with the eyes of faith for our salvation. Next, we see the journey to Moab and the defeat of the Amorite kings, Sihon and Og. These accounts have been verified extra-biblically and historically by the ancient Moabite Stone (c. 900 B.C.) which is on display in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Chapter 22 introduces us to Balak who will summon Balaam to engage in witchcraft to curse the Israelites. We will take a closer look at this event tomorrow.

Psalm 37:21-31 continues to set forth the contrast between the righteous and the wicked. I appreciate the focus of today’s verses on Christian generosity. As a youngster growing up, I was personally, naturally, and selfishly interested in acquiring things (i.e., being a “taker”). Later, after I met Terri, I was stunned by her natural generosity and her ability to give freely to others without the slightest expectation of any return – a characteristic she learned from her father. Later, as a missionary, it was easy – almost even expected of me - to be a taker. Over the years, however, God taught me that amassing things is burdensome. Gradually, I have begun to realize that God is a generous Giver and Provider, and my proper role is simply to be His custodian - a steward over that which He has entrusted into my care. I have come to recognize that, in reality, nothing is mine – it is all His. God wants us to open our hands toward others - to share with those who have a need, and to release what we hold for God’s glory and His kingdom.

In Luke 6:12-36, we see Jesus calling the twelve disciples. This section is followed by a series of blessings and woes – the Beatitudes – and Luke’s version of the Sermon on the Mount. Here, we see that Jesus turns the table on conventional wisdom. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them … But love your enemies, do good to them, lend to them without expecting to get anything back … be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (verses 32-36). This is convicting, and nothing we can say about it can improve upon it. May God help us to do it.

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Thank you, Nathan, for your comments & thoughts. I really appreciate them, & it is also my prayer & desire that God will lead your children - your entire family - to understand the minimal value of things in light of the maximum, unmeasurable & incomparable value of a daily, close relationship with our Lord. Please feel free to continue to share your thoughts … you all are in my frequent prayers! Love from Dad


Our society is quite focused on acquiring things—like it’s a competition of who has the most, the newest, the best things. In the end, they are more than just burdensome, they become idols. I hope and pray that my children learn quickly the vanity of things.

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