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April 8: Numbers 26 | Proverbs 18 | Philippians 1-2

Reading 1 - Num 26

"At this stage, a further census of the people is ordered. In view of the severity of the plague following the folly at Baal-peor, this is necessary, and it reveals some interesting facts. The first census (Exo 30:12) was basically for the purpose of organising the religious life of the people. The second (Num 1;2) was principally for military purposes, to ascertain the number who were 'able to go forth to war' (Num 1:28). The third census, whilst in a measure military, is also political. Its purpose is to prepare the tribes for occupation of their respective inheritances in Canaan.

"This chapter [Num 26] records in detail the results of the census. It lists, tribe by tribe, the numbers which each contained 'from twenty years and upward'. The sum total is slightly less than were obtained in the earlier census. In large measure the wastage is made up, so that a new generation has replaced the old" (HP Mansfield, "Christadelphian Expositor").

Reading 2 - Pro 18:12

"Before his downfall a man's heart is proud, but humility comes before honor" (Pro 18:12).

"It is an old and common saying, that 'coming events cast their shadows before them;' the wise man teaches us that a haughty heart is the prophetic prelude of evil. Pride is as safely the sign of destruction as the change of mercury in the weather-glass is the sign of rain; and far more infallibly so than that. When men have ridden the high horse, destruction has always overtaken them. Let David's aching heart show that there is an eclipse of a man's glory when he dotes upon his own greatness (2Sa 24:10). See Nebuchadnezzar, the mighty builder of Babylon, creeping on the earth, devouring grass like oxen, until his nails had grown like bird's claws, and his hair like eagle's feathers (Dan 4:25)" (CH Spurgeon).

Reading 3 - Phi 1:21

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Phi 1:21).

Paul may be paraphrased here: 'If I survive this possible martyrdom, it will mean opportunity for further fruitful activity. And for that I will be thankful.'

'But if I am to die now, then I will consider that "gain" too... because, so it will seem, I will all the sooner see my Lord.'

For no other sort of life could death be a "gain"!

And so we may, each one of us, pray: "Lord, accept me; I here present myself, praying to live only in Thee and to Thee. Let me be as the bullock which stands between the plow and the altar, prepared either to continue working or to be sacrificed; and let my motto be, 'Ready for either'."


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