April 9: Numbers 27 | Proverbs 19 | Philippians 3-4
Reading 1 - Num 27:12-23
God once more warned Moses of his impending death, before actual entrance into the Land of Promise (Num 27:12-14). In so doing, He made mention again of the sin which had caused this judgment, to show His holiness and justice, even in the case of His most approved servants.
But on the other hand, this second reminder also manifested the faithfulness of Yahweh, Who would allow his servant, as it were, to set his house in order, so that he might meet death with full consciousness of what was before him.
It is touching to see how meekly Moses received the sentence. Faithful to the end in his stewardship over God's house, his chief concern was that God would appoint a suitable successor, so "that the congregation of the Lord be not as sheep which have no shepherd" (vv 15-17). For this position, God now set apart Joshua, by the laying on of Moses' hands, in the presence of Eleazar the priest and of the congregation.
Yet only part of Moses' "honor" -- only what was necessary to insure the obedience of Israel -- was conferred upon Joshua, while his public movements were to be directed by "the judgment of the Urim" and Thummim. Thus God not only vindicated the honor of His servant Moses, but also showed that the office which Moses had filled was in its nature unique, being typical of that committed in all its fullness to Jesus Christ, the Head of the Ecclesia.
Reading 2 - Pro 19:24
"The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth!" (Pro 19:24).
It is to be doubted that any man has ever been, truly, this lazy. But the Scripture uses hyperbole, or exaggeration, to make the point: IF a man could be so lazy as not to bother eating, when the food is prepared and placed right before him... then a man might be so lazy -- and foolish! -- as to refuse the nourishment of the Word of God, even when the Bible is at hand, or on his bookshelf, and in his lap. The sad fact is that the second of these pictures is very often true.
It reminds us of the story of the shipwrecked men, adrift in the open sea, who were dying of thirst. When they finally sighted and got the attention of an ocean liner, they called out, desperately, "Please give us water!" And they were told, "Reach into the water beside you, and drink it!" It was only then that they discovered that their little raft had drifted into the great outflow area of the Amazon River, and that for miles around, the waters of the river had overwhelmed the salt waters, and they had been floating upon waters that were pure and fresh and perfectly safe to drink!
Food and drink, nourishment beyond imagining, is at our fingertips. Open your Bibles. "Eat!" "Drink!"
Reading 3 - Phi 3:14,20
"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Phi 3:14).
"Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands, but like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them, you reach your destiny" (C Schurz).
"...for which God has called me HEAVENWARD"... But the word "heaven" is not in the original mss. The phrase is best rendered "high calling" (KJV) or even "calling upward" (RSV) -- but as to being physically taken up to heaven, not at all!
"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phi 3:20).
The Greek word translated "citizenship" is "politeuma": it refers to a colony of a mother-city. The saints in Christ form such a "politeuma": they are a community -- the colony or outpost of heaven, where their true Ruler lives, and from whence he will come one day (v 21). Philippi was such a colony of mother-Rome, and the lesson Paul was teaching would be easily grasped: though you live on earth, reckon yourselves to be "citizens" of God's heavenly kingdom -- which one day will be established on the earth!
A Roman citizen did not necessarily reside in Rome (Act 16:37; 22:25); but he was considered a citizen of Rome nonetheless, and he could claim privileges pertaining thereto. Though Paul used his Roman citizenship (Act 16:37), he did so only to further the gospel.