March 20: Numbers 1 | Psalm 143-144 | Luke 11


Reading 1 - Numbers 1:18,19

"They called the whole community together on the first day of the second month. The people indicated their ancestry by their clans and families, and the men twenty years old or more were listed by name, one by one, as the LORD commanded Moses. And so he counted them in the Desert of Sinai" (Num 1:18,19).

This was for the purpose of taking a census of the whole congregation. A census was the means by which the place of each individual would be legally fixed within the nation. Why would such a thing be necessary?


  • The whole nation might be properly ordered in regard to the sanctuary and divine worship (Num 2:32,33).

  • In the encampment itself, each tribe would be fixed in its relation to all other tribes, and each family within a tribe would be fixed in relation to all other families (Num 2:34).

  • The fighting men needed to be organized, in the event of battles upcoming.

  • The proper order might be observed in the coming invasion and settlement of the Promised Land (Jos 13:31-33).

  • Each tribe would need to be situated in its own inheritance once they reached the Promised Land.

The principles embodied in this census are carried over into the LORD's instructions for His ecclesia in New Testament times -- where "everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way" (1Co 14:40).


Reading 2 - Psalm 143:2

"Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you" (Psa 143:2).

The first phrase means, 'Do not enter into legal proceedings with your servant' (the same phrase occurs in Job 9:32; 14:3; Ecc 11:9; 12:14). God DOES enter into strict judgment with those who are NOT His true servants (Mat 5:26; 18:34) -- but not with those who are His believing and obedient servants (Mat 18:27). This is David's humble acknowledgment of being at fault (and his request for mercy) in his lapses of faith.


Since Jesus had committed no sin (John 8:46; 1Pe 2:22-25), it was not possible that he could be held bound by the bands of death (Acts 2:24). In his case, then, the judgment or condemnation upon all men -- leading to death (Rom 5:12) -- must of necessity give way to blessing and reward.


Similar language -- to the effect that all men are under "sin" -- occurs in Psa 51:5; 130:3; and is quoted by Paul in Rom 3:9,20,23; Gal 2:16. (Also see Job 4:17; 9:2; 14:4; 25:4; Ecc 7:20.)


FOR NO ONE LIVING IS RIGHTEOUS BEFORE YOU: In this phrase, the key word is "living": "No man LIVING can be justified!" Even Jesus must die so as to destroy, completely and finally, the latent power of "sin" that dwelt within him. And so even the perfectly righteous man -- who never committed any sin -- could not be "justified" so long as he lived: his work was not finished until his sacrificial life was sealed by a sacrificial death.


Reading 3 - Luke 11:5-7

"Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him' " (Luk 11:5,6).

"The friend who came on his journey with 'nothing' refers to the disciples whom Jesus had sent out on their journey with nothing (Luk 9:3). When He told them to 'eat such things as are set before you' (Luk 10:8), he did not just mean they should not be picky about their food. He used the same word in Luk 11:6 to describe how the faithful friend 'set [food] before' his visitor. As they travelled around, the disciples were to be received in the way he was describing. Those in that early brotherhood of believers who received and supported them were to do so knowing that these brethren were in their turn responding to human need, and they could be fellow-helpers in the gospel's work by showing hospitality. John says just the same: 'Because that for his name's sake they went forth [alluding to the great commission to go into all the world], taking nothing of the Gentiles [ie the unbelievers]. We therefore ought to help receive such, that we might be fellow-helpers to the truth" (3Jo 1:7,8)" (Duncan Heaster).


*****


"Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything' " (Luk 11:7).


"The Lord will one day come to us at midnight, and the unworthy will not open to Him (Song 5:2, etc). And right now he stands at the door and knocks (Rev 3:20). The rejected will know what it is like to stand knocking at the Lord's shut door and be unanswered (Mat 25:10; Luk 13:25). He surely intended us to make such links within His teachings. The message is quite clear -- those who can't be bothered to respond to the knocking of others, who refuse to feel for others in their desperation, are the ones who will then come to know just how that feels, as in ultimate spiritual desperation they hammer at the Lord's door. From this it surely follows that in our response to the desperation of others, we are working out our own eternal destiny" (DH).


 





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