Congratulations! You’ve completed Week 1 of your 90-day challenge. And in the process you have read hundreds of years of biblical narrative, a family history of sorts that sets up the rest of the Bible!
The plot of God’s great story has taken shape. His perfect world was shattered by our sin and the curse of death held creation captive. But God did not leave us there. He promised to redeem us. He showed the dramatic rescue from slavery (a detailed picture of God’s great rescue yet to come), and the journey of God’s people through life as they learn to love, trust, and obey him from the wilderness to Canaan.
When we read these first books of the Bible it can be tough to see ourselves in Israel’s story. It’s tempting to look at the sin of God’s people and wonder how they could be so foolish. And yet, if someone else were to read a history of our life – complete with the details we would rather leave out – would we really look that different than Israel?
As the Apostle Paul later wrote about sin’s continuing presence in our lives, “Nothing has overtaken you except that which is common to man.” God wants us to see our own inability to keep his perfect law, and then see how big a savior we really need.
“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful humanity to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the human flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us…”
Leviticus Named for the tribe of Levi, who assisted the sons of Aaron with the priestly duties in the tabernacle. This book gives detailed instructions for various types of offerings and sacrifices.
- Burnt Offerings: To make atonement for sin, this sacrifice was devoted to the Lord and completely burned.
- Grain Offerings: Given to honor God’s provision for life, also includes instructions for other types of “firstfruits” offerings.
- Fellowship Offerings: Given out of love and devotion for one’s relationship with God.
- Sin Offering: For unintentional sins which, although accidental, still made someone impure before God.
- Guilt Offerings: For sins committed intentionally (sometimes referred to as “sins with a high hand” in defiance of God) to restore relationship with God and atone for the evil committed.
The rest of the book is devoted to instructions for worship, priestly service, laws for cleanliness and daily life.
INSIGHT: Note how many of the laws and regulations are not simply arbitrary “because-I-said-so” rules, but are for the good of God’s people. In this era of history before germs and diseases were better understood, these laws prescribed basic hygiene that would have made life better for everyone. Indeed ALL of God’s laws are for our own good, that we might live life to the fullest as God lovingly intends!
Numbers So named because of the censuses taken of God’s people at the beginning and end of the book. Sadly, much of Numbers is the story of how, despite God’s miraculous provision again and again, the Israelites doubt, grumble and rebel against God.
As Michael Williams notes in How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens:
The Israelites had been delivered from Egypt with mighty displays of divine power. Before their very eyes they had witnessed incredible demonstrations of God’s sovereignty … but in the Israelites’ eyes, the visible, physical challenges they saw lying ahead of them in that land seemed greater than the invisible, un-physical God who was with them. Their trust gave way to doubt and rebellion. God’s patience, love and forgiveness had to make room for his discipline.
Deuteronomy The first five books of the Bible are sometimes referred to as “The Law” or the “Books of Moses”. This final book of Moses contains God’s final instructions through Moses to the Israelites. Soon this great prophet of God will die, and then Joshua will take his place as leader. In effect, Deuteronomy summarizes the previous four books, highlighting events and instructions to remind God’s people to follow Him in faithfulness as they proceed to take the Promised Land.
In the final day of your reading this week, note how Moses summarizes the purpose and intent of the Law:
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good. (Deut 10:12-13)
How did God speak to you through His Word this week?
Encouraging Comments from another B90 reader
It amazes me how God’s people kept up with all the sacrifices and offerings that they had to make. When I think of all the offerings: the grain offering, the peace offering, the drink offering, the burnt offering, etc., I am thankful that Jesus was all those things because of His life that he poured out for us. And now, He is the perfect sacrifice and there will never have to be another because He has done it once and for all!
You might think Israel would have learned something by now about grumbling against God. But once again, in Numbers 21, Israel’s stomachs growled and the rumblings of discontent began. In response, God sent snakes into the camp whose venomous bites were deadly.
It’s hard to mistake the visual imagery of how God provided relief from the venomous curse of the serpent. When the Israelites repented, God responded by instructing Moses to set up an image of their sin, a bronze snake, on a pole. Anyone who gazed upon it – as they were dying – would be given back their life.
In the same way, God would later raise his own Son on the cross, and all who turned from their sins and looked to him would receive eternal life. John 3:14-15: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” Jesus would be lifted up on the cross so that those who grumble and complain against God could turn from their sins and – in him – have eternal life.