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The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family” (Numbers 2:1–2).
The Hebrew title for the Book of Numbers means “in the wilderness.” Numbers records the years of Israel’s wandering in the desert between Mount Sinai and Canaan.
Yet in that wilderness, God was there among His people. All could witness the glory of His presence above the tabernacle in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.
This awesome scene took on human form when Jesus came to this earth. He dwelled among us so we could behold God’s glory. In Jesus, humanity was able to behold God’s nature, His compassion, and His incredible love for us.
It is an incredible thing to think the Lord of glory chooses to dwell among His people. What significance this puts into our otherwise ordinary, commonplace lives. And He wants to walk through life with each one of His redeemed children. The presence of the Lord puts glory and purpose into our daily lives.
Prayer Suggestion: Lord, fill my life with the glory of Your presence.
Quicklook: Numbers 2:1–2,34
Some time ago, a panel of Christian scholars was asked, “What are the most common false gods today?” Their list, which calls us to examine our own priorities, included the following:
“Do not make idols” (Leviticus 26:1).
This verse is a warning concerning idolatry. We must put aside those other things that fight for our attention in favor of serving our loving God wholeheartedly.
Thought for Today: Give God first place in your life, and all else will fall into its proper place.
Quicklook: Leviticus 26:1–5
In pre-Communist Russia, the son of a heartbroken father was addicted to gambling. The father tried to help his troubled boy by securing him an appointment in the army. Perhaps a change of surroundings would help.
Sadly, things only got worse for the son. After making a list of his newly acquired debts, in utter desperation, he wrote at the bottom: “Who is to pay it all?”
Nicholas II, the emperor of Russia, going through the barracks to inspect his troops, found the young man asleep with his head in his arms. He noticed the figures on the paper and read the despairing question. Bending over, he wrote one word: “Nicholas.”
“Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants” (Leviticus 25:10).
Every fiftieth year, God provided for debts to be canceled, slaves freed, and lands returned to their original owners. God’s merciful provision cared for the poor.
If we made a record of all our sins and failures, we would be overwhelmed at our debt of sin. But there is hope. Through His sacrifice on the cross, He wrote on that record of debt: “JESUS.”
Thought for Today: Jesus cancels your debt of sin.
Quicklook: Leviticus 25:8–17
“I am the Lord, who makes them holy” (Leviticus 21:23).
The theme of Leviticus is holiness. The standard of holiness was set high for the people of Israel: separation from sin, physical cleanliness, and ceremonial cleanliness illustrating spiritual separation.
Why such a strong call to holiness? Sin was a major and universal problem. It had become so widespread in the time of Noah that God had to judge humanity. In the days of Abraham, immorality reached proportions in Sodom and Gomorrah that called for severe judgment.
God was forming a holy nation—Israel—through which He would bring the Redeemer into the world. God’s people needed to know how to be separate from sin and consecrated unto Him. The pressures to conform to the practices of other nations would be great.
Pressures to follow the sinful practices and patterns of the world are powerful today as well. Heeding God’s call to separation and resting in His holiness is an important part of our relationship with Him.
Challenge for Today: Rather than seeing how close to sin you can live and stay true, see how close to Christ you can live in a sinful world.Quicklook: Leviticus 21:16–23
“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt” (Leviticus 19:33–34).
Will was uncomfortable with the new family in his neighborhood. They didn’t seem to fit in and spoke with a thick accent. He did not know where they were from, but they were obviously new to his country and his neighborhood. Initially, he avoided them. He told himself he wouldn’t understand them if they spoke to him. But one day as he prayed, he was convicted of his prejudice and felt God leading him to speak to them. Will resisted at first, but as God continued to move on his heart, he asked God to give him love for the people.
Will became acquainted with his new neighbors, and over time they became good friends. Their friendship became a blessing in many ways. He often thought of what he would have missed if he had remained in his prejudice, and how thankful he was that God provided the love that enabled him to reach out to them.
Thought for Today: God is love, and He wants us to show love to others.
Quicklook: Leviticus 19:33–37
You’ve probably heard the expression “To err is human.” There’s a lot of truth to it. Often, in order to do something right, we have to first do it wrong then learn from our mistakes. To write well, we must rewrite. To run fast, we must first develop good running habits. And to cook a great cake, we must bake many. We are imperfect, and our efforts reflect it. But God is perfect, and His actions reflect this. He only does something once.
“This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: Atone-ment is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites” (Leviticus 16:34).
The Israelites often fell into sin and rebellion against God, and once a year a special atonement was offered for all their sins. It was an ongoing practice.
But then Jesus became the perfect, permanent Sacrifice for sins when He died on the cross and rose again. This is a sacrifice we desperately need. As believers, we sometimes fail the Lord in spite of our desire to remain faithful, but we can go to Him for forgiveness when we sin. In spite of our imperfections, His sacrifice is perfect.
Thought for Today: If you have sinned, you can go to Jesus for forgiveness today.
Quicklook: Leviticus 16:29–34