Awesome Hands – Part 136: “The journeys of the children of Israel”

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Awesome Hands – part 136

"The journeys of the children of Israel"

June 17, 2018


What is my purpose in life? I know God’s truths, but what am I supposed to do with them? I am a child of God, yet I sin. How can I still be His child?

These are among the thousands of questions we all have from time to time. Some questions just seem to linger our entire lifetimes without an answer we are satisfied with.

These questions are also the same for all of humanity even if they don’t know it or we otherwise seek out ways to answer these questions which aren’t seeking first the kingdom of God.

Seeking the kingdom of God first is another way of saying seeking to do God’s will in all things for the glory of God among other things.

When we examine the verses for our study today, we will find that Israel was given a hard path through the wilderness, but is this only meant to happen to them or is this the case for all of humanity? Is knowing this answer of any help for the children of God now, in this age?

The verses for consideration today start in Numbers 33.

Num 33:1  These are the journeys of the children of Israel, which went forth out of the land of Egypt with their armies under the hand of Moses and Aaron.
Num 33:2  And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of the LORD: and these are their journeys according to their goings out.

It is very easy to read these verses and consider them as only a historical rendition of what happened to the Israelites during this time. Moses and Aaron are leaders and the people followed them according to what the Lord told them to do.

Is this all we are reading though?

This very book is about the number of things the Israelites did against God, in what capacity they did it, what judgments befell them as a result and how they time and again disobeyed the One who was their salvation.

When I look at my own history, it is hard for me to put in words and accurate timeline, with all the details needed, to give someone an accurate picture of my life.

With Moses, he is recording the “goings out” of the people and what happened during that time.

Take these next two verses for an example.

Num 33:3  And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians.
Num 33:4  For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them: upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments.

Yes the Israelites “departed” from Rameses after the Passover with a “high hand” in sight of all the Egyptians, but where is the mentioning of the miracle of how they passed through the Red Sea, how the plagues were poured out on the Egyptians (and them early on in the first few plagues).

We don’t learn about the ten commandments being given, nothing about how their camps were setup with the priesthood, nothing about the ark and the tabernacle playing huge roles in their staying and going, nothing about the cloud guiding them through the wilderness, and nothing about why they had to stay in the wilderness so long in the first place while eating manna that miraculous just happened to feed these people.

If we look at this chapter as only a historical recounting of the movements of these people, then we will have missed it completely.

What Numbers 33 does for us, in a very short and compact way, is tell us that God is working all after the counsel of His own will. This chapter clearly tells us that there are a people of God being lead my God in a way that God determines.

What I see in this chapter is the absence of man’s influence on the writing and how God’s preeminence is over all. Without thinking too hard about it, God start with the people of God while in Egypt. He stays with them as they depart. He is with them at the end of their 40 years in the wilderness and was with them during the 40 years.

God is always with them no matter what is happening in the details. We have other chapters and other books that tell us what the very specific details are, but if we were only left with this recounting of this history, then we would still clearly have an understanding that God is over all and remains until the end.

From verse 1 through 49, we are told about a long history of Israel being lead by the Lord, and after all that history, the Lord continues to tell us how He will be WITH US until the end.

I started this study by asking a few questions, so let’s see if we can start to answer some of them.

Let’s start in Ecclesiastes to see what we experience things the way we do.

Ecc 1:13 (CLV)  I applied my heart to inquiring and exploring by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens:it is an experience of evil Elohim has given to the sons of humanity to humble them by it.
Ecc 1:14  I saw all the deeds that are done under the sun, And behold, the whole is vanity and a grazing on wind."
Ecc 1:15  What is distorted cannot be set in order, And what is lacking cannot be counted."
Ecc 1:16  I spoke with my heart, saying, Behold, I have grown great and have added in wisdom Over all who were before me in Jerusalem; My heart has seen much of wisdom and knowledge."
Ecc 1:17  Then I applied my heart to know wisdom, As well as to know about raving and frivolity; I realize that even this, it is a grazing on wind."
Ecc 1:18  For in much wisdom is much vexation, And he who adds knowledge adds pain."

I think the CLV really brings home the meaning of verse 1:13, but I like how Darby puts these verses together in our common English.

Ecc 1:12  I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
Ecc 1:13  And I applied my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens: this grievous occupation hath God given to the children of men to weary themselves therewith.
Ecc 1:14  I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and pursuit of the wind.
Ecc 1:15  That which is crooked cannot be made straight; and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.
Ecc 1:16  I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I have become great and have acquired wisdom more than all they that have been before me over Jerusalem; and my heart hath seen much of wisdom and knowledge.
Ecc 1:17  And I applied my heart to the knowledge of wisdom, and to the knowledge of madness and folly: I perceived that this also is a striving after the wind.
Ecc 1:18  For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

Solomon was given a lot of wisdom and he himself looked for even the knowledge of having so much wisdom and found that it was like trying to grasp the wind.

If this happened with wise Solomon was precludes it from happening to me also? The answer is nothing.

Instead of us grasping the wind, the wind grasps us.

Isa 64:1  Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence,
Isa 64:2  As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!
Isa 64:3  When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.
Isa 64:4  For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
Isa 64:5  Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.
Isa 64:6  But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Isa 64:7  And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.
Isa 64:8  But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
Isa 64:9  Be not wroth very sore, O LORD, neither remember iniquity for ever: behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people.
Isa 64:10  Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.
Isa 64:11  Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste.
Isa 64:12  Wilt thou refrain thyself for these things, O LORD? wilt thou hold thy peace, and afflict us very sore?

What is my purpose in life? I know God’s truths, but what am I supposed to do with them? I am a child of God, yet I sin. How can I still be His child?

What I find interesting about Numbers is that we start off in this book with Israel as they are taken from slavery to freedom back to being prisoners of the Lord.

Phm 1:8  Wherefore, though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin thee that which is convenient,
Phm 1:9  Yet for love's sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.

We see Israel go from Egypt to starting off the book of Numbers in the wilderness of Sinai to where we now find them entering the plains of Moab by the Jordan river.

What these verses today cover for us, including all verses in this chapter, is a heavenly view of God into the lives of His people.

Truly, life is just a vapor here and gone or as a leaf which fades away. From start to finish, a leaf is a miraculous life which gives MORE LIFE during it’s life time. After all, trees produce oxygen because they are able to take the ENERGY that leaves ABSORB from LIGHT, mix it with other things, which then produces a by-product called oxygen.

Chlorophyll in the leaves reacts with carbon dioxide and water, making glucose and also the by-product of oxygen. Have you ever noticed that there are MANY leaves on a tree?

Now, which leave are you and on which tree?

We all belong to a very special tree called the Tree of Life. The purpose of our lives, no matter how we came to the point we are at now while reading or listening to this study, is to take the ENERGY given to us by the LIGHT of the WORLD and produce something that others can live off of.

We do not grasp the wind, but in a way, we help produce it through the process of being used by the Lord to SPREAD it.

This is what we are seeing in this chapter of Numbers 33. When you file it all down, the New Testament came from all the history that transpires in the Old Testament; yet, as an example of how much it all matters, in the details, we see that the END GAME is the purpose of it all.

In other words, we have many details that the Lord teaches us with in the other books of the Old Testament, but as a summary of it all (up until Numbers at least), our conclusion is that God is involved and in control from beginning to end!

Think about the concept that here in the summation of Numbers 33, we see one generation come and go, while another generation comes in. We see Moses and Aaron depart while others are being setup to continue the process that the Lord has orchestrated.

However, which ever “generation” we find ourselves in, we are indeed A PART of the generation that we EXPERIENCE and LIVE in.

Every leaf on the tree matters just as the wind which eventually blows them all away. Yes, one of the things we are used to produce, oxygen which is part of the wind, is used to fade us away because it takes us off the tree and blows us about as is the will of God.

The end of numbers finds us seeing that the Lord has a plan which must be followed and if we do not do as He commands, we will find ourselves reaping what we sow.

Num 33:50  And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,
Num 33:51  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan;
Num 33:52  Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places:
Num 33:53  And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it.
Num 33:54  And ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families: and to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man's inheritance shall be in the place where his lot falleth; according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit.
Num 33:55  But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.
Num 33:56  Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them.

When we do not uttering follow the Lord, and who can do it on their own, we will rap the sowing of our discord. However, when we are empowered to follow the Lord fully, we will also reap the benefits of those actions even if the reward comes later.

That is what our lives are about when we are a part of the family of God. We are brought in to the family by being humbled with the knowledge that that evils we see and feel are done on purpose to humanity.

However, we also are given an equal measure of LIFE to share with others so that others can know the reason of it all. We can share, as the Lord permits, what it is the Lord has shared with us. For those chosen to have their eyes and ears opened, these words of Life will truly set them free.

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