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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - Numbers 26-27

Skip Heitzig - Numbers 26-27

Skip Heitzig - Numbers 26-27
Skip Heitzig - Numbers 26-27
TOPICS: Book of Numbers, Expound Numbers, Bible Study

Our Father, we submit now our hearts to you. Some of us are encumbered with thoughts that distract us, thoughts about family or finances or maybe even spiritual issues or questions or doubts, temptations, anger, a lot of stuff we carry with us as human beings. We resonate so well with what Jesus prayed on the cross when he said, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing". But, Father, we come and we surrender ourself during this time to understand and to apply from the Old Testament book of Numbers your word nonetheless, in Jesus' name, amen.

Because I never enjoyed math classes, you can understand my surprise when my high school counselor told me that I should choose a math related field for a career. And I was perplexed and so I said, "Why would you say that to me"? And he said, "Well, you score high in math. Your skills show a really high aptitude for this kind of a field". And I said, "I hate math". So, I was stunned by that and, of course, I didn't choose a math related field, though some of physics courses, the math came in handy. But, but perhaps studying through and teaching the book of Numbers is part of my high school counselor's fulfillment for my life. The book of Numbers, so called because The Latin Vulgate translation of this book, is Numeri. Numeri, where we get the English "Numbers". The Greek term for the book is Arithmoi, which sounds like arithmetic.

Now, it's called that, not because it really is a book of Numbers. As we've seen, there's stories, there's narrative in it, lots of application material. It's called Numbers because of two chapters. Chapter 1 and chapter 26, the chapter before us, is the time when God tells Moses to number the people, add up the number of fighting men, done at two different periods of history, one 38 years prior to this and then here, two different generations. The first generation was the generation leaving the land of Egypt. Chapter 26 is the numbering of the generation entering the land of Canaan. You say, "What happened to the first generation"? You don't say that, because you know what happened to them. We've been reading about it. They all died. All of them died as a judgment on their unbelief.

You remember in the book of Numbers how they cried out, some of them saying, "God doesn't care about our children. He's brought us out to this desert to die in the wilderness". And God's response through Moses is, "I do care about your children. In fact, they're going to enter the Promised Land and you're going to die, not entering the Promised Land, because of your unbelief. So your children whom you are so worried about, I'll take good care of and I'll bring them into the Land of Promise". So, the first generation has died, 38 years later this new generation standing on the precipice of the new land, the land of Canaan, and in chapter 26 they are numbered.

Now if you remember... I'm not saying that you remember everything that is said. I don't remember everything that I say. What did I just say? No. That I remember. But we gave you at the very beginning of this book an outline of the book. Chapters 1 through 10 are the organization; the children of Israel are organized before they march. Chapters 11 through 25, disorganization. Chapters 26, now through the end of the book, reorganization. So we have organization, disorganization, reorganization. The days of disorganization are over, numbering now a brand-new generation before they enter into the Land of Promise, the land of Canaan.

So the book of Numbers gets its name from the numbers that we find in this chapter and in chapter 1. Now, you might be asking, "So, what's so spiritual about numbering? What's so spiritual about a census? What's so great about a census"? Nothing, unless your name is in it, unless you are part of that number. I remember hearing my dad sing that song and play on the guitar that he built himself, "I want to be in that number, when the saints go marching in". Well, these saints are marching into the Promised Land and then they are numbered and they are given family names.

A few years ago we took part in a census where we had to put how many people are in our home and what their ages are, etcetera, etcetera. And that was part of the census for the state and then the United States, so they could keep track many citizens? Is it growing? Is it shrinking? What are the demographics? And then phone books are printed based upon that census. So this is God's phone book of fighting men, of the new generation, before and as they enter into the Land of Promise. God knows your name. You're more than a number to him. He knows your name. When some of the apostles came back from evangelizing around the Sea of Galilee region and they were so excited because they saw powerful works, miracles done at their hands. They saw demons subject to them.

And Jesus said to them, "Don't rejoice that the demons are subject to you, rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven". In Revelation, chapter 20, it talks about those who are named in the Book of Life, the Lamb's Book of Life. My name's in there. God knows my name. Your name's in there if you know Christ. He knows yours. So in chapter 26, verse 1, and watch how we plow through it, "And it came to pass after the plague", the plague referring to the 24,000 that kicked the bucket in the last chapter because of the immorality at Baal Peor with Midianite and the Moabite women at the counsel of Balaam. "That the Lord spoke to Moses and Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, saying", now Eleazar is mentioned because Aaron by this time is dead, as we recall. So his son has now taken his place in the ministry.

The Lord says, "'Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel from twenty years old and above, by their father's houses, all who are able to go to war in Israel.' So Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho, saying: 'Take a census of the people twenty years old and above, just as the Lord commanded Moses and the children of Israel who came out of the land of Egypt.'" And so they begin with the firstborn. "Reuben," verse 5, "was the firstborn of Israel". The family names are mentioned, the heads, the fathers names are mentioned, and then the totals are given, verse 7, "forty-three thousand seven hundred and thirty".

Beginning in verse 12 the next tribe, the tribe of Simeon is mentioned. In verses 12 through 14 the Simeonites number 22,200. Beginning in verse 15 down to verse 17 the tribe of Gad is numbered according to their families, 40,500. See how fast we're going through this chapter? Verses 19 through 22, the sons of Judah or the tribe of Judah is given and numbered. Verse 23 through 25 the next tribe Issachar, named and numbered. Verse 26, this is very similar to chapter 1. "The sons of Zebulun according to their families," and they're numbered at 60,500. Verses 28 and 29 begin the sons of Joseph. The firstborn of Joseph being Manasseh, and then after Manasseh, Ephraim beginning in verse 35. But before we continue, go back up and notice verse 33. I'm just going to have you notice it because we're going to get back to this name in the next chapter. It says, "Now, Zelophehad", how's that for a name? "...the son of Hepher had no sons, but daughters; and the names of the daughters", we'll get to them, so let's not read all the hard names.

Verse 35, once again, the second son of Joseph, Ephraim, is named and numbered. Verse 37 at the end says, "These are the sons of Joseph according to their families". Beginning in verse 38 down to verse 41, the tribe of Benjamin, named and numbered. Beginning in verse 42, the sons of Dan, the tribe of Dan, and their total is 64,400. Verse 44 down to verse 47, the tribe of Asher is given. And verse 48 through 50 the tribe of Naphtali, named and numbered. Now, verse 51, "These are those who were numbered of the children of Israel: six hundred and one thousand seven hundred and thirty". Without going back to chapter 1, let me just give you the comparison: 38 years before, the first generation, when all of the tribes were named and numbered there were 603,550, now there's 601,730. So it's only been about a net of minus 3 percent. They're only down 1,820 men. That's pretty good for 38 years when you consider the plagues, all those who have died. So statisticians looking at that small percentage would really call this 0 percent growth, slightly under, but about 0 percent growth.

Now that was not God's intention, and that shows the failure of the wilderness experience in the book of Numbers. God's intention for his people, as stated in the book of Genesis is, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth". They haven't grown; they have slightly decreased. They've been wandering. They've been going in circles and going in circles, and some have died, and more have been born, but they haven't really grown. They're just sort of wandering throughout that period. A good question to ask ourselves is: Are we moving or are we growing? Are we just going in circles making motions, going through the Christian motions, or do we see growth in our marriages, growth in our relationships, growth in our relationship with the Lord? Are we at a 0 percent, minus 3 percent, or is it a market increase?

Now, we didn't compare all the tribes; we did that in chapter 1 in our first study. We compared the first census with this census. Some tribes experienced an incredible loss. Some experienced an incredible gain. One of them gained 64 percent, they grew. Another one lost 63 percent. But all total they were just under a 3 percent loss. So they really weren't making much progress, were they? A census was given. For what reason? Well, we've already read, to find out how many fighting men were available in case wars would break out. And that would be necessary, as they go in and conquer the land there will be warfare. But number two, land allotments will be given based upon the size of each of the 12 tribes. Those with more numbers get a bigger piece of land. Those with smaller numbers get a smaller allotment of property.

Now as to the placement of those, what's interesting is they're going to be given by lot, like you draw straws or roll the dice. It would be like a lottery. And now the lottery will determine where. Of course we're believing in the sovereign will of God for all that, but it's done by lottery. But the size of the land name will depend upon the size of the tribe, how much growth or loss that tribe has undergone. "Six hundred and one thousand seven hundred and thirty" fighting men, that's a good size army. If you were going to Israel today, they have an interesting way of getting a standing army together. Everyone in the land virtually is in the army. If you're an Israeli citizen, you're in the army. If you're age 18 to 49, male or female, you serve in the army. Not everybody is active. You have active time of duty, and then you go back to civilian life. But you're in the reserves, which means at any moment the standing army in Israel, the IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, can grow five times its standing number right now, five times in 48 to 72 hours. They will be ready, armed, and sent in that length of time.

Now, the reason they have that draft, like we once had in this county, and that draft isn't temporary it will always be. That's just, that's the standard of the land, everybody grows up, so you see these 19-year-old girls in Israel just gorgeous, little, frail ladies with AK-47s on their back or Uzi 9mm machine guns, and you're thinking, "Boy, you know, be careful, you know, what you say to that gal". And they know how to use the weaponry. And it's because they're surrounded by enemies. They're surrounded by so many people that wish nothing more than to drive them into the sea. So to survive they need to have everybody involved. But back then these were the numbers and this is how it was done at that time.

"Then," verse 52, "the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'To these the land shall be divided as an inheritance, according to the number of the names. To a large tribe you shall give a larger inheritance, to a small tribe you shall give a smaller inheritance. Each shall be given its inheritance according to those who were numbered of them. But the land shall be divided by lot," there's the lottery. "They shall inherit according to the names of the tribes of their fathers. According to the lot their inheritance shall be divided between the larger and the smaller". If you take 601,730 and you designate them as that's age 20 and above able to fight, that's the fighting men, you have to suppose that there were at least 400,000 women, now that's being conservative, 400,000 to 800,000 women, besides the 601,730, at least 400,000 women, if not double that, at least about 200,000 senior citizens and another 800,000 children, at least, if not much more.

So that's how we arrive at that number that we have thrown out a couple of times, that there were between 2 and 3 million people going from Egypt through the wilderness toward Canaan. And to be organized and encamped in the middle of nowhere is a feat in and of itself. And how the Lord maintained them and took care of them is... well, it's the story we've been reading. Oh, you also have to add to that the mixed multitude. I almost forgot. Remember we talked about them, the troublemakers, the multitude? They were part Israeli, part Egyptian, and they were the complainers. They sort of didn't know where they belonged. So, it's an enormous number.

"And," verse 57, "these are those who were numbered of the Levites according to their families: of Gershon... Kohath... and Merari". We went through them and how they camped around the tabernacle. Verse 62, though they weren't numbered in chapter 1, they are here, "Those who were numbered of them were twenty-three thousand, every male from a month old and above; for they were not numbered among the other children of Israel, because there was no inheritance given to them among the children of Israel. These are those who were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by the Jordan, across from Jericho. But among these there was not a man of those who were numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest when they numbered the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Sinai".

In other words, every single one of the first generation people that were numbered have kicked the bucket. They're dead. They're gone. They're history, except for two of them. "For the Lord," verse 65, "said of them, 'They shall surely die in the wilderness.' So there was not left a man of them, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son Nun". Now, these Levites, they didn't get land allotment, but they do have a home and they will have a place to hang their hat and their priestly robe. We'll get more about that later on. But essentially, let me just say that there were Levitical cities that were sprinkled around the land housed by the other tribes. It was the Levites principle job, not to be fighters, but to be worshipers and to maintain the tabernacle. They camped immediately around the tabernacle in the wilderness and they were responsible for setting it up, tearing it down, and transporting it, according to their families. Later on they will be responsible in the temple.

Now, the reason they were not part of the army should be by now obvious to you. It wasn't because they were pacifist, "No. I don't believe in going to war", because they were part of a whole nation that numbered an army. The reason they couldn't fight is because if they were around anybody who died, and in war you are, they would be what? Defiled immediately. And so that would be complicated if you serve as a priest and as an army infantryman and you go out and kill somebody, then you have to go through all the rituals of purification, so you won't get to your priestly duty for a while. So they were kept separate. One were tabernacle oriented, this was the staff of the church that was in the center of the camp, and then the fighting men besides the rest.

So it's a beautiful picture, really, as I see it, of the body of Christ in the New Testament. "Can the eye say to the ear, 'I have no need of you'? Can the foot say to the hand, 'Because I'm not of the hand, I'm not of the body'"? You know the analogy that Paul gives in First Corinthians. So we all have our place. We all have our gifts. We all have our calling. We're all a part of the group that is the church, the body of Christ. Now, I told you to remember that name, and now we're going to get to it. In chapter 27 we come to something very fascinating. I've always been fascinated with this chapter. It's the first women's rights movement in history. And what I love about it is that it is sanctioned by God. And just in case some of you still believe the lies of liberalism that tell you that "God is a chauvinist and he's not interested in women's rights," and "it was all about male domination in the Old Testament," you need to read this.

So it says, verse 1 of chapter 27, "Then came the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh," that was the tribe he was from, "from the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph; and these were the names of his daughters: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, Tirzah". What crazy names. First of all, Zelophehad, and then he goes and names his daughters, along with his wife, names that seemingly rhyme in the last syllable. Now, I've seen people do this with their children. They name them, like, all D words or R words, you know, and they... And I remember growing up in high school with the Ridge family, and I knew Rocky Ridge... This is serious, he was a classmate of mine, and his younger brother Sandy Ridge, and their younger brother Dusty Ridge. Seriously, they were all named these crazy names.

So if you know somebody who's looking for biblical names for daughters, and they just don't want ordinary names, send them to chapter 27 and pick one of the names of the daughters of Zelophehad. "And they stood before Moses," these daughters, five of them, "before Eleazar the priest, and before the leaders and all the congregation, by the doorway of the table of meeting, saying: 'Our father died in the wilderness; but he was not in the company of those who gathered together against the Lord, in the company with Korah, but he died in his own sin; and he had no sons". "'Why should the name of our father be removed from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among our father's brothers.'" They bring up an interesting case that has not been discussed yet at all in the old covenant law. Dad died. Dad was a good man. He didn't join the rebels, Korah and the rebellion. He died of his own issues. But he left no inheritance. He had no sons to give an inheritance to give to his sons, because he had no sons.

Now this is brought up because the law has stipulated that if a person dies, property is passed on to his son, and the eldest son maintains the property, etcetera. It's the right of the firstborn. But what do you do if you don't have a son? That hasn't been dealt with yet. Now, in ancient cultures, ancient cultures were male dominant. They were really antiwoman. Women had few rights in ancient cultures. But that wasn't the Lord that was culture. That's what culture did to women; that's not what the Lord did to women. So, way back in Genesis when God created woman out of man, remember what Adam said? He didn't say, "This is my property. I own this chick. She's like chattel to me. I have horses and cows and dogs and a woman".

Now, that is ancient culture. Those ancient cultures saw women as a possession. But that's culture, that's not the Lord. When God created woman, Adam rightly said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because he was taken out of man". And there was a joining together and they were "joint heirs together". And when we get into the New Testament, Paul said, "There is no male or female, or Scythian, bond or free; we're all one in Christ". There's an equality. So God is not chauvinistic, and Paul the apostle is so often accused of being chauvinistic. People need to pay attention to what their Bibles say. Now you're going to find out that God will agree with these gals. These gals are bold. They come and they said, "Now wait a minute. My dad died, he didn't have any sons. His name is going to be lost. He's just got us daughters. What do we do"?

What I love is that they didn't bring it to the law court or to the counselor's office, they brought it to the door of the tabernacle. They brought the case to the church. "Let's get God's wisdom on this". Verse 5, "So Moses brought their case before the Lord". I love this about Moses. Moses didn't say, "Look, you know, I'm an old guy and I put up with you guys a long time. And I've gathered some of my own wisdom. Here's what I think should happen". It's like he said, "You know, I don't know what to say, but I'll pray about it. I'll take it before the Lord and see what he directs". So he did. "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'The daughters of Zelophehad speak what is right; you shall surely give them a possession of inheritance among their father's brothers, and cause the inheritance to their father to pass to them.'"

Now, this is unheard of in ancient culture, but God stands up for the rights of women here. Let's fast-forward to the present time. We live in a culture, in a day and age where women's rights are, well, we've made a lot of progress. Some believe we haven't made enough. I'm not going get into that debate, but we have made pretty decent progress in this culture. But do you know that right now, tonight, in other parts of the world it's exactly like it was in ancient times? Did you know in Saudi Arabia a woman cannot go out in the street alone without male accompaniment? Do you know that in Egypt the Muslim brotherhood says, and I quote, "Women should never be seen nor heard," close quote.

In Saudi Arabia, in Yemen, they cannot vote. In Yemen most women are illiterate and they're kept illiterate on purpose. Only about one-fourth, less than one-fourth of all the women of that country are in the workforce because they have to be to support their families. The rest are not allowed. So that oppression and subjugation of women in that part of the world, the part of the world we're reading about, is still today very prevalent. Here is God saying, "You know, Moses, they have a good point these women. I think they're right, you ought to give them an inheritance". Now let me just comment on something. Why is it that the Lord hasn't addressed this yet until now? Is it that God forgot? Did he give the law and he kind of covered all these areas and then these women say, "Hey, wait, wait, wait, there's one part we don't get. What if there are no sons and there are only girls? What about the inheritance then"?

It's not like God goes, "Oh, wow, yeah, thank you, I forgot all about that. But now that you bring it up, as I think about it..." No. It's not that at all. I think that the Lord gives principles in revelation, his Word, but the particulars he wants you to seek him for. He wants you to find the wisdom of his Spirit for your situation. What is the Lord saying to you? I have a lot of people that come to me for me to tell them what God's will is for their lives, and sometimes angry that I won't. "Well, you're the man of God, certainly you know some Scripture you can pull out of what I ought to do in this situation". And I can give you the biblical principle, but as to the particulars, you need to seek the Lord for your own situation and apply that principle to your situation. And so the Lord knew this day was coming and he was waiting for her to come to the tabernacle and Moses to seek the face of the Lord, and then God gave further information.

So, verse 8, "'You shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: "If a man dies and has no son, then you will cause his inheritance to pass to his daughter. If he has no daughter, you shall give his inheritance to his brothers,"'" that is, the man who died and it was his inheritance, his brothers. "'"If he has no brothers, then you shall give his inheritance to his father's brothers. And if his father has no brothers"'", well, you're just out of luck. No, "'"then you shall give his inheritance to the relative closest to him,"'" in other words it's going to stay in the family, "'"in his family, and he shall possess it".' And it shall be to the children of Israel a statute of judgment, just as the Lord commanded Moses". So the daughters of Zelophehad, they're bold, they come boldly, so to speak, before the throne and it paid off. The Lord said, "They're right, Moses, and this shall be the law. Here's the statute for Israel". Now verse 12, we kind of come to a sad note. "The Lord said to Moses: 'Go up into this Mount Abarim,'" that's a mountain range actually, "'and see the land that I have given to the children of Israel.'"

Later on we find that the Abarim Range east of the Dead Sea has a couple of notable peaks: Mount Nebo, Mount Pisgah. From there Moses spies out the land. It has a tremendous vantage point as he's looking down toward a land that is at first below sea level and rises up in the distance. So it's like looking at a land that is slanted toward you, because you look at in the foreground something that is 1,290 feet below sea level and then rises up to the mountain range. So it's like the land is, like, looking at you, and from Mount Nebo, Mount Pisgah, the Abarim Range, you get a tremendous view. But God brings him up here to show him the land and then say, "Times up, Moses. Time for you to die". So I say it's a sad note, because we've been with Moses now, well, since Genesis 1. Moses wrote the first five books of Moses. He going to, of course, we will get to Deuteronomy, but here is what is written about in predicting the death of Moses. "'"And when you have seen it,"'" verse 13, "'"you also shall be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother was gathered."'"

I like this. I like that God doesn't say, "Okay, Moses, look over the you're going to die". He didn't say "die". What does he say is going to happen? "He'll be gathered to his people". Who are his people? Well, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jacob's sons, his forefathers. "You're going to be gathered to your people. There's going to be a gathering after this life of those other righteous ones who have been with you and before you. You'll be gathered with your people". If you remember the gospel of Luke, chapter 16, Jesus tells a story about a rich man and a poor man; rich man and a poor man named Lazarus who is begging at his gates. It's not a parable, because none of the parables does Jesus ever name anyone. He always says, "Hear a parable..." or "the kingdom of heaven is like unto..." None of that is in this story. It is indeed a story. There are proper names given. He's giving an example of an actual situation where two people died and one is kept in the bosom of Abraham, comforted by Abraham.

You might say, "gathered to his people". And some scholars believe that that was a place that, before the atoning death of Christ, Old Testament believers were kept until Jesus could announce his atoning death to them and then bring them with him into heaven, into paradise. "Moses, it's time for you to be gathered to your people". And why? "'For,'" verse 14, you know, "You can see it and not go in". Here's the reason why: "'For in the Wilderness of Zin, during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against my command to hallow me at the waters before their eyes.' (These are the waters of Meribah, at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin.)" You remember the story. The Lord said, "Just go talk to the rock, don't hit it like you did the first time, just go talk to it". So he goes up to it and he gets all bent out of shape. And he doesn't hit it once, he hits it a couple of times, like beating a rock, and thus misrepresented God before the people. God said, "You didn't hallow me before these people. You misrepresented me, so you're going to be able to see the land, but not go into the land".

Now, I will admit that sounds like torture. You have been with this complaining group of people for almost forty years, and forty years it will be by the time it's over. And if anybody deserves to be in the land, "Uh, Moses, you're going dude. In fact, you're going to get, like, the best piece of it". God says, "You're just going to see it, but not go in it". You know what that's like? It's like being on a diet and you're with somebody who's eating a hot fudge sundae. "Oh, it's hard, so hard. I want that sundae". But he didn't get to go in, he could just see it, and the Lord says why. Now I've given you this trick question before, but did Moses ever get to get into that land? Yes, he did, on the Mount of Transfiguration when in the northern part of Israel on a high mountain Jesus was transfigured before his disciples with Moses and Elijah, speaking about the future.

So it's like Jesus snuck him in, brought him in. "Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying: 'Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation'", This absolutely amazes me. I'm humbled. You know how the Bible says he's the meekest man, Moses was the meekest man? And we've kind of joked about Moses wrote that about himself: "Moses was meekest man on the face of the earth. I, Moses, am telling you this". And yet he was indeed, because Moses says to God, unlike Skip would say to God, "Lord, come on"! I'd argue and I'd fume and I would try to talk to Lord into it. "Lord, please! Please! Please! I'll fast. I'll be a good boy. What..." None of that. What concerns Moses now is, "Okay, this is the will of God. I'm not going to argue about that anymore. It's done. He said it, it's done. But now I'm concern about these people. I'm concerned that they'll get a leader". "Let the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation".

Go look at that description again in verse 16, "The God of the spirits of all flesh". I'm looking at flesh right now. All of you have a body of flesh. But that's only part of you. That's not really the real you. The real you is who you are underneath the flesh, your spirit. The real you is spirit. The flesh, the body is simply the avenue, the means, the apparatus by which one spirit can relate to another spirit. I can relate to you only through your body. I can shake your hand. I can hear your words. I can see your eyes and your body language when you communicate. And you can tell a lot about a person by looking at the flesh. Certainly, I've met people and you meet them and they don't give you eye contact or they shake their hands, they're just like a wet fish. You know, you can just tell there's no confidence there. They're kind of a little bit abated and ashamed and tenuous, tentative, and other people are not.

And so the body is useful to communicate the spirit. But one day the flesh will die and be buried, and your spirit will go be with the Lord. The real you will be with the essence of who God is. "For God is Spirit, and those who worship him," Jesus said, "worship him in spirit and truth". So the body will die. The spirit will be joined with the Lord, in the presence of the Lord awaiting for resurrection, bodily resurrection, a reconstituted you. But I love this description, he's "the God of the spirits of all flesh," the real you behind the body, the permanent you. And he says, "'Set a man over the congregation, who may go out before them, go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.'"

Isn't it interesting that Moses sees them without a leader as sheep having no shepherd. How did Jesus see the people at the mountain in Galilee? As sheep having no shepherd. "Weary and scattered," Matthew tells us, "as sheep without a shepherd". That's true leadership, concerned about people, concerned about their well-being, their stability. Because the quality of a life of a sheep is determined by the quality of the shepherd that sheep has. An attentive shepherd will have well-cared-for sheep. So he prays, "Who may go out before them, lest they be like sheep without a shepherd". "And the Lord said to Moses: 'Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; and set him before Eleazar the priest and before the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight". "'And you shall give some of your authority to him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. He will stand before Eleazar the priest, who will inquire before the Lord for him by the judgment of Urim.'"

Those are the stones Urim and Thummin. "'At his word they shall go out, at his word they shall come in, he and all the children of Israel with him... all the congregation.' So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. And he laid his hands on him and inaugurated him, just as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses". So Joshua would bring them into the land. Now, Joshua is a Hebrew name. The 'J' is silent, sort of like Spanish. The Hebrew pronunciation of Joshua would be Yeshua. The equivalent of that name in Greek is "Jesus" or let's say, forget all the translations. It's Jesus in English. Joshua and Jesus, it's the same name. In the New Testament, the Hebrew name of Jesus would be Joshua, Yeshua. Isn't it interesting that Moses couldn't bring them in but Jesus could? "The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ". What Moses failed to do, only Joshua could do. I don't see this as a coincidence, I see this as a portrayal: as this Joshua will bring them into the land, our Joshua brings us into a place of rest and completion.

Now, Joshua was one of those two faithful witnesses. There was Joshua and Caleb, and then there were 10 others, 12 witnesses all together. They went to spy out the land of Canaan and only Joshua and Caleb said, "We are well able to take the land, for those giants are just big targets. They're big guys, but they're easy to hit. You can't miss them. If they were small they'd be fast, might be a little bit more of a challenge, but they're just like easy pickings. The Lord gave us this land, let's go for it". So he was one of the faithful men who were filled with faith and he and Caleb were the only two survivors from the previous generation. The interesting thing about Moses...Joshua, is that Joshua, you never hear Joshua ever talk about Joshua. You know why? The Bible tells us in Joshua, chapter 1, that he was Moses assistant, or literally "Moses' minister". He was a servant. He served Moses. Wherever Moses was, you'd find Joshua there to attend to the needs of Moses. So when Moses came down from the mountain, Mount Sinai, with the Law, who was waiting for him? Joshua. He attended to him, he served him, and he learned leadership by being a servant.

Now it's time for him to be the ultimate servant and to lead this nation into the land. So Moses, Eleazar, they lay hands on him. Now, what's the deal by laying hands on somebody? Is it some mystical, like, ahhhhh? "Wow, felt something there. Wow"! As. J. Vernon McGee says, "The only thing you get from laying on of hands is germs". The laying on of hands, however, is significant. It signifies something. It typifies something. You're relating to a person. You are saying, in effect, "This hand represents God laying his hands on you. God has anointed you. He has chosen you. It is the ratification of a previous ordination. God ordained you, I simply recognize that God ordained you".

And that's how we feel about ordination. We don't "ordain" somebody, even though we have a process; we, rather, recognize God's hand upon somebody's life and ordaining them into the ministry and we ratify that and we celebrate that. But that's what makes the ministry different from, like, being a fireman or a lawyer or a doctor. You know, you can kind of have a high school counselor who will say, "You know, you ought to go into math," or "You ought to be a doctor," or "You ought to be a lawyer". And so you go, "Yeah, you know what? I think I'll do that". And so you, you can go to school and you can get prepared and you can learn the skill, but you cannot do that with ministry. Oh, yeah, you can go to school and go to seminary and get a degree and get the skill, but imagine going through all of that process only to discover God never called you. Then what are you going to do?

Well, I guess you can teach. But what do you do in the ministry? You first find has God called you? Has he put his hand on you? And there must first be that calling as there was with Joshua. God called him, identified him, then he was ratified by Moses and Eleazar the son of Aaron. "Moses did as the Lord commanded. Took Joshua, set him before Eleazar and the congregation. And he laid hands on him and inaugurated him, just as the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses". Thus it was with Paul the apostle in Antioch. The Holy Spirit said, "Separate unto me Paul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they fasted and prayed, they laid their hands on them". And the church, it says, sent them out, and they said the Holy Spirit sent them out.

So the Holy Spirit did the identifying, calling, equipping, and sending. The leadership of the church came alongside, laid hands on them, and said, "You know what? We agree with the Holy Spirit. We have seen the evidence in their lives and we are releasing them into ministry and we pray God's blessing upon them as they go". So it was here and I had two chapters more prepared. If you can believe it, I had in my head four chapters I was going to go through with you. And had we the wherewithal to do it, we could still be at it. But it's time to close up shop, so let's pray.

Father, I am, I'm humbled by a whole group of people that love to study, to learn, to read, to apply, to know what the whole counsel of God is about. And, Lord, the more we are exposed to it, this weekly repetition, the stronger we become. Because we are human we tend to forget a bunch, but we're reminded of it, and week by week it provides this amalgamation of not just knowledge, but there's a transformative process that occurs. And we believe, Lord, that as we expose ourselves to truth and seek to apply truth, we become more and more in the image of the One who embodies truth, the Lord Jesus Christ. We're transformed into the same image.

So, Lord, thank you for these people, your people, your church. Thank you, Lord, that you are our Shepherd. We're never shepherdless. You're the great Shepherd, the Good Shepherd of the sheep. You lead us into good pastures. You calm us. You refresh us. You restore our souls. I pray, Lord, for those who are hurting, struggling, whatever issues they are dealing with. And all of us have issues. All of us are humans. We all fall short.

I pray, Father, that you would minister to the deepest part and just give them that assurance right now in their spirit by your Spirit that you are still on the throne that you've got everything under control. And just as you moved a group of people, two to three million of them, by providing for them where there were no natural provision, and bringing them into the land of Canaan, letting them grow and prosper so that they're still there today in that land, you are capable Lord of providing everything we need, and taking us through every phase of life, even our wilderness, and bringing us into a land flowing with milk and honey. So I pray for each one who is gathered here tonight a special blessing upon them, in Jesus' name, amen.

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