Numbers 19, Psalms 56–57, Isaiah 8:1–9:7, James 2

DateVersionReading Plan
@May 10, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Numbers 19

Numbers 19:13 (ESV) 13 Whoever touches a dead person, the body of anyone who has died, and does not cleanse himself, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from Israel; because the water for impurity was not thrown on him, he shall be unclean. His uncleanness is still on him.

Death represents uncleanness and defilement because it is the direct result of man’s sin (Rom. 5:12). Because God in His holiness cannot be in the presence of sin, He thus cannot be associated with any expression of it. However, restoration of cleanness was possible through water, signifying the purifying power and grace of God. The concept of water as a cleansing and life-bringing element is pervasive throughout Scripture. We are to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:22). Whoever thirsts are to come to Jesus to drink and, whoever believes in Him, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38b).

Psalms 56–57

Psalm 56:12–13 (ESV) 12 I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. 13 For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.

David knew that God was deserving of all his devotion and offerings of thanks. He acknowledged that the Lord had delivered his soul from death in order that he may walk before God in the light of life. As with David, our desire for deliverance should be that we may live in better service to the Lord. In whatever harrowing circumstances we encounter, our prayers of rescue should be from hearts fully set that not our will but His be done.

Isaiah 8:1–9:7

Isaiah 8:12–13 (ESV) 12 “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. 13 But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.

The LORD told Isaiah not to call conspiracy what the people called conspiracy, nor to fear what they feared. According to the CSB Study Notes, “The conspiracy may refer to the alliance between Syria and the northern kingdom of Israel against Judah or perhaps an inner-Judean alliance against the pro-Assyrian party of Ahaz.” The principle of this is for us as well, that the LORD alone should be our fear and dread. For the faithful, there is nothing to fear in this world, nothing that can pluck us from the mighty hand of our Lord and our secured, everlasting life with Him.

James 2

James 2:26 (ESV) 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

James is adamant that faith must be associated with works. These verses can be difficult to reconcile with the understanding that salvation in Christ is not works-based, but the CSB Study Notes offers helpful explanation:

James’s declaration that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone may seem to contradict Rom. 3:28, but note that Paul was writing about “works of the law,” meaning the Mosaic law, whereas James spoke only of “works,” which has in view good deeds. James’s references to law are to “the law of freedom” (the gospel; see James 2:12) and to “the royal law” (James 2:8; Lev. 19:18), both of which affirm his assertion that true faith is expressed through good works.

Carson on Psalms 56-57

What we need is faith in the speaking God, faith in God that is firmly grounded in what this speaking God has said. Then, in the midst of even appalling circumstances, we can find deep rest in the God who does not go back on his word. Transparently, such faith is grounded in God’s revelatory words.

Carson’s final thought certainly deserves an “Amen!”, that our greatest need is a God who has and continues to speak to us in His Word. Our deepest rest—indeed, the only true rest that can be found—is the Word become flesh; our glorious, all-satisfying, promise-keeping Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.