Numbers 21, Psalms 60-61, Isaiah 10:5-34, James 4

DateVersionReading Plan
@May 12, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Numbers 21

Numbers 21:23–24 (ESV) 23 But Sihon would not allow Israel to pass through his territory. He gathered all his people together and went out against Israel to the wilderness and came to Jahaz and fought against Israel. 24 And Israel defeated him with the edge of the sword and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as to the Ammonites, for the border of the Ammonites was strong.

Israel had sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, to request passage through their land, telling him that they would stay on the King’s Highway and not turn aside into field or vineyard or drink any water of a well. However, Sihon rejected the entreaty and went out to fight against Israel, a campaign that ended in their defeat. It seems remarkable the pride displayed by Sihon in not allowing the Israelites to travel through the land. Sihon could have let them pass through without consequence but instead was thoroughly defeated and their land overtaken. We can draw from this the destructive result that awaits those who go forth from a hardened heart.

Psalms 60-61

Psalm 61:4–5 (ESV) 4 Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah 5 For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

David’s plea that he dwell in the LORD’s tent forever and take refuge under the shelter of His wings strongly resonated with me today. It’s been a difficult couple of days—really, a difficult year—so to read as David passionately sought refuge in the LORD cuts to my heart in a most needed way. What’s more, David recognizes that the LORD heard his vows and gave him the heritage of those who fear the LORD’s name. Our LORD is responsive to all who come to Him in sincere appeal, providing the refuge and the heritage of everlasting fellowship with Him.

Isaiah 10:5-34

Isaiah 10:26 (ESV) 26 And the LORD of hosts will wield against them a whip, as when he struck Midian at the rock of Oreb. And his staff will be over the sea, and he will lift it as he did in Egypt.

To provide context, the CSB Study Bible Notes says that, “Oreb was a Midianite leader who oppressed the Israelites during the period of the judges. He was defeated by the forces of Gideon and executed at a rock that was given his name, the rock of Oreb (Judges 7:24–25).” The reference to “his staff…over the sea” goes back to Moses and the lifting of his staff to part the Red Sea. However, the verse does not “Moses’ staff”, but “his staff” (that is, God’s staff), making clear that the parting of the Red Sea and destruction of the Egyptian pursuers was ultimately the work of God.

James 4

James 4:14 (ESV) 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

The kind of Godward fearlessness James’ words here convey is exactly what I needed to hear today. I have been so filled with fear, so cowardly, in how I approach life and relationships. Even just yesterday at the dog park with my dog, Brooklyn, I had an opportunity to strike up conversations with others—people who are likely not walking with the Lord and need to hear the gospel—but chose instead to go for a walk on the path by myself. Would I have such fear if I truly knew that my life is a mist? It is an issue of faith and not heeding the clear Word of Scripture. Lord, help me to rest on Your truth, to have no anxiety for tomorrow and live this brief life in utter fearlessness for You.

Carson on Numbers 21

The world is condemned and perishing. Its only hope is in the provision that God makes — in something else that is lifted up on a pole, or more precisely, in someone who is lifted up on a cross. This is the first occurrence of “lifted up” in John’s gospel. As the chapters unwind, it becomes almost a technical expression for Jesus’ crucifixion.

Carson illuminates a fascinating observation that the first occurrence of “lifted up” in the Gospel of John is in reference to Moses’ staff being lifted up to heal all who looked upon it who had been bitten by a poisonous snake.