Numbers 30

Vs. 16, “These are the regulations the Lord gave Moses concerning relationships between a man and his wife, and between a father and his young daughter still living in his house.”  This chapter may seem inconsequential to our culture today.  This issue addressed in vows taken by either a pyoung girl under her father’s household, an unmarried woman who then gets married, and a married woman.  If their father of husband forbids their vow, this was God’s way of absolving their guilt for not following through.  Certainly, we must remember that society then was patriarchal and the family unit was paramount.  Bear in mind also, that a godly man probably is not going to forbid a vow if it is made with the right intention.  For example, a woman may vow an animal for sacrifice to God.  Animals are of high value then.  It would be like my wife making a vow today and donating our car.  A spouse has a right to agree or not agree since their name is also on the title.  Also, some vows were of sexual abstinence, but we know the Apostle Paul said to married couples, it is not good to withhold sexual relations for too long lest temptation come knocking (I Corinthians 7:3-5).

Regarding application…Making Commitments.  Vs. 2, “When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.”  Question: What is a vow?  Voluntary expression of devotion (Holmans Bible Dictionary).  Previously, we talked about making a Nazirite vow (Numbers 6) and here we see the continued importance of vows.  We are currently in the Lent season and my denomination (United Methodist) recognizes Lent.  This is an opportunity for members of the church to make their own vows/promises to God.  The thing about promises is that they are easy to make, but hard to keep.  I think the better word for us today is making commitments.  We generally wouldn’t go so far as to making a binding vow, though we do that at the marriage alter.  In general, we seem to be a non-committal society.  I think we would all benefit in the church if people were willing to make commitments to love and be faithful to each other!  Question: How can you commit to the body of Christ?

Numbers 5

Vs. 2, “Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has a defiling skin disease or a discharge of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body.” The rulings on purity in the camp (vs. 1-4) supplement the Leviticus readings in chapters 12-15.  Question: Why the reminder?  Remember, the Israelites just did a military census and the intention is to quarantine people who are sick because it could reduce the number of able bodies ready to defend.  But more importantly, God dwelt among them and they were to be a holy people.  Bear in mind, this is no way diminishes God’s love and care for those who were sick.  The next section of our passage (vs. 5-10) deals with reparation for wrongs (Leviticus 6:1-7).  A timely reminder about how we are to deal with conflict in our lives.  We should make right what we did wrong.  And lastly, we are presented quite dramatic procedure to determine the guilt/innocence of a wife (vs. 11-31).  There are two possible situations; a wife has been unfaithful to her husband but has kept it secret; or a wife is innocent, but her husband was jealous without cause.  It’s basically “he said, she said.”  This is hard topic to explain for it seems very unfair in our modern time.  Remember, this was a specific thing done for specific time for a specific people.  In other words, this type of procedure does not apply to us today.  For Bible study purposes, this difficult section of our passage is descriptive (tells us the fact) nature rather than a prescriptive (tells us the facts and then asks us to do it) nature.

Regarding application…Community Living.  Even in the midst of an estimated 2 million people (give or take), there was a sense of community.  The spiritual health (or lack thereof) can also affect the body of Christ today.  In our ministry, we talked the past month about the importance of family and church.  Our tendency in society today is to adopt individualism.  Remember, people were not cast out to be forgotten in the Israelite camp.  There was a process of restoration in place.  This is what community/church living is about.  We are affected when a person is physically, spiritually or emotionally sick in the church.  Let’s continue to have a larger perspective when it comes to caring and loving those in our community!

Genesis 39

Vs. 2, “The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master.”  I think it’s really important to step back and consider Joseph’s life.  At the tender age of 17, young Joseph would overcome obstacles that most men would not conquer.   Betrayed by his brothers and nearly killed, sold into an Egyptian home, overcoming despair, sexually tempted, and then thrown into prison.  All of these events would happen in just two chapters.  What a wonderful statement as we read that the LORD was with Joseph four times in this chapter (vs. 2, 3, 21, 23).  Question: What was it that kept Joseph in favor with God?  Perhaps it was his dream from the Lord about the ruling over his brothers one day.  But, I suspect it was far more than that.  His heart and mind were turned to the Lord.  Even in the midst of a false accusation from Potiphar’s wife, he did not expose the truth and fight it out with her (vs. 13-19).

Regarding application…Fleeing Temptation.  Vs. 10, “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.”  Notice the persistence of this temptation.  This reveals the type of character Joseph had with sexual purity when we compare that to yesterday’s chapter with Judah’s indiscretions.  While most of us may not be handsome and well-built (vs. 6) or beautiful like Joseph’s mother Rachel, perhaps this can remind us that beauty is certainly fleeting (Proverbs 31:30).  But Joseph had looks and authority, a bad combination with Potiphar’s wife lurking.  I think it is remarkable that this young man was able to flee such temptation.  Question: What would help Joseph overcome?  I believe it is because he knew who he was.  As Christians today, we are reminded from the Apostle Paul that we are new creations (II Corinthians 5:17).  The more we know who we are, the more we will choose to live our true identity.

Hosea 4

Vs. 1 “Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.”  Question: What is going on here?  The example of Hosea’s relationship with Gomer is now coming to light with Israel.  Israel is being charged by God as if they were in a court of law.  The increase of sin is bringing a breakdown of morality over the land.  Notice also how the LORD’s charge gets more specific and directed towards the supposed leaders of Isarel; the priests (vs. 4-14).  The spiritual leaders have a huge impact.  But Israel’s leaders were leading the charge towards immorality.  This was a time in Israel where there was relative peace.  King Jeroboam II was reigning and the priesthood was increasing.  However, just like in Jesus’ day, there was corruption in the sacrificial system and priests were profiting (vs. 7-11).  As the prophecies of judgment came forth by Hosea, all he saw was the continued stubborn responses of hardened hearts (vs. 16).

Regarding application…Knowing God.  Vs. 6a, “…my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge…”  There is much talk of the declining education system in America these days.  But I would contend there is a much steeper decline in the church education system.  I commend the church for we are doing a wonderful job in sharing the Gospel and bringing people to church.  But it seems we stop at the point of salvation.  John Mitchell, founder of Multnomah Bible College, coined his famous question, “Don’t you folks ever read your Bibles?”  Just like in Hosea’s time, we are in a period where we lack the knowledge of God.  We know more about Algebra, English Lit, Entertainment, sports, technology, cars, etc…than we do about the Living Word of God!  Brothers & Sisters, this should not be.  That is why I try to encourage each of you daily the importance of growing in your knowledge of God!  Question: How can you live out a genuine faith if you are not spending time knowing God?  It would be like me never spending time with my wife, but telling others I really do have one.  Open your heart and let God’s word change and renew you to a deeper walk with Him!

Hosea 3

Vs. 1 “The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”  Lost in this narrative is the raw emotion that must have been going on in Hosea’s heart.  Sure, Hosea had a right to divorce and leave Gomer.  Though, Jesus mentioned divorce was permissible due to unfaithfulness only because of our own hardened hearts (Mark 10:5).  Hosea goes to find Gomer and it’s interesting because it looks like she was owned by another man.  This man might have sold her to other men for a profit.  At first, Gomer might have enjoyed this lifestyle free from a husband and her children.  However even listen to present day prostitutes and they live a very sad life of regret.  This is an amazing picture of love and grace Hosea would extend to his estranged wife.  Also, don’t forget about the imagery of the LORD’s love for His people!

Regarding application…Bought at a Price.  Vs. 2, “So I bought her for fifteen shekelsof silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley.”  Hosea bought Gomer from a life of prostitution and in many ways a life of slavery.  She was a slave to sin and the price Hosea bought her at would have been close to that of a female slave.  This of course brings a reminder that we too were bought at a price (I Cor. 6:20).  Gomer was bought and turned back to her husband with love.  We too are bought and have an opportunity to turn back to Jesus.  Paul later tell us not to live as slaves of men (I Cor. 7:23).  Since we were paid and bought with such a high price, it’s time to take our faith and put it into action!  Turn to Jesus today!