WHAT TO LOOK FOR
In Numbers 9 we read an interesting lesson in God’s willingness to accommodate our earthly weakness. In this chapter, it’s time for the sons of Israel to celebrate the first commemoration of the Passover after having been delivered by God out of slavery in Egypt. But there was a problem: in order to properly celebrate the Passover, it was required that you be ceremonially clean (as outlined in the book of Leviticus), and there were some men who were unclean, not through sinful defilement, but through the earthly work of dealing with dead bodies. They ask why they’re not allowed to celebrate the Passover too, and the LORD graciously responds with a way that they can: they are permitted to celebrate the Passover one month later than the prescribed time for everyone else.
Pay attention to God’s accommodation. First of all, note God’s gracious desire to have fellowship with His earthly people. They lived in a world corrupted by death, but God was still willing to make a way for them to have fellowship with Him. The same is true of us today. He has made a way through Christ!
But we should also note that fellowship with God is always accompanied by obedience to His will.
- For one, God did not allow them to celebrate the Passover while unclean. If we were calling the shots, we might solve the problem by saying it doesn’t really matter if you’re clean; surely God doesn’t care about that, right? Instead of this, God still requires that they be clean. However, He makes allowance for their proper celebration at a different time. His accommodation reinforces His expectation that they be holy as He is holy.
- Note also that God did not allow them to skip celebrating the Passover altogether. Again, our solution may have been to say it’s not a big deal whether or not you observe the Passover; surely God doesn’t care about that, right? But God did. He accommodated their limitations, but He did not remove His expectation of obedience.
It’s also important to note that God was responding to these men’s desire to be faithful. Their hearts were right before God. We can tell because they wanted to obey Him; they wanted to “present the offering of the LORD at its appointed time among the sons of Israel” (Num. 9:7). It was not these men’s desire to forgo the observance altogether. They weren’t trying to get out of God’s requirements. They were earnestly asking how they were supposed to obey. If they had been seeking to get out of obedience, God’s response to their request would have been very different. We know this because God makes it clear that anyone who is clean at the proper time, “and yet neglects to observe the Passover, that person shall then be cut off from his people” (Num. 9:13).
God often accommodates our earthly limitations. We must acknowledge, however, that such exceptions do not overturn God’s rules. We often tend to see God’s commandments as burdensome, and we are quick to find exceptions in order to excuse ourselves from having to obey at all:
- What? I’m supposed to go to church? But I know a doctor who had to work on Sundays…
- What? I’m supposed to be faithful to my wife until death? But doesn’t the Bible say that divorce is allowed…
- What? I’m not allowed to kill my unborn children? But sometimes the life of a mother is at stake…
- What? I’m supposed to speak out boldly in defense of God’s truth? But aren’t there situations when it’s faithful for a Christian to be silent…
- What? I’m supposed to give to the poor? But aren’t there poor people who are just trying to scam me…
- What? I’m supposed to submit to governing authorities? But didn’t the apostles say we must obey God rather than men…
- What? I’m supposed to say no to my wife? But aren’t there men who oppress and abuse their wives by never listening to them…
It takes wisdom to live obediently in our corrupt world. But if our earnest desire is to please the Lord, He promises to guide us and protect us, and to be with us always, even to the end of the age.
VERSES TO MEDITATE ON
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving
And pay your vows to the Most High;
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me.
HOW TO PRAY
- Adoration – Praise God for His willingness to accommodate our weakness.
- Confession – Confess ways you have made excuses in order to avoid obeying the Lord.
- Thanksgiving – Thank God for people or circumstances in your life which have made it easier for you to obey Him. Did your parents teach you God’s commandments? Has God provided you with a godly spouse? Has God kept you from falling into temptation?
- Supplication – Ask God for wisdom in knowing how to apply His commandments in our corrupt world.