Just Looking for a Home, Part 10 (Covenant and the Cross #91)

Daniel Whyte III

Daniel Whyte III

We always like to start out with the Word of God, and today’s passage of Scripture is Numbers 31:1-5 which reads: “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people. And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the Lord of Midian. Of every tribe a thousand, throughout all the tribes of Israel, shall ye send to the war. So there were delivered out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand of every tribe, twelve thousand armed for war.”

Regarding this passage, Dr. R.C. Sproul notes in the Reformation Study Bible:

Vengeance against the Midianites for their efforts to seduce the Israelites into idol worship and sexual immorality is undertaken. This narrative deals particularly with details concerning the plunder taken from the Midianites. Because the plunder of war had to be handled in a fashion that preserved the holiness of God and of the people, the principles stated here helped prepare the Israelites for the coming conquest of the land.

Today’s Covenant & the Cross quote about the Bible is from George Müller. He said: “I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to meditation on it. The food of the inner man is the Word of God; and not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts.”

Our topic for today is titled “Just Looking for a Home (Part 10)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin. And, I want to remind you to take advantage of our special offer. If you enjoy this podcast, please feel free to purchase a copy of this book — “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin. It is available on our website for just $20.

— REDEDICATION BEFORE CONQUEST

Encamped on the eastern shores of the Jordan River, the people began to concentrate on preparing to go into the land. However, several matters had to be completed before they could do so.

First, Moses conducted a second census of the new generation. A quick glance at these figures shows that the overall size of the nation was about the same as it had been at the start of the Exodus. This detail reminded the original audience of God’s faithfulness through hard times. Interestingly, several tribes had drastically decreased in numbers (e.g., Simeon, which was now only about a third of its original size), while others had had significant growth (e.g., Manasseh, which was more than 60 percent larger).

Second, Joshua was commissioned to succeed Moses as the leader of the nation. His new position seems to have been mediator of the covenant. As such, he represented the people before God, and God before the people. Moses was told at this point that he would soon leave the people and go up to a mountain where he would die. Analysis shows that some of this material is arranged topically rather than in a strictly chronological order. That seems to be the case from here to the end of the Pentateuch. For example, it is after this appointment that we read of the revenge against the Midianites in Numbers 31, which chronologically would seem to fit better with Numbers 25:17.

Third, we learn that several of the tribes have been eyeing the land on the eastern side of the Jordan River (an event that seems to have occurred chronologically before the Balaam incident). This region was good grazing land, and the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh asked for permission to settle in this region. Initially, Moses was upset, comparing this request with the unbelief that had occurred a generation earlier at Kadesh Barnea. The tribes demurred, however, asserting that they were willing to participate in the conquest, but that this land seemed to fit their every desire. They argued that they would settle their families into the villages and cities, build sheepfolds, and then go with the rest of the nation through the conquest. Moses agreed, and this region became part of Israel but a part noted for its grazing (somewhat like the west Texas of ancient Israel).

Fourth, Moses described the land in the region west of the Jordan (modern Israel), which would become theirs. He laid out borders and told them to allocate the land by lots when they finished the conquest. He also set apart two groups of cities. The larger group was cities for the Levites, who would not receive a tribal inheritance but would be dispersed throughout the nation. As we have already observed, part of the reason for this decision seemed to be that they could represent God to the people in terms of teaching and offer certain sacrifices. Included in these Levitical towns were six that were called cities of refuge: three were on the west side of the Jordan and three on the east side. These were sanctuaries for people who had committed manslaughter.

The final act of Moses was to reiterate the covenant. This rededication is set forth in the book of Deuteronomy.

Let’s Pray —

Before we close, dear friend, I want to remind you that the most important thing you should know about the Bible is that it is the story of God working to save humanity from sin and the consequences of sin. He did this by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins and take the punishment that we deserve on Himself. Romans 5:8 says, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, and you want to get to know Him today, here’s how.

All you have to do is believe “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” and you will be saved. The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will.

Until next time, remember the word of God is the foundation to a successful life. God bless.

Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.

God’s Mercy in the Midst of the Curses (The Covenant & the Cross #38)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 3:20-24 which reads: “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

Allow me to share with you some further commentary on this passage from the Reformation Study Bible by Dr. R.C. Sproul::

Adam’s choice of the name Eve demonstrates his faith in God’s promise that the woman would bear children, including the Seed who would defeat Satan.

God’s durable “tunics” contrast with the inadequate attempt by Adam and Eve to cover their shame. His provision also entailed killing an animal, perhaps suggesting a sacrifice for sin.

The cherubim protect God’s holiness, prohibiting sinners’ access to Him.

The coming heavenly Adam, who bears the curse of toil, sweat, thorns, conflict, death on a tree, and descent into dust, will regain the garden, tearing apart the veil of the temple on which the cherubim were sewn. The flaming sword is the first weapon of government or law-enforcement.

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Immanuel Kant. He said: “The existence of the Bible, as a book for the people, is the greatest benefit which the human race has ever experienced. Every attempt to belittle it is a crime against humanity.”

Our topic for today is titled: “God’s Mercy in the Midst of the Curses” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

While the picture is largely negative as we read these curses, we also find at least four demonstrations of God’s mercy in this passage.

First, physical death did not occur immediately. Part of the warning to Adam was that if he ate of the fruit, he would die. Satan told Eve that she wouldn’t die. Actually, the way the phrase is worded in Hebrew, it could also be translated, “It’s not absolutely sure that you’ll die.” In either case, it was a half-truth. Adam and Eve died spiritually at the point of disobedience. Physical death came later, allowing an opportunity for repentance and the beginning of the process of redemption).

Second, we see the beginning of this process of redemption. God made “garments of skin” to cover Adam and Eve, which means that some animals had to die. Since we do not read about a climate change until after the Flood, these coverings must have been designed to hide the nakedness and shame of Adam and Eve.

Third, humankind was exiled from the garden, not specifically as punishment, but to prevent the now disobedient humans from eating from the tree of life and thus living forever in their sinful state. It also indicates that physical death would be a vital aspect of the process of redemption.

Fourth, as already mentioned, there was a promise of a redeemer. It is this promise that sets the stage for Genesis 4, humankind’s next failure.

The Serpent (The Covenant & the Cross #37)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 3:14-15 which reads: “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Allow me to share with you some further commentary on this passage from the Reformation Study Bible by Dr. R.C. Sproul::

The curse denotes a breaking of the serpent’s powers. Dust is the symbol of abject humiliation, an indignity lasting forever. Satan’s final defeat under the heel of the Messiah is delayed so that God’s program of redemption through the promised Seed of the woman may be accomplished.

Humanity is now divided into two communities: the redeemed, who love God, and the reprobate, who love self. The division finds immediate expression in the hostility of Cain against Abel. This prophecy finds ultimate fulfillment in the triumph of the Second Adam, and the community united with Him, over the forces of sin, death, and the devil.

Before His glorious victory, the woman’s Seed must suffer to win the new community from the serpent’s dominion. The suffering Christ is victorious. He has already won the victory at the Cross by providing an atonement for the saints and will consummate it at His Second Coming.

Today’s quote about the Bible is from James McCosh. He said: “The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think. No book in the world equals the Bible for that.”

serpent_of_adam_and_eveOur topic for today is titled: “The Serpent” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

In our discussions about the Fall, we have to this point neglected the serpent. Any way we look at it, this is a difficult issue. Exactly what creature is involved? Why did Eve not express surprise when it spoke? How is Satan related to it? With regard to these and other questions, the biblical writer has not seen fit to give us the information. At the end of the Bible, however, we are given some insight when Revelation 12:9 identifies Satan as the serpent who deceives.

Our concern at this point is that the serpent is also cursed, but there is an interesting detail here that we must note and keep in mind. God gives an anticipation of a later judgment on the serpent in the form of the first prophecy of a coming redeemer or messiah. In Genesis 3:15, God tells the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” This prophecy is known as the protoevangelium, meaning, “the first [announcement of the] gospel.” The immediate manifestation of this prediction is a perpetual battle between good and evil in this world. However, it is anticipated that the ultimate outcome will be the victory of the Messiah.

Humanity’s Relationship with the World, Part 2 (The Covenant & the Cross #36)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 3:17-19 which reads: “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Allow me to share with you some further commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck:

God told Adam that he would experience great pain in scratching out a livelihood. The word translated “painful toil” is the same word used for the woman’s pain. (This word occurs only three times in the Old Testament.) Death will be man’s end — he will return to the ground (a gracious provision in view of the suffering), and he will return to dust and become the serpent’s prey again. So much for ambitions for divinity! Man may attempt to be like God, but he is dust.

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Leonard Ravenhill. He said: “One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed.”

Our topic for today is titled: “Humanity’s Relationship with the World (Part 2)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

As we look at God’s admonitions to Adam, we note two aspects of His judgment, both of which address man’s relationship with the world. The first aspect is that the ground is cursed because of man. What this means is not completely clear. On the one hand, it seems to set up the next aspect of judgment, which involves exhausting labor on the part of man to grow his crops. On the other hand, it seems to be a separate aspect of judgment.

This cursing of the ground may be what Paul addresses in Romans 8:20-21, where he notes that all of creation was subjected to “futility” and “slavery to corruption.” If so, then what we see here may be God announcing His temporary acceptance of Satan’s usurpation of man’s position of authority over the world. We do see later that even Jesus accepted the fact that Satan had become “the ruler of this world.” At the same time, Jesus anticipated Satan’s future demise. This concept, however, takes us into a realm totally separate from ours, the spiritual. It also implies warfare between fallen angels and God. This warfare is mentioned a number of times throughout the Bible and seems to lay a foundation for many of the struggles we face today—but that is an entirely different subject and must be dealt with elsewhere.

The second aspect of judgment is that difficult labor would be necessary for human sustenance. In a general sense, this means that agriculture would become a very laborious occupation: the ground would now produce thorns and thistles instead of the products desired. Consequently, man would have to labor “by the sweat of [his] brow” for his food. There are two factors involved in this judgment: weeds and thistles.

Humanity’s Relationship with the World, Part 1 (The Covenant & the Cross #35)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 3:11-12 which reads: “And he [God] said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Reformation Study Bible edited by theologian R.C. Sproul: “The questions which God asks prod Adam and Eve to confess their guilt. God asks Satan no questions, simply consigning him to judgment. Adam and Eve show their allegiance to Satan by distorting the truth, accusing one another, and ultimately accusing God. Their efforts to conceal their sin only expose it.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from R.C. Sproul. He said: “We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.”

Our topic for today is titled: “Humanity’s Relationship with the World (Part 1)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

The uniqueness of man’s stewardship position is amplified in the Genesis 2 account of Creation. Adam is placed in a specific location, the garden of Eden, with guidelines given to manage it. The location of this garden has been debated, but if the Flood was as extensive as indicated later in Genesis, the garden was obviously destroyed in the rearrangement of the earth’s surface. As previously noted, the purpose of the garden would seem to be an initial geographic limitation to the work that Adam was to do personally. Obviously, one person (or couple) could not directly oversee an entire globe. This was the reason behind the command in Genesis 1 for humankind to multiply and, as a whole, to manage the world.

Adam’s position of world manager was illustrated by the fact that he named the animals. In Israelite culture, the giving of a name was viewed as a demonstration of a superior position. One of the problems of this section is its relationship with Genesis 1:24-25, which places the creation of the animals prior to the creation of man. (“And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field.”) The text suggests two possible solutions. First, the Hebrew grammar leaves open the possibility that the animals had been created earlier and brought to Adam at this point. Second, the terminology (“beasts of the field”) raises the possibility that the animals named at this point were only those we call domesticated animals, that is, those with which man was to have a special working relationship.

The world over which man had responsibility is not the same as the world in which we live. The environment was perfect. We read that there was no rain, but only a daily overnight mist to water the ground. One theory that has been inferred from the changes created by the Flood is that originally the earth was covered by a water-vapor canopy that protected it from harmful radiation and maintained a uniform climate both around the globe and throughout the year. The surface area of the land regions was probably much greater than today, including all of the land above the continental shelves. In addition, there apparently was only one continent that was more spread out, for presumably the high mountain ranges had not yet been squeezed up. These factors all changed as a result of the Fall and the Flood.

Humanity’s Relationship with Self (The Covenant & the Cross #34)

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Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 3:6-7 which reads: “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Reformation Study Bible edited by theologian R.C. Sproul:

Adam and Eve’s spiritual death is shown by their alienation from one another, symbolized by the sewing of fig leaves together for clothing, and separation from God, signified by their hiding among the trees. Nakedness in the Old Testament suggests weakness, need, and humiliation. The Hebrew word for “naked” sounds like the Hebrew word for “crafty” in Genesis 3:1. The intimacy of marriage is shattered; trust is replaced by distrust. The first experience of guilt was expressed in terms of an awareness of nakedness. Redemption is linked to God providing a covering for human sin. Their consciences condemning them, they shrank from the intimacy with God they formerly enjoyed in the garden. Their expulsion from it matches their attitudes and actions.

Today’s quote about the Bible is from R.C. Sproul. He said: “We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.”

Our topic for today is titled: “Humanity’s Relationship with Self” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

The third area of relationship affected by the Fall is internal, or psychological. It is logical to suggest that before the Fall, both Adam and Eve were in perfect mental health. At this point of our text, we see only hints of the internal problems that develop, two of which we will look at here.

The first evidence of psychological problems is manifested when Adam and Eve realize they are naked, which suggests guilt and shame. This is why they try to cover themselves with fig leaves.

The second evidence is reflected in Adam’s response to God when God asks him whether he has eaten of the tree. Adam exhibits self-deceit when he tries to pass the blame on to the woman (“she gave me”) and back to God (“the woman you put here with me”). In other words, Adam is saying, “God, it’s not my fault. I was doing fine until the woman came along, and after all, You gave her to me.”

It has been suggested that most psychological problems are grounded in these two issues: guilt and self-deceit. Of course, other factors that affect our mental well-being include the defective relationships already discussed, not to mention physiological problems as a result of a now defective world.

Humanity’s Relationship with Humankind, Part 2 (The Covenant & the Cross #33)

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Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 3:17-19 which reads: “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Reformation Study Bible edited by theologian R.C. Sproul:

“The woman is frustrated in her natural relationships within the home: painful labor in bearing children and subordination toward her husband. The man is frustrated in his activity to provide food. Each experiences pain by these reversals. Man’s natural relationship to the ground, to rule over it, is reversed; instead of submitting to him, it resists and eventually swallows him. The earth, frustrated by the Creator’s assignment to disharmony, longs for restoration. Labor itself is a blessing because man’s work reflects the activity of the working God. Physical death is both a judgment and a blessing. It renders all activity vain, but delivers the redeemed from earthly frustration and opens the way to an eternal salvation that outlasts the grave.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Martin Luther. He said: “For some years now I have read through the Bible twice every year. If you picture the Bible to be a mighty tree and every word a little branch, I have shaken every one of these branches because I wanted to know what it was and what it meant.”

Our topic for today is titled: “Humanity’s Relationship with Humankind (Part 2)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

Two relationships are addressed by the curse recorded in Genesis 3:6 — that of mother and child and that of husband and wife. While the text speaks of childbirth, more than the physical pain of birth seems to be involved. First, generally where the Hebrew word here translated “pain” is used, it means “vexation, grief, anguish” or some type of emotional pain. Second, the phrase “your pains in childbearing” renders a difficult expression — literally, “your pain and your conception.” While scholars have usually taken the phrase to mean physical pain in the process of giving birth, other possibilities include an accelerated birthrate or, coupled with the next phrase, other types of pain experienced later in the parenting process. This latter meaning is borne out by historical evidence when we evaluate the struggles between parents (mothers especially) and their children. Part of the pain a parent experiences “in childbearing” is the emotional pain as a child grows and does not live up to the expectations of the mother or father.

The second relationship noted in Genesis 3:16 is that of husband and wife. the observation is addressed to the woman, but the object of the relationship is the man. The expression “your desire will be for” is used only one other time in the Old Testament, and that is in the next chapter, where Cain is told by God, “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you.” The phrase seems to suggest a seeking of dominance. In the next clause of Genesis 3:16 (“and he will rule over you”), the Hebrew word for “and” may just as likely be translated “but”, so what we seem to see here is conflict between the previously complementary couple. Thus, rather than a smoothly running hierarchy, we now have competition, with each person seeking to advance the self rather than the world.

This passage then sets the pattern we see in human relationships. Although specifically addressed only to the original couple, the results have clearly spread throughout the human race. It is a pattern of self-seeking and personal advancement at the expense of others; it is a picture of grief and sorrow as a result of failed relationships.