Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: In the Wilderness

The Pastor’s Perspective
“In the Wilderness”
First Published: April 29, 2007

Since January 3, 2007 we have been studying through the book of Numbers, on and off, on Sunday evenings and Wednesday nights. 46 sermons later, we are almost done. On Wednesday night, May 7, we are due to arrive at the final chapter of the book. I know, Numbers is probably not one of your top ten favorite Bible books (although, I must say, it has really grown on me during this series!), but Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 that the book of Numbers was written for us as Christians and is profoundly practical for us today! In fact, he says more than that. He says that events recorded in Numbers actually happened for us and that God wants us to learn from them how we are to live right now! Our study has certainly proved this out.

Well, the whole book of Numbers looks forward to Israel’s settlement in the promised land, and so it is appropriate that it closes with six provisions of God in relation to the occupation of Canaan. We’ve looked at the first three of these. We’ll look at the last three in the final two sermons.

Meanwhile, on this past Sunday night, we considered the boundaries of the land and the men appointed by God to see to the distribution of it. We saw three things:
  1. God’s generosity in given Israel more land than they ever occupied (this also, nevertheless, highlights Israel’s failure to obey God in fully occupying the land);
  2. The link between God’s blessing and our response, and what this teaches us about the way of sanctification, or growth in the Christian life. We described this using the motto: the Land is yours now take it (see Numbers 33:53 “And you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it.” It’s the Old Testament version of the New Testament principle that “the indicative precedes the imperative.” God gives us what he commands and then commands us.
  3. God’s wise three-part plan for taking the distribution of the land out of the hands of the tribes [lots, proportionate designation, divinely appointed leaders].

If you missed some, most or all of this series, you can read or listen to it online at the church website, or you can order CDs or tapes of it from the Learning Resource Center.

I must say that it is always bittersweet for me when I come to an end of a sermon series through a Bible book with you. This is so for a variety of reasons. 1. I always look back and wish I’d preached the book better. 2. I always look back and am thankful for what I’ve learned, and wished than I’d learned it a long time ago. 3. The thought always crosses my mind that I will not likely pass this way with you again in this book. That is, when I conclude a series, it strikes me that it may be the last time I’ll study that book with you from the pulpit of First Pres. For no matter how long the Lord gives me to minister here at First, it is unlikely that I’ll be able to preach through the Bible twice, or even to preach through many, or any, Bible books twice with you – the Bible is a big book! All these things make the privilege to preaching the Word to you, all the more precious to me.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

No comments: