From: Mark Booker
Our fall lectionary kicks off today. In the Old Testament we will read Numbers, Micah, and the Psalms, and in the New Testament we will read 1 John, Hebrews, and Ephesians. I'm also encouraging us to read the chapter of Proverbs that matches each day of the month (31 chapters, 31 days of the month).
Psalm 1 (a great psalm to memorize!) tells us that the blessed person, the happy person, is the one whose "delight is in the law (or instruction) of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night." This is great encouragement to dig in to this lectionary, this daily diet of scripture, with delight. Yes, it's a discipline to take up the word and read it daily, but it's a delightful one because in God's word we find life and grace.
And this is true of Numbers, too. In his sermons on the book of Numbers, Origen, in the third-century, notes that many will "judge there is nothing helpful, nothing as a remedy for his weakness or a benefit for the salvation of his soul" in Numbers. He aims to prove that judgment wrong, and I trust we will see this fall that it is, in fact, wrong. God has much to teach us through his word in Numbers.
Numbers recounts the story of God's people in the wilderness in two generations (noted in the two census chapters of ch. 1 and ch. 26 - these divide Numbers into two parts). They, like us, are living between salvation accomplished (the exodus/the cross) and salvation consummated (entering the promised land/entering God's new creation fully). Paul tells us that these things, many of them from the book of Numbers, "were written down for our instruction" (1 Corinthians 10.11). We, too, are on a journey from salvation to the promised land. We, too, journey through a kind of wilderness. We, too, face opposition and scarcity, the urgency of our desires, questions of leadership, temptations to give up, doubt, boundary-questions, and so on. This book has much to teach us.
Today, in Numbers 1, we begin with Moses, with God's presence and God speaking, and with a census that lists the military-ready people of God tribe by tribe. The census is a way of saying that they stand up and are counted. At least at the outset, they are "all in" on this journey, ready to do God's bidding. Are we? And God speaking reminds us that they are not alone in the wilderness. Neither are we. And God has given them a mediator in Moses. And he has given us a mediator in Christ. There are many parallels, many lessons to be learned (in 1 John as well).
Let's delight in and meditate upon the instruction of the Lord together this fall!