Dear church,

One of the defining marks of the God of the universe is his promise-making. We do not worship a silent God, or a God who remains aloof and uninterested in the affairs of the world. That’s not the God of Israel at all. 

No, God makes promises. And he keeps them. Even in our own sinfulness and struggles and doubts and worries and failures and mistakes and moments that we wish we could have back, God’s promises remain. We don’t nullify the promises by our actions. We might think that we do, and God may discipline us as his children at times (Hebrews 12:6). But the promises are true.

At the edge of the Promised Land, the people must have been jubilant with the realization the promise was very near its fulfillment. I suppose they could taste the victory already, and God whetted their appetite by telling them how they would worship him once they were in the land. 

The numbers spoke for themselves: Every year, the people would sacrifice 113 bulls, 32 rams, and 1,086 rams. They would give to God more than one ton of flour and thousands of bottles of oil and wine.[1] These were commands by God, but they also were reminders to the people that they would be a rich agricultural community. The land indeed was good, and the people would be blessed. 

Perhaps the people’s eyes grew wide as they learned about the vast and constant sacrifices they would make to God in the Promised Land. The sacrifices meant there would be an abundance. 

Our promised rest is near. Jesus said it was close at hand (Mark 1:15). We must recognize any lack of physical things we have in this world is only temporary. There will be a remedy to it. “To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment” (Revelation 21:6).

And we can be jubilant. Every worry can wash away. And we can look forward with hopeful expectation. 

Chris


[1] Gordan J. Wenham, Numbers (TOTC) (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP, 1981), 220.

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