Bible commentaries – December 1, 2019

Explore the Bible

God leads

Numbers 9:15-23

Seeking God’s will and direction has been compared to a steel ball in a pinball machine. You hit the right spot every once in a while, but most of the time you are bouncing around and eventually end up back where you started. Many people have said it would be helpful if the Lord would just provide a sign or show up in person to lead the way. God did that for the Israelites.

When the Tabernacle was set up, a cloud covered it during the day, and it appeared as fire above it during the night (Num. 9:15-16). When the cloud moved, the people moved. When the cloud lingered, the people encamped. The cloud was the vehicle of God’s presence and the visible sign of His leading His people.

This cloud was referred to as shekinah, a Hebrew word meaning “the presence or residence of God.” The word does not appear in the Bible, but the Jews used it to describe the physical manifestations of God’s glory. This cloud first appeared in Exodus 13:21-22, when it protected the Israelites from the advancing Egyptian army. It also appeared above the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle. It also appeared at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple (2 Chron. 5:14). Sadly, Ezekiel witnessed its progressive withdrawal from the Temple as judgment and captivity loomed (Ezek. 9-11). This shekinah glory will return to the Millennial Temple after the tribulation and the glorious appearing of Christ (Ezek. 43:1-6).

God is still present with His people today. His presence may not be in an external sign like a cloud, but He does indwell each believer with His Holy Spirit. We can fall in step with His leadership by being obedient to His commands (Num. 9:18, 20, 23).

God leads His people according to His will and purposes. His will and purposes can be discerned by studying His Word, prayer, godly counsel, the exercising of our spiritual gifts, and the circumstances of life.

We honor God when we follow His leadership.

Bible Studies for Life

Do we need to defend our faith?

Jude 1-4, 20-25

Jude got right to the point in this brief but intense letter. He warned the church against the false teachers who secretly infiltrated the church. These were ungodly men who were already marked for condemnation long ago. Jude charged them with two serious sins. First, they had turned “the grace of our God into promiscuity” (Jude 4).

These ungodly men were probably forerunners of the Gnostics who believed spirit was good and flesh was bad. The spirit could not be touched by the flesh, so basically they could do what they wanted to do. They were turning God’s grace into a license for immorality.

The second sin Jude charged them with was “denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord” (Jude 4). Since these ungodly men believed that the flesh was bad, they denied the humanity of Jesus. In their view, divinity could never assume humanity because human flesh is bad. The denial of Jesus’ humanity perverts the biblical truth of Who Jesus is.

Jude charged them “contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all” (Jude 3). These false, godless teachers had infiltrated the church. By “faith,” Jude meant the full body of information believed by the early church. This is the gospel. How were they to contend for the faith?

Jude 20-23 gives several instructions that will help safeguard against these false teachers. Grow spiritually. Pray under the direction and influence of the Holy Spirit. Stay in God’s love by being obedient to His Word (Jude 21; John 15:10). Have hope in Christ’s return. Have mercy on those who doubt, bringing them to the truth so they will literally be snatched from the fire of hell. And last, be cautious of godless people whose entire lives are contaminated by sin (Jude 23).

Does this have anything to do with us? Yes! This relativistic, subjective and politically correct culture is increasingly telling us to accept all views and discard ours. We must not only hold to our faith; we must adamantly defend our faith against heresy by doing the things listed above.

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