Bible commentaries – Jan. 12, 2020

Explore the Bible

God expects

Num. 32:20-32

Our church had a men’s group called “Men of Faith.” The point of our Bible study and fellowship was to encourage each other to keep our commitments. Their wives would stop me in the hallway and inform me that their husbands were better at keeping their promises. In this lesson, we should learn that God expects us to keep our promises and commitments to each other and to Him.

The Reubenites and the Gadites owned a significant amount of livestock and found the land on the east side of the Jordan River well suited for raising livestock. They asked Moses if they could settle on the east side of the river. Moses did not want a repeat episode of the rebellion at Kadesh-barnea. He demanded the Reubenites and the Gadites make a specific commitment.

The commitment required these tribes, if they settled on the east side, to cross the Jordan and fight with Israel until the land was secured. If they didn’t keep their commitment “you will certainly sin against the Lord; be sure your sin will catch up to you” (Num. 32:23). If they broke their promise, they should expect God’s judgment.

Moses established a sort of system of accountability for the Reubenites and Gadites because he would not be alive when these events would happen. He called together Eleazer the priest, Joshua, and the heads of the tribes. He informed them that if Reubenites and Gadites crossed the Jordan and fought with the rest of the Israelites, they were to be given the land they requested. If not, they must cross the Jordan and settle in Canaaan. These two tribes understood that what Moses was saying was just as if God was saying it, “What the Lord has spoken to your servants is what we will do” (32:31).

Believers honor God when we keep the commitments in our daily routines, in our families, and in our jobs. If we are living godly lives of discipleship, we should equate the commitments we make in our lives with commitments made to God Himself.


Bible Studies for Life

Why does suffering exist?

Gen. 3:16-19; Rom. 8:18-25

I work in an acute and a short-term rehabilitation healthcare facility. Whether a person is experiencing an acute illness or battling a chronic disease, the question arises, “Why does God allow suffering?” We must have a proper understanding of the origin and nature of suffering if we ever hope to make sense of it.

There are those who believe that suffering is a by-product of the evolutionary process. They see the randomness in evolution to be why sickness and disaster occur without discrimination. It is simply the natural order of things. One might attempt to justify natural disasters this way but it could never explain suffering imposed by others.

The first book of the Bible makes it perfectly clear that suffering is the result of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation and forfeited their assigned role as rulers over creation and were cursed with hardship and pain (Gen. 3:16-19).

This wasn’t a situation where evil could be isolated and then destroyed. The Russian historian and novelist, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, explained why removing evil from the world isn’t that simple, “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” Adam and Eve’s sin against God radically altered the human condition. All mankind and all of creation suffered because of man’s fallen state (Rom. 8:18-22).

Paul explains that our “present sufferings are not worth comparing to our future glory” (Rom. 8:18). In Christ, we will experience the fullness of our adoption and the redemption of our bodies from a life of suffering (Rom. 8:23). We need to practice “patient hope” in our present sufferings (Rom. 8:24-25). We have a precious promise that the curse of suffering will be eliminated when we get to heaven because God is making everything new (Rev. 21:4-5).

We live in a fallen world. Suffering, disease, and crime are always present. We must not lose sight of the future glory God has promised us. Keep this view in sight and you will be able to endure suffering with hope.

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