What would have to happen for you to look at something with awe, wonder · wonderment · admiration · reverence · respect · esteem? What would it take for you to see something with amazement, astonishment · surprise · shock · stupefaction · incredulity · disbelief · speechlessness · awe · wonder · wonderment? When was the last time it happened? What times in history have you heard of things that wowed you? Do you think there is anything that could do that to you today? Do you think there is anything that could make a crowd or a group have that feeling of awe and amazement?
Devotional, Psalm 37:10-20, Luke 5:17-32, Numbers 16:36-50, Numbers 17, Numbers 18
1. Stand in awe and amazement at the choice of God … Psalm 37:10-20
10A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. 11But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity. 12The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; 13but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming. 14The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy, to slay those whose ways are upright. 15But their swords will pierce their own hearts, and their bows will be broken. 16Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; 17for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous. 18The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever. 19In times of disaster they will not wither; in days of famine they will enjoy plenty. 20But the wicked will perish: Though the Lord’s enemies are like the flowers of the field, they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke. — from Psalm 37
Do you realize you don’t have to be perfect to be used by God? Do you realize your family doesn’t have to be perfect to be used by God? Does it amaze you who God has and chooses to use for His purposes? Today’s devotional speaks to this in today’s reading…
Do you ever stand in awe and amazement at the sort of people God chooses? Whereas the world tends to be impressed by people of ‘wealth’ (v.16) and ‘power’ (v.17), it is not so with God. ‘God chose the foolish… the weak… the lowly… the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him’ (1 Corinthians 1:27–29). God chooses:
‘The meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace’ (Psalm 37:11). Meek does not mean weak, spineless or feeble. It is the word used of Moses (Numbers 12:3, RSV). Jesus described himself as meek (Matthew 11:29, RSV). It means gentle, considerate and unassuming.
It is the opposite of being arrogant and self-seeking. It is the word used of a horse that has been ‘broken’, that is, tamed. It means strength under control. Jesus seems to be quoting this verse when he said, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth’ (Matthew 5:5).
The poor and needy
God is concerned for ‘the poor and the needy’ (Psalm 37:14). Those who treat them badly are ‘wicked’ in God’s eyes: ‘Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous’ (vv.16–17).
The theme of these verses in Psalm 37 is that the wicked plot against the righteous. As the psalmist contrasts the ‘righteous’ and the ‘wicked’, it is not that they are merely two separate categories of people, but one is proactive in its hostility to the other: ‘Bad guys have it in for the good guys’ (v.12, MSG).
These verses remind us that it is not for us to retaliate if we are persecuted because God has it all under control and he will ensure that justice is done in the end. We do not need to take revenge into our own hands (see Romans 12:17–21).
2. Look with awe and amazement at the ministry of Jesus … Luke 5:17-32
17One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
21The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
22Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
Jesus Calls Levi and Eats With Sinners
27After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
29Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
31Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” — from Luke 5
What ministry has Jesus called you into? What ministry has Jesus asked you to be a part of? What ministry are you fulfilling each day when you get up and go out into the world? Today’s devotional speaks to this in today’s reading… Will you be obedient to the call and receive it? Will you accept to be part of His ministry to the world around you? Watch it play out in awe and amazement…
Have you wondered how people must have felt when they saw Jesus perform a miracle? His ministry led to amazement and awe: ‘Everyone was amazed… They were filled with awe’ (v.26). The Amplified version captures this sense of excitement: ‘An overwhelming astonishment and ecstasy seized them all, and they recognised and praised and thanked God; and they were filled with and controlled by reverential fear and kept saying, We have seen wonderful and strange and incredible and unthinkable things today!’ (v.26, AMP).
Healing the sick
Even in the ministry of Jesus there seemed to be ebbs and flows in terms of healing. Sometimes, when there was unbelief, Jesus healed fewer people (Matthew 13:58). At others times, as we read here, ‘The power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal those who were ill’ (Luke 5:17).
We tend to find healings amazing. But we can take the forgiveness of sins rather for granted. Jesus demonstrates here that forgiveness is even more amazing and awesome than healing. He first forgives the man’s sin (v.20) and then shows that he has the authority to do so by healing him (v.24). Forgiveness was the priority.
Jesus read their minds. He knew what they were thinking in their hearts (v.22). To forgive those who have sinned against others is something only God can do. When Jesus claimed the authority to forgive the sins of those who had sinned against others, in their hearts they accused him of ‘blasphemy’ (v.21a), ‘Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ (v.21b).
In a sense they were right; Jesus was claiming the authority of God to forgive sins. No wonder ‘the people rubbed their eyes, incredulous – and then also gave glory to God. Awestruck, they said, “We’ve never seen anything like that!”’ (v.26, MSG).
Jesus’ choice of Levi the tax collector as his follower was amazing. He chose an outcast. But he made the right choice. Levi ‘got up, left everything and followed him’ (v.28). He then gave a great banquet for Jesus at his house and a large crowd came. Levi was clearly an influential leader. People were fascinated by what had happened to him and wanted to meet Jesus.
Jesus’ choice was shocking and startling. Whenever I go into prisons, I see that Jesus is still calling as his followers people rejected by society, and I am filled with awe and amazement.
Once again Jesus amazed people. They asked, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and “sinners”?’ (v.30). Jesus replied, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ (vv.31–32).
This is the heart of the good news for all of us. Joyce Meyer writes about this passage; ‘So often we feel we must hide our weaknesses and always pretend we are strong and in need of nothing… [but] we all have weaknesses and inabilities… Jesus came for those who were sick (needy) not those who were healthy (not needy)… Go ahead and be needy. Tell God everything you need. He already knows anyway and is waiting for you to ask for help.’
3. Meditate in awe and amazement at the wonder of forgiveness … Numbers 16:36-18:32
36The Lord said to Moses, 37“Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to remove the censers from the charred remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy— 38the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives. Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar, for they were presented before the Lord and have become holy. Let them be a sign to the Israelites.”
39So Eleazar the priest collected the bronze censers brought by those who had been burned to death, and he had them hammered out to overlay the altar, 40as the Lord directed him through Moses. This was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense before the Lord, or he would become like Korah and his followers.
41The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You have killed the Lord’s people,” they said.
42But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the tent of meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. 43Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, 44and the Lord said to Moses, 45“Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.” And they fell facedown.
46Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.” 47So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. 48He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. 49But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. 50Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for the plague had stopped.
–from Numbers 16
The Budding of Aaron’s Staff
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write the name of each man on his staff. 3On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe. 4Place them in the tent of meeting in front of the ark of the covenant law, where I meet with you. 5The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.”
6So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron’s staff was among them. 7Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the covenant law.
8The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. 9Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the Lord’s presence to all the Israelites. They looked at them, and each of the leaders took his own staff.
10The Lord said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” 11Moses did just as the Lord commanded him.
12The Israelites said to Moses, “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! 13Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord will die. Are we all going to die?”
–from Numbers 17
Duties of Priests and Levites
1The Lord said to Aaron, “You, your sons and your family are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the sanctuary, and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses connected with the priesthood. 2Bring your fellow Levites from your ancestral tribe to join you and assist you when you and your sons minister before the tent of the covenant law. 3They are to be responsible to you and are to perform all the duties of the tent, but they must not go near the furnishings of the sanctuary or the altar. Otherwise both they and you will die. 4They are to join you and be responsible for the care of the tent of meeting—all the work at the tent—and no one else may come near where you are.
5“You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that my wrath will not fall on the Israelites again. 6I myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord to do the work at the tent of meeting. 7But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary is to be put to death.”
Offerings for Priests and Levites
8Then the Lord said to Aaron, “I myself have put you in charge of the offerings presented to me; all the holy offerings the Israelites give me I give to you and your sons as your portion, your perpetual share. 9You are to have the part of the most holy offerings that is kept from the fire. From all the gifts they bring me as most holy offerings, whether grain or sin or guilt offerings, that part belongs to you and your sons. 10Eat it as something most holy; every male shall eat it. You must regard it as holy.
11“This also is yours: whatever is set aside from the gifts of all the wave offerings of the Israelites. I give this to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share. Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean may eat it.
12“I give you all the finest olive oil and all the finest new wine and grain they give the Lord as the firstfruits of their harvest. 13All the land’s firstfruits that they bring to the Lord will be yours. Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean may eat it.
14“Everything in Israel that is devoted to the Lord. to the Lord is yours. 15The first offspring of every womb, both human and animal, that is offered to the Lord is yours. But you must redeem every firstborn son and every firstborn male of unclean animals. 16When they are a month old, you must redeem them at the redemption price set at five shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs.
17“But you must not redeem the firstborn of a cow, a sheep or a goat; they are holy. Splash their blood against the altar and burn their fat as a food offering, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 18Their meat is to be yours, just as the breast of the wave offering and the right thigh are yours. 19Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the Lord I give to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord for both you and your offspring.”
20The Lord said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites.
21“I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting. 22From now on the Israelites must not go near the tent of meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and will die. 23It is the Levites who are to do the work at the tent of meeting and bear the responsibility for any offenses they commit against it. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites. 24Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the Lord. That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.’ ”
25The Lord said to Moses, 26“Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering. 27Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor or juice from the winepress. 28In this way you also will present an offering to the Lord from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the Lord’s portion to Aaron the priest. 29You must present as the Lord’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.’
30“Say to the Levites: ‘When you present the best part, it will be reckoned to you as the product of the threshing floor or the winepress. 31You and your households may eat the rest of it anywhere, for it is your wages for your work at the tent of meeting. 32By presenting the best part of it you will not be guilty in this matter; then you will not defile the holy offerings of the Israelites, and you will not die.’ ”
–from Numbers 18
Forgiveness is the key to freedom! Forgiveness is an incredible gift from God! Forgiveness is something we learn from Jesus for even while we were sinners, He died on the cross for us so that we could be forgiven and reconciled back to God! Forgive others as God forgives you! Isn’t amazing how God tries to work forgiveness into our lives? The awe that God loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son that whosoever would believe on Him would not perish but would have eternal life with Him! Today’s devotional speaks of the awe and the amazement of others through today’s reading, but why not live out today aligned to and alongside of Jesus and see the awe and amazement that will take place?
We have a tendency to take forgiveness for granted. The poet Heinrich Heine once said, ‘Dieu me pardonnera. C’est son métier.’ (God will forgive me. It is his job.) In one sense, nothing could be further from the truth. Sin has a very high cost (16:38). Many of the things we read about in the Old Testament strike us as ‘awful’ in the sense that they seem to be appalling.
However, another sense of the word ‘awful’ is ‘filled with awe’. One dictionary definition of ‘awful’ is ‘worthy of or commanding profound respect or reverential fear or wonder… solemnly impressive, sublimely majestic’.
The language in this passage shows the seriousness of sin – its cost and the reaction of God to it: ‘Wrath has come out from the Lord’ (v.46). God is not pleased at, for example, ‘constant grumbling’ (17:5).
Sin required atonement (16:46). There was a need for redemption (18:15–16). Sprinkling of blood was required (v.17). The setting up of the Levitical priesthood was necessary to foreshadow and prepare the way for Jesus, the great high priest, whose blood was sprinkled and who made atonement to redeem us from our sins (Hebrews 4:14; 12:24; 2:17).
Unless you understand the seriousness of sin and the Old Testament background, which shows the difficulty and complication of receiving forgiveness, you will not understand how wonderful, awesome and amazing God’s forgiveness is. Forgiveness is not automatic, but it is made possible by Jesus. As you meditate on what God has done you should be filled with wonder, awe and amazement.