Numbers 13-22a daily devotionals by Kevin E. Jesmer 2016

Numbers 13-22a daily devotionals by Kevin E. Jesmer 2016


Link to Numbers 1-6 devotionals

Link to Numbers 7-12 devotionals

Link to Numbers 22b-36 devotionals

Tuesday, November 1


Numbers 13:1-24

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.’” (1-2)


First, they received the call to explore the land (1-16). The Israelites reached the border of the Promised Land. God gave a command for some leaders to go and explore the land. This mission began with a command from God. There are times when we attempt to go on a mission without a calling from God. But, anyone who engages in a mission must begin it with a personal command from the Lord. This is a calling from God.


Second, God wanted them to learn about the land to strengthen their faith and encourage the people (17-24).They were to see all the good things the land would provide. They were also to gather information that would help the people strategize about their mission, finding wise ways to enter into the land. With this information the Israelites would be encouraged and their faith strengthened. They were being made ready to move forward.


Lord, help me to hear your call to go and see what “the land” is like. Help me to see all the good things you have in store and insight into your strategy for mission.


One Word: See the land and encourage the people

Wednesday, November 2




Numbers 13:25-33

“Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’” (30)


First, Caleb was quick to plant encouraging words of faith (25-30). God showed the spies a wonderful land, full of resources. Nobody could deny it. Everything God had promised them was true. The land was indeed the land of milk and honey. But there were some fortified cities and strong people. The people knew that it wasn’t going to be easy and they began to grumble. Caleb saw what was happening and he was very proactive. He quickly steered the conversation in the right direction, towards faith in God and obedience to his word. Caleb glorified God at the right time.


Second, there were ten spies filled with unbelief. As a result, their hearts were captured by fear. Their minds drifted towards dark places that were filled with doubt, pessimism and rebellion towards the Lord.  It is because they took their eyes off of God and his promises. If only they had the faith of Caleb to see that God was with them and that all they had to do is embrace faith, trust the Lord and enter the land at God’s command.


Lord, show me your will and help me to speak words of encouragement at the right time.


One Word: Encourage others in light of the truth

Thursday, November 3




Numbers 14:1-10

“Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” (9)


First, the people were so afraid that they wanted to go back to Egypt (1-5). They grumbled against the Lord and wanted to replace Moses. They forget the power and the promises of God and fell into paralyzing fear. They actually believed that God was planning ill-will upon them. How deceived they were! God had made them a free people with a bright future. They were being brought into the Promised Land. God was their shepherd. Yes, there were hardships. But they were fruitful hardships. Instead of going back, they needed to see what God was doing.


Second, Joshua and Caleb stood up to encourage their people (5-10). The leaders were so appalled that they fell facedown and tore their clothes. Caleb and Joshua pleaded with the people. Not only had they demonstrated repentance and prayer, but they reminded them of what God was doing and why. They spoke encouraging words. The boldly declared the truth and planted faith.


Lord, though things are hard at times, help me to stand and follow your leading. I trust you.


One Word: There is no reason to be afraid

Friday, November 4




Numbers 14:11-25

“Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared:” (17)


First, Moses wanted to bring glory to God (11-19). The Lord made an offer to Moses. He would destroy the Israelites and start over with Moses’ family. He would make an even greater nation out of Moses’ descendents. Moses did not accept God’s offer. He wanted God to forgive the Israelites and continue to be their God (19). Moses had the right attitude. He was not seeking to glorify his own name. He knew that God’s name and honor were at stake. He not only had a shepherd heart for the people, but more so, he loved God and vied for God’s honor before the people of the pagan nations.


Second, Caleb had a spirit that pleased God also (20-25). God had forgiven his people after Moses prayed for them. But God is very serious about the consequences of their sin. None of that generation would enter the land, except Caleb and Joshua. Caleb had a different spirit than the rest. He demonstrated that he was a man of faith and obedience, seeking to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, as did Joshua (32:12) He also lived for the glory of God.


Lord, fill me with a strong desire to glorify your name and obey you with my whole heart.


One Word: Glorify God and follow him

Saturday, November 5




Numbers 14:26-45

“But Moses said, ‘Why are you disobeying the Lord’s command? This will not succeed!’” (41)


First, God’s punishment was firm and just (26-35). God made it very clear that he was upset with the people’s grumbling. None of the people who treated the Lord with contempt would enter the Promised Land. Instead they would wander around the desert until the whole generation died, all of them except for Caleb and Joshua. Their children would also suffer for forty years because of their sin.


Second, the people tried to repent in their own way (36-45). When the Israelites heard of the plague that fell upon the people who spread a bad report, they were afraid and mourned deeply. They were moving towards repentance, expressing a desire to return to God. But after mourning, they made some false presumptions about how to make things right with the Lord. The felt that God would accept any gesture of repentance they offered. Their plan to enter the land was another act of rebellion. Their mourning did not lead them to true repentance but to a frantic act to avoid punishment. God tried to help them through Moses, but they would not listen. God must have grieved over this.


Lord, when you reveal to me my sin, I mourn over it. Teach me the way of repentance.


One Word: Repent in God’s way

Sunday, November 6




Numbers 15:1-21

“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘After you enter the land I am giving you as a home and you present to the Lord food offerings from the herd or the flock, as an aroma pleasing to the Lord.’“ (2-3a)


First, God opened the way for restoration (1-17). God is now talking to the younger people (2) who were born in the desert (2). The Israelites had fallen into deep sin inviting judgment on themselves. But God made a way for his people to be restored through offerings pleasing to the Lord. The offerings were expensive, a ram, a bull, olive oil, grain and wine. It required faith to offer such things. This way of sacrifice was open for the Israelites and the foreigners among them. God was confident that these people would enter the land and live a spiritual life, approaching him in the prescribed fashion.


Second, God was looking for faith in the offering (18-21). The people were to give the first of their ground meal. A person who makes a “first portion” offering expressed faith, for they were not sure if there was more to come. Therefore these offerings were a pleasing aroma to the Lord because they expressed faith on the part of the giver.


Lord, thank you for opening a way for sinners to be restored unto you. I come to you by faith.


One Word: Be restored through a pleasing offering

Monday, November 7




Numbers 22-41

“Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. 41 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God.” (40-41)


First, before God’s eyes there are two categories of sin: unintentional and intentional (22-36). The sacrifice for unintentional sins was needed because of the complexity of the laws. God opened the way for forgiveness. Intentional sins are done deliberately, in defiance to God. Such a person sins with purpose and was to be cut off from the people, meaning death, in Moses’ time. Sin can never be ignored. It cuts people off from God, leads to death and thwarts God’s purpose, to establish his people as a Kingdom of Priests and Holy Nation.


Second, the wisdom of the blue tassels (37-41). God wanted his people to be proactive in their avoidance of sin.  They were to make tassels on the corners of their clothes. The symbolism of the tassels helped people live a spiritual life. These were a daily reminder. They reminded them of the call to obey God, be consecrated him, to remember who God is and his grace to them. God equips his people with tools to avoid the paths of sin.


Lord, I have sinned, but I come to you for forgiveness and restoration. Guard my heart.


One Word: A daily reminder of God

Tuesday, November 8




Numbers 16:1-14

“It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?” (11)


First, some leaders tried to acquire leadership positions (1-3). They started a conspiracy, becoming insolent towards Moses and Aaron. They felt left out of leadership with its possible benefits. They wanted to bypass God’s calling and servantship. They mixed truth with falsehood. Yes, the whole community was holy and God was with each of them, but Moses and Aaron did not set themselves up as leaders for their own advantage. Korah’s group was actually complaining about what God had done, rebelling against his sovereignty.


Second, God intervened through Moses (4-14). Moses was in shock and fell face down before God, bringing it all before the Lord. God acted. Moses spoke words of truth, calling them to repentance and reminding them of God’s sovereignty. God then summoned the followers of Korah to come near with censors. The Lord was going to make a distinction. God is the Sovereign Lord.


Lord, there are times when I lose sight of you. I repent. Help me to follow your Spirit and build up your church according to your will.


One Word: The Sovereign Lord is at work among his people

Wednesday, November 9




Numbers 16:15-35

“Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea:” (28)


First, Moses was a prayerful shepherd (15-27). Moses came to God. He was finding strength and direction from God, leaving things in the Lord’s hands. Korah and his followers came with censers, just as the Lord had instructed. They stood by the gate to the court where they could be seen by all the people. The people would learn an important lesson. Moses and Aaron sensed that God was going to destroy all of those involved. They did not want this to happen. Being true shepherds, they pleaded in prayer for the people.


Second, the people had to choose whom they would follow (28-35). Korah and his followers were swallowed up by a huge sinkhole. Another 250 men were burned up by fire that came from their censors. It was an act of judgment that could have only come from God. The very public outcome of this test would give the rest of the Israelites an opportunity to make a decision to follow the Lord. Like the Israelites from ancient times, we need to be ready to choose to follow the Lord.


Lord, Grant me the insight, wisdom and strength to choose to follow you.


One Word: The choice is clear…follow the Lord

Thursday, November 10




Numbers 16:36-50

“He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.” (48)


First, the priestly office is considered as holy (36-40). After God made fire come up out of the censers and burn the 250 men who challenged the priesthood, Eleazar the priest had the censers hammered flat and fastened to the altar. The censers would be a sign to remind the Israelites that no one, except a descendant of Aaron, should burn incense before God. The priestly offices within the church are holy must be upheld.


Second, Moses and Aaron demonstrate why the priestly office is so important (41-50). The people were grumbling and questioning the legitimacy of God’s judgment. God’s judgment was looming. Moses and Aaron quickly engaged their priestly role. They fell face down, praying. They took up the censors and made atonement for the peoples’ sins. Aaron was doing something, anything, by faith. In doing so he stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. God accepted their prayers and atonement offerings, but not before 14,700 people died.


 “Lord, raise up shepherds who can respond quickly and minister to the people.”


One Word: Shepherds who can quickly pray for the people

Friday, November 11




Numbers 17:1-13

“The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.” (5)


First, God had a unique way to solve the grumbling problem (1-7). The people questioned Aaron’s spiritual authority. God graciously set out to reveal his choice as his priest. Moses was to give a staff to each tribal leader. Their names were to be on each staff. Aaron too, was to have a staff. The staffs were then placed in front of the ark. Then, through the night, God would miraculously reveal his choice for the leadership of the priesthood. Moses obeyed, prayed and waited on God to act.


Second, God revealed his own sovereign choice (8-13). Aaron’s staff budded with blossoms and almonds overnight. It was a complete miracle! Only the Creator God can give life to the dead. God displayed his glory and his power and confirmed Aaron as the servant whom he had chosen. Moses was told to put Aaron’s staff in the ark. It was a testimony that God is the Sovereign Lord who chooses whom he wills, and his will prevails. The people were terrified for they knew they were in the wrong. They must learn to come to God by faith.


Lord, thank you for helping us to know your will. Help us to come to you, even when we’re wrong.


One Word: The will of the Sovereign Lord prevails

Saturday, November 12




Numbers 18:1-32

“The 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 Israelite.’” (20)


First, God reminded them of their identity and their mission as Levites (1-7). They had a mission for themselves and their whole family to serve the Lord. There was constant work to be done, which required people working in unison. Their work was of utmost importance for their mission was linked to God withholding his wrath. The priests stood between sinful humanity and the holy God, facilitating sacrifices, bringing people near to God. Fellow workers in mission were provided as a gift. The work was a gift and God was with them.


Second, the Levites had God as their inheritance (8-32). The tithes were assigned to the Levites and their maintenance for they were given no land in Canaan. Though they had no inheritance, their needs were abundantly provided for. But it was not all about them receiving. They too had to tithe. They knew that God himself is the best share and inheritance for anyone. If we belong to God and God belongs to us, we have everything.


Lord, thank you for the blessing to serve you in a priestly role. You are our great reward.


One Word: The Lord is the best inheritance

Sunday, November 13




Numbers 19:1-22

“A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and put them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp. They are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin.” (9)


First, the ashes of the red heifer (1-10). The people had to know how serious sin is. A red heifer was brought. It had no blemish. It was highly valued. It was perfect in appearance. It never knew the plowman’s yoke. This perfect heifer had its blood sprinkled on the altar and was burned completely. Its ashes were used in purification rites. Everyone who dealt with the ashes had to purify themselves. Sin is toxic and contaminating and must be avoided at all costs. But if contaminated, God provided a costly means to be cleansed.


Second, death is the final expression of sin in this world (11-22). When a person touched a dead body they were unable to approach God in worship. Death contaminated. It was the final result of sin in this world. Restoration of the person, tents, jars and furnishings could only be possible by applying a slurry of the ashes of the red heifer. The whole process was to emphasize how awful sin is.


Lord, I become desensitized to sin. Thank you for reminding me to avoid sin as I follow you.


One Word: Be sensitive to the seriousness of sin

Monday, November 14




Numbers 20:1-29

“But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’” (12)


First, water from the rock (1-13). Miriam’s and Aaron’s deaths, as well as the passing on of the priesthood (1, 22-29) indicate that the time of wandering was over, not because the people stopped complaining, but rather, it was God’s perfect timing. We see them complaining again. They were very thirsty. They opposed Moses and wanted to die. Moses and Aaron responded by falling before the Lord. God responded and wanted to work through them to bring water. Instead of obeying God, Moses was frustrated. Rebuking the crowds he struck the rock with his staff. Frustration led him to disobey and to not honor God as holy.


Second, Moses respects the Edomites (14-29). The Israelites traveled through Edom to get to the Promised Land. Their passage was refused. Moses was very diplomatic. He called them brothers. He talked about God’s grace. He said, “Please”. When Edom refused Moses did not get angry. He honored God as holy. He trusted in God’s timing.


Lord, sometimes my frustration leads to disobedience. Help me to honor you as holy.


One Word: Honor God as holy before the people

Tuesday, November 15




Numbers 21:1-35

“Then Israel made this vow to the LORD: ‘If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy their cities.’ 3 The LORD listened to Israel’s plea and gave the Canaanites over to them…”  (2-3a)


First, God’s victory doesn’t depend on changeable emotions (1-20). It was God’s time for the Israelites to enter the land. God led them and granted victory. The hearts of the people were full of faith and confidence in God. Their victory was not due to their feelings, but because of God’s grace and perfect timing. In fact, the people couldn’t maintain their enthusiasm. When hardships came they again spoke against God and Moses, inviting God’s judgment with snakes. God provided a way to be saved. The people were restored. God continued to lead them and provide (10-20).


Second, God’s victory was abundant (21-35). The Israelites wanted to pass through the land of the Amorites but were refused. In obedience to God, they defeated the King of Bashan and vanquished the Amorites. For forty years there were complaints, wanderings and judgment. Now, with God’s perfect timing, there were shouts of joy and victory.


Lord, I get impatient. Help me to follow you according to your perfect timing.


One Word: Taste victory when its God’s timing

Wednesday, November 16




Numbers 22:1-20

But God said to Balaam, ‘Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.’” (12)


First, never exploit a relationship with God for profit (1-13). God struck fear into the hearts of the Moabites. King Balak tried to hire Balaam, a sorcerer, to curse Israel, by sending delegates with a fee for divination. They were invited into his home while Balaam inquired of God. He should have sent the delegates away immediately. But Balaam was hoping for God to say “yes” so he could get paid. God told him clearly not to go and not to put a curse on God’s blessed people. Balaam sent the men home. His problem was that he was willing to utilize his relationship with God to make money.


Second, we should think twice when God allows our choices (14-20). The delegates reported Balaam’s refusal and were sent back with riches. Balaam invited them to stay while he inquired of God. He wanted the riches and flattery from a king. He was hoping for God to say “yes”, though it was wrong. God was done contending with Balaam. If he really wanted to go then God would conditionally let him go. God may allow things without agreeing.


Lord, help me to serve you with a pure motive to glorify your name among the nations.


One Word: Serve God with pure motives

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