Evening Bible Study
We are at the end of Numbers. We are
wrapping up the final details of the wilderness wanderings before Moses gives
the people a refresher course on the Law – the book of Deuteronomy.
:1 And the LORD spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan across
from Jericho, saying:
:2 “Command the children of Israel that they give the Levites cities to
dwell in from the inheritance of their possession, and you shall also give the
Levites common-land around the cities.
:3 They shall have the cities to dwell in; and their common-land shall be
for their cattle, for their herds, and for all their animals.
:2 give the Levites
cities to dwell in
Earlier God had told Aaron:
(Nu 18:20 NKJV) Then the Lord
said to Aaron: “You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have
any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the
children of Israel.
We talked back then about the importance of finding your hope in God, in
God being the greatest treasure in your life.
But let’s get practical, how does that put food on the table? How does that put shoes on the kids’ feet?
Even though the priests and Levites were not to have full “family farms”
that were passed down from generation to generation, they were to be taken care
of. They were to be given cities to live
in with pasture land around them. They could raise their cattle on the pasture
God’s Practical Provision
God’s Word has a marvelous promise for us:
(Php 4:19 NKJV) And my God shall supply all your need according to His
riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
The question is, just how does that work? What does that look like?
GOD WILL PROVIDE
A young man
gets engaged to a young woman and goes to meet her parents over dinner. After dinner the father
takes the young man into the drawing room to find out his plans for life with
his daughter. “So, what are your plans?” The father asks the fiancée. “I am a Biblical Scholar”
he replies “A Biblical Scholar. Admirable, but what will you do to provide a
nice home for my daughter to live in, as she deserves?” The father asks. “I
will study” the young man replies “...God will provide for us.” “And how will
you buy her a beautiful engagement ring, such as she deserves?” The father
asks. “I will concentrate on my studies, God will provide for us.” the young
man replies. “And children”
the father asks “how will you support your children?” “Don’t worry sir” the
young man replies “God will provide.” The conversation proceeds like this, and
each time the father asks a question the young man insists that God will
provide. Later, the mother asks about the discussion, “So, how did it go?” The
father replies “He has no job and no plans, but the good news is he thinks I’m God.”
does indeed provide in a miraculous way.
We read this
week in our Quiet Times about a period in Elijah’s life where God said:
(1 Ki 17:3–6 NKJV) —3 “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by
the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 4 And it will be that you shall
drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” 5 So he went and did
according to the word of the Lord,
for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 6 The
ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the
evening; and he drank from the brook.
I have to tell you though, this is more the exception to
the rule rather than the normal way God does things.
When Jesus and
Peter came to Capernaum, they were faced with owing some tax money. Jesus said to Peter,
(Mt 17:27 NKJV) —27 Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a
hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its
mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and
You might be tempted to look at this story much like that
of Elijah’s. God used a “miracle fish”. But take a moment to think about Peter’s line
of work. He was a fisherman. How would he get the money?
By going to work.
In my experience, the normal way that God will provide is in a very
(Eph 4:28 NKJV) Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working
with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has
I understand that not all of us are physically capable of
work. We are grateful for things like
But for those who are able to work, then work.
For the Levites, they were given real property. And they had to work a day job by raising
their livestock to make ends meet.
:4 The common-land
of the cities which you will give the Levites shall extend from the wall of the
city outward a thousand cubits all around.
:5 And you shall measure outside the city on the east side two thousand
cubits, on the south side two thousand cubits, on the west side two thousand
cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits. The city shall be in the
middle. This shall belong to them as common-land for the cities.
:5 you shall
there would be a band of land wrapping around each of these cities that was
given to the Levites for their herds.
The band started at 1,000 cubits from the city wall (or 1500 feet) and
extended to 2,000 cubits (or 3,000 feet).
:6 “Now among
the cities which you will give to the Levites you shall appoint six cities of
refuge, to which a manslayer may flee. And to these you shall add forty-two
:7 So all the cities you will give to the Levites shall be forty-eight;
these you shall give with their common-land.
:6 cities of refuge
– We’ll get more about these in a minute.
:7 to the Levites
– In Joshua 21, we have a list of these Levitical cities.
:8 And the
cities which you will give shall be from the possession of the children of
Israel; from the larger tribe you shall give many, from the smaller you shall
give few. Each shall give some of its cities to the Levites, in proportion to
the inheritance that each receives.”
:8 from the larger
tribe you shall give many
The tribes that had more land and more cities were to give more of their
cities to the Levites.
A good example of proportional giving
When God asks us to give, it isn’t a flat amount that applies to everyone.
God expects our giving to be in proportion to our substance.
If you have more, you give more. If you have less, you give less.
(1 Co 16:2 NKJV) On the first day of the
week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
Note the “as he may prosper”.
Sometimes we’re “in the money”, and we need to honor God and give from our
But sometimes we’re hurting financially. Don’t feel like you are supposed to come up
with the same dollar amounts as when you’re doing well financially.
Jesus was sitting near the place in the temple where people gave their
money, and he pointed out the person whom He said gave the most.
(Mk 12:42–44 NKJV) —42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which
make a quadrans. 43 So He
called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to
you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the
treasury; 44 for they
all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that
she had, her whole livelihood.”
picture of “mite”. A “mite” is a very,
very small increment of money. Much less
than a penny.
The point is that most “giving” is to be done proportionally. If you are doing well financially, then your
“portion” comes out greater. If you are
struggling financially, your portion comes out smaller.
35:9-34 Cities of
:9 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
:10 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you cross the
Jordan into the land of Canaan,
:11 then you shall appoint cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the
manslayer who kills any person accidentally may flee there.
For the last forty years, the people as a nation have lived close
together. After they conquer the
Promised Land, they will spread out and things will change. Matters like crime and justice will be
handled differently than they were when they all lived together.
:11 the manslayer
This is a person who has accidentally killed another person. The courts today call it manslaughter. Note: Manslaughter is still a serious offense. But it is not one that is punishable by
:12 They shall
be cities of refuge for you from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die
until he stands before the congregation in judgment.
:12 the avenger
Later this person will be called the “avenger of blood” (vs.19)
In those days, if you killed one of my sisters, even accidentally, I would
be obligated to hunt you down and kill you for myself.
:12 until he stands
before the congregation in judgment
God was interested in justice.
God did not want the people taking the law into their own hands.
Each person was entitled to a trial to hear their case.
These “cities of refuge” would provide protection from the “avenger” to
those guilty of manslaughter, as well as provide a court system to judge these
:13 And of the
cities which you give, you shall have six cities of refuge.
:14 You shall appoint three cities on this side of the Jordan, and three
cities you shall appoint in the land of Canaan, which will be cities of refuge.
:15 These six cities shall be for refuge for the children of Israel, for
the stranger, and for the sojourner among them, that anyone who kills a person
accidentally may flee there.
:15 six cities
they? (see Josh.20:7,8 for ref.). See
cities on the east of the Jordan were Bezer in Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead from
Gad, and Golan from Manasseh.
These cities have already been conquered and will be set up as cities of
refuge in a few days (Deut. 4:43).
cities on the west of the Jordan were Kedesh in Galilee from Naphtali, Shechem
from Ephraim, and Hebron from Judah.
These cities hadn’t been conquered, and would be set aside as cities of
refuge at the end of Joshua (ch. 20)
The idea was to scatter the cities throughout Israel so that no matter where you were, you were
never more than a day or two’s journey from one of these cities of refuge.
You’re never too far from God’s
Have you ever felt like you were at the end of your rope?
Have you ever wondered where you were going to go for help?
In the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life”, George Bailey has lived the life of a
good guy. But he comes to a place where
everything seems to fall apart. Listen
to his prayer... (Play
David was at that place many times.
During one such time he was fleeing from Saul and went to the land of
the Philistines. He had run too far from
the cities of refuge, but he found refuge in God.
(Ps 34:1–8 NKJV) —1 I will bless the Lord
at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2 My soul shall make
its boast in the Lord; The humble
shall hear of it and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the Lord
with me, And let us exalt His name together. 4 I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me
from all my fears. 5 They
looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed. 6 This
poor man cried out, and the Lord
heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers
them. 8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord
is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
:8 trusts – NAS translates this phrase
(Ps 34:8 NASB95) …How blessed is
the man who takes refuge in
A refuge is a place of safety. You don’t have to feel
scared or uncertain. God wants to be
:6 to the Levites … cities of refuge
These six cities of refuge were to belong to the Levites. The Levites were the tribe that God had set
aside to help out with the worship of the tabernacle. They were those involved in ministry.
Part of the reasoning in this is that the Levites would also serve as
judges among God’s people. The High Priest
was considered something equivalent to the “Chief Justice”.
But there’s more…
Be a person of grace and safety.
It seems to me that sometimes Christians can come across and pretty cold
Yet the people that God would be using in ministry, those who were chosen
to help the priests (the Levites) were supposed to be the ones welcoming in
those seeking refuge.
They were to be the ones who welcomed with open arms, those fleeing for
Do people feel comfortable coming to you with their problems? Do they feel like you’re going to be fair
(Ro 15:7 NKJV) —7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also
received us, to the glory of God.
(Eph 4:2 NKJV) —2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering,
bearing with one another in love,
:16 ‘But if he
strikes him with an iron implement, so that he dies, he is a murderer; the
murderer shall surely be put to death.
:17 And if he strikes him with a stone in the hand, by which one could die,
and he does die, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death.
:18 Or if he strikes him with a wooden hand weapon, by which one could die,
and he does die, he is a murderer; the murderer shall surely be put to death.
:16 strikes him
Part of the formula to differentiate between murder and manslaughter was
whether the use of a deadly weapon was involved.
It’s one thing
if you accidentally fire a rubber band and hit someone, but if you used something
like this gun you might be in trouble. Play “Disentegrator Rubber Band Gun”
This doesn’t cover the area of self-defense. This is only part of what’s involved in
:19 The avenger
of blood himself shall put the murderer to death; when he meets him, he shall
put him to death.
:20 If he pushes him out of hatred or, while lying in wait, hurls something
at him so that he dies,
:21 or in enmity he strikes him with his hand so that he dies, the one who
struck him shall surely be put to death. He is a murderer. The avenger of blood
shall put the murderer to death when he meets him.
:20 out of hatred
If there was a motive involved with the death, then it looks like murder. Another part of the “murder” formula.
:21 the avenger of
If it was determined that the crime committed was indeed murder, then the
avenger of blood was allowed to carry out the death sentence.
if he pushes him suddenly without enmity, or throws anything at him without
lying in wait,
:23 or uses a stone, by which a man could die, throwing it at him without
seeing him, so that he dies, while he was not his enemy or seeking his harm,
:24 then the congregation shall judge between the manslayer and the avenger
of blood according to these judgments.
These are all examples of manslaughter, when another person was killed by
you without premeditation or intent.
congregation shall judge
This isn’t always as easy as it seems.
I’ve served on a couple of trial juries, and it seems like going into a
trial you have your first impressions, which can be TOTALLY wrong.
The fun thing about a really good murder mystery is how the writer gets you
to think that one person is guilty, but in fact it was someone else who was at
:25 So the
congregation shall deliver the manslayer from the hand of the avenger of
blood, and the congregation shall return him to the city of refuge where he had
fled, and he shall remain there until the death of the high priest who was
anointed with the holy oil.
:25 until the death
of the high priest
It has been suggested that the death of the high priest brought about some kind of atoning for
sin. The death of the high priest
brought the cancellation of the manslayer’s sin.
It was kind of a prison
system, but without the bars.
You would be a captive in your city of refuge. But instead of having a certain numbers of
years to serve, you had to wait until the death of the high priest.
For some that would be a few years.
For others, that might mean a lifetime sentence.
If you committed manslaughter, and an old 60 year old guy like Jehoiada is
the high priest, you might think you’ve got it made, until it turns out that
Jehoiada would live to be 130 years old!
It put things into the hands of God.
There were also some other things that developed as a result of this.
mothers of the priests would be sure to supply lots of food and clothing to
those taking refuge so that they might be less inclined to pray for the death
of their sons (Gill)
:26 But if the
manslayer at any time goes outside the limits of the city of refuge where he
:27 and the avenger of blood finds him outside the limits of his city of
refuge, and the avenger of blood kills the manslayer, he shall not be guilty of
In other words, if the manslayer was not abiding under the rules, and left
his city of refuge, he is open to capital punishment.
The one who puts the guilty party to death is not guilty of murder.
:28 because he should have remained in his city of refuge until the death
of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest the manslayer may
return to the land of his possession.
When the high priest died, the sentence was over. The manslayer could go home and was not a
target anymore of the avenger. If an
avenger tried to kill the freed prisoner, he would in turn be guilty of murder.
:29 ‘And these things shall be a statute of judgment to you throughout your
generations in all your dwellings.
:30 Whoever kills a person, the murderer shall be put to death on the
testimony of witnesses; but one witness is not sufficient testimony against a
person for the death penalty.
It always took two or more witnesses to convict a person of murder.
:31 Moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is
guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death.
:31 no ransom
– In other words, a murderer could not buy his way out of his sentence.
There was nothing that he could do once found guilty, he was to die.
:32 And you shall take no ransom for him who has fled to his city of
refuge, that he may return to dwell in the land before the death of the priest.
A person guilty of manslaughter could also not buy his way out of his
:33 So you
shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no
atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by
the blood of him who shed it.
:34 Therefore do not defile the land which you inhabit, in the midst of
which I dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.’ ”
:33 blood defiles
The only way for a country not to be polluted by the blood spilt by
murderers, is to put to death those convicted of murder.
Do you think our country is polluted?
We’ve heard it said by Billy Graham that if God doesn’t judge America, He’ll
have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.
:1 Now the chief fathers of the families of the children of Gilead the son
of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of the sons of Joseph, came
near and spoke before Moses and before the leaders, the chief fathers of the
children of Israel.
:2 And they said: “The LORD commanded my lord Moses to give the land as an
inheritance by lot to the children of Israel, and my lord was commanded by the
LORD to give the inheritance of our brother Zelophehad to his daughters.
:2 to his daughters
We saw this back in Numbers 27, when these gals came forward with a concern that the portion
of the Promised Land that might have gone to their family was going to
disappear because their father had no sons, only daughters. God responded by promised that the daughters
would get a piece of the inheritance.
:3 Now if they
are married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the children of Israel,
then their inheritance will be taken from the inheritance of our fathers, and
it will be added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they marry; so it
will be taken from the lot of our inheritance.
:4 And when the Jubilee of the children of Israel comes, then their
inheritance will be added to the inheritance of the tribe into which they
marry; so their inheritance will be taken away from the inheritance of the
tribe of our fathers.”
The Jubilee was a special year that came once every fifty years. (Lev.25)
All debts were to be forgiven.
Any land that
was sold was to be returned to the original family and the original tribe of
Yet apparently land could be lost if it was acquired by marriage.
Here’s the problem:
If any of these
daughters of Zelophehad started to notice one of the fellows from outside the tribe of Manasseh, then their property would
become the property of the husband’s tribe.
The leaders of the tribe of Manasseh were concerned that these new
inheritance laws were going to result in all their tribe’s property being taken
away through marriage.
:5 Then Moses
commanded the children of Israel according to the word of the LORD, saying:
“What the tribe of the sons of Joseph speaks is right.
:5 sons of Joseph
– Joseph had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.
The tribe of Manasseh was part of the tribe of Joseph.
:6 This is what
the LORD commands concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, ‘Let them
marry whom they think best, but they may marry only within the family of their
:6 marry only
within the family
These five daughters were all now property owners.
But their pieces of property also came a restriction – they had to marry
someone within their tribe.
Blessings come with restrictions.
There are lots of incredible, wonderful promises that God has for us.
But some of these promises require that we follow some restrictions in
order to receive them.
It’s just like the principle of “borders” we talked about in Numbers
34. God has some limits for His
Example – God’s Peace
We’d all like to have a sense of peace in our lives. But there are some restrictions to receiving
the promise of peace:
(Php 4:6–9 NKJV) —6 Be
anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with
thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which
surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ
Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are
noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are
lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there
is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you
learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
God gives some of the “restrictions” if you want to
You need to learn to pray. (vs. 6)
You need to learn to trust God (pray with thanksgiving)
You need to change your thought life. (vs. 8)
You need to learn to “do” (vs. 9) godly things.
of Zelophehad had to choose to follow the restrictions if they wanted the
:7 So the inheritance
of the children of Israel shall not change hands from tribe to tribe, for every
one of the children of Israel shall keep the inheritance of the tribe of his
:7 keep the
God didn’t want families giving away their inheritance.
A major theme running through the Old Testament is the idea of the family
It was the plot
of land that was given to your family all the way back in the days of Joshua.
God wanted families to have an inheritance to pass on from generation to
That was one of the reasons for the “jubilee”. It ensured that even if someone in your family had to sell the
property, at the year
of jubilee the property came back into the family.
It’s important to have something to pass on to your kids. It’s important to pass on the right things to
Bear Mom” video clip.
I may not teach
my kids how to hunt seals, but I can teach them how to know the Lord and experience
the joys and blessings of walking with God.
I want to be careful that the way I am guiding my family doesn’t lead them
further from the Lord, but closer to Him.
Say I receive a job offer out of state, better money, better position, but
no healthy churches around.
Is it better for me to go for the world’s standards of climbing the
corporate ladder, or taking care of the spiritual welfare of my family?
Don’t jeopardize your inheritance
:8 And every daughter
who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel shall be
the wife of one of the family of her father’s tribe, so that the children of
Israel each may possess the inheritance of his fathers.
:9 Thus no inheritance shall change hands from one tribe to another, but
every tribe of the children of Israel shall keep its own inheritance.”
:10 Just as the LORD commanded Moses, so did the daughters of Zelophehad;
:11 for Mahlah, Tirzah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Noah, the daughters of
Zelophehad, were married to the sons of their father’s brothers.
:12 They were married into the families of the children of Manasseh the son
of Joseph, and their inheritance remained in the tribe of their father’s
:13 These are the commandments and the judgments which the LORD commanded
the children of Israel by the hand of Moses in the plains of Moab by the
Jordan, across from Jericho.
:10 so did the
daughters of Zelophehad
These gals wanted a piece of the Promised Land. They did it God’s way.