The Holy Spirit - Learning from Numbers
‘Separate... to the Lord,... Separate... from wine and strong drink’ (Numbers 6:2-3): These two thoughts are closely connected in the New Testament - ‘Do not get drunk with wine,... Be filled with the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:18). We are to be ‘holy to the Lord’ (Numbers 6:8). ‘Consecrated to the Lord’, our whole life must be controlled by one thing: ‘Do all to the glory of God’ (1 Corinthians 10:31). Motivated by a desire for God’s glory, we will enjoy God's blessing (Numbers 6:22-27). God’s blessing is not a ‘cheap’ thing, something that doesn’t matter very much. Remember Esau (Genesis 25:29-34). He couldn’t be bothered. He couldn’t care less. God’s blessing meant nothing to him. He didn’t want God’s blessing. What did God do? - He gave it to Jacob. ‘The Lord bless you...’: Do you want this? Or must God find somebody else?
God’s Word - ‘the testimony’ (Numbers 10:11) - reveals God’s purpose (Numbers 10:29) and provides God’s guidance (Numbers 10:33). The ‘cloud’ is like the presence of God’s Spirit hovering over us. Great things are about to happen. The Spirit of God is moving over the face of the people of God gathered for worship (Numbers 10:11; Genesis 1:2). Through the Word, the Spirit draws our attention to the Lord who has promised good to us (Numbers 10:29). Instructed by the Word and strengthened by the Spirit, we ‘journey’ with God (Numbers 10:33).
‘The people complained in the hearing of the Lord’ (Numbers 11:1) - Remember: All our words are spoken ‘in the hearing of the Lord’! There was ‘a rabble among them’ (Numbers 11:4): What problems there are when such people are mingling with God’s people! What are we to do when this happens? - Pray for God’s help (Numbers 11:10-15). God will not disappoint us - He gives people who will ‘take their stand with us’ (Numbers 11:16), the Spirit who rests on God’s people (Numbers 11:25), the Word, ‘strong meat’ to sustain our spiritual strength (Numbers 11:31-32; Hebrews 5:12-14). The lure of the world , the pull of the flesh - ‘the rabble’ wanted to go back to ‘Egypt’ (4-6): This is the attack of the devil. Standing in Christ’s strength alone, we ‘resist the devil’. Defeated by Christ, Satan can do nothing but ‘flee from us’ (Philippians 4:13; James 4:7; 1 John 3:8).
Our words are to be an echo of God’s Word. We are to speak only what God says (Numbers 23:8,12). Before we can speak for God, He must speak to us. ‘God’s Word is truth’ (John 17:17). God does not lie. He does not change His mind. What He says, He does. He fulfils His purpose (Numbers 23:19). How does God carry forward His purpose of blessing? We receive His blessing. We share His blessing with others. We can only bring blessing to others when we ourselves seek blessing from the Lord. His blessing comes to us. His blessing reaches out through us. We speak His Word, yet - through our words - He speaks (Numbers 23:20). This is the work of the Holy Spirit. ‘God’s Word is the sword of the Spirit’ (Ephesians 6:17). The Spirit uses the Word to convict us of our sin and lead us to our Saviour (Hebrews 4:12-16).
When ‘the Spirit of God came upon him’, Balaam’s ‘oracle’ was described as ‘the message of the man who sees clearly’. His ‘eyes are opened’. He sees ‘with far-seeing eyes’. He ‘hears the words of God’. He ‘sees the vision of the Almighty’ (Numbers 24:2-4,15-16). Balaam looks beyond his own time. ‘With far-seeing eyes’, he prophesies concerning our Lord Jesus Christ: ‘I see Him, but not now’ (Numbers 24:17). Balaam catches a glimpse of Jesus Christ, the ‘King of kings’ (Revelation 19:16). This is what we must pray for: ‘the revelation of Jesus Christ’. Pray that you will be ‘in the Spirit’, ready to ‘hear what the Spirit says’ (Revelation 1:1,10; 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). God is the unchanging God - Nothing changes Him (Numbers 23:19). He is also the changing God. He changed Balaam. He will change us!
The ‘feast of weeks’ (Pentecost) turns our thoughts towards the Holy Spirit (Numbers 28:26-31; Acts 2:1-4). It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that the ‘good news’ of Christ becomes real in our lives. He brings us to Christ and leads us on with Him (Acts 2:37-47).
Between the feast of weeks (Pentecost) and the feast of trumpets (Numbers 28:26-29:6), there was the harvest. Pentecost - the outpouring of the Holy Spirit - has ushered in the time of Harvest - the saved are being gathered in as men and women are being won for Christ. During this time of harvest, we ‘blow the trumpets’ of worship, rejoicing in the Lord (Numbers 29:1), and ‘alarm’, calling on men and women to pay attention to the Word of the Lord (Joel 2:1). By blowing the trumpets for God, we prepare the way for the final trumpet, ‘the trumpet of God’ (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).