March 31: Gifts and Grace
Numbers 35:1–36:13; 1 Corinthians 16:1–24; Psalm 30:1–12
“Yahweh spoke to Moses on the desert plains of Moab beyond the Jordan across Jericho, saying, ‘Command the children of Israel that they give to the Levites from the inheritance of their property cities to live in; and you will give to the Levites pastureland all around the cities’ ” (Num 35:1–2).
The idea of giving is ancient. Before God’s people even enter the promised land, they’re commanded to help the Levites—who will be serving them as spiritual leaders—by giving them cities. Now that God has given to the people, He asks that they give back to His work. There is an opportunity for obedience, and this obedience will come with the blessing of continued spiritual guidance from the people to whom they are giving the land. But giving is not the only concept at play here.
Shortly after this, God asks the people to provide refuge cities for murderers (Num 35:6–8). He institutes a system of grace—a type of house arrest. The idea that synagogues and churches are places where criminals can find refuge (sanctuary) likely finds its origins in this.
This system of grace also manifests itself in types of hospitality. We see this several times in Paul’s letters. For example, Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians was on the rocks, yet he still requests hospitality for his fellow ministry worker: “But if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without cause to fear, for he is carrying out the Lord’s work, as I also am. Therefore do not let anyone disdain him, but send him on his way in peace in order that he may come to me, for I am expecting him with the brothers” (1 Cor 16:10–11).
God is gracious, and He calls us to be the same way—even when we don’t want to, and even when our sense of justice makes being gracious frustrating.
Is God calling you to be gracious to someone? How are you going to give?
JOHN D. BARRY
- And the Lord spake unto Moses in the plain of Moab by Jordan, toward Jericho, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession, cities to dwell in: ye shall give also unto the Levites the suburbs of the cities round about them. So they shall have the cities to dwell in, and their suburbs shall be for their cattle, and for their substance, and for all their beasts. And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, from the wall of the city outward shall be a thousand cubits round about. And ye shall measure without the city of the East side, two thousand cubits: and of the South side, two thousand cubits: and of the West side, two thousand cubits: and of the North side, two thousand cubits: and the city shall be in the midst: this shall be the measure of the suburbs of their cities. And of the cities which ye shall go unto the Levites, there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint, that he which killeth, may flee thither: and to them ye shall add two and forty cities more. All teh cities which ye shall give to the Levites, shall be eight and forty cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs. And concerning teh cities which ye shall give, of the possession of teh children of Israel: of many ye shall take more, and of few ye shall take less: everyone shall give of his cities unto the Levites, according to his inheritance, which he inheriteth. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come over Jordan into th land of Canaan, Ye shall appoint you cities, to be cities of refuge for you, that the slayer, which slayeth any person unawares, may flee thither. And these cities shall be for you for a refuge from thy avenger, that he which killeth, die not, until he stand before the Congregation in judgment. And of the cities which ye shall give, six cities shall ye have for refuge. Ye shall appoint three on thi side Jordan, and ye shall appoint three cities in the land of Canaan which shall be cities of refuge. These six cities shall be a refuge for the children of Israel, and for the stranger, and for him that dwelleth among you, that everyone which killeth any person unawares, may flee thither. And if one smite another with an instrument of iron he may be slain, and he die, he is a murderer, and the murderer shall die the death. Or if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood, wherewith he may be slain, if he die, he is a murderer, and the murderer shall die the death. Also if he smite him with an hand weapon of wood wherewith he may be slain, if he die, he is a murderer, and the murderer shall die the death. The revenger of the blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him. But if he thurst him of hate, or hurl at him by laying of wait, that he die, Or smite him through enmity with his hand, that he die, he that smote him shall die the death: for he is a murderer: the revenger of the blood shall slay the murderer when he meeteth him. But if he pushed him unadvisedly, and not of hatred, or cast upon him anything, without laying of wait, Or any stone (whereby he might be slain), and saw him not, or caused it to fall upon him, and he die, and was not his enemy, neither sought hint any harm, Then the Congregation shall judge between the slayer and the avenger of blood according to these laws. And the Congregation shall deliver the slayer out of the hand of the avenger of blood, and the Congregation shall restore him unto the city of his refuge, whither he was fled: and he shall abide there unto the death of the high Priest, which is anointed with the holy oil. But if the slayer come without the borders of the city of his refuge, whither he was fled, And the revenger of blood find him without the borders of the city of his refuge, and the revenger of blood slay the murderer, he shall be guiltless, Because he should have remained in the city of his refuge, until the death of the high Priest: and after the death of the high Priest, the slayer shall return unto the land of his possession. So these things shall be a law of judgment unto you, throughout your generations in all your dwellings. Whosoever killeth any person, the Judge shall slay the murderer, through witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against a person to cause him to die. Moreover ye shall take no recompense for the life o fthe murderer, which is worthy to die: but he shall be put to death. Also ye shall take no recompense for the life of the murderer, whic is worhty to die: but he shall be put to death. Also ye shall take no recopmense for him that is fled to the city of his refuge, that he should come again, and dwell in the land, before the death of the high Priest. So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye shall dwell: for blood defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, for I dwel in the midst thereof: For I the Lord dwell among the children of Israel. Then the chief fathers of the family of the sons of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of the sons of Joseph, came, and spake before Moses, and before the princes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, And said, The Lord commanded my lord, to give the land to inherit by lot to the children of Israel: and my lord was commanded by the Lrod, to give the inheritance of Zelophehad our brohter unto his daughters. If they be married to any of the sons of the other tribes of the children of Israel, then shall their inheritance be taken away from the inheritance of our fathers, and shall be put unto the inheritance of our fathers, and shall be put unto the inheritance of the tribe whereof they shall be: so shall it be taken away from the lot of our inheritance. Also when the Jubilee of the children of Israel cometh, then shall their inheritance be put unto the inheritance of the tribe whereof they shall be: so shall their inheritance be taken away from the inheritance of the tribe of our fathers. Then Moses commanded the children of Israel, according to the word of the Lord hath commanded, concerning the daughters of Zelophehad, saying, They shall be wives, to whom they think best, only to the family of the tribe of their father shall they marry: So shall not the inheritance of the children of Israel remove from tribe to tribe, for every one of the children of Israel shall join himself to the inheritance of the tribe of his fathers. And every daughter that possesseth any inheritance of the tribes of the children o fIsrael, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father: that the children of Israel may enjoy every man the inheritance of their fathers. Neither shall the inheritance go about from tribe to tribe: but every one of the tribes of the children of Israel shall stick to his own inheritance. As the Lord commanded Moses, so did the aughters of Zelopheha. For Mahlah, Tirzah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Noah the daughters of Zelophehad were married unto their father’s brother’s sons, They were wives to certain of the families of the sons of Manasseh the son of Joseph: so their inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of our father. These are the commandments and laws which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses, unto the children of Israel in the plain of Moab, by Jordan toward Jericho. Numbers 35:1–36:13
- Concerning the gathering for the Saints, as I have ordained in the Churches of Galatia, so do ye also. Every first day of the week, let every one of you put aside by himself, and lay up as God hath prospered him, that then there be no gatherings when I come. And when I am come, whomsoever ye shall allow by letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me. Now I will come unto you, after I have gone through Macedonia (for I will pass through Macedonia.) And it may be that I will abide, yea, or winter with you, that ye may bring me on my way, whithersoever I go. For I will not see you now in my passage, but I trust to abide a while with you, if the Lord permit. And I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries. Now if Timothy come, see that he be without fear with you: for he worketh the work of the Lord, even as I do. Let no man therefore despise him: but convey him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I looked for him wih the brethren. As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his mind was not at all to come at this time: howbeit he will come when he shall have convenient time. Watch ye: stand fast in the faith: quit you like men, and be strong. Let all your things be done in love. Now brethren, I beseech you (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have given themselves to minister unto the Saints.) That ye be obedient even unto such, and to all that help with us and labor. I am glad of the coming of Stephanas, and Fortunatus, and Achaicus: for they have supplied the want of you. For they have comforted my spirit and yours: acknowledge therefore such men. The Churches of Asia salute you: Aquila and Priscilla with the Church that is in their house, salute you greatly in the Lord. All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with an holy kiss. The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. If any man love not the lord Jesus Christ, let him be had in execration maran-atha. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus, Amen. 1 Corinthians 16:1–24
- I will magnify thee, O Lord: thou hast exalted me, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast restored me. O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul out of the grave: thou hast revived me from them that go down into the pit. Sing praises unto the Lord, ye his Saints, and give thanks before the remembrance of his Holiness. for he endureth but a while in his anger: but in his favor is life: weeping may abide at evening, but joy cometh in the morning. And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. For thou Lord of thy goodness hadst made my mountain to stand strong: but thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. Then cried I unto thee, O Lord, and prayed to my Lord. What profit is there in my blood, when I go own to the pit! shall the dust give thanks unto thee? or shall it declare thy truth? Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me: Lord, be thou mine helper. Thou hast turned my mourning into joy: thou hast loosed my sack, and girded me with gladness. Therefore shall my tongue praise thee and not cease: O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever. Psalm 30:1–12