Wednesday, November 28, 2018

McGee and Me #8 Numbers

Numbers. (Thru the Bible #8) J. Vernon McGee. 1975. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]

I recently bought a complete set of J. Vernon McGee's Thru the Bible commentary series. These books are loosely based on his popular radio program. I have read a handful of his commentaries in the past--including this one--but I plan on reading and/or rereading all of the commentaries (again)

Though Numbers has thirty-six chapters, McGee tackles them all in one book. The book is a surprisingly quick read. 

From the introduction: The Book of Numbers, called Arithmoi (meaning “Arithmetic”) in the Septuagint, gets its name from the census in chapters 1 and 26. Numbers takes up the story where Exodus left off. It is the fourth book of the Pentateuch.

From chapter one: God spoke to Moses in the wilderness, but He spoke from the tabernacle. The tabernacle was in the wilderness. Just so, the church today is in the world.

Numbers has never been my favorite book in the Pentateuch. (That would probably be Genesis or Deuteronomy.) But I was able to come to a better appreciation of it thanks to J. Vernon McGee. Some of the chapters that I find most tedious--even boring--he brought new insights to. (For example, the second longest chapter in the Bible--the one where each of the twelve tribes gives the exact same offering.)

I am still loving McGee's casual approach or narrative style. I am sure there are more informative, perhaps better written commentaries out there. But McGee is readable and fun.


  • God has saved us by His infinite, marvelous, wonderful grace. But you and I are in a world that is wicked and rough. Like the children of Israel out in the wilderness, we are in the wilderness of this world, which is full of sin.
  • In this book we will find wars and trumpets, battles and giants—all of that. You and I live in that kind of world yet today.
  • One would think we have here 54 verses of unnecessary details which are quite boring, but we need to remember that these details were important to God.
  • First of all, we see that God is interested in the individuals. Mass movements have their place and play their role but God is interested in redeemed individuals. He is interested in every individual.
  • We need to know our pedigree, the fact that we belong to the family of God as His children. And, we need to know where we belong.
  • Our enemies today are the world, the flesh, and the devil. My friend, they will overcome you if you are not sure of your salvation.
  • Every person in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has a God-appointed place. All service in the church is to be directed by the Holy Spirit.
  • We have been given as a love gift from the Father to the Son. Some of us may feel that He didn’t get very much. We need to remember that it is not what we are now, but what He is going to make out of us, that is important.
  • The Christian today needs to recognize that he is a pilgrim going through the wilderness of this world. Everything and everyone must be in his place for the walk, the work, the war, and the worship of the wilderness.
  • We need to recognize that if we are going to walk with God, if we are going to have fellowship with Him, there must be a cleansing of our lives.
  • In our churches today, we shut our eyes to sin in the lives of the people.
  • Where do you find joy, friend? I ask you that very personally. Do you need the stimulants of this world in order to enjoy “Christian” things?
  • Can you really get joy out of studying the Word of God? Does prayer turn you off or turn you on? My, how many of us today think we are being really Christian and really spiritual when all we have been doing is bringing the world into our activities!
  • Do you find your joy in the Lord? Are you willing to bear shame for Him, to take a humble place for Him? Are you willing to put Him first, above everything in this life? You see, although the believer today doesn’t take a Nazarite vow, there is the offer of a closer walk with the Lord.
  • Sometimes when you stand for God, you will find you must stand alone. He must be first in your life.
  • Friend, if God is going to use you, He’ll have to clean you. He will have His own way of doing it.
  • If you are to serve God, you must confess your sins. The brazen altar is the place where the sinner comes to God for salvation; the laver is the place the believer, the saint of God, comes to be cleansed.
  • The Word of God can dig down into your life and find things wrong there that you didn’t know were wrong.
  • We need to wash our garments—we have certain habits that we need to get rid of because they are hurting our testimony for the Lord.
  • We are not a group that is marching because we are better than anyone else. We are sinners who have been saved by the grace of God. If you see yourself as a sinner and you need a Savior, turn to Him by simple faith and trust Him.
  • Join the march! This is no protest march; it is a salvation march, a redemption march. It is the march that is going to Zion, not the earthly Zion but the heavenly one, the city of Jerusalem which will come down from God out of heaven, adorned like a bride for the bridegroom.
  • It was not God’s idea to send spies into the land. The sending in of the spies denoted a weakness and a fear on the part of the people.
  • He would not have sent them into the land unless He knew they could take it. When they finally did enter the land, the giants were still there; all the difficulties and problems were still there, yet they took the land.
  • What an important message this is for us today! Are we really walking by faith? Of course we need to take precautions, but there is a time when we do need to commit our way unto the Lord.
  • As God brought these children of Israel out of the land of Egypt and did put them in the Promised Land, so God will complete the plan He had for you when He saved you.
  • And He will complete the plan He is working on now for the entire earth, because the time is coming when the whole earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.
  • There can be no victory when there is no submission to the will of God.
  • Presumption is as dangerous as unbelief.
  • Now we enter that division of the Book of Numbers from chapter 15 to 25, which I call “Faltering, Fumbling, and Fussing through the Wilderness.”
  • Walking is turned to wandering; marching is turned to murmuring; witnessing is turned to wailing; warring is turned to wobbling; singing is turned to sighing; and working is turned to wishing.
  • Unfortunately, I must say that a great many Christians go through life just like that!
  • When there is sin in the church, you and I bear a certain amount of responsibility. We cannot escape the responsibility for sin in our lives, sin in our families, and sin in our church.
  • It is also true of you and me that we don’t amount to anything when we are out of the will of God.
  • When you and I are not functioning in the body of believers, exercising the gift that He has given to us by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are as unnecessary as a fifth leg on a cow.
  • All of us are just pilgrims passing through this world; we won’t be in any one place for long. So we ought not to spend so much time complaining.
  • Some men teach that his error was in smiting the rock twice. He should not have smitten it at all, friend. It had already been smitten. The rock is a type of Christ (1 Cor. 10:4). Christ suffered once for sins, never the second time. He died once. God was teaching this to them in a type, and Moses should have protected and guarded the type by obeying God.
  • When we read the New Testament, we find that Moses did reach the Promised Land eventually; he appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration with Christ in that land.
  • Our High Priest will not die. He died once for us down here; He lives forever for us up there. He will always be there for us.
  • We can always depend on Him. He knows each of us individually and we can know Him. To know Him is life everlasting.
  • It’s amazing how easy it is for us to complain, and especially to complain about that which pertains to the things of God.
  • Now, that is a problem with many folk today. They want to begin with God as a church member, as a nice little girl or boy. We all must begin with God as sinners. The only way that God will begin with us is as sinners.
  • You see, Christ died for sinners, and He loves sinners. If you can’t come in under that category, then Christ is not for you. He came for sinners.
  • They are to look at the brazen serpent, and they are to look in faith. In fact, they would not look if it were not in faith.
  • How was the Son of man lifted up? You say, on a cross. Yes, but He was dying on the cross of Barabbas, and Barabbas was a thief and a murderer. Barabbas was guilty and was worthy of death. Jesus was not. Our Lord was made sin for us. On that cross, He not only has taken the place of Barabbas but also your place and my place.
  • God permitted this and did this because He loves us. But God cannot save us by His love.
  • It doesn’t say that God so loved the world that He saved the world. Not at all. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.
  • Now what God asks you to do, my friend, is to look and live. Look to Christ! He is taking your place there. You are a sinner and it is you who deserves to die. Christ did not deserve to die. He died for you.
  • We read here that this serpent of brass was made, and those who looked to it lived. Those who did not look to it—died. It is just that simple today. Either you are looking to Christ as your Savior because you are a sinner, or you are not doing it.
  • You must look to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is just as simple as that. And by the way, it is just as complicated as that. What a problem people have today. They would rather look to themselves and to their own good works, trusting that somehow their own good works might save them.
  • A wag once said that it was a miracle in Balaam’s day when an ass spoke, and it’s a miracle in our day when one keeps quiet!
  • Today we find the revolutionaries are on the inside of our nation. We are being destroyed from within. Rome didn’t fall from the outside. No enemy from the outside destroyed Rome, but Rome fell from within.
  • Although this chapter is like a road map, and not interesting to read, it reveals that God noted and recorded every step that these people took.
  • In fact, He was with them every step of the way through the wilderness march.
  • This is one of the great truths of the Word of God. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
  • My friend, do not criticize God. Do not sit in judgment on God. We cannot realize all that is involved in any situation.
  • One thing we do know—we will not experience peace on this earth until the rule of the Prince of Peace. Until that time, God will use nations in judgment upon other nations.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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