Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | July 11, 2014

“while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly”

Today’s devotion comes from Numbers 15:1-3.  The next devotion, God willing, will be July 20, 2014.  I am leaving tomorrow to hike for 7 days with my youngest son a section of the Appalachian Trail near Asheville, North Carolina.  Please pray for us.

“Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land where you are to live, which I am giving you, then make an offering by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering or a sacrifice to fulfill a special vow, or as a freewill offering or in your appointed times, to make a soothing aroma to the Lord, from the herd or from the flock.”  Numbers 15:1-3.


It is noteworthy that so close to the time that the LORD announced His dreadful punishment that Israel would wander in the wilderness for 40 years until a whole generation would die in it, that the LORD gave this hope that they (at least the children and Joshua and Caleb) would still enter the promised land of Canaan “where you are to live, which I am giving you”.

At times, we too may feel that we are pilgrims wandering through a wilderness, but we can look to the LORD for words of hope and comfort.  And, this hope causes us to persevere through tribulations, and this hope does not disappoint.

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;  and perseverance, proven character;  and proven character, hope;  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  Romans 5:3-5.

Reformed Doctrine helps us believe.  Reformed Doctrine teaches us “Total Depravity”, the “T” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.  There was nothing loveable about us in this our natural condition of “Total Depravity”.  We were hostile to God and dead in sin.  Like a rebellious Israel wandering in the wilderness, we were helpless.

And yet, “… while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will hardly die for a righteous man;  though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”  Romans 5:6-11.

And so, when we read about the punishment of Israel in Numbers Chapter 14, and then come to the hope at the start of the next chapter in today’s Scripture, we can be reminded of words of hope and comfort not only in Romans 5:3-11 but throughout Scripture.

Reformed Doctrine teaches us that this hope and comfort are not based on us (how loveable we are or our performance).  This hope and comfort is based on God and His unfathomable love for us.

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