Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Shepherd's Conference Journal - Dr. Ligon Duncan

In beginning his keynote address to the 3,000-plus in attendance, Dr. Duncan said at the outset that preaching from the book of Numbers might seem an odd choice. However, Numbers is in the Bible for a reason, and there are riches to be mined there.

On the surface, Numbers is a difficult book. Not only lots of history and lists, but also lots of grumbling and sadness. Despite this, there are blessings galore in Numbers. If you need history, this is like none you've ever read. God in essence saying to Moses, "These are your people. Learn." We see people behaving very badly with pride at the root of it all. Our lives are spent dealing with people behaving very badly. In Numbers, there is an underlying logic to all its sections - all has a purpose for being recorded. Moses drives home the truth. For comparison, look at 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 and know that this is recorded in Exodus or Numbers. Paul's points are drawn from Numbers. There are nine things to note from Numbers:

1. Events that took place in the wilderness were examples for us.

2. Events recorded are moral warnings to us.

3. All of the events recorded with Israel are examples for us, and it ought to be sobering.

4. Numbers' events provide exhortations for Christians.

5. Paul specifically shows how things apply to New Testament believers in four areas - don't engage in idolatry, don't be immoral, don't presume to test God, and don't grumble. Ligon expounded a bit on each of these areas, not recorded here for time purposes. Showing APPLICATION.

6. Written down for Christians' instruction.

7. Don't think you can't fall in sin like Israel did.

8. Learn from Israel's temptation and failure to escape our own.

9. Paul makes it clear that Christ is in the middle of the story. It's all ultimately about Him.

Dr. Duncan then recalled the Welsh poet William Williams, whose hymn "Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah" is a meditation on the book of Numbers.

The next post will conclude Dr. Duncan's message and will illustrate the grand themes that can be extracted from numbers. Hint - sin in the camp causes all sorts of problems. Nasty ones.

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