14. MERELY BECAUSE SOMETHING WAS AUTHORIZED IN THE PAST DOES NOT MEAN THAT IT ALWAYS WILL BE.
This is another lesson from Numbers 20:11. Approximately 40 years had passed between this passage and Exodus 17:6. The same man is under consideration (Moses). The same problem is being dealt with (lack of water). The same goal is in mind (acquiring water from the rock). However, different instructions were given. Forty years earlier, God told Moses to strike the rock. Moses struck the rock and pleased God. But, in Numbers 20, Moses struck the rock after being told to speak to it. Just because this action was appropriate 40 years earlier didn't mean that it always would be approved. Christians today need to realize this. Nearly 2000 years has passed since the abrogation of the Old Testament. Just because something was approved under the Old Law doesn't mean that it is approved today. Do not go back to the Mosaic Law for specific authority, go back to it to learn general principles (cf. Rom. 15:4).
15. THERE ARE THINGS GOD WILL NOT REMOVE FROM THE WORLD, BUT HE WILL PROVIDE A WAY TO OVERCOME THEM.
Numbers 21:7-9 - "Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, 'We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD that He take away the serpents from us.' So Moses prayed for the people. Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.' So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived."
God sent the venomous serpents initially to punish the grumblers. They begged God to remove the serpents but He would not do so. Instead He provided a way to overcome them. Such is still true today. God has not removed temptation or sin from our world, but He has made a way possible for us to overcome both!
16. TRUE PROPHETS CANNOT BE BRIBED TO SPEAK A MESSAGE THAT IS NOT FROM THE LORD.
Numbers 22:18 - "Then Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, 'Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more.'"
Balaam's heart was corrupt, but he at least said the right words. Today, preachers must not be hirelings (cf. John 10:13). They must care about the sheep and only speak that which comes from the LORD. They will not be bribed or silenced regarding any matter of Scripture (no matter how "controversial" or "politically incorrect" the truth is).
17. GOD KNOWS WHAT IS IN OUR HEARTS.
Numbers 22:22 - "Then God's anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the LORD took His stand in the way as an adversary against him."
As mentioned earlier, Balaam said the right things, but God knew his heart and it was corrupt. Balaam was covetous. He loved money more than he loved the way of the LORD. God knows our motives and desires also; we cannot hide anything from Him.
18. IT IS A MISTAKE TO SETTLE FOR LESS THAN WHAT GOD WANTS TO GIVE YOU.
Numbers 32:5 - "Therefore they said, 'If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession. Do not take us over the Jordan.'"
The two-and-a-half tribes who wanted to settle on the east side of the Jordan were willing to settle for less than what God had in store for them. No doubt, it was a good land, but it wasn't as good as the land that was west of the Jordan! Choosing to settle where they did resulted in them being among the first taken into captivity later, due to their isolation (cf. II Kings 10:32,33). We must learn today to never settle for Earthly glory when we can have a home in heaven--which is precisely what God has in store for His faithful ones (cf. Rev. 2:10)! Furthermore, let us remember Ephesians 3:20,21. God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. Let us think big, pray diligently, and work hard so that we may not settle for less than what Almighty God wants to give us.
19. GOD PROVIDES A PLACE OF REFUGE FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT.
Numbers 35:10-12 - "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall appoint cities to be cities of refuge for you, that the manslayer who kills any person accidentally may flee there. They shall be cities of refuge for you from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation in judgment.'"
Physically, God provided the cities of refuge for manslayers who needed them. Spiritually, God has provided refuge for all today who need it through Jesus and in His church. Truth be told, everyone needs a place of refuge today from sin and death, and there is only one place to find it (cf. Acts 4:12).