Numbers 27-28 B

It’s time to try again. After the forty years of consequences for not entering the promised land the first time, Moses is preparing the people for a second go: A recounting of men, a restating of key ordinances, a reappointing of leadership. These things became necessary, because sometimes everything gets thoroughly screwed and you’ve got to start over.

Human history is full of false starts, death, destruction, rebuilds, rebirth and vicious cycles. Living in Europe has given me a more tangible idea of just how many layers of cities can be built on the ruins of others.

It felt a little different reading yesterday’s chapters about the casualties of the plague after skimming the news for updated coronavirus stats.

But here we arrive: at the dawn of a new Israelite day, armed with inheritance rights for women, a newly appointed Joshua, and a reminder about sacrifice. Unfortunately, we know it’s just the beginning of another eventual end.

Today is the end of the first month of 2020, and it has not been a great year so far. The US lost a hero in the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven others. This coronavirus has claimed over 200 souls and has infected more people than SARS did. Today the UK Brexits.

The facts of human circumstance on large scales is overwhelming. In the apex of Israel’s affluence, King Solomon writes Ecclesiastes.

While this can all be pretty depressing (sorry), I find a weird kind of peace knowing the LORD has maintained His sameness throughout. He’s also perpetually down for a reboot. He doesn’t give up, and He gives us New Years, new months, and new days–all the time.

Let’s count up what we have, find our leaders, respect each other’s rights, and never fail to skip a holy convocation–a celebration together before the LORD–for the Good He brings into our lives, allowing us to sacrifice when needed.

-Bethany

Numbers 23-24 B

“Then Balak said to Balaam, ‘Please come, I will take you to another place; perhaps it will be agreeable with God that you curse them for me from there.’” (23:27‬)

When I read this sentence, my first thought is: how ridiculous! You think location makes a difference? But yes! To Balak, it did, because the gods of Canaaan (along with many other international pagan deities) are localized, and must be worshiped–or called upon–in a certain place. They’re also more easily wielded to bless or curse others at the whim of spiritual people.

The LORD is not that way. The whole earth is full of Him. He is creator, and He doesn’t change His mind, or bend to the will of man.

Balaam wasn’t sure how else to explain this situation. I literally cannot move against Him. I cannot curse what He has blessed. All the money in the world couldn’t affect this outcome.

Much of this is taking place unbeknownst to Israel. They’re still across the river grumbling about petty stuff, while the LORD introduces Himself to their enemies.

We don’t know what all the LORD does on our behalf, but by now, we should recognize Who He Is enough to find our place. He is for us, but unable to be manipulated by us. He is over all creation, He’s not the mascot of our club.

If you find yourself praying and praying for something, inventing new ways–places–to ask for the same thing, perhaps it’s time to ask the LORD for His Will. Ask the LORD for His perspective today.

-Bethany

Numbers 21-22 B

I recently listened to a podcast that noted, from a psychology stand point, how genius the bronze snake is in this story. The remedy to the Israelites’ snake bites is to stare into the face of a snake.

I liked the reminder that God often has us face our problems head-on.

Sometimes it bothers me that God sent snakes down to bite them. But I wonder if the analogy of discontentment, spreading like venom in someone’s bloodstream, helped them see how toxic their complaining was. Bitterness leads to death. It kills joy, relationships and growth.

Also at this point I’m surprised he hadn’t totally given up on the Israelites. I will try to keep this in mind when enduring the complaining of my children, who only contribute two tiny, and very cute, voices.

Did you notice the red flags we see in Balaam’s character (I think this is a good practice and also maybe points to my trust issues)?

He’s motivated by money, instead of the Lord, and he’s cruel to animals (who treats their lifelong traveling companion that way?).

You can tell a lot about a person based on those two qualities.

What stuck out to you in these two very unique stories?

-Carly

-Carly

Numbers 19-20 B

It may not seem like it, but chapter 19 is incredibly important and has saved countless lives throughout history.

The LORD teaching Israel about hygiene, and how to handle dead bodies, saved them from numerous plagues, most famously–the bubonic plague—which decreased the population of Europe by half. This actually caused most Jews to relocate to Poland, because of the massive persecution they endured at the time for not being affected.

They probably didn’t know hyssop was an antiseptic with other medicinal purposes when the LORD told them to use it, but it is. They used it, washed with water, and didn’t spread disease.

Europeans thought the Jews were using dark magic to curse them. They over spiritualized a physical fact with superstition.

Often times we over spiritualize our blessings and curses, as we see them in life, and forget that obeying the LORD is simply smart. He is the Creator. He created hyssop and knows how to instruct people to not pass on diseases. His laws bring life, and not just in a spiritual way.

We find in our lives both grace and discipline. Sometimes discipline is just natural consequences to going against the created order. It’s that simple. It’s not the LORD’s personal vendetta against you. You’re the one endangering yourself by fighting science.

How do you find yourself fighting the natural order? In what areas are you ignoring the commands of the LORD? Talk to Him about that today.

-Bethany

Numbers 17-18 B

“When he went into the Tabernacle of the Covenant the next day, he found that Aaron’s staff, representing the tribe of Levi, has sprouted, budded, blossomed, and produced ripe almonds!” 17:8

Instead of just budding, Aaron’s staff completes an entire season’s growth cycle in one night. I love when God gives big, clear signs on what he wants to happen next.

When has God given you a clear sign?

“Be sure to give to the Lord the best portions of the gifts given to you.” 18:29

When you tithe, do you offer what money is leftover? Or do you immediately set aside money for the Lord, no matter what debt, bills or expenses you have coming up?

Bethany wrote a great response to chapter 18. I loved what she said about pastor’s kids!

-Carly

Numbers 15-16 B

“As for the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the LORD. There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.” (15:15-16‬)

Also know as Equal Rights. There aren’t two sets of rules. I am very glad this statute was made.

We are in the thick of rebellion, in these chapters. Korah and the people are coming up against Moses and Aaron. At first, Moses responded with, “yeah we’ll see what the LORD says about that.” (16:5) But then it was he who begged the LORD–multiple times–to not wipe them out completely.

What a great leader. While I’m sure there were people in the crowd he didn’t want swept away, Moses states that his primary reason for not letting the LORD kill them and start over with him, is what it would communicate to the Egyptians.

What would the nations think about the LORD if He killed them all now? He couldn’t do it? He isn’t loving? Moses deeply wants the nations to see that the LORD is able and full of steadfast love (14:18).

However, directly after that interception, the LORD has cause to, yet again, strike the rebels down.

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.’ But they fell on their faces and said, ‘O God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will You be angry with the entire congregation?’ Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the congregation, saying, “Get back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.”‘” (16:20-24)

Whoever doesn’t want to experience their punishment better take a few steps back. I can almost hear the LORD say, “hold my hoops”.

As servants of the LORD, what do we hope to communicate to the world about who He is? Israel was His representatives and we have joined their ranks. Are we cheering for the destruction of power grabbers? Are we grabbing for power? Are we drawing lines in the sand? Are we making distinctions?

What does it mean to you to be His servant? What will it look like today?

-Bethany