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 13-14 B

“Then they plotted among themselves, ‘Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!’ ” 14:4

The foreshadows and symbolism of Christ are endless in these chapters, but I felt especially drawn to this sentence.

I feel like I’ve been in the middle of that huddle. Haven’t you? The root of all their doubt in God’s plan is fear and they are ready to abandon Moses as their trusty leader and go back to slavery. SLAV-E-RY is the better option to them.

Moses has performed miracles in front of them, in the name of provision and protection, and they are still ready to bail. We are not logical people. We are fearful. We scare easily and run around, crashing into to one another like cartoon, when fear takes over.

What’s your knee-jerk reaction when you’re afraid?

Do you run towards God, or away from him?

Think of a time you’ve turned on a spiritual leader out of fear. Do you repeat this pattern in your relationship with the Lord?

-Carly

Numbers 9-10 B

“At the command of the Lord they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle many days, the people of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not set out.” 9:18

I love imagining the Israelites eyeing the sky, watching to see if the flame-cloud was lifting. Would it be time to pack up camp again? If you’ve ever been camping, you know this is not a quick task. I’m trying to imagine a constant camping trip, with children, animals and a ton of equipment and belongings. It sounds exhausting! Yet when you are literally draped with God’s protection and guidance, how could you complain? (As we all know, they found plenty of opportunities to fit it in.)

Are you in a season like that? Where every day (every hour), you’re waiting for God to lead you to your next spot?

Following a cloud filled with Lord’s presence sounds easier, honestly. Better than a constant guessing game of should we go here, should we take that job, is this relationship okay, what’s going to happen next blah blah blah.

When things are particularly rough and I’m not sure where to go next, he’s shown up in my dreams. Spelling out a very articulate message. “Do this.”

Often times I’ll pray and ask him to tell a specific person what I need to do next. I have several people who are messengers like this to me, like my husband or Bethany. (No pressure guys.) It’s okay to ask for confirmation and affirmation when you’re trying to follow the Lord.

It takes a certain about of faith, prayer and discernment to hear from God, but sometimes it’s just nice to have it confirmed by someone else. (If you feel like God is giving you a specific message for someone, pass it along!)

What does it look like for God to lead you around the wilderness?

-Carly

Numbers 5-6 B

Please stand by while I air my grievances:

When a husband is suspicious of his wife’s loyalty to him, or jealous of her interactions with another man, he can publicly humiliate her? I’m glad the women at least have a chance to defend themselves, but to be on trial like that and be a spectacle in the Temple would be mortifying.

Also, I didn’t see any avenues for the women to go down if they’re suspicious of their husband’s faithfulness.

And wow. Having your hair pulled down, a rotting womb and fat belly as a punishment? Is there much else that could take down a woman in this cultural context?

God is fiercely protective over marriage, and requires fierce consequences. He is a jealous God, and desires our complete loyalty. This is to be reflected in our faithfulness to our spouses when we are in covenant together with the Lord.

The commentary in my Bible points out that surrounding cultures in this time period would have poisoned women in a public ritual like this, whether they were guilty or not. So comparatively, drinking a little dirty water was essentially harmless to the innocent.

Later in the Bible, a woman will be pulled out of bed while she’s cheating on her husband, and thrown down at the feet of Jesus (John 8). Religious leaders, with their hands gripped around rocks, will wait for Jesus to give them the green light to stone this woman to death.

She deserved condemnation, according to The Law. But Jesus steps in and intervenes, sparing her life, showing her mercy, and teaching the religious leaders that he brings Life to those facing death.

He’s the curse-breaker, slate-wiper and law-fulfiller.

-Carly

Numbers 1-2 B

I wondered out loud to my husband why God had Israel do a task like that. An inventory of all the men? Couldn’t he just tell Moses how many soldiers he had? “Hey, you have 603,550 eligible soldiers to take into battle. Here’s how you should divide them up…”?

My husband spoke to the logistical benefits of a list like that. The order it would bring to sending out soldiers would provide some intention behind each battle, instead of masses of unnamed men taking off. But still, why couldn’t God just rattle off the data to Moses and Aaron and save them the headache and a day’s work? Shrugging, he responded “because it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t do it ourselves”.

God brings so much order and intention to our lives, and nothing is in vain. I’m a pretty Type B person, and usually like to wiggle out of handling tedious logistics. Handling a census seems like such a nightmare to me! But I love that counting people, one by one, name by name, is actually holy work. It will provide practical data that will be repeatedly referenced. It will help sort out who leaves, and who makes it back. And it will recognize who doesn’t.

Take a minute and reflect on the things in your life that need order. Can you see God’s purpose or hand in it? It helps me engage a little bit if I see the value of a task, so I don’t feel like a hamster in a wheel. Look for the intention! It’s there.

-Carly

Leviticus 23-24 B

I’ve recently been contemplating what I think about the death penalty. It came up in conversation somehow among friends and I was fascinated by all the pieces of Scripture people used to defend their stance.

Whatever side of the argument you land on, one thing is for sure, it’s tricky. To lean heavily into pacifism seems to ignore the Old Testament. But the other side of the argument seems to require ignoring most of the New Testament.

This came to mind today when I was reading 24:13-24. Lots of people getting what they deserve, laying in the bed they made, tasting their own medicine, etc. Consequences are quite different before Jesus arrives on the scene, right?

We can’t cherry-pick out of the Bible to get it to say what we want.

The Bible is one seamless story and you need all of it. And I’m so, so thankful to be living in the part of the story with Jesus in it.

Are you operating out of God’s immense grace?

Do you want to receive his grace and mercy, but want your enemies to answer to the Levitical law?

-Carly

Leviticus 19-20 B

I lost count of how many times there was a verse instructing us to follow and obey all of God’s rules in these chapters. Mostly it feels reasonable. (Don’t have an affair with one’s aunt? Got it.) But other times it feels like a daunting task. Be perfectly holy as I am holy.

How does it make you feel to read pieces of Scripture like that?

Mostly, I lean heavily into the chapters as a whole. God prioritizes the widow, the refugee and children. His warnings against child sacrifice are bone chilling.

I also like remembering that God is setting a standard for Israel. A high one.

Personally for me, this chapter encouraged me in my parenting. Reminded me to expect a lot and provide grace, and remember that they’re just children. They need good behavior modeled to them, they need room for error and they need a way out.

“Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” Matthew 5:17-18

Jesus doesn’t dismantle these laws and expectations. God still wants this amount of holiness out of us. Jesus provides the freedom we so desperately need in this equation. Do you add him in?

-Carly