iniquity

Day 148-150

Numbers 31

return of balaam(deep inhale)

Ahem.

He dies.

Over the course of the invasion of Midian by the Israelites, there is a quick, almost throwaway line about Balaam being put to the sword. Doops. As C.S. Lewis wrote, and as I have previously quoted, some men serve God as sons while others serve as tools. It seems like this tool outlived his usefulness.

In other news, the Israelites burn the towns and rape the fields, or something. Or maybe they plunder the fields, steal the towns, and rape the livestock. I think I’m getting my war stuff mixed up.

But seriously, they put all the men and boys to the sword, kill any woman who is not a virgin, and take all the virgins.

It is interesting to note that anyone who killed another human, even in what might be called a “righteous war,” is considered unclean and must be cleansed. At times, it seems, force may be necessary, but that makes it no less distasteful.

Articles must also be cleansed with fire or water, as appropriate.

The commanders, it is written, did not lose a single man in the battles, and so they return to Moses and Eleazar and offer them gold articles as an offering to the Lord. The articles are taken as a memorial for the Israelites.

A point of note in this chapter: the Lord is given His tribute, which is entrusted to Eleazar the priest. The Levites are given a portion of the tribute as well. It is important in our victories to give credit, to pay tribute, to the Lord and to those who lead us as His servants. The Levites abdicated their worldly inheritance in exchange for their divine obligation. Even though those who serve God must renounce certain worldly pleasures, in time they will be given their own rewards, as appropriate for their service.


Numbers 32

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this chapter, and Mr. Henry’s concise commentary is little help.

Basically, a couple of the tribes request the recently conquered land so that they may build cities and have fields for their livestock. They would rather live there than in Canaan, and Moses goes off on them for this. He condemns them thus in Numbers 32, verses 14-15:

“…a brood of sinners, standing in the place of your fathers and making the Lord even more angry with Israel. If you turn away from following him, he will again leave all this people in the wilderness, and you will be the cause of their destruction.”

Matthew Henry does make a good point here:

“If men considered as they ought what would be the end of sin, they would be afraid of the beginning of it.”

Moses outlines the consequences of the sin of these tribes and they quickly attempt to find a solution. They offer to send their armies out ahead of the other tribes, and vow not to return to their lands until all of Canaan is in the hands of the Israelites. Moses warns them of the consequences of not keeping their word, but allows them to make this vow.

Here’s what I don’t get. They deny the inheritance, the Promised Land offered them by the Lord. And yet, by making this vow to support and to lead ahead of their brother tribes, they seem to be doing fine.

What I’m wondering is, is this a case like Balaam, several chapters ago, where God finally just gives them what they want and allows them to sin, regardless of how detestable? Or is this something else, some kind of alternative?

It seems to me closer to the first one. If they don’t want the Promised Land of Canaan, then God isn’t going to force them to take it. There is no one dragging us to heaven. We have to seek it and (most of all) accept it for ourselves.


Numbers 33

This chapter features a summary of the travels of the Israelites. I’m glad this exists because let me tell you, this journey has been really hard to follow. I think someone knew that people wouldn’t want to keep track of everything, and so here outlined it. Huzzah!

I feel like there is another quick point I can make here: there are things that are not in the Bible because they do not relate to the relationship between man and God. The Bible is not a textbook; it does not explain the mechanisms by which the world operates nor the methods by which God interacts physically with the world. The miracles are important; the methods maybe not so much. It is important to remember that miracles are possible; the opening of Balaam’s mouth by God was just as miraculous as His giving a voice to a donkey.

The travels of the Israelites are probably important. Matthew Henry explains that the Israelites were led forward and backward, all over by the guidance of the Lord.

“The way God takes in bringing his people to himself is always the best way, though it does not always seem to us the nearest way.”

The Israelites are commanded, when they go into Canaan, to destroy the temples and crush the idols, and to drive the people away. God warns (Numbers 33:55) that anyone left

will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides.”

It is important to note that this is metaphorical; we must eradicate all traces of our sin, and especially of outward temptation. We must guard ourselves carefully against temptation, lest it threaten our inheritance, lest it threaten the gifts that God has for us.


Good day to you all. Peace be upon you.

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Day 129

I really need to go back to church. I feel spiritually distant from God. I can almost imagine what Adam felt, in those first few minutes or hours after eating the fruit, when that slow dread, that feeling of guilt creeps up…. When I sit myself down in front of the computer and pull up this blog, I feel sometimes like this is my communion with God, this is the time that I dedicate to Him and to our … whatever it is that we’ve got going on.

And so there are days when I don’t want to write, when I don’t want to confront myself and bare myself to God because I know that I’m unworthy. I want to hide my guilt and my shame away from God so that I do not have to acknowledge it. Too bad it doesn’t work that way, right?

I feel like this is why there are (in popular imagination if not in real life) a lot of deathbed conversions. I think in our last moments we realize that no matter how much we thought we had figured out, we are suddenly confronted with a great mystery, the great end of our life and consciousness, and we know not what comes after but we fear the darkness; we dread non-life. Because ultimately life is all we know.

And in the end, the question “Why have you forsaken me?” comes not from us to God, but from God to us, the sinners, for it was we who turned from Him, and not the other way around.

And I don’t know about the rest of you, but when confronted with that question, I weep. I am ashamed… but am I ashamed enough to change? I am ashamed now, but will I listen to that feeling and do what needs to be done?

I really had to force myself to sit down and do this. I’m three days behind, and I don’t have any good excuses. I didn’t work yesterday or the day before, but I still couldn’t didn’t bring myself to do this simple task.

Numbers 12

So, in Numbers 12, we have Aaron and his wife Miriam who seem to have some kind of kosher beef with Moses. Specifically, they get all snarky (it seems) with God, and ask if maybe God speaks through others and not just Moses.

God tells them that if He wants a prophet, He’ll give the prophet some crazy dreams, but it is only Moses to whom He speaks face to face. So God gets upset with them, and he pulls a Last Crusade on Miriam and withers her into a leper. Aaron and Moses sort of freak out about this, because I mean come on, but God says look, put her out of the camp for seven days, and then off you go. Let her dwell on her shame for seven days.

Maybe that’s what I need? God, I hope not.

Anyway, they leave Hazeroth (World of Warcraft, anyone?) and head to the Wilderness of Paran.

So endeth Numbers 12. Peace be upon you.

Day 121-128

“It will be worth it,” He tells me.

I was driving home from work, thinking, dwelling on, and discussing my iniquity with God. A good part of that iniquity revolves of course around this blog and my shortcomings therewith. I think about God every single day, often throughout the day, and I think about my duties to Him and what I should be doing for Him and for myself.

I guess thinking about those duties and actually doing them are two different things. Anyway, the above thought came into my head from Him when I wondered about how long I would have to deal with these constant struggles and stresses. I essentially asked, “What if I have to wait until the end of my life to finally be at peace?”

“It will be worth it.”

So sayeth the Lord. He hasn’t lied to me yet.


We still have no internet, so I’m using my phone as a hotspot for my laptop. I’m getting really tired of having to do this over and over, because it doesn’t work so well compared to streaming, high-speed cable.

Oh, hey! While I’m updating you about the minutia of my life, I might as well tell whoever is still reading this that I had a discussion with my bosses about how I’m probably clinically depressed! Yay! I’m supposed to be in behavioral health, not, you know… in behavioral health. But this seems to be the reality of the situation. Apparently both of the clinicians at our office have noticed a change in me before I even said anything.

For some reason, finding that out was simultaneously encouraging and heartbreaking. Encouraging because at least I know it’s not all in my head, and heartbreaking because oh God it is actually in my head.

I think that’s the last joke of that format I can do tonight, but I’d like to milk one more if I can swing it. They make me smile.

I’m still trying to read Numbers 4-11. I’m stuck on Numbers 7 and my eyes are glazing over. I don’t think I’ve gotten more than 8 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours and my brain is just fried. Gee, I wonder what on earth could be contributing to my depression?

Oh, Jesus. Chapter 7 is so long. And it’s all offerings!

… It’s all the same offering, over and over. They just copy-pasted this whole thing to mess with me.


Okay, so God once again shows me His mysterious ways. I was going to go through Numbers 4-11, all of them, but honestly they’re about the armies packing up and counting off and setting out and all that business.

And then I arrived at…

Numbers 11

…which is the last of the chapters I had to catch up on today.

I can’t even be mad any more! I was going home, and thinking about a story I heard in church the other week, and how the story was very pertinent to me and had a similar moral to a story I’d written, and just wow. So now, today, I wondered to myself if there is a story in the Bible about a righteous man, perhaps one of the old patriarchs or somebody, who begins to stress out and almost resent their destiny and their duties.

Man, fuck Numbers 11.

In verses 11-15, Moses finally gets fed up of all this bulls*** and rages against God. He wonders why on earth he should have to care for them and shepherd them, asking

“Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them?”

Moses even asks God to just kill him if this is the life he is to live. So it seems I am far from the first person to feel this way.

God tells Moses that he will have others share the spiritual burden, and also that all the whiners down in the camp who want to eat meat will get their meat. God seems to be just as fed up as Moses:

“You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until [meat] comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you.”

— God to Moses, a message for the Israelites, Numbers 11:19-20

In the end, it’s the people that are going to be fed up. Eh? Eh?

gluttony

He gets it.

Anyway.

Moses is incredulous because he doesn’t know how God is going to provide meat for six hundred thousand people, and wonders if all the fish in the sea are going to be collected for them (Numbers 11:21).

God is like, “What, you don’t trust me? Check dis.” He proceeds to inundate the Israelites with quails. Just like, a bunch of quails that everyone catches and grabs and gets ready to eat.

So they all start feasting and…

“[…] while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the wrath of the Lord was aroused against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague.”

Because that’s what you get when you fuck with the YHWH. Don’t be hatin’ and complainin’, or BOOM! Fuckin’ plagues.

Peace be upon you, motherfuckers! I’m out.