Midian

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.

Advertisements

Day 52

Today was a long and difficult day. I really wanted to write this first thing in the morning, but due to a lot of things I was unable to do so. Yesterday it felt so good to write my post right away, getting everything done and out of the way for later. It was not to be.

Today was just a huge mess full of missed deadlines and lost time. I was stressed out and I was mad. I can’t wait to finish this, take a shower, and go to bed.

I have two fortune cookie fortunes that I saved in my wallet for some reason. They don’t strike me now as being terribly profound, but I’ll share them here anyway.

Your mind is creative, original and alert.

And the second:

You will win success in whatever you adopt.

Even if the first one comes across as self-congratulatory, I still like the second one. I’m going to work very hard to make it a reality. Unfortunately some of my work is now locked away on a hard drive that’s in a computer with a broken motherboard. I need to pull the hard drive out and hook it up somewhere else so I can pull all my stuff off of it. Huzzah for technology!


Exodus 2

I like Exodus so far. Granted, this is only day 2 of Exodus but still. To kick off today’s chapter, the house of Levi gives birth to a child: a boy. Fearing for the life of her child, the mother raises him in secret for three months and then hides him in reeds by the river.

The Pharaoh’s daughter comes to the river, spies the child, and feels compassion, recognizing the baby as Hebrew. Now, the child’s sister had been watching, and asked Pharaoh’s daughter if she wanted the sister to call a woman to nurse the baby. So the baby’s original mom is called to nurse the baby; after a time, the child is given to Pharaoh’s daughter and becomes her son, given the name Moses. (You may have heard of him.)

Later in life, after he is grown, Moses sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. He does a 360° check for the law, and finding none, kills the Egyptian. Later he realizes that people know about this, and before Pharaoh can crack down on him, he dips and heads for a land called Midian.

He hangs out by a well and helps the daughters of a priest who are being bullied by some shepherds; for his assistance, the priest brings Moses to live with him, and Moses has a son with Zipporah, one of the priest’s daughters. The son’s name is Gershom.

During this time, it seems, the king of Egypt passes away, and the Israelites cry out because of their enslavement. God catches wind of all this, remembers the old covenants, and rolls up His sleeves to do something about it.

Darn cliffhangers.


In unrelated news, my flute playing is coming along nicely. I’m absolutely terrible at it right now, but I’m working on it! I’ve found lots of good resources for songs and tabs. Breath control is going to be the hardest part, but it’s going to be so awesome once I get good.

I guess between the flute, this blog, my life’s dreams, and that fortune cookie, today’s message is this:

Find what you love, find what makes your heart sing, find what makes your soul cry out. Find it and do it. Do it if it takes five years, if it takes ten years, if it takes twenty or thirty or forty years. Do it if you can do it now! Honor yourself, honor your heart’s desire, honor your soul’s duty. Honor yourself, and in doing so, honor God.

Beautiful day today. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Peace be upon you.