Promised Land

Day 151

This is the Mew of project days. If we were going by the Hebrew calendar, which features 30-day months, I’d be just over five months. And honestly, that’s about right anyway. It was just in my mind because I had a conversation about end-time prophecies with a Jehovah’s Witness friend of mine, and he was explaining some of the Biblical rationale behind the significance of the year 1914. It involved the Hebrew calendar. So that’s that.

Anyway, on to today’s news.


Numbers 34

We’re down to three days ’til Deuteronomy. Huzzah!

Numbers 34 outlines, literally, the boundaries of the land that God has granted to Israel. I wasn’t really sure what to make of this chapter, so I turned as I do to Matthew Henry’s commentary.

“Canaan was of small extent; as it is here bounded, it is but about 160 miles in length, and about 50 in breadth; yet this was the country promised to the father of the faithful, and the possession of the seed of Israel. This was that little spot of ground, in which alone, for many ages, God was known.”

So this is what confused me. This issue raises questions.

If God eventually through Christ wants to save all men, then why did he not reveal himself to all mankind? I don’t really like the Calvinist view that some are simply condemned to Hell no matter what. To me, that presumes that free will is nothing but an illusion, as those who make the choice to accept God/Christ have already been predestined to do so.

I mean, let’s presume we’re talking about sometime between 1000-2000 years BC. In China, the dynasties are already in full force; there are millions of people the world over that are essentially denied salvation due to God’s selection of the Israelites as His chosen people. Why? Is every single one of the people in the world so corrupted? Then why send Christ later, to give everyone a chance?

I’m not going to get into Revelations for answers; it’s too far off. But in terms of ideas related to Heaven and Hell, I’ll post these helpful links.

The first is related to the Jewish tradition, the second and third are from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their beliefs may be a tad unorthodox but damn if they don’t know how to cite the Bible. As for me, I’m not sure how I feel on this yet. The only thing I can say is that a full and complete denial of salvation to a huge part of the world sounds unthinkable.

I did find this, an article about the Seven Laws of Noah. Apparently, gentiles are not only not obligated to follow Jewish law, they are in some sense prohibited from following it, as they are not God’s chosen people. But according to the Noahide law and interpretation from various Hebrew scholars, the intention was that even gentiles had the chance to be righteous by following the law. Apparently, it was important to recognize God as the reason behind the law as well.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll revisit this theological discussion at several points throughout the course of this project, and maybe by the time I’m done I’ll have a satisfying answer.

Good day, all. Peace be upon you.

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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.

Day 90

I’m so upset now, looking back, that I skipped so many days. I’m on Day 90 (three months, can you believe it?!) but I’ve only made 72 actual posts. I failed at my task, and I am ashamed.

I am ashamed that this simple thing was beyond me. I am ashamed that I thought I could do so much but fell so short. It hurts knowing that I didn’t do my best, that I didn’t make time for God.

I am ashamed that I will fail again.

But more importantly, just because we fail doesn’t mean we have to quit. Just because I failed doesn’t mean I have to quit. We are imperfect creatures and sometimes failure is the “best” we can do at a given time.

God willing, this blog will be counted someday among the least of my works, so best I fail now, best I learn this lesson to turn to God, to seek His love and grace, to seek His support… best I learn this now over the lifetime of this blog than in the future when I have bigger things to do.

The fact that this is now post 72 made me look up the “72 names of God,” and a bunch of other stuff related to Kabbalah. Nothing struck me. It is interesting to see, though, and I wonder why Exodus 14:19-21 (from which the so-called 72 names are derived) should be so uniquely important?


Exodus 40

I turn again here to Matthew Henry’s commentary for this chapter. When I read it, it was mostly anointing until the end, where it describes God as a cloud settling over the tabernacle, and arising when it was time for the Israelites to travel. The final verse of the book of Exodus reads:

“For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and the fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”

— Exodus 40:38, NKJV

I like that. It’s very poetic.

My favorite point from Matthew Henry is this one:

“When the tabernacle and the furniture of it were prepared, they did not put off rearing it till they came to Canaan; but, in obedience to the will of God, they set it up in the midst of their camp. Those who are unsettled in the world, must not think that this will excuse want of religion; as if it were enough to begin to serve God when they begin to be settled in the world.”

The time to turn to God is always Now. It doesn’t matter if we turned toward or away from Him in the past. If we try and wait until we are settled, that calm and peace will never come. Only the path of God leads to the Promised Land. There is no other way.

Peace be upon you.