22 Moses, Uncategorized

22.3 Moses 22, Day 3

Law vs. Grace / Trust in the Word

Moses’ times were marked by “The Law.”  In particular, we see in our lesson today the challenge of the law.  Moses was a humble and faithful servant.  At this point in the scriptures he is probably well over 100 years old.  He has not been perfect, but he has been faithful in his God-appointed task of bringing the Israelites up out of Egypt and into the promised land.  But, he will now not be going into the promised land himself.  There is no gray-area in “the law”, there is either obedience or disobedience, adherence or rejection.  Moses disobeyed.  He did not honor God as holy.  Under the law, he was inadequate.  In tomorrow’s lesson, though, we also see God’s grace.

How often in my own life do I put my trust in something tangible over the sufficiency of the Word of God?  I can feel more comfortable and more secure with something I can touch or hold.  I’m often shaped more by the words of Theodore Roosevelt to “speak softly and carry a big stick”, putting my faith more in the stick than the speech.  But the scriptures teach the opposite.  By far, the Word of God is more powerful than any stick.  “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” – Heb 4:12

God, please give me the ears to hear the power of your word and the voice to speak it boldly!

 

My Answers:

6.
a.
Take the staff, speak to the rock in front of them and it will pour out its water

b.
took the staff, gathered the people, spoke to the people (chastising them – taking credit “must we”), struck the rock twice with his staff

7.
a.
took credit, disobeyed, put trust in the staff instead of in God – they wanted something physical, not just verbal

b.
physical connection with the rock instead of verbal – taking credit

c.
when I live in doubt and worry about a situation

8.
a.
“you will not bring this community into the land I give them”

b.
1. of anyone, they knew better, 2. They each had interceded repeatedly, the fact that neither objected or interceded shows they did not see it as unmerited, 3. They already knew they weren’t going in (God had already said only Joshua and Caleb – Ex 14:30)

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22 Moses

22.2 Moses 22, Day 2

Slave Mentality

Before getting into the heart of today’s lesson, we have one verse noting Miriam’s death.  This past week I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by an evangelical group with a mission to help women in the middle east.  In many parts of the world, the middle east in particular, women are extremely dis-empowered.  They have absolutely no say in the conflicts, no voice and no vote.  They normally are not the ones standing up and shouting or raising firearms.  Yet, they face all the consequences and hardships.  While little was said about Miriam’s final days, months or years, we know that she died in the wilderness not in the promised land.  She was not one of the spies.  She was not a shouting voice.  Yet, the consequences of their actions also affected her.  We need to diligently be mindful of and pray for those in similar situations.  We need to be mindful and prayerful in all of our decisions to recognize the decisions affect not only me but also those around me.  We speak for our households in our actions – we need to speak correctly, as Joshua will say, “As for me and my house, we serve the Lord.”

In the core of our lesson today I saw again the “slave mentality” of the Hebrew people.  They saw themselves as victims, as slaves.  There were no armies forcing them to remain.  There were no palace guards.  They were free.  There were huge benefits of staying together, but, it was choice not force that bound them.  Yet, they took no responsibility.  Starting in vs. 4: you brought us into this wilderness, you brought us up out of Egypt, you brought us to this terrible place.  You, you, you.

This wasn’t Moses’ or God’s choice.  They were being provided with daily manna, that tasted like a sweet coriander, but they complained about the lack of grain and figs in the land.  They were shown bunches of grapes so massive it took 2 men to carry, but they complained about the lack of grapevines and pomegranates. They were brought to a land of milk and honey, the promised land, but rejected it.  But, in their mind, it wasn’t their fault.

It almost seems that  Moses could take the Hebrew out of slavery but he couldn’t take the slavery out of the Hebrew.

How are you viewing your life with a victim or slave mentality?  What are you blaming on other people or circumstances?  Are you living as a victim or victor?

My Answers:

3.
The lack of detail.  She did not get a say in the entry into the promised land, none of the women did, yet, she suffered the consequences.

4.
a.
How little things change.  God is providing daily food and again and again they fall into the same patterns

b.
I think they were mostly being dramatic.  No one was forcing them to continue together.  If they wished to separate from the community, it was their prerogative

5.
He did not demonstrate anger against them, as if resolved that they were a path to the next generation

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19 Moses

19.4 Moses 19, Day 4

Complaining springs from ingratitude

Part of our aim for this week is that complaining springs from ingratitude.  I love the imagery of the spring in that line and we see it in today’s lesson.

Miriam and Aaron have gotten themselves all wound around the axle about Moses’ new wife.  We don’t have a lot of information here.  We don’t know if something happened to his first wife.  We don’t know if there was some other tension or jealousy.  We don’t know if it had anything to do with race or nationality.  We just don’t know and I don’t think it wise to try to fill in the blanks.

What we do know is that “because of his Cushite wife” Miriam and Aaron “began to talk against Moses.”

What is interesting in the imagery of the spring is that, while they were wound up about his wife, that is not what popped out.  They way they sprung up against Moses was by attacking his relationship and standing with God.  The words punched at his relationship as being nothing unique or different.  “has the Lord spoken only through Moses?”, “Hasn’t He also spoke through us?”

There are times in our lives where we, too, can get “all wound up” about something.  Just like that spring, the issue coils around our heart, storing up all this negative energy.  When we release it, it springs out, uncontrolled and normally not in a matter that has anything to do with what the real issue is, but just a way to inflict harm to the other person.

But, not only is that not a healthy approach, but it is also not the biblical approach.  God recognizes we are human.  He recognizes there will be disagreements among us.  Have you noticed all the laws and guidelines He has been putting in place to address these disagreements and disputes?  Have you noticed the 70+ elders he has put in place to help the people in these areas and how he equipped them with His spirit?  God does not paint some make-believe land where everyone just gets along.  God knows we are going to get wound up from time to time especially about family and especially about leaders and especially about family who are leaders and believers.  We hold them to a higher standard and, well, sometimes we see things in them that we consider to be unaddressed faults.

But the biblical approach is not to become a spring.  Instead, we are called to unwind the concern with a fellow family member to the brother in the presence of God.  We are to release the energy, not attack with it, and get to the core of the situations.  We are to trust God and hold to His words, but also to model His mercy and grace.

What are you wound up about?  When have you felt the negative energy stored up in your heart?  Who or what have you sprung out against, especially in a way that is totally unrelated to the core issue?  What fellow christian can you join with to unwind the energy and address the issue with your brother and with God?

Start with a focus on gratitude to God.  Start with the words, “thank you, Lord” and then keep saying it as you let the negativity unwind.

My Answers:

8.
a.
Moses’ sister, watched over him in the nile, approached pharoah’s daughter, lived as a slave in Egypt, was a prophetess, leader, singer of songs
b.
He married a Cushite woman.  We don’t know enough to draw conclusions (what happened to 1st wife)  other than the fact that God, who knew her heart, was displeased and the wording in the bible implies jealousy and lack of humility

9.
a.
He didn’t respond, at least not directly.  He likely talked with God about it (history of doing that)

b.
grow sad, frustrated, humiliated, angry.

 

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18 Moses

18.5 Moses 18, Day 5

Multi-Sensory Experience

I was struck in our lesson today about how God connects with us not only on every level but through all of our senses.  The sight of the cloud by day and fire by night.  The smell of the burnt offerings and incense.  The feel of hands upon the scape goat.  The sound of the trumpet.  The taste of the unleaven bread and roasted lamb of passover.

It reminded me of a Sunday school lesson on Daniel in the Lion’s den from Daniel 6.  After the angel closes the mouths of the lions and Daniel survives his night locked in their den, King Darius issues a decree recorded in Daniel 6:26, “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed, his dominion will never end.””

Our God is alive.  He is not some talisman or good luck charm.  He is not a rock we rub for good luck or a piece of wood we wave about.  He is not your lucky pair of gym shorts (although those may be alive in a different, gross way).  God is living.  He hears, He smells, He gives, He looks, He wept, He is jealous, He created, He has a mighty hand, He breathes, He speaks and He loves.  (some related verses from the bible)

God’s wants to connect with us in every way, not only in every sense (literally), but even ultra-sensory.  He wants to dwell within us, to wash us clean of our sin and to tend to and grow the garden of our heart.  He wants to continue doing this.  With special days of celebration.  With sabbath days and years of peace and rest. But also in every moment.  Accepting God isn’t an event that is done and complete.  It is more like a wedding or even more so, a birth.  It is the start of a whole new life in every way, shape and form.

What dead charms do you put trust in instead of God?  How are you approaching the living God?  Are you doing it with a repentant and humble heart or with pride in the good works you’ve accomplished?  Do you seek a real relationship with Him?

My Answers:

11.
a.
1 year (it was the beginning of the second year, passover occurs on the 14th day of the new year, or at least it did at that time until the Jewish new year was changed after the time of Jesus when the temple was destroyed).

b.
It was a commandment of God.  It was a commemoration of a critical event.  It only happened once a year.  It was defining.

c.
Sometimes get distracted but ask God to continue to show that He is present in the worship

12.
a.
the cloud covered it when the tabernacle was set up and looked like fire at night, whenever it lifted they set out til stopped

b.
2 trumpets, all called to order, 1 only heads of clans, when blast east tribes set out, when 2nd blast south side, sons of A blow

c.
with sight and sound, by what I see and hear

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18 Moses

18.3 Moses 18, Day 3

Stopping things that spread and Letting go to gain more

What do skin disease, wronging another, and jealous husbands all have in common?  They are all things that if not properly addressed can grow and spread and cause hurts that cannot be healed.

Take the requirement of restitution.  We all grew up with the understanding that if you take something without permission you have to return it.  But, we also know, that is insufficient.  The item is returned or the cost of it is provided but there is still pain and hardship.  Paying to fix someone’s car you wrecked is required but insufficient.  They have to get estimates, be without a vehicle, etc.  The Hebrews were given the +20% rule.  Fix the car + 20% more of the cost.  Buy the new sweater that you borrowed and got a hole in, plus a new scarf.  Because, if you don’t, there is still resentment.  The person wronged doesn’t feel whole.  The relationship suffers, the parties suffer, the hurt spreads.

Jealousy.  If a spouse believes the other is unfaithful, no level of discussion alone is going to bridge that gap.  If one party thinks the other capable of lying and deceit, they aren’t simply going to believe reassurances.  And, in a relationship between a man and women, the physically stronger man can cause far more than mental anguish.  Instead, the matter is taken out of the hands of the husband and given to God and the priests.

Immediately after the conditions to deal with these areas of division, the Nazirite vow is discussed.  In the Nazirite vow, certain things were set aside as they dedicated themselves to the Lord.  Grapes, wine, haircuts.  Clearly these are not significant material things that cause someone to sin, but they are symbolic, while still being tangible and visible.

Think about it this way.  Have you ever been frozen in fear?  It may have been on a ladder or the high-dive at the swimming pool.  It may have been standing on a ledge of a ropes-course.  You know it is unrational.  You know you just need to move forward, but your body won’t take that step.  You grasp ahold of something, anything.  Don’t misunderstand.  I don’t believe there is any such thing as a “leap of faith” with God.  God never expects us to just “hope” He is there.  He gives us so many assurances.  He lights our path.  He carries our load.  But we can still get stuck in fear.  When we do, the answer isn’t to force ourselves to move forward, to make the “leap”. Instead, it is to the answer is to first begin to let go.  When a person took the Nazirite vow, they let go of little things, wine, personal grooming.  In doing so they trusted in God.  By releasing their white knuckle grasp on something insignificant, they opened their hand for God to take them by the hand.  By dedicating themselves to Him for a time they entered a period of little releases while standing firmly on His foundation.

The whole Nazirite thing can seem silly to our modern ways of thinking, but it actually is a great lesson.  It is like fasting.  Denying yourself food for a period doesn’t make you stronger.  Physically, it would make you weaker.  But letting go of eating solid food for a 24 hour period of time as a vow of dedication to God for that period pays huge dividends.  By letting go of little things,  you participate in the vow.  By honoring your separation, you honor your dedication to God and honor God Himself.  You are not going to starve in 24 hours.  This is truly insignificant physically, but spiritually it opens your hand to allow God to place it on the next rung of the ladder.

If you don’t believe you are frozen in place, let me ask you a question that challenge me this week.  What can you name in your life that you completely and fully rely upon God to provide?  No contingency plan.  No backup strategy.  Start by naming one material, significant thing.  If you can name one, great, what else?  As Christians, shouldn’t we all be fully trusting and relying on God for, if not all, the vast majority of the important things in our lives?  But we grasp ahold and try to hold onto little things like control and self-sufficiency while mentally understanding that both of those are really just illusions.  Maybe it is time to renew a vow of dedication.

My Answers:

6.
a.
1-4: Send away from the camp all who had a defiling skin disease
5-10: Make full restitution for wrong
11-31: Take wife who is suspected of unfaithfulness to the priest

b.
2 Million people, while they followed God, they also had issues and grievances that could have torn them apart.  God provided a fair way to address these issues

c.
“Justice” was not put in the hands of a jealous husband.  The test was put to God through the priest.

7.
a.
A vow of dedication and separation – a full and deep devotion.  Samson, JTB

b.
prayer and fasting

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17 Moses

17.4 Moses 17, Day 4

Being poor is a situation not a station

The first time the word poor shows up in the NIV version of the bible is in Exodus 23.  This is the chapter where Moses is giving instruction to the Hebrews that he received from God, and the chapter where he says, in verse 11, “but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it.”  In other words, the same dialogue we are studying today in Leviticus.

Even in the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey, there would be poor people.  These people would likely be believers in God.  Some of them were clearly from the ranks of Hebrews.  There was no indication that they were poor because these people were being punished, nor that they were inferior.  They were just poor.

As we read these chapter of Leviticus, it is easy to fall into a “prosperity gospel” mindset.  God, the creator of everything, has unimaginable abundance and a love to pour that out upon His people in grace and great bounty.  And, all of that is actually true. But, there will still be people who are economically poor.

However, the other thing we see from this is that being poor, at least as used here, is not a station, it is not a position in society or a caste, it is just a situation.  During someone’s life, there may be times when they are economically wealthy and other times where they are economically poor.  Again, they have not “earned” either situation and both situations can bring us closer to God.  We can be on the right path of faith and still experience highs and lows, both spiritually and economically.  God can use these times to teach us and help us grow.

On one hand, this is refreshing and encouraging.  On the other, it can really challenge us, too.  For example: understanding poverty in this way draws us to approach helping the poor in a different way.  We are called to give and help the poor in what they need rather than in what we have in abundance.  Stop and read that last sentence again.

This is not “drive-by charity”.  This is a lot more challenging, it means interacting with and getting to know people who are experiencing a time of poverty.  This means not only giving stuff, but giving of ourselves so that we can give the message of a relationship with God.  It is a lot, lot, lot messier.  It is a whole lot easier to just load up a basket of food or clothes and drop them off at some collection center.  We can still do those things, they are good, just not sufficient.  Mostly because they provide a hand-out, but not a hand-up.  If these are the only approaches to charity and the poor that we take, then we need to ask “are we giving to help others or because it makes us feel better about ourselves?”

The fact is, drive-by charity is not how God approaches me or you.  God listens.  God knows us.  God shows compassion.  God gives us what we need.  Sometimes what we need and what He provides is an easy road.  Sometimes, however, it means being bent over picking up the left-overs of the field.  Both are compassionate, because, in both situations, God knows us well enough to know this is where we need to be to have the opportunity to become spiritually rich.  God is compassionate enough to allow us to be economically poor at times if it will help us to become eternally spiritually wealthy.  He is also compassionate enough to allow us to be economically wealthy to test our commitment to our faith walk.  “it is far easier for…”

When you are thinking this week about how God’s treatment of you can influence your treatment of others, think first about God’s patience and how many times He has heard you repent the same thing and how many times He has held your hand and been with you even when you were not paying attention to the fact that He was there.  Food, money, shelter, clothing, are all things we should give, but the greater gift we can give is the present of actually being present.  Through this relationship, others can see a true relationship with God.  Even in these chapters in Leviticus, God isn’t just discussing providing for the people, He is talking about dwelling among them.

 

My Answers:

8.
Do not treat outsiders better than your own, help them, provide for them without interest, Do not withold food for profit.

9.
a.
38. I am the Lord, 42 the Israelites are my servants…, fear your God 55. they belong to God as servants, He brought them out of Egypt.  “I am the LORD your God.”

b.
Today – safety, shelter, food, fellowship, a ministry, love, family, care for family, provision, a church, the bible, a relationship with Him

c.
My help to others should reflect God’s love.  I belong to Him.  They belong to Him.

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17 Moses

17.3 Moses 17, Day 3

Mine

If you have spent time around toddlers, then you have seen mankind at its most natural state.  They can be loving and caring and adorable, but they can also be, well, let’s say – challenging.  No parent teaches their child to go and snatch something from an innocent sibling or playmate and scream the word, “mine”, to them.

But that is what toddlers do.  That is what you and I did.  It is what children did decades and millennia ago.  It is who we are.

But it isn’t mine.  No matter how you play the game of life, as John Ortberg wrote, “when the game is over, it all goes back in the box.”

We live every day with this concept of scarcity.  There is only so much of (insert item here) so I need to get mine.  If things keep going like they are going, we are going to run out.  For me to have more means someone will have less and I would rather be on the more side than the less side of that equation.

But that is a lie.  Historically, it doesn’t even prove out.  Each time we form decision on a scarcity mindset, something changes and our strategies no longer work.  A famous example of this was the London Crisis of 1894.  At that time there were enough people living in the city of London that a lot of transportation was required.  The transportation of that day was horse, either individually or in carriages, wagons, etc.  The problem wasn’t the horses themselves, per se, but what need to go into the horses and what came out of them.  There was tremendous concern over enough land to grow feed as the city swelled into the countryside and whether that land could sustain both human and horse needs.  There was concern over the growing piles of horse manure in the streets and the impact and costs it imposed.  But, as we know, this entire problem simply went away with the advent of the motor-car.

The God who created everything out of nothing does not have a scarcity mindset and, if our focus is on the right things, we won’t either.  If you start thinking about scarcity instead of abundance, remind yourself about love.  Remind yourself about freedom, liberty, happiness, peace, joy, goodwill, praise, faith, hope, beauty, grace.  Remind yourself about God.

Should I be focused on these things?  Can society or a nation?  It might be worth doing a search and seeing what is engraved on the Liberty Bell.  It might ring true for today’s scriptures.

My Answers:

5.
a.
7×7=49, +1= 50th is another sabbath year.  proclaim liberty throughout the land.  All purchased farm land returned, all go home

b.
Freedom – freedom from slavery.  Honoring of a covenant.  The gifts of inheritance belong to the family of the King

6.
a.
to identify fairness in pricing of the selling of land since it would be returned in the Jubilee year – basically you are buying the output of the land, not the land itself

b.
Follow my decrees and obey my laws – safety, crop yield, blessings of abundance

c.
A sabbath year of rest for the land, yes – it has benefits for the land.  A period of forgiveness of debts and return of property would not work as well because it would inhibit development, also our land was not a covenant land

7.
a.
to be the kinsman redeemer.  Abraham rescued Lot.  Boaz with Naomi and Ruth

b.
We have incurred debts we cannot pay and have become impoverished to sin.  Jesus came as our kinsman and redeemed us by paying our sin and bringing us into His household as His family.

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