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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18.4 Moses 18, Day 4

Missed Blessings

My mom relayed a conversation she had with the pastor at her church.  She was talking with him about attendance at church service.  She wanted him to know that there were some days that she just didn’t feel up to making it to church.  It wasn’t because she didn’t like the music or the liturgy of the service.  It wasn’t anything against his sermons.  It wasn’t because she was behind on tithing. To use her term, “some days I’m just old.”  I thought his words back to her were very wise and thoughtful.  He told her that if she could make it at all, come for the last 2 minutes of the service and if she couldn’t make that to call him.  The final part of the service is a benediction.  Most of the time, it is the exact same words that God told Moses to tell Aaron to say.  The pastor explained to her that this was a special blessing for her.  While it was said to everyone in attendance, it was an individual blessing, something special and specific for each individual.  If she wasn’t there to receive the blessing, she would miss out on it.  If she simply couldn’t physically be there, then she should call him and he could give her her blessing.

When we recite the blessing in Number 6:24-26 we forget verse 27. “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

These weren’t just words or good wishes.  While it is a “good word” or benediction, it is more than that.  God told Moses to tell Aaron to “put my name on the people”.  God didn’t say and I might bless them, He said “and I will bless them.”

Aaron didn’t originate the blessing.  Moses didn’t originate the blessing.  God originated the blessing.  But, like in many other things, He allowed the priests, who were brothers to the community, to participate.

When we think about church attendance we tend to focus on the sermon or prayers or communion or songs.  All of those are great and help us pour our heart out to God.  But the blessing – that is something special, a gift from God given through the minister, specifically for you.

What blessings are you missing out on because you aren’t showing up?  When you receive a blessing are you grabbing on to it and pasting it into your heart?  Do you accept the gift? Do you bow your head or raise your hand and receive His name being written on to you? Do you desire His radiance, His grace, His peace, His blessing?

My Answers:

8.
When parting friends, blessing to children

9.
It is for God’s glory not my own.  Give the required tithe plus more. – Tribe of Judah gave first 4th in line, Reuben, Simeon, Levi… But also the lineage of Jesus.

10.
a.
Given wholly to God who took them in place of the firstborn Israelites.  Given as a gift to Aaron and his sons to do the work

b.
1. God can do what He wants (He is God), 2. From the passover every firstborn belongs to God, set apart.  The Levites were taken in their place

c.
25-50

 

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

18.2 Moses 18, Day 2

Order and Organization

Side Note:

Before I discussing today’s lesson I want to share something that really helped me with these first chapters.  I tend to get tripped up on all the names.  I don’t know how to pronounce them and I stumble and get distracted.  But, this week, I used the YouVersion bible on my tablet.  Not only does it have the scriptures in text that I could read, but it also had an audio version.  I played the audio version and read along and didn’t need to worry about any of the pronunciation!

 

God is all knowing.  This attribute of God simply, but completely, means that God knows everything at every time.  Nothing is hidden from Him.  Nothing is missing or lost.  He knows every star and asteroid, every tree and flower, every animal and even the number of hairs and each atom.

God doesn’t need organization and storage.  Nothing is ever lost or missing.  God doesn’t need a census.  He not only knows how many people there are, but He also knows them all by name.

This is an interesting thing to keep in mind as we open the book of Numbers.  None of this is for God’s benefit.  All of it is for ours.

We do best when we have structure, a place, a home, a family, a tribe, tribal leaders and a community.  God helps establish that for the Israelites before they leave Mt. Sinai.  He calls forth the leaders (by name).  He organizes the living arrangements by directions on the compass.  He puts Himself in the center.  He puts those dedicated to the care of the holy things immediately around the holy things.  He give every person and every tribe equal access.  He not only organized them by tribe (interesting that aver 400 years of slavery everyone knew which tribe they belonged), but we see the strength of large families.

He also instructed Moses to count the men.  The total number of fighting men, ages 20+ was over 600,000.  This is an army approximately 3 times larger than the entire colonial forces in the American Revolution.  It also shows for them and for us how God keeps His covenant with Abraham.  70 Hebrews went into Egypt.  2 to 3 Million came out.

Do you fight the organization and structure that God has provided?  Do you rebel?  The only reason it is in place is for our benefit.  How can you look on it as a blessing instead of a burden?

Do you every feel insignificant or anonymous, just another number?  There was no estimation in this census, no rounding, each person was counted and their name was written down.  You are part of God’s plan and important to Him.

 

My Answers:

3.
a.
Count of men over 20 able to serve in the army

b.
God said – they were called into different service, service to the tabernacle

c.
603,550

d.
>2 Million

e.
70 came into Egypt with Jacob

4.
a.
the tent of meeting

b.
He was to be at the center of everything they did, everyone would have access to Him

c.
service, trying to be a witness to God’s love and provision

5.
a.
Three (living) — Aaron; Eleazar; Ithamar

b.
v9. the Levites in place of the 1st born of every tribe – they were care-takers

c.
when they sided with moses and took their sword against brother

d.
The honor of being behind the scenes