Stop Reading the Bible – Day 10-11 – Feb. 10-11 – Leviticus 27 – Numbers 8 and Numbers 9-21
Forgive my extreme irreverence and borderline heresy, but is that what the book of Numbers is intended to do? To get you to stop reading scripture and give up?
At the very least, I believe Numbers has been strategically placed where it is in the OT with the sole purpose of challenging your good intentions. It sits there after the narrative parts of the Torah, giving you the impression that it may have a similar narrative quality. Instead, we are presented with lists and censuses throughout. There are some good spots but this text contains far less obvious stories than the previous three books of family tales, laws, and escape. So what do we do with books, passages, and verses like this? How do we navigate through theologically challenging waters? What do we make of genealogies? Laws? Wars? Repetition? And what about repetition?
That said, I’m powering through and will not buckle in the face of a confusingly long list of names, numbers, and animals. This book does have some outstanding parts that are often overlooked because of the difficult landscape around them. Encourage me, folks. Inspire me. Motivate me. Shame me, if you have to. Just don’t let me give up and don’t let me skip anything.
G—and K–, you two can do this. Don’t give up…and don’t let me give up.
- Numbers 1 – I like (that’s not the right word…I am interested in) the way they decide who gets counted for the census. “…everyone able to go to war…” That puts a spin of reality into the count.
- Roll call! Who’s here? Let’s start with Reuben…
- Having the Levites (people from Levi’s lineage) singled out for special service seems an awful lot like “Divergent.” Do you want to be a Levite? Does it matter if you would rather be a soldier? Nope. You’re a priest. Your dad was a priest. His dad was a priest. You’re going to be a priest.
- Numbers 2-3 – Again, I feel like dystopian teen fiction is my go-to point of reference today. This chapter in Numbers feels like “Hunger Games.” Everybody go to their district, under their flag, and wait for instructions from the Capital, i.e. Moses and the Levites. Actually, the Levites are like the tributes, offered on behalf of the whole nation. I guess being a priest isn’t nearly as bad as a blood sport, competition to the death in front of a captive national audience. Soooooo, maybe my comparison to “The Hunger Games” doesn’t really hold up.
- Anybody else ever watch the ridiculously foul “Always Sunny in Philadelphia?” The introduction to the work of the Kohathites feels like “Charlie-work.” It seems like the kinda stuff you trick your buddy into doing because he’s a nice guy and you don’t want to do it yourself.
- Numbers 5 – I like that the laws here are a welcome respite from lists of people. Everything is relative, I guess. Now then, let’s hear more about restitution…
- My current favorite passage in this Biblical journey – Numbers 6:5 “The shall let the locks of the head grow long.” Did I mention I love Numbers?
- Truly, the best part of Numbers is the priestly benediction – Numbers 6:22-26 “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
- Numbers 8:25 – Mandatory age of retirement for the Levites is 50. Not a bad deal…
- Biblical diet? The awesome stuff listed in Numbers 11:5 – Fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. I want to cook that up now.
- My friend, colleague, and brother in Christ, Raymond Bonwell preached from Numbers 11 at my October 20 2011 installation service at The Peoples Church. Great stuff and good memories. It’s amazing how a small piece of scripture can illicit such powerful memories of the past. Thank you, Raymond, for your biblical wisdom and pastoral knowledge. Please try not to mock my humorous attempt to work my way through the fantastic OT with snark, wit, and heresy…with a dash of faithfulness, grace, hope and Christ.
- Funny verse – Numbers 12:3 “Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth.” I’m the most humble guy out there…God just said so. How could he not make that joke with Aaron and Joshua later in the day?
- More rebelling and doubt by the Israelites – after all they saw and experienced, why would they doubt God’s ability and willingness to help them enter into the land? We all have such short term memories.
- 40 years kept out of the promised land…what a punishment?! Things take a terrible turn in Numbers 14.
- The revolt of Korah – this passage is referenced in the extremely short NT epistle of Jude (v 11). Fun Biblical fact?
- Numbers 20 – Moses and Aaron are now destined to suffer the same fate as the other unfaithful, barred forever from entering into the Promised Land. Is their punishment because of their arrogance, implying that THEY brought the water out of the rock? It is their inability to do exactly what God asked? God says their lack of trust keeps them out. What is a true lack of trust?
- What a way to end today’s readings – Numbers 21, the poisonous serpents among the people and the bronze serpent that keeps the alive. I’m out. That was too tough of a passage. I think that’s what I’ve learned most from this proposed 90 day adventure through the Bible. By reading it in such a shallow way, with such little discernment, no commentaries, and allowing my immediate reactions to guide my readings, I’m seeing things I didn’t before. I’m trying to read with a blank slate in front of me, hoping the passages will write the thoughts I need. I hope the Holy Spirit is with me…because I feel like I REALLY need it right now. This is a difficult journey. See you tomorrow, G—and K—.