President’s Day Reading Catch-up
Days 13-17 – Numbers 33 – Joshua 24
Nothing like a long weekend to help you catch up on some reading, eh? Or, in my case, nothing like a long weekend with your family at a waterpark to wreck havoc on your good intentions. I feel like there is some kind of parallel between this weekend and the Hebrew people’s journey in the wilderness. Hear me out – they want to do the right thing, the thing God has called them to do, but something always seems to get in their way and distract them. They assume it’s going to be easy and, predictably, it never is. We’re still reading some difficult passages and truth be told, I’m looking forward to the end of this section.
This is a big chunk of the OT and by the time we finish it we’ll be out of the Torah and onto Joshua. That’s gotta mean something, right?
- Numbers 33 feels like a sitcom “clips” show. You know the episode I’m talking about? One of those shows that claims to be all new but it’s really just a collection of clips from the previous episodes. That’s what we’re dealing with here. A recap of what we just read in the previous 32 chapters. Actually, it’s helpful for me to reread this whole section. Nice to remind yourself how everybody got to where they are.
- Numbers 35 – Cities of refuge for those seeking asylum. I love this concept. Where are the places of security, refuge and sanctuary in our world today? Where do we allow the accused, the frightened, and worrisome?
- Again, I’m concerned with this approach to reading scripture. I know there are some subtle differences between the similar events that are retold in Leviticus, Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, but for the life of me, I can’t pick them out while reading this much this fast. What I am discovering are the larger themes and ideas that permeate throughout the meta-narrative – God’s continual presence, call and response, the need for obedience, humanity’s shortcomings, and the ability to forgive – just to name a few.
- Moses is again reminded that he will not enter into Canaan. What must he have felt to know that his children and grandchildren would see the land he had longed for for so long? Is that a comfort to us? To know our children will experience great joy, even if we do not?
- Retelling the 10 commandments – Deuteronomy 5
- Best part of Deuteronomy – 6:4-9 – SHEMA!!! I may not remember much else from my seminary Hebrew classes than these wonderful verses. This sticks and it should stick. I want to remember these verses- To keep these words. To share these words.
- Big warning – Deut 8:19 If you forget the Lord your God and follow other gods to serve and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.
- Hooray! More food laws! I was wondering if I should eat roebuck or the buzzard. Guess not.
- Deuteronomy 15:10 – Give liberally and ungrudging when you do so
- And here come the sexuality laws…Deuteronomy 22…this deserves more attention…in another post…on another day…
- Fun new law I just learned? Deuteronomy 23:24 – If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in a container.
- Laws usually develop because of the actions of a community. I’d like to know the origin of this particular law and want to know how many times it occurred to warrant recording it in Deuteronomy 25:11-12 – If men get into a fight with one another, and the wife of one intervenes by reaching out and seizing his genitals, you shall cut off her hand; show her no pity.
- Wrapping Deuteronomy up with another recap, this time set to a song. Way to go, Moses. I didn’t realize you had some music skills in addition to all the prophetic stuff!
- Moses’ eulogy is beautiful, fitting, and a nice conclusion to the Torah.
- It’s the turning point! We’re in Joshua!
- And let’s also welcome Rahab onto the scene. Her story is a pretty fantastic one – this foreign woman is responsible for giving the Israelites what they needed to come into the land and survive. She is one of many “women of questionable backgrounds” who proves to be part of the great story of all of God’s people. God chooses the most unlikely, even you and me. Her quick thinking and wise words make all the difference.
- Joshua 5:15 – Josh takes off his sandals in the presence of God’s holy messenger…very similar to Moses removing his shoes in front of the burning bush. Bottom line? Take off your shoes in the presence of the divine.
- Those sneaky Gibeonites tried to pull a fast one on Joshua. Didn’t seem to work out in their favor (Joshua 9).
- Joshua 12 is the list of kings defeated. That’s, um, a lot of war. A whole lot of war.
- Dividing up the conquered land – give it to the tribes, give the Levites their due, and make sure you set up cities of refuge. I think I got this section. Bring on Judges.
Posted in Bible in 90 Days, Genesis in Lent
Tagged Andrew Pomerville, Bible, Deuteronomy, Gibeonites, Joshua, Moses, Rahab, Reading, Robert Burns, Roebuck, The Bible in 90 Days, The Peoples Church of East Lansing, The Shema
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—.
Posted in Bible in 90 Days
Tagged "Always Sunny in Philadelphia", "Divergent", "The Hunger Games", Andrew Pomerville, Bible, Bible in 90 Days, Biblical Diet, Cynical, Korah, Moses, Numbers, Raymond Bonwell, The Peoples Church of East Lansing
WAAAAAY More than the Just the 10 Commandments
Day 6 – Exodus 16-28
The 10 commandments? I get those. Laws about blood, animals, and a how to build a tabernacle? Not so much.
We’re starting to get to the tough parts of the Torah and it will get more difficult before it gets easier. I’m not saying these aren’t important things to read, just that they are a bit drier than the narrative stuff we enjoyed in Genesis and early Exodus. I feel like the description of how to build the ark and tabernacle are meant for somebody other than me.
I’m not much of a builder. I’m not one of those guys you would call “handy.” My wife, Rachell, is the one who fixes, makes, and creates all the things in our home. She can swing a hammer, rip out a cabinet, and drywall anything that needs fixing. Me? I want simple, easy to manage instructions. I want the IKEA version of Exodus.
Could you picture that? Some guy scratching his head with all the parts of the tabernacle laid out in front of him?
Could you build an ark with just an allen wrench?
- Exodus 16-18 have got to be my favorite chapters of the book. Hear me out – I don’t mind the stories about young Moses, the plagues, and the actual Passover. That’s great stuff as well. For me, the manna, water from the rock, and advice from Jethro are at the heart of the journey. This is a turning point for me that is full of lessons, thoughts, ideas, and concepts about humanity and God. In this, we see a God who provides, the greed of communities and individuals, the relationships we have with family, in-laws, and neighbors, and the miracles that astound us. Plus, we have lots of grumbling. Who can’t relate to that? We are a grumbling people and I don’t know if it’s a comfort or just a
- Quail and manna? Yes, please. Sounds like a well balanced meal if I’ve ever heard it. I’d gladly have a bagel in the morning and some pheasant like dish at night. You wouldn’t hear me grumbling.
- The first attack. From here on out, there will be a lot of fighting, warring, and destruction on the way to the promised land. This is part of my difficulty with Old Testament language, history, and story-telling. The pacifist in me struggles with the notion that in order for the chosen people to receive theirs, other non-chosen types must necessarily die. It’s so hard to balance these types of passages against the teachings of Jesus. In the meantime, we say a permanent good bye to Amalek.
- Good advice from Jethro. Looks like Moses just needed an outsider to offer an assessment of the situation. I’m sure Moses already knew how hard it was to manage all the people but it seems like the situation had gotten out of control gradually and by the time Moses wanted to change it, it was too late. A fresh pair of eyes is always good for an organization.
- Setting limits…I know there are reasons theologians have offered for the rules of consecration but at first glance they seem a bit arbitrary and difficult to comprehend. If I’m struggling, how do children understand the rules we offer for them? I don’t always (ever? j/k) explain to my children the rules because, well, sometimes I just don’t have the time, patience, of inclination. But I expect them to trust me and follow my leadership. This situation doesn’t always play out as smoothly as I’d like, believe it or not.
- And here come the laws…It’s not that I don’t appreciate them. I just get so bogged down in the law that I have a hard time understanding grace, love, and hope in the midst of the (seemingly) minutia of regulations.
- Chapter 21 of Exodus begins the idea of places/cities of sanctuary and refuge. What a curious and grace-filled idea. What is our modern equivalent?
- Who follows these laws?!?! Wow, this is confusing and challenging.
- Cut and dry verse that isn’t so cut and dry – Exodus 22:18, “You shall not permit a female sorcerer to live.” Glad we’ve got that cleared up.
- On a more serious note, Exodus 22:21 warns against poorly treating immigrants in your land. We should make sure we remember these verses as closely as the easy ones that justify our already existing behavior. How we treat the foreigner in our land is a theological concept and says something about what we believe.
- How to build an ark…something I’m not sure I’ll ever need to do, but fascinating info, nonetheless.
- Priestly garments – again, wow. There is a ton of detail in this and I’m not sure I completely understand it all. G— and K—, I’d love to get your interpretations here. This is a tough stretch to read through. Power on, friends. You can do this.
Posted in Bible in 90 Days
Tagged 10 Commandments, Andrew Pomerville, Ark, Bible, Bible in 90 Days, Exodus, IKEA, Immigration, Laws, Moses, Tabernacle, The Peoples Church of East Lansing