Tag Archives: Numbers

Day 12 – February 12 – 90 Days through the Bible – Numbers 22-32

We’re on vacation for the next few days so my posts will come at odd times. It’s Great Wolf Lodge Family Picalways good to get away for short trip to reconnect, relax, and enjoy some lowkey fun.

That’s not what’s happening this trip.

We are staying at The Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, MI. It’s like an eight year old’s version of Vegas – no clocks, tons of external stimulation, lots of opportunities to spend money, and a sensory overload. We’ve got water parks, arcades, tons of junk food, and everything our kids could want. The upside is we’re spending time with great friends (hello, Hoyts and Aylworths!), great family (Joe and Rhi!) and each other. We’re exhausted and enjoying the non-relaxing time away from East Lansing.

That said, I’m still reading…just not at the same pace. The posts will come at odd times but they will come. Here’s day 12!

  • Today’s reading kick off with the best story from Numbers: Balaam, donkeythe donkey, and the angel. If you can’t teach a Sunday School lesson from this book, then there isn’t much hope for you. A talking donkey? The donkey with more sense than the prophet? I love this passage.
  • There are a few instances in scripture when the names of principle characters are so similar that it becomes quite confusing – Balaam and Balak, Elijah and Elisha, even Peter and Paul. I know, I know, the names are different and I should be able to tell the difference. I’m trying to see this through the eyes of my six and eight year olds. The Bible is already a pretty confusing. Try listening to difficult passages with similar sounding names and you just space out. I’m not advocating we change the names, just that we’d have some sensitivity when people say they are confused by the Bible. That’s a very legitimate statement for them to make. As a pastor, I already overemphasize the denominational business we celebrate at The Peoples Church – the nuanced theological distinctions that separate Methodists from Presbyterians, Congregationalists from Baptists. By throwing in muddled source material as the foundation for these theological ramblings, we seem to create an even more spiritually and biblical-ly illiterate congregation. I’m not saying, I’m just saying.
  • well-that-escalated-jmg8n6Numbers 25 – That got out of hand rather quickly, I’d say? My goodness that was brutal. A spear through the belly of the man and the woman? And then, the greatest downplay of a statement in Numbers 25:9 “Nevertheless, those that died by the plague were 24,000.” These are the types of passages people read and say, “I’m done,” when it comes to reading scripture. How can you not? I know there is some rhetorical hyperbole going on here but still. The blood, death, and suffering is overwhelming! G—and K–, how are you getting through this stuff?
  • Number 26 – You have this brutally violent passage in chapter 25 and then switch to a census in chapter 26? Kind of a let down. Not that I like the violence but it seems like the census is a bit of filler.
  • I’ve always been a fan of Joshua. I like seeing him receive some recognition in chapter 27.
  • Serious observation – Numbers 28 describes the differences between daily offerings, Sabbath offerings, and monthly offerings. What do those look like in our lives? What things do we give monthly vs. daily?
  • Gender roles in the ancient world are always a bit prickly to our modern ears. The idea that vows made by men are so different from those made by women (numbers 30) speaks to the role of girls, women, wives, and mothers in the biblical world. Do we just read past these passages and say, “Different place, different times” or do we try and rationalize these verses in some other way? I don’t advocate the outright rejection of concepts, values, and passages we might disagree with on the surface. In our multi-denominational situation at The Peoples Church we struggle with the same notion of acceptance, inclusion, and exclusivity – if we are four denominations simultaneously, then how do we reconcile doctrines between the denoms that seem to contradict one another (infant baptism seems to be the easiest example I can think of)?
  • The Midianites are really taking it on the chin in Numbers.
  • The pacifist in me takes issue with all the war, genocide, and outright despicable behavior encountered in these parts of the OT. I’m ending today on a sour note. Here’s hoping tomorrow picks up a bit. Maybe?
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Stop Reading the Bible – Day 10-11

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?

I Don't Know

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.

“Numerical” thoughts:

  • 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.divergent-hunger-games
  • 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.Charlie Work
  • 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—.5973afde385d53fd3a7f01e903e2c18d