OT: Numbers 19:1-20:29
I've gotta tell you, today's reading was hard. God is starting to wear me down. He is just such a mystery to me. He baffles me in so many ways. And I know that He doesn't owe me any explanations, but I just have to wonder, "Why does a God who seems so determined to make Himself known to man choose to be so enigmatic??" For one thing, why does He act so differently at different points in history? Why does He put up with all of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob's crap, but then strike 14,700 people dead for complaining against Moses? And then, why doesn't He keep up that behavior through the rest of Israel's history? He burns 250 men alive and kills thousands more for grumbling against Moses and Aaron's authority, but when Doeg slaughters a priest, his family, and the whole town in I Samuel, where is God then? He definitely doesn't smite ol' Doeg the same way He smited these guys! The more I think about it, in fact, this behavior on God's part is very short-lived. His direct, violent intervention makes up a tiny slice of history, and His directly-sanctioned violence against others (which we will see shortly) makes up another small section. Throughout most of history, though, that is not how God chooses to act. Hmmm. Maybe He is teaching the people the definition of "holy" right now. All I can say is that that is not a fun lesson to learn, apparently.
It's also odd how He seems so bent on setting up such a strict hierarchy now, only to demolish it later. After all, his prophet, Jeremiah, foretells of a time when:
"No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,"
declares the LORD.
"For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."
That time came with the Holy Spirit and the new covenant. But it is still just so interesting/baffling to read about the progression, to see the many different "faces" of God throughout history. I just don't know what to make of it. But actually, typing about it did help:). The first time I read through the Bible, I felt so isolated and confused for a lot of the time. I didn't understand what God was doing half the time, and if anything, I felt more distant from Him after reading the Bible, rather than feeling closer to Him. This time has been so much better, and I know that part of that has come from getting to process each reading with my brothers and sisters. So thank you for encouraging me to do that. And please, if you have any insight into readings like today's, now is the time to share:).
Okay, time for Resurrection account #2. I urge you to read Matthew's account from February 14 (or you can get my synopsis here). I have been interested in comparing details, and it was interesting (my word of the day, apparently) to see how each gospel highlighted different things. In Matthew's account, the women and the guards actually witness the stone being rolled away; in Mark's account, it is already rolled away when they get there, and there are no guards mentioned. Mark also repeatedly highlights the unbelief of the disciples. I seem to remember that we will hear a different perspective on that in John. I'm not quite sure what to make of these discrepancies. For instance, whether the stone was rolled away before they got there or after is a very small detail...but shouldn't the Gospels not contradict each other? You can explain a lot of the "contradictions," but I'm not really sure how to explain that one....
It's also weird how our text (and most Bibles) include a portion of Mark that wasn't in the earliest manuscripts. Um, well, if it isn't in the earliest manuscripts, why include it? (I'm just full of questions today. I'm sorry if you came here expecting any insight:).)I thought at first that verse 10 seemed to contradict verse 8, but I see upon reading it again, that verse 10 talks about Jesus' appearance, whereas verse 8 was just about the angel. So in verse 8, there are two women who don't tell anyone out of fear, but in verse 10, there is one woman who does tell people. And that works, of course, b/c it is two separate occasions. Duh, Kim.
Psalm 55: 1-23
In a lot of ways, this psalm is "typical David," but it stands out for two reasons to me. One, David talks about the betrayal of a close friend, instead of just his usual nameless, faceless enemies (12-14). And secondly, it has some amazing poetry. Verse 21 really jumped out at me: "His speech is as smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords." What powerful imagery! What contrasts! That, my friends, is some powerful poetry! I loved it.
I also love, of course, our bolded verse: "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall."
Another good, simple insight into the futility of wickedness. The power of the wicked ends abruptly in death.