Saturday, March 20, 2010

March 20

OT: Numbers 30:1-31:54

Okay, first of all, maybe I was wrong: the amount of livestock that Israel gained from their raid on Midian would sustain the animal sacrifices for a loooong time (31: 32). If they already had those kind of numbers themselves, then they are good to go.

I'm getting ahead of myself, though. First, there are some laws about making vows--specifically, about women making vows. I'm a little torn between thinking that these regulations are demeaning and thinking they are awesome. On the one hand, they definitely reflect a patriarchal system, where a man can nullify a woman's word so easily. On the other hand, I feel like I have made several rash commitments in my life, and it would be great if my dad or husband could just say, "You know what? Let's not do that." (In fact, I think that Greg has dissuaded me or given me an "out" before, and it was very helpful.) So, it's a toss-up in my mind.

Moving on.

Okay, I talk and talk and talk about God's view of death and all that...but the fact is, I'm never going to be cool with genocide. I know that it's not my job to be "cool" with it; it's my job to have faith, and I do. But I sincerely hate reading about God giving orders to massacre populations. I am not looking forward to Joshua. I can't help it--I always imagine the people as individuals. I imagine the women and children watching their husbands and fathers be slaughtered and their homes destroyed. I imagine them being led away, terrified, from the only home they've ever known. I imagine the horror of then realizing that they, too, will be killed. I imagine all the little boys...and the little girls "given" to the Israelites as slaves.

Blech. Not cool.

Oh, and they killed Balaam! Boo, hiss!

I believe that everything I've rambled on so far about death is very applicable here. But it seems that my heart will never be behind it. I just hate to witness suffering and killing, even if it is only on the page.

Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 3:5-6.

Okay, time to move on:).

NT: Luke 4: 1-30

It's odd--when I feel like I don't "get" something in the OT, then for some reason, my confusion always carries over to the NT. I think it is because of my mindset. I come to the NT confused, and a little annoyed by my confusion, and feeling a tad rebellious because I am not "on board" with the Bible. And so then I read something like Jesus' temptation and am like, "I just don't get this. Why pick these temptations? And why are they temptations, exactly? Why can't Jesus turn the loaves into bread? Why can't he throw himself off the temple? And why would He be the least bit tempted by Satan's offer to 'give' him all the kingdoms? If that would really help him, then Satan wouldn't have offered it, right? And they aren't Satan's anyway."

I know, I know, I've heard about 53 sermons in my life on analyzing the temptations of Jesus, and if I had to, I could give convincing explanations for all these questions. But my annoyance with the OT genocide is making me ornery!

I do love the prophecy that Jesus reads to the people of Nazareth: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (18-19). Now, those are some words I can get behind!:) I do think that it is kind of weird that Jesus seems to then antagonize the people. They are all speaking well of him and are amazed by him (22), and Jesus really takes pains to change their opinion! It seems clear that they are not getting what He is saying, but I still think that His way of getting their attention is a little strange...

Psalm 63: 1-11

Once again, David comes through for me in a big way! After my little temper tantrum with Numbers and my hardheadedness with Luke, I read this Psalm and just melted. I'm sorry, God! I do love You and trust that Your ways are best! I do earnestly seek You and long for You and thirst for You. I have seen Your power and Your glory, and Your love is better than life. I will praise you as long as I live, and You do satisfy my soul, as with the richest of foods! (You are even better than that delicious salsa I ate today at Molly's:)).

God is my help, and I sing in the shadow of His wings. My soul clings to Him, and His right hand upholds me.

David went through a lot that he didn't understand, and he still trusted unconditionally. I'm not even going through anything--I'm just reading about it. Is it too much for me to trust, too?

Proverbs 11:20-21

Still more righteous v. wicked.


  1. Numbers: It should make us recoil at this level of destruction since we are under the influence of "turn the other cheek". However, it teaches me to fear FEAR God. While I believe that many MANY people will be entering heaven, I also believe that the destruction will exceed my imagination...just like it exceeds my imagination in the O.T. Maybe God is just painting us a picture.

    Luke: When Jesus began His ministry, like us, began his walk, He was immediately faced with temptation. It's so true today. When we are not His followers, we belong to Satan already so temptation is not really an issue. But as a follower of Jesus, temptation is a big issue. And Jesus was a man, with limitations, so these temptations of Satan were real. They represented desire, power, and unfaithfulness - the things that tempt us today. Jesus had choices to make, just like us. But He didn't sin.

  2. Numbers:

    I'm with you; all of it kind of disgusts me. This (the stuff about vows--I'm also not sure what I think--and the battle with the Midianites) was especially hard to read as a female. However, it sounds like everyone who was affected deserved what they got. Verse 21 of our Proverbs passage seemed appropriate: "You can be sure that evil people will be punished, but the children of the godly will go free." Well, I guess these virgin girls were the children of the ungodly, so they didn't go free. Maybe it was better for them in the long run, though. Maybe they got to learn about the true God instead of being raised to prostitute themselves for their false gods.

    I don't remember Balaam being the one to advise the Midianite women to cause the Israelites to sin (31:16), but maybe I'm wrong. How can Balaam be the "bad guy" if he apparently has some prophet-like dealings with God?

    On a second skim through this, I noticed in 31:6 that Phinehas, the same one who ran through the sinning couple, was the one to lead the troops into battle. That's one hard-core dude!

    It's pretty cool that the Israelites didn't lose any men. (See, guys? That's what happens when you follow the Lord's instructions.) :)


    I just got back from taking a walk to a certain place just to see if I could do it (I could!), so I read Jesus' time in the wilderness as a cool, spiritual, "finding oneself" kind of journey. I was like, "Cool! I wish I could do that." I wouldn't really want to fast for 40 days (one day is quite enough), but I love the idea of being tested and coming out on the other side stronger than before. I know that type of thing is common in Native American/New Aget-y religions, but apparently it's Biblical too. I wonder how that would translate to today.

    About Jesus angering the people in the synagogue, that seems to fit with how he did things. He never went around trying to make himself popular. Instead, his message was often very hard to hear. I guess he wanted to make sure that the people who followed him were really serious about it (or something). I talked to a Church of Christ preacher recently who said that their congregation's philosophy was more like that. Instead of trying to attract more people to the building by flashy shows, watered down messages, and fake-friendly interactions with visitors, they were trying to be more real about Jesus' message to die to self and live for Him. They don't want to leave people in their comfortable lifestyles; they want people to get out of their comfort zones and really do some good thigns for the kingdom. Of course, that kind of stuff is not very palletable to the masses.

  3. Psalm:

    I wish I were able to express myself as well as David. I do feel all of those things, but I don't know how to let it out. I can sing and stuff like that, but it so falls short of what I feel inside.


    Verse 20: "The LORD hates people with twisted hearts, but he delights in those who have integrity." This verse is appropriate to our other passages too. From Numbers we know we shouldn't make rash promises, but from Luke we know that if we DO carry through with our vows (like fasting for 40 days), showing our integrity, we will come out stronger in the end. Having integrity is so much harder than it sounds. I'm not always good at that one, I hate to admit.

    I have been watching this SciFi show recently (the one I told you about with the muppets), and one thing I have gotten out of it is the example to lay down one's life for one's friends. The characters are constantly in situations where they have to chose whether or not to sacrifice themselves for the good of the others. (Of course, it always works out where they all get to live, but that is beside the point.) :) Some of the characters have a great deal of integrity in this way (and in other ways that they deal with their comrades), but there are also characters there for contrast who are just spineless. The "bad" ones are portrayed in such a way that you definitely DON'T want to be like them. Anyway, it's nice to be able to get something like that out of a secular TV show. It's had me thinking about all sorts of spiritual issues, even though it is not a spiritual show.