I'm on a journey to read through the Bible in chronological order. Taking it one day at a time, I will read based on a list I found on the internet and blog about what happened, thoughts provoked, emotions conjured, etc. Enjoy!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Day fifty-eight: Numbers 8-12

The Levites are ceremonially cleansed and made ready to do their work at them Temple.

They partake in Passover and what I liked is that everyone can participate. Even those who are unclean are still allowed and encouraged to participate. So many times I've read in the past that people are cut off if they are unclean, but I love that God allows and encourages participation in this sacred time.

A trumpet system is established to let the multitudes of people know when it is time to set out to another place. The whole process is described so dryly, but it blows my mind that they had to coordinate the movement of hundreds of thousands of people, all of their stuff and their animals... talk about organization. Its briefly mentioned that some grumblers on the outskirts are consumed by a fire from God... bet that shut up the naysayers! Well, at least for a little bit, we all know they will be back to their ways eventually.

The people start grumbling about not having meat to eat. They have prepared manna in just about every different way one could prepare manna and they are getting tired of it. Moses gets frustrated and asks God why He has brought this burden upon him... even if he wanted to give them meat there wouldn't be enough even if they slaughtered all of the cattle and animals. God's response is basically.."umm... in case you haven't heard, I'm kind of a big deal, and I do what I want". He sends in a flurry of quail for the people but hits them with a plague just to show some spite. It's almost like a "you wanted meat? you got meat, but you're not gonna like it!" kind of thing.

Something really cool is revealed during the whole quail indecent. At one point, 2 men have the Spirit of God fall on them and they begin prophesying. When people become outraged and tell Moses to make them stop, his response is that he wished everyone had the chance to prophesy and are ecstatic that they are having the chance to do so. Later, God makes the distinction between Moses and the others: with the others, He gives them dreams and visions, but with Moses, He speaks face-to-face. He wants to make it very clear that while others may be given the honor to prophesy, Moses is reserved special council for his obedience and faithfulness.

I just gotta say that Moses is pretty BA. I mean he survived a massacre as an infant, stood up to the most powerful man in the land and lived to tell about it, and is now leading and managing 600 thousand people while constantly meeting opposition and grumbling... we truly CAN do all things through Christ who gives us strength!! Have an insanely blessed and safe weekend!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day fifty-seven: Numbers 7

This chapter was not so much my favorite. More of an informative chapter about the establishment of the Tabernacle. Everyone does their job and its all set up. Then for 12 days, each leader brings an offering (silver, gold, animals, etc.) We are left with Moses walking into the Tent of Meeting and beginning a communion with God...

I wish that I had more to talk about in regards to the reading today, but it is a passage with not a lot of meat. In lieu of this, I will share a few prayer requests so that you may share in my trials.

For those of you who don't know, my husband Travis is graduating from Georgia Tech in August for Chemical Engineering. The past few months have been spent feverishly looking for a job after he graduates. The responses have been less than satisfactory and I know that it is wearing on both of us. We have a Plan B (move closer to Gainesville while he works some for his father) but hope that we won't have to move forward on an interim plan. Please pray for guidance and patience as we move through the next 3 months with uncertainty.

I am also asking for prayer for my great-aunt (grandmother's sister) in Tampa. She recently suffered from 2 strokes and has been moved to hospice. The family has all said their goodbyes and she has begun her journey with the Lord. I know she is anxious to see her God face to face and be reunited with her husband who passed several years ago. Pray for rest and comfort for the whole family during this time of waiting. And also for those who will travel from out of state to attend the memorial and funeral services.

On a happier note, my bff and maid-of-honor is coming into town this weekend for a visit. I haven't seen her since her wedding in March and am STOKED to spend some time with her. Pray for safe travels from DC and a blessed time of fellowship!

All in all, our God is good and is in control. I pray that He will allow me to give up the reigns and let him lead Travis and I.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day fifty-six: Numbers 5-6

I apologize if things seem to be jumping around to random subjects in each reading. I am a but confused myself sometimes how we go from talking about cheating wives to spiritual consecration, but all in all, I am learning a lot!

The camp is purified by sending out anyone who is ill or has an infectious disease. I am again confused about why God is shunning these precious people. The only thing I can think of is that He is doing it for the safety and health of the others, but the way it is phrased makes them seem like the scum of the earth for getting sick.

The priests are also given a nice trick to know if a woman is being unfaithful. If a man suspects his wife is cheating, a priest makes her drink a bitter water--if she becomes barren, she cheated; if she bears children, she didn't cheat. Seems like a long time to wait to see if she was actually cheating or not.. but I guess they had a lot of time. Also, no mention is made to tell if a man was cheating... just sayin...

The passage then talks about taking a Nazirite vow. Google tells me that the Hebrew word for Nazir means separated or consecrated. If a person wants to consecrate himself to God, he or she must abstain from booze, haircuts or funerals (even if its your own parents) for an allotted amount of time. After the time is up, you go to the Temple, give an offering, and shave your head. The main point is that this was something that anyone could volunteer to do. It is a time to abstain from distractions and set yourself apart for a time to consecrate yourself wholly to God. After the time is up, you give an offering of thanks. Kind of like lent but with a lot more meaning and value (giving up your parents funeral versus giving up soda...think about it)

Moses is then given a blessing to give to the people. I have heard this as a benediction after church more times than I can count... and I love it every time.

"The LORD bless you
and keep you;

25 the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;

26 the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace."

Have an outrageously blessed day everyone!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day fifty-five: Numbers 3-4

Previously, all of the Israelites were counted in a census. Now, God is calling for a separate count of just the Levites because He has claimed them as His people. The families are listed, each with the responsibility they have been given at the Tabernacle. The care of the sanctuary itself was a job reserved for Moses, Aaron and his sons.

The Kohathites are put in charge of carrying the holy things. Once Aaron and his sons cover the holy items so that they cannot be seen, the Kohathites carry them to the next place. They are told strictly to not look at any of the holy things or they will die on sight.

The Gershonites are put in charge of carrying all of the curtains.

The Merarites are to carry all of the bases, posts and frames.

I'm enjoying seeing how God doles out these tasks to everyone. He has reserved this amazing responsibility simply because Moses trusted and followed Him when everyone else was losing their minds to sin.

Day fifty-four: Numbers 1-2

The saga of Numbers begins....

God tells Moses to take a census of all the people. He is also to take note of men over the age of 20 who can fight. All of the tribes were counted except for the Levites--they were placed over the Tabernacle. It doesn't say exactly why the tribe of Levi was chosen for this task, but it seems like a great honor (unless you really wanted to go to battle...then not so much).

The clans are separated and they are told to camp outside of the Tent of Meeting under their banner. Granted there are 50,000+ in each tribe so they camped a good ways away from each other. The Levites placed their camp right outside the Tent of Meeting as God instructed them to.

So far Numbers isn't toooooooo bad :) After doing a little internet research, I found that Moses and Aaron were Levites...pretty much explains why they were chosen to care for the Tabernacle. God found favor in the way Moses has led the people and wanted to grant his direct line with a position of honor.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day fifty-three: Leviticus 26-27

The last passages of Leviticus. I'm not going to lie this moment is bittersweet. While I love the meaning and depth of the book, its a tough read. There are a lot of laws that are repeated multiple times and rituals that are given in such detail that its hard to wade through it all. But I am so glad to see how the church has evolved since then and to see how God's provision and guidance changes.

God explains that following His laws will come with reward: good crops, rain, lots of babies, enemies will flee, etc. In the same light, there will be punishment for those who do not obey the laws. The most intense passage is "I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life."... no thank you. If you want to read the whole butt whoopin part, check out Lev 26:17-39... pretty intense stuff.

The last portion is about devoting people, animals and land to the Lord. He basically lays out what each thing is worth and what the appropriate way to handle it is. What I wasn't a fan of, was that men were always worth more than women. I'm not really a feminist.. but I'm just sayin that women (especially those back then) put up with some nasty situations and conditions that modern women take for granted. I won't go into detail for those with a weak stomach, but they could have bumped our value up just a teensy bit.

Time to get off my soapbox. The book of Numbers is next and I would be lying if I said I was looking forward to it. But its part of my journey so I will take it on if I must. I apologize for the next couple of posts if they seem boring or confusing. Numbers can tend to be a boring and confusing book.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day fifty-two: Leviticus 24-25

There is a blasphmer in their midst and the Lord instructs them to take him out of the city and stone him. I believe God is making an example of this man as a warning to anyone who tries to speak against His name. Kind of a random insertion in this whole book about rules. Its pretty much one of the only "stories" in the whole book...

Moses is instructed to not only observe the Sabbath, but to let the land observe a Sabbath as well once they reach Canaan. They are to plan and sow for 6 years and let the land rest for the 7th year. After 50 years, there is to be a Year of Jubilee. Everyone is to return to their homeland and not work the fields and just celebrate. God addresses the doubters by making it clear that during theoff year of sowing and harvesting there will be more than enough for them to eat. Just another reminder of His amazing provision (like with manna). God also makes it clear that all land is ultimately His, we are just the tenants and stewards. This is a great rule for all things and is still so applicable today. If you think of money as Gods, then how much more are you motivated to do good things with it??

Friday, April 23, 2010

Day fifty-one: Leviticus 22-23

God reiterates the rules for priests and concludes every statement with "I am the Lord". I haven't been able to find out exactly the importance of this, but God says it over and over again. I'm assuming its just His way of making sure everyone knows whats up.

Another thing that is reiterated is the notion of offering your first-fruits as an offering. I know in modern day we tithe as a means of accomplishing this, but do we ever give God our first and best? Just something to think about...

The Lord then has Moses announce His sacred feasts. Basically it is certain days a year that are set aside to offer sacrifice and praise to God. My personal favorite is the Feast of Tabernacles. Its basically 7 days where no one works and you eat choice fruits and foods and just praise God. I wonder if my office would go for this...? Probably not, but hey its a nice idea anyways.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day fifty: Leviticus 19-21

God lays out a few misc. laws. Some of them just reminders of past laws handed down or ones that could have been thought of as common sense, but given their track record, it probably didn't hurt to hear it again. Things like not perverting justice, don't slander your neighbor, don't hate people or seek revenge... one I'm sure most men are happy aren't practiced anymore is not clipping your sideburns (not kidding). Tattoos are also mentioned as forbidden and one is to stand in the presence of an elder.

Then God basically says if you disobey any of his laws (sleeping with a relative, offering sacrifices to other gods, sleeping with an animal, committing adultery) you should die. Other sins (sex during Aunt Flo's visit, marrying your sister) called for exile. He again tells of the importance of keeping clean and unclean things together and specifically tells the people to not follow the others of the land because He "abhors" their actions. He is again reminding them to set themselves apart.

God then makes the distinction between priests and other citizens. Aaron and his sons are called to a higher position and with that comes great responsibility. If you thought the list of no-nos was intense for the people, the list for them is waaaaay worse. I won't go into all of it, but they are basically called to always act in the Lord's best interest and refrain from anything remotely ungodly. They are even to throw their own daughter into the fire if she becomes a prostitute because she has "defiled the family". Pretty tough stuff! If Aaron has any descendants with defects (lameness, blindness, dwarf, hunchback, deformity, etc.) they are not allowed to bring offering before the Lord. By doing so, they would desecrate the Temple.

I am a little confused as to why Aaron's "defective" relatives would be shunned from the Temple. It's not their fault their relative is the High Priest, and what does that have to do with their physical deformities? I thought God taught tolerance and acceptance of the lame and broken. Why then is he calling for the people who probably feel the need to be near to God the most to not come near the most holy place? When I am suffering, this is when I most feel my need of God. Why would He turn them away from the place they could feel closest to Him? Hopefully some of this will be explained later, but for now I remain confused and a little agitated.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day forty-nine: Leviticus 16-18

After the death of Aaron's two foolish sons, God makes it very clear that Atonement must be made before Aaron is to enter the Temple. He must go through a ritual that atones for himself, his family and the people. It is again interesting to see the contrast of how a man is used to intercede for the people before Jesus came. The ritual that the Lord demands is to be done once a year for the atonement of the Israelites sins. I am again reminded of the intense grace that has been given to me. That Jesus would lay down his own life once for the coverage of all sins so that rituals like this are made obsolete.

God touches on making offerings not to God..anyone who does so is to be cut off from the people. He wants them to realize that He is the only one they are to be sacrificing to.

God then lays out the rules for appropriate sexual conduct:
  • Don't sleep with a relative
  • Don't sleep with a man as one would with a woman
  • Don't sleep with animals
God tells them that if they do any of these things He will "vomit them out"... nice imagery. These are more ways that God is trying to set His people apart. Even though they are heading towards Canaan and intending to inhabit it one day, they are not to partake in the ways that the Canaanites choose to live. They are to be a living example to the world so that people wonder what is different.

This makes me think back to how many times I had the opportunity to act different and set myself apart as an example, and instead went with the flow. Ashamed. Discouraged. Embarrassed. Weak. Thank goodness for a gracious, loving, merciful God who knows my heart and sees me at my weakest and still says "that one right there, she is mine!" Brings me to a MercyMe song that I am loving right now...

Covered by your love divine
Child of the risen Lord
To hear you say "This one's mine"
My heart is spoken for...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day forty-eight: Leviticus 14-15

The previous sections discussed what makes a person unclean. This reading spends a little time explaining how to make yourself clean after having an infectious skin disease or coming into contact with mildew.

If the person dies from a skin disease, he is to be cleansed with the blood a clean bird, hyssop, cedar and scarlet yarn. Another bird is to be released into the woods after the cleansing ritual is complete.

If the person is still alive, he has to compeltely shave and bathe. Then he must spend 7 days outside of his tent and then shave again (everything... including eyebrows!). On the 8th day he makes a blood and grain sacrifice with help from the priest. The passage is a little redundant and repeats the same things several time. I am not sure what the purpose of this is...

If someone has mildew in their house, a priest will close it off for 7 days. If the mildew is spreading after 7 days, the whole house has to be gutted and pieces replaced. If the mildew comes back the whole house has to be destroyed (boy aren't you glad there are easier ways to deal with mold and mildew now?!) The house is then purified in the same way someone with leprosy is (with blood, hyssop, etc.).

The next section brought out the 5th grader in me and made me giggle. If a man has any kind of discharge, he and anyone/thing he comes into contact will be unclean for 7 days until he is ceremonially cleansed. As for semen, the man (and woman) are both supposed to wash themselves and remain unclean until evening. I am not sure what the distinction between "discharge" and "semen" are, but I don't really want to look into it further :\

As for the ladies... when Aunt Flo is in town, you are basically described as the walking plague...
20 " 'Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean. 21 Whoever touches her bed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. 22 Whoever touches anything she sits on must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be unclean till evening. 23 Whether it is the bed or anything she was sitting on, when anyone touches it, he will be unclean till evening.

If that passage doesn't make you feel attractive, I don't know what would.

Remember, this seems like a lot; but you have to keep in mind that conditions were a lot worse back then and every step had to be taken to ensure a sanitary environment. God used these methods to keep the Temple and his people clean and healthy. While cumbersome, it was a fantastic showing of God's provision and sovereign grace.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Day forty-seven: Leviticus 11-13

God outlines what animals are clean and unclean for consumption. They may only eat animals that chew cud and have a split hoof (camels, pigs, rabbits, etc are all out). They may eat any kind of fish with fins and scales, anything else in the water they are to detest. There are limited types of birds that can be eaten; eagles, vultures, ravens, gulls, hawks owl, etc are all out. The only insects ok to eat are locusts, crickets and grasshoppers (ew). If they even touch any of the unclean animals, they are to immediately wash themselves and their clothes. If something unclean falls into a pot, you have to break the pot and toss its contents. Bottom line: don't touch or eat anything that is remotely considered to be unclean.

A woman who gives birth must go through a period of being ceremonially unclean before she can do anything. If she has a boy, she is unclean for 7 days, circumcises the boy on the 8th day and then has to wait 33 days to be "purified" (waiting for the blood and ickiness to stop). If she has a girl, all the the uncleanliness time is doubled--14 days of being unclean and 66 days before purification. I am wondering why a baby girl takes longer to "cleanse"??

Since there weren't really doctors back then, the priests are given instruction on how to tell if something is an infectious skin disease or just a rash. Anyone with a skin ailment is supposed to be seen by a priest and let him make the judgment on what it is. Usually isolation is prescribed and the patient is monitored. While someone is deemed unclean, they have to live outside the city, wear torn clothes, not cover their head and shout "unclean" anytime they see someone.

Mildew is also discussed. Anything contaminated must be washed and then burned if it doesn't clear up.

At first I was a little shocked to read about all of these rules and regulations, then it hit me...God is not making them do all of this to be a bully, He's doing it to set them apart. He wants his people to act and live differently than the rest of the world. By following these guidelines, they are edifying themselves and making themselves holy for God. While encouraging, it is still a pretty big bill to pay up for.

Day forty-six: Leviticus 8-10

The ordination ritual of Aaron and his fellow priests is carried out just as God commanded. Just as they take their place, God comes down in a blaze of fire and burns up everything on the altar. The people rejoice and fall prostrate...it means the Lord is pleased with what they have done. 2 of Aaron's sons try to add incense to the fire (which is something God strictly prohibited) and they are also consumed in the fire.

Moses gives strict instructions that no one is to drink wine or any kind of alcohol and go into the Tent of Meeting. They are to do this to draw a clear line between "holy and common". The role of Aaron and his sons is an upright and rigid role. They have very clear guidelines that they must follow and there isn't really any room for error. I am again so thankful that Jesus took the blame for my unrighteousness!!!

Day forty-five: Leviticus 5-7

The different types of offerings continue as well as some rules to live by. Basically, in so many words, when a sin is committed, the person must bring their best for sacrifice. If they have a ram then they must bring one without blemish. If not a ram then 2 doves, or flour. The main point is bringing something of worth for the atonement of sins. Forgiveness cannot be granted until atonement has been sought.

There are basically 5 types of offerings:
  1. Burnt offering--a voluntary offering made to please God
  2. Grain offering--another offering to please God, no honey or yeast was to be used as it was thought that the fermenting was corruptive to the offering
  3. Peace offering--there were 3 times for a peace offering: you received something you didn't pray for; you received something you did pray for; and you are just thankful for general life blessings
  4. Sin offering--atoning for sins committed out of ignorance
  5. Guilt offering--similar to the sin offering, but was more pertinent to sins involving other people and restitution
I find it so refreshing that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross covered all of this. We no longer have to make sacrifices when we sin because Christ has already done it! Isn't that just so liberating?? Now we bring offerings in return for the goodness that has been lavished upon us. It is a free gift that we choose to give back to God. This whole concept just makes me feel so free and full of grace.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Day forty-four: Leviticus 1-4

God calls for offerings once the Temple is complete. He gives very specific instructions about how each offering is to be prepared. The people offer animals (bulls, sheep, goats and birds) and grains (how it is offered depends on how it was prepared; it must never ever ever contain yeast). The people also bring animals as peace (or "wave" or "fellowship" offerings) and sin offerings.

A sin offering is something that I am very pleased we don't follow to the letter anymore. Depending on who the person was in society, their either brought a bull, lamb or a goat before the temple. The elders would lay their hands on its head and then kill it. Blood is then sprinkled all over the place and the animal is taken outside the city and burned. I can only imagine how disgusting that could get in downtown Atlanta... :)

The part that gave me chills was when it discussed the offering of the lamb. It uses the same languages and techniques as the other animals but I can't help but draw the comparison to Christ and it gives me chills.

33 He is to lay his hand on its head and slaughter it for a sin offering at the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered. 34 Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar. 35 He shall remove all the fat, just as the fat is removed from the lamb of the fellowship offering, and the priest shall burn it on the altar on top of the offerings made to the LORD by fire. In this way the priest will make atonement for him for the sin he has committed, and he will be forgiven.

In the same way Jesus' blood was spilled before God and the world for the atonement of our sins... when I think about the true magnitude of it all, it just takes my breath away.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day forty-three: Exodus 39-40

The priestly garments (see image above for reference) and Tabernacle are completed exactly the way God tells them to do it. After inspecting and seeing that everything is good, Moses does as the Lord tells him and sets up the Tabernacle courtyard and other items as they should go. Aaron and the other priests are then washed and prepared for their responsibilities.

Then the glory of the Lord settles over the tent in the form of a cloud. Can you even imagine how amazing this must have all been?? Even though they went astray and lost many people in the process, God still used them to fulfill His desires. As wicked as Aaron got, the Lord still blessed him with the anointed position of head priest and used him for His glory. It just goes to show what a gracious and merciful God we serve! What a great day that must have been to see everything you have been through come to fruition and then watch the glory of the Lord settle over it all and know that He is pleased.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day forty-two: Exodus 36-38

The people bring their offerings for the creation of the Tabernacle. There is a charming moment where they realize that they have more than what they need and actually have to ask people to stop donating. Could you imagine if this happened in local churches?! All in all they gathered over 3 tons of silver, over 1 ton of gold and over 2 tons of bronze. This doesn't even include the linens/fabrics, animal hides and jewels. Wow.

The craftsmen make all of the things that the Lord instructed them to. Everything is covered in gold and encrusted with gems and covered in fine fabrics. I wish I could have seen all of those beautiful things... must have been truly breathtaking! I love that the Israelites are able to come together and do something fulfilling and productive. It's nice to see them on track for once.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day forty-one: Exodus 33-35

The Lord sends an angel before the Israelites but will not travel with them Himself because He feels His wrath is too intense. While they rest, Moses sets up a "tent of meeting" and talks with the Lord daily. "11 The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend." JEALOUS!

Moses appeals to the Lord to have His presence travel with them and the Lord agrees. But first, Moses asks to for God to reveal His glory to him. God agrees to let him see His back, but tells him he will die if he sees God's face. Moses goes up on the mountain with another set of stone tablets to replace the ones he broke. God then passes before him and tells him He will spare the Israelites if they follow His commands. The passage keeps calling them "stiff-necked people". I'm not sure what that means to them...

After coming down from the mountain, every sees that Moses' face is "radiant" from being with the Lord. I wonder if this means he was smiling really big or actually glowing. Either way, its awesome that everyone could instantly tell that he was in the presence of God! Moses tells them about the steps that need to be taken to build the Tabernacle as previously instructed and they hop right to it.

I wish that I had hope that their enthusiasm to please God would stick, but something tells me that they will revert to their old ways soon enough.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day forty: Exodus 30-32

An incense altar is to be placed at the opening of the Tabernacle for Aaron to burn each morning and evening when he attends to the lamps; along with a washing basin to clean up before entering. Moses is instructed to receive a money offering for atonement from each person after taking a census of the people. The money is to be used for the Tabernacle.

Finally, the Lord tells them that He has even provided them with craftsmen who can make all the things He has instructed them to make. Basically, God has laid out everything--the blueprints and the workers to get it done. He also reminds Moses to have the people work for 6 days, then rest on the Sabbath. After telling him all that must be done (I hope God gave him one heck of a memory because there was A LOT of tiny details!), He gives him the tablets and sends him on his way...

Meanwhile... the Israelites are growing restless. Moses has been gone a long time and they are starting to wonder what in the world is going on at the top of Sinai. They decide to make their own gods since Moses is MIA and they need guidance. The worst part is--Aaron heads all this up. Yes, the same Aaron who was to be appointed head priest of the Temple of God. Wow.

God sends Moses down the mountain to talk sense into them after Moses intercedes for their life. After seeing their debauchery, he throws the stone tablets down and confronts his brother. Whiny Aaron actually tries to throw this all on the people and even tries to convince Moses that he threw gold into the fire and a calf just magically came out. I am again surprised that God went into all that detail about what should be done and the anointing of Aaron knowing that 5 minutes later Aaron would be making gods and dancing around like a fool. Another question for Heaven...

Moses stands at the entrance of the camp and gathers those who are still with the Lord (mainly Levites). The Levites then go through the camp and kill everyone else. Moses intercedes (again) to the Lord for the rest of the people's lives and commands them to journey forth, following the angel He puts in front of them.

God has this amazing a glorious plan for them to worship and honor Him. Aaron was to be put in a position of trust and the people had a cush life of worshiping God and having all their needs provided for. But they just had to be impatient and take things into their own hands. I wonder how many time I have done this without realizing the magnitude of my actions...?

Day thirty-nine: Exodus 28-29

Aaron and his sons are appointed by God to be the priests of the Tabernacle. They receive a breastplate, ephod, rope, tunic, turban and sash.... stylin! The ephod and breastplates are completely adorned with gold, rubies, emeralds and other precious gems to symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel. Bells are placed around the bottom of Aaron's robe so that he will not die when he enters and exits the Tabernacle. I know there is a reason for this, but since God knows everything, why does he need bells to announce Aaron's coming?

Aaron has a lot of pressure put on him--all of the items he wears symbolize things (something over his heart so that he always put the Lord in his decisions, a plate on his forehead to make the gifts of the people consecratable to the Lord...). He is lifted up to this amazing position, but with it comes great responsibility.

The ordination of Aaron and his sons takes 7 days. During which they slaughter rams and bulls and sprinkle the blood on the altar and wipe a bit on themselves, then eat certain parts of the meat along with some bread. The whole scene I'm sure was very powerful, but reads very gory. The idea of slaughtering all those animals and sprinkling their blood all over the place and then wiping it on oneself presents a not-so-pretty image. But, I do love and appreciate all of the ceremony that takes place. I would think it helps the priests realize just what a big job they are taking on and helps bring levity to the situation.

Day thirty-eight: Exodus 25-27

God asks for offerings from the people to create the Ark of the Covenant. What I love is that is says for Moses to receive an offering "from each man whose heart prompts him to give". God wants the people to feel compelled to make offerings, and for them to come from the heart.

The lord then instructs them to make the Ark (out of gold inside and out with cherubim facing each other), a table for the offerings, a pure gold lamp stand (which sounds like it will resemble a menorah), the Tabernacle (basically an amazingly beautiful tent), an altar for burnt offerings, a courtyard for the Tabernacle and oil for the lamp stand.

The amount of detail and God gives them is amazing. He knows exactly how He wants everything to be and lays it out in black and white. It was a little hard to read through everything, but really cool to see how perfect it was all meant to be.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Day thirty-seven: Exodus 22-24

Basically this is a continuation of the laws laid down in the previous reading.

~If someone breaks into your house, its only ok to kill him before sunrise
~Don't let your livestock graze in anothers field
~If you borrow and break/kill something, you must make restitution
~Don't have sex with animals
~Don't oppress aliens (for they were once aliens...I really like this one)
~Don't charge interest on a loan to a neighbor
~Don't withhold from the Lord and do not blaspheme

My favorite portion is on Justice and Mercy:
~Don't spread lies
~Don't follow the crowd in wrongdoing
~Return a neighbors donkey if you see that it's wandered off (even if you hate the neighbor)
~Don't accept bribes
~and again... don't oppress aliens
To me, these are very basic tenets of living. Its all about putting others first and ensuring that you are living an honest and just life.

God lays it out pretty clear... these are the things I ask of you, follow them, and you will receive all that I have laid out for you! God goes into great detail about all that He has before them: nations will tremble as they draw near and will obey them, their offspring will be great and live long lives, their enemies will run at their sight... all they have to do is obey the commands and not partake in other rituals or worship other gods. Seems pretty simple.

Moses and some of the Hebrew leaders ascend Mt. Sinai where the Lord is going to give Moses the stone tablets with the law on them. He stays on the mountain for 40 days and nights. My favorite part is where it says 16 and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. It give me such a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that God was right there! He was actually WITH Moses and he got to spend time with Him... jealous!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Day thirty-six: Exodus 19-21

They reach Mount Sinai and I am made aware of something I never fully understood. Before Moses every receives the 10 Commandments, God shows Himself to the people. All of the people are gathered at the base of the mountain and there thunder and lightening and the entire mountain is engulfed in flames and smoke. It says the mountain "trembles"... I don't know about you, but this is certainly an image that would be burned in my brain forever. How can you be so close to God, to feel his strength and might and later blatantly disobey His commands???

Moses and Aaron are allowed to go up the mountain while everyone else has to stay down. I would have been scared to death to even stand near the mountain, let alone climb it. Here is where they receive the 10 Commandments. God also elaborates on several of them...most of this I had never heard before:

~Anyone who commits intentional murder = death
~Anyone who attacks their parents = death
~Anyone who kidnaps = death
~Anyone who hits another person but doesn't kill him is ok, just has to make sure they guy eventually gets back up
~Any men who accidentally hit a pregnant woman in a fight and cause her to go into pre-mature labor must pay her husband for the damages (how exactly is that compensated?!?!)
~Any slave owner who damages an eye or tooth of a slave must let them go free
~Any bull owner whose bull "gores" someone to death is not responsible unless said bull has a history of goring and the owner has been warned. Either way, the bull gets stoned
~Anyone who digs a pit that someone's livestock falls into must pay the owner for his losses

I'm not gonna lie, the part about the bull goring someone and the thought of a goat falling into a hole that someone dug kind of made me chuckle. Not to be morbid, I am just wondering why God chose to elaborate on these specific items and not others. He makes no elaboration of adultery, the Sabbath, lying, stealing, etc. but he goes into great detail and murder and personal injury. Perhaps He was pointing out things that were very applicable to the poeple at the time, something that they could all relate to. I mean, come on, who of us hasn't had a bull gore someone?? :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Day thirty-five: Exodus 16-18

God provides the grumbling Israelites with manna and quail. Whats cool is he tells them to only gather what they need (an "omer). Anything that they don't need rots overnight. This forces them to rely on Him each day to provide for their meal. He even allows them to store twice as much before the Sabbath so that they will be able to rest and not gather and prepare food. It's amazing how much thought and provision is given towards them, yet they are never satisfied! So frustrating!

God again provides by bringing water for the people out of a rock...water from a rock in the middle of the desert...and the people STILL find something to whine about! This is getting ridiculous. Not once has God failed to give them exactly what they need, yet they are always moaning about how much better off they would be dead or enslaved by Egypt.

The people are attacked by the Amalekites, but God allows them to win as long as Moses' hands are raised towards Heaven. His brother and another man even step in the help him when his arms begin to grow weary. Just another sing that God has something great in store for the Israelites and will not allow harm to befall them.

Moses' father-in-law hears of all the great things God is doing for the Israelites and pops in for a visit. He sees Moses playing judge for the entire Hebrew nation and gives him a great idea--pick capable men in the nation to serve as judges as well. They can handle the day-to-day questions and disputes, and Moses can handle the big stuff. This could either be a very good thing, or a very bad thing if the "capable" men begin to follow their own statutes and God's!

Oh, and just in case you were wondering.. 36 (An omer is one tenth of an ephah.) :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day thirty-four: Exodus 13-15

A ritual is established and explained to the Israelites. Just as God sacrificed the first born of Egypt to redeem the Hebrews, so they will sacrifice their first born livestock to redeem their children. It is just one of many symbols of how we are to act like Christ.

God leads them safely through day and night. He leads them on the longer path that is less likely to bring them war. Its cool that He knew that the shorter, easier path was not the safest and ensured them safe passage. God hardens Pharaoh's heart again and he pursues them into the desert. The Israelites cry out, wondering why Moses didn't just leave them alone. Moses reassures them that God will bring deliverance and not allow harm to come to them.

Its so easy being the reader. I want to shake them and say don't you realize that there is basically heaven on earth waiting for you?! Just push through it and it will all be yours! But I've been an Israelite in the desert, and I know exactly how it feels to not see an end in sight and wonder, "God, why did you bring me out here?!". This story has been a great encouragement for me to keep my eyes on the prize and not gripe about the daily struggles.

The Lord parts the Red Sea and the Israelites are granted safe passage while the entire Egyptian army perishes when the waters crash back. The parting of the Red Sea is something that is so easy to forget what a BIG DEAL it is....we are not talking about the creek or pond in your backyard. We are talking about an ENTIRE SEA!!! Can you imagine the amount of faith it took for the Israelites to take that first step, wondering all the while if the water walls are going to come crashing down?? I've always wondered what the water walls looked like... was it like an aquarium? Could you see the fish and creatures swimming around on the other side? Or was it just like water blasting up from the ocean floor creating an inverse tidal wave? So many things to think about...

Israel sings and give praises to God, which is short lived once they go without water for 3 days. Of course, the Lord provides them with sweet water and quenches their thirst. I am again dumbfounded at how easily they become displeased.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day thirty-three: Exodus 10-12

1 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these miraculous signs of mine among them 2 that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the LORD."

God is using all of this affliction to being glory to his name...lightbulb moment!

The locust come and destroy anything that wasn't killed from the hail. Even Pharaoh's officials are starting to try and talk some sense into him; "Egypt is destroyed!", they cry to him. THe plague of darkness comes next and I read something that I had never realized before. "...darkness will spread over Egypt—darkness that can be felt." It gives me the impression that this is no ordinary darkness we are talking about. I have never experienced darkness that can be "felt", and I hope I never have to!! The Israelites are again spared from all of this. Pharaoh starts using a bargaining chip. First he says, "ok you can go, but only the men", then he tries "ok, all the humans, just leave the livestock". With Moses, its all or nothing so the plague of the firstborn is brought upon the land. THe israelites are instructed to take a lamb and paint its blood on the door frame of their houses. This will signal to God as the passes through to not lay a hand on anyone in the household. Thus begins the celebration of Passover.

This is the final straw (every single Egyptian lost someone that night) and Pharaoh not only lets the people go--he demands it. The Israelites leave according to the prophesy given by God years before. It must have been such a bittersweet moment... finally being freed from the bonds of slavery, but embarking on a journey into unknown territory and having to rely solely on God. What a strange and beautiful night it must have been!

Day thirty-two: Exodus 7-9

God again tells Moses and Aaron that He will harden Pharaoh's heart towards their request. It mentions that Moses is 80 at the time and Aaron is 83. I wonder why God chose Moses, the younger son and not Aaron. It doesn't tell a lot of Aaron's background, but from what we know, Moses is a murderer. I know all sins are equal in God's eyes, but it stirs me to question why he was chosen since the way of the time is to favor the eldest son. But then again, God never was much for following trends :)

M&A's signs are matched by the Egyptian magicians so the plagues begin. The first is the bloody Nile--the magicians match this one again. Then come the frogs--which the magicians match AGAIN. Pharaoh gives and says that once they take away the frogs, he will let the people go. The frogs die, but Pharaoh backs out on his word. The passage mentions that the frogs are piled and heaped and wreak across the land. For some reason, I always though that they just disappeared, not died...GROSS. God then brings the gnats which the magicians cannot reproduce. After all this Pharaoh still says no. Next comes the flies. The difference between this plague and the others is that this is the first time the plague does not affect Goshen (where God's people are living). He wants to set them apart and make a distinction to prove He is the Lord. Pharaoh backs out on his word again and will not let the Israelites go. Next come the death of livestock, boils, and hail. The Hebrews are also saved from these afflictions. Pharaoh again tells Moses he will let the people go once he stops the plague... and again he goes back on his word.

This whole times it tells that Pharaoh is going back on his word because the Lord is "hardening his heart". I'm just wondering what the purpose in all of this is if God is causing the Egyptians to live in hell on earth, but also hardens their leaders heart to not end it all.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Day thirty-one: Exodus 4-6

God shows Moses signs that He will use if the people do not believe God sent Moses. Then comes a very touching exchange. Moses tells God he is nothing, he's not eloquent and is slow and could never lead a nation. God responds with:"Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."Still a little nervous about his job, God allows Moses to bring his brother Aaron for back-up. There have been many times in my life where I wondered where in the world I get get the strength to face a challenge or just make it through the day. I know how Moses must have felt and love that feeling after the fact that I had nothing to do with conquering my challenge--it was all the Big Guy :)

God tells Moses what to say, but also tells him that He will harden Pharaoh's heart so that he will not let the people go...what's up with that? I'm assuming this is another one of those times where God knows the outcome, but is going to make the people go through hell to realize the full extent of what's going on.

The first time Moses makes his petition, Pharaoh stops providing the slaves with straw but demands the same amount of bricks. They are beaten and tormented when the output is not the same. The people get a little angry at Moses and Aaron for stepping in and bringing this upon them. God reassures M & A and they go to the people and tell of God's promise. They are too busy lamenting over their situation to listen. God tells M&A to go back to Pharaoh and make their petition again. They are a little skeptical--if their own people won't listen to them, why in the world would their enemy?!

God is just setting all of this up for a beautiful, perfect plan. I would love to be a fly on the wall when it all unfolds...

Day thirty: Exodus 1-3

Joseph and his generation pass away and a new Egyptian king takes power. The newbie doesn't know about Joseph and his legacy and gets a little nervous about the vast number of Israelites living in Egypt. They are all forced into slavery, but keep reproducing. Fearful that they will overtake his land, the Pharaoh tells the Hebrew midwives to kill any newborn boys. Obviously, they aren't going to kill their own people (let alone infants!), but God blesses them for their righteousness. Moses is born and makes his journey down the Nile and is found by the Pharaoh's daughter.

When Moses is grown (they don't say how old) he sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and kills him. He later flees-nervous that someone has found out about his murderous act. God chooses Moses to lead the people out of slavery and comes to him in the burning bush. Moses shows a little confusion and I can't say I'm surprised. A flaming plant is telling you that you will lead your people to safety and prosperity and calls itself "I am that I am". Pretty cryptic! One second he is worried about being punished for murder, the next he is being told to lead a nation. God truly does work in mysterious ways...

Day twenty-nine: Genesis 48-50

The last of Genesis...

Just before Jacob dies, he fulfills a prophesy that was made when Joseph's sons were born. The younger was placed over the elder and all of the future offspring was blessed. To me, this is a simple reminder of a very present theme throughout the Bible--the first shall be last. Jacob calls his 12 sons together and blesses them according to their lot. He has some great things to say about some of his sons, others...not so much. I would never like my father to refer to me as a ravenous wolf!!

Joseph obeys his father's dying wish and buried him in the land of his forefathers. The Egyptians even help to embalm him and travel to bury him. Its cool to see the Egyptians embrace Joseph as their own--just one of the many ways God provides for him.