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!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Day eighty-nine: Judges 1-2

I was confused, I thought all the lands had been conquered, but Judges speaks otherwise. There are still lands that are conquered after Joshua's death--a king even gets his big toes and thumbs cut off! Yuck! So much for the peaceful ending of Joshua!

A few of the tribes did not drive out the current residents, but forced them into hard labor and lived alongside them. God was not very happy with this and sent an angel with a message: "cool, disobey me, but these people are going to be royal pains in the behind for the rest of your lives!"

The people lived and reproduced but did not pass down the Law as instructed. A new generation that had no knowledge of what God did for them in Egypt arose that sinned fiercely and worshiped other gods. God let them fall to their enemies and fall to raiders of the lands. God raised up judges to save them, but they would not listen to them. God decides to no longer drive out their enemies, but to use them to test the people to see if they will turn to God in their distress. My guess is they will fail this test miserably, but I'll be optimistic and give them the benefit of the doubt.

It was inevitable that over the years the Law would fall to the wayside. It's a sad component of human nature...time makes everyone forget eventually. Things that were a burning passion become a dim flicker and eventually burn out over generations. But God knows what He's doing and will work all things for His glory. Think about how much He's already used His people--they've sinned and turned away countless times, but still the name of the Lord is feared and revered throughout the land. Nothing can stop Him :)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Day eighty-eight: Joshua 22-24

After helping their people, the descendants of Reuben and Gad are blessed and sent to settle the land across the Jordan that was promised to them. There, they built an altar that upset the rest of the Israelites thinking that it was a blasphemous thing. The Reubenites and Gadites explained that the altar was a simple way to show that they were in fact part of the chosen people and not cut off. It was not meant for burnt offerings or to take place of the original altar. It was established as a simple witness and testament to their part in the whole thing and to remind generations to come. Everyone understands and all is at peace.

Joshua gets really old and all the lands are finally conquered. He gives a moving speech reminding them to obey God or His anger will completely wipe them out--they are like children, you have to tell them the same thing 25 times and only sometimes they completely understand it!

Joshua passes away and is buried on his inheritance land. The bones of Joseph and Aaron were also brought on the journey and buried there as well. The Book of Joshua ends very peacefully--everyone is settled in their land, and all bones are laid to rest...ahh...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day eighty-seven: Joshua 19-21

What I did just realize/remember is that parts of the allotments were doled out, and then the tribes were supposed to decide amongst themselves and take the land themselves. Earlier, they had done all this as a group and conquered the lands together, but now they are breaking off and becoming their own little people (and by little I mean thousands :)) I realized this when it is mentioned that the tribe of Dan had a little trouble getting their land, but eventually put everyone to the sword and moved on in. I am not sure why the remaining lands were delegated out instead of taken as a team like before...

6 Cities of Refuge were established as was asked of them. As a reminder, these were places for people who committed accidental murder could flee for safety from possible avengers before trial.

The Levites are donated a few plots of pastureland from the other tribes and everyone is finally able to rest. Joshua 21:45 pretty much sums it all up! Go God :)

45 Not one of all the LORD's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Day eighty-six: Joshua 16-18

More allotting of the land. Excuse me if I don't seem enthused, its just really hard to read through! Basically, the people are sending out reps from each clan to map out the land and claim their inheritance.

On a more exciting note, Travis and I are heading up to our favorite spot this weekend with some friends! We started going to Pettyjohn's Caves a few years ago when we heard about it from some guys in the rec department at Georgia Southern. After the first time we were both in love with the mystery and adventure of going into a hole containing miles and miles of muddy twists and turns and have gone back several times since then. We haven't been in what seems like forever so I'm really looking forward to being able to just relax around the campfire and get a little mud in my hair :) Here's some pics from some of our past journeys...

If it rains (which makes the caves completely flood up and make it a death hazard to enter), we will visit Rock Town! A drier, less messy, inverted cousin of the caves, but no less fun!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Day eighty-five: Joshua 12-15

The list of defeated kings is laid out: over 30 in all! There are still several lands to be conquered, but God still lays out which tribe will get what piece of land--leaving out the Levites of course because their inheritance is serving God and being His chosen tribe to watch over the Ark.

This whole reading was a bit bland because its basically just laying out lands that are hard to pronounce and long lists of who gets what. But I understand that this reading is just as important as any other to keep it all in context :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day eighty-four: Joshua 9-11

Men from a near land (Gibeon)decide to trick the Israelites into making a peace treaty with them. They put on old clothes and sandals, brought dry moldy bread and set out to meet with them. They convinced them they were distant travelers who came to be with them after hearing about God's fame in the land. The Israelites make a treaty and later learn they are non-other than the enemies they are set to destroy...dun dun duuunnn!!!! They decide they must keep their oath but make them woodcutters and water carriers for the rest of their lives. It must be a dirty job in that time because it sound like they are given these jobs as punishment.

Other nations heard about what Gibeon had done and are a little angry. They decide they will attack Gibeon themselves since the Israelites can't do it. The Gibeonites send for help from Joshua who has to give it to them because of their oath. Israel and Gibeon destroy their enemies (with formal help from God who brings hail down on the fugitives). During this whole battle, the sun and moon stood still to allow for more fight time--proof to the world that this battle was for the Lord. 5 kings from the land managed to escape and are found hiding in a cave. They are hanged and thrown back into their hiding place and the mouth of the cave is covered with stones (seeing a pattern yet?)

Most of the southern and northern cities of Canaan are conquered in similar fashion before the land has a time of rest from war. After reading this, I am completely exhausted and have no idea how they Israelites kept this going for so long! This whole book so far is like a combination of every fight scene in LOTR, Narnia, 300, etc. Every battle is described so vividly. It's a brilliant reminder that God promised the land to them, but He never said they wouldn't have to work for it. God constantly makes people work for their earnings (working 14 years to get the girls of your dreams, suffering boils and numerous losses to be blessed, etc) but how much more do they appreciate them once they are received??? I truly hope Israel realizes the magnitude of what they are being given...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day eighty-three: Johsua 5-8

The people in Canaan had already begun to hear of how the Israelites crossed the Jordan in dry land and are dropping like flies. No one wants to face a nation with that kind of power behind them! Joshua conducts another mass circumcision--with flint knives! Ouch!!!! The reason for this was that none of the children born on the journey from Egypt had been circumcised along the way and most of those who had already been circumcised were dead by now. God wanted to sanctify His people once again.

Just outside of Jericho, Joshua sees a soldier and asks him if he "is for us or for our enemies?" The soldier replies that he is in the army of the Lord. I definitely think this guy is an angel standing ready to help and lead Joshua for what is coming next. Once a day for 6 days, the people march around the walls of the city and then camp. On the 7th day, they march around the city 7 times and then let out a war cry. The walls of the city collapse, and the people charge in and kill every living thing (sparing Rahab and her family of course!). They then burn the city and leave it in ruins as instructed by the Lord.

One of the Israelites (Achan) takes things from Jericho which was a BIG no no. The next city they seek to conquer doesn't go well and many are killed. God explains that this never would have happened if Achan hadn't taken the stolen goods. Achan is called out and repents, but at the Lord's will he is stoned and burned along with everything he stole. Then God is at peace and the Israelites can move forward.

They are now able to conquer the city in a very epic battle scene. They set up soldiers before the city and "run in fear" from Ai's army in order to lure them away from the city. After they are gone, the city is open and attacked from behind allowing an easy capture... Makes for great cinema in my head :) The city is burned like Jericho and left for ruins; the king of Ai is hanged and then covered with stones at the gate of the city. They then have a time of worship and Joshua goes over the entire law again to remind the people of their purpose.

I am really loving Joshua so far... something very LOTR about the fight scenes and I love how easily the people are able to continue with their mission as long as they obey God. It's so simple! Obey God=conquer cities; disobey God=die.... duh!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day eighty-two: Joshua 1-4

Joshua takes up Moses' mantle as leader of the Israelites. God gives him a great pep talk and assures him that just as He was with Moses, He will also be with Joshua. Joshua send out two spies to check out the land and prepare to cross over Jordan. The king discovers that there are spies and that they are staying at the house of a prostitute named Rahab. The translation is a little weird because the footnote after prostitute says "or could be 'innkeeper'"...last time i checked those were two very different roles!.

I have vaguely heard of Rahab but was not aware of how amazingly beautiful she was to this whole story. She hid the two men from the soldiers of her city and helped them to escape under one condition--her family would be allowed to live when the city was taken. The Israelites reputation had preceded them and Rahab knew exactly what their visit to the city meant. She as ok with that, as long as her family was allowed to live. She ties a scarlet cord in her window (as instructed by the spies) as a sign that she will keep her family in her house and they will not be touched. Her story is simple and amazing at the same time. I love how God proves he can use anyone for His glory...her small act made it possible for the Israelites to continue on their journey... breathtaking.

The Levites lead the way with the Ark of the Covenant over Jordan. When they reach the water, God makes the water upstream stop and stand upright--allowing the people to cross on dry land. Joshua then has them build a memorial of sorts from 12 stones taken from the middle of the Jordan as testimony to what happened there today.

This was one of the most encouraging readings to date. Its good to read about God's provision and infinite wisdom--I definitely needed that today!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Day eighty-one: Deuteronomy 32-34; Psalm 91

And so comes the end of Deuteronomy...

The song of Moses is extremely long but the main gist is: God is good, the people suck. They repay His goodness with crap and constantly look for ways to deceive Him. They are like the perfect analogy for modern mankind--with all of our faults and follies, God still chooses to bless us. Granted we have Jesus interceding for us, but it is still a reminder that God is good to His people no matter how stupid they get!

Moses finally gets his payback for turning against God with Aaron when they bought water from the rock.. he just had to go showboating and take the credit and in turn he is left climbing a mountain, looking at the Promised Land from a distance and then dying. I just don't find it fair that the Israelites totally sucked this entire time and still get the blessing while Moses had one slip-up and is eternally punished... oh the questions I have for when I get to Heaven!

Moses blesses each tribe before ascending the mountain to his death. RIP Moses... your legacy is epic and legendary--

10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11 who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the LORD sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

The passage from Psalm is a poetic (of course) reminder of how God blesses the righteous. Make God your refuge, your fortress and He will lift you to realms you've never known. Have a great week!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Day eighty: Deuteronomy 30-31

A very important fact is offered to the people: the things God is asking is not out of their reach. It should be written on their hearts and He will never ask them to do something He doesn't think they can handle. By choosing God, they are choosing life...seems like a pretty simple decision to me.

Moses and God then commission Joshua to take Moses' place and take the people over Jordan into Canaan. Joshua is given a great little pep-talk by Moses reminding him that God is crossing over Jordan before him and preparing a way--he just has to trust and follow it. How cool is that?

So even after all of this reminding and making sure the Israelites have the Law blasting in their faces 24/7, God tells Moses in confidence that He knows they people will go astray pretty much as soon as they enter Canaan. They will begin enjoying their new cushy life and turn to other gods. I am again left bewildered and confused--God knows all this is going to happen and yet goes through the entire previous 40 years and proceeds with letting them enter the Promised Land... Its like the Israelites are pawns in God's ultimate end game...just so confusing.

God gives Moses a song that he is to teach the people so that they will sing it and never forget where they have come from and where they will go. He writes it down and it is placed in the Ark and kept by the Levites...the song is told in the next reading so to be continued!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day seventy-nine: Deuteronomy 28-29

The Israelites are reminded they will be blessed if they bless God and cursed if they curse God. The section about receiving curses is extreme enough to scare anyone straight! Seriously though... God will make it so that every second of every day a person who curses Him will be absolutely MISERABLE!!! Fiancees will be taken a ravished by other men, crops devoured by animals, your dead body will be bird food, everyone will look upon you in horror, you will be forced to eat the skin of your own children... pretty gruesome stuff. I had to copy one passage because it is hands down the most intense thing I've read to date. A woman will even eat her own afterbirth?! GRRROOOSSSS!

53 Because of the suffering that your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the LORD your God has given you. 54 Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, 55 and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating. It will be all he has left because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of all your cities. 56 The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter 57 the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For she intends to eat them secretly during the siege and in the distress that your enemy will inflict on you in your cities.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day seventy-eight: Deuteronomy 24-27

And the random laws continue, and again you won't be disappointed:
  • a newlywed can't be sent to war or have any other duties placed upon him; he's just supposed to to enjoy his wife for a year--totally wish Travis and I could afford to do this!
  • kidnappers must be killed--doesn't seem very "eye for an eye"...
  • don't take advantage of someone just because they are poor--I am again loving this theme
  • each man dies for their own sin, fathers cannot take their sons place and vice versa--foreshadowing??
  • always look out for the alien, the fatherless and the widow--God was always a big fan of the underdog... and I dig that
  • don't muzzle your ox while its treading out the grain--DUH!
  • brothers are to marry their sister-in-law if the other brother dies--I love Patrick Torrey, but totally not in that way :) If the man refuses the marry her, he must take off his sandals and his descendants shall forever be known as "The Family of the Unsandaled"--dun dun dunuunnnnn!!!! I'm sure back then this was a huge deal for them, but now it just makes me giggle.
  • Had to quote this one, just too good to paraphrase- 11 If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, 12 you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.
After crossing into Canaan. the people to build an altar and inscribe every single word of this law onto it. If I were them I probably would have said "not it!" and delegated. But as stubborn as they have been, it would probably do them some good to write it all out and have it staring them in the face every day.

As I read through all these laws and rules, I imagine a very vivid scene: All of the people are sitting on a hilltop just listening to Moses and they can see the Jordan and Canaan just beyond--glimmering like the Emerald City in Oz and all they can do is sit and wait for Moses to stop giving instruction. As ADD as I am, I would have zoned out hours ago! I'm sure its not all going down as I imagine, but reading it all together like this makes it seem like Moses is rambling and the people just wanna get there. Hopefully they aren't as impatient as I think!

Day seventy-seven: Deuteronomy 21-23

Forgive me for not blogging yesterday. I coordinated a blood drive at work all day and was completely wiped out at the end of the day after giving blood myself. Still feeling a bit groggy and tired, but the whole experience was well worth it! In fact I plan to give again in July at Turner Field!

This entire reading was choc-full of humorous little laws and statements that I just couldn't overlook. It might be a bit lengthy, but I promise you won't be disappointed :)

Atonement for unsolved murder is explained in a very simple way--whichever town the body was closest to is responsible to send priests to break a heifer's neck and wash their hands...seems pretty easy, but how in the world do you break a cow's neck? Those suckers are sturdy...just sayin'.

A few others rules are explained, but one that made me smile was one about having a rebellious son. If you have a son that just won't obey you, you take him to the elders and say "This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." Then everyone stones him to death... I wonder how many parents have thought about this, just for a fleeting moment of insanity when their kid has fallen off the deep end. Seems a little strict for disobedience eh?

Then come a whole slew of random rules:
  • return anything a brother drops--very applicable today, anyone seen that $20 I left in the breakroom?
  • men shouldn't wear women's clothes a vice versa--but Trav's basketball shorts are my fav lazy outfit!
  • don't plant 2 types of seed in one vineyard--no idea why this is relevant
  • don't plow with a donkey and an ox yoked together--again, no idea. maybe because they aren't "equally yoked"???
  • don't wear clothes of linen and wool together--because even God had good fashion sense :)
  • any cloak you wear must have 4 tassels--again with the great fashion sense
  • any woman who was found to not be a virgin before marriage can be stoned to death
  • if a man rapes a betrothed virgin, he is stoned to death, but if he rapes a single virgin, he has to pay her father and then marry her--can you imagine if this happened now? why on earth would any woman want to spend the rest of her life with someone who attacked her...seems to go strictly against the institute of marriage established by God Himself! Struggling with this one...
  • don't pay God with money earned by prostitution--duh
The discussion of "emissions" has been brought up before and its talked about again in this reading...brings out the 5th grader in me, gotta love it. Basically, anyone who has a (and I'm not kidding the Bible actually says this) "nocturnal emission" must leave the camp, wash himself and not return til morning...

then God talks about pooping--everyone does it, guess He figured it had to be brought up!

"12 Designate a place outside the camp where you can go to relieve yourself. 13 As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement. 14 For the LORD your God moves about in your camp to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you. Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you anything indecent and turn away from you." So basically, God walks around in the camp and doesn't want to step in your business, so pretty please dig a hole and cover it up.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day seventy-six: Deuteronomy 17-20

The topic of leadership is addressed and how it should look it Canaan. Judges were put into place to handle the day to day issues, but are told to make matters that they cannot settle to the priests who will ask the Lord to make the final decision. If a tribe decides to elect a king, it must be someone from their own people-not a foreigner-and he is not to amass wealth and items or take a wife. He is to write the laws of God in a scroll and read them everyday to remember them and ensure they are followed. I love the model of leadership that God is laying out for the kinds of Canaan. They are to be humble leaders that focus all their energies on their people and obeying the Law.

It also speaks of false prophets and being careful to not listen to their words. I assume it must have been easy during this time (just as it is now) for people to pretend or to even think that God is talking through them. These people are to be put to death for their lies.

If someone is put on trial for a crime, there must be more than 1 witness to commit him. If a false witness is found, then he is to have done to him what he wanted done to his brother (eye for an eye, death for death,etc.). The laws go into gory detail sometimes, but basically God i just saying "don't lie and don't bear false witness or I will make an example out of you". Doesn't seem so unreasonable right?

The passage reiterates a lot of things that have already been discussed in detail--Cities of Refuge, etc... I'm not sure why there is a need to go over the same things 5 times, but its driving me bananas. It also jumps topics a lot...but whatever.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day seventy-five: Deuteronomy 14-16

Israel is reminded of clean and unclean animals as well as the importance of tithing a tenth of their possessions.

What I really like is the "year for canceling debts". Every 7 years, any Israelite who owes money to another Israelite is to have the debt canceled. They are instructed to give and live with an open hand and freely help brothers in need even if the time of the 7th year is drawing close. They are to forgive and forget debts after the 7th year and harbor no ill feelings.

Slaves are also to be set free and given flocks after 7 years. This is to be a reminder of how they were also set free from their slavery in Egypt.

They are reminded of Passover, Feast of Weeks (free offering based on what you have grown), Feast of Tabernacles (free offering 7 days after gathering all grain and grapes).

Over all, my favorite part of this reading was about forgiving debts. Do yourself a favor and read 15:1-11 :) God basically states that as long as His people are blessed, there is no reason for people to be poor. He calls His people to give their money and assets freely to brothers in need and expect nothing in return unless the person is able to return it. It's the way I wish we all lived... but sadly many live with a closed fist and don't allow others to come into their lives out of sheer stubbornness. I admit that I am guilty of this many times over. How often do I pass people in need on the streets of Atlanta and walk right on by. A close friend of mine makes it a point to say hello to homeless people she meets on her way to work and to even befriend them. The stories she has told me always lift my spirits and makes me wish that I spent more time creating these acquaintances. I could offer the man digging through my apartment's dumpster a warm meal and a clean blanket or offer the person outside of Publix a free meal (although I have done this once--I was turned down because all he wanted was mouthwash to drink since no one would buy him alcohol--I should not let this discourage me from trying again).

The point is that we should be constantly looking for brothers and sisters in need, even those in our own backyard... live with a open hand and give freely. The things you have been blessed with are not your own!

Day seventy-four: Deuteronomy 11-13

It is very important for the elders of Israel to pass their knowledge down to the younger generations. The elders witnessed the miracles in the desert during their time of wandering, but the younger ones will only hear from it if the stories are passed down. Its important that everyone hears about what God has done for them to ensure that they commandments are kept. The way it is described is that they are to never go a day without thinking about how good the Lord has been to them--this will ensure that they never forget.

In this way Moses sets before them a blessing and a curse--blessing if they follow the commands, and a curse if they don't.

If they enter the land and see temples, altars or gods left over from the previous inhabitants, they are to destroy them all and not covet after the precious metals they were made from. They are not to try to worship God in a new way or experiment with new rituals. God has already shown them how to worship and sacrifice and they are to stick with His ways. Multiple times they are told to do just as they are told and to not "add or take away". They are even told to kill anyone who even whispers they idea of worshiping another God...even if it is a relative. If a town in the land becomes corrupt, the other towns are to kill all its members and burn all of the belongings of the town and leave it in ruins; never to be rebuilt. God is again reminding them of the great responsibility they have on their shoulders to be special and set apart from the others of the time...

Day seventy-three: Deuteronomy 8-10

Moses continues his message of revering and following God's word to ensure prosperity in the land. To not think that they have what they have because of their own righteousness, but because of God's mercy and provision.

Moses reminds him of the numerous times he interceded for them from God's wrath and that they have been rebels since the day he met them. I am again reminded of my own sin whenever I read this and become frustrated with Israel. How many times have I turned my face from God and had Jesus intercede for me. How then can I get angry at Israel for their indiscretions? Arg... conviction sucks!

Day seventy-two: Deuteronomy 5-7

Moses reminds Israel of the Ten Commandments. He makes it clear that these are not covenants with their parents or relatives long ago, but with them also. What God put into place years before their existence is still in effect and should be obeyed.

He's giving them a kind of Promised Land for Dummies. Even though these people have heard this message over and over again, he knows that they still need the annotated version once more before they enter Canaan. He tells them to love God and to write these commandments on their hearts. My favorite part of this reading is chapter 6:10-12 "10 When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery." I love that he makes it quite clear that what they are blessed with is totally given to them by no strength of their own.

He is also telling them this as a pep-talk for the lands they have still yet to conquer. Moses tells them to not be afraid or hesitant--God will give the land over to them and they must be confident that they have been given everything they need to take the land. It's a lesson in blind faith, one that i have yet to master or even get right most of the time. It's so hard to walk out on a limb not knowing if it will hold, but that is exactly what God is asking them to do. He has already given them their enemies, they just have to go out and trust in that...tough stuff.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Day seventy-one: Deuteronomy 3-4

Moses continues reminding Israel of their journeys. What struck me for the first time is that Canaan was not this lovely, uninhabited land just waiting for Israel to settle it. It was already settled, and God told them to kill and plunder its inhabitants and take the land for themselves. I knew we had a wrathful God, but it just seems so vicious!

Moses reminds the people of their great responsibility to set an example among other men; to keep God's laws and not add or subtract anything from them. They are not to make idols or they will quickly perish. Our God is a jealous God and doesn't take affairs very lightly. He reminds them to think back on all of the miraculous sings and wonders they have seen and to remember how they felt at that time. After all that God has done for them, the LEAST they could do is follow His commands!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day seventy: Deuteronomy 1-2

in the 4oth year during the 11th month, Moses recaps to the Israelites their journeys... How God has been exponentially good to them throughout the last 40 years of their wanderings. How they traversed, what God told them to do, their sufferings after grumblings, their victorious defeats of the others habitating the land promised to them and how God continued to provide and never left them in want.

Moses is basically reminding the people of how far they have come in the last 40 years. From slaves to conquerors, God has gone before them the entire time to ensure their success. It gives me chills just thinking that the whole time they were worried about their momentary troubles, God already had the next hundreds of year already in mind.

HE alone knows the big picture... who are we to question His wisdom? I hope this story encourages you in your faith...you are never alone--there is a great, big God who has gone before you. One who may let you stumble, but will never let you fall!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Day sixty-nine: Numbers 35-36

The Levites are given their plots of land and are assigned several "Cities of Refuge". These cities are designed to keep an accidental murderer safe from anyone who may seek vengeance. He must stay in the city until the High Priest dies. If he leaves before then, he is open to attack and can be freely murdered. It seems that the Levites have again been placed in a position of trust. Just as they were trusted to take care of the Tabernacle and its contents, they are also in charge of keeping these cities safe and fortified. There is also an understanding that they will also not try to kill anyone who seeks refuge in their walls but will protect them at all costs. Seems like a pretty big responsibility!

The last portion of Numbers explains that daughters must marry within their tribe to avoid inheritances crossing tribal lines. Granted, the tribes were HUGE, but it seems a bit incestuous to me.

And so Numbers comes to an end. From what I can see, Deuteronomy is simply a continuation of this whole narrative so I'm looking forward to see what all comes of it.

Thank you to everyone who prayed and expressed concern for my family over the last few days. Aunt Luella's service was just perfect and it was great getting to spend some time with our family during that time. We are just so blessed and happy to know that she is dancing in Heaven with the two loves of her life--Uncle Jack and her Savior!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Day sixty-eight: Numbers 33-34

Chapter 33 is very helpful for those who are a fan of Cliff's Notes. It is a complete summary of Israel's journey so far. Very helpful to see where all they moved around. I won't comment on this since its pretty self-explanatory… just go read it for yourself!

Chapter 34 explains how Canaan will be apportioned once they arrive. A representative from each tribe is appointed to split up the land for their people, keeping in mind that Reuben and Gad gave up their inheritance in Canaan to camp out with their cattle just outside the land. I can only hope that this was a smooth process. It never really comments on the logistics or what was said during the apportioning, but I would hope they would talk it out like adults!

And that, ladies and gents it all the reading up until I return from Florida… feeling so accomplished right now!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Day sixty-seven: Numbers 31-32

God commands them to march on Midian for the sin and trespasses they brought upon Israel with Baal and the fornication. The army of Israel kills every adult and child male as well as any woman who has "known a man intimately". So basically only the virgin women and little girls were spared. The people are then to go through the purifying ritual if they have killed, touched or seen a dead body. The loot from the war is to be tithed to God and then divided among the warriors. I am having trouble wrapping my head around this side of God. The warlord that pillages and plunders cities and orders people to die and split their goods among the people… so very pirate of Him. On a sideline, it mentions that Balaam is killed. Yes, the same Balaam who did not curse them and stood for them against Balak…BOGUS.

Descendants of Reuben and Gad ask to settle in the land because of the ridiculous size of the flocks. It is implied that where they will settle will put them in a position that they would not have to go to war if the need arises. Moses says they can have the land if they will remain at the ready if the call comes--they agree to remain ready until every son of Israel has gained his inheritance.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day sixty-six: Numbers 28-30

God lays out the law for sacrifices again. He literally goes on for 2 entire chapters about sacrificing goats, rams, bulls, wheat, bread, etc. What I can't help but wonder--where are all these animals coming from?! I understand there are hundreds of thousands of people and they all have cattle, but we are talking about sacrificing several animals A DAY…how does that not completely wipe out the entire animal and plant population? They must be breeding those bad boys like crazy!

Chapter 30 talks about making vows before the Lord. No matter what, a man can make a vow and its good to go. If a woman is still living at home and makes a vow to God, at that moment her dad can either do nothing, or deny it. If he denies it--her vow is null and void. Same thing goes for a married woman, a husband can nullify any vow she makes to God and nothing she vows after that is legit. What kind of bogusness is that?? I would hope that a husband would encourage his wife to make vows and covenants with God, not cut them off. What is reassuring is that even is her vow becomes null, God forgives her and still shows her favor. Kind of like "hey good try little one, but I still love you anyways…". I am so thankful that the times are different now and that I have a husband and loves and encourages my walk with the Lord!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Day sixty-five: Numbers 26-27

I'm leaving for Florida today due to a death in the family so I'm going to read ahead. I figured out how to schedule blog posts so I'm reading and writing from today-Monday and this amazing contraption will post a new one each day as I scheduled it. Pretty cool huh?

A second census is taken and its obvious that the group's numbers have severely decreased since the last census. The Levites are left out again and kept as separate. It is mentioned that all of the original census takers are dead except for Moses, Caleb and Joshua.Each family is to be granted land according to the number of families in their tribe. The issue of inheritance is discussed--if a man has no sons, the goods will go to his daughters; if he has no children, the goods will go to his brothers; the goods will then continue down the line to family members. Seems fair to me!

Finally, God decides to appoint Joshua as a leader over all the people. He is chosen and commissioned before the people as a holy leader and all are expected to obey his guidance. Up until now, we haven't really heard much from Joshua. I remember watching the old school Charlton Heston version of the Ten Commandments and Joshua played a pretty big role. But I can't recall him being mentioned until this point. But I'm excited to see how God will use him… I know at this point they are camping near Jericho and I remember the story of the walls of Jericho, but sadly my memory has crumbled and I'm ready to read the story again!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Day sixty-four: Numbers 23-25

Balaam meets up with Balak (who summoned him to curse the Israelites). Balaam asks to counsel with God first and he is given this message to take back to Balak:

How can I curse
those whom God has not cursed?
How can I denounce
those whom the LORD has not denounced?

Balak again pleads for him to make the curse. Balaam receives another message from God that he relays to Balak:

God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promise and not fulfill?

I have received a command to bless;
he has blessed, and I cannot change it.

A third time Balak tries to sway Balaam but the response is the same. Balak becomes angry and tells Balaam that he will get no reward and that its God's fault. Balaam reminded him that he already said that no matter what was offered to him, he would only speak that which God put in his mouth. He asks Balak to listen to what he has to say because he knows that that Israelites will rise against him. He gives an oracle that Balak and his people will be destroyed and then journeys home.

The story of Balaam is a very interesting side story that Moses probably never even knew happened. I believe it was included to show another follower of God and how God provided (yet again) for the Israelites. Even when they didn't know it, God totally had their back.

Meanwhile, the Israelites have started fornicating with the local women and worshiping Baal (kind of a slap in the face considering God just spared them from a curse). God wants to put all of those who sinned to death.. He's obviously a little bit angry. One of Aaron's sons stops God's rage when he follows a man and woman into a tent and puts a spear through them both. The way it reads it that one was on top of the other and they were speared together...nice. God was so excited that this man shared his zeal for righteousness that He blesses him and his offspring.

I am still just dumbfounded at their whole behavior. Its like looking away from a 5 year old for 2 seconds and they've pulled a bookshelf on top of themselves... after seeing signs and miracles the people are soooo in love with God but it never takes long for them to return to their ways...ridiculous. I guess they are a prime example of the entire human race, sad but true.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day sixty-three: Numbers 21-22

The people continue their journey and grumble again (I'm reallllllyyyyy getting fed up with this). God send venomous snakes to shut them up (an example of how I know God has a sense of humor). Moses intercedes again and does as the Lord says by placing a bronze snake for those who have been bitten to look at. Those that look at the snake will be cured and live.

This whole time Israel has made several enemies. They send messengers to ask if they can pass through towns on their journey and are denied and they have been attacked multiple times. They are winning battles and overtaking cities because the Lord is on their side at this point. I am not sure why because they are still acting like whiny brats, but its not my place to question His reasoning.

One of the lords of the land hears that the Israelites are close and gets a little nervous because their batting average is spot on these days. He send for a diviner named Balaam to put a curse onto the Israelites. During his travels to make the curse his donkey freaks out 3 times and he beats it 3 times. Then all of a sudden his donkey starts talking and asking him why he's beating her...what gets me is that he talks back to it like nothing is weird and completely ignores the oddity that HIS DONKEY IS TALKING!!! He learns that an angel has been blocking his way and that is why the donkey was freaking out. The angel tells Balaam he may continue on his journey only if he says what God tells him to say when he gets there... to be continued tomorrow!!

Day sixty-two: Numbers 18-20

I've read this a few times but it never hit me until now. Aaron gets a portion of every offering... every animal, fruit, grain, oil, etc. He's given fine clothes and the choicest foods to eat... God has completely hooked him up! No wonder everyone is so jealous!

I apologize for speaking out of turn earlier. To this point the Israelites had not seen the water come from the rock. But in chapter 20, they begin grumbling (again) and are provided for (again) with water. The problem is that Moses and Aaron are told to simply speak to the rock (they hit it) and they make no mention of God (seemingly taking all the credit). God is obviously not very happy with this and tells them they will never lead the people to the Promised Land nor enter themselves...sad day.

God has Moses take Aaron and his son up on a mountain. Aaron disrobes and places his clothes on his son and then dies as the Lord said he would. There is a lot of mystery shrouding this whole event. Did God know it was just Aaron's time and wanted it to be a ritual of him passing the mantle to his son? Or did God send him up there to die and again wanted to make it a ritualistic death? Something to think about...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Day sixty-one: Numbers 16-17

Several of the men rise up against Moses and Aaron. God tells them all to meet at the Tent of Meeting and He will straighten this out once and for all. 250 men come with incense offerings the next day. Moses and Aaron beg God to not punish everyone for the sins of those who rose against them. So God has everyone get as far away as possible from the evil men and then has the earth open up and swallow them whole. He then kills the 250 men and has their bronze incense holders hammered out and laid over the altar as a reminder that only chosen ones may offer incense.

The people become angry and rise against Moses and Aaron once again for killing what they thought were righteous people. God strikes them all with a plague and Aaron has to run out with incense to make atonement. He is able to save some, but not all. I am just amazed at Moses and Aaron's response to all of this. They have had a hit on their lives so many times and each time the Israelites screw up and God wants to strike them dead, Moses and Aaron intercede. I cannot even imagine speaking up on someone else' behalf who has betrayed me more times than I can count.. but then again that's what Jesus does for us everyday--epiphany moment!

To put an end to the rebellion once and for all, God has them take a staff from the leader of each tribe. The staffs are placed in the Tabernacle and the one that buds and blooms belongs to the man God has chosen. Of course, Aaron (as leader of the tribe of Levi) is the one who's staff not only blooms but sprouts almonds. I am still a little hesitant to believe that this will shut them up for good... how many amazing and miraculous things have they seen? Food falling from the sky, an entire sea splitting down the middle, water coming from a rock in the middle of the desert, quail coming from nowhere....and STILL they question what God is doing.. I mean come on folks.

Day sixty: Numbers 14-15; Psalm 90

I get to switch it up a bit with a chapter from Psalms... nice.

The people get upset again and talk about going back to Egypt. 2 of the men who scoped out Canaan try to talk some sense into them--the land is amazing, and if God is on our side, overthrowing these men should be a piece of cake! Why do you doubt Him?? God gets angry again and threatens to wipe them out--Moses intercedes again.

God strikes the men who explored the land dead except for the 2 that trusted Him. He then promises that none of the men who grumbled against Him will ever see Canaan. They are doomed to wander the desert until they die. The people decided they would still go up to Canaan and attempt to overthrow the people living there. Since the Lord was not on their side--they perished and were driven out. Not gonna lie, I'm a little glad to see them get what the deserve. They denied God so many times, and God just kept giving them second, third, fourth, etc. chances and I was just about sick of their whining.

A few things are said again about sacrificing for atonement, then I came across a very disturbing little anecdote. A man was caught gathering wood on the Sabbath and was stoned for not observing the sacred day...Thank goodness its not that strict now! Can you imagine? Kind of a random thing just stick in the middle of the passage; not sure about that...

The passage from Psalm is a great little prayer from Moses during all of this. He is glorifying God for being all-knowing and asking for strength to get through what is going on. Its really neat to see this story from another perspective. Most things I have read so far have been a simple narrative. Its fun to see something from one of the participant's perspective... very refreshing.

Day fifty-nine: Numbers 13

So, the list I printed out had me reading Numbers 8-12 and then Numbers 11-13 the next day.. I think they were a bit confused so today I am just reading chapter 13!

God has Moses pick 12 men to go and explore Canaan. They are to report on the soil, living conditions, people, building structures... everything they can find. After 40 days they return with yummy fruit and tell the people that Canaan truly does flow with milk and honey... BUT the people are big and powerful. The people get a sour taste in their mouth when they think that the land is corruptive and it would be impossible to overthrow the current people of the land.

This is a prime example of how Satan works to challenge God's amazing plans. From the beginning, God has told the Israelites and continues to reassure them that they will enter Canaan and be blessed beyond comparison. But Satan just keeps finding ways to make them question this and doubt God. Satan is a sneaky, sneaky jerkface!!!!