Yikes, I’ve gotten really bad at this posting regularly thing. I’ve gotten kinda bad about reading too, I’m still reading more than I used to but I’m very far from every day. Once again I’m going to try to start doing it again, mostly selfishly because I was doing better and getting more done when I was keeping up, but also because I felt like I was getting closer to getting to a place where God can actually use me for something.
Anywho, I’m in Numbers now. I’ve discovered I have to read the old testament in my old trusty KJV bible because it has pronunciation guides on all of the names, and without those I find myself just skimming past everything I can’t pronounce, how silly is that?
Most people seem to think Numbers is boring. I have to vehemently disagree. I’ve always loved Numbers… it might be my love of math and numbers tricking me, but I don’t think so.
Numbers is full of mundane lists where it first describes in detail a commandment and how it’s supposed to be handled for each tribe, then describes in detail how the commandment is carried out for each of the 12 tribes then gives a summation besides. Those can get annoying, especially when you’re tired. I think most people read the first one then skip to the end. I can’t bring myself to do that for fear there will be a small difference in one account that I’ll miss. I think it’s better that way, because after you’ve read through a few of those long accounts, you notice the other things more.
And there are a lot of other things in the book of Numbers, that’s why it’s so interesting.
Here are a couple that caught my attention last night.
- In chapter 12 Aaron and Miriam (Aaron’s sister) “spake against” Moses because he had taken an Ethiopian wife. Now, it doesn’t say what they said about that really, it doesn’t even say if they said it in the presence of anyone else or if they were just talking between themselves. It strikes me that perhaps it could have been some kind of racial issue, but I don’t know that for sure. It does say that in the process they said “Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath He not spoken also by us?”
Now, Moses had been using Aaron as his ‘mouth’ to the people ever since he went back to Egypt. God would tell him something, he would tell Aaron, and Aaron would talk to the people. Aaron had since been consecrated as high priest, and no doubt had communion with God. Miriam was known as a prophetess. (And for that matter, the previous chapter explains how God had just poured out His Spirit on the elders and over 70 of them had begun prophesying). So what Aaron said was true, God had spoken also by them.
However, God was so aggravated by Aaron and Miriam that he felt the need to personally call them out. He called the three of them into the tabernacle, came down in the cloud, and spoke to them. He explained that for everyone except Moses if he wanted to talk to them He came in a dream or a vision, but with Moses he spoke face to face. He then asked them why they weren’t afraid to speak against Moses and left (at that time, the cloud only departed from the tabernacle when the Israelites were supposed to travel, but this time He just left in anger. Miriam was struck with leprosy and had to be put out of the camp for seven days (after which the Lord healed her). They didn’t begin traveling until after this time.
I’ve gone on for a while about this one, but I think it’s a rather important glimpse of God’s character. When Moses beseeched the Lord on Miriam’s behalf, His reply was “If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days”.
Wow… God was comparing inflicting Miriam with leprosy with ‘spitting in his daughter’s face’ to shame her for her actions. This is both repulsive, and comforting at the same time. I’m not sure I like the idea of spitting in someone’s face as a form of discipline, but it is universal for “you disgust me”. God was disgusted by their attitude (and it’s worth noting that I imagine Aaron would have suffered a similar fate, except that he was High Priest, and all of Gods people would have suffered if the High Priest had been defiled with leprosy), but in his disgust he was still calling them children, and this is comforting to me.
- Later (chapter 16 starting at vs 37), after someone had been found working on the sabbath, God set a tradition I don’t even remember hearing about before. God asked Moses to setup a tradition (that was to be long-standing throughout the generations) of putting a hem of blue ribbon at the bottom of all of their garments. This was to serve as a reminder to remember the statutes of God.
I know that there are a number of reminders that God setup throughout the Old Testament, holidays and festivals, and various other things, but this one is incredibly simple, and yet very obvious.
If everyone in the entire camp was to wear a blue ribbon on their garments they would have been immediately recognizable as a group. Like a person today can immediately recognize an Amish person by their dress, anyone would have been able to recognize an Israelite (yes, it’s possible that other people had blue hems on their garments, but seeing just a few together would make it obvious that they were Israelites).
Why don’t Israelites wear blue anymore? When did they stop? I’m curious about this because I don’t even remember reading about it in the first place before.
Imagine if all Christians did this today? Something as simple as a ribbon on the bottom of their garments would have really been a big deal in daily life. There’s the sense that people are always watching Christians to see if they do something sinful, but only people who know you hold the faith will know to watch. But if we all had to wear blue ribbon on our clothes, and were immediately recognizable, everyone around us would know who we were. How much more careful would you be? There would also be an immediate recognition of fellow Christians. After a while you might get used to wearing it though, and if you were in a Christian community you would probably get to the place where you eventually didn’t notice very much.
Here’s the kicker though. True Christians DO have a marker, but it’s not visible. Ever had someone hate you for no reason, and find out later that it was because they resented you for being a Christian even though you never told them you were? Ever had some stranger come up to you in public and say “hey, you’re a Christian aren’t you?”.
The marker we have is the Spirit, and most people seem to recognize it instinctively, even though they may not realize what it is they’re recognizing. I think we can get numb to it over time. I believe that people with a different spirit recognize it immediately. When a Christian does something not-so-Christian, even when he’s in a place where he doesn’t know anyone, there’s a pretty good chance that people are going to know, and their opinion of God is going to be influenced.
Think about that… “that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye used to go a-whoring: That ye may remember, and do all My commandments, and be holy unto your God.”