Skip to main content

A Long Time Coming: Numbers 33

In Summary: Well, reading through Numbers 33 might have felt like a beating. It was almost a beating, what with all the location references and the big loop the Israelites take.
That is really the main summary here. It’s not earth-shattering or amazing, not astounding or magnificent. It’s just a travelogue. These are real places, though we are not fully aware of the locations of all of them. There is an aim to the rambling, but it is not a path that we can fully follow.
The chapter also includes the passing of Aaron the High Priest. At 123, he had lived his years. The people then come to the area around Nebo, where Moses will die before Joshua leads the Israelites across the Jordan to Jericho.
In Focus: The chapter concludes with a command. Remember to drive out all the inhabitants of the land, destroy all of their idols, do not keep their religion!
And as you take the land, divide it among yourselves, fairly. The bigger families should start with more, the smaller with less—but use lots to distribute it so there is no favoritism. Why? Because there was equal work to be done.
If you do not follow and honor this command, though, there is a consequence: Numbers 33:56 records God’s clear, dire warning. Disobedience is why the Canaanites are being judged, so this is the same potential consequence to you. Walk properly.

In Practice: Three things in practice:
1. Sometimes, it takes some wandering to get where you are going. Keep wandering until you get there. Especially if your wandering is led by God, through His Word. You may feel lost or bored, but that wilderness path is the way to the Promised Land.
2. Time eventually catches us all. What legacy do we leave? Obedience or a mixed heart?
3. Give people a fair start. The land was to be divided equally and proportionately based on family sizes. After that, though, wealth shifted and changed. It should have done so based on work ethic, but we can all be certain that sometimes unethical behaviors unbalanced the scales a bit, too. Still—allow people the benefit of a clean start when possible.
4. As you commit to walk with God, as you take your life, destroy the old vestiges. Do not put them in the attic or even hold them as trophies to remind you what you have overcome. Destroy it all, give it no power over you.
Obviously, this does not apply to destroying people, but fix your relationships. Do not leave yourself drawn down and away.
In Nerdiness:  There are many people bothered by the lack of archaeological evidence for the Exodus route. It feels like we should have a better grasp of where they went and when they went there.
This is where the faith aspect comes into play. We trust that the text says what God intends it to say, even if we cannot find it in the dirt. Do we go dig only where the text indicates? Not really—but we acknowledge that the Scriptural text might guide our understanding.

Also notice a bit of foreshadowing in Numbers 33:40. Let’s see how that comes back to us. I like the New American Commentary’s description here of the trip around the Wilderness as Israel’s Victory March. There had to be some intimidation in this body of people roaming the desert fringes with everyone wondering… “Where are they going to attack?”

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Abraham Lincoln Quoted by Jesus! Mark 3

Mark records a curious event in his third chapter (link). If you look at Mark 3:25, you'll see that Jesus quotes the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. After all, one of the highlights of the Lincoln years is his famous speech regarding slavery in the United States where he used the phrase that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." This speech was given in 1858 when he accepted the nomination to run against Stephen A. Douglas for Senate, but is still remembered as the defining speech regarding slaveholding in the United States. I recall being taught in school how brilliant and groundbreaking the speech was, how Lincoln had used such wise words to convey his thought. Yet the idea was not original to Lincoln. Rather, it was embedded in Lincoln from his time reading the Bible. Now, I have read varying reports about Lincoln's personal religious beliefs: some place him as a nearly completely committed Christian while others have him somewh…

Book: Vindicating the Vixens

Well, if Vindicating the Vixens doesn’t catch your attention as a book title, I’m not sure what would. This volume, edited by Sandra L. Glahn (PhD), provides a look at some of the women of the Bible who are “Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized.” As is frequently the case, I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my review.Let’s take this a stage at a time. First stage: book setup. This is primarily an academic Biblical Studies book. Be prepared to see discussions of Greek and Hebrew words, as appropriate. You’ll also need a handle on the general flow of Biblical narrative, a willingness to look around at history, and the other tools of someone who is truly studying the text. This is no one-day read. It’s a serious study of women in the Bible, specifically those who either faced sexual violence or who have been considered sexually ‘wrong’ across years of study.A quick note: this book is timely, not opportunistic. The length of time to plan, assign, develop, and publish a multi…