Numbers 29-30

n29.jpgGreetings!  We would do well to emulate some of these approaches – not as legalistic rituals, but as practical approaches to worship.  Taking a day with no regular work.  I try not to do work on Sundays – again, not legalistically, but because I’ve found that one day a week with no job or chore related things does wonders for me.  God knows how He wired us, and studies show that you are better off performing the same total hours of work over 6 days rather than 7. 

Also, the focus on God with fellow believers is invaluable.  It encourages and strengthens us. 

Feast of Trumpets

29     “‘On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day for you to sound the trumpets. 2 As an aroma pleasing to the Lord, prepare a burnt offering of one young bull, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. 3 With the bull prepare a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two-tenths; 4 and with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth. 5 Include one male goat as a sin offering to make atonement for you. 6 These are in addition to the monthly and daily burnt offerings with their grain offerings and drink offerings as specified. They are offerings made to the Lord by fire—a pleasing aroma.

Day of Atonement

7 “‘On the tenth day of this seventh month hold a sacred assembly. You must deny yourselves and do no work. 8 Present as an aroma pleasing to the Lord a burnt offering of one young bull, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. 9 With the bull prepare a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two-tenths; 10 and with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth. 11 Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the sin offering for atonement and the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings.

Feast of Tabernacles

12 “‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. Celebrate a festival to the Lord for seven days. 13 Present an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the Lord, a burnt offering of thirteen young bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. 14 With each of the thirteen bulls prepare a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with each of the two rams, two-tenths; 15 and with each of the fourteen lambs, one-tenth. 16 Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering.

17 “‘On the second day prepare twelve young bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. 18 With the bulls, rams and lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. 19 Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering, and their drink offerings.

20 “‘On the third day prepare eleven bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. 21 With the bulls, rams and lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. 22 Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering.

23 “‘On the fourth day prepare ten bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. 24 With the bulls, rams and lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. 25 Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering.

26 “‘On the fifth day prepare nine bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. 27 With the bulls, rams and lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. 28 Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering.

29 “‘On the sixth day prepare eight bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. 30 With the bulls, rams and lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. 31 Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering.

32 “‘On the seventh day prepare seven bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect. 33 With the bulls, rams and lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. 34 Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering.

35 “‘On the eighth day hold an assembly and do no regular work. 36 Present an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the Lord, a burnt offering of one bull, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. 37 With the bull, the ram and the lambs, prepare their grain offerings and drink offerings according to the number specified. 38 Include one male goat as a sin offering, in addition to the regular burnt offering with its grain offering and drink offering.

39 “‘In addition to what you vow and your freewill offerings, prepare these for the Lord at your appointed feasts: your burnt offerings, grain offerings, drink offerings and fellowship offerings.’”

40 Moses told the Israelites all that the Lord commanded him.

Vows

30     Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: “This is what the Lord commands: 2 When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.

3 “When a young woman still living in her father’s house makes a vow to the Lord or obligates herself by a pledge 4 and her father hears about her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand. 5 But if her father forbids her when he hears about it, none of her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand; the Lord will release her because her father has forbidden her.

6 “If she marries after she makes a vow or after her lips utter a rash promise by which she obligates herself 7 and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her, then her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand. 8 But if her husband forbids her when he hears about it, he nullifies the vow that obligates her or the rash promise by which she obligates herself, and the Lord will release her.

9 “Any vow or obligation taken by a widow or divorced woman will be binding on her.

10 “If a woman living with her husband makes a vow or obligates herself by a pledge under oath 11 and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her and does not forbid her, then all her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand. 12 But if her husband nullifies them when he hears about them, then none of the vows or pledges that came from her lips will stand. Her husband has nullified them, and the Lord will release her. 13 Her husband may confirm or nullify any vow she makes or any sworn pledge to deny herself. 14 But if her husband says nothing to her about it from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or the pledges binding on her. He confirms them by saying nothing to her when he hears about them. 15 If, however, he nullifies them some time after he hears about them, then he is responsible for her guilt.”

16 These are the regulations the Lord gave Moses concerning relationships between a man and his wife, and between a father and his young daughter still living in his house.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

People took vows much more seriously then than they do now.  But God made provisions to protect children and wives who might make rash vows. 

No such thing as moral neutrality with “same-sex marriage”

circle-slash.jpgA Stand to Reason blog post titled Same-sex Marriage Isn’t – Can’t Be – Morally Neutral made a lot of good points.  I encourage you to read it all, including the comments section.  Here are some snippets from the post and the comments:

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse points to instances of discrimination against a moral and religious point of view – objection to same-sex marriage.  Legalizing same-sex marriage isn’t neutral, it legitimizes governmental intrusion into private decisions to force citizens to abandon their own moral convictions.  Moral neutrality is a myth.  Legalizing same-sex marriage isn’t merely “tolerant,” it’s a moral point of view of it’s own, and placing it in law makes demands on other citizens and society.

The underlying pattern is unmistakable. Legalizing same-sex “marriage” has brought in its wake state regulation of other parts of society. The problem is sometimes presented as an issue of religious freedom, and so, in part, it is. But the issue runs deeper than religious freedom.

McGill University professor Douglas Farrow argues in his book A Nation of Bastards that redefining marriage allows the government to colonize all of civil society.

If same-sex couples can marry each other, they should be allowed to adopt. Anyone who says otherwise is acting against the policy of the state. If same-sex couples can have civil unions, then denying them the use of any facility they want for their ceremony amounts to unlawful discrimination. When the state says that same sex couples are equivalent to opposite-sex couples, school curriculum will inevitably have to support this claim.

Marriage between men and women is a pre-political, naturally emerging social institution. Men and women come together to create children, independently of any government. The duty of caring for those children exists even without a government or any political order….

Precisely because same-sex unions are not the same as opposite-sex marriage, the state must intervene to make people believe (or at least make them act as if they believe) that the two types of unions are equivalent….

Advocates of same-sex “marriage” insist that theirs is a modest reform: a mere expansion of marriage to include people currently excluded. But the price of same-sex “marriage” is a reduction in tolerance for everyone else, and an expansion of the power of the state.

Botox

I read this morning that people in the U.S. spend over $1B per year on Botox.  Wow.  One bank will even give you a loan for this all important procedure of injecting poison into your head to temporarily reduce your wrinkles.

I was getting a haircut once and a lady who was waiting recounted her most recent Botox experience:

  • Spending hundreds of dollars plus time to get the treatment
  • 3 days of painful headaches
  • Less than stellar results, in my opinion – her forehead was as smooth as glass but rather incongruous with the rest of her face

After all that she still gave no indication of stopping future treatments.  Weird and sad.

I know we can all spend money frivolously sometimes, but when in doubt I often think of the cost of sponsoring a child with a group like World Vision ($28/month).  The cost of a Botox treatment could feed, clothe and educate a child for a year, not to mention send her a message of hope and love.

Numbers 27-28

n27.jpgGreetings!

Zelophehad’s Daughters

27     The daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, belonged to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah. They approached 2 the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly, and said, 3 “Our father died in the desert. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. 4 Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.”

5 So Moses brought their case before the Lord 6 and the Lord said to him, 7 “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and turn their father’s inheritance over to them.

8 “Say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, turn his inheritance over to his daughter. 9 If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. 10 If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. 11 If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to be a legal requirement for the Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.’”

Joshua to Succeed Moses

12 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim range and see the land I have given the Israelites. 13 After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was, 14 for when the community rebelled at the waters in the Desert of Zin, both of you disobeyed my command to honor me as holy before their eyes.” (These were the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.)

15 Moses said to the Lord, 16 “May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all mankind, appoint a man over this community 17 to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”

18 So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your hand on him. 19 Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. 20 Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. 21 He is to stand before Eleazar the priest, who will obtain decisions for him by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord. At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in.”

22 Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. 23 Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses.

Moses wisely sought a replacement before he died.  Joshua was an excellent choice, as he was good militarily and with people.  Side note: I have learned in management that it is good to have someone who can replace you when you move on.  It makes you promotable and leaves your staff in better hands. 

Daily Offerings

28     The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give this command to the Israelites and say to them: ‘See that you present to me at the appointed time the food for my offerings made by fire, as an aroma pleasing to me.’ 3 Say to them: ‘This is the offering made by fire that you are to present to the Lord: two lambs a year old without defect, as a regular burnt offering each day. 4 Prepare one lamb in the morning and the other at twilight, 5 together with a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil from pressed olives. 6 This is the regular burnt offering instituted at Mount Sinai as a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the Lord by fire. 7 The accompanying drink offering is to be a quarter of a hin of fermented drink with each lamb. Pour out the drink offering to the Lord at the sanctuary. 8 Prepare the second lamb at twilight, along with the same kind of grain offering and drink offering that you prepare in the morning. This is an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.

Sabbath Offerings

9 “‘On the Sabbath day, make an offering of two lambs a year old without defect, together with its drink offering and a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil. 10 This is the burnt offering for every Sabbath, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering.

Monthly Offerings

11 “‘On the first of every month, present to the Lord a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. 12 With each bull there is to be a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; 13 and with each lamb, a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil. This is for a burnt offering, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the Lord by fire. 14 With each bull there is to be a drink offering of half a hin of wine; with the ram, a third of a hin; and with each lamb, a quarter of a hin. This is the monthly burnt offering to be made at each new moon during the year. 15 Besides the regular burnt offering with its drink offering, one male goat is to be presented to the Lord as a sin offering.

The Passover

16 “‘On the fourteenth day of the first month the Lord’s Passover is to be held. 17 On the fifteenth day of this month there is to be a festival; for seven days eat bread made without yeast. 18 On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. 19 Present to the Lord an offering made by fire, a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old, all without defect. 20 With each bull prepare a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two-tenths; 21 and with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth. 22 Include one male goat as a sin offering to make atonement for you. 23 Prepare these in addition to the regular morning burnt offering. 24 In this way prepare the food for the offering made by fire every day for seven days as an aroma pleasing to the Lord; it is to be prepared in addition to the regular burnt offering and its drink offering. 25 On the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.

Feast of Weeks

26 “‘On the day of firstfruits, when you present to the Lord an offering of new grain during the Feast of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. 27 Present a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 28 With each bull there is to be a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two-tenths; 29 and with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth. 30 Include one male goat to make atonement for you. 31 Prepare these together with their drink offerings, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its grain offering. Be sure the animals are without defect.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

My study Bible noted that preparing these offerings would help prepare the people’s hearts for worship.  I have trouble focusing in church sometimes.  I need to do a better job preparing myself on Sunday mornings to be more mentally prepared and worshipful.  Sometimes I rush around doing church-related stuff (like this!), but I need to be more contemplative.

Happy Father’s Day!

It’s the 17th most important holiday of the year.   

Seriously, I love being a dad.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Here’s some great advice on fatherhood by Randy Alcorn.

Josh McDowell did some research and found that it is extremely rare for people to remember what commencement speakers said (even very famous ones, and even just a year after the event).  So he gave the following address, merely saying it twice before sitting down.  I think the graduates were mostly guys.

If you want your life to count for Christ then never stop loving your wife and spending time with your children.

People remembered this one. 

Disputed matters

bible.jpgI’ve seen skeptics, Catholics, Mormons and others criticize Christianity for having too many disagreements and denominations, as if that somehow disproved the Bible or the core beliefs of the denominations.  But that reasoning doesn’t compute.

Romans 14 and other passages address how we are to handle disputed matters. From this we can immediately infer two things:

  1. God knew we’d have disputed matters.
  2. He gave guidance on how to handle them.

Some beliefs are essential if one is to call himself a Christian – e.g., Jesus is the only way to salvation (mentioned directly or indirectly in 100 passages), Jesus is God, etc.

Other things have guidance but not absolutes. For example, with respect to alcohol the Bible teaches not to get drunk, to obey laws and not to tempt others with our drinking. But it doesn’t say never to drink. If people don’t want to drink that is fine, but that shouldn’t be presented as a Biblical requirement or an essential of the faith.

Contrary to many myths, we have a lot of freedom in Christ.  Christianity contains many principles and some specific rules, but we can exercise our personal preferences in many ways, such as worship styles.

Randy Alcorn had a good post on when and how we should judge people – Disputable Matters in Romans 14: What They Are and What They Aren’t

Satan’s two-step strategy is simple: first, to tempt God’s people not to judge our brother when we should, in primary areas revealed in Scripture (rather than take appropriate steps by going to him, and following through if he doesn’t repent) . Second, to tempt us to judge our brother when we shouldn’t, in secondary areas not revealed in Scripture. A third strategy, where there is indisputable sin, would be to tempt us to judge it with a spirit of self-righteousness, rather than with what Paul encourages: a spirit of grief and humility.

Denominations might adopt different practices and come to different conclusions rightly (in matters of preference or disputable matters) or wrongly (false teachings).  This was clearly anticipated in the Bible, which is why it gives guidance for handling disagreements and emphasized the importance of sound doctrine.

Note that we shouldn’t violate our consciences.  This is a reason that denominations are good.  We must agree on the essentials or we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  But it is better to be in different denominations if differences on non-essential issues would violate our consciences.  For example, if I couldn’t in good conscience baptize an infant then I should go to a denomination that doesn’t require that practice, even though I wouldn’t say those that do require it aren’t Christians.

Also see this post about one of my favorite sayings: In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.

Numbers 25-26

n25.jpgGreetings!

Moab Seduces Israel

25     While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, 2 who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods. 3 So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the Lord’s anger burned against them.

The King of Moab tried mightily to get Balaam the sorcerer to curse the Israelites, but God used Balaam for his purposes.  What was the next best way to get to Israel?  Sexual immorality. 

4 The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.”

5 So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your men who have joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor.”

6 Then an Israelite man brought to his family a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand 8 and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear through both of them—through the Israelite and into the woman’s body. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; 9 but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.

10 The Lord said to Moses, 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them. 12 Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. 13 He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”

14 The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the leader of a Simeonite family. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was put to death was Cozbi daughter of Zur, a tribal chief of a Midianite family.

16 The Lord said to Moses, 17 “Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them, 18 because they treated you as enemies when they deceived you in the affair of Peor and their sister Cozbi, the daughter of a Midianite leader, the woman who was killed when the plague came as a result of Peor.”

This was serious business.  These were real people who were threatening the Israelite community and they were dealt with harshly.

The Second Census

26     After the plague the Lord said to Moses and Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, 2 “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by families—all those twenty years old or more who are able to serve in the army of Israel.” 3 So on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho, Moses and Eleazar the priest spoke with them and said, 4 “Take a census of the men twenty years old or more, as the Lord commanded Moses.”

These were the Israelites who came out of Egypt:

5 The descendants of Reuben, the firstborn son of Israel, were: through Hanoch, the Hanochite clan; through Pallu, the Palluite clan; 6 through Hezron, the Hezronite clan; through Carmi, the Carmite clan. 7 These were the clans of Reuben; those numbered were 43,730.

8 The son of Pallu was Eliab, 9 and the sons of Eliab were Nemuel, Dathan and Abiram. The same Dathan and Abiram were the community officials who rebelled against Moses and Aaron and were among Korah’s followers when they rebelled against the Lord. 10 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them along with Korah, whose followers died when the fire devoured the 250 men. And they served as a warning sign. 11 The line of Korah, however, did not die out.

12 The descendants of Simeon by their clans were: through Nemuel, the Nemuelite clan; through Jamin, the Jaminite clan; through Jakin, the Jakinite clan; 13 through Zerah, the Zerahite clan; through Shaul, the Shaulite clan. 14 These were the clans of Simeon; there were 22,200 men. 15 The descendants of Gad by their clans were: through Zephon, the Zephonite clan; through Haggi, the Haggite clan; through Shuni, the Shunite clan; 16 through Ozni, the Oznite clan; through Eri, the Erite clan;

17 through Arodi, the Arodite clan; through Areli, the Arelite clan. 18 These were the clans of Gad; those numbered were 40,500. 19 Er and Onan were sons of Judah, but they died in Canaan. 20 The descendants of Judah by their clans were: through Shelah, the Shelanite clan; through Perez, the Perezite clan; through Zerah, the Zerahite clan.

21 The descendants of Perez were:

through Hezron, the Hezronite clan;

through Hamul, the Hamulite clan. 22 These were the clans of Judah; those numbered were 76,500.

23 The descendants of Issachar by their clans were: through Tola, the Tolaite clan; through Puah, the Puite clan; 24 through Jashub, the Jashubite clan; through Shimron, the Shimronite clan. 25 These were the clans of Issachar; those numbered were 64,300. 26 The descendants of Zebulun by their clans were: through Sered, the Seredite clan; through Elon, the Elonite clan; through Jahleel, the Jahleelite clan. 27 These were the clans of Zebulun; those numbered were 60,500. 28 The descendants of Joseph by their clans through Manasseh and Ephraim were: 29 The descendants of Manasseh: through Makir, the Makirite clan (Makir was the father of Gilead); through Gilead, the Gileadite clan.

30 These were the descendants of Gilead:

through Iezer, the Iezerite clan;

through Helek, the Helekite clan;

31 through Asriel, the Asrielite clan;

through Shechem, the Shechemite clan;

32 through Shemida, the Shemidaite clan;

through Hepher, the Hepherite clan.

33 (Zelophehad son of Hepher had no sons; he had only daughters,

whose names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah and Tirzah.) 34 These were the clans of Manasseh; those numbered were 52,700.

35 These were the descendants of Ephraim by their clans: through Shuthelah, the Shuthelahite clan; through Beker, the Bekerite clan; through Tahan, the Tahanite clan.

36 These were the descendants of Shuthelah:

through Eran, the Eranite clan. 37 These were the clans of Ephraim; those numbered were 32,500.

These were the descendants of Joseph by their clans.

38 The descendants of Benjamin by their clans were: through Bela, the Belaite clan; through Ashbel, the Ashbelite clan; through Ahiram, the Ahiramite clan;

39 through Shupham, the Shuphamite clan; through Hupham, the Huphamite clan.

40 The descendants of Bela through Ard and Naaman were:

through Ard, the

Ardite clan;

through Naaman, the Naamite clan. 41 These were the clans of Benjamin; those numbered were 45,600.

42 These were the descendants of Dan by their clans: through Shuham, the Shuhamite clan.

These were the clans of Dan: 43 All of them were Shuhamite clans; and those numbered were 64,400.

44 The descendants of Asher by their clans were: through Imnah, the Imnite clan; through Ishvi, the Ishvite clan; through Beriah, the Beriite clan;

45 and through the descendants of Beriah:

through Heber, the Heberite clan; through Malkiel, the Malkielite clan.

46 (Asher had a daughter named Serah.) 47 These were the clans of Asher; those numbered were 53,400.

48 The descendants of Naphtali by their clans were: through Jahzeel, the Jahzeelite clan; through Guni, the Gunite clan; 49 through Jezer, the Jezerite clan; through Shillem, the Shillemite clan. 50 These were the clans of Naphtali; those numbered were 45,400. 51 The total number of the men of Israel was 601,730.

52 The Lord said to Moses, 53 “The land is to be allotted to them as an inheritance based on the number of names. 54 To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one; each is to receive its inheritance according to the number of those listed. 55 Be sure that the land is distributed by lot. What each group inherits will be according to the names for its ancestral tribe. 56 Each inheritance is to be distributed by lot among the larger and smaller groups.”

57 These were the Levites who were counted by their clans: through Gershon, the Gershonite clan; through Kohath, the Kohathite clan; through Merari, the Merarite clan. 58 These also were Levite clans: the Libnite clan, the Hebronite clan, the Mahlite clan, the Mushite clan, the Korahite clan.

(Kohath was the forefather of Amram; 59 the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, who was born to the Levites in Egypt. To Amram she bore Aaron, Moses and their sister Miriam. 60 Aaron was the father of Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 61 But Nadab and Abihu died when they made an offering before the Lord with unauthorized fire.)

62 All the male Levites a month old or more numbered 23,000. They were not counted along with the other Israelites because they received no inheritance among them.

63 These are the ones counted by Moses and Eleazar the priest when they counted the Israelites on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. 64 Not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest when they counted the Israelites in the Desert of Sinai. 65 For the Lord had told those Israelites they would surely die in the desert, and not one of them was left except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Thus went another census of the Israelites, 38 years after the last one.  God had led them through many things and was fulfilling his plans. 

Weekly roundup

Is this tolerance? – Liberals in Canada hate free speech.  You can’t criticize Islam, homosexual behavior or even pro-abortion views!  Coming soon to a country you live in . . .?

Christianity is good news for science

 The Infanticide Shibboleth – Obama is super-duper pro-abortion, and pro-infanticide as well.  But he’s for change, right, so is he open to changing these views?  Uh, no.  He doesn’t want common ground, he wants to change the subject.

Good analysis of the heresies of “Pastor” Paula White.  Ick.

Numbers 23-24

n23.jpgGreetings!

Balaam’s First Oracle

23     Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” 2 Balak did as Balaam said, and the two of them offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

3 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I go aside. Perhaps the Lord will come to meet with me. Whatever he reveals to me I will tell you.” Then he went off to a barren height.

4 God met with him, and Balaam said, “I have prepared seven altars, and on each altar I have offered a bull and a ram.”

5 The Lord put a message in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this message.”

6 So he went back to him and found him standing beside his offering, with all the princes of Moab. 7 Then Balaam uttered his oracle:

“Balak brought me from Aram,

the king of Moab from the eastern mountains.

‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me;

come, denounce Israel.’

8 How can I curse

those whom God has not cursed?

How can I denounce

those whom the Lord has not denounced?

God is sovereign.  It is hard for us to grasp, but nothing happens that doesn’t go through his hands.

9 From the rocky peaks I see them,

from the heights I view them.

I see a people who live apart

and do not consider themselves one of the nations.

10 Who can count the dust of Jacob

or number the fourth part of Israel?

Let me die the death of the righteous,

and may my end be like theirs!”

11 Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but you have done nothing but bless them!”

12 He answered, “Must I not speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?”

Balaam’s Second Oracle

13 Then Balak said to him, “Come with me to another place where you can see them; you will see only a part but not all of them. And from there, curse them for me.” 14 So he took him to the field of Zophim on the top of Pisgah, and there he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I meet with him over there.”

16 The Lord met with Balaam and put a message in his mouth and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this message.”

17 So he went to him and found him standing beside his offering, with the princes of Moab. Balak asked him, “What did the Lord say?”

18 Then he uttered his oracle:

“Arise, Balak, and listen;

hear me, son of Zippor.

19 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 had memorized verse 19 but didn’t realize the context!  That makes it even more meaningful.

20 I have received a command to bless;

he has blessed, and I cannot change it.

21 “No misfortune is seen in Jacob,

no misery observed in Israel.

The Lord their God is with them;

the shout of the King is among them.

22 God brought them out of Egypt;

they have the strength of a wild ox.

23 There is no sorcery against Jacob,

no divination against Israel.

It will now be said of Jacob

and of Israel, ‘See what God has done!’

24 The people rise like a lioness;

they rouse themselves like a lion

that does not rest till he devours his prey

and drinks the blood of his victims.”

25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Neither curse them at all nor bless them at all!”

26 Balaam answered, “Did I not tell you I must do whatever the Lord says?”

Balaam’s Third Oracle

27 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come, let me take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God to let you curse them for me from there.” 28 And Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, overlooking the wasteland.

29 Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” 30 Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

24     Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not resort to sorcery as at other times, but turned his face toward the desert. 2 When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came upon him 3 and he uttered his oracle:

“The oracle of Balaam son of Beor,

the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly,

4 the oracle of one who hears the words of God,

who sees a vision from the Almighty,

who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:

5 “How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob,

your dwelling places, O Israel!

6 “Like valleys they spread out,

like gardens beside a river,

like aloes planted by the Lord,

like cedars beside the waters.

7 Water will flow from their buckets;

their seed will have abundant water.

“Their king will be greater than Agag;

their kingdom will be exalted.

8 “God brought them out of Egypt;

they have the strength of a wild ox.

They devour hostile nations

and break their bones in pieces;

with their arrows they pierce them.

9 Like a lion they crouch and lie down,

like a lioness—who dares to rouse them?

“May those who bless you be blessed

and those who curse you be cursed!”

10 Then Balak’s anger burned against Balaam. He struck his hands together and said to him, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, but you have blessed them these three times. 11 Now leave at once and go home! I said I would reward you handsomely, but the Lord has kept you from being rewarded.”

12 Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell the messengers you sent me, 13 ‘Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything of my own accord, good or bad, to go beyond the command of the Lord—and I must say only what the Lord says’? 14 Now I am going back to my people, but come, let me warn you of what this people will do to your people in days to come.”

Balaam’s Fourth Oracle

15 Then he uttered his oracle:

“The oracle of Balaam son of Beor,

the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly,

16 the oracle of one who hears the words of God,

who has knowledge from the Most High,

who sees a vision from the Almighty,

who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:

17 “I see him, but not now;

I behold him, but not near.

A star will come out of Jacob;

a scepter will rise out of Israel.

He will crush the foreheads of Moab,

the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.

18 Edom will be conquered;

Seir, his enemy, will be conquered,

but Israel will grow strong.

19 A ruler will come out of Jacob

and destroy the survivors of the city.”

Balaam’s Final Oracles

20 Then Balaam saw Amalek and uttered his oracle:

“Amalek was first among the nations,

but he will come to ruin at last.”

21 Then he saw the Kenites and uttered his oracle:

“Your dwelling place is secure,

your nest is set in a rock;

22 yet you Kenites will be destroyed

when Asshur takes you captive.”

23 Then he uttered his oracle:

“Ah, who can live when God does this?

24 Ships will come from the shores of Kittim;

they will subdue Asshur and Eber,

but they too will come to ruin.”

25 Then Balaam got up and returned home and Balak went his own way.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Balaam did as the Lord commanded and was smart enough to see that no one can undo what God has decreed.  Oh, that others would see this truth and stop rebelling against the one true God!

Numbers 21-22

n21.jpgGreetings!

Arad Destroyed

21     When the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that Israel was coming along the road to Atharim, he attacked the Israelites and captured some of them. 2 Then Israel made this vow to the Lord: “If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy their cities.” 3 The Lord listened to Israel’s plea and gave the Canaanites over to them. They completely destroyed them and their towns; so the place was named Hormah.

The Bronze Snake

4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

6 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.

The Journey to Moab

10 The Israelites moved on and camped at Oboth. 11 Then they set out from Oboth and camped in Iye Abarim, in the desert that faces Moab toward the sunrise. 12 From there they moved on and camped in the Zered Valley. 13 They set out from there and camped alongside the Arnon, which is in the desert extending into Amorite territory. The Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. 14 That is why the Book of the Wars of the Lord says:

”… Waheb in Suphah and the ravines,

the Arnon

15 and the slopes of the ravines

that lead to the site of Ar

and lie along the border of Moab.”

16 From there they continued on to Beer, the well where the Lord said to Moses, “Gather the people together and I will give them water.”

17 Then Israel sang this song:

“Spring up, O well!

Sing about it,

18 about the well that the princes dug,

that the nobles of the people sank—

the nobles with scepters and staffs.”

Then they went from the desert to Mattanah, 19 from Mattanah to Nahaliel, from Nahaliel to Bamoth, 20 and from Bamoth to the valley in Moab where the top of Pisgah overlooks the wasteland.

Defeat of Sihon and Og

21 Israel sent messengers to say to Sihon king of the Amorites:

22 “Let us pass through your country. We will not turn aside into any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the king’s highway until we have passed through your territory.”

23 But Sihon would not let Israel pass through his territory. He mustered his entire army and marched out into the desert against Israel. When he reached Jahaz, he fought with Israel. 24 Israel, however, put him to the sword and took over his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, but only as far as the Ammonites, because their border was fortified. 25 Israel captured all the cities of the Amorites and occupied them, including Heshbon and all its surrounding settlements. 26 Heshbon was the city of Sihon king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken from him all his land as far as the Arnon.

27 That is why the poets say:

“Come to Heshbon and let it be rebuilt;

let Sihon’s city be restored.

28 “Fire went out from Heshbon,

a blaze from the city of Sihon.

It consumed Ar of Moab,

the citizens of Arnon’s heights.

29 Woe to you, O Moab!

You are destroyed, O people of Chemosh!

He has given up his sons as fugitives

and his daughters as captives

to Sihon king of the Amorites.

30 “But we have overthrown them;

Heshbon is destroyed all the way to Dibon.

We have demolished them as far as Nophah,

which extends to Medeba.”

31 So Israel settled in the land of the Amorites.

32 After Moses had sent spies to Jazer, the Israelites captured its surrounding settlements and drove out the Amorites who were there. 33 Then they turned and went up along the road toward Bashan, and Og king of Bashan and his whole army marched out to meet them in battle at Edrei.

34 The Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you, with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.”

35 So they struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army, leaving them no survivors. And they took possession of his land.

Balak Summons Balaam

22     Then the Israelites traveled to the plains of Moab and camped along the Jordan across from Jericho.

2 Now Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites, 3 and Moab was terrified because there were so many people. Indeed, Moab was filled with dread because of the Israelites.

4 The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field.”

So Balak son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, 5 sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor, who was at Pethor, near the River, in his native land. Balak said:

“A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. 6 Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the country. For I know that those you bless are blessed, and those you curse are cursed.”

7 The elders of Moab and Midian left, taking with them the fee for divination. When they came to Balaam, they told him what Balak had said.

8 “Spend the night here,” Balaam said to them, “and I will bring you back the answer the Lord gives me.” So the Moabite princes stayed with him.

9 God came to Balaam and asked, “Who are these men with you?”

10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me this message: 11 ‘A people that has come out of Egypt covers the face of the land. Now come and put a curse on them for me. Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.’”

12 But God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed.”

13 The next morning Balaam got up and said to Balak’s princes, “Go back to your own country, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you.”

14 So the Moabite princes returned to Balak and said, “Balaam refused to come with us.”

15 Then Balak sent other princes, more numerous and more distinguished than the first. 16 They came to Balaam and said:

“This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Do not let anything keep you from coming to me, 17 because I will reward you handsomely and do whatever you say. Come and put a curse on these people for me.”

18 But Balaam answered them, “Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God. 19 Now stay here tonight as the others did, and I will find out what else the Lord will tell me.”

20 That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.”

Balaam’s Donkey

21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.

24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat her again.

26 Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

32 The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.”

34 Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”

35 The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at the Moabite town on the Arnon border, at the edge of his territory. 37 Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send you an urgent summons? Why didn’t you come to me? Am I really not able to reward you?”

38 “Well, I have come to you now,” Balaam replied. “But can I say just anything? I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.”

39 Then Balaam went with Balak to Kiriath Huzoth. 40 Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep, and gave some to Balaam and the princes who were with him. 41 The next morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth Baal, and from there he saw part of the people.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

God used Balaam, a pagan, in part of his plan.  Balaam was a sorcerer, but as Moah has already consulted him God used him as well.

The angel was a theophany, an appearance of God.  That is why the angel accepted worship from Balaam. 

Once again the people complained and were judged.  My study Bible notes that Egyptians and the Israelites had a great fear of snakes.  Doesn’t everyone?! 

 

The bronze snake seems like an odd symbol at first, but it points to Christ: John 3:14-15 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.  I assume that being “bitten by a snake” would be a metaphor to the impact of sin in the Garden of Eden, but I’m not sure why there was a snake on the pole as opposed to some other figure.  I suppose the main point is that it was a simple act of faith to look at the snake, and they could see the evidence of others being saved by it.

Sex is like duct tape

Work with me here, people.

The truth that people who have sex create a bond isn’t just biblical (“one flesh”), it is scientific.  Anyone supporting “comprehensive” sex education should be teaching this.

J. Budziszewski is a philosophy professor at the University of Texas.  He shares the following illustration, summarized well by Chuck Colson when describing Budziszewski’s book, Ask Me Anything: Provocative Answers for College Students:

My favorite question is why “sowing your wild oats” never works out the way it’s supposed to.  Sexuality, he says, is like duct tape. The first time you use it, it sticks you to whomever it touches. But just like that duct tape, if you rip it off and then touch it to someone else, it isn’t as sticky as it was before. So what happens when you pull it loose from one partner after another?  Budziszewski explains: You just don’t stick anymore, your sexual partners seem like strangers, and you stop feeling anything.

Ripping the duct tape off is extremely painful as well, especially the first time – just as the break-up of a sexual relationship can be more painful than a regular one.  It may seem progressively easier to “tear off” with subsequent partners, but you can’t make it stick on command when you finally decide to commit.

Here’s an article from the Boundless Webzine that describes it in more detail.

“But how do you know if you have a commitment?” he asked.

“Easy,” I said. “If you’re married, you’ve got one. If you’re not married, you don’t.”

Science confirms that this isn’t just a clever illustration.  Consider oxytocin, a chemical that, among other things, encourages bonding of mates.  More about it here.  It is no wonder why people form sexual addictions and why encouraging people to experiment with any sexual behavior will lead to problems.

Do these “experts” pushing to normalize fornication and homosexuality not understand the psychological and physiological implications of such behavior?  Or is the problem that they understand them too well?  Teaching the sex without consequences myth (“just use condoms and everything will be ok!”) is cruel and stupid.

I like this duct tape example because it is provocative, accurate and helpful in exposing the lies of the sex-as-recreation crowd.  Regardless of what Planned Parenthood and the rest tell you, sex outside of a one man, one woman marriage will always hurt you.  No amount of birth control and abortions can change that.

This concept is right out of the Bible:

1 Corinthians 6:16-18 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”  But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.  Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.

Once again, God’s way is the best way.  When God described the union of a man and a woman as “one flesh,” He meant it.  You become one.  When your flesh is joined and you tear it apart it will be extremely painful.

Yet as He shows again and again, redemption and healing are possible with him.  He loves to forgive and help people out of bondage.  Today is a great day to stop the cycle and educate people about the truth.  Here’s a book designed to help (I haven’t read it but heard the author on a radio show) – The Invisible Bond: How to Break Free from Your Sexual Past.

Numbers 19-20

n19.jpgGreetings!

The Water of Cleansing

19     The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: 2 “This is a requirement of the law that the Lord has commanded: Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke. 3 Give it to Eleazar the priest; it is to be taken outside the camp and slaughtered in his presence. 4 Then Eleazar the priest is to take some of its blood on his finger and sprinkle it seven times toward the front of the Tent of Meeting. 5 While he watches, the heifer is to be burned—its hide, flesh, blood and offal. 6 The priest is to take some cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet wool and throw them onto the burning heifer. 7 After that, the priest must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water. He may then come into the camp, but he will be ceremonially unclean till evening. 8 The man who burns it must also wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he too will be unclean till evening.

9 “A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and put them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp. They shall be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin. 10 The man who gathers up the ashes of the heifer must also wash his clothes, and he too will be unclean till evening. This will be a lasting ordinance both for the Israelites and for the aliens living among them.

11 “Whoever touches the dead body of anyone will be unclean for seven days. 12 He must purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third and seventh days, he will not be clean. 13 Whoever touches the dead body of anyone and fails to purify himself defiles the Lord’s tabernacle. That person must be cut off from Israel. Because the water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on him, he is unclean; his uncleanness remains on him.

14 “This is the law that applies when a person dies in a tent: Anyone who enters the tent and anyone who is in it will be unclean for seven days, 15 and every open container without a lid fastened on it will be unclean.

16 “Anyone out in the open who touches someone who has been killed with a sword or someone who has died a natural death, or anyone who touches a human bone or a grave, will be unclean for seven days.

17 “For the unclean person, put some ashes from the burned purification offering into a jar and pour fresh water over them. 18 Then a man who is ceremonially clean is to take some hyssop, dip it in the water and sprinkle the tent and all the furnishings and the people who were there. He must also sprinkle anyone who has touched a human bone or a grave or someone who has been killed or someone who has died a natural death. 19 The man who is clean is to sprinkle the unclean person on the third and seventh days, and on the seventh day he is to purify him. The person being cleansed must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and that evening he will be clean. 20 But if a person who is unclean does not purify himself, he must be cut off from the community, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. The water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on him, and he is unclean. 21 This is a lasting ordinance for them.

“The man who sprinkles the water of cleansing must also wash his clothes, and anyone who touches the water of cleansing will be unclean till evening. 22 Anything that an unclean person touches becomes unclean, and anyone who touches it becomes unclean till evening.”

These purification processes let people know when they were clean again and could participate fully in worship.  Symbolism is very important in the Bible.  The red heifer and the scarlet wool symbolized blood, and the hyssop symbolized spreading the blood over the doorposts during the Exodus.

Water From the Rock

20     In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.

We have fast-forwarded to the 40th year since the Exodus from Egypt.  After this generation died out the next generation would enter the promised land.

2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3 They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! 4 Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

Once again the Israelites are complaining and grumbling.  They have forgotten how God has provided for them before.  May we remember to seek God first and not complain!

6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

We have to read between the lines a bit, but apparently Moses was being seriously disobedient himself here.  God told him to speak to the rock yet Moses struck it twice.  This act will keep Moses from entering into the promised land, despite all he had done for God. 

13 These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he showed himself holy among them.

Edom Denies Israel Passage

14 Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, saying:

“This is what your brother Israel says: You know about all the hardships that have come upon us. 15 Our forefathers went down into Egypt, and we lived there many years. The Egyptians mistreated us and our fathers, 16 but when we cried out to the Lord, he heard our cry and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt.

“Now we are here at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory. 17 Please let us pass through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the king’s highway and not turn to the right or to the left until we have passed through your territory.”

18 But Edom answered:

“You may not pass through here; if you try, we will march out and attack you with the sword.”

19 The Israelites replied:

“We will go along the main road, and if we or our livestock drink any of your water, we will pay for it. We only want to pass through on foot—nothing else.”

20 Again they answered:

“You may not pass through.”

Then Edom came out against them with a large and powerful army. 21 Since Edom refused to let them go through their territory, Israel turned away from them.

Moses chose to go another route, which was the wise choice.  God did not give him any assurance that they would prevail against Edom at this time.

The Death of Aaron

22 The whole Israelite community set out from Kadesh and came to Mount Hor. 23 At Mount Hor, near the border of Edom, the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 24 “Aaron will be gathered to his people. He will not enter the land I give the Israelites, because both of you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah. 25 Get Aaron and his son Eleazar and take them up Mount Hor. 26 Remove Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar, for Aaron will be gathered to his people; he will die there.”

27 Moses did as the Lord commanded: They went up Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community. 28 Moses removed Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar. And Aaron died there on top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain, 29 and when the whole community learned that Aaron had died, the entire house of Israel mourned for him thirty days.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Weekly roundup

The Misogyny of Sex and the CityWhy do so many women find that show/movie appealing?  Marge Simpson said it best:

That’s the show about four women acting like gay guys.

Read Brooks’ review of Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus.  Ehrman used to claim to be Christian and now is a favorite of the theologically liberal Christian / atheist / Muslim sets.  He does sound scholarship . . . to a point.  Then he makes some missteps when playing out his agenda.

Evangelism is a hate crime in the UK? – Coming soon to a country near you?

Religous pluralism doesn’t promote tolerance, but criticizes those who believe – and act on the belief – that religions have objective truth value.  Not only are those believers wrong, they are guilty of hate crimes. 

That’s not only truly oppressive, but self-refuting.

The daughter of the radical feminist author of the Color Purple speaks out and highlights the awful consequences of that worldview.

The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon – archeology supports the Bible and embarrasses the Book of Mormon over and over.

Numbers 17-18

n17.jpgGreetings!

The Budding of Aaron’s Staff

17     The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes. Write the name of each man on his staff. 3 On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe. 4 Place them in the Tent of Meeting in front of the Testimony, where I meet with you. 5 The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.”

6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron’s staff was among them. 7 Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the Tent of the Testimony.

8 The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. 9 Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the Lord’s presence to all the Israelites. They looked at them, and each man took his own staff.

10 The Lord said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the Testimony, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” 11 Moses did just as the Lord commanded him.

12 The Israelites said to Moses, “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! 13 Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord will die. Are we all going to die?”

God used supernatural means to convey his choice of Aaron and the Israelites seem to have received the message – at least temporarily.  As always, I am always saddened when I read of the Israelites’ lack of faith, especially when one considers the incredible miracles they witnessed.  Yet just as consistently I am convicted by my own lack of faith when I consider how much knowledge I have been given of God and how easy it is to stray.  May we all keep our focus on God and his truths, so that we may do all we can to advance his Kingdom each day.

Duties of Priests and Levites

18     The Lord said to Aaron, “You, your sons and your father’s family are to bear the responsibility for offenses against the sanctuary, and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses against the priesthood. 2 Bring your fellow Levites from your ancestral tribe to join you and assist you when you and your sons minister before the Tent of the Testimony. 3 They are to be responsible to you and are to perform all the duties of the Tent, but they must not go near the furnishings of the sanctuary or the altar, or both they and you will die. 4 They are to join you and be responsible for the care of the Tent of Meeting—all the work at the Tent—and no one else may come near where you are.

5 “You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that wrath will not fall on the Israelites again. 6 I myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord to do the work at the Tent of Meeting. 7 But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary must be put to death.”

Offerings for Priests and Levites

8 Then the Lord said to Aaron, “I myself have put you in charge of the offerings presented to me; all the holy offerings the Israelites give me I give to you and your sons as your portion and regular share. 9 You are to have the part of the most holy offerings that is kept from the fire. From all the gifts they bring me as most holy offerings, whether grain or sin or guilt offerings, that part belongs to you and your sons. 10 Eat it as something most holy; every male shall eat it. You must regard it as holy.

11 “This also is yours: whatever is set aside from the gifts of all the wave offerings of the Israelites. I give this to you and your sons and daughters as your regular share. Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean may eat it.

12 “I give you all the finest olive oil and all the finest new wine and grain they give the Lord as the firstfruits of their harvest. 13 All the land’s firstfruits that they bring to the Lord will be yours. Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean may eat it.

14 “Everything in Israel that is devoted to the Lord is yours. 15 The first offspring of every womb, both man and animal, that is offered to the Lord is yours. But you must redeem every firstborn son and every firstborn male of unclean animals. 16 When they are a month old, you must redeem them at the redemption price set at five shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs.

17 “But you must not redeem the firstborn of an ox, a sheep or a goat; they are holy. Sprinkle their blood on the altar and burn their fat as an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 18 Their meat is to be yours, just as the breast of the wave offering and the right thigh are yours. 19 Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the Lord I give to you and your sons and daughters as your regular share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord for both you and your offspring.”

20 The Lord said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them; I am your share and your inheritance among the Israelites.

21 “I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting. 22 From now on the Israelites must not go near the Tent of Meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and will die. 23 It is the Levites who are to do the work at the Tent of Meeting and bear the responsibility for offenses against it. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites. 24 Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the Lord. That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.’”

25 The Lord said to Moses, 26 “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering. 27 Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor or juice from the winepress. 28 In this way you also will present an offering to the Lord from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the Lord’s portion to Aaron the priest. 29 You must present as the Lord’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.’

30 “Say to the Levites: ‘When you present the best part, it will be reckoned to you as the product of the threshing floor or the winepress. 31 You and your households may eat the rest of it anywhere, for it is your wages for your work at the Tent of Meeting. 32 By presenting the best part of it you will not be guilty in this matter; then you will not defile the holy offerings of the Israelites, and you will not die.’”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Thus began the process of the curtain in the temple, where only the High Priest could enter once per year.  This is the curtain that was supernaturally torn from top to bottom after the crucifixion, symbolizing our direct access to God. 

The Israelites were required to tithe (10%), and the Levites were required to tithe out of the tithes they received.  In the New Testament we are told to give from our hearts (2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.).   Still, 10% is a nice round number to start with!  I encourage everyone to think seriously about what God has done for them and to take an eternal perspective with giving. 

“Aspiring” abortion doctors

force-beliefs.jpgMs. Green reminded me of this story from the L.A. Times, so I thought I’d comment on parts of it.

Aspiring abortion doctors drawn to embattled field

Medical students cite defiance and conscience as a reason to choose the career. ‘It doesn’t matter what you believe if you don’t back it up with action,’ one says.

Denver – FOURTH-year medical student Megan Lederer recently helped deliver a premature baby at barely six months gestation. The newborn was tiny, unimaginably fragile, but she survived.

Caught up in the moment, Lederer didn’t think about the implication for her chosen career. Later, though, she wondered: Could I have aborted that pregnancy?

She could have, she decided. She would have felt an obligation.

Please pause here for a moment.  She delivered a live baby and says she would have felt obligated to abort her had the mother not wanted the child.  Everybody got that?  No twisted philosophical reasoning about when the unborn become human, just a plain, old choice of whether to kill a viable human being or let her live. 

Lederer, 30, can’t relate to the images that drew an older generation of physicians into abortion work. She can barely picture it when they talk about life before legal abortion: the blood-spattered apartments, the women racked with infection from stabbing sticks into their wombs.

This emotional ploy still seems to work.  The truth is that most pre-Roe v Wade abortions were done in doctors’ offices (“Uh, you’re late this month . . .  better do a D&C to get things back on track.”)  And note how she can “barely picture” those gruesome images but ignores the gruesome images of abortions noted below.

But she and other young doctors-in-training have found their own motivation to enter a field that they know will put them at risk of isolation, harassment and hatred. For them, doing abortions is an act of defiance – a way of pushing back against mounting restrictions on a right they’ve taken for granted all their lives.

“It’s like when your big brother says you can’t do something,” Lederer said. “That just makes you want to do it even more.”

Your big brother says not to kill innocent human beings, so it makes you want to do it more.  Check.

Rebellion is alive and well in the human heart.

Abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures in the U.S., terminating about one in four pregnancies, not counting miscarriages. Yet the number of providers has fallen steadily for decades, dropping 37% between 1982 and 2000, the last year a census was taken. (During the same period, the number of abortions fell 17%.)

Antiabortion activists attribute the drop to a growing aversion to killing fetuses. “It’s corrosive to the soul,” said Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life.

NEARLY one-third of metropolitan areas and 97% of rural counties have no abortion providers, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group affiliated with Planned Parenthood. One in four patients must travel at least 50 miles to end a pregnancy.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which are primarily funded by donations, outnumber abortion clinics.  Maybe the pro-legalized abortionists need to donate more money?

Guttmacher researchers are working on updated statistics, but as of 2000, they reported that the United States had about 1,800 abortion providers – many of them near, or past, retirement age. By comparison, the American Medical Assn. reported that the same year, there were about 6,200 plastic surgeons, 9,700 dermatologists and 10,600 gastroenterologists.

Each spring, the advocacy group Medical Students for Choice brings several hundred students – nearly 90% of them women – to a weekend convention to nudge them into considering abortion work. One of the most effective tools: introducing them to veteran providers.

“It was amazing to see all these people who have made this [a career] … and it works for them,” Lederer said.

That upbeat message was a marked contrast from the lecture Lederer and her friends heard last fall at the University of Colorado’s medical school in downtown Denver. Medical Students for Choice had invited Dr. Warren Hern, a legend in the abortion rights movement, to give them encouragement. He offered none.

None of you will be an abortion provider, he told the students. You don’t have it in you.

“Do something else. Fix broken legs,” he often advises. “No reasonable person would do this.”

Hern, 68, practices in Boulder, Colo., a liberal college town. Still, he’s afraid to open his blinds at night for fear of a sniper hidden in the bushes. His clinic is protected by a fence and four layers of bulletproof glass.

Abortion is so stigmatized, Hern said, that his fellow physicians shun him. Even his patients often regard him with disgust: “They’ve absorbed so much antiabortion rhetoric, they feel a sense of revulsion that they have to come into my office and seek treatment.”

It is curious that he blames antiabortion rhetoric.  As late as the mid-60′s Planned Parenthood was still “antiabortion.” The original Hippocratic Oath and virtually every modification of it until just recently specifically condemned abortion.  The sense of revulsion has been in place for a long, long time.  It was only recently that some people lost that sense.

Hern specializes in late second- and third-trimester abortions; his patients come to him from around the world, many with late diagnosis of fetal deformity. Though he feels certain he’s doing right by the women, Hern still feels conflicted when he steps into his basement surgery.

He once wrote that “the sensations of dismemberment flow through the forceps like an electric current” – and after three decades, he is not inured to that feeling. “We are hard-wired as a species to protect small, young, helpless creatures,” he said. “The fetus is not a baby, but it’s close. Some are very close. It’s difficult.”

A baby is not a toddler, but it’s close. Some are very close. But that doesn’t mean you can kill the baby. The fetus is a human being at a particular stage of development. That doesn’t mean they are fair game for destruction.

Lederer does not know how she will handle such emotion; the closest she’s come to performing an abortion was suctioning the seeds out of a papaya to learn a first-trimester technique. She may, in the end, restrict her practice to early abortions. But that’s not an easy solution to accept. She can’t see how she could ever justify taking one woman as a patient while turning away another because her pregnancy is a few weeks more advanced.

Why doesn’t she consider the alternative view?  How can she justify doing an abortion just because the unborn is a few weeks less advanced?

She was surprised that the clinic’s patients included women of all income, ages and education levels. Lederer helped out a bit, sterilizing instruments, but spent most of her time observing these women as they ended pregnancies that, for one reason or another, they felt they could not handle.

“This was something tangible you could do for people,” she said. “You could make a difference in these women’s lives.”

It makes a difference for the unborn as well.  How about volunteering at a Crisis Pregnancy Center or with adoptions so she could help mother and child?

EXTREME violence is always a threat. A Texas man was indicted this month on charges of planting a bomb filled with nails outside an abortion clinic in Austin. The National Abortion Federation is so fearful of attack that officials don’t announce the dates of the annual conference, much less the location.

But the violence has subsided greatly since the mid-1990s, when seven doctors and clinic workers in the U.S. and Canada were killed and dozens of clinics were targeted with bombings, arsons and acid attacks. Doctors today are more likely to face pickets and pray-ins.

Lederer encountered such a demonstration recently at the national convention of Medical Students for Choice. A truck covered with grisly photos of fetal parts was parked outside. One demonstrator appeared to be taking pictures of the students’ name badges as they walked in and out of the hotel.

Far from being intimidated, Lederer found the protest exhilarating. “Everyone sat up even taller,” she said. “The general vibe was very empowering.”

Yeah, stick it to the man . . . or the baby.  Grisly images of a small percentage of women who have abortions make them want legal abortion on demand up to and including infanticide (i.e., “partial-birth abortion”), but grisly images of what takes place 4,000 times per day in the U.S. doesn’t make them want to protect the unborn.

Numbers 15-16

n15.jpgGreetings!

Supplementary Offerings

15     The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘After you enter the land I am giving you as a home 3 and you present to the Lord offerings made by fire, from the herd or the flock, as an aroma pleasing to the Lord—whether burnt offerings or sacrifices, for special vows or freewill offerings or festival offerings— 4 then the one who brings his offering shall present to the Lord a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil. 5 With each lamb for the burnt offering or the sacrifice, prepare a quarter of a hin of wine as a drink offering.

6 “‘With a ram prepare a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a third of a hin of oil, 7 and a third of a hin of wine as a drink offering. Offer it as an aroma pleasing to the Lord.

8 “‘When you prepare a young bull as a burnt offering or sacrifice, for a special vow or a fellowship offering to the Lord, 9 bring with the bull a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with half a hin of oil. 10 Also bring half a hin of wine as a drink offering. It will be an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 11 Each bull or ram, each lamb or young goat, is to be prepared in this manner. 12 Do this for each one, for as many as you prepare.

13 “‘Everyone who is native-born must do these things in this way when he brings an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 14 For the generations to come, whenever an alien or anyone else living among you presents an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the Lord, he must do exactly as you do. 15 The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the Lord: 16 The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.’”

17 The Lord said to Moses, 18 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land to which I am taking you 19 and you eat the food of the land, present a portion as an offering to the Lord. 20 Present a cake from the first of your ground meal and present it as an offering from the threshing floor. 21 Throughout the generations to come you are to give this offering to the Lord from the first of your ground meal.

Offerings for Unintentional Sins

22 “‘Now if you unintentionally fail to keep any of these commands the Lord gave Moses— 23 any of the Lord’s commands to you through him, from the day the Lord gave them and continuing through the generations to come— 24 and if this is done unintentionally without the community being aware of it, then the whole community is to offer a young bull for a burnt offering as an aroma pleasing to the Lord, along with its prescribed grain offering and drink offering, and a male goat for a sin offering. 25 The priest is to make atonement for the whole Israelite community, and they will be forgiven, for it was not intentional and they have brought to the Lord for their wrong an offering made by fire and a sin offering. 26 The whole Israelite community and the aliens living among them will be forgiven, because all the people were involved in the unintentional wrong.

27 “‘But if just one person sins unintentionally, he must bring a year-old female goat for a sin offering. 28 The priest is to make atonement before the Lord for the one who erred by sinning unintentionally, and when atonement has been made for him, he will be forgiven. 29 One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whether he is a native-born Israelite or an alien.

30 “‘But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the Lord, and that person must be cut off from his people. 31 Because he has despised the Lord’s word and broken his commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him.’”

Just as good parents do, God distinguishes between accidents and willful disobedience. 

The Sabbath-Breaker Put to Death

32 While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, 34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.” 36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the Lord commanded Moses.

While this punishment seems harsh, note the context of this passage.  God just got through saying that the punishment for willful disobedience was greater than unintentional sins.  This man clearly broke the Sabbath laws out of rebellion, not in an innocent way.

Tassels on Garments

37 The Lord said to Moses, 38 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. 41 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God.’”

This was interesting to me, as when I put on my cross necklace today I reminded myself of the importance of following Christ each day.  I try to use it as a daily reminder of whom I’m representing. 

The next section is referred to as “Korah’s rebellion.”  They tried to pervert the priesthood and worship practices, like so many do today. 

Korah, Dathan and Abiram

16     Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent 2 and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. 3 They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. 5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers: “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him. 6 You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers 7 and tomorrow put fire and incense in them before the Lord. The man the Lord chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!”

8 Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! 9 Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? 10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. 11 It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?”

12 Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We will not come! 13 Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert? And now you also want to lord it over us? 14 Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you gouge out the eyes of these men? No, we will not come!”

Dathan and Abiram have short memories.  Moses did what he could to lead them to the promised land, but the rebellion of the people prevented their success.  They do what we all do at times – exaggerate our problems and minimize our blessings.

15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.”

16 Moses said to Korah, “You and all your followers are to appear before the Lord tomorrow—you and they and Aaron. 17 Each man is to take his censer and put incense in it—250 censers in all—and present it before the Lord. You and Aaron are to present your censers also.” 18 So each man took his censer, put fire and incense in it, and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 19 When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the entire assembly. 20 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.”

22 But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, “O God, God of the spirits of all mankind, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”

23 Then the Lord said to Moses, 24 “Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’”

25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 He warned the assembly, “Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.” 27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.

28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: 29 If these men die a natural death and experience only what usually happens to men, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”

31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah’s men and all their possessions. 33 They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. 34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!”

35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

36 The Lord said to Moses, 37 “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to take the censers out of the smoldering remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy— 38 the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives. Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar, for they were presented before the Lord and have become holy. Let them be a sign to the Israelites.”

It is too bad this isn’t preached on more.  People need to understand the perfect holiness of God.  These men “sinned at the cost of their lives,” just like all of us do. 

39 So Eleazar the priest collected the bronze censers brought by those who had been burned up, and he had them hammered out to overlay the altar, 40 as the Lord directed him through Moses. This was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense before the Lord, or he would become like Korah and his followers.

41 The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You have killed the Lord’s people,” they said.

This group really didn’t get it!  You would think they would stop complaining after what had just happened.

42 But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the Tent of Meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. 43 Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the Tent of Meeting, 44 and the Lord said to Moses, 45 “Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.” And they fell facedown.

46 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with fire from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.” 47 So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. 48 He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. 49 But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. 50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, for the plague had stopped.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.