February 20, 2015

Numbers 10-11 - God spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai in the first month of the second year after leaving Egypt.  “Have the People of Israel celebrate Passover at this time - on the evening of the 14th day of this month...

When the Cloud lifted above the Tent, the People of Israel marched out, and when the Cloud descended the people camped...They camped at God’s command and they marched at God’s command.  They lived obediently by God’s orders, as delivered by Moses.  God spoke to Moses, “Make two bugles... when the bugle give a single short blast, that’s the signal for the leaders, the heads of the clans, to assemble.  When it gives a long blast, that’s the signal to march.  At the first blast the tribes who were camped to the east set out.  At the second blast the camps to the south set out.  The long blasts are the signals to march.  The bugle call that gathers the assembly is different from the signal to march.  The sons of Aaron, the priests, are in charge of blowing the bugles; it’s their assigned duty down through the generations.

In the second year, on the 20th day of the second month, the Cloud went up from over the Dwelling.  At that, the People of Israel set out on their travels  from the Wilderness of Sinai until the Cloud settled in the Wilderness of Paran...Moses said to his brother-in-law Hobab, son of Reuel, the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We’re marching to the place about which God promised, ‘ I’ll give it to you‘  Come with us; we’ll treat you well.  God has promised good things for Israel.”  But Hobab said, “I’m not coming; I’m going back home to my own country, my own family.”  Moses countered, “Don’t leave us.  You know the best places to camp in the wilderness.  We need your eyes.  If you come with us, we’ll make sure that you share in all the good things God will do for us.”  And so off they marched.  From the mountain of God they marched three days with the Chest of the Covenant of God in the lead to scour out a campsite....

The people fell to grumbling over their hard life.  God heard.  When he heard, his anger flared; then fire blazed up and burned the outer boundaries of the camp.  The people cried out for help to Moses; Moses prayed to God and the fire died down...The riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining, “Why can’t we have meat?...nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna... 

Moses heard the whining, all those families whining in front of their tents.  God’s anger blazed up.  Moses saw that things were in a bad way.  Moses said to God, “Why are you treating me this way?  What did I ever do to you to deserve this?  did I conceive them?  Was I their mother?  So why dump the responsibility of this people on me?  Why tell me to carry them around like a nursing mother, carry them all the way to the land you promised to their ancestors.  Where am I suppose to get meat for all these people who are whining to me....I can’t do this by myself--it’s too much, all these people.  If this is how you intend to treat me, do me a favor and kill me.  I’ve seen enough; I’ve had enough.  Let me out of here.” 
God said to Moses, “Gather together the 70 men from among the leaders of Israel, men whom you know to be respected and responsible.  Take them to the Tent of Meeting.  I’ll meet you there...I’ll take some of the Spirit that is on you and place it on them, they’ll then be able to take some of the load of this people---you won’t have to carry the whole thing alone.”  

Tell the people to consecrate yourselves...God has heard your whining and he is going to give you meat.  You are going to eat meat, and not two days, or five or ten or twenty, but for a whole month.  You’re going to eat meat until it’s coming out your nostrils.  You’re going to be so sick of meat that you’ll throw up at the mere mention of it.  And here is why; because you have rejected God who is right here among you, whining to his face, ‘Oh, why did we ever have to leave Egypt?”

Moses said, “I’m standing here surrounded by 600,00 men on foot and you say, ‘I’ll give them meat...So where is it coming from?”....God answered Moses, “So, do you think I can’t take care of you?  You’ll see soon enough whether what I say happens for you or not.”...So Moses went out and told the people what God had said....God came down in a cloud and spoke to Moses and took some of the Spirit that was on him and put in on the 70 leaders.  When the Spirit  rested on them they prophesied.  But they didn’t continue; it was a onetime event.

Meanwhile, two men, Eldad and Medad, had stayed in camp.  They were listed as leaders but they didn’t leave camp to go to the Tent.  Still, the Spirit also rested on them and they prophesied in the camp.  A young man ran and told Moses that they were prophesying in the camp.  Joshua, son of Nun, who had been Moses‘ right hand man since his youth, said, “Moses, master!  Stop them!  But Moses said, “Are you jealous for me?  Would that all God’s people were prophets.  Would that God would put his Spirit in all of them.

Then Moses and the leaders of Israel went back to the camp.  A wind set in motion by God swept quails in from the sea.  They piled up to a depth of about three ft. in the camp and as far out as a day’s walk in every direction...even the slowest person among them gathered at least 60 bushels.  They spread them out all over the camp for drying.  But while they were still chewing the quail and had hardly swallowed the first bites, God’s anger blazed out against the people.  He hit them with a terrible plague.  There they buried the people who craved meat.    

Romans 2 - Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself.  It takes one to know one.  Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors.  But God isn’t so easily diverted.  He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done....

God is kind, but he’s not soft.  In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.  You’re not getting by with anything.  Every refusal and avoidance of God adds fuel to the fire....  

Real life is what comes to those who work on God’s side, but to those who insist on getting their own way ad take the path of least resistance.  Fire!!...

If you embrace the way God does things, there are wonderful payoffs, again without regard to where you are from or how you were brought up....

If you sin without knowing what you’re doing, God takes that into account.  But if you sin knowing full well what you’re doing, that’s a different story entirely...

Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God.  When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm the truth by their obedience.

I have spread the word of caution for you who are sure that you have it all together yourselves and, because you know God’s revealed Word inside and out, feel qualified to guide others through their blind alleys and dark nights and confused emotions to God.  While you are guiding others, who is going to guide you?  I’m quite serious...

You can get almost anything if you front it with eloquent talk about God and his law.  The line from Scripture, “It’s because of you Jews that the outsiders are down on God,” shows it’s an old problem that isn’t going to go away....

Better to keep God’s law uncircumcised than break it circumcised...You become a Jew by who you are.  It’s the mark of God on your heart, not of a knife on your skin, that makes a Jew.  And recognition from God, not legalistic critics.