February 27, 2015

Numbers 27-29 - The daughters of Zelophehad showed up. Their father was the son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Makir son of Manasseh, belonging to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.  They came to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. They stood before Moses and Eleazar the priest and before the leaders and the congregation and said, “Our father died in the wilderness. He wasn’t part of Korah’s rebel anti-God gang. He died for his own sins. And he left no sons. But why should our father’s name die out from his clan just because he had no sons? So give us an inheritance among our father’s relatives.” Moses brought their case to God.

God ruled: “Zelophehad’s daughters are right. Give them land as an inheritance among their father’s relatives. Give them their father’s inheritance.

God said to Moses, “Climb up into the Abarim Mountains and look over at the land that I am giving to the People of Israel. When you’ve had a good look you’ll be joined to your ancestors in the grave—yes, you also along with Aaron your brother. .. Moses responded to God: “Let God, the God of the spirits of everyone living, set a man over this community to lead them, to show the way ahead and bring them back home so God’s community will not be like sheep without a shepherd.” God said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun—the Spirit is in him!—and place your hand on him...  He will command the People of Israel, the entire community, in all their comings and goings.” Moses followed God’s orders.

God spoke to Moses: “Command the People of Israel. Tell them, You’re in charge of presenting my food, my Fire-Gifts of pleasing fragrance, at the set times... On the Sabbath, sacrifice two healthy yearling lambs, together with the Drink-Offering and the Grain-Offering of four quarts of fine flour mixed with oil...On the first of the month offer a Whole-Burnt-Offering to God: two young bulls, one ram, and seven male yearling lambs—all healthy.  A Grain-Offering of six quarts of fine flour mixed with oil goes with each bull, four quarts of fine flour mixed with oil with the ram, and two quarts of fine flour mixed with oil with each lamb...

For seven days, eat only unraised bread: Begin the first day in holy worship; don’t do any regular work that day...Conclude the seventh day in holy worship; don’t do any regular work on that day.

On the Day of Firstfruits when you bring an offering of new grain to God on your Feast-of-Weeks, gather in holy worship and don’t do any regular work... 

On the first day of the seventh month, gather in holy worship and do no regular work. This is your Day-of-Trumpet-Blasts... On the tenth day of this seventh month, gather in holy worship, humble yourselves, and do no work....Gather in holy worship on the fifteenth day of the seventh month; do no regular work. Celebrate a Festival to God for seven days...On the second day:.. On the third day:.. On the fourth day:.. On the fifth day:.. On the sixth day:.. On the seventh day:.. On the eighth day: Gather in holy worship; do no regular work... Sacrifice these to God as a congregation at your set feasts: your Whole-Burnt-Offerings, Grain-Offerings, Drink-Offerings, and Peace-Offerings. These are all over and above your personal Vow-Offerings and Freewill-Offerings.  Moses instructed the People of Israel in all that God commanded him.

Romans 7 - When Christ died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to “marry” a resurrection life and bear “offspring” of faith for God.  

The law code had a perfectly legitimate function.  Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behavior would be mostly guesswork...The law code started out as an excellent piece of work.  

What happened, though, was that sin found a way to  pervert the command into a temptation, making a piece of “forbidden fruit” out of it...the very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong.  So sin was plenty alive, and I was stone dead.  But the law code itself is God’s good and common sense, each command sane and holy counsel.  

Is good just as dangerous as evil?  No again!  Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing: using the good as a cover to tempt me to do what would finally destroy me.  By hiding within God’s good commandment, sin did far more mischief than it could ever have accomplished on its own...I am full of myself--after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison.  

What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.  So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.  But I need something more.  For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!  I realize that I don’t have what it takes.  I can will it, but I can’t do it.  I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it:  I decide not to be bad, but then I do it anyway.  

My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions.  Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time...The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up...parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps.  I’m at the end of my rope.  Is there no one who can do anything for me?  Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.  He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.