February 28, 2015

Numbers 30-31 Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the People of Israel: “This is what God commands: When a man makes a vow to God or binds himself by an oath to do something, he must not break his word; he must do exactly what he has said.

When a woman makes a vow to God and binds herself by a pledge as a young girl still living in her father’s house, and her father hears of her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then she has to make good on all her vows and pledges. But if her father holds her back when he hears of what she has done, none of her vows and pledges are valid. God will release her since her father held her back.  If she marries after she makes a vow or has made some rash promise or pledge, and her husband hears of it but says nothing to her, then she has to make good on whatever she vowed or pledged. But if her husband intervenes when he hears of it, he cancels the vow or rash promise that binds her. And God will release her.

Any vow or pledge taken by a widow or divorced woman is binding on her.

When a woman who is living with her husband makes a vow or takes a pledge under oath and her husband hears about it but says nothing and doesn’t say she can’t do it, then all her vows and pledges are valid. But if her husband cancels them when he hears about them, then none of the vows and pledges that she made are binding. Her husband has canceled them and God will release her. Any vow and pledge that she makes that may be to her detriment can be either affirmed or annulled by her husband. But if her husband is silent and doesn’t speak up day after day, he confirms her vows and pledges—she has to make good on them. By saying nothing to her when he hears of them, he binds her to them. If, however, he cancels them sometime after he hears of them, he takes her guilt on himself.”

These are the rules that God gave Moses regarding conduct between a man and his wife and between a father and his young daughter who is still living at home.

God spoke to Moses: “Avenge the People of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you will go to be with your dead ancestors.”
 
Moses addressed the people: “Recruit men for a campaign against Midian, to exact God’s vengeance on Midian, a thousand from each tribe of Israel to go to war.”...They attacked Midian, just as God had commanded Moses, and killed every last man....They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword. 

The People of Israel took the Midianite women and children captive and took all their animals and herds and goods as plunder. They burned to the ground all the towns in which Midianites lived and also their tent camps.... They took it all—captives and booty and plunder—back to Moses and Eleazar the priest and the company of Israel where they were camped on the Plains of Moab, at Jordan-Jericho.

Moses, Eleazar, and all the leaders of the congregation went to meet the returning army outside the camp. Moses was furious with the army officers... “What’s this! You’ve let these women live! They’re the ones who, under Balaam’s direction, seduced the People of Israel away from God in that mess at Peor, causing the plague that hit God’s people. Finish your job: kill all the boys. Kill every woman who has slept with a man. The younger women who are virgins you can keep alive for yourselves...

Now here’s what you are to do: Pitch tents outside the camp. All who have killed anyone or touched a corpse must stay outside the camp for seven days. Purify yourselves and your captives on the third and seventh days. Purify every piece of clothing and every utensil—everything made of leather, goat hair, or wood.”

God said to Moses, “I want you and Eleazar the priest and the family leaders in the community to count the captives, people and animals. Split the plunder between the soldiers who fought the battle and the rest of the congregation.

Then tax the booty that goes to the soldiers at the rate of one life out of five hundred,...It’s a God-tax taken from their half-share to be turned over to Eleazar the priest on behalf of God. Tax the congregation’s half-share at the rate of one life out of fifty,...Give this to the Levites who are in charge of the care of God’s Dwelling.”...

The military officers—commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—came to Moses and said, “We have counted the soldiers under our command and not a man is missing. We’ve brought offerings to God from the gold jewelry we got...to make atonement for our lives before God.”  Moses and Eleazar the priest received the gold from them, all that fine-crafted jewelry. In total, the gold from the commanders of thousands and hundreds that Moses and Eleazar offered as a gift to God weighed about six hundred pounds, all donated by the soldiers who had taken the booty... 

Romans 8:1-8:17 -  The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death... In his Son, Jesus, God personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all....

Instead of doubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.  Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life.  Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them--living and breathing God!  Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end;  attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious free life...Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God.  That person ignores who God is and what he is doing.  And God isn’t pleased with being ignored.  

But if God himself has take up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him...But you who welcome him, in whom he dwells--even though you still experience all the limitations of sin--you yourself experience life on God’s terms....With God’s spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!  

So don’t your see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent.  There is nothing in it for us, nothing at all....God’s Spirit beckons.  There are things to do and places to go!  The resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life.  It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?”  God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are:  Father and children.  

And we know we are going to get what is coming to us--an unbelievable inheritance!  If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him.