March 1, 2015

Numbers 32-34 - The families of Reuben and Gad had huge herds of livestock. They saw that the country of Jazer and Gilead was just the place for grazing livestock. And so they came... and spoke to Moses and Eleazar the priest and the leaders of the congregation, saying,.. the country that God laid low before the community of Israel—is a country just right for livestock, and we have livestock.  They continued, “If you think we’ve done a good job so far, give us this country for our inheritance. Don’t make us go across the Jordan.”

Moses answered the families of Gad and Reuben: “Do you mean that you are going to leave the fighting that’s ahead to your brothers while you settle down here? Why would you even think of letting the People of Israel down, demoralizing them just as they’re about to move into the land God gave them? That’s exactly what your ancestors did when I sent them from Kadesh Barnea to survey the country... God’s anger smoked against Israel. He made them wander in the wilderness for forty years, until that entire generation that acted out evil in his sight had died out.

And now here you are, just one more mob of sinners stepping up to replace your ancestors, throwing fuel on the already blazing anger of God against Israel. If you won’t follow him, he’ll do it again. He’ll dump them in the desert and the disaster will be all your fault.

They came close to him and said, “All we want to do is build corrals for our livestock and towns for our families. Then we’ll take up arms and take the front lines, leading the People of Israel to their place. We’ll be able to leave our families behind, secure in fortified towns, safe from those who live in the land. But we won’t go back home until every Israelite is in full possession of his inheritance. We won’t expect any inheritance west of the Jordan; we are claiming all our inheritance east of the Jordan.”

Moses said, “If you do what you say, take up arms before God for battle and together go across the Jordan ready, before God, to fight until God has cleaned his enemies out of the land, then when the land is secure you will have fulfilled your duty to God and Israel. Then this land will be yours to keep before God....Moses gave the families of Gad, Reuben, and the half-tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph the kingdom of Sihon, king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og, king of Bashan—the land, its towns, and all the territories connected with them—the works...

These are the camping sites in the journey of the People of Israel after they left Egypt, deployed militarily under the command of Moses and Aaron. Under God’s instruction Moses kept a log of every time they moved, camp by camp:

They marched out of Rameses the day after the Passover. It was the fifteenth day of the first month. They marched out heads high and confident. The Egyptians, busy burying their firstborn whom God had killed, watched them go. God had exposed the nonsense of their gods
The People of Israel: left Rameses and camped at Succoth; then ...camped at Etham at the edge of the wilderness; they circled back to Pi Hahiroth...then left and crossed through the Sea into the wilderness; three days into the Wilderness of Etham they camped at Marah; they came to Elim where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees; they left Elim and camped by the Red Sea; camped in the Wilderness of Sin;... then camped at Dophkah before moving  to Alush;
and then camped at Rephidim where there was no water for the people to drink;  Following Rephjdim they camped at: the Wilderness of Sinai;... Kibroth Hattaavah;... Hazeroth;... Rithmah;... Rimmon Perez;...Libnah;...Rissah;...Kehelathah;...Mount Shepher;... Haradah;... Makheloth;... Tahath;...Terah;...Mithcah;...Hashmonah;...Moseroth;...Bene Jaakan;...Hor Haggidgad;...Jotbathah; ...Abronah; ...Ezion Geber;...Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin.

After they left Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor at the border of Edom, Aaron the priest climbed Mount Hor at God’s command and died there. It was the first day of the fifth month in the fortieth year after the People of Israel had left Egypt. Aaron was 123 years old when he died on Mount Hor...
They left Mount Hor and camped at Zalmonah;..Punon;..Oboth;...Iye Abarim on the border of Moab;...Dibon Gad;...Almon Diblathaim; the mountains of Abarim (Across-the-River), within sight of Nebo...on the Plains of Moab at Jordan-Jericho... their camp stretched along the banks of the Jordan from Beth Jeshimoth to Abel Shittim (Acacia Meadow).

God spoke to Moses on the Plains of Moab at Jordan-Jericho: “Tell the People of Israel, When you cross the Jordan into the country of Canaan, drive out the native population before you, destroy their carved idols, destroy their cast images, level their worship-mounds so that you take over the land and make yourself at home in it; I’ve given it to you. It’s yours...
But if you don’t drive out the native population, everyone you let stay there will become a cinder in your eye and a splinter in your foot. They’ll give you endless trouble right in your own backyards. And I’ll start treating you the way I planned to treat them.

God spoke to Moses: “Command the People of Israel. Tell them, When you enter Canaan, these are the borders of the land you are getting as an inheritance: 
Your southern border will take in some of the Wilderness of Zin where it touches Edom. It starts in the east at the Dead Sea, curves south of Scorpion Pass and on to Zin, continues south of Kadesh Barnea, then to Hazar Addar and on to Azmon, where it takes a turn to the northwest to the Brook of Egypt and on to the Mediterranean Sea.

Your western border will be the Mediterranean Sea.

Your northern border runs on a line from the Mediterranean Sea to Mount Hor, and from Mount Hor to Lebo Hamath, connects to Zedad, continues to Ziphron, and ends at Hazar Enan. 

Your eastern border runs on a line from Hazar Enan to Shepham. The border goes south from Shepham to Riblah to the east of Ain, and continues along the slopes east of the Sea of Galilee. The border then follows the Jordan River and ends at the Dead Sea.

This is your land with its four borders....

God spoke to Moses: “These are the men who will be in charge of distributing the inheritance of the land: Eleazar the priest and Joshua son of Nun. Assign one leader from each tribe to help them in distributing the land. Assign these:
Caleb...from the tribe of Judah; Shemuel...from the tribe of Simeon;  Elidad...from the tribe of Benjamin; Bukki... from the tribe of Dan; Hanniel...from the tribe of Manasseh son of Joseph; Kemueli... from the tribe of Ephraim son of Joseph;
Elizaphan...from the tribe of Zebulun; ...Paltiel from the tribe of Issachar; Ahihud...from the tribe of Asher; Pedahel...from the tribe of Naphtali.”

These are the men God commanded to hand out the assignments of land-inheritance to the People of Israel in the country of Canaan.

Romans 8:18 - 8:39 - Everything in creation is being held back.  God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious time ahead.  

Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens...The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pains.  But it’s not only around us;  it’s within us.  The Spirit of God is arousing  within us....

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting , God’s spirit is right alongside helping us along.  If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter.  He does our praying in and for us, making prayers out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.  He knows us far better than we know ourselves...and keeps us present before God.  That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good....

After God made the decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name.  After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself.  And then, after getting them established, he stayed  with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.  So what do you think?  

With God on our side like this, how can we lose?  If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?  And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen?... The One who died for us---who was raised to life for us!--is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us.  

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us?  There is no way!  Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins in Scripture...None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.  

I am absolutely convinced that nothing --- nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable---  absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.