Numbers 7

All the tribes’ offerings at the dedication of the temple. A long list chapter. The tribes’ offerings are much the same… It’s not the most freewheeling religion. 

At the end there are 12 Silver Bowls full of flour, 12 gold Bowls of incense, 12 goats, 12 lambs etc etc.

Moses enters the holy place and hears God’s voice. God is in the space between the two cherubim atop the ark of the covenant.

It’s a different dynamic than the many times Moses has heard​ God’s voice since the burning bush. Then he was a messenger, he was being personally commissioned to act and soak for God. Now he is representing the people. From God’s chosen man to God’s chosen people, the transition is complete.

Numbers 2

Gives us a picture of how the nation camped. In a big wheel around the tabernacle. The levites were in the middle, around the holy tent, the 11 tribes were in blobs around that, always in the same order.  God’s presence at the centre, like heaven.

Family is all. Within the tribes, you camp in your clan and in your family.

And when they moved on, they left in the same order each time, and set up camp the same as before.

Numbers 1

Ok the first number of numbers is 603550. The number of fighting fit Israelites they had after a year or so if leaving Egypt.

And that’s about it for this chapter.

The focus of the census telegraphs that the promised land is going to require a fight.

Commentator speculated that the whole number of the Israelites including aged, women, children and priests… None of whom are in the fighter list, would be 2 million or so.

They have their freedom from slavery (Exodus) they have their God’s presence (Leviticus). As do I.

Now what, Father?

Can’t have me wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, right? Right?

Leviticus 26

This chapter talks about the consequences of the Israelites’ behaviour.  The blessings that will come if they are obedient, and the progressively worse disasters that will befall them if they are not. Its pretty much the story of the next 10 or so books of the bible.

I like that the blessings are instant, and repentance is always within reach, but the curses come as a series of ever more serious consequences… slow to anger and quick to bless.

I still practically subscribe to this punishment and reward model in quite a literal way.  Its probably superstitious, theological balderdash.

If I feel guilty about something I have done and have a setback, I think its God punishing me.  I don’t think so much good things are a reward though.  I get that more the other way around: I try do the right thing because I have been blessed. And when they happen unfairly, I say “why god why”.  So every outcome is covered by my spiritualising.  Is such a simple cause and effect real?  Is god real?  If the second question’s answer is “yes”, why not the first, eh?

Anyway from this prediction the sadness and glory of the Old Testament flows.  They will have high highs of gods revelation and blessing, and low lows of his suffering for their ignorance of him.

They will take the promised land, make it great, watch it get corrupted, be thrown out of it and return. They are the chosen race – chosen to exemplify god’s character, and to provide the ancestry for god in human form.  As an earthly imprint of the heavenly pattern they were always an imperfect copy, but the messiah did come through the line.

 

Exodus 40

And they all lived happily ever after. Well this old testament book ends on a high, unlike so many that seemed to chart decline and fall before the Messiah.

The tabernacle is done, and it is to the pattern God required, and his cloud of presence descends on it. 

They are in a state of grace, such as we always are who believe these days. 

Exodus 26

The tabernacle, an incredibly fancy tent designed in detail by God. Ditto yesterday really.

I found myself wondering at the Israelites ability wandering in the desert to be able to make the metal bits required, bronze & gold clasps, the embroidery, the large wood poles. 

And the logistics of moving with all those materials to hand, carrying the tent, the workshop equipment. It’s a nightmare.

I wonder how often they moved. Did they pack up and resettle every day? Surely not more than once a week?

They spent 40 years or something wandering like this. There is something powerfully symbolic about the ephemeral nature of it all. 

I wonder if the tabernacle wasn’t closer to god’s ideal for worship than the temple they would everythings make under Solomon at the height of their influence.

Exodus 22

God gives Moses the principles of a civil legal code and a code of social responsibility for caring for young girls who have affairs or of wedlock, widows and orphans.

A lot of this will set the nation apart as a fair and progressive… relatively… place. An example of how a god ordered society will work.

With Christianity more under siege than i can ever remember, it’s ironic that often the standard we are being held to remains this one. God’s. 

We need to respond by distancing ourselves from injustice, and dealing transparently with sin in our own ranks. We are again like the Israelites, strangers carving out our status in a strange world. We again need to be ambassadors for the holiness of God.

Exodus 17

 Victory over attackers – for precisely as long as Moses’ arms are lifted to God. Water from rock.

In genesis, after god did the biggest things: creation, the flood; he interacted on an intimate level, guiding and blessing individuals and families. Nurturing family trees.

In exodus he’s present daily, every moment forming a whole nation. You wince at their disloyalty when they complain of being thirsty, however they have given God 100% of their trust. They’ve wandered into the desert with no reliance on themselves for sustenance or planning. When do we ever do that? 

I remember Larry Norman once talked about how easy it is to say you have faith in God as long as you have enough for a big Mac in your pocket.

Every physical act God does doubles as a powerful metaphor of his character for the ages. Freedom from slavery. Daily bread. 

Today water from rock. One of my favourite phrases for God is “author of life”. The abundance, essential for life, flowing from dry stone at the touch of God. After a week of death, remembering that God’s is life.

Exodus 6

Everyone is doubting God, but God tells Moses he is revealing more to him than the great patriarchs, Abraham, Jacob and all. They had the promise, the covenant. Moses will see the promise fulfilled by this great saving act, and know more of the law of God. 

The people remain negative. They have adopted the local gods and their life has only got worse for Moses’ meddling. Moses remains deeply unsure.

They run though his genealogy. Their Israelite pedigree. They are god’s Pele the right ones for the job.

This chapter is about god’s plans and power being bigger than all out weakness. 

It’s plague time!

Exodus 2

Nothing to see here? Have faith!

Everyone knows the story of Moses’ birth, rescued from the river, bought up by Pharaoh’s daughter. But after that his life seems to go nowhere. 

He doesn’t use his privilege strategically. He feels for his countrymen, but expresses it as an impulsive murder of an Egyptian and has to run away. He marries a foreign girl with seemingly no intention of returning. 

The chapter ends with God, in parallel to Moses’ apparently dead end life, contemplating the suffering and chosenness of his people. 

Nothing is apparently happening, as it is often in life. But much is about to. That is what faith is for.