Saturday, December 23, 2006

Another note about Numbers

This makes post number four in a row out of the book of Numbers. It's not been my favorite book in the past, but it's moving up the rank. There two intriguing stories I read this past week as I try to catch up.

First was the story of Moses being admonished by God: the punishment - barred from entering the Promised Land; the crime - claiming responsibility for the miracle of Water from the Rock. It seems like the punishment does not fit the crime. Yet there are several good things that happen through Moses' death. First, the guy is 120 years old at this point - he's tired and ready for the Next Life; second - he's tired of leading these stubbornd and stiffnecked people (remember how many times they complained, wanting to go back to Egypt/exile/slavery?); thirdly - new leadership is needed to take the next generation into the Promised Land. The punishment also included grace for Moses.

The Second story I found fascinating was the one about Balaam and his Talking Ass. The level of detail about the story is intriguing and rare. It would seem that when a story gets this kind of attention, it must be important. God seems to be quite familiar with Balaam (a nonIsraelite), and vice versa. Balaam's assignment to curse a blessed people is turned on its head; Israel will end up blessed regardless of what accursed action enemies take against her. God invoked the original blessing, no human action can undo it.

Two lessons:

God's punishment to us is always layered - meaning that it is corrective, it is just, it is merciful, it is given with a bigger picture in mind. In one sense it is punishment, but that's using a negative word. Using a positive word, it is discipline designed to further us along God's designated path of blessing.

God brings people into our life, enemies and friends and strangers, who are mysteriously and sometimes anonymously used to be an agent of blessing for us. Sometimes things just seem to go the way they are supposed to, good things happen to us and we're not sure why. Know that God is ALWAYS at work to bring about his good purposes in your life, whether you see him or feel him or understand him.

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