Friday, February 26, 2010

Bus driver - MOVE THAT BUS!

On the long running show - Extreme house makeover, the climax of the show each time was the statement,

"Bus driver - MOVE THAT BUS!"

Amidst an explosion of excitement, the bus would move, and the homeowner would get the first view of their incredible house.

Back in the day, God had designed and ordered built an incredible "house", a tent, actually, for worship.

Today, it is "Ox Driver - Move that Tent!"

1 "On the day Moses set up the Tabernacle, he anointed it and set it apart as holy. He also anointed and set apart all its furnishings and the altar with its utensils. 2 Then the leaders of Israel—the tribal leaders who had registered the troops—came and brought their offerings. 3 Together they brought six large wagons and twelve oxen. There was a wagon for every two leaders and an ox for each leader. They presented these to the Lord in front of the Tabernacle.


4 Then the Lord said to Moses, 5 “Receive their gifts, and use these oxen and wagons for transporting the Tabernacle.[a] Distribute them among the Levites according to the work they have to do.” 6 So Moses took the wagons and oxen and presented them to the Levites. 7 He gave two wagons and four oxen to the Gershonite division for their work, 8 and he gave four wagons and eight oxen to the Merarite division for their work. All their work was done under the leadership of Ithamar son of Aaron the priest. 9 But he gave none of the wagons or oxen to the Kohathite division, since they were required to carry the sacred objects of the Tabernacle on their shoulders."

I think it was just as exciting to them as extreme home improvement is to us...

Strained relations

We are designed to expect faithfulness in marriage. When there isn't it strains the very core of a marriage.

Following is one of the strangest rituals ever condoned in the Bible...

Numbers 5:11 "And the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel.

“Suppose a man’s wife goes astray, and she is unfaithful to her husband 13 and has sex with another man, but neither her husband nor anyone else knows about it. She has defiled herself, even though there was no witness and she was not caught in the act. 14 If her husband becomes jealous and is suspicious of his wife and needs to know whether or not she has defiled herself, 15 the husband must bring his wife to the priest. He must also bring an offering of two quarts[c] of barley flour to be presented on her behalf. Do not mix it with olive oil or frankincense, for it is a jealousy offering—an offering to prove whether or not she is guilty.

16 “The priest will then present her to stand trial before the Lord. 17 He must take some holy water in a clay jar and pour into it dust he has taken from the Tabernacle floor. 18 When the priest has presented the woman before the Lord, he must unbind her hair and place in her hands the offering of proof—the jealousy offering to determine whether her husband’s suspicions are justified. The priest will stand before her, holding the jar of bitter water that brings a curse to those who are guilty. 19 The priest will then put the woman under oath and say to her, ‘If no other man has had sex with you, and you have not gone astray and defiled yourself while under your husband’s authority, may you be immune from the effects of this bitter water that brings on the curse. 20 But if you have gone astray by being unfaithful to your husband, and have defiled yourself by having sex with another man—’

21 “At this point the priest must put the woman under oath by saying, ‘May the people know that the Lord’s curse is upon you when he makes you infertile, causing your womb to shrivel[d] and your abdomen to swell. 22 Now may this water that brings the curse enter your body and cause your abdomen to swell and your womb to shrivel.[e]’ And the woman will be required to say, ‘Yes, let it be so.’ 23 And the priest will write these curses on a piece of leather and wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He will make the woman drink the bitter water that brings on the curse. When the water enters her body, it will cause bitter suffering if she is guilty.

25 “The priest will take the jealousy offering from the woman’s hand, lift it up before the Lord, and carry it to the altar. 26 He will take a handful of the flour as a token portion and burn it on the altar, and he will require the woman to drink the water. 27 If she has defiled herself by being unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings on the curse will cause bitter suffering. Her abdomen will swell and her womb will shrink,[f] and her name will become a curse among her people. 28 But if she has not defiled herself and is pure, then she will be unharmed and will still be able to have children."

From a counseling perspective, the ritual would have some effects totally apart from drinking the brine.
 
1. Put a fear of adultery into people
2. Give spouses a way to follow their gut instinct (or irrational suspicion) about marital unfaithfulness.
3. Give the priest a moment to see by the responses if this couple is faithful to each other.
 
I have always thought this whole thing was weird.
How many sermons have you ever heard preached on it?
But the bigger picture is clear - we were designed in such a way that faithfulness is expected and deserved inside marriage.

The finest people in the world

Over my lifetime I have known God's people in many continents and from all walks of life. Generally speaking, they are the finest people in the world.

I think this is part of the reason why...


5 Then the Lord said to Moses, 6 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel:

If any of the people—men or women—betray the Lord by doing wrong to another person, they are guilty.
7 They must confess their sin and make full restitution for what they have done, adding an additional 20 percent and returning it to the person who was wronged.
8 But if the person who was wronged is dead, and there are no near relatives to whom restitution can be made, the payment belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest. Those who are guilty must also bring a ram as a sacrifice, and they will be purified and made right with the Lord.[b]
9 All the sacred offerings that the Israelites bring to a priest will belong to him.
10 Each priest may keep all the sacred donations that he receives.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to get things done

I am reading a book on how to get things done. It is all about systems and models. There are proven models to achieve major objectives. There are systems that have been tested, and used and refined over the years. It is not necessary to invent something brand new.

In todays reading God comes up with a model and a system to get things done.

It is very interesting from that perspective. He had chosen one leader - Moses. He had chosen one priest - Aaron.

Moses had learned to set up government - leaders of 10s, leaders of 100s, leaders of 1000s. Now civic and legal needs were being taken care of.

God had set up the system of worship, with the tabernacle, and sacrifices and priests. Today He introduces all the workers to maintain and perpetuate all of that.

Numbers 3:1 This is the family line of Aaron and Moses as it was recorded when the Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai: 2 The names of Aaron’s sons were Nadab (the oldest), Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 3 These sons of Aaron were anointed and ordained to minister as priests. 4 But Nadab and Abihu died in the Lord’s presence in the wilderness of Sinai when they burned before the Lord the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. Since they had no sons, this left only Eleazar and Ithamar to serve as priests with their father, Aaron.

5 Then the Lord said to Moses, 6 “Call forward the tribe of Levi, and present them to Aaron the priest to serve as his assistants. 7 They will serve Aaron and the whole community, performing their sacred duties in and around the Tabernacle.[a] 8 They will also maintain all the furnishings of the sacred tent,[b] serving in the Tabernacle on behalf of all the Israelites. 9 Assign the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They have been given from among all the people of Israel to serve as their assistants. 10 Appoint Aaron and his sons to carry out the duties of the priesthood. But any unauthorized person who goes too near the sanctuary must be put to death.”

11 And the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Look, I have chosen the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me, 13 for all the firstborn males are mine. On the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, I set apart for myself all the firstborn in Israel, both of people and of animals. They are mine; I am the Lord.”

14 The Lord spoke again to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai. He said, 15 “Record the names of the members of the tribe of Levi by their families and clans. List every male who is one month old or older.” 16 So Moses listed them, just as the Lord had commanded."

Levites. The men and their families dedicated to:

Git er done!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

God's Crazy Math

God created numbers.

Numbers don't lie.

Right?

Read this with me...

18 “If you want to live securely in the land, follow my decrees and obey my regulations. 19 Then the land will yield large crops, and you will eat your fill and live securely in it. 20 But you might ask, ‘What will we eat during the seventh year, since we are not allowed to plant or harvest crops that year?’ 21 Be assured that I will send my blessing for you in the sixth year, so the land will produce a crop large enough for three years. 22 When you plant your fields in the eighth year, you will still be eating from the large crop of the sixth year. In fact, you will still be eating from that large crop when the new crop is harvested in the ninth year."

God always asks us to treat our finances as an act of faith, an act of priority, an act of obedience and an act of love.

So we give the first 10% of our income back to Him. But what if we run out of money before we pay all our bills? Faith and priority.

This idea of the seventh year makes no sense on the surface. But God said He would take care of them, provide for them. And they were to obey in faith, putting His commands as a priority, and showing their love and trust for Him.

Numbers

I live in Seattle, dominated by Boeing and Microsoft.

Boeing engineers are traditionally linear, sequential, rational thinkers. Microsoft engineers are typically smart, logical, creative problem solvers.

Both live in the world of the rational. The logical. The world of numbers.

Today we start the book of Numbers in the Bible. Here you go...

17 "So Moses and Aaron called together these chosen leaders, 18 and they assembled the whole community of Israel on that very day.[c] All the people were registered according to their ancestry by their clans and families. The men of Israel who were twenty years old or older were listed one by one, 19 just as the Lord had commanded Moses. So Moses recorded their names in the wilderness of Sinai.

20 -21 This is the number of men twenty years old or older who were able to go to war, as their names were listed in the records of their clans and families[d]:

Tribe — Number

Reuben (Jacob’s[e] oldest son) — 46,500

22 -23 Simeon — 59,300

24 -25 Gad — 45,650

26 -27 Judah — 74,600

28 -29 Issachar — 54,400

30 -31 Zebulun — 57,400

32 -33 Ephraim son of Joseph — 40,500

34 -35 Manasseh son of Joseph — 32,200

36 -37 Benjamin — 35,400

38 -39 Dan — 62,700

40 -41 Asher — 41,500

42 -43 Naphtali — 53,400

44 These were the men registered by Moses and Aaron and the twelve leaders of Israel, all listed according to their ancestral descent. 45 They were registered by families—all the men of Israel who were twenty years old or older and able to go to war. 46 The total number was 603,550."

I can't think of anything more boring than numbers. Numbers of men that can go to war.

But I AM writing this on a computer...

And the NUMBER of dollars that Boeing and Microsoft accumulate is rather impressive...

Ahhhhh - Numbers!

I Don't Like THAT!

This is a terrifying passage!

Shat does it look like if God is against you? Read on...

14 “However, if you do not listen to me or obey all these commands, 15 and if you break my covenant by rejecting my decrees, treating my regulations with contempt, and refusing to obey my commands, 16 I will punish you. I will bring sudden terrors upon you—wasting diseases and burning fevers that will cause your eyes to fail and your life to ebb away. You will plant your crops in vain because your enemies will eat them. 17 I will turn against you, and you will be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you will rule over you, and you will run even when no one is chasing you!

18 “And if, in spite of all this, you still disobey me, I will punish you seven times over for your sins. 19 I will break your proud spirit by making the skies as unyielding as iron and the earth as hard as bronze. 20 All your work will be for nothing, for your land will yield no crops, and your trees will bear no fruit.

21 “If even then you remain hostile toward me and refuse to obey me, I will inflict disaster on you seven times over for your sins. 22 I will send wild animals that will rob you of your children and destroy your livestock. Your numbers will dwindle, and your roads will be deserted.

23 “And if you fail to learn the lesson and continue your hostility toward me, 24 then I myself will be hostile toward you. I will personally strike you with calamity seven times over for your sins. 25 I will send armies against you to carry out the curse of the covenant you have broken. When you run to your towns for safety, I will send a plague to destroy you there, and you will be handed over to your enemies. 26 I will destroy your food supply, so that ten women will need only one oven to bake bread for their families. They will ration your food by weight, and though you have food to eat, you will not be satisfied.

27 “If in spite of all this you still refuse to listen and still remain hostile toward me, 28 then I will give full vent to my hostility. I myself will punish you seven times over for your sins. 29 Then you will eat the flesh of your own sons and daughters. 30 I will destroy your pagan shrines and knock down your places of worship. I will leave your lifeless corpses piled on top of your lifeless idols,[a] and I will despise you. 31 I will make your cities desolate and destroy your places of pagan worship. I will take no pleasure in your offerings that should be a pleasing aroma to me. 32 Yes, I myself will devastate your land, and your enemies who come to occupy it will be appalled at what they see. 33 I will scatter you among the nations and bring out my sword against you. Your land will become desolate, and your cities will lie in ruins. 34 Then at last the land will enjoy its neglected Sabbath years as it lies desolate while you are in exile in the land of your enemies. Then the land will finally rest and enjoy the Sabbaths it missed. 35 As long as the land lies in ruins, it will enjoy the rest you never allowed it to take every seventh year while you lived in it.

36 “And for those of you who survive, I will demoralize you in the land of your enemies. You will live in such fear that the sound of a leaf driven by the wind will send you fleeing. You will run as though fleeing from a sword, and you will fall even when no one pursues you. 37 Though no one is chasing you, you will stumble over each other as though fleeing from a sword. You will have no power to stand up against your enemies. 38 You will die among the foreign nations and be devoured in the land of your enemies. 39 Those of you who survive will waste away in your enemies’ lands because of their sins and the sins of their ancestors.

40 “But at last my people will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors for betraying me and being hostile toward me. 41 When I have turned their hostility back on them and brought them to the land of their enemies, then at last their stubborn hearts will be humbled, and they will pay for their sins. 42 Then I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land must be abandoned to enjoy its years of Sabbath rest as it lies deserted. At last the people will pay for their sins, for they have continually rejected my regulations and despised my decrees.

44 “But despite all this, I will not utterly reject or despise them while they are in exile in the land of their enemies. I will not cancel my covenant with them by wiping them out, for I am the Lord their God. 45 For their sakes I will remember my ancient covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of all the nations, that I might be their God. I am the Lord.”

46 These are the decrees, regulations, and instructions that the Lord gave through Moses on Mount Sinai as evidence of the relationship between himself and the Israelites."

The interesting thing is that this was prophecy. All of this happened to the nation of Israel.

It is also precept. Do you want to be on God's side, or do you want to live your life against God?

I choose the former...

I like that!

God makes some very strong promises in this passage.

I like them!

Leviticus 26:1 “Do not make idols or set up carved images, or sacred pillars, or sculptured stones in your land so you may worship them. I am the Lord your God. 2 You must keep my Sabbath days of rest and show reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.

3 “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, 4 I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. 5 Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land.

6 “I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land. 7 In fact, you will chase down your enemies and slaughter them with your swords. 8 Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand! All your enemies will fall beneath your sword.

9 “I will look favorably upon you, making you fertile and multiplying your people. And I will fulfill my covenant with you. 10 You will have such a surplus of crops that you will need to clear out the old grain to make room for the new harvest! 11 I will live among you, and I will not despise you. 12 I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high."

Of all the blessings mentioned, the greatest is this:

"I will live among you, and I will not despise you. I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. I am the Lord your God"

God Almighty in relationship of love with us...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sinking Prices

We are in the biggest and longest depression any of us have ever experienced. Very few are alive who experienced the so called great depression of the 1930s.

In our area prices of real estate have dropped 22% in the last three years, wiping out the equity of anyone who did not buy more than 4 years ago. Many real estate investors, builders and land developers have been completely wiped out.

In the time of Leviticus it was different.

Prices dropped 2% a year every year, year after year. When the value got to zero, you had to give the property back to the original owner. Talk about deflation!

8 “In addition, you must count off seven Sabbath years, seven sets of seven years, adding up to forty-nine years in all. 9 Then on the Day of Atonement in the fiftieth year,[d] blow the ram’s horn loud and long throughout the land. 10 Set this year apart as holy, a time to proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live there. It will be a jubilee year for you, when each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors and return to your own clan. 11 This fiftieth year will be a jubilee for you. During that year you must not plant your fields or store away any of the crops that grow on their own, and don’t gather the grapes from your unpruned vines. 12 It will be a jubilee year for you, and you must keep it holy. But you may eat whatever the land produces on its own. 13 In the Year of Jubilee each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors.


14 “When you make an agreement with your neighbor to buy or sell property, you must not take advantage of each other. 15 When you buy land from your neighbor, the price you pay must be based on the number of years since the last jubilee. The seller must set the price by taking into account the number of years remaining until the next Year of Jubilee. 16 The more years until the next jubilee, the higher the price; the fewer years, the lower the price. After all, the person selling the land is actually selling you a certain number of harvests. 17 Show your fear of God by not taking advantage of each other. I am the Lord your God."

I'm guessing there were a limited number of real estate investors in Bible times!

The 37 Commandments

The 37 Commandments

What? You thought there were only 10? Read Leviticus chapter 19!

Leviticus 19:1 "The Lord also said to Moses, 2 “Give the following instructions to the entire community of Israel.

"You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.

3 “Each of you must show great respect for your mother and father, and you must always observe my Sabbath days of rest. I am the Lord your God.

4 “Do not put your trust in idols or make metal images of gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.

5 “When you sacrifice a peace offering to the Lord, offer it properly so you[a] will be accepted by God. 6 The sacrifice must be eaten on the same day you offer it or on the next day. Whatever is left over until the third day must be completely burned up. 7 If any of the sacrifice is eaten on the third day, it will be contaminated, and I will not accept it. 8 Anyone who eats it on the third day will be punished for defiling what is holy to the Lord and will be cut off from the community.

9 “When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. 10 It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.

11 “Do not steal.

“Do not deceive or cheat one another.

12 “Do not bring shame on the name of your God by using it to swear falsely. I am the Lord.

13 “Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.

“Do not make your hired workers wait until the next day to receive their pay.

14 “Do not insult the deaf or cause the blind to stumble. You must fear your God; I am the Lord.

15 “Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly.

16 “Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people.[b]

“Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the Lord.

17 “Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives.[c] Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sin.

18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

19 “You must obey all my decrees.

“Do not mate two different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two different kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven from two different kinds of thread.

20 “If a man has sex with a slave girl whose freedom has never been purchased but who is committed to become another man’s wife, he must pay full compensation to her master. But since she is not a free woman, neither the man nor the woman will be put to death. 21 The man, however, must bring a ram as a guilt offering and present it to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[d] 22 The priest will then purify him[e] before the Lord with the ram of the guilt offering, and the man’s sin will be forgiven.

23 “When you enter the land and plant fruit trees, leave the fruit unharvested for the first three years and consider it forbidden.[f] Do not eat it. 24 In the fourth year the entire crop must be consecrated to the Lord as a celebration of praise. 25 Finally, in the fifth year you may eat the fruit. If you follow this pattern, your harvest will increase. I am the Lord your God.

26 “Do not eat meat that has not been drained of its blood.

“Do not practice fortune-telling or witchcraft.

27 “Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards.

28 “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.

29 “Do not defile your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will be filled with prostitution and wickedness.

30 “Keep my Sabbath days of rest, and show reverence toward my sanctuary. I am the Lord.

31 “Do not defile yourselves by turning to mediums or to those who consult the spirits of the dead. I am the Lord your God.

32 “Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the Lord.

33 “Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. 34 Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

35 “Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight, or volume. 36 Your scales and weights must be accurate. Your containers for measuring dry materials or liquids must be accurate.[g] I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.

37 “You must be careful to keep all of my decrees and regulations by putting them into practice. I am the Lord.”

37 Commandments!