Friday, March 12, 2010

Protection!

I watched an hour long show on the Scott Peterson, Laci Peterson case last night. I was working on my laptop and thought it would be a rehash of what I already knew.

Come to find out, he was more of a sociopath than I even had remembered. He murdered Laci because she had the audacity to get pregnant. He was planning and preparing that murder for at least a month. Meanwhile, he had picked up a new girlfriend he was having sex with. When the police finally arrested him, he had all the equipment in his car to murder her as well, and they had recorded conversations of him trying to lure her to a remote area by a large lake.

She needed protection from him, and his arrest meant she could live to tell her tale.

But what if the murder was accidental? What if it was not premeditated?

God made policies to cover those contingencies.

Cities of Refuge

9 The Lord said to Moses, 10 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel.

“When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 11 designate cities of refuge to which people can flee if they have killed someone accidentally. 12 These cities will be places of protection from a dead person’s relatives who want to avenge the death. The slayer must not be put to death before being tried by the community. 13 Designate six cities of refuge for yourselves, 14 three on the east side of the Jordan River and three on the west in the land of Canaan. 15 These cities are for the protection of Israelites, foreigners living among you, and traveling merchants. Anyone who accidentally kills someone may flee there for safety.

16 “But if someone strikes and kills another person with a piece of iron, it is murder, and the murderer must be executed. 17 Or if someone with a stone in his hand strikes and kills another person, it is murder, and the murderer must be put to death. 18 Or if someone strikes and kills another person with a wooden object, it is murder, and the murderer must be put to death. 19 The victim’s nearest relative is responsible for putting the murderer to death. When they meet, the avenger must put the murderer to death. 20 So if someone hates another person and pushes him or throws a dangerous object at him and he dies, it is murder. 21 Or if someone hates another person and hits him with a fist and he dies, it is murder. In such cases, the avenger must put the murderer to death when they meet.

22 “But suppose someone pushes another person without having shown previous hostility, or throws something that unintentionally hits another person, 23 or accidentally drops a huge stone on someone, though they were not enemies, and the person dies. 24 If this should happen, the community must follow these regulations in making a judgment between the slayer and the avenger, the victim’s nearest relative: 25 The community must protect the slayer from the avenger and must escort the slayer back to live in the city of refuge to which he fled. There he must remain until the death of the high priest, who was anointed with the sacred oil.

26 “But if the slayer ever leaves the limits of the city of refuge, 27 and the avenger finds him outside the city and kills him, it will not be considered murder. 28 The slayer should have stayed inside the city of refuge until the death of the high priest. But after the death of the high priest, the slayer may return to his own property. 29 These are legal requirements for you to observe from generation to generation, wherever you may live.

30 “All murderers must be put to death, but only if evidence is presented by more than one witness. No one may be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 31 Also, you must never accept a ransom payment for the life of someone judged guilty of murder and subject to execution; murderers must always be put to death. 32 And never accept a ransom payment from someone who has fled to a city of refuge, allowing a slayer to return to his property before the death of the high priest. 33 This will ensure that the land where you live will not be polluted, for murder pollutes the land. And no sacrifice except the execution of the murderer can purify the land from murder.[c] 34 You must not defile the land where you live, for I live there myself. I am the Lord, who lives among the people of Israel.”

God gives protection.

To each of us to live honest lives.

But even to those who do things that accidentally end up with someone being killed...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Boundaries

My pondering today is over the boundaries of the land God promised His people. He promised it to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Then very explicitly to Moses.

Here is the passage:

Boundaries of the Land
Numbers 34:1 "Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give these instructions to the Israelites: When you come into the land of Canaan, which I am giving you as your special possession, these will be the boundaries. 3 The southern portion of your country will extend from the wilderness of Zin, along the edge of Edom. The southern boundary will begin on the east at the Dead Sea.[i] 4 It will then run south past Scorpion Pass[j] in the direction of Zin. Its southernmost point will be Kadesh-barnea, from which it will go to Hazar-addar, and on to Azmon. 5 From Azmon the boundary will turn toward the Brook of Egypt and end at the Mediterranean Sea.[k]

6 “Your western boundary will be the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea.

7 “Your northern boundary will begin at the Mediterranean Sea and run east to Mount Hor, 8 then to Lebo-hamath, and on through Zedad 9 and Ziphron to Hazar-enan. This will be your northern boundary.

10 “The eastern boundary will start at Hazar-enan and run south to Shepham, 11 then down to Riblah on the east side of Ain. From there the boundary will run down along the eastern edge of the Sea of Galilee,[l] 12 and then along the Jordan River to the Dead Sea. These are the boundaries of your land.”

13 Then Moses told the Israelites, “This territory is the homeland you are to divide among yourselves by sacred lot. The Lord has commanded that the land be divided among the nine and a half remaining tribes. 14 The families of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh have already received their grants of land 15 on the east side of the Jordan River, across from Jericho toward the sunrise.”

So here is my puzzlement. During most of history the chosen people have not lived within all of this area. Even today, they only live in a fraction of it. And there are tens of millions of people committed to pushing them off the land into the sea.

Why?

I guess my bigger question is, "What is the relationship between God's promises and our experience in life?"

I guess all of faith lies in the answer to that question, and belief in that relationship!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Margin

Margin.
We don't write to fill every part of a page. We allow margins around each edge.

God never designed us to work all the time.

One day a week was mandated for rest. But there were lots of other times as well that were to be taken off work.

16 “On the fourteenth day of the first month,[h] you must celebrate the Lord’s Passover. 17 On the following day—the fifteenth day of the month—a joyous, seven-day festival will begin, but no bread made with yeast may be eaten. 18 The first day of the festival will be an official day for holy assembly, and no ordinary work may be done on that day.

25 The seventh day of the festival will be another official day for holy assembly, and no ordinary work may be done on that day.

26 “At the Festival of Harvest,[j] when you present the first of your new grain to the Lord, you must call an official day for holy assembly, and you may do no ordinary work on that day.

“Celebrate the Festival of Trumpets each year on the first day of the appointed month in early autumn.[k] You must call an official day for holy assembly, and you may do no ordinary work.

7 “Ten days later, on the tenth day of the same month,[p] you must call another holy assembly. On that day, the Day of Atonement, the people must go without food and must do no ordinary work.

12 “Five days later, on the fifteenth day of the same month,[q] you must call another holy assembly of all the people, and you may do no ordinary work on that day.

God wanted His people to prosper and flourish.

But not at the cost of all else in their lives.

They were to have margin. Time to contemplate. Take away from work. Renew their relationship with God. Celebrate the work of God in history.

You are a hard worker.

Do you have margin?