Numbers 31,32,33; Luke 1:39-56

The warriors, 1,00o from each tribe of Israel, took the territory of five kings. They were obedient to God and inherited the land He promised. They gave God a portion of all plunder. Even the military leaders gave beyond that, gave gold jewelry acquired, boasting testimony of the Lord, not a life lost of the 12,000 .

Obedience. On paper, a few paragraphs. But then: war. These men fought and killed–so there was adrenaline, testosterone, sweat and fury. We see obedience to God = receiving His promise. But they worked the equation weapon to weapon. Obedience in action is active, not passive.

Moses reminds the people where disobedience got them: a forty-year journey in the wilderness.

 6 “Do you intend to stay here while your brothers go across and do all the fighting?” Moses asked the men of Gad and Reuben. 7 “Why do you want to discourage the rest of the people of Israel from going across to the land the LORD has given them? 8 Your ancestors did the same thing when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land. 9 After they went up to the valley of Eshcol and explored the land, they discouraged the people of Israel from entering the land the LORD was giving them. 10 Then the LORD was very angry with them, and he vowed, 11 ‘Of all those I rescued from Egypt, no one who is twenty years old or older will ever see the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for they have not obeyed me wholeheartedly. 12 The only exceptions are Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they have wholeheartedly followed the LORD.’ Numbers 32:6-12 (NLT).

I read the stops they’d made after leaving Egypt. And I considered the stops in my life that made a journey longer because of disobedience, or passivity. God is patient. He holds time. He knows, too, when my heart is in it.

Another book, another chapter, Elizabeth says to Mary, “You are blessed because you you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” Luke 1:45 (NLT).

Mary replies, soul praising and spirit rejoicing.

Father, praying today that I would be obedient to your command, wholeheartedly, to love–even and especially in the trenches of trial. I hope that my life is always one of soul praising and spirit rejoicing at how faithful and good You are.

Courtney (66books365)

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3 Comments

Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Luke, New Testament, Numbers, Old Testament

3 responses to “Numbers 31,32,33; Luke 1:39-56

  1. I get the obedience part, but I know that the command to love one another must have more meaning than dredging up an emotional response that just isn’t resident. I also don’t think that to love one another means to take years of ‘faking it ’til you make it’ happen. Perhaps this immediate, action vs passive emotion has a different connotation than my limited language of love allows. Though I intellectually know the differences of brotherly, Godly, and romantic love, I constantly confuse which type to use and when, especially if I don’t feel like being loving. How is it possible to love another? To love the stranger or to sacrifice for someone I have no particular feeling of concern keeps me up in my head (with plenty of sirens going off!), so to obey this command I need a stability aside from my emotions. Can I detach from myself and become the need or the insult or the injury of the one to be loved? Love might just be possible when there are no conflicting emotions, no defenses, and no pride, only actions based on empathy.

  2. kathy (klueh)

    Just thinking about the issue of obedience… when the Israelites were swinging their swords in battle, there wasn’t any guarantee of success. When Mary saw her son crucified, did she question the value of obedience, particularly her son’s obedience? Your prayer is mine. How privileged we sit and read the ending of these stories, while the people in them lived out obedience no matter what the outcome they could or could not see. Great post!

  3. Good thoughts, Janet, and I should probably have another cup of coffee before I even try to go there. I’m not a fan of faking it either. I wasn’t thinking so much about the stranger, but the people in my life where love is work.

    This is some background on how I processed that post: I had a friend who used to say that a lie we believe is that people will like us. While I felt it was true that certainly there’d be those who wouldn’t always like [me, you], doesn’t Jesus call us to something more than that? Because if someone didn’t like me, then I had a free pass not to like others based on my own judgments. In that, I found it hard for room for compassion, love, sincerity. And then I wondered, if God so loved the world, but we don’t have to like each other, then perhaps when I got to heaven, would this still play out? People who didn’t like here wouldn’t like there? Is there a chance that Jesus could love me but not like me? I think of people who I’m called to love, but hadn’t particularly liked. These are my trenches. But when I strip away the actions from the person, I know at the heart is a sincere desire for reconciliation, a new insight into hurt and brokenness, a growing empathy and craving that God’s love could flow through me. When I think of activity/passivity, it becomes one of active love (praying for another, serving another, speaking better words of them and to them, than not) verses passivity (which I thought of as doing nothing to move towards love, or a lack of empathy).

    I struggle with what the world says (every man for himself) and my own heart’s desire for retribution, against what the Bible says. If we are to forgive as we are forgiven, how come it doesn’t look anything like that in this world? Even among brothers and sisters in Christ … So as I wrote this post, it was clear to see God’s command to the Israelites–they were told to take the land (not knowing that not a life of theirs would be lost). Other places in the Bible the Lord has said he would give them victory. But I enter into battles not knowing if I will be victorious, or even what victory should look like. I don’t have the picture of the game plan. But I have a scripture that I feel is a command: to love. When my emotions are affected by the silliest things (sleep, perception, caffeine), I try to be faithful in action of what a situation requires. When my heart is in it isn’t always a measure of love feelings for the person, but my love for God and a desire to be obedient. These are thoughts that I apply to my immediate surroundings. But at large, it’s hard to know when insult and injury may occur out of an act of kindness.

    It feels a bit awkward to tackle a concept of obedience in about 300 words the morning of … and I always hope that what I put out doesn’t sound like fluffy, easy wordspeak. So grateful for these moments when we can go a bit deeper in comments.

    Kathy, yes. I wonder what Mary thought. I would naturally want to associate obedience with a good outcome, and to see her child tortured must have felt unbearable. The outcome was good, though the getting there rough and painful. I think sometimes that’s kind of the experience we can face (rough and painful) as we try to be obedient. I hold onto the thought that God brings good from the bad.

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