Tassels and fishing nets….

24 03 2011

DAY EIGHTY-TWO : Number 15 v. 1 – 16 v. 35; Luke 4 v. 38 – 5 v. 16; Psalm 37 v. 1 – 9

Tassels – to remind God’s people of God’s commands

NUMBERS
The next few chapters concentrate on laws for God’s people once they are in the promised land, and the failures of the leaders, which prevent them, also, from venturing into the promised land themselves.
Offerings – there’s a grain offering and a drink offering to be added when a burnt offering, sacrifice or fellowship offering is brought; the ‘rules’ will apply to native-born Israelites, and to ‘aliens / strangers’
“You and the stranger (alien) shall be the same before the Lord.”
Also, when they reached the promised land, they were expected to offer a thanksgiving grain offering (a cake from the first of your ground meal), before eating.

If, inadvertently, anyone fails to keep a commandment, there is a route to atonement with the whole community offering a burnt offering, with its accompanying grain and drink offering, and a sin offering. The whole community is implicated for not warning, or not observing the sin unwittingly committed.
If it’s only the individual who has sinned unintentionally, then they alone offer the sin offering.
Intentional sin has serious consequences, including being cut off from the community, and no atonement, no way back is presented or offered here.

Sabbath-breaker – Mmm, a man caught gathering wood on the Sabbath. God’s verdict : stone him to death. Harsh! Can only think that  this would stand as an example of intentional sin and that the community needed to know how absolutely important it was to keep a Sabbath day.
Enforced day of rest and family worship. Harsh, though, and glad we live in the New Covenant.
 
Tassels – an example of the Israelites ‘looking different’ from their new neighbours in the promised land. Tassels will be worn on the corner of garments as a reminder of the commands they are held to.

Korah, Dathan and Abiram – Korah (a Levite) and Dathan and Abiram (Reubenites) rise up against Moses, and gather a group to confront Moses and Aaron, telling them to stop pushing so hard for holiness – the people are holy enough…(really ?).
Moses fell face down – he seems to like doing that in a crisis! He tells them that God will decide who is ‘holy’, and that it’s the Levites who have gone too far!
The real issue, Moses reveals to Korah, is a jealousy that Aaron and sons are the only ones to fill the role of priest / high priest, even though the Levites have been given an elevated position themselves.
Moses reminds them that, as ever, “It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together.” Their real complaint is not against Moses and Aaron, but against God.
When Dathan and Abiram refuse to go to Moses, on his summons, they reveal their bitter condemnation of Moses, for lording it over them, and not bringing them into the promised land (they even describe their bitter slavery in Egypt as the ‘land flowing with milk and honey’….honestly!).
Moses is angry and insists God does not accept any of their sacrifices.
God sets out His plan to reveal to the community the consequences of this act of jealous rebellion. Still Aaron and Moses plead for God not to punish the whole assembly, but only the one who sinned. However, it is not one, nor three, but the whole assembly (250 of them) who have the rebellious spirit within them.
The families of Korah, Dathan and Abiram are swallowed up by the earth as it opens up beneath them, and closes over them, whilst the whole assembly of 250 who had been drawn into this rebellion were consumed by the fire of God’s presence.

God deals harshly in these chapters with those who wilfully rebel and sin against Him, or against the community. Harsh steps to holiness. Ruthlessly eliminating sin.
Lord, let me not be complacent – root out rebellion against You and all wilful and unwitting sin from my life. 

LUKE
Jesus Heals Many – still in Capernaum, Jesus goes on to heal Simon’s mother-in-law. Jesus speaks to the fever and it left her (just like Jesus speaking to the wind and waves to calm the storm). I feel the prompting to speak directly in prayer to the root of the problem.
It’s getting late, but the crowds are gathering, bringing all sorts of sickness and disease to Jesus. Jesus heals by the laying on of hands (oh, the importance of healing ‘touch’). Jesus seeks to silence the demons who want to promote His Messiah-ship – Jesus wants a handle on how news of Him spreads.
It reads like there’s not much (if any) time for sleep before daybreak, when Jesus steals Himself away for some peace and quiet, and a time of intimacy with Father God.
The people who find Him want Him to stay in that town, but Jesus is ready to move on – the good news is for other towns too!
He goes to many synagogues in the region to teach and preach.


Calling the Disciples – at this point, Jesus has many followers, but He draws out, and handpicks His permanent band of disciples. (Lake Gennesaret is another name for Galilee). Jesus teaches the crowd from within Simon’s boat. After speaking, He takes Simon out into deeper waters in the boat. When He suggests trying to haul a catch, Simon must have wondered at the stupidity of trying to catch fish in the heat of the day, after a whole night of catching nothing. Yet, ‘because You say so, I will let down the nets’ (Simon has only just finished washing them from the fruitless night before).
Of course, the catch is so big, that the other boat is called for, and Simon realises he is in the company of no mere man. He feels his own sinfulness before the Holy One. Jesus knows He is able to disciple Simon, and use his skills in catching fish, transforming him into a fisher-of-men.
They (Simon, James and John) ‘left everything and followed him’. Wow!

Lord, help me to be obedient to Your word, Your promptings, no matter how silly or strange they sound – ‘because You say so, I will….”
Lord, transform my skills and abilities, that I may be ever more fruitful and useful to You, in building Your kingdom on earth.

The Man with Leprosy – again, I am hit with the power of the healing ‘touch’ in this story. I am reminded that to touch a leper was to make oneself unclean, whereas in the New Covenant, the Holy One touches the leper and transfers His holiness, His healing, His cleansing to the leper. Role reversal.
Some would only see that Jesus was making Himself unclean. Others would see that, in doing this, Jesus was healing / cleaning the leper.
At one and the same time, Jesus wants news of this to be kept to a minimum, and craves the times of quietness, solitude and prayer, to sustain His ministry, His close walk with the Father.

Lord, how will You use us, today, to ‘touch’ broken, unclean lives, and to bring hope, healing and release?
I am reminded of the prayer of St. Francis – that we might be channels, vessels of God’s peace, bringing hope, joy, peace, light, life, love. At the start of this day, Lord, fill me, that I may have only good to give in every situation today.

PSALM 
Evil will wither….eventually.
“Trust in the Lord and do good….
delight Yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Commit your ways to the Lord…
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him…..
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath…it leads only to evil.
Oh, words of such wisdom, for our quiet, intimate moments with God………

THOSE WHO HOPE IN THE LORD WILL INHERIT THE LAND”

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