ripple effect: vacaville

d54 God’s Covenant Renewed
May 31, 2007, 5:05 pm
Filed under: deuteronomy, god, moses

Read Deuteronomy 29:1-29.

* OK, so I just realized that I accidentally did a post for Numbers yesterday, when really we were supposed to warp to Deuteronomy. OK…I’ll fix it in a second.

[Stuff we’re skipping:

* Balaam ends up giving the Israelites a blessing instead of a curse three times. Actually, he curses Balak and the people of Moab (along with Amalek and the Amalekites), saying that Israel will defeat them.

* The Israelite men started to “indulge in sexual immorality” with the Moabite women. They also bowed before their gods (including Baal). God instructs Moses to have all the leaders killed publicly. God killed off 24,000 men; but it ended when one priest (Eleazar, Aaron’s son) saw and did something about sin. He saw a guy who was engaging in sexual immorality with a Midianite woman, and he drove a spear directly through him and his woman’s body. Then the plague ended. Whoah. God gave a special priesthood to the descendents of Eleazar.

* God calls Moses and Eleazar to take a census. It’s very detailed (one of the reasons this book is called “Numbers”). One of the end results of this list is to see that there was no one left from the old-school grumblers. Just Moses, Joshua, and Caleb.

* There’s also a “court case” about what would happen if a guy died with no sons, just daughters.

* Joshua is chosen to succeed Moses as the leader of the nation of Israel.

* God told Moses to remind the people about: daily offerings, Sabbath offerings, monthly offerings, the Passover, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles, and making vows.

* The Israelites defeat the Midianites.

* The people of Reuben and the people of Gad settle in a place called Gilead.

* There’s a summary of Israel’s journey, along with God’s command to drive out all the people who live in the promised land.

* Then there’s some detailed information about: the boundaries of the land, the list of tribal chiefs, the cities for the Levites, cities of refuge, marriage and female heirs.
Then, Deuteronomy begins, and we skip over:

* A rehash of a lot of events that have already taken place (Deuteronomy kind of means something like “second-telling.) There is a lot of different phrasing, but basically the same story.]

OK, so we’re back on track. After all that, we’re back where we were…close to entering into the promised land, at the end of Moses’ career.

1. Imagine living your whole life in the desert, eating nothing but manna…40 years! That’s what this new generation has been through. How do you think these Israelites felt about being able to finally go and live somewhere? Whoah.
2. At this point, coming so close to “go time” wouldn’t you listen pretty hard to what Moses is saying?
3. Wow…so basically, there’s a “follow God or else” message. Pretty straightforward. Does it bother you with how firm God is being with the people here, or does it make sense to you? Why?


d53 Jackass, Bible Edition
May 30, 2007, 6:32 pm
Filed under: balaam, numbers

Read Numbers 22:5-38.

[Stuff we’re skipping:

* After the beatdown, the Israelites moved on to Moab; and they went to a place called Beer where they sang about God providing water (huh?)

* Israel tried to pass through the land of Sihon, the king of the Amorites. Sihon went against Israel in war, but Israel whooped their tails and settled in the land of the Amorites. Og, king of Bashan, also tried to step to Israel; and they also got beatdown. Glorious.

* The Israelites finally settled to the plains of Moab and camped along the Jordan River across from Jericho.

* Balak, the king of Moab was scared to death of the Israelites because of what they had done to the Amorites, so he sent for Balaam.]

And what’s where we pick up our story today…

1. Balak wants Balaam to curse the Israelites because they are too powerful. Hmm. I wonder if that’ll work. Yeah…that whole “curse those who curse you” promise from God might come into play here.
2. So…apparently, Balaam talks to the real God (even if he didn’t intend to). So…what do you think think he’s going to do?
3. God tells Balaam to lay off the cursing, and Balaam refuses the money or the “job.” And they continue to try to pay him to put a curse on. Do you think “curses” really work?
4. I like Balaam’s insight here. He decides he won’t do anything against what God says. And he always waits to talk to God first. That’s cool.
5. God tells Balaam to go with the princes to see Balak. Interesting…what’s God up to here?
6. Why is God mad here? Didn’t he tell Balaam to go with the princes?
7. Dude beat his animal. Never cool. I like that the donkey can see the angel but Balaam can’t. Insert ass joke here.
8. God has a sense of humor. Why on earth did He have the donkey talk to Balaam?
9. Why is Balaam more concerned with the answer to the donkey’s question than the fact that his donkey just asked him a question?
10. I love that the donkey is questioning Balaam. Dude…this makes me laugh. And then he gets to see the angel. Why do you think Balaam was unable to see in the first place?
11. Why is the path “a reckless one”? I thought he was allowed to go. Maybe he was going to use his own words?
12. To be continued… So far, this story is one of the weirdest in the Bible. What do you think about Balaam right now? What about his donkey (please, no Shrek comments)?

d52 The Bronze Serpent
May 29, 2007, 6:17 pm
Filed under: god, moses, numbers

Read Numbers 21:4-9.

[What we’re skipping:

* More laws passed from God to Moses about sacrifices and unintentional sins (yeah…they count!).

*There’s a cute story labeled, “A Sabbathbreaker Executed.” Whoah!

* There’s a whole section abotu tassels on garments.

* There’s an intersting story about what happens when a rival to Moses named Korah tries to claim that he and his people are just as fit to lead as Moses and Aaron. Uh oh…

* Aaron has a staff that blossoms.

* More about: duties of the priests and Levites and laws for purification.

* Miriam dies.

* You want to know why Moses can’t go into the promised land? God tells him to speak to a rock to make water come out of it, but Moses instead hits it. Seems weird, but God said that it was because Moses didn’t trust Him.

* How about the Israelites tried to pass through Edom to get into the promised land. Edom, you might remember is the descendants of Esau. Anyway, they won’t let them pass through.

* Aaron dies.

* Some kingdom named Arad raided the Israelites…and God destroyed them for it.]

OK…so there was some story stuff in there; but, believe me, when you want to read the whole Bible in a year, you’ve got to skip stuff sometimes.

1. Ugh! They are always complaining. And they called God’s miraculous provision, His manna and quails, WORTHLESS! Oh man. They are a little ungrateful.
2. God made an example of many of them by sending poisonous snakes into the camp and killed many of them. Can you really blame God for any “regulating” He does at this point?
3. Moses makes a bronze serpent on a stick that heals people who look at it. Cool. The bronze snake, or the Nehushtan, is a symbol that is still used in many churches as a symbol of God’s healing mercy. Ironically, Asclepius’ staff (the Greek god of healing) is very similiar and is used in modern medicine logos. In a strange, “which came first, the chicken or the egg” situation, we have two dudes with staffs with snakes on them who could heal people. (This story occured earlier than those Greek mythologies, by the way).

Wow…a short story today. Any thoughts about it?

d51 The People Rebel
May 28, 2007, 6:01 pm
Filed under: aaron, caleb, god, joshua, moses, numbers

Read Numbers 14:5-45.

1. Moses and Aaron fell on their faces. Was this out of submission to God, grief, or were they ducking to avoid rocks?
2. Then Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes (a sign of grief) and spoke up. “The land is good. God is good. If He wants us there, it’s going to happen.” Nice message. Strong faith. The people are theirs for the defeating. God is in control. I love these guys. I know a pair of brothers named Joshua and Caleb. I always loved that.
3. Then the people pick up stones. You thought I was kidding? Good thing God shows up. He’s ready to toss this group again and give Moses new people to lead. Wow.
4. Moses steps up again for his people. He basically says that if the people died in the desert, people will think it’s because God wasn’t mighty enough to bring them through alive. Good logic. And, it is about God’s glory. Moses begs for mercy. I love the verse about God being “slow to anger.” Maybe because I know that I probably would make a less-patient God (Allah?) angry all the time.
5. What God does here is amazing. He makes it so that none of the doubters will get into the Promised Land, only Joshua and Caleb. Everyone else will have to wander in the wilderness for the rest of their lives…until they die. What a crazy thing! I’ve thought about this so many times as a youth pastor, the idea that there are generations (or even classes of students) that God would pass over in order to get to the people who will follow Him. Man. What do you think about that?
6. Here’s irony. Since the old people were scared that their “little ones” would get eaten by the big bad giants, they are going to be the ones who will end up conquering the big bad giants. How’s that for God flipping the script?
7. The kids will suffer for the faithlessness of their parents. They will have to wander in the desert until all the older generation dies. Wow. 40 years wandering in the desert for a trip that should have only taken a couple of weeks. Boy, we make following God complicated sometimes, don’t we?
8. And all the guys who misled the Israelites died of the plague right then and there.
9. Then, as if it wasn’t enough, the people decided that NOW they didn’t want to stay in the desert and that they wanted to seize the promised land. Wow. Moses warned them that God wasn’t with them anymore. But, they didn’t care. They were routed by the people. I can understand this story, in the sense that, there have been times in my life when God told me what to do…I knew what to do…but I didn’t do it. Then, I tried to make it work on my own. Of course, I couldn’t make it work. What was worse is that I would blame God for it not working. This story just reminds me of how ludicrous that is. I want to live a life where I obey God the first time.

d50 Spies vs. Spies
May 27, 2007, 11:09 pm
Filed under: caleb, god, joshua, moses, numbers

Read Numbers 13:1 – 14:4.

1. OK, so after all these pit stops in the desert, they finally get to the border of the Promised Land. Imagine the excitement amongst the Israelites. So Moses sends 12 “spies” to check out the land, one from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. They were sent to spy out what kind of people were already there, what kind of fruit was there, and whether or not they would be able to take care of them in a fight. Sounds easy enough, right? Then why does Moses tell them to be full of “courage”?
2. Looks like they found a big city, older then a city in Egypt. Bad news. That would be harder to conquer. Then again, they found a cluster of grapes that was so big that two guys needed to carry it on a pole between them. Whoah! What would you do?
3. They were there for 40 days. Here’s a little Bible trivia. 40 days is symbolic, in the Bible, of a time of testing. 40 days on the ark. 40 days at Mt. Sinai. 40 days spying the land. Later on, 40 days of Jesus being tempted in the desert. What’s the test here?
4. Great opening paragraph of the report– good food. Then there is that “however.” Man, “howevers” can really mess with a person’s faith. They say “however” the people are the people are big and strong and live in cities. Uh oh. Reminds me of “I trust God, HOWEVER…”
5. Caleb is a bad mamma jamma. He wants to attack them then and there. I love Caleb’s faith here. Too bad he’s outnumbered. Is the “popular” decision always the right decision?
6. Then the other spies exaggerate. I think we do that too. When things seem out of control, we exaggerate how bad it is to convince ourselves that it’s impossible to really follow God. Any thoughts on that?
7. Then the people went nuts. People are capable of doing that. Mass hysteria. Stupid comments. All because the people who God trusted lost their faith, and consequently, their cool. What do you think about that?

d49 Miriam and Aaron Oppose Moses
May 26, 2007, 9:26 pm
Filed under: aaron, god, miriam, moses, numbers

Read Numbers 12:1-16.

[What we’re skipping:

* What God commanded Moses on top of Mt. Sinai about–burnt offerings, grain, offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings, and priests and the offerings.

* Aaron and his sons were consecrated; and God accepts Aaron’s offering, but He kills two of Aaron’s wicked sons.

* More instructions about–clean and unclean animals, purfication after childbirth, leprosy, cleansing lepers, cleansing houses, bodily discharges, the Day of Atonement, the place of sacrifice, eating blood, sexual relations, God’s holiness, loving your neighbor, keeping God’s laws, child sacrifice, being holy, priests’ holiness, acceptable offerings, the Sabbath, the Passover, the Feast of Firstfruits, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Booths, lamps in the tabernacle, bread for the tabernacle, punishment for blasphemy, “an eye for an eye,” the Sabbath Year, the Year of Jubilee, redemption of property, kindness to the poor, redeeming a poor man, blessings for obedience, punishment for disobedience, and vows. Like I said, it’s al instructions, for the most part, so if you’re interested in a particular thing, look it up.

*As far as the beginning of Numbers goes…well, it’s called “Numbers” for a reason; and we are skipping–a census of Israel’s warriors, the exemption of the Levites, where everyone’s supposed to camp, Aaron’s sons, duties of the Levites, redemption of the firstborn, duties of the Kohathites, unclean people, confession and restitution, a test for adultery, the Nazirite vow, Aaron’s blessing, offerings at the tabernacle’s consecration, the seven lamps, the cleansing of the Levites, retirement of the Levites, celebrating the Passover, the cloud covering the tabernacle, the silver trumpets, Israel leaving Sinai, the people complain (again), elders are appointed to aid Moses, and finally quail and a plague. Like I said, it’s important stuff; but, a lot of it doesn’t further “the plot.” But this does…]

1. OK…so Moses married a foreign woman, which was a no-no, right?
2. Then Miriam and Aaron take that as an opportunity to get a little too bit for their britches by saying that Moses isn’t only one God can talk to directly. (That might be true; but, at the time, it’s just Moses.) So…do you think that Moses marrying the foreign woman opened Moses up for more criticism?
3. God chews out Miriam and Aaron for saying that they were on the same level as Moses. He basically says that they might get visions from God, but Moses gets it all “uncut.” He even says that Moses gets to “see” Him. Can you understand why God is a little peeved here?
4. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, God striked Miriam with LEPROSY! Whoah. What do you think about that?
5. Then Moses asked for her to be healed, and God tells him to put her in timeout for a week outside the camp. Do you think she learned her lesson?
6. What is the lesson?

d48 God’s Home on Earth
May 25, 2007, 4:53 pm
Filed under: exodus, god, leviticus, moses

Read Exodus 40:1-38.

[Wow…a lot of skipping again. We’ll probably go into more detail about this after this year; but, for now, here’s a quick scan of what we’re missing:

* God says He will “blot out” the people from His book who sinned against Him. Then He sends a plague on the Israelites.
* God commanded the people to go from Mt. Sinai to the Promised Land. He told them He wasn’t going to lead them anymore (in a pillar) because if He did, He’d probably kill them for how “stiff-necked” they are. The people were sad and took off their jewelry as a sign of mourning.
* Moses set up a “tent of meeting,” where he would speak with God “as a man speaks to his friend.”
* Moses tells God that he doesn’t want to move on without God’s presence, and he asks to see God’s glory as a sign that He is with him. God tells Moses to look away; and, as he does, God’s glory passes by Moses.
* God gets Moses to bring up some new tablets to put the 10 commandments on.
* God renewed His covenant with Moses…the essense of it: follow God and it will go well when they settle in Canaan. Don’t, and all bets are off.
* Moses spent so much time with God that his face shone.
* More instructions from God regarding Sabbath regulations.
* They gather money to build the tabernacle (where God will dwell and be worshipped) and build the tabernacle and all the equipment.]

Alrighty then…
1. God explains how the tabernacle is to be set up. Every bit of what the priests would do in this tabernacle is symbolic about how to approach God (and later on, how Jesus made a way for us to approach God). Isn’t it amazing, though, how orderly everything was? Why do you think God created such a specific order?
2. So…anointing is a way to make something holy. Notice that Aaron and his sons also had to be washed with water (purified) before they were made holy. Isn’t it interesting that Aaron was given such a huge role after the cow incident?
3. Moses followed God in all the instructions. You have to appreciate Moses’ meticulous attention to God’s details.
4. Then the glory of the Lord appeared over the tabernacle. Pretty cool stuff. Check out the picture for reference here; but, basically, God had three things put in the ark (box): Joseph’s bones, the jar of manna, and the tablets containing the ten commandments. Over the box were the cherubim (angels) and in the middle was a little bowl (the mercy seat). This is where the high priest would bring in the sacrifices of Israel and the blood would drip down. That “room” was sealed off with a curtain, and then there were all those “stations” set up that you had to go through in order to even make it into the presence of God. Anyway, on this day, it “lit up” with the presence of God. And, from that time on, whenever God’s cloudy or firey presence moved, they new it was time to pack up and go. Complicated, but beautiful.

Pat yourself on the back. You’re done with Exodus. Tomorrow, we’ll start in Numbers. Since Leviticus is all an elaboration on the laws and regulations that God taught Moses on Mt. Sinai, we’re going to skip over that in the interest of time. I hope you don’t mind.