Archive for February, 2011

28
Feb
11

An Argument Against Feminism

Anyone who knows our family well knows that we are extremely conservative about most things.  The role of husband and wife as well as father and daughter is one area where our family differs very much from the majority of our culture.

Our kids are constantly noting the creep of feminism into everyday culture – books, movies and TV shows.  We rent “clean” TV sitcoms like “The Cosby Show” and enjoy them as a family.  But even in these seemingly harmless episodes are the seeds of feminism.  The men are often made to look inferior to the women in almost every way.  The respect for the place of the man, as set forth by God, is often absent from these sitcoms and throughout our culture.  Who is behind this loss of godly wisdom?  Lest you doubt, remember that we are involved in a true spiritual battle.

Note this passage in the book of Numbers:

“Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: “This is what the LORD commands:  When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.

“When a young woman still living in her father’s household makes a vow to the LORD or obligates herself by a pledge and her father hears about her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand.  But if her father forbids her when he hears about it, none of her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand; the LORD will release her because her father has forbidden her.”Numbers 30:1-5

It is clear here that God set the will of the father over the will of the daughter.  He is able to override any vow she makes before the Lord – the wisdom of the father is set above the wisdom of the daughter.  And in the following verses in this chapter, we see that the same rule applies to the will of the husband over the will of the wife.

In today’s world, these are unpopular views.  In an effort to override God’s will, the tenets of humanism and Christian egalitarianism have tried to equate the role which God made separately, and in some cases, to reverse the preeminence.  I can tell you this – in our household, we have elected to abide by God’s standard set out in Numbers, and the rule is occasionally (and fortunately, infrequently) put to the test.

Some will say that this rule no longer applies because we now live under New Testament law.  To that, I answer,  yes, we do live under a new law of grace, but does that new law explicitly reverse God’s views on the role of man and woman?  I have to answer “No”.  Check out scripture in 1 Timothy 2:11-12, 1 Corinthians 14:34-36 and especially 1 Corinthians 11:3-5.  I’m also making my way through this article right now –“Male Authority and Female Equality in Light of Galatians 3:28”.

27
Feb
11

Moses’ Big Mistake

Throughout the story of Moses, we see him progress from a timid, doubting selection to a mighty man of God.  And yet, Moses made one tiny mistake that cost him getting to see the promised land, which was his goal for forty years.

In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.

Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron.  They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD!  Why did you bring the LORD’s community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here?  Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the LORD appeared to them.  The LORD said to Moses,  “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

So Moses took the staff from the LORD’s presence, just as he commanded him.  He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?”  Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”Numbers 20:1-12

Did you catch it?  God told Moses to take his staff and then speak to the rock, to make it bring forth fresh water.  For whatever reason, Moses struck the rock twice, and apparently didn’t speak.  A minor difference to what God had asked him to do.

But minor or not, it was a difference.  Perhaps there is more to what was going on in Moses’ heart at this time – maybe it was pride – but the consequence was real.  God penalized both Moses and Aaron, and caused them to die before they could enter the promised land.

So, does it matter how carefully we choose to obey God’s commands?

26
Feb
11

A Tithe of a Tithe

I never noticed this passage before.

The LORD said to Moses,  “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD’s offering.  Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor or juice from the winepress.  In this way you also will present an offering to the LORD from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the LORD’s portion to Aaron the priest.  You must present as the LORD’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.’

“Say to the Levites: ‘When you present the best part, it will be reckoned to you as the product of the threshing floor or the winepress.  You and your households may eat the rest of it anywhere, for it is your wages for your work at the Tent of Meeting.  By presenting the best part of it you will not be guilty in this matter; then you will not defile the holy offerings of the Israelites, and you will not die.’”Numbers 18:25-32

I never noticed this passage before – a tithe of a tithe.  What purpose did it serve?  I see two possibilities – 1) it keeps the Levites from being selfish and being exempt from giving to the Lord, and 2) it ensures that God gets the very best of the best.  The first tithe is supposed to be a select choice, and then this gets winnowed down to the best of the best, as God deserves.

25
Feb
11

More on Redemption

A follow-up on the concept of redemption.

““Everything in Israel that is devoted to the LORD is yours.  The first offspring of every womb, both man and animal, that is offered to the LORD is yours. But you must redeem every firstborn son and every firstborn male of unclean animals.  When they are a month old, you must redeem them at the redemption price set at five shekels of silver, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs.” Numbers 18:14-16

This is in line with the previous post about one Levite per firstborn.  It appears that every firstborn son is meant to be the Lord’s, devoted to him through sacrifice.  But each one is to be redeemed through a payment, and this is to be done, through the priest.  What a parallel to the story of redemption through Christ!

24
Feb
11

The Penalty for Grumbling

In Numbers 16, we find the rebellion of Koran, Dathan, and Abiram against Moses and Aaron.  I’m always stunned at the way many of the Israelites fail to remember how God saved them out of bondage and slavery, and gave them miracle after miracle to sustain them.

First, these men accuse Moses and Aaron of lording it over the people:

“They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?””Numbers 16:3

When Moses then challenges these men to a test in order to see on whom rests God’s blessing, they say,

“Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We will not come!  Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert? And now you also want to lord it over us?  Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you gouge out the eyes of these men? No, we will not come!””Numbers 16:12-14

We see the intent of these men, and unlike that of Moses, it isn’t to honor God or do whatever He asks.

Finally, God works a miracle and makes the ground open up under only the rebellious men and their families, and they are swallowed up.  So what do the rest of the Israelites do?  They complain:

“The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You have killed the LORD’s people,” they said.”Numbers 16:41

It shocks me to see how quickly they forget God, and how ungrateful they can be.  And yet, doesn’t this serve as a warning and foreshadowing of how people treat God throughout history?  What of our own culture today, which has been blessed immeasurably by God with wealth, safety and comfort?  Has the majority simply forgotten God, like the Israelites of old?

23
Feb
11

God Changes His Mind #3

It’s always amazing to me to see the complaints of the Israelites after they have been delivered by God.  The Bible calls them “rabble” (Numbers 11:4) – their griping is almost unbearable to witness, considering that some of them would rather go back to Egyptian slavery rather than be ruled and protected by the God of creation.

Even God seems to have had enough of their attitude, and He tells Moses:

“How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?  I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.” Numbers 14:11b-12

And yet, once again, we see God changing His mind after being entreated by a faithful person – Moses, again, in this instance.  After Moses’ appeal that God would spare the people from destruction, we see God telling him these words:

“The LORD replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.  Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth,  not one of the men who saw my glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times—  not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it.””Numbers 14:20-23

While they will be spared destruction, God still enacts a measure of justice by causing the Israelites to wander in the desert for forty years while all the men who doubted God died.

This is the third time I have noted that God changes His mind over something.  See here and here for the first two.  What does this tell us about the power of prayer?

22
Feb
11

Fire From Heaven

Here is a passage I have never noticed before:

“Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.  When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down.  So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the LORD had burned among them.”Numbers 11:1-3

Imagine what it must have looked like to receive fire from the Lord if you were camped in the outskirts of the assembly.  What does fire from God look like?  Does it burn with extra intensity?  Was it the same kind of fire that completely consumed the sacrifice of Elijah on Mount Carmel?  Can you imagine making God so angry that He would send fire to consume a room of your house?




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