God Is Our Refuge and Strength, An Ever-Present Help In Trouble

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LEVITICUS 27:14-NUMBERS 1:1-54 | MARK 11:1-26 | PSALM 46:1-11 | PROVERBS 10:23

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The Book of Leviticus ends on one last and important precept:  the one concerning tithes, i.e., giving back to the Lord one-tenth of what is first obtained from the Lord.  This is one remnant of the old Law that is to this day practiced by both Jew and Gentile.  Whether the people made their tithes out of a sense of duty or love can only be surmised, however, in this day and age, the observance of this law for most people is one of freewill. 

It takes a deep sense of understanding to realize that God is in no need of my wealth and resources, and if I were to never give a single iota of what is mine, God would not be affected, and the mission of furthering the Kingdom of God would continue unabated.  And yet, under the new covenant that I now live in, there is no condemnation, and therefore no need to observe this.  However, I choose to believe that there is a deep humility in the observance of this precept, and an underlying discipline that is honed over time.  And besides this, in the words of Paul, God does love a cheerful giver.

We now commence the Book of Numbers, the fourth one in the Pentateuch authored by Moses.  The first chapter begins and ends with a head-count of the entire people.  Given that only young men over the age of twenty were included in the count, and the House of Levi was eliminated for the count, the actual number that would have included all men, women, and children would most likely have been over two million.  That was a very large demographic in the desert led by Moses heading toward the land of milk and honey.

Next, continuing in the book of Mark, we see Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a humble animal, a young colt.  Jesus is welcomed not by trumpets and horns but by the poor and common folks that have been following him around and have witnessed the most incredible of events and miracles performed by him over the last three years.

There are two other quite interesting accounts within this chapter:  the story of the fig tree and the clearing of the temple courts by Jesus.  The fig tree stands as a metaphor for all things and persons that glitter and shine from their outward appearance, and yet do not have the substance and wherewithal from within to sustain oneself or another. 

May it be that we might not be like the fig tree in its barrenness.  May it be that there might be visible correlation between our seemingly flourishing exteriors to an equally vibrant and fruitful interior.  May it be that when we are approached by another attracted to us for our pleasing exterior, we might produce an equally pleasant and sincere offering that comes from a deep and abundant well of goodness within.

Jesus goes on to offer a further encouragement to his disciples on the matter of faith.  Impossible as it may seem, it would serve us well to pay heed to the same. 

He says: 23 “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Next, our Psalm for the day is a wonderful one of encouragement.  Many have been the times when verses from this very Psalm 46 have sprung to my mind in times of need.  A few verses to reflect upon are:

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

Finally, the hallmark of a fool is clearly presented by Solomon, the wise king of Israel.  He says:

23 A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes,
   but a person of understanding delights in wisdom.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

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