NUMBERS 2:1-3:51 | MARK 11:27-12:17 | PSALM 47:1-9 | PROVERBS 10:24-2
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There is order and precision to the method of counting by Moses. And when it is all done, the twelve camps are then arranged by tribe as commanded by God. There is special consideration made for the tribe of Levi chosen to assist Aaron and the priesthood. They were set apart for the specific purpose of caring for the Tabernacle and in assisting in all the duties of the priesthood.
After all this was done and in place, the matter of the firstborns was attended to: while the firstborn of the livestock was to be presented as an offering, the law of the firstborns did not apply to the people, and yet, there was a headcount taken of the firstborn of all the Israelites including the tribe of Levi, and the difference between the numbers of the Levites and their livestock was determined as the amount that was to be redeemed, and this redemption money was given to Aaron and the priesthood for use in the Tabernacle.
Turning now to our reading in the book of Mark, we continue with the account of Jesus’ life and ministry. There is the incident of Jesus’ authority being questioned by the highbrow elders of the Temple, but they are themselves unable to answer a simple question that Jesus poses to them about their impression of John the Baptist.
There are many times when Jesus is direct in his response about his identity, and then there are times like these when his unequivocal emphasis seems more effective in forcing the correct answer to reveal itself. By what authority, they ask—they will soon find out, if they don’t already know it deep down in their hearts.
Next, there is the parable of the vineyard and the ungrateful, nay, beastly tenants. This is obviously a direct jab at the Temple elders who not unlike the evil tenants, intentionally and systematically choose to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the prophets that have come ahead of Jesus.
Besides their unbelief, they have gone so far as to kill these foretellers just as they did John the Baptist. There was no subtlety in the telling of this parable; Jesus spelled it out well, and it was quite clear to the Temple elders that he was referring to them. And yet, they choose to continue down the path that they do.
Finally, another point that Jesus clears up once and for all: the question of whether or not to pay taxes. Yes, he says, pay your taxes! Could that be any clearer? Listen up, all you Libertarians!
Turning next to our Psalm for the day, we find a song of praise to the greatness of God’s mighty power. I can’t help but see this in light of current political events taking place around the globe. Monarchs and world leaders are mere mortals, and their times are in the hands of the Almighty. As David, the psalmist says, it is God who is the everlasting and omnipotent one who is in control of all things in this universe, especially on this earth. He reminds us:
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.
8 God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.
9 The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kingsof the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted.
And finally, looking at our Proverbs for the day, here are a couple of verses that are worthy of taking pause:
24 What the wicked dreads will overtake him;
what the righteous desire will be granted.
25 When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone,
but the righteous stand firm forever.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.