NUMBERS 8:1-9:23 | MARK 13:14-37 | PSALM 50:1-23 | PROVERBS 10:29-30
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The preparations for the service of the Tabernacle is still underway, and today we find that the Levites set apart for the priesthood must undergo certain ritualistic cleansing practices before they may commence their work. Moses is still the liaison between God and the people, and Aaron is the one who carries out all the instructions down to the last detail. All this is taking place in the desert after Moses has led the people out of Egypt. After what had appeared to be many ups and downs, the people were on track, Moses and Aaron were diligently carrying out their duties, and God appeared to be pleased.
The Passover is observed each year as instructed by God. It is the one feast that is to be observed regardless of circumstances, God tells them. Matters not if you are made unclean owing to a death in the house; matters not whatever else might be pressing at the time. What is important is that you and yours, including any aliens tarrying with you at the time must partake in the observance of the Passover.
And so, the Israelites establish and observe these traditions that have continued even to this day as the Jewish diasporas are to be found all around the world. But those first few Passovers must surely have been special as the memories of their exodus from Egypt must have still been fresh in the minds and memories of the people.
And God was a very real presence with them throughout their journey through the desert as they traveled up north. God in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night made his presence known to them, and the sight of the cloud was the sign that was accepted as the one to provide an indication on whether they ought to stop and put up camp, or pack up and proceed.
The text says: Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. 23At the LORD’s command they encamped, and at the LORD’s command they set out. They obeyed the LORD’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.
Turning next to our reading in the book of Mark, we continue to see Jesus offering a most frightening sign of the end-times to come. Just as the cloud and the fire were the natural elements that served as signs to the people of Israel, so also, says Jesus, during those end-times, this is what one may expect: 24 But in those days, following that distress, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.
These are Jesus’ very words, and I do not believe that he employed allegory or metaphor in this. Therefore, do not be surprised when these unnatural and unknown natural phenomena come to pass, my friend. You would be right in calling them ‘acts of God’. But even these strange weather patterns are not a sure indication of the return of the Lord. Jesus’ only exhortation is to be alert at all times.
He says: 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
In our Psalm for the day, David extols the omnipotence of God and serves as his mouthpiece when he writes about the futility of all the burnt offerings that are made when the heart itself is not right. It is not as if God is in need of any of those sacrifices to satisfy his hunger. Or did you really think that he needed those animals for bodily sustenance? God says:
12 If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
Finally, a couple of verses from the book of Proverbs, authored by Solomon, wise king of Israel:
29 The way of the LORD is a refuge for the blameless,
but it is the ruin of those who do evil.
30 The righteous will never be uprooted,
but the wicked will not remain in the land.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.