NUMBERS 19:1-20:29 | LUKE 1:1-25 | PSALM 56:1-13 | PROVERBS 11:8
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I suppose the saying, Cleanliness is next to Godliness must have had its origins or at least some connection to these ancient texts of the Hebrews in which there is this inordinate amount of instruction on what is considered clean and unclean, and how one must go about in making the unclean clean.
How very oppressive all these rituals are! I wonder if there might have been those who just didn’t seem to care anymore, perhaps after several offenses of finding themselves unclean—be it by intention or accident—and they perhaps finally gave up and resigned themselves to the life of an outcast. Which is what the punishment was for lack of observing all the right practices to become clean once again. Unless of course, it was death itself. Which might have probably been more desirable than all this stifling ritualism…
We cannot, of course, know the mind of God in attempting to understand or explain these set of laws, but I choose to believe that even God in all his omniscience must have surely reconsidered these harsh laws when he decided to do away with them once and for all.
However, in God incarnate, we see Jesus who seemed to go out of his way to make contact with the unclean—be they people or objects. And when he is called out by the priests and elders, he tells them it just doesn’t matter!
Well, continuing on with the exodus story of the Israelites, we find a number of noteworthy incidents in this passage. First Miriam, Moses’ sister dies. Then, so does his brother, the High Priest, Aaron. Both his siblings had been Moses’ right hand, and it must have surely been a great loss to lose them both, most likely within a span of a few months time. However, in the time between these two deaths, there is yet one more time that the Israelites rebel against Moses and Aaron’s leadership.
When they are wandering through the desert and find no water anywhere, they once again grumble about their plight and wish once more that they were back in Egypt—slavery and all, notwithstanding. God provides water to them yet again in a most miraculous manner, but God is not happy with the manner in which the people and even Moses and company seem not to put their entire trust in him, and God tells Moses as much.
Unbelief and distrust are serious sins, and God does make sure that they understand this. It is now to be seen if Moses himself will have the privilege of entering the Promised Land. For now, things don’t look so promising, and after having been refused entry to pass through the land of the Edomites, the Israelites take a detour.
Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. So begins the book called The Gospel according to Luke.
Luke was one of Jesus’ disciples. He begins his account with the inconceivable story of the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist to an old couple by the name of Zechariah, a priest, and his wife, Elizabeth—a direct descendant of Aaron. They are to have a baby!
Reminds you of yet another old couple by the names of Abraham and Sarah to whom a son was promised in not so dissimilar a way. Gabriel, the archangel comes down to give this news to Zechariah, and so great is Zechariah’s amazement that he is literally left speechless for a long time afterwards—actually, until the baby is born!
Next, we turn to the Psalms, and find David, the Psalmist, has a plaintive cry to God Almighty. In his darkest hour, he tells God this:
8 Record my lament;
list my tears on your scroll
are they not in your record?
But he is not utterly desolate because not soon after does he write the following words. May it be that I too, like David, am able to say and believe the very same thing.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
12 I am under vows to you, O God;
I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered mefrom death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.
Finally, a verse from the Book of Proverbs, which offers some food for thought:
8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble,
and it falls on the wicked instead.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.