NUMBERS 21:1-22:20 | LUKE 1:26-56 | PSALM 57:1-11 | PROVERBS 11:9-11
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“Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” I’ve lost count of the number of times this complaint was made by the people of Israel. But this was the most recent one made by them as they took their detour around Edom.
This was the order of events this time around: the people complained; God was displeased and struck them with a brood of poisonous snakes; the people repented; God relented and gave them a way out, which in this case was looking at the molten image of a snake, the sight of which made them well.
And so it went. This recent calamity behind them, the Israelites continued with their journey through the desert. Along the way, they try to make friends with the natives, and if the sentiment is not reciprocated, they do battle with them, take over the land, and then settle down there for a while.
During the course of these nomadic travels, and even as they slowly come up to the banks of the Jordan river, there is a curious incident concerning Balak, king of Moab, who seeks the help of a seer by the name of Baalam. Baalam refuses to put a curse on the Israelites as Balak wishes him to, but eventually goes up to the palace when he is summoned. It is to be seen as to what might come of all this.
Turning next to our reading in the book of Luke, we see that Jesus’ birth is foretold to this young woman by the name of Mary. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” That is what the angel Gabriel tells Mary.
One can only imagine the fright and disbelief this young woman must have experienced at this, and yet she says simply: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
Next, we turn to the Psalms, and in our psalm for the day, David does not hesitate to cry out to the Lord in his hour of need:
4 I am in the midst of lions;
I lie among ravenous beasts—
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.
But just as soon as he admits his precarious position of weakness, he says this also:
9 I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
10 For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Finally, the verses from Proverbs are yet another reminder of the immense power of words. Solomon, king of Israel, says this:
9 With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor,
but through knowledge the righteous escape.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.