NUMBERS 30:1-31:54 | LUKE 4:1-30 | PSALM 63:1-11 | PROVERBS 11:20-21
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16 These are the regulations the LORD gave Moses concerning relationships between a man and his wife, and between a father and his young daughter still living in his house.
And so ends chapter 30 of the book of Numbers.
These so-called regulations that subjugate a woman to her father or husband might have been suitable in that cultural context and in that day, but they have no place in the age of the New Covenant.
This New Covenant, as you know, was one that was offered by Jesus not just to the Jews but to every person on the face of this earth without prejudice to male or female. And under this New Covenant, there is a personal relationship between each person and his or her God. Therefore, these archaic laws of submission, nay, oppression to women have no place here whatsoever. Hallelujah!
The next chapter is one that is recorded in a most matter-of-fact manner. Israel goes to battle with the neighboring Midianites and defeats all five kings, brings back the spoils of war, and Moses methodically decrees a distribution system. The part about putting the women prisoners-of-war to death—the ones that led the men of Israel astray—is extremely unsettling to me. This is NOT what Jesus would do!
Turning next to the book of Luke, we learn of the temptation of Jesus by Satan. When taunted by the evil one to turn the stones into bread, Jesus’ answer is this: “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’”
When Jesus is again tempted by the view of the earthly wealth of the many kingdoms, and is promised them if he would only bow down and worship Satan (the absolute gall!), Jesus replies, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
But Satan doesn’t give up so easily and soon attempts to appeal to Jesus’ sense of self in provoking him to throw himself down the mountain-top because does the Scripture not say that a thousand angels will come to his rescue? But Jesus’ only answer is, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’
A little later, we see the outcome of Jesus’ outspokenness on his own identity to the people of his hometown, Nazareth. Sitting in the synagogue there, Jesus clearly proclaims himself as the Messiah. But the people are outraged at this supposed blasphemy and turn on him and drive him to the edge of town.
Let it not be said, O Israel, that your Messiah did not come to you and announce himself to you! But woe is to you for not accepting him!
Jesus’ very words are these:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Our Psalm for the day is one in which David, the great macho warrior-king is not ashamed to speak of his deep affection for God in the most tender and intimate terms. These might have been the words of a lover to his loved one—such is the intense devotion that David displays toward God Almighty. He says:
1 O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
Finally, a couple of verses from the Book of Proverbs that serve as food for thought:
20 The LORD detests those whose hearts are perverse,
but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.
21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
but those who are righteous will go free.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.