Tag Archives: Moses

We made it!!

mom-1508902_1280FINALLY, we come to what some may consider the capstone (or the low point, depending on your political orientation I suppose) of Proverbs—the “Proverbs 31 woman”. 

“The words of Lemuel king of Massa, which his mother taught him…”

I remember a brief conversation with my mother, probably back in the late 60’s; I was around 9 or 10.  She said to me, “Dawn, you can be ANYTHING you want to be, and you don’t even have to be just one thing—you can do more than that!”  I could grow up to be an engineer (like my dad) or a doctor, start my own business, wow. I was never really aware of any gender barriers, not in my family’s culture.  My orientation from youth was “the sky’s the limit!”  So what did I choose as my profession?

Nursing. (Duh.)

The word “feminism” carries different connotations for different individuals.  For example, there are some that get genuinely frustrated with the masculine references to God as “Father”, which I consider merely a cultural personification.  This confusion is actually nothing more than Satan’s devilish device to cloud the true issue of God’s love and ever-expanding justice.

I say “ever-expanding” because it seems that justice is one of the over-arching themes throughout the Bible, and I reference the story below as an example of how God is waiting for us to “co-labor” with Him (again, I have no problem with that pronoun) to define His love and justice to a very confused (and confusing) world.

Backstory: Moses and the people of Israel are standing on the threshold of the Promised Land.  Land ownership was an important concept, so the dividing of the land was hugely significant.  At this time in this culture, only men could “own” land, which was passed down to sons.  But this one guy (who had now died while wandering around in the wilderness during that infamous forty-year hike) was survived only by his five daughters.

Now, these ladies could have easily thrown up their hands in bitterness and just resigned themselves to their cultural fate.  OR….

“One day a petition was presented by the daughters…These women stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the tribal leaders, and the entire community at the entrance of the Tabernacle… ‘Why should the name of our father disappear from his clan just because he had no sons? Give us property along with the rest of our relatives.’ So Moses brought their case before the LORD.  And the LORD replied to Moses, ‘The claim of the daughters of Zelophehad is legitimate. You must give them a grant of land along with their father’s relatives. Assign them the property that would have been given to their father.’”

Whoa!  Talk about bold!  Talk about initiative!  These women not only acquired justice for themselves, but reading the next several verses, also for many who were to follow.  New regulations were set up because of their action.

Another interesting point is their motivation.  They didn’t want their dad’s name to be disrespected by being left out of the land grant.  It wasn’t about them, it was about the honor of their father’s name.

Hmmmm….

God calls us to “come boldly to the throne of grace…”  It is there first and foremost that we find the true definition of justice, and God’s heart in forwarding that very thing, not merely for ourselves, but for those who are to follow, and most importantly, for the honor of our Creator’s character.  In fact, the Cross is the eternal symbol of, not only God’s love, but His justice.  And it’s paid in full.

Now, THAT’S bold.

Proverbs 31:1; Numbers 27   Tyndale House Publishers Inc (2008-06-01). The One Year Bible NLT (One Year Bible: Nlt Book 2) (Kindle Locations 9353-9365). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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Have a plan

moses-2628535_1920Moses, what a guy.  Talk about job stress—the perks were pretty great but so were the occupational hazards.  (And I think I have tough days!)  At least there was clear communication with the Boss; no lost email trails or intra-office misinterpretation of body language, all that.  God’s instructions were always unmistakably clear, right down to what colors of decorative embroidery thread to use for the big church tent!

One year into their miraculous escape/rescue from centuries of Egyptian slavery, God now has them positioned to pull up the stakes and start their journey in earnest to the Promised Land. 

He has also promised to be their Guide, a cloud by day and something that looks like a pillar of fire by night.  Again, fairly distinctive, even for someone directionally challenged, like me.  When He moves left, they move left.  When He stops, they stop, and up go all the tents.  Kind of like a cosmic GPS.  What could be easier?

Then I read this short conversation sandwiched in the account of the Israelites getting ready to leave.  It’s between Moses and his brother-in-law, Hobab, (who is not an Israelite).  Moses is inviting him to join them on their journey, and that they will share all the blessings that God will give them. 

“But Hobab replied, ‘No, I will not go. I must return to my own land and family.’  ‘Please don’t leave us,’ Moses pleaded. ‘You know the places in the wilderness where we should camp. Come, be our guide.’”

Hold on.  I thought God was their guide…?  Has the great leader of the Old Testament who walked his people through the sea on dry land and spoken to God Almighty in the burning bush suddenly gotten cold feet?

As much as I love the “humanness” of our biblical heroes, I don’t think that is the case.  We’re talking about over a million human beings here, so “camping out” isn’t just a matter of taking over, say, an entire State Park.  It’s more like taking over Chicago.  God was going to guide Moses to a general area; a good leader was needing to prepare for at least some of the particulars.

Now, I’ll admit that one of my failsafe, fall back phrases is “God’s got a plan”.  Okay, true enough.  But many times, the very real question of the moment is,… do I?

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

In other words, God’s guidance does not preclude my personal responsibility.  Reasoning brain and redeemed spirit work hand-in-hand.  It may seem like push and shove sometimes, but God can still get His end result accomplished.

ThreadBecause sometimes He may just give us the pattern and let us pick out the color of thread.

Numbers 10:30; Proverbs 16:9 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Stepping on Snakes

Proverbs 17:24

“Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.”

If It Had Been a Snake

I have heard this saying all my life: “If it had been a snake, it would have bit you.” What exactly does that mean?

One time I heard it after I had been searching for a water hose in some tall grass I should have mowed earlier. My dad and I had to look for the missing hose, so when my foot slipped on the round rubber tube, my dad said, “If it’a been a snake, it would’a bit ya’.”

The meaning is that sometimes we miss the most obvious things, even though they may be right in front of our face.

It Was a Snake

800px-Copperhead05

Credit: Wikipedia

Because we lived next to the woods and near the Tennessee River when I was younger, rattle snakes and copperheads (venomous snakes) were common. One day, when a friend of mine came to visit for the evening, he walked in front of me to the front door of our house. What he failed to see stretched out on the ground in front of him, right below the door, was a 3-foot copperhead. He didn’t see it, but I did – just in time – so I threw him (my friend) off the porch and into the yard (I guess it was the adrenalin).

The reason my friend did not see the snake was because he was looking other places.

Not a Snake

Wisdom is not a snake, but you probably knew that. Yet, why is wisdom so hard for some to recognize? Solomon previously described Wisdom as even crying out in the streets (Prov. 1:20). It’s not like we can call wisdom elusive, can we?

I am reminded of what God said through Moses,

11 “This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach. 12 It is not in heaven so that you have to ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ 13 And it is not across the sea so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ 14 But the message is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may follow it.[1]

Wisdom is as close as our face, if we would just pay attention. All it would really take is for one to want to see it.

The Fool Will Get Bitten

Unlike the man with understanding, the fool has his eyes looking around for anything and everything that doesn’t matter.  Instead of recognizing what is in front of his face, he looks up to the stars and across the seas.

In the end, it won’t be wisdom that bites, but another kind of Serpent.


[1] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Dt 30:11–14.


Golden Calves

Proverbs 17:11  

“An evil man seeketh only rebellion: therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him.”
“Evil people are eager for rebellion, but they will be severely punished” (NLT).

History is full of stories of rebellion. Some succeeded, but many failed. While not all of those who rebel against authority are evil, motive is rarely taken into consideration when rebellions are crushed.

One famous incident in British history concerned six agricultural laborers who reacted to the unfair treatment that they and their colleagues suffered. They met together and under an oath of secrecy formed a trade union. The local squire was not happy about the prospect of a unionized workforce, and action was taken to stamp out this act of rebellion. Six workers were arrested and charged with taking an illegal oath. They were sentenced to transportation to Australia and seven years hard labor.

While many of us today would probably fancy a trip down under to take in the sights and the sun, this was no tourist trip. Transportation to Australia and the conditions for convicts who were sent to Australia were brutal. While few returned, the Tolpuddle Martyrs as they became known were pardoned and freed after three years. Freedom came after a huge campaign by the British working class, and the presentation of a petition containing 800,000 names to Parliament.

Rebelling against the establishment, or against the rulers of this world is one thing. But what about the rebellion of humanity against God? The Bible records many examples involving the people of Israel. Their attitude soon after their miraculous deliverance from slavery in Egypt seems unbelievable. After Moses climbed Mount Sinai to meet with God, the people persuaded Aaron to make a golden calf for them to worship instead of God.

It is easy to judge others. We can look back in amazement at the golden calf incident without considering whether there are any golden calves in our lives. We may compare ourselves with the Tolpuddle Martyrs and think that because we are not engaging in an evil rebellion we will not receive a severe punishment. But consider a child receiving punishment from a loving parent. My own experience of punishment for childhood misdemeanors was that the hurt I saw in my parents’ eyes was more of a punishment than anything they devised to persuade me that I should mend my ways.

crossWe have a loving God in heaven who allows us to call Him Father. His Son took the severest punishment possible so that God did not have to punish us. So why do we rebel against Him? If we consider the hurt and the pain He suffers when we choose golden calves in our lives instead of Him, then perhaps we will begin to understand the extent and the cost of His love for us, and how much He values it when we return His love, and destroy our golden calves.


Desired, Sought, and Treasured

Proverbs 2:1-5 

“My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; 2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; 3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; 4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; 5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.”

Treasure Hunting

There are people in the UK who arm themselves with metal detectors to search ancient battlefields and settlements for long lost treasure. While a few stumble upon finds of considerable importance and value, the majority search for years without finding anything much. Most never give up the search, convinced that one day they will make an important find.

Verse 4 of Proverbs 2 suggests that we should search for wisdom as if it were treasure, hidden in some secret storehouse. Wisdom is not a discovery to be made in an instant, some sort of easy one-off find. The search for wisdom should last a lifetime, the aim of the search to gain insight, understanding and knowledge of God. Such knowledge will lead us towards completeness in our relationship with Him, but it will also teach us to fear God.

Finding Fear

How and why does fear come into the equation? Moses was a man who knew how to fear the Lord, and could help answer this question. His first real fear encounter with God occurred with the burning bush incident, when Moses began to learn an awesome respect for God. He was a man who was changed because of his experience of God, evident in the way that his face was radiant after spending time in God’s presence.

That’s the key. Spending time in God’s presence will open our minds and allow us to understand more of God.

But the wisdom that comes from such understanding should inevitably lead to fear. This fear could be defined as being overwhelmed by the realization of who God is.

That realization is surely something to be desired, something to be sought, and something to be treasured.

(Originally published 4/08/12)


Stepping on Snakes

Proverbs 17:24

“Wisdom is before him that hath understanding; but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.”

If It Had Been a Snake

I have heard this saying all my life: “If it had been a snake, it would have bit you.” What exactly does that mean?

One time I heard it after I had been searching for a water hose in some tall grass I should have mowed earlier. My dad and I had to look for the missing hose, so when my foot slipped on the round rubber tube, my dad said, “If it’a been a snake, it would’a bit ya’.”

The meaning is that sometimes we miss the most obvious things, even though they may be right in front of our face.

It Was a Snake

800px-Copperhead05

Credit: Wikipedia

Because we lived next to the woods and near the Tennessee River when I was younger, rattle snakes and copperheads (venomous snakes) were common. One day, when a friend of mine came to visit for the evening, he walked in front of me to the front door of our house. What he failed to see stretched out on the ground in front of him, right below the door, was a 3-foot copperhead. He didn’t see it, but I did – just in time – so I threw him (my friend) off the porch and into the yard (I guess it was the adrenalin).

The reason my friend did not see the snake was because he was looking other places.

Not a Snake

Wisdom is not a snake, but you probably knew that. Yet, why is wisdom so hard for some to recognize? Solomon previously described Wisdom as even crying out in the streets (Prov. 1:20). It’s not like we can call wisdom elusive, can we?

I am reminded of what God said through Moses,

11 “This command that I give you today is certainly not too difficult or beyond your reach. 12 It is not in heaven so that you have to ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ 13 And it is not across the sea so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea, get it for us, and proclaim it to us so that we may follow it?’ 14 But the message is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may follow it.[1]

Wisdom is as close as our face, if we would just pay attention. All it would really take is for one to want to see it.

The Fool Will Get Bitten

Unlike the man with understanding, the fool has his eyes looking around for anything and everything that doesn’t matter.  Instead of recognizing what is in front of his face, he looks up to the stars and across the seas.

In the end, it won’t be wisdom that bites, but another kind of Serpent.


[1] The Holy Bible: Holman Christian Standard Version. (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009), Dt 30:11–14.