I will sing of your might;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning
for you have been a fortress for me and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my strength, I will sing praises to you,
for you, O God, are my fortress,
the God who shows me steadfast love.
Balak didn't give up. He once again told Balaam to curse the Israelites, the ones he considered invaders. Balaam said he would have to check with the Lord first. The Lord told Balaam, to give the a blessing. When Balak tried for the third time to curse the Isralites, Balaam balked. He wouldn't even try to look for omens. He knew what the Lord wanted him to do;, so, he did it. The spirt of God came upon him, and he uttered an oracle blessing them--and cursing anyone who cursed them.
Balak's fourth oracle pronounced that Israel would crush Moab and Edom.
Meanwhile, the Israelite men began to have sex with the Moab women. The Lord told Moses to execute them. Why is the Lord so angry--the sex with the Moabite women or the worship of Baal? Remember, Moses is married to a Midianite woman, the daughter of a priest.
Phineas is rewarded. Two deaths stop the plague--Was only Zimri guilty?
Augustus is emperor; Quirinius is govenor. The emperor decrees that all persons be registered; that is, the emperor is going to make sure that he gets taxes from everybody under his control.
Then there are some folks who can't issue decrees. The only things they control are somebody else's sheep. And it is to this kind of person that the angels go with their news. Not the emperor, not the governor, but the shepherds.
Although shepherds had a positive image in the Old Testament--think of the 23rd Psalm for example--shepherds living and working at the time of Jesus' birth were not viewed positively. Rather, they were regarded as lower class, untrustworthy, migrant workers who used other people's grass to feed their sheep.
The shepherds were not expecting the news. They were at work, and, to their society at the time, not very well-thought-of work. Yet, the Lord sent a messenger to them with the good news.
The response of the shepherds was immediate. They went to Bethlehem at once to see for themselves. And when they had seen, they told what they had seen.
Think about who God trusted to receive and carry messages. Try to imagine a modern-day counterpart to first-century shepherds. Would you be interested in anything such people had to say to you? Is it hard for you to imagine God's telling them something before letting you know?
Prayer for Today: O Lord, you have entrusted us with the good news. Support us in our effort to be worthy of your selection. Amen.