it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
Leviticus 27:14-Numbers 1:54
On this journey (understood as historical or metaphorical), the people remind themselves of what they owe the Lord, of what sins they have committed, of the desire to turn away from what's wrong. Note that they haven't yet learned to live in peace with neighbors, to agree always with family members, or recognize that women are also people. On the other hand, we moderns haven't completely mastered those lessons ourselves.
The book of Numbers is a theological reflection on community. By relating how Israel journeyed through the wilderness, it provides us a model of how people of God can live out their faith in the world they find themselves. As you begin reading Numbers, think about your own stories:
1) What stories have you heard about your birth? What was happening in your parents' lives at the time?
2) How have you been tested? What bad things have you had to overcome?
3) Have you moved from one home to another one that was very far away? Have you been without a home for some time?
4) Have there been times that you have recognized the providence of God in your life?
5)What is the goal for the rest of your life? Where do you want to end up?
Imagine living in a land that once had been yours but now is under the control of a powerful overseer; imagine that your own political and religious leaders answer to this other force. This was life for the Jews in the time of Jesus.
They looked backwards to help them see forwards.
When Mark told of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he quoted from Psalms and from the prophets who had spoken to the people as they envisioned return from exile.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)Mark's readers have known what came next: He will defeat the enemy and the prisoners will be set free (Read Zechariah 9:10-17).
We still are reading the Gospel of Mark. And we still are being held captive. For some Christians, the captors are actual human overseers. For others, they are powerful forces. As individuals, we may be worried about loss of health or loss of a specific loved one. Or, as a community, we have shared concerns.
And today, we can think of the economic strictures around the globe.
How much have we lost?Psalm 46:1-11
How much do we fear?
What will tomorrow bring?
Psalm 46 recognizes that life does have pain and disruptions. It speaks of disruptions in nature and among people. Mountains tumble into the sea because of earthquakes. Nations fall to attack by enemies.
Yet, in times of affliction, we have the comfort of the presence of God.
Prayer for Today: O Lord, calm our fears; remind us that you are present with us. Help us to forgive others. Help us to behave in all ways so that we don't find ourselves asking them to forgive us.