It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Reflections on the readings for March 9

But I am like a green olive tree
    in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
    forever and forever.
I will thank you forever,
    because of what you have done.
In the presence of the faithful
    I will proclaim your name,
    for it is good.
(Psalm 52:8-9)

Numbers 11:24-13:33
When two men who had not been through the established process began preaching, someone complained to Moses. Moses said he wished everyone would be a prophet of God.

Another problem arose. The Lord sent a huge amount of quails for them to gather and eat, but then becoming angry with them, sent a very great plague. Moses, Israel, and even God often seem on the verge of dropping the whole thing.

Aaron and Miriam, brother and sister of Moses, express dissatisfaction with his Cushite wife (I started to say foreign wife, but at this point in the story of Israel, they are all foreigners).  They further complain "Does the Lord speak only through Moses? How about us?" The Lord got mad, "I'm the one who decides who is a prophet."

Miriam became leprous (Again, remember that this term doesn't describe Hansen's Disease). Only Miriam, not Aaron.

Katherine Doob Sakenfeld, in Women's Bible Commentary, asks why if both Aaron and Miriam complain, why is only Miriam punished.  She suggests two reasons. First, Aaron is a priest so that skin disease would render him unclean and unable to function in his duties. Second, Miriam is a woman, and women aren't supposed to show disrespect for males.

Miriam was sent out of the camp for seven days, then was brought back and they again set out on their journey.

The Lord directed Moses to send a  representative from each of the tribes to spy out the land of Canaan, their promised home. Moses was more specific. He told them to see how productive the land was and how well it would be defended. They bring back evidence of great productivity. One of them, Caleb, was ready to begin the occupation. The others did not want to. They thought that the Canaanites would offer too much resistance.

We still see fear and pessimism in groups trying to start new ventures.

Mark 14:22-52
In Mark's Gospel, the last words that Jesus speaks to his disciples are, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand" (14:41-42).

When I was an accounting professor, I would warn my students that the persons likely to embezzle would be trusted employees--after all, they would be the ones most likely to have access.

This phenomenon is not new. Read Zechariah 13:1-7.

The men that Jesus chose as guards were three of his closest associates. They went to the sleep on the job. The one who sold him out to the Romans was also one of the twelve.

The work of the resurrected Christ continues. Who's sleeping on the job? Who is betraying the message?

Psalm 52:1-9
The psalm addresses the powerful, "Why do you boast of the mischief you have done against the godly? God will see that you pay for what you have done."

And those who have been harmed but remained faithful to God will see the downfall of the mighty ones: "See, the one who would not take refuge in God, but trusted in abundant riches, and sought refuge in wealth!"

Rich sure seems good to us much of the time, but the Psalms remind us that being rich is not satisfactory as a total goal. For one thing, it doesn't last. For another, seeking that goal at the expense of all others results in our loss of everything important.

Rather, than trust money, this Psalm reminds us to trust in God forever and forever and to thank God--publicly.

Proverbs 11:1-3

Prayer for Today: Choose a prayer from Joan Stott's website, The Timeless Psalms.

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