Let them eat chips..?

SMH.

No, I am not shaking my head because Frito-Lay, the parent company to Doritos, thinks that LGBT teens should be safe from bullying–that much I agree with. What I am shaking my head at is that people cannot see beyond this obvious pathetic marketing ploy. Doritos is selling these bags of multi-colored chips for a donation of no less than $10. They have partnered with the It Gets Better Campaign, that is spearheaded by the highly anti-Christianity Dan Savage. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of these chips will go to It Gets Better.

People are saying “it’s for a good cause!” So… what’s next? Will there be Black Doritos for the “Black Lives Matter” movement? Will there be chips imprinted with the flags of the nations from which some of our illegal immigrants flee? Pink chips for breast cancer awareness? Or since they have gone so far as to partner up with someone who is very much against Christians, will they then print Doritos with Scriptures on them? With the exception of the pink for breast cancer, probably not. Why? Because that won’t get them as many sales as these rainbow-colored chips will. They’ll appear to be so tolerant and inclusive and of course all that matters in this world is lining one’s pockets.

I am also SMH because I am sick of this misuse of the rainbow, which was given to man by GOD. I have always loved rainbows. I did not appreciate when out of nowhere the rainbow became the symbol of the gay pride movement.

I feel the same way about Tylenol. All you have to do is push your pain products–they are good, and people will buy them. I was completely caught off guard when I first saw their “How We Family” series of commercials, which features gay couples. Can one explain to me WHY it was necessary? When I was a kid, commercials were simple–they just pushed their product. Here is a commercial from my childhood:

You get the point right?

Tylenol works, people use it, so should you. End of story. There were gay people then, as there always have been. I guess I just fail to see the sincerity in these companies. If you really want to support LGBT initiatives, just donate some of your proceeds…QUIETLY. The fact that there has to be marketing to go along with what could have just been done behind the scenes is what leads me to question the genuineness of Frito-Lay, Tylenol, and similar companies. I’m not sure why these major companies can’t just push their products without any agendas.

I’m sure I’m in the minority there, but I’m okay with that.

I also have to get another rant off my chest.

On Wednesday, 11 Republican presidential candidates engaged in debate.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/17/politics/republican-debate-winners-losers-donald-trump/

There were people who paid attention to what the candidates did (and did not) say. But in my humble opinion, this election (as are all presidential elections) is far too important for people to get distracted by non-happenings such as this:

http://www.eonline.com/news/696826/mystery-gop-hunk-revealed-find-out-about-the-super-hot-guy-sitting-behind-jake-tapper

Now, I am not even going to get into whether this guy is “hot” or not, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in my eyes, the “hottest” of the “hot” is none other than my husband 🙂 That is beside the point. It just amazes me that this is what people–and a lot of them were men–decided to take away from the debate. Depending on this guy’s character, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him capitalize on his fifteen minutes of fame, all because he sat behind Jake Tapper and because there are people in America who apparently have never seen a pretty face.

(snickering)

Anyhow, since I have a little bit of time to myself (Bear is taking a nap, and my husband and son are out and about for a few minutes) I may be able to go ahead and wrap up the book of Numbers. The last several chapters contain a lot of information that I won’t post here verbatim–a lot of names, specifics about festivals we’ve already discussed, and, wouldn’t you know it–numbers 🙂

In chapter twenty-five, we see that the Israelites still have not fully readied themselves mentally and spiritually to enter the land. I just mentioned thirst right above–well, some of the Israelite men got thirsty for the wrong type of women. Israel is staying in Shittim, and some of the men begin to engage in sexual immorality with Moabite women. What do you think happens next? The men let their guards down and become so enchanted with these women that they begin to participate with them in sacrificing to their gods, eating their sacrificial meals and bowing down to them. OF COURSE God is displeased.

I’d be all day if I attempted to AGAIN run down the list of things the Israelites have seen God do. Each and every time something like this happens, I am amazed at how quickly they can forget about God. But this passage provides a perfect example of why Christians are not to intermarry with people of other faiths (that whole concept of being unequally yoked). I for the life of me couldn’t fathom marrying and raising children with someone who did not believe Jesus was God. I guess I cannot see how married people can keep their religious lives separate. For me, my relationship with God defines who I am as a person, so I cannot imagine not being able to share God with my partner. Either way it goes, when we marry someone who is out of the ark of safety, we run the risk of having our minds polluted by their beliefs. It might start out small–partner might bring in some of his/her faith’s literature and encourage you to compare it with your Bible. It may seem harmless at first. You might go to one of their meetings at their house of worship, perhaps to support your partner. Again, it may seem harmless. But a number of things can happen–besides the fact that eventually you might end up being swayed to incorporate their beliefs with your own, you may also serve as a stumbling block to spiritual babes. Imagine if someone new to the church, just coming out of the world, saw you, a seasoned saint, coming out of a Jehovah’s Witness Watchtower meeting? Might they think it is harmless too, go to one, and then get confused? We have to always be mindful that our lives are not our own.

Another part of me had to chuckle as I read this, because as physically strong as men are (and I don’t know why people have a hard time accepting that physically, men are built to be stronger than women, AND THAT IS OKAY), there is something almost implausible about resisting the temptation of a beautiful woman. Even at the risk of punishment by God, who has been burning people up left and right.

The Bible says that “Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor” (v. 3). Baal was the supreme god worshiped by the people of Canaan at that time, a god that wore many hats according to their tradition–he was worshiped as a sun-god, a god of fertility, a god that produced crops, and a storm god. The word “Baal” means “lord”. Baal worship involved abhorrent practices such as temple prostitution and child sacrifice. Think of how people are now–of course people were enticed into a cult that not only allowed, but encouraged amoral sexual practices.

A good read entitled “Fertility Cults of Canaan” by Ray Vander Laan is here:

Fertility Cults of Canaan

Okay, back to our Scriptures.

We left off at the Lord’s anger burning against Israel (obviously). The leaders of the community are instructed to gather up the offenders, because they are to be killed in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the Lord’s anger will turn from the nation. God is giving the people a chance to cleanse their community–lest he do it himself (yikes). In previous passages, God has done this himself–it was God who opened the earth and allowed Korah and Co. to be swallowed up, for example. Now he has given the responsibility of purging the nation to the Israelites. I assume it is to test their obedience. Moses tells the judges that they are to kill anyone who has yoked himself to Baal of Peor.

Then something absolutely amazing happens. An Israelite man by the name of Zimri from the tribe of Simeon boldly brings a Midianite woman named Kozbi (Cosby?), the daughter of a tribal chief named Zur, into the Israelite camp in full view of everybody. It almost makes you laugh, doesn’t it?? I mean, WOW, the audacity of this dude, right? I suppose since he was out fetching Kozbi that Zimri had missed the memo. I’ll bet he had no idea what he was walking into, but he found out the hard way.

Phinehas, son of Eleazar the priest, reacts immediately. Check this out:

When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear into both of them, right through the Israelite man and into the woman’s stomach. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000″ (vv. 7-9).

It’s safe to assume Zimri and Kozbi were well in the…act… when they were killed, correct? How else could Phinehas have killed them both like that? Either way it goes, Phinehas’s dedication and zeal contained the plague that was going through the nation on account of their sin of idolatry.

Here is what interests me. How did this sin start? I doubt it was a mass influx of Moabite women coming into the camp and seducing the men. What I am saying is this–the sin had to start with one person, then two, then spread. I wonder how long it took before the sin overtook the entire nation? And I wonder what the faithful remnant was saying? Because in every instance of idolatry we see in the Bible, there is always a faithful few that remain loyal to God. It just reminds me of how easily sin can pervade an entire group of people. All it takes is for one person to look the other way, shrug their shoulders of show some other form of ambivalence about sin and before you know it, an entire nation is suffering the consequences of what initially was the actions of a few (America, perhaps?).

All sin starts in the mind. Think, for instance, of how this sin started with the eyes of one man, lusting upon what he knew was a forbidden woman. The lust of the eyes eventually led to the actual sinful act. This happens every day, and admittedly is something I struggle with. I used to cuss people, I’ve admitted that before. Now, I’ve learned to restrain my tongue better. But every now and then, a cuss-filled thought will pop up. It hasn’t taken as much effort as I thought to reign in my tongue but BOY does my mind get me into issues every now and then!

We have to be mindful of our thought patterns, because even our thoughts ought to be pleasing to God. That’s why it helps to keep our minds stayed on Jesus. If we are constantly in communion with Him, it will make re-training our sinful brains a bit easier. I am definitely not where I need to be, but I can see as I get older and grow spiritually that I get better.

Israel is safe thanks to the actions of Phinehas. As a reward for his zeal, the Lord makes a covenant of peace with him. This approval lets me know that Phinehas was not acting out of show–his action was because of his true heartfelt dedication to the Lord. I doubt God would have made a covenant with him if he was just acting. Phinehas and his descendants are rewarded with a lasting priesthood, because his actions made atonement for the Israelites.

Now that that issue has been dealt with, a directive is issued to the Israelites through Moses: They are to look upon the Midianites as their enemies and kill them. The Lord says that the Midianites treated the Israelites as enemies when they deceived them in the incident involving Kozbi and Zimri. I wondered what God meant by this. In previous passages it said that Kozbi was the daughter of a tribal leader. Could that tribal leader had been attempting to use his daughter sexually in order to gain some ground with the Israelites through Zimri? I am thinking the Midianite women were being used as pawns to cripple the Israelite men’s resolve. I am thinking that they knew if the men were strong in the Lord they could not be defeated. Best way to weaken the nation was to infiltrate them and ruin their relationship with their omnipotent God.

Chapter twenty-six involves the second census. This is where I will be scant on the details. This census, again, is of men who have achieved twenty years of age or older and can serve in the Israelite army. The numbers, by tribe, follow:

Reuben: 43, 730, as compared to the number from the first census, which was 46,500 (The Bible reminds us that Datham and Abiram, who perished with Korah when they followed him into rebellion, where included in this tribe).

Simeon: 22,200; previous number was 59,300

Gad: 40,500; 45,650

Judah: 76,500; 74,600

Issachar: 64,300; 54,400

Zebulun: 60,500; 57,400

Joseph by Manasseh: 52,700; 32,200

Joseph by Ephraim: 32,500; 40,500

Benjamin: 45,600; 35,400

Dan: 64,400; 62,700

Asher: 53,400; 41,500

Naphtali: 45,400; 53,400

The total number here is 601, 730 men over the age of twenty, capable of fighting in the army. Women, children, elderly men, and men with physical disabilities were excluded. The number from the first census was 603,550, which in my opinion, is not a MAJOR change in population. Despite everything they had done, the Israelites were still a massive nation.

And of course, the Levites are not included, because their job is not to war, it’s to take care of God’s dwelling and tend to the spiritual needs of the people.

The Lord tells Moses that the land they are to inhabit shall be divided by tribes, based on their size. Larger groups are to receive larger inheritances of land than smaller groups, but everyone, except the Levites, get an allotment. All of the male Levites a month of age and older are counted, and they number at 23,000.

The second census is complete. As the Lord had said, no one from the previous generation except Joshua and Caleb are involved in this census. God says what he means and means what he says.

In chapter twenty-seven an issue concerning land inheritance occurs with the five daughters of Zelophehad of the tribe of Manasseh. The daughters, Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah, are concerned because their father was one of the Israelites who perished in the wilderness (although it was not because he had followed the poor example of Korah and Co.). He left behind no sons, so there was no one to claim his land inheritance. This could have rubbed his name out of the clan completely. The girls request to have their father’s land inheritance so as to preserve his name among the clan. With instruction from the Lord, their request is approved, as long as they marry within their tribe so as to keep the land in the tribe. (Later in the book we find that the girls indeed do this, by marrying cousins from their father’s side). Just in case something like this happens again, God provides instruction for the future: If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter. If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to have the force of law for the Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses” (vv. 8-11).

Now that this issue has been settled, it is time to move on to an event of great importance–Joshua is appointed Moses’s successor. Before this begins, God allows Moses to go up to a high mountain in the Abarim Range where he will be able to see the land God has given the Israelites. Although Moses is not going to get to go into the land as a result of his disrespect, God still is gracious enough to allow him to see what he has accomplished–despite his failings and misgivings, I think it is safe to say that Moses did manage to accomplish a great deal. I think making it thus far without throwing hands on one of the Israelites (considering this is the same guy that killed an Egyptian) is accomplishment enough, thinking about how stubborn the people were. Moses might have been relieved–he was an old man, and going into the new land meant battle–battle as they fulfilled God’s plan to rid the land of the pagan nations that were currently residing there. Moses finally gets to see what he has been working toward this entire time. I can only imagine how he felt.

God says that after Moses has seen the land, he will be gathered unto his people in a manner similar to that of Aaron. It is Moses who shows immediate concern for the people that have burdened him for so long:

May the Lord, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lord’s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd”((vv. 16-17).

Wow. After all the people have put him through, Moses is still showing them some serious compassion. He is also being considerate of his Lord, knowing that the Israelites are still spiritual babes who would immediately fall to the ways of the world without strong leadership and defame God’s holy name.The Lord then tells Moses to take Joshua, son of Nun, and bring him before Eleazar the priest and the entire Israelite assembly. Moses is to lay hands on Joshua, and give Joshua some of his authority so the Israelite community will obey him. Joshua is to be positioned in front of Eleazar, who will help Joshua make decisions by inquiring of the Urim before the Lord (remember awhile ago when we discussed the Urim and Thummim, stones that were carried by the priest to aid them in decision-making? An example is below. When the priest needed to know what God wanted him to do about something, the stones lit up or in some other manner signaled the priest as to which way to go).

As for Joshua, “At his command he and the entire community of the Israelites will go out, and at his command they will come in” (v. 21).

As we will see later on, Joshua is a fearless, faithful and strategic warrior, the most logical choice for the next leader of Israel.

Chapter twenty-eight discusses offerings. Recall that the priests lived off the offerings. Daily offerings consisted of two lambs a year old, without defect–one offered in the morning, one offered in the evening; a grain offering and a drink offering. I’ll let you read the specific quantities on your own. The drink offering is to be poured out to the Lord in the sanctuary. On the Sabbath, the offering is to consist of two lambs (of course a year old, no defects) along with a drink offering and a grain offering. Monthly offerings are presented on the first of every month: A burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs, all a year old and without defect; grain offerings; and a drink offering. One male goat is to be presented as a sin offering. The Passover, which is to occur on the fourteenth day of the first month, involves a festival that begins on the fifteenth day. It has been discussed before: On the first day the congregation is to hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. The various offerings are then listed. Offerings are also detailed for the Festival of Firstfruits, also called the Festival of Weeks, which commemorates, as the first name suggests, the first fruits of the wheat harvest.

In chapter twenty-nine the offerings for the Festival of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Festival of Tabernacles are given. (Festival of Tabernacles is also known as the Feast/Festival of Booths). The offerings differed in value for each of the seven days (again, I’ll let you read that in your Bible at your leisure).

In chapter thirty, perhaps as an answer to a question that has been brought forth, a discussion of vows takes place. Things weren’t like they are now. When people made a vow to the Lord, it was something to be taken seriously. Moses tells the heads of the tribes of Israel that a man who makes a vow to the Lord is obligated to stand by it. If a young woman still living with her father makes a vow to the Lord–maybe to perform a service or give something–and if her father overhears the vow, he can say something and nullify it. However, it the father hears her make the vow and remains quiet, the vow must be satisfied. If a married woman makes a vow, her husband can nullify it in the same manner. Any vow made by a widowed or divorced woman who is therefore not under the purview of any male authority stands firm. I know what some people might say–“OH HOW SEXIST!” I thought so too, admittedly. But then I had to be honest with myself. When I lived in my father’s house, he definitely was the Top Dawg. I didn’t do anything without his approval. Now with my husband as the head of our household, of course I consult with him on things I’d like to do before I go out and do them, even at church. I always seek his opinion, approval and feedback on things I do for the Lord. In a Christian marriage, the man, although not superior over the woman, is the head. As I’ve said before, I have no problem with that, because my husband is a God-fearing man and because of that, he does not hold his position OVER me.

In chapter thirty-one, the Lord tells Moses to take vengeance on the Midianites. After that, Moses will be gathered unto his people. Moses collects one thousand men from each of the twelve tribes–so 12,000 men in all–were sent into battle against the Midianites, along with Phinehas son of Eleazar the priest, who had the trumpets for signaling and articles from the sanctuary (we are seeing a lot more of Phinehas, aren’t we?).

The Israelites do as told–kind of. They kill all Midianite men, including their five kings, and Balaam. They captured all their women and children, burned their cities and took plunder and spoils such as people, animals, and other goods. They bring the booty to Moses and Eleazar the priest. Moses is confused as to why they allowed the women to live–after all, the women are guilty of enticing the men, as we saw with Zimri and Kozbi. Moses instructs them to kill all the boys and the women who have been with a man. The little girls and women who have not been with men are allowed to live. After this, those who have killed someone or touched someone who was killed is instructed that since they are unclean they have to reside outside the camp for seven days, purifying themselves and their garments on the third and seventh days. Eleazar gives further instructions–anything that can go through fire has to be purified in that manner (gold, silver, bronze, iron or tin), and with water. For items that could not withstand fire, they must be purified with water. Instructions are given for dividing the spoils. The items are to be divided equally, with certain percentages of the goods going to the Lord as tribute.

Divide the spoils equally between the soldiers who took part in the battle and the rest of the community. From the soldiers who fought in the battle, set apart as tribute for the Lord one out of every five hundred, whether people, cattle, donkeys or sheep. Take this tribute from their half share and give it to Eleazar the priest as the Lord’s part. From the Israelites’ half, select one out of every fifty, whether people, cattle, donkeys, sheep or other animals. Give them to the Levites, who are responsible for the care of the Lord’s tabernacle” (vv. 27-30).

Specific numbers are also provided for those who are interested.

The commanding officers are grateful that they have taken an inventory of their units and found that no one is missing. The Lord has definitely brought them through. As an acknowledgement, they offer the miscellaneous gold items they have acquired, which Moses and Eleazar accept. Altogether, the gold items offered for atonement weigh 16,750 shekels (about 369 pounds).

The Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe of Manasseh approach Moses, Eleazar, and the leaders of the community (notice how we are also seeing more discussion and decision-making being done with the leaders) with a request in chapter thirty-two. These tribes had very large herds and flocks and saw that the land on that side of the Jordan was suitable for their livestock. They ask if they can have the land there. Moses asks them if they intend to let their fellow tribal brothers go to war without them. He reminds them of the sin the first set of explorers committed that got them barred from the promised land and the ensuing punishment–the forty years of wilderness wandering as that generation died out. Moses goes on:

And here you are, a brood of sinners, standing in the place of your fathers and making the Lord even more angry with Israel. If you turn away from following him, he will again leave all this people in the wilderness, and you will be the cause of their destruction” (vv. 14-15).

The tribes agree to still arm themselves in battle, and in return they want the land on the east side of the Jordan. An agreement is made–they can remain on the land as long as they keep their agreement to help the other tribes rid the promised land of the pagan nations. Information is then given as to the cities the tribes built up.

I’ll let you read chapter thirty-three. It recounts Israel’s wilderness wanderings in detail, beginning with their exodus from Egypt. Get ready to read a lot of difficult names 🙂 Toward the end of the chapter, God tells Moses to tell the Israelites that when they cross the Jordan and enter the promised land, they are to drive out all of its inhabitants, destroy their idols and carved images, and demolish all their high places. They are to settle in the land and establish distributions by lot, by clan. Larger groups get more area, smaller groups get smaller area. God issues a warning that will unfortunately come true in the very near future:

But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them” (vv. 55-56).

Unfortunately, the Israelites do not heed this warning. Although they had just saw what had happened with the situation with the Midianites and the plague. Apparently their short-term (and long-term) memory is kind of poor.

In chapter thirty-four the boundaries for the promised land are outlined, and men, one from each tribe, are denoted to help Moses assign the land. One of those is fearless Caleb. That leads us to chapter thirty-five, where towns for the Levites are established. They are to be given towns and pasturelands for their animals. There will also be cities of refuge established in Israel for people who have accidentally killed someone and are awaiting judgment. Altogether, the Levites get forty-eight towns, with six of those being designated places of refuge. The towns are to be given in proportion to the tribal land–few cities are to be taken for the Levites from smaller tribes, more taken from tribes with a larger area.

These cities of refuge are not for people who have willfully taken another life. If someone struck someone with a fatal blow, whether they used an iron object, stone, or wooden object; or if they shove someone or throw something at someone and they die; they are to be put to death. If there is an accident of this nature that causes death, that person can go to the city of refuge and remain there while the assembly judges them. In order to protect the offender from vengeance, the person remains in the city of refuge until the high priest of the time dies. If they leave that city and are caught by a family member of the person they killed, and that family member takes their life, they are guilty of no crime.

An interesting concept is provided in verse 30: ‘Anyone who kills a person is to be put to death as a murderer only on the testimony of witnesses. But no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness”. What a concept. Only yesterday I heard a story of a man who was released after over thirty years in prison. He was convicted without any physical evidence–only on the testimony of one witness who actually eventually admitted to committing the crime (a murder) by himself. It is obvious why a court cannot and should not rely on the testimony of one witness.

Why should murderers be protected? Because God says that “Bloodshed pollutes the land, and atonement cannot be made for the land on which blood has been shed, except by the blood of the one who shed it” (v. 33). How true is that. Look at America. Once blood is shed, a cycle begins that is not easily stopped. Look at all the senseless killing going on, and how it has corrupted all of America. Think of how a land looks once it has hosted a war. It is never the same again.

In the final chapter of the book of Numbers, chapter thirty-six, the inheritance of the five daughters of Zelophehad is discussed again. As I mentioned before, their request was granted, and in order that the land stay within their tribe, the girls married cousins.

WOW. What an accomplishment. We have made it through the first four books of the Bible! I am excited to move on. Aren’t you? Reading God’s Word is no small thing. With the little bit of time we have on this earth, the least we can do is read his Word that we may be able to apply it to our own lives so that we can live right and bring others into closer fellowship with the Lord. This here book is invaluable. It is life-changing. It is not to be taken lightly. And I love it.

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