Friday, October 11, 2019

Blogging Bible Study: Desert Digging - The Reward of Complaining...Numbers 13 and14.

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Numbers 13 and 14 are where the Desert Digging and the Side Quest of Counting the Complaints collide in a big way...

So at the LORD's command Moses sent them [the 12 guys sent to have a look round the Promised Land] out from the Desert of Paran.  All of them were leaders of the Israelites.  -- Num. 13:3

'All of them were leaders'...whatever opinions they had of the land would have some clout.

They wandered the length and breadth of the land and looked it -- its potential, its inhabitants, its produce -- over really well.

They cam back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There the reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: "We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey!  Here is its fruit."  (Num 13:26-27).

So far, so good.  But ...remember the negative attitude that these folks had traveling to this spot?  It hasn't left them.

"But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.  We even saw descendants of Anak there." (13:28)

They went on  to list the different tribes in the area.  There must have been a grumbling response from the people, because we see  in verse 30 that Caleb had to do some shushing.

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." 

Alas, Caleb had the minority opinion, for he was immediately contradicted.  I'm not going to quote the whole lament of the other guys; it's in Numbers 13:31 - 33, concluding with "We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them."

Then we have what I'm going to call the Great Grumble.  It's number 5 in the count, but it is the grandfather of all grumbles and it cost them dearly.

That night all the people  of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.  All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, "If only we had died in Egypt!  Or in this desert!  Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?  Or wives and children will be taken as plunder.  Wouldn't it be better for us to go back to Egypt?"  And they said to each other, "We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt." (Num 14: 1 - 4)

Moses and Aaron fell face down; praying, one would suppose.  Caleb and Joshua tore their clothes in grief and frustration and tried to reason with them, but the people threatened to stone them.

God had heard enough.

Then the glory of the LORD appeared at the Tent of Meeting to all the Israelites. (14:10b)

There's no mention that Moses got up and went into the Tent to hear what God had to say.  I rather think there was a rumbling thunder the people heard; I don't think they comprehended the exchange between God and Moses, in which God  threatened to obliterate the whole stubborn nation and start over with Moses.

It's interesting that Moses did not reason with God on behalf of the people at all...his entire argument was for the reputation of the name of the LORD, concluding,

"If you put these people to death all at once time, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 'The LORD was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath; so he slaughtered them in the desert.' "  (14:15-16)

THEN he makes his request

"In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now."  (14:19)

But even then, Moses' request was not based on the needs of the people but on the character of God.  And God did not destroy the whole nation.

But there were consequences.

"...I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites.  So tell them, 'As surely as I live, declares the LORD, I will do to you the very things I heard you say:  In this desert your bodies will fall -- every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me.  Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.  As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected."  (14:27b - 31)

God promised to do exactly to them what they had pronounced over themselves:  If only we had this desert....
Judgement was passed and sentence pronounced.

"...your bodies will fall in this desert.  Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert.  For forty years -- one year for each of the forty days you explored the land -- you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you.  I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will surely do these things to this whole wicked community, which has banded together against me.  They will  meet their end in this desert; here they will die."  (14:32 - 34)

Then the ten guys who spied out the land with Caleb and Joshua and were responsible for the bad report that set the nation to grumbling dropped dead.

Furthermore, God sent them away from the threshold of the promise.

"Since the Amalekites and Canannites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea."  (v. 25)

Well, then they were all sorry and repented of their complaining.  They actually tried to take some ground in the hill country, without Moses or the Ark of the Covenant or the presence of God, and they got beaten back.  The door was closed. They could no longer claim the promise.  It was going to wait for their children.

After they had wandered for forty years in the desert.

The reward of complaining was...that they got precisely what they had declared they preferred to what God was giving them.

Be very, very careful about complaining.  It's a big deal to God.  And the desert, which was supposed to just be a temporary passage, became a graveyard.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

We Got Mousified...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

It's been, like, 3 weeks now and I am still trying to catch up. Doesn't help that we launched right into the middle of one of the busiest months I can remember in the recent past.  It's not the busy of a Big's the busy of a myriad Small Projects, short trips and approaching holiday preparations....Christmas production tryouts?

I've managed to squeeze out a couple of the Desert study posts by writing them in small bits over the week and then posting, but I didn't make it last week...and the next couple of weeks are iffy.

So...thoughts on the trip to see the mouse in Florida...

We planned for, like, almost a year.  First it was the reservations themselves...then it was the dining reservations...then it was the fast pass selections...and the installment payments...the hotel reservations for the trip down and back...the arrangements to board the cat at the vet's...watching the tropics to see if we were going to get hit by the tropical storm or merely sideswiped...and then it stayed off the coast all together and we barely had any rain.

The Princess and her hubby are serious fact, she has done the training and is now a certified vacation planner for all things, um, relevant to the mouse.  So they Knew What To Do.  The Actor had been once with a church group 5 years ago; My Sweet Babboo and I had visited the mouse back in March of 1982, when there was only one park down there.  So that almost doesn't even count.

The Artist and the Flute Player had never been.

We had tickets for the 'exclusive event' they do from mid-August to Nov. 1...and, honestly, the 'exclusive event' had the biggest crowd and longest wait lines of the week we were there.  But it was fun to dress up in a character costume and interact with castmembers a bit.  And the fireworks were jaw-dropping.

We actually saw 4 major fireworks shows.

We ate some incredible food.  Yay for the dining plan...we would have cheapskated it had we not had that all covered.  We also ate some of the cheapskate was handy at the time...there's definitely a difference between the good stuff and the cheaper stuff (which, honestly, ain't cheap).

We got to go to the edge of the galaxy and 'flew' the legendary smuggler's ship. I even came home with a light saber that I assembled myself...the 18 year old inner me was totally geeking out.  That may actually  have been my favorite bit.

We had a lot of fun with our kids plus one, and I suppose it's possible that we could do it again.

But not for a while, lol.

A week back...Christmas auditions...then another weekend away...Alabama Royal Rangers Lead Conference.  The 'fun activity' for the event was...skeet shooting.  But they also had some target shooting w/a .22 rifle.  Now,  growing up,  shooting guns was not an approved activity for girls.  I think I snuck in a bit of  tin-can pinging with a BB gun at some point, but that was it.  I didn't brave the shotgun, but I managed to hit the iddle bitty .22 target a fair number of times ..for a first timer, lol.

And it's not going to slow down for another 2 ish weeks.  More random busy for the rest of the month.  But...then it will be November, and at least  the only real crazy will be Christmas production prep.  Oh, and Thanksgiving, lol.

All of this is basically to say I will do my best to be consistent with the Desert Digging posts...but if they fail to show, well, I'll get something up as soon as I can.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Blogging Bible Study: Desert Digging - Journey to Kadesh

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Numbers 10: 11- 12 records the departure from Sinai...

On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle of the Testimony.  Then the Israelites set out from the  Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran.

This was the first time that the Israelites traveled as an ordered march;  part of their instructions during their sojourn at Sinai included how to order the camp, both while they were stopped and while they were on the move, following the cloud.  Before Sinai, they were a group of refugees; now they were a nation moving with purpose.  We have one more mention of 'desert' in chapter 10; Moses asks his father-in-law to accompany them to their destination.  At first, Jethro (aka Hobab) refused,

But Moses said, "Please do not leave us.  You know where we should camp in the desert, and you can be our eyes.  If you come with us, we will share with you whatever good things the LORD gives us."  (10:31-32).  There's no other reference to the conversation, so apparently Jethro/Hobab went with them.  He knew the desert, and he would know where there was water...springs and cisterns.

I'm going to mention the little side quest here; the trip to the Desert of Paran was a struggle.  In actuality, the word 'desert' only appears in three verses in the account of the journey.  But something happens here that sets up a pattern that will influence a decision that will change the character of the desert sojourn.  In chapter 11, the Israelites resort to grumbling again.  They had been happy enough at Sinai, but once they were on the move again, well,

Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused.  Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.  (11:1). 

They'd gone nearly a whole year without complaining or grumbling...but now it starts again (grumble count: 3)  With the camp ordered as instructed, the 'outskirts' of the camp would be the folks who were not actual Israelites but who were tagging along with them; some had come with them from Egypt, and they caused some problems as we'll see in pretty short order.  But verse 2 tells us that the people cried to Moses while the fire was burning; he prayed for them and the fire died down.  But that didn't stop the grumbling.

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat!  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost -- also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.  But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!" (11:4-6).

Grumble count: 4.

Even Moses picked up a lament; he was overwhelmed by the complaining of the people. The rest of chapter 11 describes God's provision for them...he gave Moses some help in governing the people, and he gave the people quail to eat...and a plague of judgment that killed enough that the place became known as 'Graves of Craving' -- Kibroth Hattaavah.

And it wasn't enough that the people were grumbling; chapter 12 relates that Miriam and Aaron picked up the complaining spirit and THEY began to talk behind Moses' back.

But, as has already been demonstrated, the LORD hears the complaints.  There was a meeting with Moses, and the presence of God came down and scolded Aaron and Miriam...and when it was over, Miriam had been stricken with leprosy.  Moses, of course, interceded and after Miriam had been excluded from the camp for 7 days; she was healed and allowed to return.

After that, the people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran.  (12:16).

This should have been a relatively easy journey for the company, from Sinai to Paran.  But they made it difficult by complaining.  And I can't help but wonder if that complaining attitude didn't set the stage for what would happen at Kadesh Barnea, there in the desert of Paran.   They were on the brink of their promise...and they had come through a struggle with folks dying in the desert as a result of their complaints.  No enemies had attacked them, they had not had issues looking for water, all their problems on that trip were a direct result of their own complaining.

They were on very dangerous ground, but they didn't see it.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Blogging Bible Study: Desert Digging - Sojourn at Sinai

posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Chronologically speaking, Israel is encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai for almost a year; the record of that stay begins in Exodus 19: 2  and concludes in Numbers 10:11, when the cloud lifted from the tabernacle.

It was a critical, formative time for Israel and there are certainly many lessons from this chunk of scripture.  But I am focusing on 'desert' let's see what we find about the desert during that period.

There really are not a lot of references containing 'desert'...the focus was elsewhere during this period.  But there are a few.

Exodus 23:31 references the desert as a territorial border -- "I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River; I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you."

Leviticus 7:38 references the offerings the Israelites were commanded to bring while in the Desert of Sinai; 11:18 mentions the desert owl.  So the next real 'desert' statement is in Leviticus 16

But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat....When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forth the live goat.  He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites -- all their sins-- and put them on the goat's head.  He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task.  The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert."  (Lev. 16:10,20-22)

I have always thought this a little odd.  But the truth is...we don't know the fate of the goat that symbolically carried the sins away into the desert.  Was it a domesticated goat, who would have no clue how to survive, and so slowly die of starvation/thirst...or not so slowly die as prey?   Or was it a desert goat, who was released into his own environment, where he could live happily as a wild goat?  We don't know. But...we do know that this complicated process of sacrifice and release both shows the atonement and the removing of sin from the people.  Once the goat was released at the remote location...whether he lived or died he would not be returning.  He, and the sins he bore, were gone for good.  And, here's another thought that occurs to see that the people could do nothing in and of themselves to atone for or rid themselves of their sin.  No prostration, humiliation, acts of charity, or any other action save the sacrifice for atonement and the banishment of the scapegoat for removal.  If you read through Leviticus, you will find varying sacrifices and/or offerings to be made by an individual who sins in some fashion, and in some cases restitution is required where there is injury or loss to another party, but there is no form of ritualistic...anything...that an individual might be required to do to rid himself of sin or atone for his own sin or obtain forgiveness for his sin.  That is a concept that just isn't there.  There is a sacrifice...there is removal...and it is all ultimately down to the grace of God, who forgives the one who seeks forgiveness.  There are rituals associated with cleanliness, but those things often aren't associated with sin so much as the natural course of illness, dealing with a dead body,  burning garbage, etc.   There is no ritual a human can do by which she/he removes or atones for their own sin.  But under the Law, the scapegoat, by God's grace and design, carried the sins outside the camp into the desert...gone for good..

In Numbers, chapter 1, we see that God commanded a census of the people before they left

The LORD spoke to Moses in the Tent of Meeting in the Desert of  Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt.  He said, "Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one.'.... and they called the whole community together on the first day of the second month.  The people indicated their ancestry by their clans and families, and the men twenty years old or more were listed by name, one by one, as the LORD commanded Moses.  And so he counted them in the Desert of Sinai."  (Num 1: 1-2, 18b-19)  This is the first of two such census takings recorded in Numbers; that's why the book was given the name 'Numbers', to be exact.  Topically, this census is also continued in chapter 3:14, when Moses is commanded to count the males of the tribe of Levi - The LORD said to Moses in the Desert of Sinai, "Count the Levites by their families and clans.  Count every male a month old or more."

But there were two missing from the count; we see in 3:4 what happened to Aaron's two sons Nadab and Abihu -

Nadab and Abihu, however, fell dead before the LORD when they made an offering with unauthorized fire before him in the Desert of Sinai.  They had no sons; so only Eleazar and Ithamar served as priests during the lifetime of  their father Aaron. 

That account is recorded in Lev. 10, if you want to go back and read it; I have written a blog post about it before so I'll let you click through if you want to read that.  It is enough, here, to say that the Israelites had to learn to differentiate between what was holy and what was ordinary.

Finally, the last mention of the Desert of Sinai is in chapter 9, just before the Israelites depart

The LORD spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai in the first month of the second year after they came out of Egypt.  He said, "Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time."...and they did so in the Desert of Sinai at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.  The Israelites did everything just as the LORD commanded Moses. - (Num. 9:1-2,5)

It had been a year since they left Egypt; nine months since they camped at Sinai.  In those nine months, the ragtag band of refugees became a nation with laws, a central place of worship, a chain of command...a national identity beyond just family relationship.  They were going to need it.  In Egypt, they had been sequestered in a separate community, comprising a separate class.  But where they were going, there would be  a battle to maintain their boundaries and identity as the people of God.  They got all of the necessary tools at Sinai.  All they had to do was live according to the instructions God gave them through Moses...and God himself promised to defend them.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Blogging Bible Study: Desert Digging - On the Road to Horeb

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Then Moses led the people from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur.  For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water.  Ex. 15:32

And, because I thought it might be interesting to throw a little side quest into it, I'm going to add the next two verses:

When they came to Mara, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah).  So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "What are we to drink?"

This is three whole days after they stood on the shore of the sea, freed by astonishing events from their captors.  Seventy-two hours after the praise dance rejoicing over their deliverance.  Now they are complaining.  And, here's the side quest...I'm going to count as we go through this desert journey.  This is the second time since leaving Egypt that the Israelites complained.  

Of course, Moses  prayed and God had him throw in a piece of wood to make the water sweet. 

Hey, I'm not explaining this.  I don't know why it worked.  God did it, the people had water, and they made it to an oasis where they camped for a bit before heading into the Desert of Sin ('Zin' in some translations).

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.  The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt!  There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out to this desert to starve this entire assembly to death."  Ex. 16:2-3 (Grumble count: 3)

Then Moses told Aaron, "Say to the entire Israelite community, 'Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.' "  While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in a cloud.   Ex. 16:10

That night, quail fell on the ground and they ate meat, and the next morning, When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor.  (Ex. 16:25).  The Israelites called the flakes 'manna.'  They were given instructions ..only gather enough for one day, except for the sixth day, when they were to gather enough for the seventh day as well.  There were some problems in the beginning, but the people soon caught on and fell into the routine. The final instruction regarding manna had to do with a memorial:

Moses said, "This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the desert when I brought you out of Egypt.' "  (Ex. 16:32).

This is the first memorial they were instructed to make.

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded.  They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.  So they quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink."  Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me?  Why do you put the LORD to the test?"  Ex. 17:1 - 2  (Grumble count: 4)

They had some more words with Moses about dying from thirst, Moses cried out to God and was given instructions to strike the rock with his staff...and they had water.  They were also attacked by the Amalekites while they were at Rephidim;  a deed that earned the Amalekites a heavy penalty.  Aaron and Hur held up Moses' hands so that he could intercede for the battle  and Joshua led the army to their first military victory. 

Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, together with Moses' sons and wife, came to him in the desert, where he was camped near the mountain of God. Ex. 18:5

In addition to bringing Moses' family to him, Jethro gave Moses some excellent advice about dealing with the day-to-day administration of the people, and Moses followed that advice, designating leaders to judge disputes and answer questions.

Then, In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt - on the very day -- they came to the Desert of Sinai.  After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of  Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.  - Ex. 19: 1 - 2

So, Moses brought the people to the place where he first met God.  Three months it took them to get there...and in those three months they had seen many marvelous and incredible things.

They would camp there at the foot of the mountain for almost a whole year.

But the Israelites learned much in those three months.  They learned that God would protect them...first from the Egyptians, and then from the Amalekites; they learned that God would lead them and they learned that God would provide for them.  And, if they paid attention, they would also have learned that God heard them when they grumbled.

That should have been a comfort...and a warning.  God hears the grumbling and...God HEARS the grumbling.  Ain't nobody gonna hide a bad attitude.  God hears.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Blogging Bible Study: Digging in the Desert - Coming out of Egypt.

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi 

I honestly have no idea how many posts are going to be generated from the Exodus; I do want to kind of keep things to one general theme per post if I can...and they may be divvied up by the actions/attitudes of the folks we're looking at.  So, today...looking at the part 'DESERT' played in the escape from Egypt.

And make no mistake, it was an escape.  The people were in forced servitude.  Back in the day, one of my kids brought home a book from a school book fair about ancient Egypt that poo-poo'ed the whole idea that the great building projects had been done with slave labor.  The text assured the reader that the laborers had been paid in beer and bread.  It may have been true that they were given some provision.  But they were not free to leave.  They were not free to choose their  occupation.  They were forced to do the labor they were doing.  They were beaten if their work was not judged adequate.  By anyone's standards...that is human trafficking.  Otherwise known as slavery.

Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.' "  ...Then they said, 'The God of the Hebrews has met with us.  Now let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword."   Ex 5: 1, 3, NIV 84.

That 'three day's journey' is a key detail; it shows up again...

After 4 plagues had struck Egypt, Pharaoh attempted a compromise, telling Moses and Aaron that the people could have their worship festival and accompanying sacrifices in the land in which they dwelt. But that wasn't the request, as Pharaoh was reminded,

'We must take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God as he commands us.'  

Miserable with the flies that were the 4th plague, Pharaoh seemed to relent:

Pharaoh said, 'I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the LORD your God in the desert, but you must not go very far.  Now pray for me.'  Ex 8:27 -28

Of course, once the flies were gone, Pharaoh went back on his agreement and refused to let them go.  Six soul-crushing plagues later, mourning the sudden death of his firstborn, Pharaoh basically told the Israelites to get out...and they left quickly, having eaten the Passover meal packed up and ready to bug out.  But they did not go the way their forefathers had come.

So God led the people around by a desert road towards the Red Sea.  The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle....After leaving Succoth, they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert.
Ex 13:18,20

The Israelites did not stay at Etham; they turned around  and camped by the sea.  All part of God's strategy.

"Pharaoh will think , 'The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.'"  Ex 14:3

Pharaoh thought exactly that and sent his armies after them.  Camped between the Egyptian army, the desert, and the sea, the people complained for the first of MANY times.

They said to Moses, 'Was it because there  were no graves in Egypt that you have brought us to the desert to die?  What have you done by bringing us out of Egypt?...It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than die in the desert!"  Ex.14:11, 12b

And, for the first of many times, the Israelites saw themselves delivered by God's intervention.  I've seen many depictions of the crossing of the Red Sea; none of them pictured the Israelites straining against a strong east wind, which I am sure they did; it was the wind that dried the ground and held the water back.  A freak wind.  A God wind.  By the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up.  The surging waters stood firm like a wall; the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.   - Ex. 15:8

When it was over, the Israelites stood on the eastern shore and the enemy that had pursued them was no more.  They were not going back.   See, in all the interactions Moses had with Pharaoh, there was no mention of them leaving and never returning; they were to go a 3-day's journey into the desert, hold their festival, and return.  After the 9th plague, Pharaoh tried to get Moses to agree to go into the desert but leave their flocks and herds behind.  Moses said, no,  we need them all so we can make the required sacrifice.  Pharaoh ordered Moses from his sight, stating 'The day you see my face you will die!'  Moses agreed, 'I will never appear before you again.'  Then he prophesied the tenth and final plague, death of the firstborn, and that Pharaoh's officials would come to him and tell them to leave.  But there was no mention of a change of request; Moses had steadfastly maintained that they would travel for three days into the desert and hold their festival.  IE, they were to travel TO the desert, travel three days INTO the desert, hold the festival (which did not have a fixed time) and then return.  All in all, it could add up to as much as a month, give or take a few days.  Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron -- Moses did not come before him seeking audience -- and told them 'Go, worship the LORD as you have requested.  Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go.  And also bless me.'  (12:31b-32).  This is still implying the '3-days-into-the-desert journey'.  Pharaoh, by sending the army after them,  broke the agreement and chased them to the other side of the sea.  They couldn't return now.  The sea was in the way.  And it was Pharaoh's doing.

I'm not sure that fine point had ever occurred to me before this very moment; Pharaoh himself made sure the Hebrews could not return as they had implied.  He chased them into their freedom.

He had chased them into the desert. Where, as only Moses and Aaron truly knew at this point, they would encounter God.

Out of slavery into the desert.   Nobody said it is easy to leave a life of bondage; there's stuff to go through  and lessons to be learned. The desert is often the first stop out of bondage...because, even though we would never know beforehand, God is found in the desert. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

...and, so, back to school...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

A long-awaited vision is coming to church is initiating a ministry school. We've had a couple of goes at it in the past, and learned from them, and now, well, this looks to be the foundation of something that really can grow.  I'm heavily involved in the data side...tracking attendance and such.

It's a two year commitment; the first year, being the first year, is at a discounted tuition rate. They had about twice as many folks sign up as they expected.

I kinda wanted to do the worship track...but I'm not a worship leader.  Songwriting is my thing. I didn't know if I could do it for songwriting. 

I talked to the Education pastor...who is also our small group pastor...about it a couple of times.  The first year is meeting on Wednesdays, the same as our small groups.  That may change in the future, but for now, that works.  But I couldn't teach a small group if I did the class.

I finally went to him and asked him what he needed me to do.  Admin stuff?  Teach a small group? He said he would love it if I could head up the check in processes for them...and then he really surprised me by saying he'd love for me to do the worship track course designed for laymen.  I've already done the Master's degree from the correspondence school, so there wasn't much point to me doing the general ed stuff...but after a chat with the pastor leading the worship school, they all agreed that I could sit in on the worship track classes.

I figured I'd just, you know, kind of audit the class.  Observe and listen and learn.  Not really participate.  Because, you know, I'm not, like, a real student.

But tonight was orientation.  We walked everyone through practicing checking in...we have a new check in system, so even folks who had done it before needed a little coaching on what to click when.  They picked up their student welcome box and went upstairs to what was the library when our building was a high school but is now our children's sanctuary for snacks and the actual orientation class.  One volunteer and I stayed behind for about another 15 minutes to check in stragglers, then we shut down the kiosks, rolled them back to the main checkin area and went upstairs.

The volunteers had taking the unclaimed welcome boxes upstairs and I happened to walk by that table as I entered the meeting.

And I spied, with my little eye, a box with my name on it.
Y'all.  I almost cried real tears, right there.  I had a box...just like everybody else.  I don't know why that hit me so hard.  I guess I had visions of myself being, well, kind of tolerated in the program.  But instead...I got a welcome box.  I truly did not expect one, since, well, I wasn't a 'real student'.

I had a paradigm shift.  Why was I there?  I was there because someone in leadership said, 'I want you to do this.'  It was beyond was enabling (That word does not always mean a bad deal).  I had just taken it as permission to sit in.  The box meant I could participate and dig in and not be afraid that someone would take it wrong.  Suddenly, I didn't think of this as something I had maneuvered myself into.  I didn't do anything, really, other than follow up with what was suggested.  So if I didn't really put myself here...then that means Someone Else arranged things.

And I would be treating that opportunity with disrespect if I did not dig and study and push myself to do things I really can't do.  Even if it means doing something badly in front of folks who do that something very well. 

I have experienced humiliation before.  It is not fatal.  And if there is freedom/empowerment/ release on the other side, it will even be worth it.