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Jan 27, 2015

90 Day Challenge – Day 27

Sarah Christmyer

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Bible Time Period: Desert Wanderings

You taught Israel to walk in faith through 40 years’ wandering in the desert: Help me to trust in you today, O God.

Reflection

Chapter 17 explains how Aaron’s staff became a sign of his high priesthood.  You may have heard before about “Aaron’s budded rod” as something that is later kept along with the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments and a jar of manna in the Ark of the Covenant as a permanent witness to these days.  They also are a sign of the One who is to come, who really IS God’s presence on earth:  Jesus is the High Priest that Aaron’s staff represents; he is the Word signified by the tablets of stone; and he is the Bread of Life typified by the manna, “food from heaven” for their journey.  The Church Fathers saw the Ark of the Covenant, which contained these things and which was the seat of God’s presence, as a type of Mary, who bore the Word to the world.

Chapters 18-20 explain some of God’s instructions regarding the priests and Levites and the famous sin by which Moses and Aaron lose entry to the Promised Land.

Today’s Reading

Numbers 17-20

Today’s Question

Recall how God tells Israel who he has chosen to be their spiritual leader and high priest (chs. 17-18).  Why do you think he uses such dramatic means?

Join the discussion below!

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  • I think that God was sending the following ideas to a people who were continually forgetting what He had already done for them: 1) This is whom I have appointed to lead you, 2) When you rebel against this person, you rebel against me, and 3) If you follow me by following this person, the fruits of your efforts will be great. As I keep seeing throughout this section, there is not much difference between our modern culture and situation and the culture and situation of the Israelites in the desert.

    • As in almost all parts of the Bible, life lessons are given to us if we just open ourselves to them. All of the lessons can be applied to any time frame; they are universal and timeless. Every era has strife and tribulation, but, if those who truly believe and have faith “go with God” without hesitation, the whole world can be a better place. We cannot doubt or disparage, but we must praise, believe and trust in God’s grace and mercy. We must lead the way. We must be the intercessors as Moses was.

      • I agree, Anne. We are all called to discipleship, no matter the cost and without expectation of outcome. Caleb and Joshua are prime examples of steadfast faith.

      • This is off topic but when you mentioned faith & the world being a better place, I thought of the NCBC. If you get the opportunity to attend one, it is a must. Last year I believe it was sold out – over 1,000 faith filled participants and Jeff, Sarah & others were there. What a beautiful feeing spread through the groups. When we left, I remember we all wished this feeling of heavenly love would extend out in the world & what a beautiful place that would be.

      • True, it seem very difficult to find peace in once life this time because the focus is very secular and materialistic in every surrounding and thoughts of turning back to God is very very slim. Unless we are regularly praying at any place and at any time of the day, it is ready difficult to get back to our own prayer life.

        • But, Jose, if we make God a constant part of our daily life, then every act we make is a prayer of thanksgiving, of petition, of respect, of delight in all creation, of remorse, of hopefulness, and of an openness to receiving grace. Think of all we could do for our fellow children of God if we made our life a prayer for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters.

          • It comes to mind the word of the Pastor, the moment we stop praying we start sinning!! Huh!!!

    • Maybe not, Andy. (let me just throw my one cent here) Our situation maybe different with the Israelites for the following reasons.. Firstly, the Lord being an all knowing God, He knowingly design His harsh command and straight-forward punishment because at the early dealing in humanity it is really difficult while at that point, revelation is just started and still in progress as to God’s nature and status of man, while us today the revelation is complete until the death of the last Apostle, John. Secondly, God’s commandments in the Old Testament gradually transform to become lighter and much clearer when God sent His Son to deal with His creation as revealed all creations through the Son and at Transfiguration, the Father, the Son and the Prophets were merged to one and said, here is my begotten Son, believed in Him. Thirdly, salvation of all Old testament people is under the Old Covenant until Jesus has fully established the New Covenant and sealed with His blood, after which salvation of all people born and die shall be under the New Covenant.

    • God was harsh with Moses and Aaron too for their lack of trust in Him. Moses and Aaron decided to strike the rock and Moses struck it twice (Numbers 2-: 6-11). God told them to speak to the rock and they disobeyed. They struck the rock because that had worked for them before, thus not trusting in God. Exodus 17:5-7 shows that they had did what they did before and it worked. Their punishment was not to enter the Promised Land.

      http://www.catholic.com/quickquestions/in-numbers-20-why-did-moses-and-aaron-sin-when-they-struck-the-rock

  • People find it difficult to accept someone they have known and watch grow up become someone God has chosen for a special mission…so using extraordinary means God makes his wishes known to the people. In this way they may believe that His chosen is the one whom God has anointed with his special mission…we see this time and time again with the prophets, kings, priests, etc. in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Those deigned for a special mission are signed by God in an special way to show God’s blessing on them…Look at the way Mary is approached, Jesus’ Baptism, David’s slaughter of Goliath…just a few of the extraordinary ways God moves in people’s lives to show his blessings and their mission for Him. Has God done something extraordinary in your life? Have you responded to God and moved as He wishes you? Look to our Baptisms, Confirmations…extraordinary callings-ones that confirm and commission us for work within the family of God. How are you responding to the Call today? Lord, help us to answer the call you whisper to each of us…let us say “Yes, Lord, your servant is listening…” Amen.

    • Beverly, you have just posed a very difficult question of today, “How are you responding to the Call today?” You mean, I? Oh!! I really don’t know how I would answer you? In fact, i had encountered same question in the past. But there are so many things running in my mind.

      • Yes, It has been my experience that it is okay to question and be in doubt…(though not all the time, I hope)…if it is God calling you…he will “hit you over the head with a two by four” so to speak. You will get your answer so clearly that you will not be able to turn away!! That is, if you ask God to make it clearer for you. “Yes, Lord,, your servant is listening…” Even Jesus said to question the spirits…that is okay, but always leave it up to God that you will be listening for a clearer answer and he will do that. Trust…trust…trust…that is the key here.

        • Yes Beverly God really does hit you over the head with a two by four or as in my case a platter sized piece of plaster. 🙂

        • Beverly, it’s funny to me that you use the term “hit you over the head with a two- by-four.” I belong to a discipleship group and at last night’s meeting we were discussing what we felt God calling us to in our lives. I mentioned that I sometimes pray “the two-by-four” prayer when discerning God’s will for me, explaining to God that my brain is scrambled and He needs to hit me over the head with a two-by-four to get His message across. I don’t think He’s ever let me down in this regard, and no headaches involved … LOL. 🙂 Thanks for putting the smile on my face.

          • You are welcome…I am glad I was able to lift your spirits…I have used that phase over the years, and used in the following poem I wrote last Lent:
            Doing God’s Will

            How can I know I do God’s Will?
            When I read God’s Word, and recall it when needed.
            When my heart leaps when I see, hear, or feel something
            And it is heeded.
            Sometimes I ignore the sign God gives,
            Right in my heart, right where He lives.
            But he doesn’t forget, he gives me a nudge
            To my regret, I begin to fudge.
            For sometimes, it takes a two by four
            For me to follow Him a little bit more.

            That is when He becomes insistent,
            Until my following becomes more consistent.
            With prayer, meditation, and watching for signs,
            And reading carefully between the lines,
            I have learned God is a God Divine.
            He is within me all the time.

            Many blessings…

            (From my book of poems “Reflections: A Journey of Hope and Forgiveness” )

          • Beverly, I’ve missed your poetry! Did you publish? I seem to recall we spoke about this a while back.
            Thank you for sharing… it always brings joy to the soul!

      • Jose, I suggest every discernment opportunity be bathed in prayer first and foremost. Look for affirmation signs from legitimate, holy places and maybe even from surprising sources. For example: I was holding onto anger against someone several years ago. I heard in a lecture at a Scripture study a message of forgiveness. I felt I was being spoken to – encouraged to let go of my anger. I set it aside. The next day, I heard almost the same message coming at me from a Christian radio station while driving in my car. I still set it aside. Two days later, the priest delivered almost the same message in his Sunday homily. I went home, prostrated myself and prayed. I called the woman I was angry with and apologized for my part in the situation. I forgave her and BOY! What a release – my heart was so light.

      • I read Scripture, pray, try to watch for what God is telling me…each day I start it out with, “Lord I surrender myself to you this to do whatever your Will would have me do.”
        Then I go about my day. I find if I am missing something God wants me to do, he will show it to me…if I am not sure I am learning to ask him about it. Lord, I don’t understand, can you make it clearer to me? I have said it before, I am a work in progress, so this something I am learning to do as well as passing along what I am learning.

        • P .S. God may put you in difficult situations, but nothing he doesn’t feel you can’t handle…or is not for His glory and for your benefit. Trust…trust…trust…God lead me down a most difficult path…one that lasted about 30 years…but I learned a lot in those 30 years…and mostly I learned that God doesn’t not forsake us…or abandon us…and also, the lessons I learned along the way, have helped in this part of my life with aiding others to know about God, themselves, or the situations they are dealing with. God brought these people into my path to help me pass along what He has taught me. Again…trust…trust…trust…He is Worth it!!

          • Thanks, Bebverly for much leading testimony and I learned and realized those experienced. In my part, I have known our Diocesan Bishop from Chicago and was a long time been assigned in the South Pacific Islands in American Samoa through being once his Financial administrator. Few years after I left his Office, i got a letter calling me to join the 2nd batch of their Deaconate program. Knowing how tedious the work from the first batch, I took the opportunity with the Deacon to explain my side of my denial in the crowd of Charismatic Renewal meeting and for the Deacon to talk it over to our Bishop. My reason is I might lost tract of the needs of my 5 kids especially in school.

          • God loves you, Jose, never forget that. If you feel you have lost tract of the needs of your children…refocus. God placed them in your hands to care for, and that is one of your responsibilities. You can “catch up” quickly, through a technique my husband and I used with our girls to find out where they were at in their thinking…We called a “family meeting”…and asked them open-ended questions in which they could give their opinions about various issues that were on my husband and my minds. This might be a way you can get back in touch with your children and help them feel more like they are an important part of your family. This above is just a suggestion.

          • Thanks Beverly for your very good suggestion, in fact earlier I emailed my kids, for the length of time i was away home, i was asking one of them to pick me where I am at and take me home, that is in Kansas City, MO. So much snow and freezing in this place at this time, so I plan to go first to a warmer place in American Samoa in the Pacific Region for 2-3 months stay then proceed on to the U.S. mainland during the middle of Springtime. To tour the places of my kids would be at least for 6 months or even more. This is the kind of life I have, now just depending on the kindness of others. I enjoyed traveling in any U.S. soil, thanks, they have all excellent service for wheelchairs, handicapped parking service and facilities that are handicap friendly in public places like Malls, Department stores, hospitals, airports, etc. for disabled and elderly.

    • What great questions you pose here Beverly! In my opinion, God often puts us in situations where we FEEL moved to act….the problem is we sometimes DON’T act! I had a fine example happen to me this last week. The youth group I head, volunteered at a Food Bank on the military installation we live. I was talking to the director about keeping the Food Bank viable and resourced with volunteers. I offered to help her but as usual with life, got busy last week with my everyday events. Last night, my husband and I were at a function and met a person who my co-teachers thought would be able to help with this resourcing. He sounded excited about his unit being able to help. I believe God wasn’t just going to let me do nothing and so allowed for this potential helper and I to cross paths. Of course I had to do the talking but having him in front of me gave me the “nudge” I needed to act. How much more obvious does God’s desire for us to serve Him through others need to be? In my opinion, God may as well have been sitting in front of me telling me what to do. Shame on me for not acting immediately but thank you Lord for the chain of events that occurred to let me see this IS a priority! Just as you said so beautifully, “Yes, Lord, your servant is listening!” We just need to believe that God will not lead us astray…..isn’t that what faith is?

    • Yes God has done something very extraordinary in my life. He has extended it nearly four years now. March 19th 2010, I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and given 3 months to live. I had just completed a Novena to St. Joseph. During the PET scan there was one of our famous Southern Idaho storms wind, thunder lightening and hail. The PET scan is in a semi-trailer that moves from town to town, It was parked between two buildings at the hospital. These created a sort of wind tunnel. The trailer shook in the howling wind. Hail pounded down and thunder rumbles. It was a frightening display of nature. All through the experience I prayed the Lord’s Prayer toward the end as the storm reached its climax I just kept repeating the phrase “Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” over and over.

      After the tests were were examined by the Drs., I was scheduled for an appointment (I didn’t know it at the time but it was to discuss palliative/hospice care). This was at the time my brother had taken a week to come to due mother’s taxes. He took me to the appointment. When the Dr. outlined the treatment. He said “can we get a second opinion. My son is a Dr. in Portland can the tests be sent to him?” I would never have thought of this. The results were sent to my Nephew, who phoned that evening saying that one of his patients was very interested in my case. So she took charge of my treatment. The Drs here were very skeptical giving me only a 8% chance of surviving the surgery (very new and innovative one might say even experiamental) During a very agressive Chemo/Radiation therapy my daughter came across a book that was a collection of Mother Teresa’s writings and speeches on the Beatudes. I was introduced to her philosophy of uniting suffering to Jesus suffering on the cross. When I went for surgery the Drs had convinced me that I would not survive. I recieved the anointing of the sick the day before I left for surgery, A priest prayed over me as part of the prep for surgery. When I woke up (9 hours later) I mumbled something like shouldn’t I be discussing plea bargining with St.Peter” Ever since that hour I have asked God ” Why was I spared. What do you want me to do?”
      I really didn’t get an answer until last year when the pipes in my apartment house froze and broke and flooded the apartment above me causing the ceiling to fall on me injuring my back and filling my lungs with plaster dust (God can be so dramitic). While I was being being treated for the plaster in my lungs, I developed some symptoms that I thought were related to the accident but the doctor thought they had better be checked out so some tests were done. On Ash Wednesday the Dr. saw a blood clot in my lungs from the xrays taken and I was admitted to the hospital for clot busting I was also having a lot ot trouble breathing. The the other tests were not good so while I was in the hospital I would see an oncologist. The clot busters were stopped and I was scheduled for an hystorectomy in three days. Pathology showed that I not only had Endometrial tumors but also esophageal tumors I was in the hospital for the next five weeks (nearly the entire Lenten season. My son had arrived to take care of me so he literally carried me into the Palm Sunday and Holy Thursday Services. . Then God had a final bit of Drama planned for me. A CT-scan was scheduled for 12 noon on Good Friday I spent the three hours preparing for the scan being scaned and recovering from the effects of the scan ( I have a violent reaction the the dye and contrast) I did try my best to concentrate on the passion of Jesus but failed miserably. I did not miss the Easter Mass for which I thank God. The Wednesday after Easter the Dr. stamped a new expiration date on me Sept 2014. The message was becoming clearer. I prayed to the Holy Spirit and made my “Bible Bucket List” I continued and increased my Bible Study sessions. The Bible study was first begun to help with my recovery from Chemobrain. I now see it as what God was calling me to do. Study the Bible and share whatever insights the Holy Spirit sends my way. I was also guided to this site and Jeff Cavens wonderful video on suffering,

      • What an amazing story of survival and spirituality. I will remember this the next time I am having a “bad day!” Be blessed, Barbara……I know you feel beyond blessed!

      • Barbara, what a truly moving and inspirational story, thank you so much for sharing it with us. I find myself asking God many times what does he want me to do with my life. I many times feel that I am not doing enough, but am not sure which way to turn. Many people are uncomfortable talking about death but it will be an eventuality for each and every one of us some day. The only difference is that some of us have an idea as to our “expiration date” whereas the majority just don’t know when. I am glad you have managed to embrace your fate and turn to God for strength and guidance.Bible study has become a life long project for me, I just started in October and have found this study group to be amazing. Sharing each other’s insights is priceless and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you in this bible group. I would like to extend to you a very warm embrace as you have touched my heart and soul. May God continue to bless you and your family. By the way, I am curious as to the title of Mother Teresa’s book you read, I would love to read it as it may be helpful to our patients.

      • Barbara, how awesome to know that God has chosen you to be a living witness to His miraculous powers of healing, love and mercy. Your testimony and faith speak volumes that can give others hope and bring others to Christ.

        Praise God for all the people you have reached and the lives you have touched! Your suffering, united with Christ’s, does have purpose!

        May you continue to heal and inspire others with your faith and courage.

  • Drama seemed to be quite prevalent in the daily lives of the Israelites. Whether they were bored, unhappy, disgruntled, etc. I have a feeling that they needed some type of ceremony to wake them up and again perceive the greatness of God. That was what God did by asking for all the rods from the twelve tribes of Israel and the one rod that would blossom would be the priestly leader/tribe of this group of bitter people. When Aaron’s rod blossomed and his tribe was given this distinction, the people were still afraid and angry! Could it be that deep down in their souls they knew the past wrongdoings were theirs and theirs alone? Could it also be they were afraid of the tabernacle being in the midst of their dwellings because of their sins against the Lord?

  • Aaron’s rod became a living branch. Thus Aaron was manifested to be under the special blessing of Heaven. Fruitfulness is the best evidence of a Divine call. This rod was preserved, to take away the murmurings of the people, that they might not die. The design of God, in all his providence, and in the memorials of them, is to take away sin. Christ was manifested to take away sin. Christ is expressly called a rod out of the stem of Jesse: little prospect was there, according to human views, that he should ever flourish. But the dry rod revived and blossomed to the confusion of his adversaries. The people cry, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish! This was the language of a repining people, quarreling with the judgments of God, which by their own pride and obstinacy they brought upon themselves. If we die, if we perish, it is of ourselves.

  • God chose Aaron and his sons to be Isreal’s first priestly family but instead we see jealousy and strief. Can we not let God be God? Whatever and whenever God intervenes, there is always law
    and order but unfortunately they failled to see that. Very often we also tell God what we want not what we need too. Mercy!

    • Isn’t it funny how we pray for what we perceive we need as opposed to strength, perseverance and discernment for what God desires for us?

      • I guess it is just hard to “let go and let God”. We always somehow feel that we have to take control and do things our way….that “we” know what we need or what is best for us. Sometimes I think we are not much different than a two year old…..or a spoiled teenager! You would think we would know by now that things always turn out better when we leave God in charge of our lives.

  • I have kept up with the readings but have been unable to participate in the discussions as I was visiting a friend with lung cancer the past few days. What strikes me, as I reflect on these three days of desert wanderings, is that people throughout history are averse to change and thus afford themselves little opportunity for growth.
    Through Moses and Aaron, God provides again and again for the Israelites, but it never seems to be enough to garner the faithfulness necessary to achieve the holiness God desires from Israel in return.
    God has to be very dramatic and direct in bestowing authority because the people continually become discouraged and lack faith, probably believing through the insidious gossip and grumbling from a few bad pennies that there is a better way outside of God’s design.
    I try not to judge these people too harshly — I know I often need the “tool of tough love” or “two-by-four of grace” to knock sense into me concerning God’s design!

    • Thanks to all of you who reflect and share. Your insights have been so enriching and humbling. I am so grateful for you and how the Holy Spirit is prompting you.Praise God for His grace which has made you receptive to these promptings.God bless you!

      • So bittersweet re-reading these posts from last year. My friend with lung cancer passed away this past summer. I was blessed with the privilege of offering the eulogy. The church was packed. God truly answered all prayers offered as she truly suffered less than others I know who have battled this horrible disease. She received the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist the day before she died. She is eternally healed.

        • I will say prayers for friend. I just read an article that said the theologians
          teach that if we pray for a soul who is not in purgatory the prayers will be applied to those most in need. I am praying for many who have died of cancer.

  • I saw Aaron as a prefigure of Peter (and all his sucessors) God God chose Aaron & sons to be the religious leader of the Israelites Jesus Chose Peter and all his sucessors down to Francis to be his representative on earth. Throughout the ages people have rebeled against the Popes. Even today there are those who seek to undermine the authority of Pope Frances by misquoting him.

  • Thank you for the discussion these chapters which has given me much food for thought. What struck me was that amidst all the drama, the Israelites only saw Aaron receiving what they thought to be a special position. The drama got their attention but they were unable to think it through and work out that through the increased blessings, Aaron and his sons had far heavier burdens to bear in that they were responsible not only for their own sins but also the sins “in respect of the Sanctuary”, had the responsibility of doing God’s will in order to avoid the rest of the people suffering God’s wrath and had lost their portion of the soil in the promised land (leaving more for everyone else).

    In the desire to serve and please God, maybe we can take on too many rods in an attempt to find and pick up the budding rod. Sometimes it can be hard to accept that God chooses the rod we carry, and if someone else seems to have the budding rod, maybe it is because it will only bud in their hands? Perhaps the rod we are carrying is budding, only we cannot see it? Maybe our light plain rod is the one we can carry, whilst the other prettier or bigger rod is too heavy for us? Alternatively, there could be times where we are so focused on other people’s budding rods, we forget to pick up our own rod, sit back and leave others to do what we should be doing? It strikes me that the Israelites all wanted the budding rod without understanding that they could not bear the weight and forgot their own rods e.g. their responsibility to serve God according to His will.

  • God had called Moses in our earlier reading in Exodus and given him Aaron to be his mouthpiece and then Priest for the people. In any successful organization someone has to assume the position of leadership and in the case of religion we need priests to intercede for us with God. I think the Israelites, like we do, were focused on themselves and needed something totally dramatic to gain their attention as to who He had chosen. The Lord must have been disappointed in His people and they suffered severe punishment as a result. A single sprouted staff cannot be denied. Then God counterbalanced that by making Aaron responsible for any sin with respect to the sanctuary as well as any sin with respect to the priesthood. It was not easy street for Aaron either. Both had to hold to their side in order to do the will of God. Again I saw the sacrificial offerings that were for the priests were counterbalanced by not giving them land heritage and require them to tithe on what they had received from the Israelites’ tithe. How wise God is in dealing with the Israelites. If they, like us, can only take our eyes off self and keep them on God, what rich blessings He has in store for all! Especially thanks to those who share personal encounters with God, with every story I see the faithfulness, mercy and love He has for each one of us! It builds up my faith and helps me trust.

  • I think The Lord used these dramatic ways as the Israelites were like children, just learning the faith. It was a necessary teaching method to get his point across. I can envision our dear Lord shaking His head & saying “What else do I need to do to get these kids to listen?!”

    • Fran, what I’m really wondering is the abrupt punishment of the whole Korah’s family buried alive and the scenario of 14,000 death, if not averted by their supplication ordered by Moses, it could have been death of the entire community, excepting only Moses and Aaron. No wonder why the Israelites blame Moses directly who causes them to perish in this horrendous systematic annihilation of people. It is just unthinkable that is happening.

      • Sorry on this delay. I had problems logging in, hopefully it is resolved.
        I believe your question is in reference to the previous day -26, ch. 16. I refer to “Walking with God” by Jeff Cavins & Time Gray. If you do not have this book, I highly recommend it. It follows the 90 Day Challenge as well as the “Bible Timeline” study with great insight. It states: What Balak could not do militarily, nor Balaam spiritually, Israel does through self- inflicted wounds. The lesson: Infidelity to God can place the blessing given to Israel in jeopardy. This proves to be an important lesson for Israel as she prepares to enter the Promised Land. Hope this helps.

        • Don’t worry Fran, I also get that kind of delay, in my area is caused by very low signal.., Anyway, if we post a question, we hope somebody will answer from the forum, it just happened to be in reference to your posting or sometime Sarah or Jeff may intervene. No problem Fran. Those books you mentioned were good extra reading materials. It really helps.

          • I enjoy reading those great resource books. Sometimes I walk into a thrift store and I look into antiquity books on Religious, one time I picked up a book on Church History for just a dollar or sometimes like a church documents for just a quarter per copy. I am away from home vacationing and I don’t have one with me.

  • I was glad to see the justice in Leadership that God was seeking among the people (Num. 13-16) when he sent them out to “spy” the land in Canaan. When God decided to appoint Aaron and his sons to be priests for the people, they learned what it meant to have a “spiritual leader.” however they also learned the meaning of loss, Ch.20:29,, “And when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead, all the house of Israel wept for Aaron thirty day.” When Jesus walked among the people, though many balked at his teachings, so many more wept for Jesus when he was crucified.

  • The Israelites seem to disrespect God’s Word because they were so tired of the desert and would really like to move on to the promised land. They seemed to be focused on just that and nothing else.
    I think God used such drastic means when choosing His high priest to “wake up” this group of self absorbed people. They were always thinking about themselves. That is, until Our Lord would put the fear of His wrath in them.

    • It was a harsh way to teach “PATIENCE”……or, was HE challenging their faith? Fourty years wandering in the dessert! FOURTY!

    • It’s almost as if the people reminded God they were like children when one tries to improve their behavior and finally as a parent says, “ENOUGH!” I understand your question Guillermo if this is maybe a harsh way to teach PATIENCE, but maybe God reached the point and wondered is LOVE and KINDNESS enough for my children?

  • As I reflect on these readings, I see God speaking directly to the people and not through Moses as has been done in the past. The people have shown their misgivings of what Moses tells and shows them even though it is the Word of God transferred. I believe the blooming rod is a direct communication to the people that God has spoken to them and he, alone, has made the decision to appoint Aaron the high priest. This is dramatic in that he has not spoken directly to them previously except in his extreme anger when he has punished them. The rods left in the sand represent the lack of intervention or interpretation by a person but the direct action of God.
    As to Moses and Aaron being forbidden to enter the Promised Land, there are interesting interplays going on here. Both Moses and Aaron have been able to talk with, argue with and convince God to do other than He intended. There are many instances where God’s anger was to be directed at the people of Israel but Moses or Aaron were able change the direction of His actions by pleading for the welfare of the people. In the case of the plaque, they did not correspond directly with God but used one of the tools from the Temple to bring lighted embers among the people to stop the death. These encounters with God and their success in influencing God’s actions may have provided Moses and Aaron a bit too much confidence in their power and their importance. This is one of the elements I see in the great sin of striking the rock for water versus following God’s instructions to command the rock to give up its water. I see arrogance in their decision to and action of striking the rock and a direct defiance of God’s instructions. They had disobeyed God and that would not be tolerated.

    • Susan, I wonder if Moses had a moment of insecurity and thought, maybe if I struck the rock more than what God requested, the people would stop complaining to me (Moses)! Just a thought.

      • You have an interesting point and a good one to think about. It could have been “if a little is good then a lot has to be better” type scenario. I would bet Moses and Aaron are on their last rope with all the complaining.

  • I just love this comment by fisher last year: Isn’t it funny how we pray for what we perceive we need as opposed to strength, perseverance and discernment for what God desires for us?

    • My husband and I were discussing this very subject last night. We came to the conclusion we need only to pray for God’s will and that we have the strength to accept or pursue it. I’ll show him your comment. He’ll appreciate it too.

  • Our culture does not value authority because many people feel they are free to make their own decisions and act upon them. Here God establishes the authority and strikes dead those who oppose it. The Lord lays down the rules to teach the people to follow Him.

  • The rebellions focused on usurping the divinely ordained priesthood; this chapter offers a test to convince the people that Aaron’s authority was greater than that of the tribal chieftains (vv. 1–7). Murmuring against God is a great sin, as we can learn by the severe punishment which it brought on the murmuring Israelites. We must submit humbly to the will of our God and Creator, and never resist or murmur against Him and His divine decrees. Whenever God visited the Israelites with sufferings, they acknowledged their grievous sins and repented. They refused to put up with any hardship. Instead of subduing their desires and submitting themselves to God’s will, they were discontented, and were always complaining. Now the responsibility for the sanctity of the priesthood falls to Aaron. Following the punishments of chaps. 16, Num 18 vindicates Aaron and serves as a reminder of the seriousness of his task. This severe punishment of one venial sin teaches us to know and fear God’s justice, and shows us that even venial sin is a great evil, and must be expiated either here or in the world to come.

    If you were to look back you can see that no sooner had Israel ratified its covenant with God, than the people fell into idolatry. Moses goes up to the mountain to receive the elaborate instructions about the building and furnishing of the ark, the dwelling for God, and the people down below create the golden calf and begin worshipping it. The ancient rabbis used to say that what the forbidden fruit was to Adam the golden calf was to Israel. It is a second fall from grace.

    Moses and Aaron felt that these thankless people were not worthy that God should again perform a miracle for their benefit. But God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His mercy is infinitely great. God Rules like a Loving Parent.

    • And I read on Catholic Answers that it might have been the sin of superstition that Aaron and Moses committed by disobeying God who told them to speak to the rock instead of strike it, which Moses did twice. Disobedience was the sin of Adam and Eve and isn’t it so with the way the Israelites acted toward God to and so too, today, a lack of obedience to the Church and the spiritual leaders today and the Ten Commandments. St. Francis of Assisi when he established his “Penitents of Assisi” did not want to go it alone but went to Pope Innocent III, the pope at the time to ask the Catholic Church to approve his “way of life”. St. Francis and his followers were sent away, that night, the pope had a dream that St. Francis was holding up St. John Lateran Church (it is the Church of the Pope) which was falling down. The pope called him and his followers back to him and approved of his Rule.
      The saddest thing that has happened in history is the Protestant Reformation where another man, among many and later on many more, a new faith of his own pushed on by the people too. Martin Luther did not listen to or obey the pope and the church but fell away. So, we know that we have to have a leader or umpire to rule the church with the blessing that the “gates of heaven will not prevail against it.” The Catholic Church is the pillar of our faith.

  • I believe God always speaks dramaticaly. I know He has in my life. I think that the people have become so addicted to “drama”, mostly artificial, that they don’t recognize the “Drama of the Lord”

    I noted that in 18 that now God speaks direcrly to Aaron

    I thought particularly about this passage Numbers 18:6-7

    6I hereby take your kinsmen, the Levites, from among the Israelites; they are a gift to you,a dedicated to the LORD for the labor they perform for the tent of meeting. 7b But you and your sons with you must take care to exercise your priesthood in whatever concerns the altar and the area within the veil.* I give you your priesthood as a gift. Any unauthorized person who comes near shall be put to death.

    The priesthood and priests are “gifts from God”
    Do we really thank God for our priests?
    Thank you God for Pope Francis
    Thank you God for our new Bishop Peter
    Bless our parish with a new priest and bless and heal our priest who has had to retire for health reasons
    Bless all seminarians

    Todays reading also brought to mind Luke’s recounting of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. This Gospel is very specific about John’s lineage, Zechariah is a Levite priest and Elizebeth is “daughter of Aaron” John the Baptist (while still in the womb) announces Jesus. This if the fulfillment of this gift to Aaron and to us.

    • God has blessed us with many wonderful popes. In our day and age, we are blessed with Pope Francis who took the name of St. Francis and he lives his life like the 13th century saint of Assisi and his friend St. Clare of Assisi. They wanted nothing in a radical way but the Gospel when they lived and now they have basilicas as their tombs. But that is not the most important thing. It is the legacy of their lives of virtues and care for the poor like our present Pope Francis giving example daily of his love for the less fortunate of the world. He has a certain charisma just like Pope Benedict XVI (who was an intellectual and professor) and a charisma in a unique way too. God gives us different holy men with various talents. None of us are the same. Each of us is unique. Pope John XXIII was unique too as he held one position after another. There were seven popes in our modern era who were Secular Franciscans. In the early 19th century there were over 3 million Secular Franciscans. During the time of St. Francis of Assisi, Third Order members were so numerous according to many testimonies of the people of the times even though records were not kept.

      St. Joan of Arc was a Third Order member. God called this young girl to lead the armies of Charles VII against the English and in the end he did not hold up for her. She was put to death as a result but she had laid the foundation for victory. France, because of her, is Catholic today. We pray for the people of Europe who are dwindling due to relativism and materialism which today is taking hold of the United States too. Theologian George Weigel who lived in Europe for many years knows about the situation as he wrote in his “Cube and Cathedral.” There is a lessening and dying out of the population in what was known strictly as Catholic Europe with its ardent Christianity throughout the ages. China and India and other countries are suffering due to abortion and the population is lessening too. Cultures are dying. We pray to St. Joan of Arc to help us as we do to all the saints and angels of God. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. We have to learn to respect our priests and bishops and the pope. They, like Moses and Aaron are put in charge to help the people and tell them what is right. They sinned too as we have the scandal in our country with so much sadness with the clergy but it is not only the Catholic Church but other churches, which are not highlighted as much in the news, where these same problems occur.

      Mark Twain worked for 14 years researching in Paris, France in the library on his favorite saint, St. Joan of Arc. Samuel Langhorne Clemens said that his “Joan of Arc” book was his favorite, even over “Tom Sawyer” and “Huckelberry Finn.”

      Tonight on “Women of Grace,” the man of many languages and what I would call a genius and expert Scripture scholar, the so called “Catholic cowboy,” none other than Fr. Mitch Pacwa with his many talents on what in life is that really matters told us again as he will tomorrow and Friday (five days during the week this show has the same subject and the same guest(s) about the little known fact, if realized at all, of the millions of Moslems who are becoming Christians. Fr. Pacwa is explaining the current crisis of why the terrorists are the way they are. He says that after the Armenians by the millions were slaughtered during the time of WWI, the caliph no longer called “jihad,” but instead it is the splintering of many groups all over the world who call their own “jihads.” Fr. Mitch compares what happened to if one can remember an old “45” record playing without the spindle in the center. The Moslems have become wobbly like this spindle. I do not know enough about the situation as Fr. Mitch but it is good to learn and so too, it still might not be understandable about what is happening. One hears that the Moslem religion is violent and then one hears that it is peaceful in its inception. But looking back in history, there definitely has been a lot of destruction, not only by Muslims, Saracens, and other groups of this religion in which there is no distinction between state and religion. They are one. I am looking forward to hear the next two presentations on “Women of Grace” and Johnette Benkovic also has a silhouetted guest in order to protect her for safety reasons. who is experience with Moslems as well as Christians in prison who talks about her experiences.

      . The killing of Christians, Fr. Mitch said, is due to terrorist groups taking of a passage of the Koran about “cutting off the head from the neck and the hands.” They misinterpret the Koran and use their own interpretation for many things. “Jihad” means “struggle” or “resistance”. Even Moslems are scared of the terrorists. God is, as Fr. Mitch says, giving many Moslems the grace to convert.

      St. Francis of Assisi wanted to suffer martyrdom among the Saracens. He went to see them and was in front of Melek-el-Kamil, Sultan of Egypt. This man was so impressed with St. Francis that he allowed him to go unhurt. St. Clare of Assisi held out the monstrance from San Damiano where she and her sisters stayed. The forces of Emperor Frederick II who employed Saracens went away dumbfounded in confusion. The Poor Clares continued to pray and the enemy left completely from the city where they had remained for a while. We know that St. Clare is the patroness of television for she saw a vision of the mass, unable to get up from her sick bed to go to mass, on the wall. Pope Pius XII, 17 February 1958, declared St. Clare patroness of television. We can be thankful for Mother Angelica who is a Poor Clare who has founded the Eternal Television Network which is a mass media around the world, truly involved with her staff of priests, brothers, and lay people in the New Evangelization which the most traveled pope, St. John Paul II, has spoken about so often as well as his successors.

      • What a beautiful post. Yes God has truely gifted the world with wonderful priests. I pray that Pope Francis can reach out to the Children of Ishmael and bring to them the fulfillment ot the Covenant.
        I have had a very hard time knowing Pope Francis. During the time that Pope Benedict resigned and Pope Francis was elected i was in the hospital. Multiple things were wrong with me including a concussion. I don’t remember many of the events of that time. Pope Francis was very problamatic. The first time I can remember hearing the name Pope Francis was at Palm Sunday Mass. I had been discharged on the previous Friday. My family had told me several times before but some how they were wiped from my memory. But even after that Pope Francis remained elusive, When I saw his picture it was either fuzzy or looked like Pope Benedict. Only reciently has Pope Francis become real to me.

  • Marianne, Have someone from Ascension Press checking out my problem of not being able to get through. You are the only one with a current date, all other comments here are a year ago??

    • Yes that is correct. Last year’s conversations are included. You can easily look at the newer posts by clicking on the “Sort by” button above the first comment. You can sort by Newest, Best or Oldest. It’s interesting to reread the older comments as well as the new.

  • We have to know some things about the Bible too in order to understand it better. The texts are written in a language that the modern day layman does not know and they come from cultures far removed from us in time and place, far removed from us in the ancients perceptions of the world. We have to try to understand their culture and their world. For the Hebrew for example, for ‘his nose to get hot” means that he is angry. With the plays that the Romans put on stage and in their literature, when they exit the stage to the right, the character was going to the forum. Exiting to the left meant that he or she was going to the country.

    The topography is a another thing to consider. The are of Mesopotamia (‘the land between the two rivers” of the Tigris and Euphrates) was green because of the mountains and the run off of the rains. There is this flood plain of the Tigris-Euphrates. Thee is a brown section of the Arabian Peninsula desert and for the Israelite, there was no run off rain. The gods of these peoples were made for the Egyptians and the peoples of Palestine and also of Mesopotamia a lot according to the weather patterns and nature. For roads where there is no water, it is hard to travel. Roads follow the availability of water.

    Unlike Mesopotamia, the area of Iraq, the geography of Egypt is a brown sand box so to speak with “blue and green ribbons,” referring to the Nile and its watering of the land close by and providing lush greenery and wheat fields. So Egypt is different than Mesopotamia area. The Two Kingdoms of Upper (south) and Lower Egypt (north. Upper Egypt (Highlands) like most of Egypt is dry and sandy desert. The East and West is bordered by inhospitable desert with the river running through a box of sand. The Nile River flows from the south to the north. The lowland is in the north. The only water source of Egypt is the Nile River.

    The main purpose of the Aswan Dam was to control the annual floods, to create Lake Nasser and produce electricity.

    • When the Aswan Dam was built, its purpose too was to control the overflooding at times and then the lack of enough water. There were also problems, social and environmental. Appearing were many Egyptian artifacts with many destroyed. The largest lake in the world made by human beings is Lake Nasser. Many homes are destroyed by the rising water. Another problem is a disease of Schistosomiasis caused by breeding of freshwater snails which carry a parasite due to the high level of Lake Nasser. The Aswan Dam hindered the flow of the Nile and there you have it. The snails could not get away.

      Another thing–Silt in the Nile riverbanks is caused by the Aswan Dam. Silt overflows in Lake Nasser causing it to be lost in the Nile and thus it being used as fertilizer is not there. So, the solution is to use chemical fertilizers, more expensive and not as effective. The environment suffers too. Loss of sediment in the Nile means that there are less fish, chemicals dangerous to the fish too. Farmland is less due to the Aswan Dam too. Build-up of algae and environmental concerns too.

      • Back to the Bible and the time of the early Israelite history. The “ancient Bread Basket” of the Mediterranean . Egypt produced 3 times the amount of wheat as the same acreage of any other ancient culture. Later, Sicily would match it. The Egyptians of those times knew more than today–due to what has been ruined by modern technology and the Aswan Dam–they knew then the “gift of the Nile” and the rich fertilizer of the silt, the fine dirt. The Mesopotamians on the other hand had the mountains and the flood plains, rivers and rivulets. The Tigris was in the east and the Euphrates was in the west. The source of water in Egypt was the Nile unlike the rainfall from the sky for the Mesopotamians which had lots of storms. The Mesopotamians had houses of mud and the rains destroyed them and they had to be rebuilt. But the Egyptians had limestone, sandstone for their homes and pyramids. Rain was good for the Mesopotamians but it was also devastating.

        What is the point of all of this talk? As Fr. William Burton, OFM who is expert scholar of ancient languages and the Bible points out in his Introduction to the Bible, the weather effects how a people see their god(s). For Egypt, the gods are kind. They have limestone homes. For the Mesopotamians, the gods are vindictive and cruel.. They have mud huts.

        The weather of Israel in North Galilee is rainy providing fertility. The Sear of Galilee (Gennesaret) and there is the Jordan River. In the South (Judea) where the desert is, it is dry. One goes up to Jerusalem (2400 feet above sea level), not down to Jerusalem. Winter rains occur. Run off fills wells with sudden torrents, flash floods, wadi, Then, there is the Dead Sea which is nothing but salt, stagnant and no fresh water flow. The Plains of Sharon, flat plain along the Mediterranean coast and there is not much growing there, no harbor, no deep cut outing to the ocean floor to park boats. The water from the Sea of Galilee flows through the Jordan to the South.

        Now, there is the Jordon Rift and only Israel has this. This is the road of trade for the people in that area. It is a geological formation in the heart of Israel. Jericho (400 feet below sea level) is the lowest point on the face of the earth. This gorge continues the full length of Israel into Syria and Lebanon. The Plains of Sharon are a fertile plain from Carmel in the north. The Judean Desert is in southern Israel and it is dry and arid. There is even snow in Israel.

        Roads need a flat area and water. The Jordan Rift is perfect for a road. it is the “Via Regis” and was well traveled. West of it to the Plains of Sharon was the “Via Maris.” And Judaism survived due to these routes. It connected ancient Egypt with Mesopotamia.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Via_Maris

  • Moses and Aaron were chosen to lead the Israelites through the acts of the Lord through the Book of Numbers up to this point. Within the scriptures of chapter 20 is where Moses and Aaron were unfaithful to God. We are all in this position. Once we turn to sin our life is no longer with the Lord because we allow sin to overcome us.

  • I don’t understand why Moses who did so much good was not permitted to enter the Promised Land for one small mistake.

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