Numbers 21: 4-9
I am sorry that I didn’t read this when I was supposed to read it. I love the book of Numbers, which is sort of like admitting that I love the book of Chronicles as well. I love it because the Israelites continually whine about not having all of the great things they had in Egypt: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” This passage always reminds me of when I was in middle school and high school. I helped with this program every summer that gave food to kids stuck in the throes of poverty. Each church in my hometown took a day each week and fed any child that wanted to come be served a good, well-balanced meal. They started the day after school got out and went until the day it started again in the fall. It always amazed me that the kids were so picky. I was thinking: free food, eat it. At this point in my life I think, everyone deserves the opportunity to be picky, and that we often observe as pickiness is simply the human longing for choice. The Israelites in the desert couldn’t choose their food. They whined. In Egypt they could choose their food but not their occupation. As humans, we thrive on choice. I think this is what makes Paul’s struggle between flesh and spirit so universal. We want to choose.
Daniel 3: 14-20, 91-92, 95 (Good luck finding this one, too!)
Genesis 17: 3-9
I have often agreed with scholars who say that we should call the parts of the Bible the First Covenant and the Second Covenant, although several versions of covenant fall between Genesis and Revelation. I love it that the beginning of God’s covenant with Abram says: “Walk before me and be blameless.” One of my professors once pointed out that Noah, Job, nor Abram are described as faultless but blameless. Such a slight disntinction of terms makes me think about our Chrisitian walk. We are to be blameless before God as well. We are not called to be faultless. We are called to be holy, perfect, finished. Blameless: “Abram fell facedown.” When was the last time I was so enamored, in awe, overtaken with God’s promises that I fell facedown before [Them]?
In this passage, Jesus outs himself as: “I am.” When he is questioned about seeing Abraham, he replies: “I tell you the truth, before Arbaham was born, I am.” This interaction is amazing to me because they question Jesus to the point of revealing his divine purpose, his divine origin. It seems to be one of the few places in which Jesus leaves his Socratic seminar style of preaching. He does not answer their question with questions, but he does answer in a sort of parable. Interesting.