Tuesday, September 06, 2016


Num. 10

YHWH told Moses to make two silver trumpets, and then gives them all kinds of instructions on when and how to use them as a signal-system for moving the congregation (one long blast for gathering an assembly, an "alarm blast" to ready for war maneuvers, with details on who moves with what kind of blast).  Reminders here of Paul's review in his first letter to Corinth (ch14) of proper use of glossolalia and prophecy:
"Again, if the trumpet sounds a muffled call, who will prepare for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air..."
Do the prophets and teachers and singers in the Church fulfill the same function of guiding God's people on earth in their "maneuvers" to advance His kingdom here?

Interesting to me is that God told them these trumpets were supposed to be "A perpetual statute throughout your generations".  That means in constant use, as long as there are Jews around.  Of course that's not been the case in practice (as with lots of other things that were said to be "perpetual statutes" e.g. God's name YHWH and the 7th day Sabbath), but I remember seeing a relief on the "Arch of Titus" (made in honor of the sack of Jerusalem in AD 70) among the temple goods being pillaged by Roman soldiers were two long trumpets.  Also, Ethiopian christians in Axum (the ones who claim to have the Ark of the Covenant) have in the same church two ancient silver trumpets, wrapped in cloth.  They say these were brought down (with the ark) during the times of the Kings of Israel to protect them from invaders.  So perhaps these trumpets still exist somewhere, though not in use.

But even during the OT times, the trumpets couldn't always be used to gather the whole congregation, since once they entered the land they were spread out over 8,000+ miles. But they were to be "A perpetual statute".  We see similar things with the Tabernacle, which slowly fades out of use (or morphs into a solid and stationary structure) as the Temple becomes the dwelling of the Ark and the location of corporate worship. So God's ordinances, though perhaps not functioning in the exact same way as when first instituted, are still legitimate for whatever ordained uses they still fulfill.

Lots of neat names in this chapter, including "Gamaliel" (name-ancestor of Paul's yeshiva teacher?).

Then there is Moses' recorded words for the going out of the Ark, which David repeats in the 68th Psalm: "Arise O LORD, & let your enemies be scattered".  King David must have been literate, and probably copied out the books of Moses for himself (as God commanded in those books for kings to do.) In thinking over this chapter, David was inspired to make a Psalm about it, including the phrase "Sinai is now in the Sanctuary", speaking about God's developing of the ancient ordinances - Sinai, the Mountain of God, has now somehow been spiritually relocated to Zion in Jerusalem.  There's also a Messianic prophecy there, talking about the Temple of Christ's body, resurrected, rising from the dead and ascending with "captives in His train".

Then there's the Ark setting out three day's journey in advance of the rest of the congregation to find a good camping spot for the people, but we also read that Moses asked Hobab (his desert dwelling Midianite brother in law) to act as a desert scout for them.  Even in the midst of the supernatural guidance and demonstration of God's presence and power, there was room for normal means, a local scout to find a good spot.  Hobab probably went with the ark to find a camp for them.

PS 46
It's not by David, but by a committee (the Sons of Korah)
They open with a description of circumstances that sound a lot like the great flood that destroyed the earth (of which most nations have ancestral memory - many Native tribes do, including my own, India did, Greece did.), but preface it all saying that "Hey, even when things look like that, WE won't be afraid.
I think of apocalyptic movies, with asteroids hitting the earth, or giant volcanoes/tsunamis destroying the better part of it, or even "2012" complete with global flood/ark.  Crowds of people screaming and running.  My daughter used to be terrified of those scenes, I know I was as a kid.

Now of course this statement of fearlessness is silly if we expect in times like those (heck, even normal disease and aging!) to be passed over as we "hide in God".  But we do not fear death, as people who have hidden in the ever-present God, who even if our mortal body is destroyed (see Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 5) has prepared an eternal one for us in the heavens, and will remake the whole universe for us to live in.

When do the psalmists say we'll get that help, that "regeneration of all things"? See vs. 5.   As one who has children in the grave, I know that the morning hasn't dawned yet, and wait for it eagerly.

It's that judgment and remaking that the Psalmists speak about in vss 4-11, the destruction of rebellious nations, making an end of all war, the final exaltation of God's kingdom on earth, including the city of God on earth, with the river of the water of life (see the beginning of the last chapter in the Bible) coming from its center.

So we're without fear through all troubles and disasters here, knowing that we're in the hands of an ever present God, confident that He will preserve us though we die, and waiting until "morning dawns".


This is the exception to Romans 13:1.  When the world-spirit commands to worship, we are commanded to be silent.
In fact, though Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah are told they'll be tossed into a furnace to have their skin melted off (People can be pretty severely burned before the heat goes far enough into the body to kill them, it's got to be a nasty way to go) if they don't violate YHWH's second commandment, they answer as men who know the truth of the Psalm above.  "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us...but if not...we will not serve your gods."

This is like the state of Christians at the present. The whole world has been commanded by the world spirit and his puppet governors to break the commands of God or face the consequences: to shut up about abortion, to approve sexual perversion, to agree with atheistic ideas about the universe's origin.  We may all resist and refuse to comply in our own small ways, it's only a matter of time until "certain Chaldeans [come] forward and maliciously accuse [the Christians]" (vs.8)

Maybe God will yet astonish and convince even the present wicked rulers of His majesty and power when non-compliant believers hold fast and are rescued, remembering the ever-present God and our hope of resurrection.  I hope & pray that this is such a time.


Paul is showing here what he says about himself in 2 Cor 11:28 "Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches". Here he's upset because people he knows are getting distracted and derailed from real Christian faith and practice by two roads connected to (but veering off from) the clear truth: circumcision and philosophy.
On the one hand, human philosophy, with human presuppositions and starting points, has lots to commend it: plausible arguments, the name of wisdom, knowledge, revealing mysteries of the Universe.  We go to college for such things.  We are shocked into silence and contemplation by "deep" movies and stories.  They can be good so far as they go, many have bits of the truth in them and have paths that run for a few miles in the Way before they diverge.  But they do, all of them, diverge.  There is only one source of Truth, one great revealer of the Universe (and its Maker!)  The eternal Logos, through which the universe was made and by which it is held in existence, who became flesh as and embryo->baby->man and walked around Israel for 30+ years teaching and healing before being killed and rising, who now sits at the right hand of the Father.
Jesus, who Paul's always on about.
On the other hand, human circumcision, an ancient practice, commended as an eternal statute in the Writings, the sign of God's chosen people distinguishing them from the nations as keepers of the Law of God through Moses, and with it all manner of customs and dietary habits that set people apart from those around them, that take a lifetime to master.  There are many whose faith is derailed by special practices, (most of them inferior to circumcision!) that set them apart as the true keepers - special diets, outward signs, liturgical practices, all of which may have been useful and practical to turn men's minds to their sins and the necessity of having them removed to be separate and special to God. But all these signs are eventually made into something they are not. They cannot remove sin. They cannot purify the heart, they cannot defeat the evil spirits that would be our masters.  But there is one who can do all these things, who DID all these things with a better circumcision of heart, with a real separation from the surrounding world by dying in Him to it and raising with Him from death - real Life, real difference:
Jesus, who Paul's always on about.

New Task?

I'm going to try something new, that should give me more consistent subject matter for this blog.  Several years ago I read (I can't remember where) that Francis Schaeffer used to read four chapters of the bible a day, three from the Old Testament, and one from the New.  Since that time I've adopted the same practice, and with God's help I've been able to keep it up 'til the present.  I keep tabs in my bible that I move as I read, and write notes and observations and cross references as I go.

So what I'm hoping to do with some regularity is to put down some of my observations in this format.  I hope this will serve two functions; to edify anyone who stumbles across them, and two, to give me a place other than a notebook (which I have the habit of losing) to record them.