Saturday, June 20, 2015

OT DAY 236 - God Punishes, Not Vengeance (Please click here for English podcast)

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1.   Put on your “brakes” and stop for a moment of silence
2.   Wait for God. Breathe deep for God's peace. Exhale your worries.

Praise and Thanksgiving

1.   Think through your day, all the times that made you smile
2.   Thank God for all those moments, and for all those people
3.   Open your heart to praise the Lord

           Behold our shield, O God;
                              look on the face of your anointed!
                             Psalm 84:9

Confession and Repentance

1.  Pray for the Holy Spirit to work in you:

     “Dear Holy Spirit, shine your light into the places of darkness in my life. Show me my sins, everything that blocks me from encountering God. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

2.  Through the Holy Spirit, examine yourself for a short silence and then pray:

     "Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for our sins and being victorious over death and sin. I confess my sin to you(pause, to tell Jesus what the Holy Spirit has shown you). Forgive my sins by your blood and help me follow you. Holy Spirit, fill me that I may be able to receive your gifts to love God and His people. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen."

The Word (Numbers 31:1-54)

English(ESV): 31&version=ESV

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.” So Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the Lord's vengeance on Midian. You shall send a thousand from each of the tribes of Israel to the war.” So there were provided, out of the thousands of Israel, a thousand from each tribe, twelve thousand armed for war. And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand from each tribe, together with Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, with the vessels of the sanctuary and the trumpets for the alarm in his hand.
                               Numbers 31:1-6

Let's have a time to be still and give the Holy Spirit space to speak through the passage of scripture we have just read. Offer this time up to Jesus as you listen to him, while listening to "Gabriel's Oboe"

My Listening
     This is one of the most problematic passages in the whole Bible. God takes vengeance? God really kills like that? We had the tragedy a few days ago in Charleston, South Carolina that a white young man killed nine black Christians inside their church while they were having Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. The Senior Pastor was also being killed among the nine. That's hate, that's racial injustice. But, how about today's chapter? 

Let's see how Professor John Goldingay tells us: 
( :
     Let me begin with a crumb of comfort. While the first part of this chapter closes with the instruction to kill the Midianite boys and women, it never says that this happened. In contrast, it goes on to spend most of its time describing what Israel should do with the plunder from the battle, and then says that they did so. The Torah is not squeamish about telling us when people got slaughtered, so this raises the question of whether the slaughter ever happened. Midian's appearing in strength later in the Old Testament (see Judges 6-8) would be odd if they were annihilated in the wilderness. We have an example here of something that appears elsewhere in the Torah; the commission to execute people can be more a statement about the terrible nature of their offence than a prescription for a court to implement…
     It is also hard for modern people to believe that God punishes, but God's punishment is another theme that runs through both Old and New Testaments. Admittedly, translations make it worse by speaking in terms of vengeance rather than redress or punishment. While God has the strong feelings associated with vengeance,  the idea underlying God's action is not that Israel is to take revenge for something done to it but that Midian has been imperilling God's own intentions and that it should be punished. If it makes you feel better, you can again infer that it is more a statement of a theological truth than a statement about what God actually commissioned Israel to do. 

John Goldingay. Numbers & Deuteronomy for Everyone. Louisville,KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010, p.85-86.

       God punishes, not vengeance!
       The whole book of Old Testament runs on a theme that the Israelites and everyone should "Fear God". When we really fear God, then we won't fear anything else, not running out of money, not cancer, not death or anything. The problem of human beings is having no fear of God but to fear all other things! Sad!
       Let us have an understanding that God punishes if we are really out of His bottom-line so that we can fear God. So that we are always in His home receiving His protection and blessings and not running away from God's home to become lord of our own lives. Sooner or later,  we might fear of many things because we as human beings can never be in control. God's punishments help us to know that Jesus is Lord of our lives, we can not be lord of our lives!
       Jesus is Lord! 

Dear Lord Jesus, 
Lead us to be willing to follow you as our Lord so that we won't fear anything coming to our lives to lord us.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Reflect on these questions:
1. Do you have questions and struggles about this passage? Could Professor John Goldingay's explanation give you some comfort and new understanding?

2. What are those things that you are fearing recently? How can today's passage help you to remove your fear if you can fear God only? 

Praise and Thanksgiving
Let's give thanks for God with us. Let us praise Him:
10,000 Reasons

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