Prayer Requests for Week of March 1st, 2015

Hey all!

Please email me your prayer requests at atozmom.wordpress@gmail.com or post below in the comment section.

Mine:  Pray for Christians being persecuted around the world.  Guidance in my husband’s job.  Guidance for me by God.

Have a blessed week!

Stop What You Are Doing Right Now and WATCH THESE VIDEOS!

If you ever wanted a deeper understanding of the Ten Commandments, watch these short videos (average of 5 minutes for each commandment).  They will explain the commandments and what they mean in simple, easy-to-understand terms.  Both my kids and I learned a ton!

Some of what I learned:  That coveting does not mean wanting what someone else has.  It’s more than that.

That Do not Murder does not mean do not kill (blame ‘lost in translation’ for this error).

That Do Not Steal is more than just personal property.

That we are only commanded to honor our mother and father.  That does not mean we are commanded to honor other human beings. (Note definition of honor–different than respect).

Do Not Misuse God’s name does not mean to not cuss.  It means to kill in God’s name.  This is the only commandment that is unforgiveable.

Remember the Sabbath is for us to rest–to be more than a worker, to be free or we are slaves, and to make slavery impossible.  It also strengthens the family as we are forced to spend time with other human beings.  And animals were granted dignity as well.  And all of this affirms God.

Without God who brought us out of Egypt, there is no moral compass.  With one God, we are all equal.

All of the commandments are for the function of society and to keep it prospering.  Otherwise, we are doomed.

This is just a bit of what I learned.  I cannot recommend this site enough.  It’s run by Prager University and is presented by the founder of Prager University.  It is not a university per se as we know it; just a site free to all with five minute videos discussing issues of the day (including theology) founded by Dennis Prager, a conservative radio talk show host and columnist.

I can not speak for the site; all I can recommend are these videos.  If nothing else, you’ll gain a different perspective on the commandments, perfect to go along with the Life of Moses.  I watched these alongside my kids and because they are short and sometimes entertaining my kids were engaged the entire 50 minutes.

Click HERE for the videos.  Enjoy!

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 24, Day 5: Numbers 25:6-18

Summary of passage:  An Israelite man brought a Midianite woman to the Tent of Meeting.  Phinehas, son of Eleazar, drove them through with a spear.  The plague against the Israelites stopped but 24,000 died.  God made a lasting covenant of priesthood with Phinehas because he was zealous for God’s honor and made atonement for the people.  The leader of the Simeonite family was killed and now God told the Israelites to treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them for their deception.

Questions:

10a)  Phinehas was jealous for God’s honor and the killing shed blood to atone for the Israelites’ sins.  Furthermore, Phinehas was just as jealous for God’s honor as God is jealous for His honor, showing how much Phinehas has a heart for God.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Defend Him when blasphemied.  Tolerate no sin around you and say something when others are committing blatant sins against Him.  Be Godly yourself.

11a)  Balaam is credited with giving the Midianites the idea to entice/defeat the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.

[See also Numbers 31:16]

b)  Balaam was killed along with the five kings of Midian shortly after his blessings of the Israelites.  He is remembered as a lover of “wages of wickedness” according to Peter.  He is remembered as greedy and motivated by money–an unbeliever out for himself.

12a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God cannot tolerate sin nor be near sin.  His honor matters and He rewards those who defend Him here on earth.  He punishes justly and gives all a chance to turn to Him.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To be holy.  To maintain it.  To honor and defend it.

Conclusions:  Question 12 is a filler.  It’s nice to see Balaam being punished for his misdeeds. So often in this world we don’t see sin being punished.  We just have to trust the sinners will be handled by God in heaven.  Still, God is a just God and incidents like this renew our faith that He is in control and consequences will be paid.

End Notes:  Scholars believe Zimri was having sex with Cozbi right in front of the tabernacle, which would make sense to solicit such a reaction from Phinehas.

This one act stopped the plague–an encouragement to us who think sometimes what we do doesn’t matter.

Phinehas had the zeal of God and was ensured he would be the line of the priesthood out of Eleazar’s sons.

Now the Midianites are an enemy of God after they had attacked God’s people first.  God’s anger is burning against them and He orders them to be destroyed.  Good lesson not to mess with God and His people!

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 24, Day 4: Numbers 25:1-5

Summary of passage:  While Israel camped, the men engaged in sexual immorality with Moabite women.  The Israelites joined them in worshipping false gods and God’s anger burned.  The Lord ordered those who engaged in false god worship killed.

Questions:

8a)  To indulge in sexual immorality with pagan women and join them in worshipping false gods, breaking two of the ten commandments and the law against being with unbelievers.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The consequences of that sin.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure here.  I didn’t worship any false gods.  I did worship God.  He continues to provide for my every need in every way always.

9)  The people are about to cross over into the Promised Land.  They need to be godly people and fulfill God’s will and desire for them to be separate and a standard to look up to.  Plus, everything is going well for the Israelites.  Their enemies are afraid.  God just blessed them through Balaam.  Now, one of the oldest tricks in the book, sexual sin, is threatening to take down the Israelites.  God must stop this now.  It must be made clear to the Israelites that this sin is unacceptable.  As most of us know, sin and especially sexual sin, only leads to more sin.  And sin God will not tolerate.

Conclusions:  I liked this in how we see the devil never giving up in trying to take down God’s people.  I like how God answers:  swiftly and severely.  I didn’t like the personal questions at all.  They took the wind out of this passage for me as I paused and had to deliberate.  This passage speaks for itself and sometimes I think the passage gets lost when we try to inject ourselves and our experiences.  Instead of being about God’s word, it’s about us.  History is history and yes we learn from history, but facts are facts.

Example:  John F Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald for no other reason than for evil purposes and to gain notoriety.  In all the history books I’ve read about this historical event, not one has asked me about myself personally or how I applied his death to my life.  It was a tragic event as history both past and present are full of tragic events.  This will never change because man himself never changes.  Deep down we are sinners.  The devil grabs a hold of some people and never lets go despite God’s word.  Deep down we are all capable of murder.  Deep down we are undeserving of God’s mercy.  Deep down we are evil.

Point being:  not everything applies to us personally.  We all know if you do evil, you will face consequences either here on earth or in heaven.  We all know (even unbelievers) deep down who we should worship and who we shouldn’t worship.  We all know as Balaam discovered we will either be blessed or cursed by our decisions.

I am utterly frustrated here with the broad generalizations that are so broad (not even sexual sin is pinpointed here) that I am left with a headache in trying to figure out how to narrow it down.

End Notes:  In some Bible translations you will see Midianites instead of Moabites here. They are indeed separate peoples who at the time were living in the same general area.

We’ve seen Baal before, a constant threat to the Israelites as he was a popular fertility god that promoted sexual sin.

Note how Balak could not curse the Israelites but God can and does–because of disobedience. We ourselves bring upon our own destruction, not others.

Balaam is credited with suggesting this idea of sending in women to seduce the men (Numbers 31:16; Revelation 2:14).  However, he didn’t live very long (Numbers 31:7-8).  God’s judgment was swift upon him.

Map of Shittim:  http://www.jesuswalk.com/moses/maps/map-shittim-peor-topo-750x356x300.jpg

This map shows just how close the Israelites are to the Promised Land and God is taking no chances in His plans being thwarted now:  http://www.bibletrack.com/notes/image/Jericho.jpg

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 24, Day 3: Numbers 23-24

Summary of passage:  Numbers 23:  Balaam builds 7 altars and prepares 7 sacrifices.  He speaks with the Lord who puts words in his mouth, blessing the Israelites instead of cursing them.  Again, Balak brings Balaam to a different spot to curse the Israelites.  God again puts words in Balaam’s mouth, saying He is with His people who will devour those who oppose them.  Balak, not giving up his quest to curse the Israelites, drags Balaam to a third location in Peor and builds 7 more altars and offers 7 more sacrifices.

Numbers 24:  Balaam, now at his third location, finally realizes God will not curse his people.  As a result, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon him and he utters more blessings upon Israel:  they will live abundantly, their king and kingdom will be exalted, and they will devour hostile nations.

Balak, angry at the three blessings instead of the three curses, sends Balaam away with no riches.  Balaam reminds Balak that he told him he would only speak God’s words and then he utters a prophecy against Moab, telling Balak that Israel will crush them along with Edom and Seir.  Salaam utters more oracles:  Amalek will be ruined along with the Kenites, assure, and Eber.

Questions:

5)  First Oracle:  Numbers 23:7-10:  God tells Balak that He cannot curse the Israelites for He has set them apart.

Second Oracle:  Numbers 23:18-24:  God tells Balak that He will not change his mind, that He the Lord is with them, that He brought them out of Egypt, and that the people shall rise like a lion and devour their victims.

Third Oracle:  Numbers 24:3-9:  Balaam utters more blessings upon Israel: they will live abundantly, their king and kingdom will be exalted, and they will devour hostile nations.

Fourth Oracle:  Numbers 24:15-19:  Balaam tells Balak that Moab, Edom, and Seir will all be crushed by Israel.

Final Three Oracles:  Numbers 24:20-24:  Balaam says that Amalek, the Kenites, Asshur, and Eber all will come to ruin.

6a)  He is taking Balaam to different places in order to physically see the Israelites and in a vain effort to find a place where God may curse His own people.  Balak strikes me as a man who doesn’t give up easily.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Nothing lately but usually when I do this I don’t like the answer the first person gave me so I go to another person hoping they will give me answer–and it’s usually the answer I want to hear, not a different one.  I haven’t done this in quite some time.  I think I’ve learned my lesson from doing this.  I ask God and my husband.  That’s about it.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Balaam is a pleaser.  He takes the path of less resistance and finally bows to God’s will only because he realizes he is defeated and is out for own self-preservation.

Conclusions:  Surprisingly, I liked this lesson.  It was fun to watch God have fun with Balaam, uttering blessings instead of curses each time.  You can almost see the frustration on Balaam’s face, knowing with each utterance he was getting less and less of an earthly reward.

It was fun to watch Balak be frustrated and to see him moving Balaam from place to place as if that would make God change his mind.  It is very comical, and you can almost see God from up above laughing at them!  I like to think God has a sense of humor like his creation, man, does.

End Notes:  Numbers 23:  Oracle means prophecy.  We tend to think of oracles as false prophets as the word was popularized by the Greeks who uses oracles to tell the future as indeed this is the first definition of the word in Webster’s Dictionary:  “a person (as a priestess of ancient Greece) through whom a deity is believed to speak.”  Another definition:  “an answer or decision given by an oracle.”

Interestingly, this is a latin word meaning “to speak.”  Well, the Greeks didn’t speak Latin so they themselves didn’t use the word “oracle”.  As most Bibles were written down in the Middle Ages which used Latin as the language of writing, this word is not all that old.  In my opinion, this is not a great translation here and prophecy would be better (which by the way is a Greek word meaning “the inspired declaration of divine will and purpose”) which fits here much better as indeed some bible translations use the word prophecy and not oracle.

Here we see God speaking through Balaam, obviously not a godly-man.  But God uses all for His purposes.

Note how Balaam would like “to die the death of the righteous” but not live like the righteous.  He wants the good life but not the work that goes along with the good life.

Both men are exasperated!  Balak wants a curse and Balaam wants money but neither gets what they want for God is in charge here.

God educates Balak about who he is dealing with and who His people are and that Balak has no chance against them.

Wild ox here is translated different ways:  unicorn, ox, rhinoceros, or goat.  The Hebrew word here which occurs 9 times in the Old Testament (twice in our readings–24:8) means one horn.

Balak is frustrated, saying at least don’t bless them if you won’t curse them!  Funny how God works.

Numbers 24:  Three times Balak offered up rams and bulls in an effort to have the Israelites cursed.  This would have been quite the expense at the time.

We see that Balaam did try to evoke sorcery  (24:1) to curse the Israelites, but it didn’t work so seemingly he gave it up.  Hence, Balaam and Balak are cursed by God in the third oracle.

The oracles are progressive:  first, Balak does not receive a curse, next he gets a blessing instead of a curse and finally he himself is cursed.  You’d think he’d learn his lesson!

The fourth oracle is a bonus per se.  Balaam, realizing he won’t get paid, just keeps speaking.  This is about Jesus as he is the start and the scepter and will rule over all nations.  This prophecy was also fulfilled by King David (2 Samuel 8:2,14).

Without the curse, Balak realizes he cannot defeat the Israelites so wisely he does not attack like he wanted to back in Numbers 22.  Instead, he returns home, defeated.

Balaam:  His name possibly means devourer or glutton.  He was evidently a professional magician of a nomadic clan.  He obviously had a reputation of getting gods on his side.  God spoke through him 7 times!  Was Balaam converted to God’s side?  No.  Next we hear of him is Numbers 31:8 where he dies.  He is condemned in 2 Peter 2:15, Jude 11, and Revelation 2:14.  He is credited with suggesting the tactic of using sex to defeat the Israelites, resulting in 24,000 deaths (Numbers 25:9; 31:16).

He has been called by scholars the Judas of the Old Testament as he seems faithful at times but greed turns him to evil.

Seven books of the Bible mention Balaam.  This shows how important these events were in Israelite history.  God uses a pagan and a magician in a land full of pagans and magicians as a warning:  He is coming and He shall win.

Summarized from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by J.D. Douglas and Merrill C. Tenney:

Balaam is held up as an example of pernicious influence of hypocritical teachers who attempt to lead God’s people astray.  No bible character is more severely excoriated.

We see three things of God’s rule in the world through the story of Balaam:

1)  God overrules man’s sinful rule and his desire to bring his own purposes to pass.

2)  God’s promises prevail no matter the odds always.

3)  God guards His people from threats even when they are not even aware of them (like Balak who wanted to attack them).

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 24, Day 2: Numbers 22:1-41

Summary of passage:  The Israelites are headed to the Promised Land and camped along the Jordan River across from Jericho.  Balak, the king of the Moabites, was scared of the Israelites so he asked Balaam to curse the Israelites.  God came to Balaam and warned him not to curse the Israelites for they are blessed.  So Balaam refused to curse the Israelites.  Balak sent more messengers to try and convince Balaam to curse the Israelites, offering him a handsome reward.  Still, Balaam refused but promised to speak to God again for them.  This time God said to go with the men and do only what He commands.

So Balaam starts his journey with the princes of Moab.  However, God is angry so He sends and angel who stands in the road to block their path.  The donkey sees the angel and turns off the road.  Balaam beats the donkey for disobedience.  Again, the angel blocks their path; again the donkey is beaten.  Again, the donkey sees the angel; again the donkey is beaten.

God made the donkey chastise Balaam for beating her three times.  Finally, the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes to see the angel. The angel says the donkey saved his life because she turned away.  Balaam repented and God told him once again to go with the men to Balak.

Questions:

3a)  “Terrified because there were so many people”; “filled with dread because of the Israelites”.  “This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field.”  “Come and put a curse on these people because they are too powerful for me.”

b)  If Balaam cursed the Israelites, then they could be defeated and driven out of his country.

c)  Sent ambassadors to see what the Israelites wanted.  Prayed to the One, True God about it.

d)  Kill them (Shiities killing the Sunnis and vice versa, various African tribes killing each other (Darfur region), Muslims killing Christians, terrorists indiscriminately killing).  Hostility, discrimination, etc.

4a)  Balaam obviously knew of the One, True God since he spoke to Him and feared Him.  Does that make him a believer?  No.   Joshua tells us he practiced divination.  In Deuteronomy, we see the Lord would not listen to Balaam and God listens to His children.

Numbers 22:7 speaks volumes here:  Balaam was working for a “divination fee”.  No true prophet of God is out for himself.  If any thing, being a prophet is more of a burden than a reward in terms of money here on earth.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Don’t jump to conclusions.  As the donkey pointed out, the donkey’s behavior was way out of the ordinary, but Balaam did not take the time to figure out why.  Do not court temptation for in the end it will get you.  Some people will go against God’s will and nothing can stop them (not even Jesus himself) their hearts are so twisted.  People will do anything for money.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Have patience when things are out of the ordinary.  Pray for God to be with me more.  Listen for God’s voice and not man’s voice.  Run from temptation.

Conclusions:  Could have done without personal questions.  I would hope most of us don’t beat our animals when they disobey.  They are after all lower animals and God charges us to care for them as such.  I would also hope if Jesus appears before us we won’t ask him for permission to sin.  If God says go one way, we go His way, not ours.  I love how God uses a beast of burden to tell Balaam he’s an idiot.  How humbling!

End Notes:  Balak had no need to fear the Israelites.  If he had known God’s word, God had commanded the Israelites to not harm the Moabites as their land was not part of the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 2:9).

This is the first time in the Bible we meet Balaam and we are given no background on him as to how he’s a prophet or comes to be held in such high regard by Balak.

Balak wants the people cursed so he knows enough about the Israelites to know they follow a powerful god.  And Balaam he believes is the man for the job.

Taking the divination fee was the first sin.  The second sin was even asking God when his heart was not right and knew the men were evil.  God, out of mercy, spoke with Balaam–for Balaam’s sake–in order to try and turn his heart to Him.

From Balaam’s answer to the elders, it is clear he wants to go but ‘mean, ol’ God’ won’t let him. Hence, Balak tries again, this time promising more riches, which is what Balaam wants.  Even though Balaam knows God’s will, he refuses to put away his sin.  He allows temptation in once more.

God does not change His mind when he allows Balaam to go with the men; He is setting Balaam up for judgment.

God is angry at Balaam’s rejection of His word.

Note how the donkey is more spiritual than Balaam, seeing a representative of its Creator and rightfully being fearful.  The donkey is a representative of all followers of God and Jesus:  he obeys and because he obeys he annoys the unbelievers and is punished by them and often killed.

Balaam should have known by the donkey’s reaction that something was wrong with this trip.  When the donkey speaks, Balaam’s heart is so twisted by his own desire and sin he doesn’t bat an eye at this miracle.

Scholars believe the angel is Jesus because he accuses Balaam of sinning against him personally (verse 32).

Balaam still wants to go and asks so.  God gives him over to judgment by allowing him to go.

With these actions, Balaam earns himself a place as a lover of money in the Bible and is held up as an example of what NOT to do:  2 Peter 2:15-16 & Jude 11.

Map Showing where Israelites are Encamped:  http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/images/EglonAndAmmon2.jpg

Clear Delineation of Negev and Moab:  http://www.bibletrack.org/notes/image/Israel_to_Moab.jpg

Fun fact:  The donkey is the only Biblical account of an animal speaking.  And an angel (Jesus) praised the donkey, proof God loves all His creations.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 23, Day 5: Numbers 21:10-35

Summary of passage:  We follow the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land.  They reached the land of the Amorites and their king, Sihon, would not let Israel pass through.  They fought and Israel occupied the land of the Amorites.  Another king, Og, marched out against the Israelites as well but God said to Moses do not be afraid for I have already handed them over to you.  So the Israelites conquered them and took their land as well.

Questions:

9a)  The Israelites turned away from the Edomites.  Here, Israel chose to fight and they were victorious.

[In Deuteronomy 2:30 we discover another reason for the engagement:  The Lord made Sihon’s spirit stubborn and his heart obstinate.  We also see in Deuteronomy 2 that God told the Israelites to engage Sihon in battle in order for other nations to begin to fear you and tremble before you.  God wanted the Israelites to possess the land and plunder the town.]

b)  It gave them a place to stay and rest on their way to the Promised Land.  The news of the defeat of the Amorites would spread to other nations and they would begin to fear the Israelites.  And it boosted their morale–what the Israelites desperately needed.  It also was a useful distraction that would leave them no time to grumble.

9c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I haven’t had a spiritual victory in my life this week.

10a)  They may not have wanted 2 million people traipsing through their backyards.  They may be warring peoples who saw an opportunity to take riches and slaves from the Israelites.  They may have been afraid of being conquered so they struck first.  And in Deuteronomy 2 we see God’s hand as he hardened the heart of Sihon in order to hand him over to Israel.  Hence, God was the one deciding who Israel would fight and not fight.

b)  In my humble opinion, this is an extrapolation that does not make much sense especially in light of Deuteronomy 2 where we see God’s hand in these wars.  Comparing 2 million refugees if you will to individuals is completely different.  We see stubbornness in Deuteronomy 2 and an unwillingness to be magnanimous in life.  We see selfishness.  We see greed.  We see man’s nature and man’s sin.  Nothing has changed today as much as we tell ourselves it has.  Every war has evil and sin behind it as does every evil deed.  And there is no other way around it.

11a)  “Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you, with his whole army and his land.  do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites.”

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Again, another poor extrapolation.  In Numbers, the Israelites are facing death and so must defend themselves in a life and death situation.  So God says to kill them all.  The only thing I can think of here is to pray first and see what God says.  If you are facing a physical attack, obviously fight back.  If your character is being attacked, I would say the same–with God’s guidance.  Again, too open-ended and vague here to get a proper response.

In response to what we learn in Deuteronomy 2, I’d ask God, “God, what are you trying to teach me here through this person’s attack?  How are you looking to grow me?”  It seems God had a mighty hand in Sihon’s heart as he does in all believers’ and unbelievers’ hearts.  Everything is for a reason–one we normally cannot see.  So ask Him for guidance.  To see.  To learn.  To grow.

Conclusions:  Questions such as 9c make me wonder:  am I supposed to have a spiritual victory in my life?  What if I haven’t?  Is there something wrong with me?  Am I not doing enough for God if I haven’t had a spiritual battle this week?  Again, another open-ended question with no answer for me.  Too big to narrow it down to anything of substance and in this case a question that makes me feel inadequate–which I don’t like nor appreciate.  It’s a small part, but it’s there.

This lesson is driving me nuts and I’m sure you all will comment on how I shouldn’t say anything negative about BSF or their questions.  But that’s not me.  I tell it how I feel and to me this lesson was horrible–the worst in recent memory.  I almost want to skip lecture because of it!  5 out of 21 questions are of a personal nature (that’s 24%!) all of which I thought unnecessary and too broad.  A waste of time, effort, and space.

Yet, at the same time, I feel bad for saying how horrible this lesson was in my opinion because I’m not supposed to say such things and feel like I’m complaining.

For me, I would much rather have spent only a day or two on this chapter and moved on so I can digest the last 10 chapters of Numbers and the 1st 26 chapters of Deuteronomy in a few short weeks.  Furthermore, I wish the parallel chapters in Deuteronomy would have been assigned for us to read instead of re-reading them in the next few weeks.  This added much to my understanding here as more details are recorded.

Maybe I’m just missing the whole point here so enlightenment by you all would be most welcome.

End Notes:  The Book of the Wars is lost to us as are several other books mentioned in the Bible.

We see God strengthening the Israelites here, giving them opponents to bolster their faith and belief.  What a merciful God we have!

Scholars say the poetry quoted here is to show how cultured the peoples were who were conquered, adding to Israel’s victory.

This land conquered later becomes part of Israel, land given to Gad and Manasseh.

We end Chapter 21 on a positive note for once.  However, as we shall see, the Israelites still have an uphill battle in their quest for the Promised Land.

Cute Map of Exodus:  https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/8a/c2/3a/8ac23af79414cbac4a8b64ded9c6bf3f.jpg

Another Version showing Iye Abarim:  http://www.bibleornot.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/exodus-route-map.jpg