Secret of the Andes

Secret of the Andes
Secret of the Andes

Winner of the Newbery Award for Outstanding Contribution to Children’s Literature for 1953, Ann Nolan Clark pens a wonderful tale about the Incas and discovering your true path in this world.

We meet Chuto, an old Indian, and Cusi, a young Indian boy, who live high up in the Andes Mountains in a Secret Valley.  They tend llamas and Cusi has a pet llama all his own that he names Misti.

A minstrel visits who notices Cusi’s golden earplugs in his ears.  Cusi does not know what this means.  He does not know who his real parents are.  He does not know many things Chuto speaks of such as why he is called the Chosen One.

Chuto and Cusi take their annual journey to the Salt Pits to gather salt.  It is the first time Cusi can remember leaving the valley.  He sees many new sights and many new people.  However, he does not get to meet the family he has been watching that lives below them in the valley.  Cusi longs for a family all his own.  The trip is brief and Cusi is glad to return home.

One day Amauta arrives to teach Cusi all he needs to know.  Chuto tells Cusi, “Your acts obey only the course of your own mind’s whisper.”  Amauta teaches Cusi all he knows and then he leaves and Cusi is left wondering what all this means.

One day he follows Misti to a hidden valley and finds a pair of golden slippers.  Chuto tells Cusi this is the sign for him to leave to Cuzco and find his heart’s desire.  He gives Cusi Misti and seven other llamas packed with wool to take on his journey.

Cusi is helped along the way by a hidden village of Inca.  He meets a strange woman whom he gives 5 of his llamas to.  Cusp’s journey continues as he searches for a family.  He finds a family that takes him in but it doesn’t seem right.  His heart is in the hidden valley with Chuto whom he loves.  He is learning to follow his heart and seize the days that are awaiting him.  He is learning that a family is Chuto and the llamas and sharing everything with one another.

Cusi learned to read his own heart and thereby find his heart’s desire.  “Grieve not your searching circles,” an old man known as the Keeper of the Fields told Cusi.  His desire was to return to his real home with Chuto and the llamas.

When Cusi returned, Chuto questioned him, asking him if this was his true desire to stay in the mountains.  Cusi said yes and with those words made a blood vow to always breed the Inca llamas and care for them.  Chuto showed Cusi a hidden passage full of gold dust, dust the Incas had brought the Spaniards to release their kind.  Instead the king was killed and the Inca hid the gold and the llamas.  Only two alive know where the gold is:  Chuto and now Cusi.  Cusi is the Chosen One, the one to guard the flock and the gold and to train the new chosen one when the time is come.

Cusi learns that he is the son of another Chosen One, one that Chuto had trained but who had run away because Chuto would never allow him to leave.  His real father, Titu, sent Cusi in his place.  Now, Cusi is free to travel the world as a proper Herdsman of the Inca’s llamas must be wise and well travelled.  Chuto will stay for the animals.  However, Cusi says not now for he is happy there.  They salute the sun for a new beginning.

Most memorable quote:  “Open your eyes.  Open your heart.  Open your mind.  The day is waiting for you.”

This book is fatefully known as the book that beat Charlotte’s Web for the Newbery Award.  Some on the committee have explained their votes by saying there are no good books on South America.  History tells its take on that.

Great tale and a short read.  Slow at first but picks up quickly.  Keeps the readers guessing to the very end as to what the Secret of the Andes is and who Cusi is.  My kids and I had fun in guessing who Cusi really was and what his purpose was.

Great depiction of the Incas.  One of our favorite parts is how Inca Indians keep showing up to help Cusi on his journeys and how everyone knows who he is but Cusi doesn’t.  Great story weaving.  Great, vivid descriptions.  Great book for the family and on finding your own heart’s desire and path in the world.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 15, Day 5: Leviticus 10:8-20

Summary of passage:  God told Aaron after he was ordained to not drink before going into the tabernacle for you must be lucid in order to distinguish between the clean and unclean and teach all the Israelites the decrees.  Moses tells Aaron what he can and cannot eat of the offerings.  Moses gets angry at Aaron’s sons for not eating their portion of the sin offering, but Aaron explains that they used it for their sin offering to the Lord.

Questions:

10a)  Alcohol clouds the mind and leads people to do things they wouldn’t do if they were lucid. Ephesians says it leads to debauchery (excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures) and Romans says God is about righteousness and not revelry.  Furthermore, it clouds the judgement and part of the priests job was to determine what was clean and unclean, holy and common, and be able to teach others the decrees.  One cannot do this if they are impaired.

b)  Acts says you will be witnesses for God and Ephesians says you will speak to one another with psalms and songs and sing and make music to the Lord and be always grateful to Him for everything.  We are wholly His.

11a)  They are to take the leftovers that the Lord does not command for Himself for themselves.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Tithing.  Doing things for my spiritual mentors that demonstrate my appreciation.  Praying.  Lending a helping hand when needed.

12a)  Because Aaron was in mourning for the death of his sons, Nadab and Abihu.

b)  Hezekiah says that even if the rules are not followed to a T, may the Lord pardon the people for their hearts are pure and seeking Him and the Lord did.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To each his own.  We all have a different way of worshipping the Lord and as long as our hearts are pure, God accepts it and us.  Be open to all forms of worship for the Lord is and do not pass judgment on differences which the Lord gave each and every one of us in His infinite wisdom.  He loves it and so should we!

Conclusions:  I liked this lesson.  The wisdom of not drinking to have a clear mind.  The reminder that God accepts all and so should we.  The importance of a pure heart for Him.  Good stuff!

The only confusion was question 12 for Leviticus is not very clear here.  Aaron and his sons committed a sin by not eating the sin offering because it went directly against God’s commands.  The question was asked to the sons but Aaron answered, leading us to believe it was under Aaron’s direction that they didn’t eat the sin offering.  Aaron says he is in mourning for his other sons, which Moses accepts as a reasonable explanation. The Chronicles passage highlights God’s forgiveness since the heart is right.  The personal question of c merges parts a and b.  Aaron was worshipping the Lord in performing the sin offering, but he did it his way out of his grief.

End Notes:  Being on the heels of God’s judgment of Nadab and Abihu, this leads us to believe they may have been drunk when they offered up unauthorized fire to the Lord.  Alcohol is a depressant, a substance that alters the mind.  God wants all of us, especially when worshipping Him.

Verses 16-20 were confusing for me.  Basically, Aaron and his remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, didn’t eat the sin offering that they were supposed to eat.  They normally eat it as their portion.  Here, Aaron explains to Moses that he was in mourning over the death of his others sons, Nadab and Abihu, which was allowed.  Moses was satisfied with this answer.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 15, Day 4: Leviticus 10:1-7

Summary of passage:  Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu were consumed by fire from the Lord for offering up unauthorized fire against the Lord’s commands.  Their bodies were carried outside of camp.  Moses said the priest may not mourn these two but the Israelites may.

Questions:

8a)  “They offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to His command”  They were killed by God.

b)  Part personal question.  My answer:  God honored the people when they worshipped correctly with His presence.  He punished the people when they worshipped against His command.  Worship is paramount to God and He expects to be obeyed explicitly not implicitly.  God takes worship seriously as we are to do as well.  God’s ways, not ours.

9a)  Before the Lord, one is unworthy to speak words.  There is nothing we can impart to God so why bother.  Good lesson for all of us that sometimes silence is better than idle chatter.

b)  Moses told what to do with the body and how to mourn properly so as not to offend the Lord.  Mourning would have meant that God was wrong in what He did.  He also told them not to leave the Tent of Meeting.  He reminded them of God’s holiness.

Conclusions:  Loved going to Lamentations and Amos.  I love the book of Lamentations and it’s not studied enough.  It is the book we should all turn to when a tragedy befalls us or a loved one as we see God’s justice and mercy and compassion clearly–and gives us hope when we cannot see (or we choose not to see) hope.

No matter how good we think we are we must remain grounded in God or we could fall off the wagon at any time just like Aaron’s sons here.

End Notes:  Nadab and Abihu came in an unauthorized way with fire made by themselves and not God’s fire and perhaps even into the Most Holy of Holy Places.  They may even have been killed in the Most Holy of Holies (“before the Lord” could mean this).

Fire judges and purifies and Satan himself will try to deceive us with fire (Revelation 13:13).

As priests, they are held to a higher standard.  What Aaron did at Mount Sinai with the golden calf was worse than this offense.  But that was before their consecration.

A CENSER is a vessel for burning incense swung in religious ceremonies amongst some religions such as Catholicism and others.  This was holy incense used inappropriately by Nadab and Abihu with dire consequences.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 15, Day 3: Leviticus 9

Summary of passage:  With the priests consecrated, they are now ready to begin service to God.  On the eighth day Moses told Aaron as his first official duty to make a sin and burnt offering and the Lord would appear to him.  Aaron now offered a sin offering and a burnt offering to make atonement for them and the people.  He also offered up a grain offering and a wave offering.  Aaron blessed the people and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites.  They people then shouted and fell face down.

Questions:

6a)  Moses told them.  God had told Moses.

b)  Take a bull calf as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering to atone for their sins and then to take a male goat as a sin offering and a calf and a lamb as a burnt offering to atone for the people’s sin.

c)  The Lord would appear before them.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I hate the demonstrative pronoun “these” coupled with “things” in relation to a multiple question because I am then left guessing as to which noun “these” is referring to and what are the “things”.  I’m going to guess that BSF means how does performing your God-directed duties with the promise of heavenly rewards affect you since the whole sacrifice thing is unnecessary these days.

If we do God’s will, we are rewarded with His presence.  Simple as that.

7a)  “They shouted for joy and fell facedown”

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I cannot think of a time when I would respond in a similar manner as the Israelites did in seeing God’s glory.  I can’t even remotely compare such an experience that would leave me incoherent.

Conclusions:  Could have done without the personal questions on this one.  Still unsure what “these things” refer to in 6d and in 7b I hate when the question asks us to compare an experience the Israelites had (seeing the glory of God) to something we have experienced when for the most part we are never going to get to see the glory of God on this side of heaven.  It irritates me to no end.

End Notes:  Aaron had to sacrifice again for himself for the sin they had committed during the week of the ceremony.  Perfect example of the limitations of animal sacrifices.

First, cleanse yourself.  Then cleanse others.  This was done in front of the Israelites to show that Aaron was human too and needed cleansing.

The Lord is often represented by fire.  Seven times God accepts sacrifices by fire in the Bible.  The Holy Spirit descended with fire.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 15, Day 2: Leviticus 8

Introductory Note:  We get a bit of a break from reading, but as a chronological freak I am still unsure as to why we skipped Leviticus 8-10 last week.  Spend more time on it?  Probably.  But we could have just done Leviticus 8 & 9 and then done 10 in another week.

Summary of passage:  The Lord told Moses to anoint Aaron as the high priest and his sons as priests in an elaborate ceremony in front of the entire people at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.  Aaron’s descendants (the tribe of Levi) would forever have religious duties for the entire nation of Israel.

Moses put the ephod on Aaron, the Urim and Thummim and the turban (link to picture HERE) and then anointed him with old and consecrated him.  He then anointed Aaron’s sons as well.  Moses anointed and consecrated the tabernacle.  Then Moses offered up a sin offering, a burnt offering, a wave offering, and a ram for ordination for Aaron and his sons.  The ceremony lasted 8 days, which including eating some of the meat and bread from the offerings.

Questions:

3a)  Believers in Christ

b)  Washed–John 13:10; Hebrews 10:22:  We are cleansed from our sins and guilt.

Dressed–Romans 13:14; Revelation 3:4, 16:15:  Clothed with Christ and his righteousness

Anointed–Isaiah 61:1; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11:  Anointed with the Holy Spirit and able to preach the good news, bind up the broken-hearted, and proclaim freedom from sin for those who believe in Christ.  The Holy Spirit offers up different gifts for the Lord such as wisdom, healing, prophecy, etc to do His work.

4a)  According to Webster’s Dictionary, ordination means “the act or instance of ordaining (to invest officially with ministerial or priestly authority)”.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, consecration means “the act or ceremony of consecrating (to induct a person not a permanent office with a religious rite; to make or declare sacred; to devote irrevocably to the worship of God by a solemn ceremony)”.

b)  It meant to hear the Lord (ear), to do the Lord’s work (thumb), and to walk in the ways of the Lord (toe).  To be different– of God instead of of man–after the ceremony.  The right side was considered the stronger side as most people are right-handed and thus the better side.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure.  I know I fail most days in doing God’s work, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t consecrated it to Him.  It just means I’m human.  So, I’m trying in my walk.

5a)  They sacrificed a bull each day as a sin offering to make atonement.  They purified the altar every day by making atonement for it, and anointing it to consecrate it.  Then the altar and whoever touches it will be holy.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus made the final sacrifice of himself in order to be our High Priest and make us holy before God.  He meets our every need.  My response is eternal gratitude for Christ paying the price for my sins.

Conclusions:  I know BSF’s point is to show how Christ has nulled and voided all of these rituals God’s people were required to perform; hence all of the looking up of New Testament passages.  However, I would have liked to dive deeper into the meanings of these rituals as most of us (including me) really don’t understand the meaning behind them.  I believe understanding what exactly was required of God’s people BEFORE Christ came will give us a deeper appreciation and love of Christ in terms of our living AFTER he came.

End Notes:  With the tabernacle complete, it is now time to follow God’s commands from Exodus 29 and consecrate the priests.  The purpose of the ceremony was to consecrate (set aside) the priests for God’s work.  After Jesus, we too are set aside with the power of the Holy Spirit.

First, the priests had to be cleansed and there is debate about whether this was by full immersion or not. Either way once cleansed, only the feet and hands had to be cleansed henceforth.  We too are washed by the cleansing work of Jesus on the cross.

Second, they were clothed as we are clothed with the righteousness of Jesus through faith.

Third, they were anointed with oil as we are with the Holy Spirit to walk in Him.

After the physical cleansing, next came the spiritual cleansing by the sin offering of the bull and the burnt offering of the ram which took our sins as the substitution.  Finally, a wave or fellowship offering as the priests are now the Lord’s.

Moses took the blood and oil and stained the priests clothes as a reminder of the ceremony, which was to be repeated with all new generations of Aaron’s family.

The Inheritance Cycle

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

The Inheritance Cycle which consists of the books Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance is a fantasy series by Christopher Paolini.  I read these books when they first came out but only recently finished Inheritance when my daughter and I competed to finish the series (she won by the way).

We meet Eragon, a boy of 13 who lives a quiet farm life in the Spine until he discovers a dragon’s egg in the forest and it hatches.  The world is ruled by Galbatorix who has killed most of the dragons except his and controls all of the eggs.  Eragon finds himself a target by the Empire because he now has a dragon.  All four books of the series follows Eragon on his adventures as he first tries to just hide from the Empire and then he becomes the leader of the rebels trying to bring Galbatorix down.  He gives up all he knows and learns to step into his role as the only Rider left.

This world is peppered with elves, dwarfs, a race called Urgals, dragons, and humans.  Eragon works with all of them in their fragile alliance to bring down the Empire.

In the last book, Inheritance, Galbatorix is overcome and the world must now rebuild after so many years of being suppressed.  I didn’t like how the series ended with Eragon leaving all his family and friends behind as he leaves the known world to raise the new crop of dragons.  However, Mr. Paolini has promised a fifth book, but that could be years out.

Great overall series written by a homeschool kid who wrote Eragon when he was just 15.  Classic story of good overcoming evil.  Lots of twists and turns as Eragon grows up under intense pressure to grow up before his time.  Good adventure story.  The books get progressively longer and longer akin to Harry Potter series and Twilight series so especially in Inheritance there’s a lot of detail that in my opinion slows down the plot but plug through and you’ll be glad you did!

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 14, Day 5: Leviticus 17-20

Introductory Note:  Leviticus 16 is studied in Lesson 16.  I’m unsure why we are skipping it here but am sure once we get there it will be clear.

Summary of passage:  Leviticus 17:  The Lord tells Moses that anyone who sacrifices an animal away from the Tent of Meeting is to be cut off from his people because these are pagan sacrifices. The Lord says no one is to eat blood of a creature for life is in the blood which is what makes atonement for one’s sins.  Any animal hunted for food must be drained of blood before eating. Anyone eating a dead animal will be considered unclean and must be cleansed.

Leviticus 18:  The Lord says to not follow the Egyptians or the people in the land of Canaan.  To follow His laws only.  God says no one is to have sexual relations with any close relative:  mother, father, sisters, brothers, in-laws, aunts, uncles, etc.  Do not offer your children as sacrifices to other gods.  Do not have sexual relations with animals or with the same sex.  Do not defile yourselves as other nations have.  If you do, you will be cut off from their people.  Even the land was defiled and punished.

Leviticus 19:  A list of laws, many of which have been repeated such as honor the Sabbath, keep God’s name holy, honor your father and mother, etc.  Other notable laws:  leave gleanings in the field for the poor, love your neighbor as yourself, and treat others fairly.

Leviticus 20:  God lays out the punishments for sins and for disobeying his decrees, most of which is death.  He orders not to offer child sacrifices to other gods, not to sleep with close relatives (much of which is said in Leviticus 18), and not to see mediums or spiritists.  God wants His people to be separate from other nations and to be holy because He is holy.

Questions:

10)  Because the life of the creature is in the blood and it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life and sins.

11a)  That it is defiling, dishonoring, and detestable and requires being cut off from your people if done.

b)  Part personal question:  Because this is how the nations that God is going to drive out before His people became defiled and God wants His people to be separate and good.  My response is God’s laws and reasonings are good.  We all know having babies with close relatives results often in inherited diseases and deformations and having sex with close relatives causes strife among families plus having indiscriminate sex promotes the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and an impure heart and mind.  Everything God does is for our good.

12a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  I have a hard time with this one cause I’m so inherently selfish.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  If you sin, you pay the consequences.  Nowadays, it most likely won’t be a physical death, but it could be a spiritual death.  If you keep God’s laws, you will live–both physically and spiritually.  You will blossom and lead productive lives.  If you choose to live in sin always and not change your ways, you will perish.  We are to lead lives different from those around us because we are His and we are holy.

Conclusions:  I like how all of God’s laws cover every facet of life.  Nothing is separate.  Nothing is sacred.  God is in charge of every aspect of our lives and He makes that clear.  Hence, we cannot hide anything from Him or justify any sin by saying “But God doesn’t say anything about this.”  God is concerned about it all–politics, life, economics, diet, family, friends.  He wants us to be like Jesus in all ways and here in the Old Testament He is preparing His people for just such a thing.

End Notes:  Laid out in the Old Testament are just over 600 laws for the entire nation to live by. That’s it!  Think of the millions of laws the US has and try to figure all that out!  The laws are brief and simple (as opposed to say ObamaCare).  Life should be simple.  Right and wrong are simple. God wanted compassionate, consistent, fair-minded, and loving people.  If His people possessed such characteristics, everything else would fall into place.

Leviticus 17:  Pagan cultures and even the early patriarchs built altars and offered sacrifices to their gods or our God wherever they pleased.  Here God is saying “No longer”.  He wants all the sacrifices brought to Him.  Again, setting the Israelites apart from their neighbors.

Besides the life being in the blood, many pagan cultures drank blood.  Again, setting His people apart.

Leviticus 18:  We are God’s, and thus we must follow His laws.  Old translations of “sexual relations”, which is mentioned 17 times in this chapter read “uncover nakedness”, which scholars say is broad enough to cover anything inappropriate from sex to inappropriate fondling.  Thus, it doesn’t necessarily have to be consummation.

These laws emphasize the importance of protecting the sanctity of marriage of which sex is only to occur within those covenant boundaries.

God’s laws here are simple and clear:  homosexuality is wrong.  Adultery is wrong.  Sex with animals is wrong.  Incest is wrong.  It is a defilement against yourself as well as the other party.

We must remember one of the reasons God chose Canaan to give to the Israelites was as a punishment against the people who were living there who were engaging in sin among which was sexual sin.  God does judge and execute punishments for sin.

God made it clear sexual sin was immoral and one paid a big price in the eyes of society if engaged in.  So different from today’s world of “do what feels good” instead of “do what God commands.”

Leviticus 19:  Read “separate” when you read “holy” and you’ll see what God is driving at. Just like God is separate from God, He wants His people separate from others since we are called to be like God and be with Him.

The word for idol means “nothing”.  Israel will continue to struggle with idols for the next 800 years until they are punished and sent to exile in Babylon.  There, their idols switch from a physical representation to a lifestyle one–riches, power, control, etc.

The best example of gleaning the fields in the Bible was Ruth.

A slanderer is a gossiper as well.  Just gossip is a nicer word these days.

A lot of these regulations was specifically against pagan cultures and their worship as verse 19 demonstrates.  God wanted to make sure His people did nothing the other peoples did.

Letting trees become mature before picking the fruit allowed them to bear more fruit in the future.

“I am the Lord” appears 15 times in this chapter.  If you think on medieval times, the lord of the castle was obligated to care for his people who farmed his fields.  In return the people worked for him and cared for him.  So it goes both ways as it does today with God.  He cares for us.  We care for Him.

Leviticus 20:  We tend to skip over the worship of Molech but this was a HUGE problem for the Israelites and continued to be up to their Babylonian exile.  King Solomon built a temple to Molech (1 Kings 11:7) and King Ahaz sacrificed his own son to Molech (2 Kings 16:3).  To think that God Himself has been warning about Molech for centuries and His people keep forgetting and sinning.  What a merciful God we have!

Most of these penalties had to be carried out by the court of law.  Once accused you had to be tried and convicted just like today before put to death for any sin.  Still, rarely were people executed in ancient Israel.  But unlike today the ancient culture condemned the act.

God is judging the peoples of Canaan for their sins by driving them out.  Unfortunately, He judges His own people as well and drives them out too.

God gave all of these laws in an effort to keep His people separate, holy, and out of sin.  So very, very sad that we as humans still disappoint and fall into the same old habits–even when explicitly outlawed.