Back in chapter 27, there was the story of this guy, Zelophehad who died after having only daughters. The ramification of his death was that his daughters were to inherit his property and so on.
Now that the Israelites are getting closer to the Promised Land, though, they’re starting to think about the land that people are going to inherit as well.
So God lays down the law – because the lands are going to be allocated by tribe first – basically dividing Israel into states – so there needs to be an assurance that the correct land will stay in the correct tribe. Zelophehad’s daughters can marry who they like, as long as they marry from within their own clan. This is the precedent for these types of situations for the future as well.
As I read this, I got thinking about accumulation and growth of wealth. “Prosperity” as some people would call it.
I’ve already previously written an article on prosperity, but today I was reading another article on the “Prosperity Gospel” also.
What I was got to thinking as I read this chapter, was how once again, what appears on the surface and what can be taken out of the text if you look beyond the superficial don’t necessarily always give the same appearance. On the surface, it almost seems a bit childish, it’s like there’s an attitude of selfishness coming from the people – that they can’t let someone else get hold of their land.
And perhaps there is, but as I look at it from the Heavenly perspective, another point comes out. That this is an element of fairness. The tribes are each going to be given an allotment of the land that they are going into, each tribe is getting as much as they are deserving for their size, capacity, etcetera.
Implementing a law that says these girls have to marry within the clan keeps the land in their own family, it also prevents people from other clans or tribes taking advantage of them. Remembering again that this was a highly patriarchal society and therefore they were likely going to have to marry at some point.
The entire Israelite society, whether it’s something like this that keeps the land held into the same family, or the year of Jubilee – also mentioned in this passage – where any land accumulated over the past fifty years gets handed back to the original owners, debts are canceled, etcetera all seems to be aimed at building a nation equitably and fairly. Prosperity, it would seem, wasn’t meant to be an individual thing. There’s an element in the picture that we see of God’s design for the Israelite society that says he didn’t want them accumulating. There was enough land for everyone, so everyone would have their fair share.
It’s a common mentality, these days, that life is a game and ‘whoever dies with the most toys wins.’
Through this, the idea of ‘Prosperity Doctrine’ promoted heavily by televangelists in particular continues to have people treat God like a vending machine. These people promote a give to get attitude, the more money someone gives to the televangelist’s “ministry” the more money in turn, God will pour out on that person.’
Money, wealth, physical prosperity, though is all a distraction from God. In the words of Jesus, it is harder for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
So it is worth letting go of an attitude that says we need to accumulate and collect the most toys, and instead let our focus be on God. He will provide us with as much land as we need through his inheritance in the promised land. We don’t need more than that.
Back in September last year, I met two amazingly awesome guys.
Some friends and I took a trip up Mount Wellington one night, and while we were up there we saw these guys, one of whom was running around in shorts, while there was snow up the mountain. He fell into the snow, it was rather entertaining to watch.
We ended up chatting a while, though, and for the next week we all developed a really close friendship. It was really good.
The reason I bring it up tonight, though, is that a prayer just came to mind tonight. I’m off to New Zealand for work this weekend, and am really excited. I’ve never been to New Zealand before, and now I’m blessed with the opportunity to go for a week with work.
I fly out Sunday morning, though, and arrive in Wellington Sunday afternoon, and am there until the following Sunday afternoon. Now one thing that came to mind last night was the fact that I actually get to go to church while I’m over there. Some might find it funny that I’d get excited about that, but hey, I am. I just had this prayer come to mind, though. The guys we met up Mt Wellington in September were also in the state for work. So I found myself praying that I’d go to church and meet some of the youth there, and there would be an opportunity just to build relationships and friendships with people. I’m just really hoping and praying that I’ll get to go over there and meet some good Christian people who I can get to know and spend as much of my spare time with during that week.
This is another one of those chapters with a lot in it. From starting with more sacrifices, we’ve got another little story like back in Leviticus, when the young son of an Egyptian father and Israelite mother blasphemed against God, and therefore was put to death. Now, this time, we have a guy who’s found collecting firewood on the sabbath. Then after that, it’s like a little lightening of the air with telling the Israelites to put tassels on their garments to remind themselves of the word of God.
Interesting choice… Remin me to one day ask God, “Why tassels?”
What I brought out of this chapter, though, had nothing to do with tassels or being stoned to death for finding wood on the sabbath. Rather, it was in the very first passage.
God’s talking once again about offerings that are to be brought – this time it’s offerings, though, that are to be brought to him once they’ve moved into the promised land. It would seem that they’re expected to bring a little more once they actually settle. Which kind of makes sense, after all, once they settle they’ll probably have more to give.
What I notice, though, is again God makes this a requirement for everyone in the land.
“The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD: The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.” ~ Numbers 15:15-16
If we were to put this into terminology of around about 1000 years or so later, then perhaps it would read gentile, rather than alien.
It makes me think, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, who you are, what you might be, any of that. In the promised land of God, we’re all equal before God. Our promised land is spiritual, and in that, we’re all equal before God.