The Bible in a Year – 16 February

If this is your first viewing, please see my Introduction before reading this.

16 February. Numbers chapters 11-14.

If these stories are taken to be in chronological order, then according to chapter 11, almost as soon as the tribes of Israel had started their march, some of them started complaining about a lack of decent food.  God provided quails to provide meat for them (though that does make me ask, what about the meat of all the bulls and sheep and birds that they were sacrificing on the altar?). The story has many elements in common with that in Exodus 16 so it may be a re-telling with embellishments, but of course God may just have worked the same miracle twice.  Either way though, what is interesting in this version, is that in between God’s promise of miraculous provision and its delivery is the coming of what later writers would call the Holy Spirit on the seventy elders who were to assist Moses, and they prophesied.  This looks like a foretaste of the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit came on thousands of people after Jesus’ ascension.  The lesson here appears that people have to be open to God working in their own lives, before he can make provision for others through them.


In chapter 13 the twelve “spies” were sent out.  Forget James Bond, these men would be better termed “scouts”. Two of them – Caleb and Joshua – were destined for greatness, and Caleb was confident after their scouting mission that with God’s help the Canaanites, big men though they were, could be defeated and the bountiful country settled. But the other scouts did not share his courage and persuaded the majority of the people that it was better to continue living in the desert alone than risk being subjugated by other nations.  Such decisions on the future of a people are never easy, and I imagine Moses must have felt much as Teresa May did after she took office as Prime Minister last year – disheartened that the majority of people had listened to misleading reports and voted against what she herself thought the better way.  But both leaders realised that it would not be in their interests to force the people down a route they did not wish to go.  I’m not going to push the comparison too far – the EU is not the Promised Land, Britain is no desert, and I’m not aware that God has cursed every Brexit voter to die before his plan can be accomplished.  The point is just that sometimes leaders have to accept that Plan B is the only realistic option.


The Bible in a Year – 23 January

If this is your first viewing, please see my Introduction before reading this.

23 January. Exodus chapters 16-18

Today’s readings covers several important passages including the provision of manna in the desert.  This can be viewed as miraculous, or possibly explained away (at various times some sort of lichen, or edible insect secretion have been suggested, neither of which sounds very convincing). But whatever it was, it helped with the diet for a generation, and left a lasting impression that finds echoes in Jesus as the “bread of life” and so on.


Chapter 18 has a more general application: Moses, finds himself in great demand, and does not of his own initiative think of delegating his work.  It takes an old man – his father-in-law – to persuade him to set up a system of delegated governance and retain just the function of a high court judge for difficult decisions.  Too many leaders, especially those whose charisma brings them many close followers, still fall into this trap.  God’s gifts are given to many people, and while not all can be leaders of thousands, others can exercise skills as leaders of smaller groups and make decisions on simpler matters.