Saturday, March 5, 2011

March 5- Breaking Camp

March 5, 2011

Number 4:1-5:31; Mark 12:18-37;
Psalm 48:1-14; Proverbs 10:26

Number 4:1-5:31

A number of years ago when I was just a child my father decided that he would take the family camping.  We were not big campers.  We almost never went camping.  But he had it in his mind that we should load up the station wagon and head to the Smokey Mountains.  So we did. I would like to tell you that it was the experience of a lifetime.  In a sense, it was.  But not in a good sense.  One major problem with our camping experience was that dad did not assign us jobs as we set up camp.  As he tried to put the tent up, without instructions I might add, he would yell things out to us kids.  I think I was around ten years old at the time.  While he was yelling, we would attempt to follow his leading.  I don't know how we did it, but we eventually got that tent set up.  Besides forgetting things like ketchup and eating utensils, we managed to have an evening meal, sit by the camp fire, and generally enjoy ourselves.  We went to sleep in our tent, content.  That was until the rain started.  Within hours of falling asleep the greatest rain storm that has ever come into a mountain campsite hit our tent.  It took all of about ten minutes for our tent to start sagging under the weight of the storm. As the tent collapsed, dad yelled over the wind and rain for us all to break camp.  Like a bunch of wet rats, we gathered our belongings and piled into the station wagon.  Picture a man in his underwear loudly cursing as he slams the back door of the station wagon while standing in the pouring rain. Just like that, our camping experience was over.

Today in our reading, God assigns the Levites jobs to break camp.  No utensil is to be left behind and no pole is to be forgotten when the Tabernacle of God is moved in the wilderness.  Each Levite clan had a job:
  • The Merari clan carried the heavy articles like the pillars, poles, boards, and bars.
  • The Kohahites carried the furniture.
  • The Gershonites carried the curtains, coverings, and cords.
This order prevented chaos when the pillar of cloud would come over the Israelite camp, indicating that God wanted them to go on the march, break camp, and move to a new location.  The Israelites were a wandering people with no permanent home, but this did not prevent them from being a people with civil government, religious organization, and community order.  The One True God that the Israelites followed was a God of order.  He is the same God that you and I follow today. 

Do you know your position in God's camp?  Could you define why God has you on this earth?  What gifts do you have to share with others?  Are you a merciful person?  What about a natural organizer?  Maybe you are an amazing musician?  A great parent?  Regardless, you have a job in God's camp.  Your job creates order in God's universe.  Do your job!

One last comment on the Old Testament reading today, the jealousy offering is an interesting, somewhat disturbing offering.  I will only say this, a jealous husband can be thought of as a control freak in our day. I think the picture that God is trying to portray here is one of deep love. God is our husband. The church is His bride and Israel is portrayed as His wife. This offering is a picture of God being jealous for our devotion.  Are you a good faithful wife to God?  Have you broken intimacy with Him?  Or is He your only true lover?

Mark 12:18-37

Have you ever wondered what the difference was between the Sadducees and Pharisees?  While both were part of the ruling class that sat on the ruling council called the Sanhedrin, the Sadducees were the aristocrats of the Jews.  They were wealthy, held the majority of the positions on the council, and retained the offices of high priest and chief priests.  They did not give oral tradition any authority, but strictly stuck to the written word of the books of Moses.  That being said, they had many doctrinal beliefs that were incorrect. Today Jesus deals with some of their misconceptions.  The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead or an afterlife.  They did not believe that there was any punishment or reward after a person's earthly life. They also did not believe in angels or demons.

Although this is their belief, the Sadducees decide to ask Jesus a question designed to trap him.  They ask about marriage after death.  Jesus, speaking with the authority of one who is familiar with the afterlife, informs the Saduccees that they don't know their Scriptures.  Nice dig. He tells them that there is no marriage in the afterlife. He describes people who have died as being like the angels in heaven in this respect. Note, Jesus is not saying we become angels. This is a false belief that some Christians have.  He is putting it in their faces that there are angels. Angels in heaven do not marry. Marriage is exclusive to human beings for a reason. That reason being it is a picture of the relationship between God and those who love Him and have faith in Him. This relationship is meant to be honored and reflected in our lives on this earth. 

Anyway, Jesus then confronts their belief in resurrection by using the books of Moses that they so highly esteem.  In those very books it states that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  The verb used in the text indicates that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are alive.  Jesus is asking them to think about how that is possible.  The conclusion is that it is possible because they are alive.  They are living on in eternity after death.  Jesus informs the Sadducees that they have made an error in their doctrine. He uses the Word of God to prove it.

Next, Jesus had to have been encouraged when a sincere seeker, who happened to be one of the religious teachers of the Law, asks him an honest question.  He asks which is the greatest commandment.  Jesus responds that loving the Lord, your God and then loving your neighbor as yourself are number one and number two.  The man confirms that these commandments are more important than burnt offerings and sacrifices.  Jesus is pleased. This man gets it!

Psalm 48:1-14

God identifies with His Holy city Jerusalem.  The name means city of peace.  It has been anything but a city of peace on earth. This will not be true for the future.  God has a plan. The earthly Jerusalem will be a city of peace in the future and then this earth will pass away. After that, we will all live in the New Jerusalem as part of the new heaven and new earth. Consider this as you read this psalm.

Proverbs 10:26

Can we read a little truth today?  Okay.  "Lazy people are a pain to their employer."  Thank you.

What did you notice?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

P.S.  I turn 50 years old today.  Celebrate with me, my friends!  The Year of Jubilee has come!


  1. Hope you're having a very happy birthday and that this is the beginning of a truly wonderful Year of Jubilee for you! :)

  2. Thanks, Ellen. Now, I am a member of the club with you!

  3. Your camping story cracked me up!!