Week 9

A Plague Inflicted on Israel While Eating the Quails; as in Numbers 11:31-34; illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible; image courtesy Bizzell Bible Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries (from Wikipedia)

The Old Testament begins with book names that can sometimes obscure what they’re about. But it is pretty simple so far. Genesis was the beginning. It was the beginning of creation, of God’s story of dealing with that creation, and the beginning of his very own people. Exodus was Israel leaving slavery in Egypt. Leviticus is the law for the levites, continuing the law given to the people in Exodus. Now we come to Numbers. What’s that about? Want a hint?

Numbers 1:2, “Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel…”

That’s right there in the beginning of the book as God commands Moses to take a census, to number the people. It is a continuation of the story from Exodus, which began with their delivery from slavery, as God now numbers his people and prepares them to journey into the promised land.

Meanwhile in the New Testament…

Luke finishes this week and offers another opportunity, after already having read through John, to contemplate the surprising ending to the gospel story. It may not surprise us now, as we have heard it and read it before. But the people surrounding Jesus did not expect him to go to the cross. Who would expect a messiah, God incarnate, one who had such power, to be crucified like a criminal? Read it slowly with a renewed appreciation for the great humility of God to submit himself to such punishment to save the very people who deny him and yell, “crucify him!”

Also, keep in mind that what follows next week is the book of Acts, written by the same person. Try to keep Luke in mind once we begin Acts to see how they connect.

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