A sense of promise and anticipation fills chapter 29 as instructions for setting aside Feast Days are conveyed to a new generation. In addition to acknowledging the Feasts of Trumpets and of Atonement, even more detailed instructions are given to recognize their wilderness wanderings through the Feast of Booths.
Chapters 30 and 31 present two passages that might be challenging for us. The first passage has to do with making and breaking vows – and how expectations differ for men and women. For men, there is a very forthright expectation of fidelity to a promise made. However, for women, their connection to a vow is determined by their marital status and place.
The second passage is a tight narrative recounting the “LORD’s vengeance” against Midian. Remember how in chapter 25, the author uses sexually-tinged language to describe Israel’s dalliance with the Baal of Peor and people of Moab and Midian. Remember also how the LORD praises Phinehas for understanding His “jealousy” for Israel. This marriage metaphor will be used again to describe God’s expectations of fealty.
The challenge in the first passage is to wrap our heads around this very different treatment of women, and the challenge in the second passage is to understand the violence that is exacted on the enemies of Yahweh. Since the LORD has shown that He has the power and authority to make radical changes to the social order, it’s not satisfactory to write this off as “a different time.”
I want to offer a few lines of encouragement as we approach this:
Our verse for this week is 1 Corinthians 10:4: “And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”
Numbers 29 through 31. Now let’s read it!
and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.