Women didn’t seem to matter much back then. I mean kids loved their moms and husbands loved their wives as much as today. But unfortunately back in Moses’ day woman didn’t have much of a voice or place in society. They were often considered property and were granted few, if any, rights. But because women didn’t seem to matter much to their culture, did that mean they did not matter much to God?
And more generally do you and I, whether male or female, matter to God?
Today’s readings may have an encouraging response to that question.
Our guest blogger today is my co-pastor and good friend, Eugene Scott. Thanks Eugene for your insights!
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Numbers 26:52-28:15. God is preparing Israel for The Promised Land, literally. Each tribe, clan, and family is promised a piece of land to work and receive sustenance from. God is preparing to provide for them once they manage to cross the Jordon River.
This property is promised to the male heads of families. But there is a problem. Some families (the daughters of Zelophehad) no longer have a male figurehead and therefore will receive no land. Moses has to go to God and ask for special provision for these women. Does this mean God doesn’t care about women or that God is forgetful, unjust, or capricious? Read below in the Word Made Fresh for more on this.
The final section of this reading then proposes an offering system to help remind the people to honor and say thank you to the God who gave them the property.
Luke 3:1-22. Notice how Luke places the events of Jesus’ birth in context of what was going on in the larger world. He is a very detailed historian. But at one time some modern scholars doubted Luke’s many historical details, because they could not be verified by other historical accounts. But then historians and archeologists began to discover other sources that verified his historical reporting. Luke, the Greek physician turned evangelist, writer, historian, may have been one of the first ancient writers to record history by interviewing witnesses and researching places and events. Thus Luke’s Gospel tells Jesus’ story chronologically and with many details other writers did not include. It is an extremely accurate account of Jesus’ life and death.
Psalm 61:1-8. King David wrote this psalm, including musical score to be played and sung in worship in the Temple. I wonder what the music sounded like? Music often touches our souls; communicates deeper than words. And music has long been one of the best ways for us to communicate with God and God with us. So, the intellectual meanings of the words in David’s 61st psalm are crucial. But so are their emotional contents. What words leap out at you in this reading?
Proverbs 11:16-17. It is generally agreed today that men receive love through respect. It is interesting that this Proverb then tells us how a kindhearted woman gains respect. Also then it talks of a ruthless man gaining wealth or recognition. Which do you need most respect or recognition?
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Living near Vail, Colorado the world famous ski resort, for several years I saw and came in contact with many celebrities. But I don’t have any proof of this. I don’t have a single picture or autograph. That’s mainly because I could never make myself presume upon any of them that way. This is not just courtesy on my part.
It’s also insecurity. I’m often convinced, in the large scheme of things, I just don’t matter that much. Troy Aikman’s life would not have changed whether I asked him for an autograph that day in the lift line or not. Even though I have grown out of many of my silly adolescent insecurities, I still have trouble asking authority figures (doctors, bosses, my wife, just kidding!) for what I want and need.
Therefore, in a time and culture when women did not much matter, I am amazed at the daughters of Zelophehad coming to Moses (and therefore the ultimate authority: God) and questioning the justice of the system. I probably would have grumbled in my tent and become insolent and bitter. Not so these sisters.
I believe God allowed this story to be recorded so women (and the myriad of us others who feel insignificant) know they do matter to God. Rather than this account showing a forgetful or unjust God, I believe it shows a God who allows all, even those whom society considers the least, access to and redress with him. Through that encounter God then provides for others without voices.
Psalm 61 communicates the same message: “Hear my cry, O God.” David does not say, “Excuse me, God,” or “I know you are busy, but . . .” He boldly comes before God and lets his needs be known.
Then we read in Proverbs that a kindhearted woman, not a powerful wealthy man is considered worthy of respect.
Finally, we can see the same pattern in Luke’s account of the birth of Jesus. During the “reign of Tiberius Caesar” and other really important people God sent Jesus to give even the lowliest of us (me and the rest of us “tax collectors”) access to the King of the Universe.
Do we matter to God? I believe today’s readings shout an unequivocal: YES!
- What did you see and hear in today’s reading?
- Did you see any links between these four readings?
- How do you think you matter to God?
- What can need or grievance do you need to take before God?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.