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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Prophets and Bad Meat

I have not been in a position to blog much of anything the last couple of weeks. It is probably going to be this way for much of the summer. However I wanted briefly to reflect on the Morning Prayer reading today from Numbers 11. It is an interesting narrative because it literally seems to be two stories intertwined. One is the centered on the people of Israel, griping yet again. They are hungry for meat. (I am reminded of a scene in the Lord of the Rings movie where the hideous Orcs are complaining that they are sick of the bread and "wants some meats") Complaining about food seems to be reasonable in a desert, especially when you are hungry. This reading is frightful for griping middle class types....

Meanwhile, Moses calls out to God for help, so the Lord invites him to gather 70 elders (there is one of those magic Bible numbers) upon whom He will pour out some of Moses' spirit. Today we read of the event itself, sort of a prelude to Pentecost. I can only imagine that the Jewish disciples of Jesus, who would have been very familiar with Number, must have seen some parallels themselves. Two of the men (Medad and Eldad) remained in the camp, but as they had been identified as one of the 70 they, too, received the gift and began prophesying in the camp. Joshua asked Moses to command them to stop and then I thought of a similar story in Jesus' life.

The apostles had seen men healing in the name of Jesus, "but they do not belong to us so we told them to stop." Jesus' response, like Moses', had to do with the abundance of God. "Would that all of Israel were prophets," said the first Moses. "Do not stop them, those who are not against Me are for Me," declared the Second (and One greater than) Moses.

Mission and power. Too often we fall in love with the latter and lose sight of the former. How can we best set the world afire for God and His Kingdom? How best to seek His glory and honor and obey His will?

Instead we engage in mindless name calling and institutional limitations. We chase after one another to upbraid and correct (me included) and lose sight of the mission itself. So I was reminded of the niggardly spirit which wants to parcel out God's grace 1/4 teaspoon at a time. And I prayed for an open heart and open spirit to be more like Moses (the Lord's servant), and more like Jesus (the Lord)

By the way, the Lord sent meat. Lots and lots of meat. And then a plague went through the group and killed many. There is no explanation of whether all that meat went bad and caused the deaths and illness. It is summarized as God's wrath. There is an interesting turn of phrase to end it all: they buried the people who had the craving. Quite a reminder that the craving, and do we not all know what that is, is deadly. The Other Kingdom, a kingdom of meat and drink and pleasure always beckons. But the meat is not good....

Jesus is the Bread of Life, the true food come down from heaven. He is the fullness and true Manna. Yet we pine for meat. Not much has changed, has it?

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