Monday, March 6, 2017

March 6

Numbers 6:1-7:89; Mark 12:38-13:13; Psalm 49:1-20; Proverbs 10:27-28

God takes things seriously, doesn't he?  Look at the way Moses describes the Nazirite vow - abstaining from grapes and their derivatives, no hair-grooming, avoiding even unexpected or accidental death.  This vow is serious business!  It's not a compulsory act; the Nazirite man or woman chooses this lifestyle for some period of time voluntarily.  But its voluntary nature doesn't diminish the weightiness of the vow.  If the vow is defiled - completely unintentionally, in a way the person could not avoid - it must be re-started.  "He must dedicate himself to the Lord for the period of his separation....The previous days do not count, because he became defiled during his separation" (Num. 6:12).  This man (or woman) made a promise for a certain length of time, and God holds him (or her) to it, no exceptions, no matter that it was of his own choosing.  The promise to God is serious.

Jesus' words about the widow in Mark 12 are serious, too.  This widow shouldn't be.  Someone, some portion of the people of Israel, should be caring for her.  She should not be reduced to such straits.  But there's been an oversight at best, a failure at worst.  She's utterly poverty-stricken, and yet she gives.  Not the tithe that the Law and the Prophets called for, but everything she has, "all she had to live on" (Mk. 12:44).  Her gift is greater because of the obedience and the dependence it reveals.  She is committed to God in a profound way; if God doesn't show up for her, she's undone.  Her faith is real, and Jesus takes it seriously.

Even our portion of Proverbs today reflects the intensity of God.  "The fear of the Lord adds length to life, but the years of the wicked are cut short" (Pr. 10:27).  How we act toward God has a bearing on the quality of our life (such fear is also "the beginning of wisdom" [Pr. 9:10]), and maybe on its quantity.  Whether the righteous live longer than the wicked is not the point; what matters here is the fact that this boon is held by God for those who fear him.  Life itself is dependent on our relationship with God.  Hard to get much more serious than that!

And, on a completely unrelated note, today's reading makes me think of my father.  He performed my wedding, as he did for each of my siblings.  At the end of the service, his prayer over each couple concluded with these words: "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace" (Num. 6:24-46).  Profound words of blessing for each one of us.

- Sarah Marsh

How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you. 

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