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The Bible In A Year: Day 64

Numbers 16-17
Job 38
Psalm 61
Mark 15:1-20

Today we read about a rebellion in the ranks of the people, when Korah and 250 others decide that they’re good enough and holy enough that they demand they be priests too. So Moses tells them to come back the next day with censers filled with incense and they’ll see who God chooses.

Part of this rebellion seems to be instigated by jealousy over Aaron’s sons being the priests and all his male descendants, but also by Moses listening to God’s instructions and turning the people around at the border of Canaan and heading back to the wilderness.

The leaders of the rebellion get swallowed by the earth as a sign to the people that rebellion against things ordained by God will not be tolerated, and the 250 men whom they chose to be priests and offer incense were burned up. But God instructed them to gather the bronze censers that held the offerings and make a plate to go over the altar as a sign forever that only those chosen by God to be priests may offer incense.

The lesson to be learned here is that one did not have the right by nature to be a priest, it was reserved for only a certain group by God’s own design, and nobody has the right to demand it. Sounds familiar in our day too.

But even after this there were still some that claimed Moses was in the wrong and called him out for having these men killed, so God sent a plague and only through Moses and Aaron’s intercession was it stopped.

God instructed Moses to make a display so the people could see the Levites and Aaron’s line were to be the priests in the tabernacle. So they take a staff from a man in each tribe, and Aaron’s represents Levi. Then they left them in the tent of meeting overnight and Aaron’s rod had budded and flowered overnight. This is a walking stick we’re reading about, not some kind of fresh trimming from a tree that might possibly flower, it’s dead wood. But the miraculous budding was a sign that they kept inside the The Ark of The Covenant along with the tablets and a jar of mana, all representing Jesus.

Job 38

Job has been demanding God appear and give him answers, now he gets his wish. God appears and gives Job a dressing down. Job is warned to “gird up your loins” or to prepare to defend himself, because now God has the questions.

He asks Job a list of rhetorical questions to make the point that he is the creator, not another man that he should so easily be called upon to answer a summons. He goes over many things in creation and asks who made them.

This is a good lesson in “be careful what you wish for.”

Mark 15:1-20

The temple authorities bring Jesus to Pilate because they lack the authority to put him to death, and also probably to cover their own exposure before the people for his death because he was a popular teacher. Apparently they tell Pilate that Jesus has called himself king, and he asks Jesus if he’s “king of the Jews” to which he responds “you have said so.” They went with this charge because setting yourself up as king in a Roman controlled territory was tantamount to rebellion against Rome, and the punishment for that was death.

It’s interesting that only Pilate and the Magi called Jesus the “king of the Jews” and that they were gentiles not Jews. His own people largely reject him, and here a gentile ruler inadvertently gives him the title his people withheld.

Pilate offers them a choice of releasing Jesus or a murderer named Barabbas. They unsurprisingly choose the latter. In a bit of irony, that wouldn’t be lost in Aramaic or Hebrew speaking Christians, the name of the released murderer means ‘son of the father’ and here he was chosen over the Son of The Father. (See What Jesus Do You Follow?)

In this gospel, and even more so in some of the other accounts, Pilate seems completely unconvinced of Jesus’ guilt. He has a feeling that this is all a setup but Jesus doesn’t really participate in his own defense, and Pilate chose the path of least resistance. In the end he took the easy way out by going along with the crowd despite what he believed to be true.

The soldiers take Jesus away, mock and beat him, and lead him off to be crucified.

Tomorrow’s Readings:
Numbers 18
Job 39
Psalm 62
Mark 15:21-47

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