The Numbers 5 WomanRead Now
Written By: Olivia Caldwell
Hey, I want to go through a passage today that at first may seem kind of weird or difficult to understand. Okay, it’s both and at first, it really makes you scratch your head and wonder, but it actually is quite kind, gracious and beautiful. I promise. Remember that, okay?
Here we go!
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, If any man's wife goes astray and breaks faith with him, if a man lies with her sexually, and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband, and she is undetected though she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her, since she was not taken in the act, and if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife who has defiled herself, or if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife, though she has not defiled herself, then the man shall bring his wife to the priest and bring the offering required of her, a tenth of an ephah of barley flour. He shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of remembrance, bringing iniquity to remembrance.” (Numbers 5:11-15)
Okay, let’s keep going..
“And the priest shall bring her near and set her before the Lord. And the priest shall take holy water in an earthenware vessel and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water. And the priest shall set the woman before the Lord and unbind the hair of the woman's head and place in her hands the grain offering of remembrance, which is the grain offering of jealousy. And in his hand the priest shall have the water of bitterness that brings the curse. Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, ‘If no man has lain with you, and if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while you were under your husband's authority, be free from this water of bitterness that brings the curse. But if you have gone astray, though you are under your husband's authority, and if you have defiled yourself, and some man other than your husband has lain with you, then’ (let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse, and say to the woman) ‘the Lord make you a curse and an oath among your people, when the Lord makes your thigh fall away and your body swell. May this water that brings the curse pass into your bowels and make your womb swell and your thigh fall away.’ And the woman shall say, ‘Amen, Amen.’” (5:16-22)
You still with me?
“”Then the priest shall write these curses in a book and wash them off into the water of bitterness. And he shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings the curse, and the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain. And the priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy out of the woman's hand and shall wave the grain offering before the Lord and bring it to the altar. And the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering, as its memorial portion, and burn it on the altar, and afterward shall make the woman drink the water. And when he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has broken faith with her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall swell, and her thigh shall fall away, and the woman shall become a curse among her people. But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she shall be free and shall conceive children.
“This is the law in cases of jealousy, when a wife, though under her husband's authority, goes astray and defiles herself, or when the spirit of jealousy comes over a man and he is jealous of his wife. Then he shall set the woman before the Lord, and the priest shall carry out for her all this law. The man shall be free from iniquity, but the woman shall bear her iniquity.”” (5:23-31, emphasis added)
You made it! I really wish I could see you face to face and ask if your reaction to this passage of Scripture matched mine. If so, you have a lot of questions. At first glance, this doesn’t seem...good, right? What does all of this mean and how is this kind or beautiful or even remotely pointing to Jesus?
Let’s start with how this passage of Scripture tells of God’s care for and protection of women. Because, like, all of this talk of a curse and thighs falling away and bellies swelling may not exactly paint this picture at first. Check this out:
“The ancient Near East was an especially cruel place and time to be a woman. Women had little protection…And at this point in history, men had all the cultural power as well. It would not have been out of the ordinary for a man to simply act on a suspicion and cast his wife aside. Not so for the people of Israel. The Lord set them apart by requiring this strange-to-us test. If the woman was innocent, the Lord provided an opportunity for her to be vindicated. If she was guilty, the consequences upheld God’s standard for marriage.” -Lauren Chandler, With Us in the Wilderness
God is always providing a way. In this way, women were given a chance to be proven innocent, to live free from the harsh cultural norms. A marriage could also be delivered from any suspicion, this "spirit of jealousy", and restored. How heartbreaking it would be for a husband to accuse his wife, for trust to be broken in some way, but this ceremony gave the opportunity for a clean slate and for the covenant to be restored.
How comforting it is, really, for this design. In a culture that would not have hesitated to toss women aside, to cast them out, God commands His people to bring His women before HIM.
“And the priest shall bring her near and set her before the LORD.” (5:16)
“Then he shall set the woman before the LORD, and the priest shall carry out for her all this law.” (5:30b)
Are you seeing how this points to Jesus? Jesus is our High Priest and He brings us near! He is the one who has carried out for us all the law, who has fulfilled the law, so that we can come near. Jesus stands at our side as our Advocate - even now.
If you stand accused today, your hair unbound and your hands filled with a grain offering devoid of oil and frankincense - which symbolizes joy and the Spirit of God - you have an Advocate. You may be bare, exposed, uncovered, bringing nothing but an offering that serves to bring your iniquity to remembrance, but you have a Savior who comes near and covers you in His righteousness.
You may have "broken faith with the LORD" and you may feel as if you’re drinking the water of bitterness, water that brings the curse, but Jesus Himself redeemed you by becoming a curse (Galatians 3:13).
“Surely, both the holiness of God and the perfection of His word testifies against us. We should be forced to drink a bitter cup that would destroy us – but Jesus drank it for us.” -David Guzik
Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Father, for providing a way for us. Thank you for your faithfulness and your loving kindness. Thank you for your protection and your provision. Thank you for your holiness and for the gift of our robes of righteousness. Thank you that we can come near. We just want to be near.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
written By: Gay Idle
Have you ever found yourself shifting between adapting to the subtle (or not so subtle) lies of the culture in which we live and the truth found in the Bible? It can be easy to condition our thinking to the path of least resistance because we can become weary of truth-splaining. When this becomes our default way of thinking it becomes easier to just do what we’re told…even when what we are told is a lie from the enemy of our souls.
But God calls us to do so much more than live in the misery of Satan’s lies. He calls us into His truth. Jesus said that when we abide in His Word, we will know the truth and it is that truth that sets us free (John 8:31-32). And sometimes that truth calls us to step out and take a bold risk.
We find two such audacious women stepping out in the first chapter of Exodus.
Exodus begins with Jacob’s descendants multiplying rapidly in Egypt and a new ruler in place who has no respect for the Israelites and no memory of Joseph and what he had done. As a matter of fact, he seemed to be so fearful of the sheer numbers of the Israelites that he put them in forced labor.
“So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves and put brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down under heavy burdens. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king” (Exodus 1:11).
But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more they multiplied! This was alarming to the Egyptians so they made their work even harder. They were cruel taskmasters.
“Then Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, gave this order to the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah and Puah: ‘When you help the Hebrew women give birth, kill all the boys as soon as they are born. Allow only the baby girls to live.’ But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king and allowed the boys to live, too.” (Exodus 1:15-17).
Did you catch that? At the risk of their own safety, Shiphrah and Puah defied Pharoah’s evil edict to kill the baby boys. They feared God more than they feared Pharoah. Because these women revered God more than the current ruler and his wicked law they had the courage to step out and do the righteous thing. They took the high road and saved the lives of many Hebrew infants. And so we read in verse 20: “So God blessed the midwives, and the Israelites continued to multiply, growing more and more powerful. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.”
God honored these women for their bravery. They were given the dignity of being named in God’s word. Notice the Pharoah is not honored in this way as he is not identified by name. In the big picture of God’s story, these women are more important than the King of Egypt.
And why? By defying the king’s order, these gutsy women set in motion the story of the Exodus, the story of how God was going to free the Israelites from slavery. We read in the second chapter of Exodus that it was during this time that Moses was born. And it was very likely the actions of these two midwives saved the life of baby Moses. It is also very likely that the bravery of Shiphra and Puah inspired Jochebed, Moses’ mother, to be courageous enough to further protect him by hiding him for three months, and then setting him off to his destiny in a basket along the edge of the Nile River. Moses grows up and goes on to deliver the Hebrew people from slavery.
So what does that mean for us?
As I write this I keep thinking of Fred Roger’s mother telling him that when he saw really scary news on television to “Look for the helpers”. Shiphrah and Puah were the helpers…the ‘ezers’ (Hebrew word for ‘helper’). Women are called to be ezers. There are many nuances in the word ‘ezer’, but in one sense it means “rescuer”. We, God’s women, are called as image bearers of God to be ezers. To be ready when God calls us to do the right and righteous thing.
We need to look for the ezers. Those women who are walking out the call that God has placed on their lives…as Shiprah and Puah did. When we read the stories of these brave women…when we see other women stepping out boldly for truth, we too can be inspired to courageously step out.
When those around us are suffering because they have believed the lies of the enemy…we need to be ready. And sometimes we need to love God enough to break the rules.
Photo by Christian Bowen on Unsplash
A Holy MysteryRead Now
Written By: Alexandria Brown
"…Jesus left on a journey to the village of Nain, with a massive crowd of people following him, and his disciples. As he approached the village, he met a multitude of people in a funeral procession, who were mourning as they carried the body of a young man to the cemetery. The boy was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow. When the Lord saw the grieving mother, his heart broke for her.* With great tenderness he said to her, “Please don’t cry.” Then he stepped up to the coffin and touched it. When the pallbearers came to a halt, Jesus spoke directly to the corpse, “Young man, I say to you, arise and live!” Immediately, the young man moved, sat up, and spoke to those nearby. Jesus presented the son to his mother, alive! A tremendous sense of holy mystery swept over the crowd. They shouted praises to God, saying, “God himself has blessed us by visiting his people! A great prophet has appeared among us!” The news of Jesus and this miracle raced throughout Judea and the entire surrounding region." Luke 7:11-17
This particular woman of the Bible remains unnamed and still teaches us powerful attributes of the character of God. Let’s start at the beginning. This was not a “planned” stop on the trip Jesus was preparing to go on. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it was absolutely and totally a divinely orchestrated appointment, just no one that the disciples were let in on. His crowd literally ran into her crowd. This crowd was mourning. This mother was mourning.
God isn’t waiting for us to get our act together to meet with him. He is not looking for us to only come when we are joy-filled and laughing. He longs for us to come to Him in the good, the bad and the ugly. “Come as you are” is not just a cute tagline when it comes to being with the Lord, but a genuine invitation.
"When the Lord saw the grieving mother his heart broke for her."
*Excerpt from TPT regarding the above verse:
7:13 The Greek word splanchnizomai denotes the deepest level of compassion. There is no greater word in the Greek language to describe the depth of emotion Jesus felt for this widow over the loss of her son. Splanchnizomai is actually the word for “intestines.” Jesus’ emotions fully identified with her grief and he cared her sorrow.
This woman did not have to say a word. She did not have to ask a question. She simply met with Jesus and He met with her. It is not recorded that Jesus asked her if she believed or what she wanted, instead we are told about the compassion of the heart of our Lord. This verse shows us that when we are hurting God knows, understands, and has compassion on us. He hurts with us. He stopped her in the middle of her hurting and reached down and grabbed her hand and did something miraculous.
With all authority and power of the Son of God he touched the coffin and declared life back into the young man! The glory, all the glory, was given to God. I love the phrasing “a holy mystery”. Wow.
How many of us came out of, are in, or are headed into a season in our lives where we could use some holy mystery? When we long for the glory of God to be tangible, touchable?
Sis, if I could leave you with anything today, let me leave you with this…meet with Him and let Him meet with you. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He will carry our sorrows if we let Him. He longs to bring us His comfort, His peace, His joy. The Bible says the Joy of the Lord is my strength. Look for the holy mystery in what He is doing and we will receive strength.
He sees you. He knows you. He loves you. He’s with you.
Purple robesRead Now
Written By: Angie Reese
You will have to bear with me as I share with you my thoughts from this week. I am a little more scattered than usual, but I think that God has been putting this message on my heart to share with you. It is inspired by the book of Acts. Let’s take a look at a few quick verses.
Acts 16: 13-15
13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
This simple mention of Lydia for some reason brings to mind robes of purple. The color of the robe they placed on Jesus during his crucifixion was purple. Lydia is a beautiful example of the simplicity of the gospel message we are blessed to know in completion today. This thought of purple and robes and salvation makes me think of the robe of righteousness that we are promised as believers and followers of Christ. What a beautiful robe! Purple is my favorite color, so I like to think of mine as purple as well. But what other robes are we placing on ourselves? In Tana Glanzman’s book “My Father’s Daughter” she talks about these robes. Let me share with you an excerpt from her book...
“Our Heavenly Father has generously and graciously dressed us as His children. A beautiful robe of righteousness awaits each child of God who chooses to humbly and willingly submit their hearts and lives, accepting the new identity that is theirs according to the inheritance they have received.
Often, however, we are tempted by the enemy of our souls to toss aside our robe of righteousness and replace it with something much less fitting. He tries to whisper in our ear that a robe of shame, insufficiency, or self-defeat really suits us better. He even helps us put it on, step by step, attempting to convince us the entire time that this is what we were intended to wear all along.” (pg. 77, My Father’s Daughter)
I couldn’t think of a more fitting description than what Tanya shares there. It makes my skin crawl thinking of the enemy helping me dress in such tattered and ugly robes as the ones she mentions. Sadly, we give into this on a regular basis and take off our beautiful royal robes that God Himself has given us, and replace them. The day that Lydia boldly responded to Paul’s Gospel message, she put on a robe - one she could never earn herself and more beautiful than her finest purple. This girl knew it too! I love how she convinces them to come stay with her. (Feisty women in the Bible are my favorite!)
So I will end with a question. What robe are you wearing these days? Is it a royal purple robe of righteousness or a tattered rag given by the enemy?
Dear Father, thank you for the royal robe of righteousness that you have given us. Please help us to remove those rags from the enemy and take our rightful place in your kingdom with confidence and pride. You are such a good Father that gives us good things, even if we could never earn them. Thank you for that.
Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash
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