Numbers 31:25-54 (Part 2) – Taking the Blinders Off & Seeing the Blessings

Posted: November 11, 2016 in Book of Numbers, Uncategorized
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Numbers 31:25-54 (Part 2 of 2)

Division of the Plunder

In less than two weeks, our church will hold its most major community outreach event of the year. We call it the Thanksgiving Meal Giveaway (the TMG). We hold it annually on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving Day. It is a major event in the life of our church. It is a major financial investment of our church and it is a major investment of probably half of the attendees of our church who rotate in and out during the course of the 4-5 hour event. It is a major logistical event. There are ten different functional teams that manage this event. We have representatives of at least 500 families that pass through our doors on that date. We give away all the fixings for a family meal at home for these 500 families and we also give away coats as well. Some churches invite people to their church to have a meal on-site which seems so impersonal. We say let’s give away the meals and let our guests having family time on a family day in their family home. Many of these guests would not have a Thanksgiving meal at home otherwise, because of the expense often associated with Thanksgiving meals.

 

I am profoundly touched by the fact that I often live my life with blinders on to the desperation that often goes on around me in my community. There are sure families that pass through the TMG that are just working the system and are lazy and could work but choose to suck off the teets of public assistance. However, so many of the people that come through our doors are genuinely in need. Many have been made destitute by their disabilities. Many have made stupid mistakes in their life that have caused their poverty and they are trying to work their way back. So many of these particular types get caught in the cycle of poverty and though they are trying to break free and they live so close to the edge that one thing can go wrong and send them spiraling back down to the ground. Then, there are the elderly folks who are just getting by on social security and medications eat up most of their money. Sure, maybe some of these elderly folks should have planned for retirement better but many have been in poverty all their lives and could not save. Maybe they should have taken school more seriously growing up but those are things of people’s pasts. They find themselves in poverty NOW. We cannot judge them for the mistakes of their pasts. We can only love them NOW. We can only show them hospitality NOW. We can only share the gospel with them NOW. We can only pray with them and for them NOW. We can only clothe them NOW. We can only feed them NOW.

 

I also walk away profoundly aware of how completely blessed that I am. God has given me the ability to earn a good living as an accountant. He has blessed with by working with a company for the past eight (8) years that has completely been so good to me. During my time at Fujikura America and the ways this company has blessed me, I have been able to right my ship financially to the point that the only major debt that we have is our mortgage. Through the grace of God and understanding of His Word, we have come to the place where we can be generous without having to think about whether we can do it or not. It is a matter of determining how much not if. We have changed our mindset about things and money. We have carved out space to be obedient to the Lord in our finances. It was a tough road that required discipline to get there but we are here for now. Something may come along and blow us out of the water financially but we will have been trying to prepare for that during this season of blessing. We truly do know that we are blessed. We truly do know that it is not because we figured something out that others don’t. It is because the Lord has guided us and chiseled us and matured us into a desire to please Him first above all others. We know that our season of blessing is directly from the Lord. It is because obedience to the Lord brings the blessing of a changed mindset about possessions and about the use of money. It brings tears to my eyes to think about how God has blessed Elena and me. When you think about how God lifted us both out of bad marriages with bad finances and where God was not present to this plateau of obedience and blessing, it is profoundly humbling. The twists, turns, and intersections of life that brought Elena and me together and the roads that He sent us down since we met are not coincidence. It is part of God’s plan for the place that we are at right now. And right now is preparation for what He has in store next. It is completely humbling.

 

It is not lost on either one of us that we are completely blessed. We are humbled by it. We know where we’ve been and know for a fact that God saw us through it and placed us on dry ground on this plateau we currently occupy. It is for that reason that we give back to our Lord and want to do so generously. He lifted us up out of the pit and placed us on dry ground. There is so much thanksgiving in our heart for what God has done in our lives. There are joyful tears. There is profound humility. We give back to the Lord as simply a thank you for what He has done. We wish we could do more. The annual TMG at our church is at least one reminder to us to never forget the blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon us and reinforces our hearts of thanksgiving.

 

I thought of thanksgiving today when I read through this passage and see how a portion of the spoils of victory were given to the Lord:

 

25 The Lord said to Moses, 26 “You and Eleazar the priest and the family heads of the community are to count all the people and animals that were captured. 27 Divide the spoils equally between the soldiers who took part in the battle and the rest of the community. 28 From the soldiers who fought in the battle, set apart as tribute for the Lord one out of every five hundred, whether people, cattle, donkeys or sheep. 29 Take this tribute from their half share and give it to Eleazar the priest as the Lord’s part. 30 From the Israelites’ half, select one out of every fifty, whether people, cattle, donkeys, sheep or other animals. Give them to the Levites, who are responsible for the care of the Lord’s tabernacle.” 31 So Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the Lord commanded Moses.

 

32 The plunder remaining from the spoils that the soldiers took was 675,000 sheep, 33 72,000 cattle, 34 61,000 donkeys 35 and 32,000 women who had never slept with a man.

 

36 The half share of those who fought in the battle was:

 

337,500 sheep, 37 of which the tribute for the Lord was 675;

 

38 36,000 cattle, of which the tribute for the Lord was 72;

 

39 30,500 donkeys, of which the tribute for the Lord was 61;

 

40 16,000 people, of whom the tribute for the Lord was 32.

 

41 Moses gave the tribute to Eleazar the priest as the Lord’s part, as the Lord commanded Moses.

 

42 The half belonging to the Israelites, which Moses set apart from that of the fighting men— 43 the community’s half—was 337,500 sheep, 44 36,000 cattle, 45 30,500 donkeys 46 and 16,000 people. 47 From the Israelites’ half, Moses selected one out of every fifty people and animals, as the Lord commanded him, and gave them to the Levites, who were responsible for the care of the Lord’s tabernacle.

 

48 Then the officers who were over the units of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—went to Moses 49 and said to him, “Your servants have counted the soldiers under our command, and not one is missing. 50 So we have brought as an offering to the Lord the gold articles each of us acquired—armlets, bracelets, signet rings, earrings and necklaces—to make atonement for ourselves before the Lord.”

 

51 Moses and Eleazar the priest accepted from them the gold—all the crafted articles. 52 All the gold from the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds that Moses and Eleazar presented as a gift to the Lord weighed 16,750 shekels.[a] 53 Each soldier had taken plunder for himself. 54 Moses and Eleazar the priest accepted the gold from the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds and brought it into the tent of meeting as a memorial for the Israelites before the Lord.

 

How often we put blinders on and do not see the world around us! How often do we think what we have is through our own effort. Here in this passage, we see the Israelites willing giving back to the Lord from the spoils of victory. The Israelites knew that their victory came from God. They only sent out 12,000 men to fight a much larger force so it was without begrudging that they gave a portion of the spoils back to the Lord.

 

Should we not be the same way. Do we live with blinders on and not see or explain away poverty of others just so we can justify that new car, that overpriced vacation, that new TV, you name. We mortgage our lives away and think how proud we are of the things we have and all the debt that goes with it. Let us learn to live simpler lives. Let us learn to live a life of thanksgiving to the Lord. Let us remember where our blessings come from. They come from the Lord. He gives us our abilities. Let us carve out room to take our blinder off and be generous as acts of thanksgiving to the Lord. He has placed us on this plateau to be a beacon to the world around us. Let us never forget it all comes from Him and we have humble responsibility to give Him thanks for it.

 

Amen and Amen.

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