Bible studies for writers

Bible studies for writers | Numbers 7

It took almost two weeks to complete the dedication gifts and offerings necessary for the Tabernacle to flip its closed sign to open. It took almost the same amount of time for me to read this chapter! Ok, after I realized the list of offerings were the same for each tribe, I skipped some parts, but I did make sure they were all the same. Repeating the same sequence for each tribe made me wonder why this chapter wasn’t just summed up, sort of like the last paragraph. While I’m not sure of the exact significance, we can be sure there is a significance, and even if we never see it in our lifetimes, we have all eternity to go over our “List of questions to ask Jesus,” one of which (on my list anyway) will pertain to this chapter.

What stood out for you in this chapter? For me, it was the fact that the Kohathites had to “carry the sacred objects of the Tabernacle on their shoulders.” That made me think of the entire camp and how it moved together toward the Promise Land. Can you picture an organized mass movement of an army of more than 600,000 marching all together across the desert lands of northern Egypt and present-day Israel? I cannot, not on my own anyway. (Thank you, Hollywood, for broadening the limits of my imagination.) But more than the movement itself, I was thinking about how much ground a large group like that could cover in one day. If you’re familiar with the story of the Israelites entering the Promised Land, then you’ll know that the journey to get there takes quite a while. We can deduce from chapters like these how much the Israelites endured to get to where God wanted them to go. Many of them walked! This reminded me (in an opposite way) of the Trail of Tears, a journey that Native American tribes were forced to take by early “settlers” of the United States. Thousands of Natives died when they were forced to move from their homes on the east coast to their new “free lands” designated by the government (and then later stolen right back). The government forced them to leave but did not provide the means necessary for safe passage. Think about if the government would have cared for those tribal members like God cared for the Israelites. First, had the government just left the Natives alone (or learned from them and partnered with them), none of this would be a discussion right now, and that’s what should have happened. BUT, AT THE VERY LEAST, and I’m saying this would have had to have been an agreed-upon arrangement, had the government supported the Native Americans with adequate transportation, food and shelter for the journey – AND designated lands that were not only better than where they were but kept sacred after they arrived – we might not have that completely shameful and unacceptable piece of US history in our books. But we do. And there’s so much more that could be and needs to be said about it today.

Writing prompt: Trail of Tears

If you don’t know much about the Trail of Tears, Google it, and compare the Native Americans’ journey to the Israelites’ journey. Also, let’s pray for Native Americans today. The Navajo and Hopi reservations near Flagstaff, Arizona, where we served for a brief time in 2012, was hit hard by COVID-19. Hospitals and clinics are few and far between on the rez, and the poverty levels are comparable to what we’ve seen in third-world countries. Let’s lift up all Natives today.

(Written June 15, 2020)

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