Women’s Rights

The generation of those who rebelled against the Lord in the desert has died. A new generation is prepared; they had no experience of Egypt, since they were born during the Exodus.

The Bible’s first instance of women’s rights is in the account of the five daughters of Zelophehad. This man had no sons; the daughters came to Moses requesting justice for them, so that they could have the inheritance of the family, which usually passed along by the sons alone. They present a delicate balance between assertiveness and yielding to the final decisions left in the hands of the Lord through his servant Moses.

Joshua is selected as the one to lead the people into the Promised Land. 27:14 recalls how the Lord denied entry to Moses, because he complained. Reflect on yourself in this regard.

The Sabbath Torah Portion — Pinhas (Phineas)

Numbers 26:52—28:15

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer from today’s reading:
Showing off Your holiness 27:14
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the second part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Beginning tomorrow, the Firestarters from the new edition of
The Bible Through the Seasons for families will be posted daily. 

A Pagan Stands in Awe

King Balak of the neighboring country of Moab hired Balaam, a pagan prophet, to curse God’s people. Balak wanted to eliminate any threat that the Israelites would have against him and his land of Moab. Today’s reading is the account of what happened between God and Balaam. God declares to Balaam the unique blessing that God gives to his people.

The pagan Balaam stands in awe of the power of God. God is true to God’s word. When God blesses, who can curse?

The well-known hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” based on Lamentations, 3:22-23, expresses this when we sing in praise of God: “Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not.” The Letter to the Hebrews, 13:8, expresses it this way: “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

The Sabbath Torah Portion — Balak

Numbers 22:39—23:30

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer from today’s reading:
Speaking only what You want 23:12
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the second part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

On July 8, the Firestarters from the new edition of
The Bible Through the Seasons for families will be posted daily. 


Complaining Blocks the Presence.

Hear the sobering consequences for those who challenged the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Death by plague comes to those continuing to rebel and complain against the Lord. Moses stands in the gap for the people as their intercessor. (Cf. Ezekiel 22:30.)

Chapter 17 tells what the Lord does about the arrogance of the people’s complaining about Aaron. His rod buds with blossoms and almonds. Together with the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, this wondrous sign from the Lord is placed in the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle.

You are called to a unique ministry that only you can fulfill. What would be a symbol of this uniqueness? Put it near the place where you pray.

The Sabbath Torah Portion — Hukkath (Ordinance)

Numbers 20:22-29


Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the second part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting Firestarters from the original version of The Bible Through the Seasons. 


The Symbol of Your Uniqueness

Hear the sobering consequences for those who challenged the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Death by plague comes to those continuing to rebel and complain against the Lord. Moses stands in the gap for the people as their intercessor. (Cf. Ezekiel 22:30.)

Chapter 17 tells what the Lord does about the arrogance of the people’s complaining about Aaron. His rod buds with blossoms and almonds. Together with the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, this wondrous sign from the Lord is placed in the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle.

You are called to a unique ministry that only you can fulfill. What would be a symbol of this uniqueness? Put it near the place where you pray.

The Sabbath Torah Portion — Korah (Korah)

The Reading for today   Numbers 16:41—17:13


Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the second part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

For the next few weeks, I’ll be posting Firestarters from the original version of The Bible Through the Seasons. 


Stepping-Stones

Saturdays: The Sabbath Torah Portions
Numbers 33

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

The history of all the people that came to the United States through Ellis Island is available in massive data banks—where each person came from, on what boat, and to what city each migrated.

Interest in connecting to one’s roots is at the heart of this chapter summarizing the history and geography of the Exodus. At this half-way point in the forty-year wandering, God wants those born after the Exodus to know the stepping-stones that enabled them to come to where they are now. A map of the Exodus will help you see the journey, just as a “dot-to-dot” child’s game helps to bring the latent picture into awareness.

Your life will seem as aimless as wandering dots, unless you take time to note the stepping-stones along your path. Each is a point of grace that has taken you to where you are right now. Connect the dots in your life so that the whole picture of what God is doing with you can emerge.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
The steppingstones of my life v. 1
Clearing inner space for You v. 52
You with me, along my path
Trusting in what lies ahead

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the third part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Today’s image courtesy of http://www.osageumc.org

Holy Violence

Saturdays: The Sabbath Torah Portions
Numbers 30:27—31:54

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Focus on two verses that come in the center of the reading as a Firestarter for your heart to glow with a basic truth: God wants purity for his people (31:22-23). This may help to interpret the warlike behavior, which seems impossible to justify by modern understanding of how God wants us to act toward our enemies. Certainly, Jesus’ position is clear: we are to love our enemies and pray for them. These “coals of fire” upon their heads are the holy violence of love designed to win people into the Kingdom. As for the Book of Numbers, there is no consistently clear position about what constitutes a Holy War. Killing defiles; hence the need for purification afterward.

There are harsh consequences for those given to idolatry. However, thank God for Jesus. The way he treats the foreign woman in Matthew 15 shows how he makes new “spoils” for the Kingdom by healing and love.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Holding to my promises 30:2
Vengeance belonging to You 31:1ff
Water and fire of new life 31:23
Praying for my enemies

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the third part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Today’s image courtesy of http://liberty92.wordpress.com/

God Inside-ism

Saturdays: The Sabbath Torah Portions
Numbers 25:10—26:51

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Phineas has zeal almost as much as God has. There always appears at least one faithful person after the heart of God; thus God alters the chastisement planned. Phinehas reminds us of Jesus. John in his Gospel cites Psalm 69:9 in reference to Jesus: “Zeal for Your house has consumed me” (2:17).

Who or what in your life receives your life-energies? If any work or person outside of God consumes you, you will indeed by “eaten alive.” However, spiritual zeal is like enthusiasm, the latter word literally meaning, “God inside-ism.” When you consume God through prayer, Scripture and the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, then you will be caught by the fire of God and be consumed by it.

At this point in the Book of Numbers, we are half-way through the forty years of wandering. A new generation is on the scene; a new census needs to be taken. Good news: this group does not complain!

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Zeal and joy on Your behalf 25:11
Lord: Your covenant of peace 25:12
Counted among Your people 26:1ff
Your future unfolding now

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the third part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.