Cake or Death: Surprisingly Not The Easiest Choice in Life

What You’ve Missed…
* No pork for the Israelites.  Which means no bacon.  Or pork chops.  Or ham sandwiches.  Total bummer.
* God introduces the “Get Out of Jail Free Card” for slaves and people in debt.  Still no Free Parking though.
* God knows isn’t too far off, so He tells His people to build railings around the edge of their roofs for insurance.  Good tip.
* God reiterates the importance of not having sex with family members or in-laws.  (Apparently the Israelites were having a harder time grasping this than I originally imagined.)

Day 78
Daily Reading: Deuteronomy 28

When my friend Hope found out I was reading through Deuteronomy, she got incredibly excited and proceeded to tell me it was her favorite book of the Bible.  She went on to enthusiastically expound on her interest in God’s blessing and curses towards the Israelites found in Deuteronomy.  Admittedly my first thought was, “Woah, settle down weirdo.”  (Note: Hope is not a weirdo.  I’m just kind of a butt sometimes.)

But seriously, there’s no way blessings and curses could be that interesting.  At least, that was my opinion until I came across Deuteronomy 28.

It is in this chapter that through Moses, God gives His people a choice.  They can choose to follow Him, love Him and keep His commands.  Or not.  Pretty basic stuff really.  But God knows that humans love a good deal, so He goes into a little more detail.  For the benefit of His people, He lays out the pros and cons of the available options.  Let’s start with just a few of the pros of Option A, obeying God:

Your children and crops will be blessed.  The LORD will conquer your enemies.  The LORD will guarantee a blessing on everything you do.  The LORD will give you prosperity…the Lord will send rain at the proper time…and will bless all the work you do.  You will always be on top and never on the bottom.  (Deut. 28:7-14)

That’s pretty solid.  God’s promising safety, victory in war, prosperity, and His blessing as a result of being obedient.  I’d say that’s something I’d be willing to invest in.

But apparently not everyone was convinced, because God goes on to describe what happens to those who choose Option B, refusing to obey Him.  (And keep in mind…this is only a tiny, tiny fraction of what’s listed.)

The LORD Himself will send on you curses…until at last you are completely destroyed…The LORD will strike you with wasting diseases, drought, blight, mildew, boils, tumors, scurvy, “the itch”, madness, blindness, and panic.  Just as the LORD has found great pleasure in causing you to prosper and multiply, the LORD will find pleasure in destroying you.  (Deut. 28:20-63)

And if just having “the itch” wasn’t enough to sway you, check this out:

“The siege and terrible distress of the enemy’s attack will be so severe that you will eat the flesh of your own sons and daughters…The most tenderhearted man among you will have no compassion for his own brother, his beloved wife, and his surviving children.  He will refuse to share with them the flesh he is devouring – the flesh of one of his own children – because he has nothing else to eat…”  (Deut. 28:53-55)

When I read this I immediately thought of my friend Steve.  Not because Steve is a flesh-starved cannibal, but because he may be the most tenderhearted man I know.  (The guy is so kind and loving, that one time when he treated me to lunch and I tipped the waitress really well with his money while he was in the restroom, he didn’t even get mad.  In fact, he actually treated me to lunch again a few weeks later.  I’m telling you, the guy is a sweet, sweet man.)  And it would be this man, according to God, who would be ferociously eating his beautiful daughters.  I can’t imagine any situation that would be even remotely dire enough for this to happen…yet God promises it will happen to the Israelites who don’t obey Him.
At this point, for me, the decision is crystal clear.  I don’t have kids, but if I did, I’d rather not eat them.  I’ll go with obeying God on this one.  But some Israelites must’ve still been weighing their options (these people would be idiots by the way) because God continues to paint a picture of the life of a person who would choose disobedience:

“The most tender and delicate woman among you…will be selfish toward the husband she loves and toward her own son or daughter…and she will hide from them the afterbirth and the new baby she has borne, so that she herself can secretly eat them [for] she will have nothing else to eat…”  (Deut. 28:56-57)

Ok…how desolate has life become when a woman would not just eat the afterbirth of the baby that she recently gave birth to, and not just eat the baby itself (which is completely insane), but would also be willing to put in the effort and energy to cook and eat these things in a secret place so that no one else can have them!?  That is beyond my comprehension.  That sounds like hell.  That sounds like absolute hell.  And yet, it’s what God promises will happen to the Israelites who disobey Him.

Who would ever choose this?  Could there possibly have been a dude, who upon hearing this, thinks to himself, “Well, now that prosperity thing sounds pretty good.  I like having lots of stuff.  But that whole eating my children thing has lots going for it.  And “the itch” doesn’t sound too bad.  And having the most horrible life ever in the existence of mankind has a nice ring to it.  Yup, I’m gonna have to go with Option B on this one.  So where’s that afterbirth at?”

Come on Israel!  I haven’t read far enough to know what you chose…but I am seriously hoping that as my spiritual ancestors, you thought this one through.  Wait.  Since this is the easiest choice ever presented to anyone, ever, with absolutely no need to think it through at all, let me rephrase that.  I really hope you weren’t a bunch of stupid idiots.

You were right Hope.  This is some fascinating stuff.  A little scary, but fascinating.

On Death and Dieting (and The Karate Kid)

What You’ve Missed…
* Balaam died.  No word on that awesome donkey of his though.
* God tells Moses he’s going to die soon.  I wonder how awkward that conversation was.
* We finished the book of Numbers and now find ourselves in Deuteronomy, where Moses is giving an incredibly long farewell speech, mostly reminding the people of everything that’s happened over the last forty years.  My high school history teacher had a hard enough time keeping the attention of 35 young adults who were confined to desks in a small classroom.   How the heck does Moses speak to a million people in the middle of the desert?

Day 74
Daily Readings: Numbers 25, Deuteronomy 2-3, Deuteronomy 9

Rather than focus on one crazy or bizarre aspect of the Bible today, I want to quickly hit on three.  And seeing as it’s Monday, and you’re probably in the middle of getting some serious work or procrastination accomplished, I’ll go ahead and get this party started.

One.  There is a dude in the Bible named Phinehas, and that dude is a serious badass.  Basically at this point in the story some of the Israelite men have gotten a little too friendly with the local Moabite women, yeah, that kind of “friendly”, and have as a result, defiled themselves and all of Israel.  God tells Moses to have these men executed in broad daylight.  I’ll let Scripture speak for itself here.

“Just then one of the Israelite men brought a Midianite woman into his tent…when Phinehas, son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron saw this, he jumped up and left the assembly.  He took a spear and rushed after the man into his tent.  Phinehas thrust the spear all the way through the man’s body and into the woman’s stomach.  So the plague against the Israelites was stopped…” (Numbers 25:6-8)

Yeah.  That’s a scene straight out of 300.  (I wonder if he had beautifully sculpted abs as well.)  Also, this might be the quickest “quickie” in the history of mankind.  Forget Elvis.  Phinehas is a man who knows how to take care of business.
Two.  Speaking of badasses, Israel as a whole also knows how to throw down.  As God continues to bring His people to the Promised Land, he has them conquer a few nations in the process.  Actually, “wipe out” is probably a better phrase.  Why?  Because the Israelites took some advice from that bad guy karate teacher in The Karate Kid whose hobby (and profession) is to train suburban kids to fight each other in ancient hand-to-hand combat.  His advice and personal motto which the Israelites adopted?  “No mercy.”

“Then King Sihon declared war on us…But the LORD our God handed him over to us, and we crushed him, his sons, and all his people.  We conquered all his towns and completely destroyed everyone – men, women, and children.  Not a single person was spared.” (Deuteronomy 2:32-35)

Did you get that?  The good guys, God’s chosen people, killed everyone.  Even children.  They didn’t take prisoners.  They didn’t have pity on the handicapped or the weak.  For any sports fans out there, let me put it this way; the Israelites showed up to play.

Oh yeah.  They did this more than once.  No mercy indeed.  Score one for the Cobra Kai.  (Author’s note: The new Karate Kid movie makes me weep for the future.)

Three.  So the book of Deuteronomy recaps a lot of what’s happened, and in Chapter 9 Moses recounts the deal with the golden calf idol.  Now, I don’t know if the guy is bragging or what, but he throws in some info we didn’t seem to get the first time around.  I would like to share this information with you now.

“I was there (on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments) for forty days and forty nights, and all that time I ate no food and drank no water.”  (Deuteronomy 9:9)

I was pretty impressed with this, until a few verses later when Moses mentions how he came down the mountain to find the people sinning by worshiping the idol they’d made.  It was what Moses said next that completely shattered my brain.

“Then, as before, I threw myself down before the LORD for forty days and forty nights.  I ate no bread and drank no water because of the great sin you had committed…” (Deuteronomy 9:18)

By my reckoning, Moses didn’t eat in between these two events, which means, Moses didn’t eat or drink anything for eighty straight days!  I can hardly make it from breakfast to lunch without a snack, and this guy goes eighty days without anything!?!  That’s almost three months!  Three months without food or water!  Is that even scientifically possible?  I mean, clearly it happened, and I believe it…it just blows my mind. (I’m open to the idea that it is possible Moses had a li’l somethin’ somethin’ to eat on his way down the mountain…but still…even one meal in 3 months is pretty much the same as no meals in 3 months.)

Just thinking about it makes me hungry.

Real hungry.  Lunch couldn’t have come at a better time.