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Jul 15

By The Numbers

Posted on Tuesday, July 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

320px-F5_tornado_Elie_Manitoba_2007Recently I led our TreeHouse trip to northern Minnesota. On the way to our destination we stopped in Duluth. After some fun at Adventure Zone we were hungry for dinner.

My friend and co-worker Ash SanFilippo is a fan of the Food Network show, “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” One of the cheapest meals in the Duluth area belongs to the “world famous” Anchor Bar in Superior, WI.

Enthusiastically I led the caravan to the Anchor Bar. As we drove over Tower Bridge I envisioned Ash’s excitement. As we maneuvered through the streets the taste of the delicious Anchor Bar burgers and fries made my hungry mouth water.

I asked the group to wait outside as I scouted the best seat, wondering to myself, “Should we choose the inside or outside seating?”

Inside I walked. Dark. Dank. Marine-motif. Filled with adults. Adults. Adults?
I asked, “Do you serve dinner to minors?”
A woman behind the bar repled, “No, unless they are your kids.”
I countered, “How about outside?”
She responded, “No, we’re a bar. It’s the law.”

I had led us astray.

Some guides are reputable and reliable, some are not.

Guided By A What?

If we lived in a predictable world it would be like a paint-by-number painting: the design would be evident, the decisions sure-fire, the results foreseeable, and the actors incorruptible and the deity calculated. That would be predictable, but not the book of Numbers.

As soon as the Israelites set up the sacred tent, “a thick cloud appeared and covered it. The cloud was there each day, and during the night, a fire could be seen in it. The Lord used this cloud to tell the Israelites when to move their camp and where to set it up again. As long as the cloud covered the tent, the Israelites did not break camp. But when the cloud moved, they followed it, and wherever it stopped, they camped and stayed there, whether it was only one night, a few days, a month, or even a year. As long as the cloud remained over the tent, the Israelites stayed where they were. But when the cloud moved, so did the Israelites. They obeyed the Lord’s commands and went wherever he directed Moses.” 1

I didn’t think about this, but Thomas Constable observed the guiding column was a visible sign of “God’s sovereign and purposeful leadership of His people.” 2

The cloud was a new expression of God’s love and leadership. God was not a Paint by Numbers deity. “He did not explain His movements, but their duty was to follow in faith.”

The writer of Numbers is intent on showing that at this point in their loyalty to Yahweh, Israel was obedient and followed the Lord’s guidance even though God could be a mysterious, unpredictable not “by the numbers” God.

#Mysilentscream: Our duty is to follow in faith even when God is unpredictable.

1 – Numbers 9:15-23, CEV

2 – Dr. Constable’s Notes on Numbers (pdf)

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