Saturday, 12 March 2011

Honouring Pledges

Numbers 28-30

Numbers 30 is a curious chapter, and feels like something of a clunky "c'mon it's in there somewhere" gear change! We go from issues of national religious importance in ch29 to (clunk clunk) these parochial family rules in ch30 only to return (clunk clunk) back to national strategy in ch31.

For those who wish to label the Bible as outmoded and repressive to women, stumbling on ch30 is like stumbling on your enemy's unguarded munitions store.

But Jordan reckons there's more going on here than just individual family honour, for the simple reason that there is no obvious case in the Bible where these rules are seen to be brought to the fore. Rather, it's a metaphor for talking about God and his people. The woman is under the wings of her father or her husband and God's people are under the wings of both the Father and the Son.

A woman could make a rash vow, but the father or husband could overrule it. So too, God's people can make rash vows, but the LORD reserves the right in each case to nullify them if necessary. And indeed he does.

Back in ch25, many of the Israelites uttered rash and foolish vows to the Moabites / Midianites entering into covenant with them, breaking faith with God. Chapter 31 begins with God's declaration of vengeance on the Midianites. He is clearly exercising his right to annul the vows uttered by the faithless amongst his people.

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