Fr. James' Lectionary

The Lectionary is both a reading program for completing all of Holy Scripture on a one year schedule, and a daily comment on a portion of the day's reading wedded to a poem to give an added perspective on the theme.

Location: Amherst, Virginia, United States

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Lost Generation: Bible Comment on Deuteronomy 1 with poem by Eva Gore-Booth, The Cross

Daily Readings
Psalm 62, Numbers 6:22-7:88, Deuteronomy 1, Matthew 6

Daily Text: Deuteronomy 1

Lost Generation
In a very tight narrative, with one excursus, Deuteronomy 1 tells the tale of the initial generation’s Exodus experience. They were led by Moses after Horeb right up into the border of the land they had been promised. Leery, the congregation asks that spies be sent ahead and twelve are. They come back with a glowing report of the promised land, and a fearful report of a daunting military campaign ahead. The people latch on to the military report and refuse to go further. When the LORD becomes angry and swears that this generation with two exceptions will never enter the land, the people repent of their rebelliousness and go up even after the LORD and Moses tell them it is no longer any use. They go up anyway, refusing thus to listen to the LORD and Moses! The upshot is a complete disaster and the beginning of 38 years of wandering from place to place. They become the lost generation. Not until all of them have died is the march to Canaan resumed.

In the wilderness Moses becomes overwhelmed by his task. The people are so many and the numbers keep increasing. He appoints military judges, in a manner different from the two other accounts of this same event (cf. Exodus 8:13-23 and Numbers 11:11-17). And he also gave them a specific charge:
• Give everyone a fair hearing
• Judge rightly between one person and another, whether citizen or alien, for justice is critical
• Be impartial with small and great alike. Avoid intimidation for your work is God’s work.
• Bring the difficult cases to me, Moses
There are historical precedents for Moses action among the Hittites (13th c. B.C.E.) and the Egyptians (14th c. B.C.E.). Hittite military officers functioned as judges, the very difficult cases were sent to the king, justice was emphasized and bribery prohibited. In Egypt persons of integrity and good character were sought out to become judges. They were instructed not to associate intimately with the people whom they were to judge and also warned against taking bribes [495:140]. In every land, in every time, the matter of finding honest and effective leaders is the task. However, it is often believed that the most important quality is effectiveness. There are always combinations of these two qualities available. The honest man may be effective and may not be. The dishonest man may be effective or ineffective. It seems the smallest number is the honest and effective person, leaving the all too frequent choice being the dishonest effective person, who also seems to be the most easily available in the population. Leadership requires vision and justice. Too often one or both of these qualities is missing. But the LORD always calls for both to be present. Moses, Caleb and Joshua are all good examples of the latter.

The Cross
Eva Gore-Booth


Talk not of Justice and her scales of woe,
We know no justice, weighing gain and loss,
Save the balancing arms of love held wide
That cannot sway or falter to and fro,
Mercy on this side and the other side,
The adamantine justice of the Cross.

Collect for the Day
Lord God, in a threatening world we look to you as our rock of hope. Hear us as we pour out our hearts to you, and give us your grace and protection, through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. [476:783:62 psalm prayer]


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