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2011 A.D.:  So, .....you say you want to go back?

  Also, look for picture thumbnail towards bottom of account!

 

A quail, and an example of an Egyptian pharaoh's crown.  Notice the similarity of the features at the top of the forehead?

  The frustrated Israelites grumbled and cried out for the foods they had known in Egypt, which lay across the water.  God, who was providing them with simple but sufficient food from heaven (manna), heard and was not pleased.  So, from across the water God sent hordes of exhausted quail, which the Israelites easily gathered and cooked and ate.  But this food, quail, sickened and killed many of them.  

 

 

 

  Scroll to very bottom for a thumb nail to the above drawing in enlargeable form.

 

  One thing that you learn pretty quickly if you read the New Testament or the Old is that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit don't have too much use for us if we join them, but then want to complain all the time, or worse yet, go back to the old life we previously led. 

  We can basically understand this.  We know that we are unworthy by the standards of Heaven (or even of Earth in many of our cases) and yet we have been given a way to go to Heaven and live forever.  And the price was high.  Under the Mosaic Covenant it was a constant 'slaughter of the innocents' to cover the sins of man:  innocent animals.  The Levite Priests slew them by the thousands, in fact millions as the years passed, as the specifically prescribed atonements for the sins of the Israelites.  Atonement must be by blood, the Laws given to Moses said.  This emphasized to the Israelites the deadly ramifications of their sinning against such of their laws as they sinned against.  Death came from their sinning.  Death for animals. 

  Later, when it had been clearly shown that through the Laws of Moses no man could ever be saved (because, by the Jews own admission in some cases, no man could ever manage to meet all of the requirements of the Law at all times.) God sent forth His Son Jesus to first of all show that a creature wearing human flesh COULD lead a sinless life, and secondly to have that same man Jesus, who had been tried and proven to be without defect, be a once and final blood atonement for those who would follow Him in the manner He taught us that we ought to follow.  It was a New Covenant, maintained by Love for each other and more chiefly for God who has given us all things.

  But, in the case of the Old Covenants and the New, men and women are recorded to have turned back, or complained and said that they wanted to turn back. 

  It is a struggle to follow God, and we can grow weary at times...especially when the resistance is hardest and the goals most difficult to attain.  We are weak...part of our battle is to rule over our weakness; we are asked to master our faltering willpower and our complaining flesh and keep ourself focused on the goals of our faith: grateful service to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit as we live Holy lives and seek our salvation.  It truly is a very tough task at times!  But to turn back from the path that God placed you on always seems to have had very severe consequences. 

  And consider this sobering fact:  If you have sinned and done wrong, you can repent and seek God.  But, where will you go if you are so inconstant towards God or offensive in your walk with Him that He decides He must reject you?  There is no one to turn to once God has rejected you.  God made all, owns all, presides over all....we are given our free will only for this life time, to test our heart.  But after our death, God makes all of the choices concerning our fate.  Today, while we live, we can affect His choice with the way we live our life.  But then we die, and it is up to the Judge.

  Let's just look at the price of turning back at various times for various of our predecessors throughout the Bible's pages.

  Before the great flood, there may have been examples of turning back, but in the narrative given in the Bible disobedience is discussed more than any wish to return to a previous, more comfortable but less Godly situation than the one God has later placed His followers upon.

  After Noah's ark came to rest, and God soon made a covenant with Noah and mankind.  It said, in part:

  "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth."  Gen 9:1      

  And again, a few verses later, God tells Noah:  "As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it."  Gen 9:7

  But, rather than being fairly proactive about going out upon the post-flood land areas of the planet and re-colonizing the Earth as God asked them to, they did the opposite.  According to the scriptures, men built cities to avoid spreading out over the Earth!  God had ordered his people, the descendents of the ones He saved through Noah, to go throughout the lands and repopulate, but they wanted to turn back from that command and live together in safe pleasant convenient large groups!  Read for yourself!!

  Genesis 11: 1 - 4

  "Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.  As the people moved eastward they found a plain in Shinar (footnote: Babylonia) and settled there.  They said to each other,"Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly."  They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.  Then they said,"Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth."  "

  God wanted them to resettle the whole earth.  They wanted otherwise.  They wanted to dwell in community with each other, in a city.  But a city leads to evil things, does it not?  You don't pray for rain so that your crops will grow.  You just go to a store.  You don't count greatly on God for your safety, you have your city walls for that.  Your city watchmen, your police.  And God is not your only leader....doesn't every city have a mayor or a king, or elders?  People that wish to be in charge of other people just naturally emerge where there are concentrated populations of people.  It's very gratifying to a person's ego to be the person in charge.  Many flock to be that person.  Then many flock TO that person.

  How did God react to this desire to continue living as a large group in a cozy, mutually reliant community setting that sort of ignored His will and commands?  And to the idea of building a tower that would reach to heaven? 

  Gen 11: 5 - 9

  "But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.  The Lord said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."  "

  "So, the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.  That is why it is called Babel - because the Lord confused the language of the whole world.  From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole world."    

(Babel, my Bible's footnotes say, sounds like the Hebrew word for 'confused'.)

  And why did the Lord not want us to be able to do anything we set our mind on?  I don't know for certain, but my guess is that the Lord knew that whenever we got together as a group, and came up with our own projects to 'set our minds upon', the projects were nearly always at odds with God's will for us!

  So, God directed man to live their life a certain way. But they decided they wanted to turn back from doing God's will and do their own.  God responded by dividing the one tongue that Noah's family had spoken into many tongues, making it hard for men to understand each other's thoughts, making it hard for men to cooperate in defying God's will.  And oh, by the way, yet another generation of mankind were newly impressed by and frightened by the power of God to punish their disobedience.

  The irony?  (These punishments of God's towards those of us, His followers, who complain or want to turn back from following His orders, always seem to contain an element of irony, I think.  i.e.: a strange way in which the punishment fits the crime.)

  One irony is that the people pretended to be confused about what God needed for them to go out and do when they joined together to avoid God's marching orders.  So God gave them so much more confusion, actual confusion, not pretended, that about all that they dared to do was tuck in their tail and obey God!  They went off to form colonies as God wished.

 Another irony is that they decided to build a tower that 'reached to the heavens'.  Did they want this tower that they were building to bring them into the presence of God?  It did!  They suddenly found themself in the presence of God!  And He had come down to where the top of their tower currently was.  And He was not happy as He watched them labor away in disobedience to Him.

  Had they not understood God's words to them?  Well now they couldn't even understand their words to each other.  Kind of funny, huh?  To the devious God shows Himself to be far more cunning than they could ever hope to be.  It is far better to just obey. God knows what He means when He gives us our marching orders.

.................................................................................................................................................

  Before long we learn about Abram/Abraham.  He is called out to follow God, and so, with His brother-in-law Lot, and Sarah, who was Abraham's wife and Lot's sister, Abraham and company set out and wandered as God directed him to wander.  And God promised Abraham that he would have a son.  So, Abraham wandered amd grazed his flocks, and aged, and one day he was so old that he had become nearly 100 years old, yet still had no son.

  Wife Sarah would have known of God's promise to Abraham, but now Sarah was about 90 years old.  That was too old to have a child she believed.  The promise God made to Abraham would go unfulfilled, it appeared.  She ached to have a child though.  She had waited decades....could she be blamed if she had lost faith in God's promise to her husband?

  Whether blameworthy or not, Sarah acted.  Instead of following along with the plan that God gave to Abraham, she made her own.  Her hand maid Hagar - who was from Egypt, a Hamitic land and people - was young still.  Abraham could sire a child with Hagar, and it would effectively be Sarah's child, Sarah decided.

  Oddly, Sarah was so beautiful that when they had entered Egypt years ago, the Pharoah had taken Sarah to be purified for a number of months so that he could have relations with her.

  God had plans for Sarah's womb though, and they did not include having Pharoah's child or having relations with Pharoah.  So God had horribly cursed Egypt with terrible diseases so horribly that Pharoah had sought out the cause of God's wrath on his kingdom.  Finding out that it was because he had taken custody  of Sarah (called Sarai then) he had returned her, yet untouched, to Abraham.

  So God had already rescued Sarah from having Egyptian children as her heirs, in a sense.  But now she was returning to that idea by having an Egyptian woman have a child 'for her'.  Sarah had been rescued from a certain fate, now she was returning to it.    

  Abraham agreed to her plan!  He would impregnate Hagar.  Should he have...or should he have waited for God's promise to unfold?  We know, don't we, that he should have waited.  But, what would we have done in his place?  Would we have had more faith or less?  Whatever the case, the plan was carried out, and a child - Ishmael - was born.  Ishmael would one day become the father of the early Arab families. 

  Yet in time, years later and near to the time of Sodom and Gomorrah's destruction, Sarah actually became pregnant....with Abraham's child who was named Isaac.  But between the birth of Ishmael and the birth and weaning of Isaac, Sarah paid a high price.  Hagar - her handmaid - came to feel disrespect for Sarah because Sarah could not provide Abraham with a baby as she had.

  On the day of Isaac's weaning party Ishmael did some thing or another to his younger brother Isaac which set an already primed Sarah off on a fit of rage.  She yelled to Abraham that he must send the bondswoman and her child away!  Ishmael would not share the inheritance with her son, she said.

  Abraham loved Ishmael, and had no wish to send him away, but in a dream that night God told Abraham that he should do as Sarah said.  He told Abraham that it was through Isaac that his descendents would be numbered. 

  Abraham must certainly have thought of his guilt in the matter of having a child with Hagar as he sent them off into the desert the next day, towards an unknown fate.  And what could the rest of Abraham's troup of shepherds and their families have thought of Sarah?  Everyone would have known that she sent her rival Hagar, and her young son Ishmael off into the brutal desert!  Would they die there?

  And as time went by, the 12 sons that Ishmael ended up having came to be mighty desert tribes, and they were to often inflict grievious injury upon the descendents of Isaac as Israel spent their first centuries in the promised land about 3400 years ago.  It is a rivalry that goes on even today, 4,000 years later, as the modern Arab nations, descendents of Ishmael, seem to bear no love for the nation of Israel and the Jews that live there.  These Jews are descended from Isaac, the late born blood son of Sarah.

.......................................................................................................................

  How about Lot?  Lot is the nephew of Abraham, but as they travel the herds of both men grow until they can no longer travel together.  They must go seperate ways.

  Lot and his family go to live by the Dead Sea - apparently not a bad place for grazing herds way back then.  But the people of that rich grassy area - the people of Sodom and Gomorrah - are so evil towards God and so perverted sexually that they have earned God's wrath.  They are so forcefully and overtly homosexual that they were trying to rape the visiting angels staying at Lot's house while they evaluate the condition of the people of the area.  The angels  are there to see if the area is as evil as people say they are.  

  God decides eventually to rush Lot and his family (who live in a righteous way among their far more evil neighbors) out of harms way by the hands of those sane visiting angels.  Those wicked cities must be be destroyed, it is decided.  They have become exceedingly evil.  They will be destroyed by fire falling from the sky, setting the oily seep ponds on fire everywhere throughout the valley.  Sulpherish brimstone from the sky!  But God has mercy on Lot's family, who have feared God.

  Lot and his family are told to run towards the hills at the edge of the valley and don't look back.  They are specifically warned...don't look back!  But as they run - Lot, his wife, his two daughters - for safety, Lot's wife can't help herself.  She looks back, and she is turned into a pillar of salt! 

  When God places you on a path that will allow you to live, allow you to escape destruction, do not look back!!  It was true for Lot and his family.,  It is true for the Christian today.  Don't return to your old ways...to the life you were saved from.  Don't complain that it was better!  It may have been easier, but it was not better.  That way led to death.  The path Jesus laid out leads to life!  There is a difference, is there not?  One way leads with certainty to everlasting hell.  One leads to everlasting life in heaven.  The difference is huge, we just can's see the details yet.

   So, Lot's wife looks back at Sodom and is turned to Sodium.   She is turned to some sort of salt, perhaps Sodium Chloride.

  And that, in a way, is ironic.  At least in English.  One day Christians will see certain fortold signs and be expected to run away as fast as possible, to not look back, and to not even go back for their coats, etc..  Just run. 

  Think of this...Lot's wife was Lot's chosen bride.  The Christians are the chosen of God, and we are the bride of Christ.  Don't you think that we might be receiving a warning here, when we read of Lot's wife, that we should just stay on the path laid out for us, and if, in our lifetime, we are told to flee immediately then we should just do it.  Just do it and don't look back!

...................................................................................................................

  What about the days of Moses?  The people of Israel were held in cruel bondage by Pharoah.  They ate what food Pharoah provided for them, and they worked as Pharoah ordered them to work...they did the hard thankless work of slaves.  A certain Pharoah had even had their male children killed at times, by law, to keep the Israelite slave population in check.

  They cried out to God, He heard them, and through the mighty 10 plagues, he caused the Pharoah of that time to release them.  They fled Egypt in a great hurry, like Lot and family had fled the Dead Sea area.  Led by Moses, they got to the Red Sea and the waters were parted.  (A Red Sea...imagine that.  Accorcing to that name it would be like a sea that was part blood and part water.....red water.  And these chosen of Moses' time were saved by passing through this sea that was like blood and water, just as Jesus' chosen would one day be saved through the Lord's blood, and the 'water' of the Holy Spirit). 

  Once they were safe on the other bank, the ocean closed over the heads of the persuing Egyptian army, and the Israelites were safe.  Soon enough they had the Law and the 10 Commandments.

  And miracle of miracles, the Lord rained down a Holy food from Heaven....manna....which was like small seeds of bread.  It tasted like bread made from Olive Oil, or coriander seed.  And each day the Israelites gathered this remarkable yet simple food (except on Sabbath) and ate it.  It kept the large group of Israelites fed as they wandered the parched Sinai Peninsula.   

  But as they learned to follow God out there in the wilderness, they began to complain.  They were tired of manna!  They missed the melons and onions and fish of Egypt.  Life had been better there, they complained, in the place from which God had rescued them.  They craved the food they had enjoyed under Pharoah!

  Angry, God sent quail across the ocean in such numbers that they were two cubits deep (about 1 yard) for over a days walk  along the beach.  The birds were exhausted from their long flight across the sea, and were easily captured.  They were too tired to fly just then!

 

 

 

 

  Yet, when the meat starved Israelite complainers began eating these quail, a plague broke out!  A great many Israelites died.  God showed them that He could easily supply them with food such as they craved, but that He did not wish for them to have such food.  He had given them a pure and healthy food...a miraculous food.  It was pure bread from heaven that would keep them alive!!  (Isn't Jesus the Bread of Life from Heaven?  But they did not know of Jesus yet.)

  Here is an oddity:  The crowns worn by Pharoah's of Egypt have an odd little feather-like feature which sticks up in the front...like a quail's crest feather.  So, that feather on a quail's head was like the 'mark' of the Pharoah, and the Pharoah was the great world ruler of that time.  So should they have eaten food that had the Pharoah's 'mark'?  No, it killed them!!  It cost them their life!

  And what does Revelation tell us about the mighty world ruler that will come?  We will have to have his 'mark' to buy or sell...but no Christian is to take it regardless.  We lose salvation if we take it.  It costs us our life to eat the food that comes with accepting the mark, just like these Israelites died from eating food (these crest feathered quail) that came with the 'mark' of the Pharoah who was the great world ruler of their time.  Odd, isn't it? 

  So, this is the irony, or at least one irony:  the Israelites, who ate Pharoah's food and slaved away unthanked for him cried out to God to save them from Pharoah...from Egypt.  God did save them through the mighty deeds He worked against Egypt, their oppressors.  But, once they were led by God, and given food directly from Heaven to eat, they whined and complained that they wanted to have Pharoah food again, not 'God's pure manna'.  So, God gave them food that even looked like Pharoah a little bit ....these birds heads had a feather that was like one of the features on the crowns of Egypt's kings (their Pharoah's).  And they ate it and died.

                                                                                     Pharoah Crown and Quail Comparisons 

More to come...done for now!! 

      

   

   

     

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