Weekly roundup

money2.jpgCan you afford to stay at home? – Mom Loves Being at Home offers some excellent cost saving tips

This is a good series: 50 Answers to 50 Mormon Answers to 50 Anti-Mormon Questions (you might need to read that title slowly).

UCC Truths – a good site for the orthodox believers in the UCC

 Sin on a bun – the forgotten vice of gluttony

There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind –  a review of Antony Flew’s book

Why didn’t I do this a long time ago?  I increased my computer’s memory from 1 GB to 2 GB (only $70 from Amazon) and it has made a big difference.  My desktop PC is 2.5 years old and from time to time I start to rationalize getting a faster one with more memory.  It was just slow with pictures and video editing.  I download, sort and edit about 1,000 pictures or more a few times a year (ballet concerts and mission trips) and it takes forever!  But the memory helped a lot.  I really want to put off an upgrade because I’m not excited about Microsoft Vista.  I’m afraid some old programs like Quicken won’t work.

Numbers 11-12

n111.jpgGreetings!

Fire From the Lord

11     Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. 2 When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. 3 So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the Lord had burned among them.

God had delivered the people through amazing things with one miracle after another, yet many still didn’t trust him.  How often do I make the same mistake?  I thank God that He has such patience with my sense of entitlement and ingratitude.  I am always bothered by other’s ingratitude, so I can imagine how God feels about mine.

Of course God can always “hear” us, but to say the complained within God’s hearing is to imply that they did it loudly and openly.

Quail From the Lord

4 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

They were now longing for their days as slaves in Egypt! 

7 The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. 8 The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a handmill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into cakes. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. 9 When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.

10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

Moses was obviously distraught about his responsibilities.  Imagine being in charge of a couple million people!

16 The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.

18 “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. 19 You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, 20 but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”

21 But Moses said, “Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot, and you say, ‘I will give them meat to eat for a whole month!’ 22 Would they have enough if flocks and herds were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?”

23 The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”

24 So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the Tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did not do so again.

26 However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the Tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.”

28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”

29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” 30 Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

31 Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. 32 All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers. Then they spread them out all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. 34 Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food.

35 From Kibroth Hattaavah the people traveled to Hazeroth and stayed there.

When it says “three feet above the ground,” that probably meant that the birds flew three feet above the ground and not that they were stacked three feet deep.

Miriam and Aaron Oppose Moses

12     Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 2 “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.

3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)

Verse three seems ironic if Moses wrote it, and some contend that he didn’t write the book of Numbers or that this was inserted.  It is also possibly that he was led by the Holy Spirit to write it because it was true.  Either way, it is part of scripture.

4 At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the Tent of Meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them came out. 5 Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the Tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When both of them stepped forward, 6 he said, “Listen to my words:

“When a prophet of the Lord is among you,

I reveal myself to him in visions,

I speak to him in dreams.

7 But this is not true of my servant Moses;

he is faithful in all my house.

8 With him I speak face to face,

clearly and not in riddles;

he sees the form of the Lord.

Why then were you not afraid

to speak against my servant Moses?”

9 The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.

10 When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam—leprous, like snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had leprosy; 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, do not hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”

13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “O God, please heal her!”

14 The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.

16 After that, the people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Moses appealed on his sister’s behalf and the Lord granted a reprieve.

Evangelism experiences 2

bible.jpgWhen counseling a guy who would come into CareNet Pregnancy Center with his wife/girlfriend I would have about 45 minutes to get to know him, learn his needs, tell him about the center and what it provided, persuade him to choose life (for the ~20% or so that were abortion minded) and to share the Gospel (if he was interested).  There wasn’t a lot of time for idle talk, but we wanted to keep things relaxed and conversational.

The most challenging thing in evangelism for me is getting spiritual discussions started.  I have yet to find the perfect one-size-fits-all evangelism book (other than the Bible, of course), but one method I have used a lot came from Share Jesus Without Fear.  The author uses a very conversational and successful method of sharing the Gospel.  One of his main themes is that God is in control and that we are just being obedient in sharing the Gospel where we have opportunities. 

One of the best parts of the book is the discussion starter/diagnostic questions.  He suggests that you ask them and then just listen.  Suppress the need to correct the person.  He may say all sorts of odd and contradictory things, but at this point you really just want to know where he is coming from. 

Diagnostic questions like this aren’t very threatening and they build a rapport.  You are sincerely interested in what the other person believes, and you are listening to him carefully.  That demonstrates respect.

Here are the suggested questions:

1. Do you have any spiritual beliefs?
2. To you, who is Jesus?
3. Do you think there is a heaven or a hell?
4. If you died tonight, where would you go? If heaven, why?
5. By the way, if what you believed were not true, would you want to know? 

If 5 = “yes,” then say: May I share some Bible verses with you?  You can use the Roman Road verses to lay out the Gospel for them.  Have them read verses and ask, “What does this say to you?”  But that is another post . . .

If they say, “No,” then just move on to another topic and pray for them.  (By the way, I never had anyone say, “No.”)

I don’t have any specific experiences to share with respect to these questions, but I used them many times to get the conversations going.  They never failed to generate some good, back-and-forth dialogues.  It was all about sharing the Gospel as accurately and clearly as possible and planting seeds.

I find that it is easier to guide the conversations this way with strangers than with people I know well.

Do you struggle with getting conversations like this started as well?  What have you found to be effective in getting conversations headed in a spiritual direction?

Numbers 9-10

n9.jpgGreetings!

The Passover

9     The Lord spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai in the first month of the second year after they came out of Egypt. He said, 2 “Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time. 3 Celebrate it at the appointed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of this month, in accordance with all its rules and regulations.”

4 So Moses told the Israelites to celebrate the Passover, 5 and they did so in the Desert of Sinai at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses.

6 But some of them could not celebrate the Passover on that day because they were ceremonially unclean on account of a dead body. So they came to Moses and Aaron that same day 7 and said to Moses, “We have become unclean because of a dead body, but why should we be kept from presenting the Lord’s offering with the other Israelites at the appointed time?”

8 Moses answered them, “Wait until I find out what the Lord commands concerning you.”

9 Then the Lord said to Moses, 10 “Tell the Israelites: ‘When any of you or your descendants are unclean because of a dead body or are away on a journey, they may still celebrate the Lord’s Passover. 11 They are to celebrate it on the fourteenth day of the second month at twilight. They are to eat the lamb, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations. 13 But if a man who is ceremonially clean and not on a journey fails to celebrate the Passover, that person must be cut off from his people because he did not present the Lord’s offering at the appointed time. That man will bear the consequences of his sin.

14 “‘An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must do so in accordance with its rules and regulations. You must have the same regulations for the alien and the native-born.’”

God provided exceptions for those who were unclean at the time of the Passover.  They couldn’t celebrate it at the regular time, but they could celebrate it later.

The Cloud Above the Tabernacle

15 On the day the tabernacle, the Tent of the Testimony, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire. 16 That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire. 17 Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped. 18 At the Lord’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. 19 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the Lord’s order and did not set out. 20 Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the Lord’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out. 22 Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. 23 At the Lord’s command they encamped, and at the Lord’s command they set out. They obeyed the Lord’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.

I’m not sure if that is supposed to be an illustration for us or not, but it seems like following God’s direction through his word would be a great application.  Everything goes better when we do that.  It seems so simple, yet we constantly want to go our own way.  But if I really trust him as God, why wouldn’t I always seek to do things his way first?

The Silver Trumpets

10     The Lord said to Moses: 2 “Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out. 3 When both are sounded, the whole community is to assemble before you at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. 4 If only one is sounded, the leaders—the heads of the clans of Israel—are to assemble before you. 5 When a trumpet blast is sounded, the tribes camping on the east are to set out. 6 At the sounding of a second blast, the camps on the south are to set out. The blast will be the signal for setting out. 7 To gather the assembly, blow the trumpets, but not with the same signal.

8 “The sons of Aaron, the priests, are to blow the trumpets. This is to be a lasting ordinance for you and the generations to come. 9 When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies. 10 Also at your times of rejoicing—your appointed feasts and New Moon festivals—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God.”

The Israelites Leave Sinai

11 On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle of the Testimony. 12 Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran. 13 They set out, this first time, at the Lord’s command through Moses.

14 The divisions of the camp of Judah went first, under their standard. Nahshon son of Amminadab was in command. 15 Nethanel son of Zuar was over the division of the tribe of Issachar, 16 and Eliab son of Helon was over the division of the tribe of Zebulun. 17 Then the tabernacle was taken down, and the Gershonites and Merarites, who carried it, set out.

18 The divisions of the camp of Reuben went next, under their standard. Elizur son of Shedeur was in command. 19 Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai was over the division of the tribe of Simeon, 20 and Eliasaph son of Deuel was over the division of the tribe of Gad. 21 Then the Kohathites set out, carrying the holy things. The tabernacle was to be set up before they arrived.

22 The divisions of the camp of Ephraim went next, under their standard. Elishama son of Ammihud was in command. 23 Gamaliel son of Pedahzur was over the division of the tribe of Manasseh, 24 and Abidan son of Gideoni was over the division of the tribe of Benjamin.

25 Finally, as the rear guard for all the units, the divisions of the camp of Dan set out, under their standard. Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai was in command. 26 Pagiel son of Ocran was over the division of the tribe of Asher, 27 and Ahira son of Enan was over the division of the tribe of Naphtali. 28 This was the order of march for the Israelite divisions as they set out.

29 Now Moses said to Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place about which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will treat you well, for the Lord has promised good things to Israel.”

30 He answered, “No, I will not go; I am going back to my own land and my own people.”

31 But Moses said, “Please do not leave us. You know where we should camp in the desert, and you can be our eyes. 32 If you come with us, we will share with you whatever good things the Lord gives us.”

This reminds me of Barnabas “the encourager” in the New Testament.  It is amazing what a little encouragement will do to change people’s attitudes and feelings about themselves.  I don’t do it enough, but I try to find specific ways to encourage people in what they are doing for the Kingdom (or anything in general, such as at work).

33 So they set out from the mountain of the Lord and traveled for three days. The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them during those three days to find them a place to rest. 34 The cloud of the Lord was over them by day when they set out from the camp.

35 Whenever the ark set out, Moses said,

“Rise up, O Lord!

May your enemies be scattered;

may your foes flee before you.”

36 Whenever it came to rest, he said,

“Return, O Lord,

to the countless thousands of Israel.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Evangelism experiences 1

holy_spirit_sky.jpgAs noted in the overview, this is the first in a series of experiences I want to share about evangelism.  I may come back to some plain old lessons, but sometimes a story can convey a few lessons at a time.

Setting: CareNet Pregnancy Center, where I was doing weekly volunteering for a couple hours counseling guys who would come in with their wives/girlfriends.  I remember being completely exhausted.  I could barely keep my eyes open and couldn’t wait to get home.  To be honest, I was glad that no clients had come in.

A retired lady volunteering at the counter was chatting with some high school kids in the lobby.  A guy and a girl had come in with a friend who thought she might be pregnant.  The volunteer was a brilliant woman who had no problem starting a conversation about God with them, but she wasn’t experienced at answering the questions that came up.  When she started getting stumped she asked me to go out and visit with them.

The young man was all over the place with his religious beliefs and questions.  At one point he asked, “Doesn’t the Bible say homosexual behavior is a sin?”  He appeared to consider himself gay and given the way he asked the question it was obviously a stumbling block for him.  I could have glossed over it and said it was a debatable matter, but that wouldn’t have been true or loving.  I also could have spent an hour explaining all the verses and debates around this topic, but that would have been overkill and a diversion.

Instead I just confirmed that yes, despite how some try to twist it, the Bible does clearly say it is a sin.  Then I just shifted back to the basic Gospel – namely, that we are all sinners in need of a Savior and Jesus is that Savior (basic “Roman Road” stuff).  I emphasized that even if we had no sexual sins we could never get back to God on our own.

It was a balanced, back-and-forth conversation on a lot of topics and I pray that it planted a seed and that the young man kept searching.  He asked some good questions and seemed to feel like he was really heard and respected.

Lessons learned

1. Always replay conversations to see what you could do differently or better.  I almost always realize that I should have:

  • said something in a different way
  • not said something that I did say
  • said something that I didn’t say

This was one of those very rare experiences that went really well.  I’ve replayed it dozens of times in my head and can’t think of anything I’d do differently.

2. Whether people accept the message or not is between them and God.  Our job is to be obedient, which means preparing ourselves and sharing the truth in love.  This guy didn’t fall to his knees and repent, but I think it planted some seeds and pushed a reset button on some of his false views.

1 Peter 3:15-16 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

3. In Philemon 6 Paul writes, I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.  This is so true.  I was exhausted beforehand, but after sharing the Gospel with this young man I was so full of energy.  That isn’t the primary reason to share it, of course, but it is a fact that whenever I share the Gospel I am filled with joy afterwards. 

4. We have different roles (see 1 Corinthians 3).  I am lousy at starting spiritual conversations (not an excuse, just a fact) and I’m not a great “closer,” but I am very comfortable and truly enjoy them once they start.  I don’t know everything, but I’ve studied a lot and know enough to answer quite a few questions.  And I’ve learned to never fake it and to always treat people with respect and to take their objections seriously.  As I often say, seven of the most important words in evangelism are, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”

But the most important person in this scenario was my friend who got the conversation started.  Despite her lack of evangelism training she was bold and caring in getting the conversation started and she was humble to pull someone else in at the right time.  (By the way, she continues to learn and grow and has studied evangelism techniques since then.  She and her husband are doing great things for the kingdom in their retirement years.)

5. Stay focused.  I could have easily zeroed in on the “gay thing” and not only polarized him further but missed the more important points.  The main thing was to tell him about Jesus and his need for Jesus.

6. Pray for them.  After sharing the Gospel I usually pray that God will send others into their lives to follow up, reinforce, correct any mistakes I made and to fill in the gaps.  I prayed for him again as I wrote this.

7. Listen!  I made it a point to listen to what he said and made sure he knew that I understood his views clearly.  I think this was the key success factor for the conversation going so well.

8. Find common ground.  He commented how things in the Bible seem hard to believe, so I conceded that and used it as a bridge to say that yes, the concept that God would step into his creation and sacrifice himself for us was one of the most outrageous things ever spoken of.  The question is whether the evidence supports whether that happened.  (I think I was paraphrasing C.S. Lewis there.)

9. Don’t forget that others are listening.  His friend listened intently the whole time and took it all in.  Was she a believer praying for him while we spoke?  Had she tried to share the same things and was glad that someone else had stepped in to help?  Was she a non-believer as well and considering this for the first time?  Regardless of her perspective, I was keenly aware that she was not missing a word of it.  Scatter the seeds of the Gospel broadly!

Please feel free to share your comments and experiences.

The Roman Road (with a couple detours)

This is just a quick post about a series of verses sometimes referred to as the Roman Road.  They are verses (mainly from the book of Romans) used to give an overview of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I’m just posting it here so I can refer to it in other posts.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 3:3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

 

Numbers 7-8

n7.jpgGreetings!  It is interesting how detailed the records are for the offerings made for the Tabernacle dedication.  The repetition seems unnecessary, as each man brought the same things.  But it must have been mentioned for a reason.

I don’t have much else to add to these chapters.  Perhaps you do?

Offerings at the Dedication of the Tabernacle

7     When Moses finished setting up the tabernacle, he anointed it and consecrated it and all its furnishings. He also anointed and consecrated the altar and all its utensils. 2 Then the leaders of Israel, the heads of families who were the tribal leaders in charge of those who were counted, made offerings. 3 They brought as their gifts before the Lord six covered carts and twelve oxen—an ox from each leader and a cart from every two. These they presented before the tabernacle.

4 The Lord said to Moses, 5 “Accept these from them, that they may be used in the work at the Tent of Meeting. Give them to the Levites as each man’s work requires.”

6 So Moses took the carts and oxen and gave them to the Levites. 7 He gave two carts and four oxen to the Gershonites, as their work required, 8 and he gave four carts and eight oxen to the Merarites, as their work required. They were all under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron, the priest. 9 But Moses did not give any to the Kohathites, because they were to carry on their shoulders the holy things, for which they were responsible.

10 When the altar was anointed, the leaders brought their offerings for its dedication and presented them before the altar. 11 For the Lord had said to Moses, “Each day one leader is to bring his offering for the dedication of the altar.”

12 The one who brought his offering on the first day was Nahshon son of Amminadab of the tribe of Judah. 13 His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; 14 one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 15 one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 16 one male goat for a sin offering; 17 and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Nahshon son of Amminadab.

18 On the second day Nethanel son of Zuar, the leader of Issachar, brought his offering. 19 The offering he brought was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; 20 one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 21 one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 22 one male goat for a sin offering; 23 and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Nethanel son of Zuar.

24 On the third day, Eliab son of Helon, the leader of the people of Zebulun, brought his offering. 25 His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; 26 one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 27 one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 28 one male goat for a sin offering; 29 and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Eliab son of Helon.

30 On the fourth day Elizur son of Shedeur, the leader of the people of Reuben, brought his offering. 31 His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; 32 one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 33 one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 34 one male goat for a sin offering; 35 and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Elizur son of Shedeur.

36 On the fifth day Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai, the leader of the people of Simeon, brought his offering. 37 His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; 38 one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 39 one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 40 one male goat for a sin offering; 41 and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai.

42 On the sixth day Eliasaph son of Deuel, the leader of the people of Gad, brought his offering. 43 His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; 44 one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 45 one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 46 one male goat for a sin offering; 47 and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Eliasaph son of Deuel.

48 On the seventh day Elishama son of Ammihud, the leader of the people of Ephraim, brought his offering. 49 His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; 50 one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 51 one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 52 one male goat for a sin offering; 53 and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Elishama son of Ammihud.

54 On the eighth day Gamaliel son of Pedahzur, the leader of the people of Manasseh, brought his offering. 55 His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; 56 one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 57 one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 58 one male goat for a sin offering; 59 and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Gamaliel son of Pedahzur.

60 On the ninth day Abidan son of Gideoni, the leader of the people of Benjamin, brought his offering. 61 His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; 62 one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 63 one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 64 one male goat for a sin offering; 65 and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Abidan son of Gideoni.

66 On the tenth day Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai, the leader of the people of Dan, brought his offering. 67 His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; 68 one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 69 one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 70 one male goat for a sin offering; 71 and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai.

72 On the eleventh day Pagiel son of Ocran, the leader of the people of Asher, brought his offering. 73 His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; 74 one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 75 one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 76 one male goat for a sin offering; 77 and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Pagiel son of Ocran.

78 On the twelfth day Ahira son of Enan, the leader of the people of Naphtali, brought his offering. 79 His offering was one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering; 80 one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; 81 one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 82 one male goat for a sin offering; 83 and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old, to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering. This was the offering of Ahira son of Enan.

84 These were the offerings of the Israelite leaders for the dedication of the altar when it was anointed: twelve silver plates, twelve silver sprinkling bowls and twelve gold dishes. 85 Each silver plate weighed a hundred and thirty shekels, and each sprinkling bowl seventy shekels. Altogether, the silver dishes weighed two thousand four hundred shekels, according to the sanctuary shekel. 86 The twelve gold dishes filled with incense weighed ten shekels each, according to the sanctuary shekel. Altogether, the gold dishes weighed a hundred and twenty shekels. 87 The total number of animals for the burnt offering came to twelve young bulls, twelve rams and twelve male lambs a year old, together with their grain offering. Twelve male goats were used for the sin offering. 88 The total number of animals for the sacrifice of the fellowship offering came to twenty-four oxen, sixty rams, sixty male goats and sixty male lambs a year old. These were the offerings for the dedication of the altar after it was anointed.

89 When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the Testimony. And he spoke with him.

Once again, God speaks directly to Moses.

Setting up the Lamps

8     The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to Aaron and say to him, ‘When you set up the seven lamps, they are to light the area in front of the lampstand.’”

3 Aaron did so; he set up the lamps so that they faced forward on the lampstand, just as the Lord commanded Moses. 4 This is how the lampstand was made: It was made of hammered gold—from its base to its blossoms. The lampstand was made exactly like the pattern the Lord had shown Moses.

The Setting Apart of the Levites

5 The Lord said to Moses: 6 “Take the Levites from among the other Israelites and make them ceremonially clean. 7 To purify them, do this: Sprinkle the water of cleansing on them; then have them shave their whole bodies and wash their clothes, and so purify themselves.

The part that says “shave their whole bodies” is not a precise translation.  It probably just meant to trim their hair.

 8 Have them take a young bull with its grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil; then you are to take a second young bull for a sin offering. 9 Bring the Levites to the front of the Tent of Meeting and assemble the whole Israelite community. 10 You are to bring the Levites before the Lord, and the Israelites are to lay their hands on them. 11 Aaron is to present the Levites before the Lord as a wave offering from the Israelites, so that they may be ready to do the work of the Lord.

12 “After the Levites lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, use the one for a sin offering to the Lord and the other for a burnt offering, to make atonement for the Levites. 13 Have the Levites stand in front of Aaron and his sons and then present them as a wave offering to the Lord. 14 In this way you are to set the Levites apart from the other Israelites, and the Levites will be mine.

15 “After you have purified the Levites and presented them as a wave offering, they are to come to do their work at the Tent of Meeting. 16 They are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to me. I have taken them as my own in place of the firstborn, the first male offspring from every Israelite woman. 17 Every firstborn male in Israel, whether man or animal, is mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set them apart for myself. 18 And I have taken the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons in Israel. 19 Of all the Israelites, I have given the Levites as gifts to Aaron and his sons to do the work at the Tent of Meeting on behalf of the Israelites and to make atonement for them so that no plague will strike the Israelites when they go near the sanctuary.”

20 Moses, Aaron and the whole Israelite community did with the Levites just as the Lord commanded Moses. 21 The Levites purified themselves and washed their clothes. Then Aaron presented them as a wave offering before the Lord and made atonement for them to purify them. 22 After that, the Levites came to do their work at the Tent of Meeting under the supervision of Aaron and his sons. They did with the Levites just as the Lord commanded Moses.

23 The Lord said to Moses, 24 “This applies to the Levites: Men twenty-five years old or more shall come to take part in the work at the Tent of Meeting, 25 but at the age of fifty, they must retire from their regular service and work no longer. 26 They may assist their brothers in performing their duties at the Tent of Meeting, but they themselves must not do the work. This, then, is how you are to assign the responsibilities of the Levites.”

The Levites would serve the Lord when they were mature through the prime years of their lives.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.