Perspective in the Wilderness

Note: My apologies for getting off our reading schedule! The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind with some extra needs for my daughter. The Lord has given such grace in caring for her, and I am grateful to say she is doing well! That said, I can only manage to post once a week for now. I’ll choose one devotional from the week to share. Sorry again for any inconvenience, and I hope you have been learning some great things in your Bible studies!

This Week’s Reading: Leviticus 23, 26, Numbers 11-14, 16-17

Numbers 11:5-6

_We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at._ Num.png

“We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”

Once again, the Israelites are getting restless in the wilderness. They remember how they ate better in Egypt, and they are sick and tired of eating manna. To me, I read this and thought how pathetic they sound; God rained food down from heaven and all they can do is complain about how they ate better in Egypt.

All those days wandering in the wilderness, and the Israelites lose perspective. They are so focused on the physical facet of their circumstances (imagine eating rice cakes for forty years and muster a little sympathy) that they lose sight of God’s provision. He delivered them from slavery! He is leading them to the Promised Land! But the Israelites can’t see beyond their hunger pains.

Sometimes I lose patience for these hangry Israelites, but then I realize- how often do I lose perspective? How often am I so focused on the little things in life, like why God won’t just make my baby sleep through the night or frustration at my never finished to-do list that I don’t stop and think about where I am. What God has brought me and my family through. Cue the guilt.

I’m just like the Israelites, only my wilderness is a different setting and my problems are different. (Usually.) The underlying issue at play is a lack of gratitude. I can’t see how petty my problems are because I’m not looking at the history of God’s grace in my life. I’m not intentionally thanking Him and giving Him glory for what He has done.

But one thing that’s great about the Lord is that He is patient with us. He loves us, and His goodness can’t be tested. His mercy never runs out. Whatever you’ve been through, wherever God is taking you now, He loves you, and His plan for you is good. Take a look around today and I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to find something to praise Him for.

And if you’re feeling guilty like me, remember- God didn’t give up on the Israelites. He led their children into the promised land.

Lord, help me to have Your perspective. Help me to be grateful and content in my circumstances, thanking You for all You’ve brought me through and where You’re taking me!

Next Week’s Reading Schedule:

Monday: Numbers 20; 27:12-23

Tuesday: Numbers 34-35

Wednesday: Deuteronomy 1-2

Thursday: Deuteronomy 3-4

Friday: Deuteronomy 6-7

 

 

 

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“On This Foundation” by Lynn Austin

Summary

Nearly thirty years after his parents were murdered, Nehemiah, now a cup-bearer for King Artaxerxes, is visited by his younger brother. Nehemiah learns that the cities walls of his hometown are in shambles and the people are suffering to survive the famine and high taxes placed upon them by wealthy landowners. With this information, Nehemiah feels compelled by God to return home to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall.

Chana, a young woman whose fiance was killed because of the lack of security in Jerusalem, feels pressure to accept the advances of a wealthy vineyard owner, Malkijah, to free her younger sisters to marry. When her father volunteers to help with the rebuilding of the wall, Chana insists on helping, hoping to rebuild her faith and heal from the past.

Nava works with her family on a small piece of land, but with the famine, her father doesn’t have enough money to repay the landowner, Malkijah. Though she wants nothing more than to marry her sweetheart, Dan, when Malkijah asks for payment, Nava agrees to go with him as his bondservant for six years to repay the debt. While missing her family and Dan, trouble follows Nava when Malkijah’s mischievous son begins to follow her around the vineyard.

Many oppose the rebuilding of the wall, especially local politicians who view the positive attention Nehemiah receives as a threat to their own political agendas. As these men attempt to thwart the project, all are challenged to have faith and trust, in God and in each other.

Pros

With great historical detail, Austin tells the story of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. There is so much insight into the building procedure and ancient tradition, especially in regard to the Torah. The characters come alive in this well-researched, and well-imagined world, as do their struggles.

Despite the length, the story remains fairly fast-paced throughout as the characters’ struggles and storylines overlap. The narrative switches between multiple perspectives which also makes it an engaging read. In addition, though this book is third in Austin’s The Restoration Chronicles Series, I had no difficulty picking up where this story began and getting to know the characters.

Cons

While I liked the switch between different characters’ perspectives, some of the characters emerged at the end of the story a bit underdeveloped, simply because there wasn’t much time to spend with each character.

Tension built throughout the story as different politicians, attacks, and unforeseen circumstances threatened the building of the wall. In the end, the story fizzled out a bit, in my opinion. There are certainly historical restraints, but I hoped that a story with so much buildup would end with more gusto.

Conclusion

On This Foundation was an engrossing read full of interesting storylines and history. Despite the ending, it’s a great Biblical story that teaches the importance of trusting in God at all times.

Get your copy of Lynn Austin’s On This Foundation at Bethany House or your local library.

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“Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty” by Angela Hunt

Summary

As a young girl, Bathsheba receives a prophecy asserting that she will one day be mother to a man who will affect the fate of Israel. Her family protects her, knowing that Bathsheba’s extraordinary beauty makes her vulnerable to the desires of men. When her father gives her in marriage to Uriah, the warrior, Bathsheba and her family are confident that her fate is sealed and Uriah is the man who will give her this legendary son. But Bathsheba cannot conceive, and Uriah is sent off to war.

Nathan, the prophet, falls for Bathsheba’s beauty at a young age, but God tells him she will not be his wife. Instead, Nathan keeps special watch over Bathsheba from a distance, even after taking a wife and having daughters. When Nathan receives a vision of King David seeing Bathsheba’s beauty and taking advantage of her, Nathan knows he must help protect Bathsheba. God gives him visions of the future, of the son who will build a temple in Israel, and the fate of King David who killed a man to take his wife.

Bathsheba and Nathan tell the story of the ramifications of David’s sin as God’s wrath is poured out generation after generation, from death, to war, to rape, to plagues on the lineage of King David.

The Pros

Angela Hunt took great care in preserving the Biblical accuracy of Bathsheba’s story. While there was no prophecy of Bathsheba’s future son, Bathsheba’s story otherwise lines up with scripture, and the author does not take liberties that alter the meaning of the original Biblical narrative. Hunt masterfully weaves historical detail through the story, creating an intricate tapestry of ancient Israel and the Biblical legends that inhabited it.

Rather than focusing on the single event that makes Bathsheba infamous, Hunt expounds on Bathsheba’s story, showing the impact not only on the woman herself but the fallout in King David’s house for disobeying God. This story is not just about Bathsheba; this book gives insight into the struggles of King David and the lineage of destruction that befell his house.

Bathsheba’s story inevitably deals with some disturbing subject matter, including rape, murder, and warfare. While some material may not be suitable for younger readers, Hunt’s telling of the events is in no way graphic; the author makes these scenes palpable through an emotional connection rather than visual.

The Cons

For a book entitled, Bathsheba, by the end of the book, I still felt that I didn’t really know Bathsheba. This is partially due to the fact that so much happens during the course of the novel which follows Bathsheba from her first meeting with the King until she is an old woman. Because the book is fast-paced and plot-driven, Bathsheba’s character is only faintly sketched out. Similarly, the relationship between her and David is so complex, an entire novel could be written centered around their marriage and emotional healing. My only complaint would be that I wish more time was spent delving into Bathsheba’s character and her relationship with David.

Conclusion

Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty was a powerful telling of the Biblical narrative with compelling themes of forgiveness and faithfulness. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting deeper insight into Old Testament Israel and a new perspective on one of the Bible’s most controversial female figures.

You can purchase your copy of Bathsheba from Bethany House, or grab a copy from your local library!
Hunt, Angela. Bathsheba Reluctant Beauty. N.p.: Baker Pub Group, 2015. Print.

Love reading Christian Fiction_(1)