The Scriptorium

Unlikely Food

It may seem like slim pickings, but it's full of nourishment. Numbers 11.4-9

Gleanealogy: Introduction (3)

Pray Psalm 78.1-4.
Give ear, O my people, to my law;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children,
Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

Sing aloud and contemplatively Psalm 78.1-4.
(Foundation: How Firm a Foundation)
Give ear, O my people, attend to my word,
dark sayings and parables sent from the Lord,
things we have before by our fathers been told,
which we would not dare from our children withhold.

Read Numbers 11.4-9.

Prepare.
1. How did the people respond to the gift of manna? Why?

2. What was God’s purpose in giving the manna to His people?

Read aloud.
It’s All Here

“It’s all here, all you’ll need,” he told the first-
time gleaner. “Bread and cakes to satisfy
your hunger day by day.” His novice eye,
however, looked upon this as the worst,
least-promising of harvests he had seen.
“Come on, don’t be discouraged. You will find
here in these uncut edges every kind
of sustenance.” So they began to glean.

These lists of names may not appear to hold
much grace or truth to feed your hungry soul.
But it’s all here, as we are truly told
by Him Who, on that long Emmaus stroll,
picked through the shocks and sheaves and corners of
the whole of Scripture to reveal His love.

Meditate.
The manna would feed and nourish Israel during their many years of wandering in the desert. Upon first seeing it, of course, they could not imagine how such paltry stuff would sustain them. But God had packed the mysterious food with nutrients which, coupled with faith and obedience, would keep a generation alive until just before the conquest of Canaan began (cf. Josh. 5.12).

The genealogies of Scripture can seem a little wanting of spiritual nourishment as well. But God has given them to us, and He has infused them with spiritual strength for all who feed on them in faith.

Genealogies work to connect people, times, and events. We can think of them as the ligaments at crucial joints of Scripture. When times are changing or moving to some new phase or stage of the redemptive plan of God, trust that a genealogy will show up to make the transition work. They may not look very savory – more like dry, flaky manna – but there’s meat to be found there.

Thus, genealogies are tools of transition. They cue or prompt us concerning people or events from the past, and they establish a foundation for events about to unfold. They remind us of God’s work in previous generations, and encourage us to expect Him to be similarly faithful in the stage of redemption about to unfold.

Thus genealogies hold for readers many truths to review and savor as we move forward in the story of God’s covenantal grace and faithfulness. Without these connectors, we might not appreciate the way events at one stage of Scripture are not disconnected from, but rather developments of, events that have gone before. The more carefully we read and meditate on these, the more we will see how God’s work of redemption proceeds through history, pushing ever forward to the great genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3, and to Him Whose pedigree those genealogies present.

There’s meat on those joints of Scripture – even if it only appears to be plain, tasteless manna. But if we will work hard and give thanks to God, He’ll nourish and sustain us by this special food from His heavenly kitchen.

Reflect.
1. What does it mean to believe that all of Scripture – including the genealogies – is profitable for us?

2. What is the difference between reading Scripture and meditating on Scripture? Why do we need both to gain the benefit of God’s Word?

3. How is reading Scripture like gleaning a field after the harvest? Are you ready to begin gleaning the genealogies of God’s Word? What will this require of you?

Do we not see that the Israelites got to their own hurt what their guilty lusting craved? For while manna was raining down on them from heaven, they desired to have meat to eat. They disdained what they had, and they shamelessly sought what they had not, as if it were not better for them to have asked not that their unbecoming desires be gratified with food that was wanting, but that their own dislike be removed, and that they be made to receive rightly the food that was provided.
Augustine (354-430), Tractate on the Gospel of John 73.2

Lord, help me to be grateful for
all Your Word, and to feed on and savor it daily, so that I may…

Pray Psalm 78.17-37.
As you pray, meditate on how God responds when we disdain His gifts. Pray that God will open your mind to the great gift of His Word, and to all the gifts and blessings He provides you throughout the day. Give Him thanks as He does.

Sing Psalm 78.17-37.
Psalm 78.17-37 (Foundation: How Firm a Foundation)
Cast back to the desert they sinned ever more,
and tested the Lord by their greed o’er and o’er.
And though He provided them manna and meat,
His anger flared up, and His wrath was complete.

When troubled, they turned to the Lord’s loving face,
He met them and showed them His marvelous grace.
They spoke of their love for Him, yet in their heart
of His holy cov’nant they wanted no part.

T. M. Moore

The poems featured in the Gleanealogy series are by T. M. Moore. To order T. M.’s most recent collection of poems, Bricks and Rungs, click here. The genealogies of Scripture reveal the heart of God in His covenant relationship with His people. To learn more about God’s covenant, order our book, I Will Be Your God, by clicking here. You can learn to sing all the psalms to familiar hymn tunes by ordering a copy of The Ailbe Psalter (click here).

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore