Rightly Understanding the Quiet and Peaceable Life

Good Morning!

Be nice to finally get some dry days around here. I always thought it was April showers bring May flowers, not May showers bring June rot. Been biblical around these parts. For our prayer and worship time today we are not only going to be asking for some sunshine, but that we might see something bright and lovely about the story of Gad and Simeon in Numbers 32. What’s that you may ask? (no pun intended). On Wednesday nights we have been of course going through this fourth book of Moses throughout the year. There are a lot of moments in that book that really cause the work to live up to its name. Census after census, detail after detail, it almost seems like at times you are walking through a Scriptural phone book. We confess and believe that every verse in the Bible is important. There is no portion of God’s Holy word that is less vital to our faith than any other, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with noting that some parts are more scintillating than others. Which gets me to the point of this Tuesday’s post.

The leaders of the tribes of Gad and Simeon approach Moses and Eleazar the High Priest about building their homes on the east side of the Jordan. At first Moses is not too keen on this idea because he thinks these tribes want to slink out on their responsibility to help the whole of Israel gain the victory over the pagans in the Promised Land. The elders of Gad and Simeon assure Moses and Eleazar that this is not the case, all they ask is that they be allowed to leave their cattle and their livestock, along with their women and children, on the eastside and the fighting men will follow with blood and toil with their brothers-in-arms. There is something so poetic, so masculine and lovely about the promise of Numbers 32:16-18. Let’s take a look at it:

Then they came near to him and said: “We will build sheepfolds here for our livestock, and cities for our little ones, but we ourselves will be armed, ready to go before the children of Israel until we have brought them to their place; and our little ones will dwell in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. We will not return to our homes until every one of the children of Israel has received his inheritance.

The totality of what is being said here is more than just a mundane covenantal promise. It is the kind of thing you would hear Charlton Heston or Jeff Bridges say as the law man came to his ranch to ask his help to go and capture a wanted fugitive or marked man. There is such weight to the words here that is hard to express in words. Yet in these verses we see and hear exactly the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ to His Father in John 17. As our Savior reminds God of His promise at the completion of His work we can feel that all the labor was worth it, for true male headship is a life of service, of protection, and sacrifice. Going out to face the bad guys while Sally and the little ones stay back and take care of the farm is the quintessential picture of what the Christian home should look like. The husband cares not for his physical or personal needs.

Everything that he is about is for the benefit of the clan and kin. Whatever personal glory he may attain is secondary to what he can do for his country and his people. There is a meme going around comparing Bernard Montgomery and Dwight D. Eisenhower and the way they wore ribbons and decorations in uniform (or the lack thereof) versus the way you see the air-conditioned office warriors of today declaring their chest salad with rows upon rows of awards like they are the beneficiary of some African dictators’ random whim. A large part of the problem around the conversation about masculinity today is that in an age of participation trophies a lot of the big names on the BE A MAN circuit want to look the part, get recognition, when that’s never what it has been about. People who seek a name don’t deserve one.

A helpful example can be found in the film Memphis Belle. Presumably a straight-forward story about the first B-17 to complete twenty-five missions over Europe in the Second World War there is a section where the co-pilot, played by Tate Donovan, is lamenting the fact he has spent the whole conflict in the passenger seat, in this case quite literally, and won’t have any war stories to impress the ladies with when he gets back. So he makes a deal with the tail gunner, Harry Connick, Jr., to let him hop on and shoot down a nazi. As the opportunity presents itself Donovan’s character is successful, however, in the midst of his joy the stricken Bf-109 slices a fellow B-17 in half, killing several of its crew. The scene is a keen reminder of the dangers of not being satisfied with your calling, and the fruits of which are rarely seen on social media, but the quiet, faithful, ordinary obligations we are called to are the things which truly matter to those who matter, or at leash should matter most pertinently to our self-worth.

The willingness of the men of Gad and Simeon to do their duty, and the blessing of the women being able to take on the responsibility of homesteading while their husbands and fathers are off fighting in the war for their countrymen’s freedom is a tale as old as time. Yet, it’s a perfect representation of the way things ought to be. Notice the trust, the love, the relationship, all unspoken, all without fanfare or displays of notoriety. The simple mercy of knowing that what needs to be done is being done. That knowledge is its own sort of reward.

In closing, in Paul’s words to the faithful church at Thessalonica he leaves them with these words (1 Thess. 4:9-11):

“But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.”

It’s said sometimes that men need a challenge, need a goal, need something to strive for that has a completion by which satisfaction can be reached. Well, I find nothing more to be appreciated by the quiet, soft-spoken heart, than what the Apostle lays out here. Be found doing, doing well, and doing for others in the glory of God and His worship and you have your own reward.

No extra reading today.

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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