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Daily Devotional

Getting Our Attention

June 16, 2022 - 12:00 am

This Devotional's Hebrew Word


(Snake)

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. Also at your times of rejoicing—your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts—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. — Numbers 10:9-10

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Behaalotecha, which means “when you raise up,” from Numbers 8:1–12:16.

I was waiting in line at airport security on a recent trip for IFCJ Canada. The line was moving slowly, so I started looking at all the people around me. Almost everyone had earbuds in or headphones on. Most people were holding their phones in their hands, scrolling, texting, or actually involved in a conversation.

I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new. We live in a world where everyone is in communication constantly. We are listening to music and podcasts, reading our social media feeds, answering emails — the flow of information and “noise” is never-ending.

As I was standing there with this thought, there was a loud crash. Someone had taken their luggage cart on a nearby escalator and had lost control of it. The luggage cart tumbled down the escalator, crashing to the floor at the bottom.

Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked in the direction of the sound. Thank God nobody was hurt. The man who had lost control of the luggage cart looked pretty embarrassed. For just a brief moment, the noise succeeded in getting our attention, but soon after, everyone was back in their own worlds on their smartphones.

Getting Our Attention

As I reflected on how each of us is lost in our own separate world, I thought about the trumpets in this week’s Torah portion. God instructed Moses to make two silver trumpets. They were to be sounded “when you go into battle,” (v.9), and also “at your times of rejoicing—your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings” (v.10).

It always struck me as odd that the same trumpets were used for war and for the happiest days of the Jewish festival cycle. But the truth is that it makes a lot of sense. The trumpet blast served in getting our attention and bringing all who heard it into a shared experience. The purpose of the trumpets was to bring everyone together and drown out our personal, individual noise so we can all focus on God.

As Isaiah said about the future redemption, “And in that day a great trumpet will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the LORD on the holy mountain in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 27:13).

Your turn: Take some time to turn off the noise in your life. Spend some prayer time thinking about a time when we will all serve God together.

For June 16, 2022

Embracing a New Faith, New Name

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.” — Numbers 10:29

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Behaalotecha, which means “when you raise up,” from Numbers 8:1–12:16.

Have you ever thought about your name and how it influences who you are? Do you know what the meaning of your name is? Are you named after someone and if so, what do you know about that person? According to Jewish tradition, our names are divinely inspired and by understanding them, we can better understand who we are.

But if you don’t like the name you were given for one reason or another, don’t worry. We are allowed to change our names. The names we are given at birth are never our only identity.

That’s why we see name changes in the Bible. Abram became Abraham. Jacob was renamed Israel. A name is how people know us. It expresses who we are. And who we are often changes and develops as life goes on. In fact, according to Jewish tradition, every person has three names: one that they are called by their parents; one that they are called by others; and one by which they are remembered.

Embracing a New Faith, New Name

This week’s Torah portion mentions someone who we already knew in the Bible by a different name. Did you catch it? We read, “Now Moses said to Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law…” Here Moses’ father in-law is called Hobab. But we already met him back in the Book of Exodus where his name was Jethro (Exodus 3:1).

The Jewish sages explained that Jethro was given the name Hobab, which in Hebrew means “beloved,” because of his deep love for God and Torah.

Jethro was not a young man. Moses himself was 80 years old, and Jethro was his father-in-law. But even though he had spent his life as a “priest of Midian” (Exodus 18:1), leading a community of idolators, he humbly embraced a new faith and a new name. He took on a new identity. He was now “beloved” by God.

Your turn: Have you gone through changes that are worthy of a new name? What name would you choose?

     

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