It has been nearly a month and my new insights are accumulating. I keep thinking I need a block of time to think about them on paper (or blog) before I decide to make them permanent, but my procrastination only makes me anxious. So, here are some of them, incomplete or not:
In my study of Numbers and Deuteronomy, I was interested in how the promised land was divided among the tribes of Israel. Old Jacob, on his death bed had praised some of his sons and blasted others. His first son, Reuben, had blown his birthright as first son by his immoral acts within the family. The next two brothers, Simeon and Levi, were condemned by their father for their vicious, murderous acts of revenge. So the fourth son, Judah, became the prominent son through whom the Savior, Jesus Christ, eventually came.
But back to Simeon and Levi. Two brothers - two opportunities to change, but apparently only one really did. In God's eternal wisdom, He chose the Levites to be His priests to the nation Israel. They did not receive an allotment of land in the promised land, but were scattered throughout it to serve as priests. Forty-eight cities, surrounded by a reasonable amount of grazing land for the Levites' cattle, were set aside so the Levites' presence, service, and teaching might be widely available. Later, when the temple was built, they went there on a rotational basis to serve. So God turned the curse of being scattered throughout the land into a blessing and an the honor of being priests. The Levites produced some of the greatest of the nation's leaders: Moses, Aaron, Phinehas, Eli, Ezra, Nehemiah, and John the Baptist.
How about Simeon? The two had done the murderous deed together. Simeon is mentioned in the story of Joseph. When Joseph sent his brothers back from Egypt to Israel to get their brother Benjamin, he kept Simeon in prison to assure their return. Of course Simeon was only one-tenth of the gang who sold Joseph into slavery, (I sure hope you know this story.) but why did he keep Simeon? What did God know about Simeon that is not revealed to us?
Did Simeon eventually receive an allotment in the promised land? Yes, he did, but it was within Judah's territory. Judah had remained close to the things of God through its long history and so Simeon benefited from Judah's faithfulness. God is merciful, is He not?
None of us are as saintly as we'd like to think we are, but it always surprises me that those I'd consider the least saintly turn to God, He forgives them, and uses them to praise Him. May He use me, too.