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Galilee long before Jesus

July 10, 2023

Daily Scripture

Numbers 34:1-2, 10-11, 2 Kings 15:29

Numbers 34
1 The Lord said to Moses: 2 Command the Israelites and say to them: When you enter the land of Canaan, this is the land that will fall to you as an inheritance. The land of Canaan according to its boundaries….

10 You will mark out your eastern border from Hazar-enan to Shepham. 11 The border will descend from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain. The border will go down and meet the eastern slope of the Galilee Sea.

2 Kings 15
29 In the days of Israel’s King Pekah, Assyria’s King Tiglath-pileser came and captured Ijon, Abel-beth-maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, and Hazor. He also captured Gilead, Galilee, and all the land of Naphtali. He sent the people into exile to Assyria.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Numbers 34 was the first Biblical mention of Galilee. The book, written later when they knew the land’s geography, credited Moses with the words before the Israelites had ever been in Canaan. 2 Kings 15 documented that the 10 tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel lost Galilee to the Assyrian Empire, which fully seized and scattered them by 722 B.C. (cf. 2 Kings 17:5-6). History showed that “[practical implications] of God’s promise are worked out in relation to circumstances.” *

  • Professor Goldingay said, “The bounds of Canaan as Numbers describes them are the bounds of Canaan as a province of the Egyptian empire in Moses’ time…. what ‘Canaan’ means is not fixed for all time.” * By Jesus’ day, Galilee was again part of “Israel,” but only under the Roman Empire’s control. Without studying the whole record in the Bible, we might use just one verse to give the “Biblical” boundaries of “Israel.” Why does the whole Bible matter, not just isolated pieces?
  • 2 Kings showed a big shift for Israel. “In the Old Testament story, the only big power Israel has had to worry about is Egypt…. Now the Assyrians have… an empire in the north of modern Iraq and have extended their sphere of influence… to the west for the sake of the trade potential in that direction.” ** The prophet Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 7:2-17) urged their kings to trust God, not military alliances. The kings found that unrealistic. How can you trust God more than human forces today?

Lord God, too often our phrase “the real world” means a view that ignores your principles and seeks short-term advantages. Help me keep learning how to trust you even when that stretches my faith. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Valerie Nagel

Valerie Nagel

Valerie Nagel was born, raised, and attended college in California. Her Master of Divinity degree is from Duke Divinity School. She was ordained in the Rio Texas Conference where she served as an associate pastor in the Austin area and San Antonio. From congregational care and welcoming guests to leading in worship, Valerie loves the ministry of the local church. She feels blessed to have served as a pastor since 2011. She juggles ministry with being a mom to Caleb (born 2012) and Jacob (born 2015), friend, avid reader, lover of the outdoors, beginner to the world of CrossFit, and foodie.

I have a confession. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all the details and history we read about in the many books of the Bible. I’ve been to seminary. I’ve taken classes on the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament. And yet I need to return again and again to commentaries, maps, and other tools we have so I can understand where different events took place and when. I was grateful that when Pastor Adam was preaching on Sunday, he showed us on a map where several cities were in relation to the Sea of Galilee, called Lake Gennesaret, in Sunday’s Gospel story (Luke 5:1-11).

From Numbers to 2 Kings, we see God calling and inviting people to follow God. As we read the Old Testament, we learn the stories of how God’s people were faithful, disobedient, afraid, and hopeful. We hear what it was like for them to be in the wilderness, both spiritually and literally. It’s vital to understand the geography of where the stories of the Bible occurred, the arc of Scripture, and the stories of the many generations of God’s people. And, sometimes, when I’m feeling overwhelmed by trying to understand the big picture, I return to the personal stories. I remember the names we know, the people whose stories we read about in the Bible.

Pastor Adam preached about Simon Peter and his encounter with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. Simon Peter fell before Jesus, recognizing both Jesus as Lord and his own sinfulness. Jesus told him not to be afraid and said that he would fish for people.

The history of a place matters. The collective story of God’s people matters. The Bible matters. People and places and stories in the Bible point us towards God. We can learn to trust God because in the Bible we read about imperfect people who also needed to learn how to faithfully love and follow God. Like so many generations before us, God is calling us and inviting us to experience revival and to fish for people. May we say “yes” to God this week and throughout our lives. May we delight in watching how every “yes” turns into something beautiful and becomes more than we could have imagined when we first said “yes” to Jesus.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* John Goldingay, Numbers and Deuteronomy for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010, p. 91.
** John Goldingay, 1 and 2 Kings for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011, p. 159.