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Spy out the land

Numbers 13 What will the future bring?  Blessings or curses? Wouldn’t it be nice to send someone on ahead to make sure the future’s bright? That’s what the Israelites do in the book of Numbers.  Let’s catch up with the story so far… In Genesis, Israel begins as the seed of Abraham then, with Joseph, they head down […]

God bless

Numbers 6:22-27; 2 Corinthians 13:14 Some people have only two uses for the name of God.  Either to carelessly curse, or to carelessly bless.  In either case the speaker “knows not what they do!” In its biblical setting, “God bless” was never said lightly.  In fact it was a distinct privilege of the priests.  In […]

Love thy neighbour

Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:34-46 What’s the law all about?  A supposed expert in the law asked Jesus that very question.  Jesus boiled it all down to ‘love’.  He quoted from two places in the Old Testament: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all […]


Leviticus 16:1-10, 20-22 We don’t like the word “scapegoat”.  It sounds like bullying.  A group picks on a weakling, identifies all its maladies with this one individual and punishes the scapegoat for the sins of the community. That’s horrible. But it’s horrible because of the power relationship.  The strong sacrifice the weak. The original scapegoat […]

Unclean! Unclean!

Leviticus 13:45-46; Mark 1:40-45 I’ll never forget when Mark told me he was HIV positive.  The two of us were in a cafe in London and had just ordered all day breakfasts.  Many people had tried to help him off the streets and off the drugs but he’d finally succumbed to a dirty needle. He […]

Peace offering

Leviticus 3:1-17 When we think of a “peace offering” we picture guilty husbands hastily purchasing flowers.  Or meek penitents bringing gifts to their fuming friends.  The one giving the peace offering feels dreadful.  The one to whom the offering is made is tapping their foot saying “This better be good.”  And maybe, just maybe, they […]


Leviticus 1:1-4; Ephesians 2:11-22 Can an ex-offender atone for his crimes? Can a sportswoman atone for her blunder?  Can a husband atone for his callous remark? If we answer ‘yes’ it’s usually because we think that the guilty party can make amends. But the Bible has a fresh angle on the question of atonement. Atonement […]

High Priest

Exodus 40:12-16 Federico Fellini has been called the ‘High Priest of Italian Cinema’.  Bill Hicks, ‘the High Priest of Stand-up Comedy’.  And Prince, ‘the High Priest of Funk, Soul and Rock n Roll’. It’s the idea of being an authority.  One who mediates the genre out into the world.  They are the go-to person when […]


Exodus 34:1-14 “Describe yourself” says the interviewer, with a glint in their eyes. You really want the job.  How to sound humble but also omni-competent? “What to reveal about myself?” Probably the less the better. “Why is he asking?” you wonder.  “Doesn’t my track record speak for itself?  Won’t he see pretty quickly who I really […]

Face to Face

Exodus 33:7-23 Children love “staring competitions” with their parents.  But the “competition” is a front.  We know what the child wants, we know what the parent wants.  Face to face. Or think of the long-distance relationship.  Lovers who are sick of letters and phone-calls.  They want face to face. Or the misunderstandings of work colleagues, […]