Wednesday, March 30, 2011

King Balak is NOT Happy

By Mary Vee
Numbers 23:13-26

King Balak's Thoughts

I hired Balaam the priest to come and curse the Israelite people because their God helped them win battles. Yes, I wanted to conquer the Israelites.

I sent officials and the finest princes from Moab to his home in the far north. OK, he wouldn't come the first time. He sent some crazy message about the Lord not giving him permission to curse my Israelite enemies. 

No, I don't worship the Israelite God. I realized Balaam must have wanted greater gifts than I sent the first time. So, I sent much more money with a promise to give other treasured gifts when he finished the job. Ha. As I expected, Balaam came to my palace with the princes.

Naturally, I assumed he would curse the Israelites when he arrived. I took him to a high peak on a mountain and showed him all the people. "Look, Balaam. See all the Israelites. Their God helped them conquer each army they've fought."

I couldn't help but sigh. "Balaam, please, I beg you. Their God will conquer us if you don't curse them."  Do you know what he did? He went off to pray to the Lord, walked back to the mountain peak where I stood, and blessed the Israelites!  My enemy. Balaam the priest blessed them right in front of me.

I rubbed my hands together in frustration then thought of a new idea. "Balaam, come with me to another place. From there you will see a part of the Israelites. If you curse only some of the Israelites I will still give you great gifts. Come with me to see them."

Sweat poured down my face as I waited for his answer.  Boy, was I happy when he agreed to go. I took him to the top of Mount Pisgah and offered the sacrifices he asked me to make, then waited while he walked to a private place again to pray to the Lord.  

The air cooled before he returned. "What did the Lord say to you this time?"

Balaam came near and looked out at the Israelite people. "King Balak, God doesn't lie and He doesn't change His mind. I have been commanded to bless the Israelites. I cannot change what God says to do. He has blessed the Israelites." He said a blessing for my enemies again.

I had my own gods to worship. I couldn't listen to the words of  the Israelite God, nor would I worship Him. "If you can't curse them, then don't bless them.  Saying nothing is better blessing them.

Balaam pointed his eyebrows down and smacked the ground with his staff. "Didn't I tell you I could only speak the words of the Lord? Everything He tells me to say, I must say. The God of the Israelites has blessed them, King Balak."


King Balak will try to the talk Balaam the priest into saying a curse for the Israelites one last time in the next story. What do you think will happen?

King Balak worshipped many other gods. He didn't believe in the one true God who created Heaven and earth like the Israelites. He didn't believe God would send his Son to pay for our sins. 

The Bible says: For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16.

1. What did King Balak do wrong?
2. What did he need to do?
3. Who disobeyed King Balak but obeyed God?
4. How did Balaam the priest make King Balak angry?
5. What if someone gave you money or what every you wanted if you would disobey God. What would you do. (Be sure to ask you parents, pastor, or feel free to email me with any questions.) 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Inside Prison Doors

By Mary Vee

Glady's Thoughts

photo courtesy of
I stood alone in a dark hall.

Behind me the prison doors chinked locked. In front of me, a long, narrow hall with no windows. In the distance men ran past the arch to the prison court. Sounds enchoed in the hall like a powerful thunderstorm. I had not choice but to step toward the court. 

Several men lay dead throughout the patchy grass.  Prisoners fought off to the sides. One had an axe. He eyed the crowd of men then chose one to chase. He held up his axe and screamed like a mad man ready to kill. The runner steered himself toward the hall.  As he neared me, he quickly sidestepped.

The man with the axe saw me at the last second and stopped. Boy, was I thankful.  He breathed like a bull chasing a matador then lowered his axe. I closed my eyes and told my heart to slow down. 

The prisoner stood, staring at me. I had to say something before he decided to use the axe on me. "Put down the axe." He looked down as if he didn't realize he had anything in his hands then he handed me the axe.  "Good."

I called out to the other prisoners. "Come here at once. Make a line. All of you. Now." I'm sure I sounded like a mean mother. I didn't care. I needed to leave the prison court alive. 

The men showed signs of hunger, their cheeks sank into the bone, their arms and legs were like sticks making their bellies stand out. They looked at the ground and waited for me to speak. "This place is a mess. Go to the corner over there to appoint a spokesman then clean up this court."

A few moments later one prisoner walked toward me. "My name is Feng."

He smiled when I bowed politely. "What do the prisoners do all day?"

"We do nothing. We have no work or duties. Many prisoners are hungry. If family or friends don't bring food, we don't eat. It's difficult to watch when one eats while others starve. The warden gives the axe for one hour each day to chop food."

His eyes cried a deep sadness.  "Tell the men I will speak to the governor about finding work. If they stop rioting, the governor said he would not punish the men."

Feng eyes softened. He bowed. "Thank you, Ai-we-deh"

At that moment, I realized the governor and his soldiers stood behind me. He bowed. "You have done well."

"Governor, these men need work. They can't be expected to do nothing. Let them work. They could grow a garden, make clothing, or do other projects to earn money for food."

He looked at the prisoners. "The committee will discuss your suggestion."

I looked back at Feng. "I will come back to visit all of you and help in any way I can."

He bowed. "Thank you, Ai-we-deh."

I went home and asked the helper from the mission what "Ai-we-deh " meant. He said, "It mean virtuous one."

My heart laughed with happiness.

Come back next week to read about Ninepence.


The photo above is a Chinese tapestry. Since photo's of Glady's life are difficult to find, I thought you would like to see other images from China.  Mary Vee
Photo courtesy from Bible Visual Images

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Blessed Curse

By Mary Vee
Numbers 22:38-23:12

King Balak's Thoughts

Balaam's finally here.  He has no respect for a king's command. Any other person would have dropped everything and ran to my palace after high ranking officials visited his home.  

Could he feel honored like any other normal person? Noooo. If his reputation hadn't been so great I would have never wasted my time sending anyone else.  

Since he refused to come to palace, I thought he wanted more money.  Fine. I thought. I sent the highest princes from Moab to his home with a bag full of money.  This time Balaam agreed. Just as I'd thought. Everyone has their price.

He arrived last night looking ragged from the journey, so I gave him food and a place to rest. This morning I took him to one of the highest peaks overlooking the Israelite camp.  I knew he'd understand my concern when he saw their huge numbers camped in the valley.

Balaam looked far to the left then far to the right. "The Israelites are too great to number! I want you to build seven altars for me here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams."

I felt he made a reasonable request. "Captain, see to his request. Do so quickly."

"Yes, my Lord."

The altars, bulls, and rams didn't take long to prepare. Balaam and I stood by each other to offer one bull and one ram on each of the seven altars. I brushed my hands together. "Is that it? Will you curse the Israelites, now?"

Balaam stroke his beard then looked down at the Israelites. "Stay by the altars. I'll go to a place alone. Maybe the Lord will visit me with a message."

At last! Action would be taken against the Israelites. Balaam's God must be pleased with the sacrifices we made. He'll come back with the curse for sure. "I'll wait."  

I'm not sure how far he went, but he was gone for more than an hour. I didn't care. To have the Israelites cursed would be worth the wait. He finally returrned. "Did your God give you a message, perhaps a curse for the Israelites?"

"Yes, King Balak."  He turned toward the Israelites in the valley. "King Balak of Moab brought me from the mountains of the east to curse the Israelites. How can I curse what God hasn't cursed? How can I condemn whom the Lord hasn't condemn? I see the Israelites from the top of the rocks and from the hills. They live by themselves, not putting themselves with any other country.  Who can count all the Israelites or even number a part of them? Let my end be like the Israelites."

That was no curse.  I ran my hands through my hair. "That was no curse, Balaam. What do you mean by those words? You have blessed them completely!"

Balaam sighed. "I can only say what the Lord tells me to say."

Maybe he misunderstood. "Let's me take you to another place."

Balaam bowed. "As you wish, my Lord."

Come back next time to see what Balaam did next.

King Balak

1.  Who came to visit King Balak?
2.  What did King Balak want him to do?
3.  What did Balaam ask King Balak to get ready?
4.  What message did God give?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Balaam's Faithful Donkey

By Mary Vee

Numbers 22: 22-37

Balaam's  Thoughts

My servants had provisions packed for the trip to Moab shortly after I awoke. The princes seemed quite desperate for me to leave as soon as possible. 

While traveling, I thought about the money the princes paid when I agreed to go last night. They also promised treasures from King Balak after I completed the work. Finally, I’d have money to buy what I wanted. 

My stomach bothered me this morning.  Maybe the Lord was telling me to stay home.  Oh well, I'd accepted the money, which meant I had to go to Moab, sick stomach or not.

At noon, my donkey refused to stay on the road. I nudged her forward, but she wouldn't go. I kicked and jiggled the reigns. That bad donkey took off into the field on the side of the road! 

I don't know what got into her, but I needed to catch up to the princes before they left me behind. I beat my donkey. "Get back on the road. Now."  She obeyed me, at last.  

I nudged her to go faster. After a while, we neared the princes and I felt much better. 

The road narrowed ahead. Vineyards grew close to the road. The owner put up a wall to keep vines from spilling over. Once again, I pressed my donkey to move forward. She bobbled back and forth and shook her head. I couldn't believe she gave me more trouble. 

I kicked her sides and jiggled the reins again. Her hind legs danced to the left ahead of her front legs. She moved closer and closer to the wall until she smashed my foot between her body and the bricks. "Ow!"

I beat her with my stick again. This donkey needed to learn to obey. "Get back on the road. Now."

I hurried her to catch up to the princes.  Over the next hill the road narrowed tighter. We had to ride one behind the other in order to pass through.  My donkey slowed. The princes kept going as if they hadn't noticed we fell behind. No way would I let the donkey be naughty again. 

I nudged her to keep moving. She stopped then plopped down to the ground. There wasn't any room for me to get off! I beat her. "Get up. Get up. Now!"   

Then the most amazing thing happened. She turned her head toward me and said, "What have I done to you to make you hit me these three times?"
I couldn’t believe my ears! I looked around and realized my donkey talked. "Well, you've disobeyed me three times. I wish I had a sword to kill you."

She blinked and her ears drooped. "Haven't I been faithful? Have I disobeyed you before today? 

I shrugged. "Well, no." At that instant I saw a bright figure standing before me.  I rubbed my eyes and blinked twice. Before me stood an angel with a sword drawn, ready to attack me! I fell on my face.

The Angel of the Lord said, "Why did you hit your donkey three times? You chose to please King Balak and disobey Me. If your donkey had not turned to the side, I would have killed you by now and let her live."

My heart pounded and I could barely breath. "Oh Lord. I now see my sin. I’m sorry. I'll return home."

The Angel of the Lord shook his head. "Go with the men, but make sure you speak only the words I tell you." Then Angel of the Lord disappeared.

I took a deep breath then continued on the road.


1. What did the Moabite princes give Balaam?
2. Where was Balaam going? Why?
3. Who did Balaam think disobeyed him?
4. Why did Balaam’s donkey plop on the ground?
5. What did Balaam do wrong?
6. What did the Angel of the Lord tell him to do?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Prison Riot

by Mary Vee

Glady's Thoughts

photo courtesy of
One day as I went about my work, an unexpected servant of the governor came into the courtyard of the inn. He waved a red paper and screamed his message so fast I couldn't understand him.

"Lu-Yung, what is he saying?" Thanks to God, a mission two days journey away sent me Lu-Yung to help. 

"He say a riot has broken out in the men's prison. You are summoned by the governor to help."

"He can't mean me, Lu-Yung. You go. It's a men's prison, so they need a man." Lu-Yung didn't move. "Go on."

He walked with the messenger toward the gate to the inn then ran away. The fat little messenger stomped back inside the court. "You must come now. You summoned by the governor. If you don't you be punished."

How could I resist such a wonderful invitation?  

The messenger led me to the men's prison. Outside the prison gate the governor and several soldiers stood, most likely waiting for me.  

Inside, prisoners screamed at each other. I didn't want to think about what they did to cause the loud banging and clanging.   The governor stepped close to me. "You must go into the prison and make the prisoners stop rioting."

"Me? You want to send a woman into that prison to stop a riot? Send in your soldiers."

He shook his head. "I cannot. The soldiers are afraid. You go to our villages and tell people your God protects you. If your words are true, you will be protected."

If my words were true?  

If I didn't go into the prison, no one would ever listen to me tell Bible stories again.  If I went into the prison, the prisoners could kill me.  I didn't know what to do.  I thought of the night Daniel was thrown into the lion's den for choosing to pray and worship God instead of the king.

The governor pointed to a soldier. "Open the gate."

The soldier pushed the long key into the hole and turned. The door screeched as he opened it far enough for one person. The governor pointed to another soldier. "Show her the way."

I closed my eyes and held my breath. The soldier pushed me through the opening then they closed the door.  A dark hallway of about twenty feet led to the prison courtyard.  Men ran back and forth across the opening, one held an axe. 

The lock chinked behind me.  They actually locked me inside the prison!  Lord, protect me.

Come back next week to read what happened.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Balaam's Temptation

By Mary Vee
Numbers 22:14-21

Balaam's Thoughts

More than a week had passed since the officials from Moab came.  I sat down to eat my dinner in my favorite chair, put my feet up then heard a knock on the door. Why must visitors come at dinner time?

This time a larger group of men stood outside my door. They had clothes like important princes from some kingdom.  I opened the door further, "Yes? May I help you?"

One standing in front bowed. "You're Balaam the priest, correct?"

"Yes, I am."

He pointed to the other men. "We are princes from Moab. We've come to ask your help."

I was surprised. I didn't help the official who came the last time. Why would King Balak send more people to me? And why did he choose to send princes? He must be desperate.  I waved them inside. "How may I assist you?"

The men came in. "Our business is urgent. We don't wish to sit until you agree to help." 

"Very well. What do you need?"

The man pulled out a bag of money and held it close to me. "King Balak needs you to curse the people camped near our country. They have travelled from Egypt and are powerful. He doesn't want anything to keep you from coming back to Moab with us. He promises to honor you greatly, and will do whatever you say. He asks that you please come to curse the people who have settled in the land next to us."

Their eyes showed their fear.  I realized the people who came from Egypt must truly be great. 

I shook my head. "It doesn't matter how many times you ask. Even if Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold I simply couldn't do any more or less than the word given to me from the Lord my God."

They sighed and held the bag of money closer. "Please?"

It would have be rude of me to throw them out at such a late hour. "Here. Stay the night and rest. I'll ask the Lord again to see if he has anything else to say."

The princes bowed. "Thank you. Thank you."

I went to my usual meeting place with the Lord and asked if there was anything else He wanted to me to do for the men from Moab. 

The Lord said, "If the men come to call you, rise up and go with them, but only do what I tell you to do."

I knew God was angry by the way He spoke. He gave me clear instructions the first time. I shouldn't have asked him a second time, but I couldn't resist. The princes came all the way from Moab and they had money.

So I left with the princes the next morning.

1.  Why did King Balak send princes to Balaam's home?
2.  What did King Balak promise to give Balaam if he came?
3.  Why was God angry?
4.  What did Balaam decide to do?
5.  Did God want him to do that?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Balaam's Unusual Visitors

By Mary Vee
Numbers 22:5-13

Balaam's Thoughts

I'd had a long day and was looking forward to putting my feet up while eating my supper. Yes siree, a good day's work felt good. I cooked my food then enjoyed the meal in my favorite chair. 

It seemed like the perfect night to go to bed early, until a knock at the door changed my mind. 

A group of men, dressed like officials stood outside my home. I opened the door further. "Yes? May I help you?"

One of the officials stroke his beard. "You're Balaam the priest, right?"

"Yes. I am."

"We've traveled all the way from Moab with an important matter to discuss and are willing to pay for your help. May we come in?"

I waved them inside. "Yes, of course. You've journeyed hundreds of miles. Come in."

The officials found places to sit and looked at me. Their eyebrows showed their concern. "We need your help. Our king has heard those you bless are blessed, and those you curse are cursed."

"What are you asking me to do?"

"There's a people who've traveled from Egypt to our border. Our king looked from one of our mountain peaks and saw the people covered the land below like bees in a hive.  They've settled next to our land. King Balak asks you to come at once to curse these people."

He held his hands out and leaned forward. "Balaam, their army is too might for us.  They'll conquer us in a short time. but, with your curse, we might be able to defeat them and drive them away."

Well, I couldn't answer a question like that on my own. The giving of curses or blessings only came from the Lord. "You must be tired after the long journey. Stay here for the night and restore your energy.  I'll go before the Lord and ask Him what should be done."

They agreed. While they slept I meet with the Lord. He spoke first, "Who are these men with you?"

I had to admit I didn't know much about them. "Balak the king of Moab sent these men to me. They want me to go to Moab to curse a people camping on their border."

God said, "You will not go with them. You are not to curse the people because I have blessed them."

Well, that was simple. I got up early the next morning to give the men the Lord's answer. "God has not given me permission to go with you to Moab. He said I should not curse the people camping on your border. You'll have to return to King Balak without me."

The officials left right away, but they weren't happy.  Did they really expect me to disobey the Lord?

This is not the end of the story. King Balak won't give up.  
Come back next time to see what happens next.

1.  Who was the king of Moab?
2.  Why was the king upset?
3.  To solve the problem he sent officials to get _________________.  Why?
4.  What did God say?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Unbind Those Feet

By Mary Vee

Glady's Thoughts

photo courtesy of
I never would have guessed that my missionary work in China would involved becoming a foot-inspector for the Mandarin! Hah. God certainly has a great sense of humor.

Before the Mandarin visited me at the inn, people from Yangcheng and the villages nearby called me names and threw mud at me. 

Yang, the cook I hired to work at the inn, said I didn't have "importance" for Chinese people because I came from another country. Without importance, no one would truly listen to me tell Bible stories.

Now that the Mandarin requires me to serve as foot-inspector, I have importance as an official servant of the government. You can read more about how I became foot inspector here: The Powerful Mandarin

The Mandarin assigned me guards, food, and a donkey to carry out my duties. I didn't have to worry about anything.

The soldiers called for villagers to the meeting place and shouted: "The Mandarin has ordered that all female feet be unbound. Anyone refusing to obey will be put in prison. Any man preventing a female from having her feet unbound will be put in prison. You will obey his new foot inspector." 

That's when everyone looked at me.  I walked into the first home. The mother and father jumped to their feet then bowed. (I think this was because I had been given importance).  I saw a preciousl little girl holding on to the leg of her mother.  Her feet looked short and stubby. Layers of cloth had been wrapped to keep her feet from growing the way God planned.

I pointed to little one, "Unbind those feet!" The mother immediately sat her daughter on her lap and unwrapped the cloths.  Her little toes had curled so the toenails poked into the bottom of her foot.  I rubbed her tiny feet, pushing the toes to uncurl. Her mother and  father watched. 

I think they expected the little girl to scream or cry.  Her soft feet unfolded. She began to giggle when I ran my finger along the bottom of her foot.

The mother laughed. The father laughed. They ran to the other homes and showed the little girls feet. Soon all the little girls giggled with their unbound feet. 

The favorite part of my day with the villagers was telling them Bible stories. Once they realized I came to help, and that I had importance, they gathered to hear stories about Jesus.

There is so much more to tell! I will see you next week.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

King Balak Panics

By Mary Vee
Numbers 22: 1-4

King Balak's Thoughts

"My Lord--"

That's all I'd heard night and day, "My Lord, the Israelites have conquered Sihon, king of the Amorites. My Lord, the Israelites have conquered Jazer. My Lord, the Israelites have defeated Og, king of Bashan."  Would it never stop?  My messengers tormented me too much with news of Israelite victories.

I turned my head away. "What, messenger?  Don't tell me--the Israelites have conquered yet another country."

"No, My Lord. They--"

"Good. I couldn't tolerate another message like that." I sat back on my chair and propped my feet up, ready to hear news. Any news that didn't have to do with those Israelites would be good news no matter what it was.  "Tell me, messenger, what have you to report?"

"The Israelites have moved to our border. They're setting camp on the banks of the Jordan across from Jericho."

"They're what?!?" I jump then marched two inches from his face. "We'll just see about that."

"Your chariot is ready, Sire."

I rode out to a high point overlooking the Israelite camp with my general.  "It looks like a bee hive. Word is they've travelled from Egypt.  General, how did they get so powerful walking around the desert?"

"Some say their God destroyed most of Egypt's land and now fights their battles."

I didn't know what to do. We were doomed. "Call the Midianite leaders."

The next day I met with the Midianite and Moabite elders. "These Israelites will destroy both Midian and Moabl. Does any one have a plan?"

One of the elders stroke his beard. "We could call Balaam, the priest and pay him to curse the Israelites."

I had to admit it sounded like a good idea.  No army had won against them, perhaps a curse would solve the problem. "Very well. If there are no other suggestions, we'll send for Balaam. Once he curses the Israelites, we'll march out and defeat them in battle."

The next morning I sent the elders of Moab, from my country, together with the elders of Midian to bring Balaam, the priest.  I couldn't eat most of the time they were gone. Each night and day I feared the Israelites would attach before Balaam would arrive.  He lived 400 miles away. I hope he hurries.

King Balak didn't believe in the one true God. 

1.  Why was King Balak afraid?
2.  What other country did he team up with?
3.  Who did the elders decide could help?
4.  What did they want this person to do?
5.  Do you think their plan will work?

Here is a fun question to think about. I must admit, I don't have the answer at this time. Why did King Balak decide to ask a man who live 400 miles away to help?

This story will continue next time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Greedy King of Edom

By Mary Vee
Numbers 20: 14-

Please pray for our friends, families, and loved ones affected by this morning's earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the Pacific. 3/11/11

An Israelite Messenger's Thoughts

The time had finally come for us Israelites to move toward the Promised Land.  

I was only a kid when the ten spies talked my parents and all their friends into staying away from the land God promised.  Now that I'm older, and we're about to go into the land, I can't understand why my parents listened to them.

We'd camped in Kadesh, a city to the south of the Promised Land, to spend time learning the Lord's rules. Classes ended, next we needed to leave. The best way to get to the Promised Land would be to cross over the mountains into Edom then head north. 

Moses chose a few of us to take a message to the king of Edom, asking permission to enter the land. Before we left he said, "Tell the king this message: 

You know all the hardship we've been through, our slavery in Egypt and how they beat us. When we cried out to the Lord, He heard our voice, sent the Angel, and brought us up out of Egypt. 

We're camped in Kadesh, a city on the edge of your border. Please let us pass through your country. We won't go into your fields, vineyards, or drink from your wells. We'll stay on the King's Highway until we pass through your territory. 

Moses sent us off with a blessing. The two other messengers and I crossed over the mountains into Edom, found the king then asked for permission to speak with him.  He didn't serve us any drink or offer a meeting place. That was my first clue he didn't want us there. 

The king picked up his drink down then walked toward us. "You must be kidding me. Why would the my people, the children of Esau, let your people, the children of Jacob pass through our land?" He shook his head and gave a dastardly laugh. "After Jacob stole the family birthright, it'd dishonor our father, Esau, to deal with you kindly. No, go away and stay off our land."  

He sipped his drink then slammed the goblet down on a table. "If any of you dare set a foot on this land, I will come against you with the sword."

I bowed to the king. "If it pleases my Lord, I speak for our leader, Moses. He wishes you to know we would go only by the Highway, and if any of us or our livestock drink any of your water, we will gladly pay for it."

His face grew red. "It doesn't please me. You shall not pass through this great land of Edom, not you, or any member of Jacob's family."

Well, that didn't go well. His soldiers pushed us out of the chamber with the tips of their sword in our back. We ran like jackrabbits across the border back to Kadesh.

Moses came out to greet us. "What did the king say?" He only had to look at our faces to know the answer. 

"He said if we stepped on their land, he'd bring his army against us."

Moses looked to the north. "All right then, even though the road is rough, we'll have to travel on this side of the mountains.  The Lord will protest us."

He called the camp to the meeting place. "People of Israel, we'll move forward tomorrow. Our path will keep us on this side of the mountains since the king of Edom refuses to let us pass through his land. The journey won't be the best, but be sure in your heart the Lord will protect us."

We prepared to leave the next morning. As we set out, the great army from Edom appeared in mountain pass. They held out their swords, ready to attack. 

After seeing the Edomite army, the Israelites gladly stayed off their land.

1. What wouldn't the king of Edom share?
2. Why wouldn't he share?
3. The king talked about Jacob and Esau, who were they?
4. What did the Israelites decide to do?

The Bible tells us in a later book (Ezekiel 35) that the land of Edom was punished for not allowing the Israelites pass through their King's Highway.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Powerful Mandarin

By Mary Vee

Glady's Thoughts

photo courtesy of
The Mandarin of Yangcheng was a powerful man. Servants carried him in a liter whenever he travelled. It wasn't an easy job because the mountain roads were steep. Still, the servants considered the work a great honor.

Visitors needed special permission and had to follow rules in order to see the Mandarin. Government officials bowed this many times, business men bowed that many times, and so on. Everyone knew what to do. They also knew the Mandarin had the power to say who lived or died. I had never met him. I also didn't know Yang thought I should be afraid the Mandarin.

I was glad Yang decided to work at the Inn after Jeannie Lawson died. Each day he taught me new things about the Chinese people and their culture. One day he said, "Gladys, you must go before Mandarin."

I didn't want to. I had no idea what a foreign woman should do. "Why?"

"You must. Mrs. Lawson went before Mandarin. He gave permission for her to live here. Since she is dead you must get permission to stay."

I couldn't wear the clothes I had. I didn't know the rules for bowing before him.  Should I bow twice then wait, would he speak first, do I walk backwards when I leave? Yang didn't know what a foreign woman should do in the presence of the Mandarin. He hung his head. "Then you must wait for new law with rules for how foreign woman should go before Mandarin."

That was a relief. I had too much work to do, anyway. A few days later Yang ran into the court screaming, "Mandarin coming!" He slipped into the kitchen and refused to greet our important guest.

"He came here? But why? Yang, come out and help me. I have to meet him myself?" Yang shook his head and pushed himself further into the corner.

The Mandarin's long curved sword clanked against his liter as he stepped down. He stared at me, without a word.  I didn't know what to do! Would you? Did he come to kill me?  I bowed once. He still didn't speak. I bowed a second time. Then he spoke!

"Gladys, Central Government demands foot-inspector to go to every village. All female's feet must be checked. If feet are bound, they must have bindings removed.  Only female with big feet can do this job. Write your friends and find a woman to do this job." Then he left.

A smile leaped across Yang's face when he heard the news."You now important. Mardarin not speak to many people, especially foreign women. You his honored servant, now."

I may have been honored that day, but not for long. I wrote letters to all the missions in China. No one agreed to serve as foot-inspector. Two months later the Mandarin returned, with his sword. "Have you found a foot-inspector?"

"No. I wrote to all the missions I knew in China. No one would come."

His face turned red. "Central Government demands foot-inspector. You have big feet that are not bound, you will be the foot-inspector. Do you agree?"

Did I have a choice? I bowed. "I agree--if I have your permision to tell villagers about Jesus."

The servants eyes went wide as if saying, No one speaks that way. The Mandarin folded his arms and squinted.  "I don't care about you're religion. You will be foot-inspector."

I bowed. "I am happy to serve, Mandarin." How exciting! I ran back to my room, kneeled and thanked God for providing a job AND making a way for me to tell villagers about Jesus. 

I'll tell you about my travels to the villages next week.


If you missed any previous story, 
click on the Missionary tab at the top.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My Sin--Moses' Confession

By Mary Vee
Numbers 20

Moses Thoughts

So many days I'd heard the people's complaints. 

This is wrong. That is horrible. Why isn't there food like in Egypt? Why isn't there more water? He did this--she did that. They never stopped.

If it weren't for my daily talks with the Lord, I'd get sick. I wish they knew how much I cared about them and how I'd asked the Lord to give them mercy, forgiveness, and to provide their needs.

We'd camped in the Wilderness of Zin and ran out of stored water. This morning, before I had a chance to go to the Tabernacle, the whole camp came to my tent.  It didn't take a genius to know they were angry about something.

"Hey Moses. When will we get water?"  "Yeah! Did you bring us to the wilderness to die?" "There isn't any grain or figs or vines or pomegranates or water here." "Why didn't we just stay in Egypt?"

My heart ached. I felt like weeping, but didn't let myself. I'd heard enough and wanted to leave. Aaron walked with me to the Tabernacle. I needed God.  Aaron's sad face showed he needed God, too.

We stood at the door of the Tabernacle then fell on our faces. "God--please help us."

The glory of the Lord appeared, just as He had every other time we called for help. "Moses, take Aaron and your rod to the rock by the people. Speak to the rock so that  the people see you. When you do, water will flow for all My people and their animals."

Aaron and I called the children of Israel back to the rock. I didn't have a chance to say one word before they complained again. "Where's our water? Where's our water?"

I took a deep breath and waited for them to quiet. My heart pounded in my head and my hands grew sweaty.  I pounded my rod into the ground and screamed, "Quiet! Listen to me you rebels! Do Aaron and I have to bring water for you out of this rock?" I raised my hand and struck the rock twice as hard as I could with my rod. 

Water gushed out, spilling into a pool.  I stared at the people pushing and shoving each other to slop water into their mouths first. No one said thank you.

 Aaron laid his hand on my shoulder then hugged me. "Come, my brother, have a drink."

"No. Not now.  The Lord is calling us." We walked back to the Tabernacle. I knew--in every inch of my body I knew I had sinned.  I hit the rock instead of speaking to it as the Lord told me to.  But, worse than that--much worse than that, I told the people Aaron and I would make the water come from the rock.  

How could I have said those words?

We fell to the ground at the Tabernacle door and laid our faces in the dirt. The Lord said, "Moses and Aaron, because you did not believe Me, or honor Me in the eyes of the children of Israel as the water came from the rock you will not be allowed to take them into the Promised Land which I have given them."

I went back to my tent and wept.

1. What did the children of Israel do wrong?
2. What did they want?
3. What should they have done?
4. What did Moses do wrong?
5. What was his punishment?

Something to think about:  When the ten spies convinced the people not to go in to the Promised Land, God said Caleb and Joshua would be the only ones from the adults allowed to go into the land, since they obeyed.  Although Moses and Aaron obeyed God at that time, do you think God gave a clue that Moses and Aaron wouldn't be allowed to go either?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Aaron's Rod Bursts Into a Tree

By Mary Vee
Numbers 17

Eleazar's Thoughts

Uncle Moses came out of the Tabernacle this morning and spoke with my dad.  Since I'm a priest in training, Dad invited me to many of their talks. 

The wrinkles on Uncle Moses' forehead pushed down. I wondered what deep thoughts he had. The people had rebelled against God, Moses, and now several men wanted my dad's job. Uncle Moses sighed. "Aaron, God has decided to show the people who He chose as head priest. He's tired of their complaining."

Dad groaned. "Not anything bad, is it?"

Uncle Moses shook his head. "No. The Lord wants us to call the people--"  He stopped and turned to me. "Eleazar, gather the people in the meeting place while I tell Aaron the Lord's instructions."

I raced down the hill to each family leader. "Go to the meeting place. Uncle Moses has a message."  Surprisingly, the families hurried. Maybe they're finally willing to listen to him.

Uncle Moses's eyes drooped; he hadn't slept well. "The Lord asks each family to bring their rod."  The eleven leaders pushed through the crowd and held out their almond rods to him. 

"Now write your name on it." Each man wrote his name then set their rod on the ground. 

Uncle Moses turned to Aaron, "You need to write your name for the tribe of Levi on your rod and put it here, too." Dad did as Uncle Moses asked then stepped back.

"The rods will be taken into the inner part of the Tabernacle and laid in front of the Ark of the Covenant. Tomorrow morning they will be brought out to you. The rod with blossoms will belong to the man God has chosen as head of the priesthood."

We all watched Uncle Moses scoop up the twelve family rods, including Dad's, and carry them into the Tabernacle.  When he came out empty handed, everyone returned to their chores.

The next morning, the whole camp met Uncle Moses at the meeting place. We watched him get the rods from the Tabernacle.  It was easy to see one had blossoms, but no one knew who it belonged to. The family leaders whispered, "I think it's my rod." "No, that's my rod."

Uncle Moses set the rods on the ground.  He picked up the one that had blossomed, turned it sideways and read the name. "Aaron."

The family leaders must not have believed him. They rushed forward to see the rod. They turned the rod up and down and side to side then read the name "Aaron."

Each man shuffled through the pile of rods and found his own. They felt along the wood of their rod to confirm it was truly theirs.

One man shouted. "Moses sneaked into the Tabernacle to switched Aaron's rod for this one."

I knew it wasn't true. Uncle Moses rolled his eyes. "Look again. Tell me what you see."

The leaders looked closer. "Oh, there's blossoms here and fruit over here.  No branch has blossoms AND fruit at the same time. Moses couldn't have found a rod like this. Only the Lord could make a branch with both blossoms and fruit. God has chosen Aaron as priest."

Here is a freebie for you--do you want to know more about the rods in this story?

R. K. Harrison wrote, "Why the Levites chose an almond branch is uncertain; it may have constituted an unofficial tribal emblem. The almond is one of the earliest trees to blossom after winter, and its beautiful clusters of white flowers, which precede the growth of the leaves, is a welcome harbinger of spring. It blooms in Palestine about the beginning of February, and there as elsewhere it brings joy in the promise of new life," p. 244   Exegetical Commentary on Numbers, Copywrite 1992, Baker Book House Company, P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287

1. What did God want the leaders to do?
2. Why did He ask the leaders to do that?
3. Whose job did the leaders want?
4. What happened to Aaron's rod?
5. How did the leaders know for sure that God changed Aaron's rod?
6. What did you learn from this story?

Thank you Pastor Kaufman for helping me with today's research. :)