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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 69: Boundaries

Today's Reading: Numbers 35-36

"The LORD said to Moses, 'Command the Israelites and say to them: When you enter Canaan, the land that will be allotted to you as an inheritance will have these boundaries.'"
Numbers 34: 1-2

A group of child psychologists, in order to determine whether or not children thrive in a more open community or one with structure, experimented with elementary children. First, the children were let out to play in an open field. The children huddled together in the center of the field and played very closely to one another. Then, they were let out to play in a field with a fence and the children ran to play throughout the fenced area, all the way to the far corners of the designated area. After testing this with many groups of children, the results were surprisingly consistent. The conclusion? Children love structure. Children are more "free" with boundaries.

Though in previous chapters, we have seen Israel breaking boundaries set up by others (the inhabitants of the land,) upon entering the land, God establishes clear boundaries; a whole chapter is dedicated to drawing the property lines.

Other boundaries have been evident throughout our journey with the Israelites: camp boundaries, vocational boundaries, moral boundaries.

Boundaries are very important. Part of the growth development of a child is to understand where hebegins and where he ends, what is hers and what belongs to another. As we develop, we begin to intuit personal space. People who do not understand this struggle in society.

There are visible and invisible fences all around us. One of the first fences we recognize is the fence which keeps us from verbalizing every thought that comes into our mind. Morality is based upon social boundaries, and socialization is based on learning one's cultural norms or boundaries.

Interestingly, in chapter 35, God provides a safe boundary even for those who have killed someone. Six (always remember numbers!) towns are set aside as "sanctuary towns." These cities of refuge are made available and are governed by the priests. Remember, "six" is the number which represents "incomplete creation." These cities of refuge provide safety for an offender who is willing to stay within the bounds of the city, and provides safety from the offender for the rest of the community.

Boundaries remain important as Jesus teaches us to pray "forgive us our trespassing as we forgive the trespassing of others against us." In this paradigm, all sin is stepping outside the boundary set up by God.

We all trespass at one time or another. The better comprehension we have regarding boundaries, the better discerning we will be. When boundaries are kept, peace and freedom develop in a community.

"This will be your land, with its boundaries on every side."
Numbers 34:14

1 comment:

  1. I have never found the book of Numbers as interesting I as I have found it to be in these past weeks. Thank you for your fresh perspective.