Coping with Unfair

BFB220611 Sad Child
Sad little boy. Photo: David Shankbone, May 2009, via Flickr.

It is inevitable that we encounter undeserved adversity. That’s been part of human existence for as long as anyone can remember. We can’t eradicate unfairness, which means we have a choice: we can complain and make ourselves more miserable, or we can bear it as best we can while finding a way to grow through it.

Numbers 4:21-7:89; Judges 13:2-25; Genesis 6:5, 9:8-16; Matthew 1:18-25; 26:36-39; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16; Ephesians 5:21-33

Click here to listen to the podcast: Coping with Unfair

Click here to download the transcript: Coping with Unfair.pdf

Music: “Crisis of Belief,” Mason Clover, An Intimate Look, Abiron 2008. Visit to hear more by Mason Clover.

Weekly Bible Reading for June 5-11: Shavuot (Pentecost) & Nasso (Elevate)

This coming week, June 5-11 (6-12 Sivan 5782), the Bible reading plan covers the portions Shavuot (Pentecost) and Nasso (Elevate).

05 Jun Exodus 19:1-20:23 Ezekiel 1:1-28; 3:12; Romans 1:17-32 Proverbs 26:18-23
     Deuteronomy 15:19-16:17 Habakkuk 2:20-3:19
     Numbers 28:26-31 Ruth 1:1-4:22
06 Jun Numbers 4:21-49 Isaiah 45:1-47:15 Romans 2:1-29 Proverbs 26:24-28
07 Jun Numbers 5:1-10 Isaiah 48:1-49:26 Romans 3:1-20 Psalm 94:1-11
08 Jun Numbers 5:11-6:27 Isaiah 50:1-52:15 Romans 3:21-4:12 Psalm 94:12-23
09 Jun Numbers 7:1-41 Isaiah 53:1-55:13 Romans 4:13-5:11 Proverbs 27:1-7
10 Jun Numbers 7:42-71 Isaiah 56:1-57:21 Romans 5:12-6:14 Proverbs 27:8-14
11 Jun Numbers 7:72-89 Judges 13:2-25 Romans 6:15-7:13 Proverbs 27:15-21

The complete annual Bible reading plan for 2021-22 (Hebrew year 5782) is available at this link:

Weekly Bible Reading for May 16-22: Shavuot (Pentecost) & Nasso (Elevate)

This coming week, May 16-22 2021 (5-11 Sivan), the Bible reading plan covers the following portions.

Shavuot (Pentecost) & Nasso (Elevate)[1]

16 May Exodus 19:1-20:23 Ezekiel 1:1-28; 3:12; Acts 21:20-40 Psalm 92:1-15
  Deuteronomy 15:19-16:17 Habakkuk 2:20-3:19;    
  Numbers 28:26-31 Ruth 1:1-4:22    
17 May Numbers 4:21-49 Isaiah 27:1-28:29 Acts 22:1-30 Psalm 93:1-5
18 May Numbers 5:1-10 Isaiah 29:1-30:33 Acts 23:1-35 Proverbs 26:1-6
19 May Numbers 5:11-6:27 Isaiah 31:1-33:24 Acts 24:1-27 Proverbs 26:7-12
20 May Numbers 7:1-41 Isaiah 34:1-36:22 Acts 25:1-27 Proverbs 26:13-17
21 May Numbers 7:42-71 Isaiah 37:1-38:22 Acts 26:1-23 Proverbs 26:18-23
22 May Numbers 7:72-89 Judges 13:2-25 Acts 26:24-27:8 Proverbs 26:24-28

[1] Shavuot (Pentecost) begins at sundown May 16, continuing through sundown May 17. It is traditional to study the book of Ruth on Shavuot.

The complete annual Bible reading plan for 2020-21 (Hebrew year 5781) is available at this link:

Fox Byte 5775 #35: Nasso (Elevate)


Although visually stunning, Peter Jackson's depiction of the army of the dead oathbreakers in his film version of The Return of the King did not reach the depth of Tolkien's account regarding the sacredness of oaths or vows and the dire consequences of breaking them.  (Photo:  "Army of the dead", via Wikipedia)
Although visually stunning, Peter Jackson’s depiction of the army of the dead oathbreakers in his film version of The Return of the King did not reach the depth of Tolkien’s account regarding the sacredness of oaths or vows and the dire consequences of breaking them. (Photo: “Army of the dead”, via Wikipedia)

This post-modern generation of the industrialized West has lost sight of the power of the Oath.  That is why there is so little understanding of the covenant terminology which establishes the context of humanity’s relationship with our Creator.  An oath sworn in good faith is something far more powerful than a legal procedure.  It is a spiritual transaction which makes an indelible mark on the parties who take part in it.  That is why one’s conscience is troubled when even the least significant promises are broken.  Something as simple as committing to be at a certain place at a specified time is a type of oath or covenant.  Failing to keep that promise fosters disappointment, anger, and bitterness in the heart of the one who is expecting the appointment to be kept.  Hopefully the one who broke the promise will make amends and resolve to keep such commitments in the future.  However, if the promise-breaker develops a habit of showing up late, or not showing up at all, then eventually his or her conscience will no longer serve as a reminder about the transgression.  And then the promise-breaker becomes something worse:  an untrustworthy person.

If this is the case with something as simple as a promise to be on time, what can we say about more serious promises?  There is an illustration which may help.  J.R.R. Tolkien delved deeply into the subject of oaths and covenants in his epic works about Middle Earth.  Perhaps his most memorable account is the oath made by the Men of the Mountains to fight against Sauron, an oath they did not keep.  In The Return of the King, Aragorn explains the circumstances of this broken oath:

But the oath that they broke was to fight against Sauron, and they must fight therefore, if they are to fulfill it.  For at Erech there stands yet a black stone that was brought, it was said, from Nümenor by Isildur; and it was set upon a hill, and upon it the King of the Mountains swore allegiance to him in the beginning of the realm of Gondor.  But when Sauron returned and grew in might again, Isildur summoned the Men of the Mountains to fulfil their oath, and they would not:  for they had worshipped Sauron in the Dark Years.

Then Isildur said to their king, “Thou shalt be the last king.  And if the West prove mightier than thy Black Master, this curse I lay upon thee and thy folk:  to rest never until your oath is fulfilled.  For this war will last through years uncounted, and you shall be summoned once again ere the end.”

In Tolkien’s novel, Aragorn leads his companions to the realm of these dead oathbreakers, and as Isildur’s heir calls them to fulfil their oath by following him into battle against Sauron’s armies.  They answer the call, and upon winning the victory are released at last to depart in the peaceful sleep of death.

In Tolkien’s story the oathbreakers are redeemed by the descendant of the king whom they had betrayed.  Their answer to his call brings an end to the curse and the blessed peace they have sought through the ages.  As is so often the case with Tolkien, he illustrates a profound principle first explained in the Scripture.  Yet what we learn from Moses differs from Tolkien in one critical point:  redemption from the curse of broken oaths, or vows, results not the peace of death, but in the promise of life.

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