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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

By The Numbers

Recently I began a study in the Old Testament Book of Numbers. I can almost hearing some of you rolling your eyes at the thought. I can even imagine hearing some of you say the only thing worse would be a study of the book of Leviticus. Well, I just finished that one.

One of the first things I learned from the book of Numbers was the question, or the idea of perception.  For instance, the title, Numbers. We western minded students have taken the meaning of the book, its primary expression, to be concerned with the numbering of the nation of Israel; thus its name. While in reality, the true name of the book, as it is known in the Hebrew, is Bemidhbar and means literally, in the wilderness.  (Hint-hint, it’s about our life on earth as we seek to learn about who God is and what His purpose for our lives is.)

Now, you may be wondering what all this has to do with anything. I'm glad you asked. I have found that when it comes to writing it is chiefly about perception. As a writer, I am actively trying to get you—my reader—to perceive a world or a character in a certain light. Is Aragorn merely an untrustworthy Ranger of the North; or is he the long awaited heir of the throne of Arnor, the 35th king of Gondor? Perception, it’s all about perception.

Take this current election cycle. Regardless to which party you are favored, both are trying to impact your perception of what they are about and who they really are. Too often in this pursuit the question of truth is left unanswered in favor of the more comfortable...or shall we say less challenging idea of style or presentation.

Let's look back at the study of the Book of Numbers. Is it a book about the census of nation and how fast each of its twelve tribes reproduced? Or is it the study of a people who wandered in the wilderness trying to learn and apply the lessons given by an Almighty, All knowing God who loved them and wanted to teach them to live by a superior standard in the chaotic world that was their norm?  You see, your perception of the book will determine how you approach it; and how you approach it will determine what you find in it.

The same is true in life, whether writing a new manuscript or trying to decide which way to vote; it’s all about perception. Think about it.

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