/ Nathan Eshelman

N30: For the Men Only

Have you noticed a problem with some Christian men?

Do you think that the problem with some men today is that they are really boys in men’s bodies? Do you think that there is a reason why statistically there are more women in the church than men? Do you think that female pastors and elders may be partially the male gender’s fault? Do you know a number of young women that you would recommend to marry, but really can’t think of too many young men that you would recommend? Do you know Christian men that seem to sit back while their wives lead the family? Do you know a Christian man-child?

The state of Christian manhood does not look good.

Right between a bloody chapter on religious duties and a bloody chapter about a battle that resulted in the death of much of Midian’s population rests Numbers thirty (N30). N30 is about men and vow keeping. N30 seems to be a bit out place: We have religious duties that result in the slaughter of many lambs, bulls, and goats in twenty-nine. In thirty-one we have a chapter about the destruction of a people- including the smallest sons and non-virgin daughters. All of this is very “manly.” And then there’s N30.

Here’s the Eshelman 21st Century Paraphrase:

_Men, if you make a vow, you cannot break your word. _
_If your daughter vows a vow and you hear it and say nothing- the vow stands. _
_If you oppose her vow, the vow is null and void. _
_If your wife vows a vow and you hear it and say nothing- the vow stands. _
If you oppose her vow, the vow is null and void.

Do you think that in Moses’ day there were as many man-childs as there appears to be today? In the text there is a tension between vow keeping and keeping silent. Moses encourages the men to open their mouths and lead their families and keep their vows. Then, as now, there were men who were timid and scared of biblical headship. Let's call them N30 men.

What would that look like in today's context? Many men are happy to be Numbers 29 men who are well versed in the nuances of Reformed Theology. There are Numbers 31 men who are happy to talk about war and victory, even though it is mainly  via their Wii or PS3 (Play Station 4 is due out at the end of 2012). Yet, when it comes to practical godly leadership they are not walking in their responsibilities. Many men are not keeping their vows- ecclesiastical or familial. Some would rather quietly give up their biblical duty to lead than have to speak up (and maybe even speak out or speak against).

What do we call that?
Leadership by fear?
Passive “I don’t want to say no” leadership?
It's N30 leadership.

Men, arise!

We have a church which needs men to be men. We have a culture that is dying because of N30 type men. We have daughters that don’t have fathers to look up to, and wives that have sitcom dads for husbands. Men, it’s time to realize that passive fearful headship is still headship... it’s just not biblical headship. It’s not headship that reflects how Jesus takes care of His church.

It’s not loving.
It’s not healthy.
It’s not wanted.
It’s N30.

Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church. Love your daughters and sons too. Love your church like Christ loves the Church. That’s going to require you to use some words and man up. So arise, man. Put down the game controller or tv remote and pick up your Bible. It’s time that we fight a real battle for a real King in a real Kingdom. Keep your vows... and as my wife and I tell our two-year old, “Use your big boy voice.”

Nathan Eshelman

Nathan Eshelman

Pastor in Orlando, studied at Puritan Reformed Theological & Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminaries. One of the chambermen on the podcast The Jerusalem Chamber. Married to Lydia with 5 children.

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