Bible Order: Deuteronomy 23–26
Chronological Order: Numbers 18–20
New Testament Only: Mark 8:31–9:13
Get Out Of The Spiritual Desert
Wow! Numbers 14 has always fascinated me. God brought His Chosen People to the Promised Land and because they lacked faith in His ability to fulfill His promise they were ready to stone Moses, Aaron, Caleb, and Joshua and return to slavery in Egypt. Listen to what Moses and company said to the congregation:
“…’The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.’”
It is actually after they say this that the congregation is ready to stone them, but Moses and Aaron actually fall on their knees to beg God NOT to wipe these ingrates off the face of the Earth. Talk about a Christ-like attitude! Somebody tried to stone me I’m afraid I would be saying “Yep! That’s right! Zap’em Lord! Fry’em up real good!” I’m trying to be more like Christ, but Moses and Aaron are clearly ahead of me in their spiritual growth at this point.
God asks a rhetorical question here:
“How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?”
Years ago the Lord was clearly leading me to take a particular action. Doing so would have required leaving many people I cared about behind and striking off in a new direction. I didn’t go. What followed was many years of spiritual drought; a dry, withered sojourning, distant from God and in the opposite direction of where He intended me to be. There are consequences for “despising God”; for not believing in Him; for not going where He sends you.
Here the Israelites who were counted in the census of age 20 and up were condemned to live and die in the wilderness, distant from where God intended them to be. For 40 years they would wander, only Caleb and Joshua of the current generation would see the Promised Land. But what of their children? They will suffer for their father’s rebellion.
“But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness.”
I think we often read of the Israelites grumbling and disobedience and think of them as an example to the lost when really they are an example to the saved; to God’s Chosen People. I don’t know about you but I don’t discipline other people’s children. I may disapprove of their behavior but they are not my children. My child I discipline because I love her and I want the best for her. I have told her more than once that if I didn’t love her, as she occasionally accuses me, I wouldn’t care what she did. It is only because I love her that I care and discipline.
So what is God telling us here? He is telling us that to ignore His commandments and directions is to choose a spiritual desert and to condemn your children to wander it with you. Ouch! I don’t know about you but one of the ways I disobey God is to allow myself to get too busy to “hear” Him. If I get busy I find I don’t have time to be in His word and in prayer. If I don’t listen I can’t hear; if I can’t hear I can’t be held responsible for not obeying right? My daughter pulls that one on me all the time. It doesn’t work. I keep escalating until I get her attention. God does the same.
I remember watching Ronald Reagan back in the day when he would go to the helicopter on the White House lawn and reporters would be shouting questions to him. He would put his hand to his ear and mouth “I can’t hear you” with a “I’m really sorry” look on his face and a shrug of his shoulders. Many thought he would do this when he didn’t want to answer a question. I don’t know if that is true or not but I’ve tried that one too when I thought the Lord was leading me to do something I didn’t want to do.
Sometimes, if I did hear Him, I would think to myself, “Well this is serious, I’d better pray about this and seek the council of others.” That’s pretty funny isn’t it? I’m going to pray about what God is asking me to do and seek the council of others. Who answers prayer? God! Is the council of others about what God wants me to do more accurate than what God tells me directly? Yep, I’m a child!
When I tell my daughter to do something I expect her to stop what she is doing and do it. It doesn’t work out that way. Often I will find that she has delayed in doing what I’ve told her to do; which means it wasn’t done. “But Dad, I was doing something else at the time. I was going to get to it; you just didn’t give me enough time!”
God is not fooled. As I’ve heard a number of pastors say “Delayed obedience is disobedience!” Fellas, let’s stop fooling ourselves. Let’s start listening to what God has to say to us by reading our Bibles and praying every day. Don’t put off what He tells you to do. Do it right away. Your children are depending on you! Get out of the spiritual desert and in to the spiritual Promised Land!
Have a blessed day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
(This post was part of another post originally posted 2/20/10)