Monday, July 22, 2013

God Builds His People...

When Israel, under the leadership of Moses, comes to the edge of the promised land, they begin to waver, quiver and eventually turn their back on God's promise. They are afraid to claim the land. They have seen the giants and decided that it would have been better for them to have stayed in bondage in Egypt. This sets off a series of what seems to be unfortunate events but in reality is God's perfect plan for them as a people.

* Ten of the 12 men who spied out the land and brought back a report were struck down by the Lord. It was the 10 who brought back the negative report.

* God deems to send a plague among Israel to destroy them but Moses stands in the gap, repeats God's Name back to Him (as He had revealed to Moses on the mountain) and God pardons the people.

* A cousin-priest of Moses and Aaron (Korah) incites a rebellion and as a result, almost 15,000 people die.

But the greatest consequence of Israel's refusal to follow God into His promised land is that the children of Israel are sent back out into the wilderness for 40 more years.

A lot of things happen in the 40 year wilderness wanderings. The rebellious generation dies off. The people are given another chance to learn total dependence on God for their food, water, clothing, safety, etc. They also learn how to wage war battling the Midianites and Moabites. But most important, they are transformed from the "children" of Israel to the "nation" of Israel.

The timespan between the exodus from Egypt (under Moses) to the entering of the promised land (under Joshua) is a relatively short 40 years. However, the stark contrast between those who came out of Egypt and those who entered Canaan is remarkable. In Exodus to Deuteronomy, we see a grumbling, rebellious and even whining people. "We should have stayed in Egypt", "the real promised land is what we left", "we looked like grasshoppers in our own eyes", etc. By the time Joshua leads the people to combat the impenetrable city of Jericho, we find a finely tuned, single-eyed, warrior nation. What a transformation! It took a few years to build this people into a nation under God but they emerge as a people of God who puts fear into the hearts of all who hear about them!

I often wonder if I am living life in the promises of God or in the fear of the giants? I wonder if I am battling in the promised land and claiming God's abundant life in Christ for me or being sent back into the wilderness because God has more training for me? I rest assured knowing that both places can be good if I am keeping my eyes on the One who has called me and set me apart for His task. I just pray that I am up to the calling and task that He has set before me today.

Lord, build you people today...and begin with me.

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