Thursday, March 8, 2012

How Yesterday's Story Ends (Part Two of One Sweaty Mile at a Time)

These are the unedited notes from my quiet time yesterday.  Sorry for the rough writing, but I wanted to get it out...

Today I read the follow up to yesterday's story in Numbers.  Chapter fourteen goes on to give more details about how the Israelites reacted, Caleb's plea to get them to view the situation through God's eyes instead of their own, and the devastating consequences that came as a result of their decision.  The word choices in the writing were so interesting that I found myself making lists.

The Israelites viewed the hurdle of taking over the Promised Land through their own eyes, choosing only to see the giants waiting to attack them and not the God who had disarmed them.  Because of this, they...

1.  Threw a fit.  (vs. 1 says, "Raised their voices.")
2.  Wept aloud. (vs. 1)
3.  Blamed everyone except themselves.  (vs. 2 - "All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron..")
4.  Over-exaggerated their situation.  (vs. 2 - "If only we had died in Egypt!  Or in this desert!  Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?")
5.  Wished they were dead. (vs. 2)
6.  Wanted to CHOOSE to return to a life of slavery and bondage.  (vs. 4 - "We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.)

Basically the entire nation self-destructed and fell into a woe-is-me depression in less than 24 hours.  Caleb (our hero from yesterday) and his friend Joshua stood up in front of the emotionally unstable people and tried to rally them with a pep talk, listing out several reasons why there is no need for their dire mood.  They encouraged the Israelites to...

1.  Look forward, not back.  (vs. 7-8 - "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.  If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.")  The implied message here is to stop fantasizing about the life they left behind in Egypt.  (It wasn't great anyway.)  Instead look forward to the life that lies ahead, living in a land that is "exceedingly good" and promised to them.
2.  Don't sabotage the promise.  Did you catch the "if" in verse eight?  Caleb and Joshua remind their countrymen that the promise comes with a caveat of obedience to God.  They beg the Israelites to hold up their end of the covenant and remain faithful to God.
3.  Don't rebel.  (vs. 9 - "Only do not rebel against the Lord.")
4.  Don't be afraid.  (vs. 9 - "Do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up.")
5.  Remember the LORD is with us.  (vs. 9 - "The enemy's protection is gone, but the LORD is with us.  Do not be afraid of them.")

You'd think the Israelites would snap out of it and turn their eyes to the LORD.  But instead, "the whole assembly talked about stoning Caleb and Joshua."  (vs. 10)  At this point God gets mad.  He threatens to annihilate them all, but Moses intercedes for the people and God relents.  God forgives the Israelites, but doles out some stiff consequence.  God says, "As surly as I live I will do to you the very things I heard you say:  in this desert your bodies will fall.  As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected, but your children will suffer for your unfaithfulness."  The consequence for disbelief and rebellion was death.  In the end God gave the Israelites exactly what they said the wished for - we need to be careful what we wish for!

The converse was true.  Caleb and Joshua didn't suffer the same fate.  The reward for belief and obedience was life.  Instead God said, "But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it."

Definitely something to ponder...

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