March 17, 2015

Blind to the wonder of God?

Numbers 19:1–20:13, 1 Corinthians 2:1–16, Psalm 18:13–30

The work my husband does brings us into contact with people who have lived in many places. Some of them do well, mostly because they adapt quickly to a new location and culture. Others struggle, maybe less able to adapt to change, often have expectations that work against them, and their memories are short.

The OT Israel seem more like the second group. They forgot what their bondage in Egypt had been like. The nomad lifestyle wasn’t what they were expecting, and they didn’t like their change in diet. Would I have reacted the same way to those challenges? After many severe rebukes from God, would I still moan and groan and not get it?

The reading today describes their next incident, this time involving water; they didn’t have any. In a desert, this is a serious matter . . . “And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.’”

Moses and Aaron went from them to their place of worship and fell on their faces. The glory of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord spoke to Moses . . .  

“Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.”

Moses did as God commanded. He and Aaron gathered the people together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” (Numbers 20:2–13)

Moses was told to speak to the rock, and he struck it twice. This might seem like a small thing, but the OT speaks of Christ (see Luke 24:27). Moses’ action was supposed to illustrate a spiritual reality about the Rock of Ages, but hitting the rock did not fit the plan. Because of it, this man was not able to enter the Promised Land. One disobedience changed the course of his life.

And yes, the people were short-sighted and dissatisfied. He probably felt like hitting them, not the rock. They were worse than children whining, “Are we there yet?” and dug in their heels, not quick to trust God about anything, even though He had done many miracles on their behalf. It seemed they were blind to His goodness and only able to think about their “I wants.”

When reading the next passage, God impresses me that the key to seeing farther than today’s thirst is being able to think His thoughts for my tomorrows, but the only way to get inside the head of God and think His thoughts is to let Him live inside my head. . .

“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:14–16)

The Israelites did not have the mind of Christ, nor did they have much faith. Yet I cannot boast. Any faith I have for obedience, or for waiting on Him is not in me either — it comes from Him. If I want to know His will for my future, I need to be in line with what He has shown me today. Continual obedience means continual instruction and guidance from Him. How I think and act, my receptivity and attitude always have a bearing on how He reveals Himself to me . . .

“With the merciful you show yourself merciful; with the blameless man you show yourself blameless; with the purified you show yourself pure; and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous. For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.” (Psalm 18:25–27)

At first, I wondered if this verse also suggests: If I am silent, He will not speak. If I am slow to obey His commands, He is slow to answer my requests . . . ? Thankfully, not.  

I cannot earn the favor of God. If I act like a jerk, it should be no surprise if He rebukes me for it and if I want Him to lead me, I must follow, not tell Him where I want to go. Yet because of Christ, He keeps blessing me with mercy and great patience. 

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