Friday, March 8, 2019 -
I have been reading through the first part of the Bible, having started over again once completing Revelation. Now in Numbers, I think to myself, after reading all the instructions pertaining to the building of the tabernacle, the laws governing everyday life and order, morality, worship, rituals, and feasts, and now the taking of the census in which Moses records the names of every male over 20 years of age – more than 600,000 – why is all of this recorded for us? What are the lessons for me?
You know the passages I’m referring to, the ones that seem to go on and on, repeating over and over again what was just said.
Well, for one thing, this was the book of the law for God’s chosen people, the Jews. At the time, and till the coming of the Messiah, these details were essential. Just as without laws in modern society you have chaos, there would be chaos in Moses’ time among the chosen people without these laws, including the rituals of cleansing and the forgiveness of sin. The latter fact is essential for a good and just society – the mercy of God, for without it none of us could be called good. And as C.S. Lewis says, “You cannot make men good by law; and without good men, you cannot have a good society.”
Secondly, every iota of these Scriptures identifies the character of the God we worship and serve. He is the God of order – not chaos. And He loves details – look at His creation! That’s why He instructed Moses and the Israelites to pay such attention to so many minute details. Furthermore, we realize today, that many of the requirements, say with clean and unclean food, was for the health benefits of the people – not just a bunch of rules for the sake of having them!
Yahweh is also a God who listens to His people – albeit He doesn’t like our complaining to the point that sometimes it makes Him downright angry! He also doesn’t like our unbelief, or lack of faith in God’s power and His ability and willingness to deliver, or provide for His people at just the right time. Not before, but in His timing! That’s why God reminds me constantly to be patient and wait on His timing for my own deliverance! All of these evidences of God’s character are provided for us in Numbers 11. But there is still another that pops its head up in this chapter and throughout the books of Moses and that is, God hates greed. He sees this as a rejection of His blessings in pursuit of something more (Numbers 11:19-20). God tells Moses in answer to their complaining, “Is the Lord’s power limited? Now you will see whether My word will come true for you or not” (Numbers 11:29).
Yet constantly, God gave the people what they ask for. He still hears their complaining, because He is a merciful God, gracious and abounding in mercy.
And so, I have had to do some introspective thinking, asking God to search my own heart. Am I being selfish and greedy for pleading for and with God to return me to the wife of my youth, and desiring to leave where I am to return home, while in fact, God may have me here for a specific purpose – one He and some of the men here quickly and often remind me of? For that, I must repent. If it is God’s will that I remain here for three years, then I must hence be content. And I must examine my own heart anytime I catch myself pleading with the Lord to allow me to return home. Indeed, I must be willing to give up everything for Christ’s purposes, even when it seems as though a great injustice is being done to me. God has His reason and purposes.
Evidence of this was clear to me last night when two more men followed us in the room to join our prayer circle, making it eight men, with one of the usuals being absent. Soon, we may outgrow the little room in which we meet, and then I don’t know what we will do.
And so, I feel today like a reluctant Israelite saying, “God, I’d rather be somewhere else, but if this is your perfect will for my life right now, I’m okay with it. Just give me the grace to endure.”