The heart soon follows what the eye sees. The children of Israel learn that it takes very little to stimulate the sin that resides in their hearts.
The LORD commands Israel to incorporate a visible reminder of HIs commands and the dangers lurking in their hearts into their clothing,
“Throughout your generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes.” (Numbers 15:38-39)
Blue tassels sewn on their garments benefit people prone to forgetfulness―much like tying a string around your finger to remind you of something you must not forget.
The wilderness offers nothing in the way of seducing temptations. No shopping malls. Movie Theaters. All-You-Can-Eat Buffets. Topless bars. Casinos. Sport complexes. Etc. Yet Israel struggles with the disposition of the heart toward sin. Envy. Anger. Coveting. Pride. Lust. Rebellion. Lying. Idolatry. Latent propensities of the heart waiting for an outlet.
The LORD is very deliberate in His wording as He chooses the word “prostitution” to describe the person who pursues what the heart longs for and the eyes see. Prostitution is the corruption of true self--who we truly are. It is the perversion of the good that God intended between a man and a women who are covenanted together in marriage. Therefore, it is it using for evil what God had intended for good.
God created man to know Him, to fellowship with Him. Sadly, when Adam and Eve sinned every person received from them a DNA download of lust and alienation from the Creator. Man enters this world ruined for God.
The tassels remind Israel constantly of a number of truths:
They are God’s redeemed people with whom He is in a covenant relationship.
Although sin has ruined them for God, He has provided a way to have a relationship with them through the sacrificial system.
Those who prostitute themselves by going after the lusts of their hearts and eyes ruin themselves for God.
God’s people must never forget to whom they belong; what is the tassel you have placed in your life to remind you today to walk in His ways and not in your desires?
"If you put these people to death all at one time, the nations who have heard that report about you will say, ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath; so he slaughtered them in the desert.’" (Numbers 14:15-16)
Visual theology. "What would Israel's enemies say about God?" Would they say that the Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion? No! They would say just the opposite. Everyone has a theology, a belief about God. And everyone communicates their beliefs about God by word and by action. Some beliefs about God are weird and warped while others more closely resemble the teachings of the Bible.
Moses based his appeal to spare the people on what the Egyptians and the Canaanites would think about God if God destroyed His rebellious people. This is the only time we should care about what others think—what they think about God as they observe our lives. Every life teaches something. You may not want your life to teach, but you can't stop it from teaching. It is not the question of whether your life will teach but the content of what your life teaches.
Observers of your life form an opinion about your God. So what are you communicating about God by what you say and by how you live? After living next to you for years would your neighbors know by watching your life that God is caring, compassionate, giving, and forgiving or aloof, angry, etc.? It is said that every life tells a story. While that may be true, every life certainly teaches a theology. Examine your life and see what you are communicating about God to others.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
What do the children of Israel believe about God? About their circumstances?
How did the spies’ report affect those in the camp?
What was Joshua's view of the situation?
How does God view the children of Israel's reaction to the report?
Upon what does Moses base his appeal to God?
What does their refusal to enter Canaan cost them and their children?
What does this tell you about sin?
What happens to those who spread the bad report?
What does this tell you about God?
What does their defeat teach them?
Why must the entire community follow the same rules?
What does God tell the people to do that will cause them to remember and keep all the commands of the Lord?
What does the giving of this instruction tell you about humanity?
Turning truth into prayer
Ask the Lord to make you a good theologian in both thought and practice.