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Friday, March 11, 2016

The Benefits of Moving

Israel moves 40 times in 40 years (Numbers 31). God utilizes each of these moves as learning experiences for Israel in the wilderness as well as for future generations.

Truths Israel learns about God while moving about in the wilderness:
  • God is not like the gods of Egypt. He is personal, holy, and takes exception to complaining, sin, and unbelief.
  • God is holy and will be treated as so by His people. His manifest presence among His people is contingent upon their obedience to the sacrificial system that He gives. 
  • God prepares His people spiritually and physically to enter the land of Canaan. Commands to break up camp prepares Israel physically for conquering the Canaanites. Trying situations, such as waterless and meatless camping places, teach Israel that God is not limited to man’s resources.  
  • God can be trusted for daily provisions. 
  • Dietary laws given by God demonstrate His care for the health of His people.
  • Organizational laws and regulations given by God bring structure and create safe places in which people may thrive.
  • Sacrificial laws given by God demonstrate His willingness to atone man’s sin. 
  • God gives instructions regarding the future because only He knows the future.
Truths Israel discovers about themselves as they move about in the wilderness:
  • Israel was “Egyptian” in much of their thinking about God and about life; they need to learn what it means to be “God’s chosen people.” 
  • Responsibility toward God and others accompany freedom from slavery. Laws given by God are for man’s good personally and communally. Selfishness and unbelief cause communal life to implode. 
  • It is those who live by faith, and not by sight, who please God. 
  • False views of God need to be replaced with an accurate view of God or Israel will succumb to idolatry. 
  • Man must keep his flesh in check or sexually immorality will destroy him, his family, and the community. 
  • Man may not worship God in any way that he pleases. 
  • Man is prone to forget what God has done in the past; therefore, God establishes   annual events to keep His past activity before the people.
  • The future good of the community depends on the people’s Bible literacy. 
We sometimes may chafe at the way God leads us now, but His leading is good, disciplinary, and ultimately for our best. Rejoice in the days in which it seemed as if you were wandering as you sought God’s will.

Older Post
"The Ruebenites and Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks , saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were suitable for livestock" so they asked Moses "let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan" (Numbers 32:1).

Good, suitable, adequate, enough, first, immediate, all describe second best. What caused the people to settle for "good" when the "best", on the other side of the Jordan, was promised?
  • Driven by the largeness of their herds and flocks their need was immediate. They needed land NOW. Obtaining land on the other side of the Jordan would take time and require waiting.
  • Forty years of endless camping in more than 42 locations tempted them to settle for the first decent piece of property which they saw.
  • They saw that the lands of Jazer were suitable for livestock; they saw themselves as herdsmen only, not real estate developers. Their livelihood limited their vision.
  • Their insufficient understanding of God's call to be a peculiar people, a special people, God's own possession led them to separate themselves from the other tribes.
  • After an initial investigation, one side of the Jordan River looked just as good as the other side. Compromise occurs when both options appear equal.
The devil is always willing for God's people to settle for second best--for whatever reason. Second best leads to all sorts of complications. Later we will see how misunderstandings develop between those on both sides of the Jordan.

God will allow us to choose second best, therefore, we must not make hasty decisions based upon immediacy, circumstantial evidence, and need. We must trust the great Father-heart of God to lead and care for us. And we must wait.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Numbers 32:1-33:56
  • List the five commands Moses gives the children of Israel after they've crossed over the Jordan.
  • What does the Lord promise will happen should Israel fail to obey these commands?
Turning truth into prayer:
Ask the Lord to show you where you've made unwise decisions, not based upon His Word, but upon expediency and faulty understanding. Ask Him to make you more aware of the choices you make on a daily basis.