A Tool of “Thanksgiving” #3

English: Joshua and Caleb, as in Numbers 13

English: Joshua and Caleb, as in Numbers 13 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Children of Israel’s history is one that parallels my life (and I’m guessing many others’) in one way or another. For the first year (12-13 months) after leaving Egypt, they spent their days in and around the area of Mount Sinai (where Moses received the Law). (Numbers 1:1; 9:1; Exodus 40:2). The book of Numbers records their actions for the next 39 years, yes, THIRTY-NINE YEARS prior to their entrance into their Promised Land, Numbers 33:38. Get this, after spinning their wheels at Mt. Sinai for a year; they finally decided to move on to their rightful place, Numbers 10:11-12. As anyone who’s been to Sunday school will tell you, they began to whine and complain about their hard times 11:1. They complained about their food (their miracle-food), it wasn’t good enough, they wanted meat, they said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” This was quite angering to God and frustrating to Moses, 11:1-10, and Moses sought the Lord, 11:11-15. After that, God showed his judgment and his grace (11:1b, 33; 11:2, 16-17, 31-32). Even after the judgments, even after all the grace, the people just didn’t learn. Finally after years (or lifetimes) of despairing hard lives, they make it the doorway of their promised land (along the southernmost part, Kadesh Barnea) … but the door was locked so to speak. After the Lord instructed Moses to send men into the land of Canaan, the land that He would give them, to explore the area, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe, send one of its leaders,” Numbers 13:1-2. It would be like buying a brand new mansion, walking up to the front door and telling your children to run in and explore their new house. So they did. They went and explored their land (13:21) and they came back saying how great the land was (13:27). Then they fell back into their bad ways and started complaining, grumbling, and telling everyone crazy stories about the place (13:32-33b). Back to the house/mansion analogy, after exploring their new house, their new bedrooms, the playground in the backyard, they come back to you fussing and complaining that they don’t like the layout of the main floor and then whining about the playground being metal and not a new wooden one like their neighbors at their old house. Do you know what happened in the Children of Israel’s case? Their fearful mindset set the Israelites ablaze with worry, despair, fear, and all sorts of anxiety (14:1-2b). It says that that night all they did was fuss and complain to Moses and Aaron (not even to God). However, Joshua and Caleb, with faith, countered the masses and said, “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. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land… Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us,” Numbers 14:6-9b. And the people said they should stone them, Numbers 14:10a

They did finally make it into their promised land. But with a New Testament perspective, Paul wrote, referring to Israel’s wilderness experience, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). Hebrews 3:7-4:13 is another passage that points to these events for Christians today and it speaks of a “rest.” I make mention of this as all of this is coming back to my point. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, we Christians are between promise and fulfillment (Our Salvation and Christ’s return, He is our Hope). We, like the Israelites in the wilderness, are delivered from slavery, but we have not reached our final destination, our resting place.

Question: In my next post, I’ll help shed some light on how we can experience (and know) we are in His rest. Tell me, as a Christian, how are you handling your “wilderness?” Are you just wandering in it? Or are you entering God’s rest?

Until later . . .

Jonathan Watson

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