Israel moves out from Sinai…moving on as we talked about yesterday, and pretty much immediately problems arise, and will continue to arise all the way through the end of Numbers, even though God shows up again and again to defend Israel and bring them victory over enemy kings and armies. We see a pattern building here that will continue all through Israel’s history. God will provide, Israel will be good for a while, then they will wander away from God and do their own thing; God will bring calamity to them, Israel will remember God and repent, God will relent. Wash, rinse and repeat.
Really, many of us still live in that pattern today. The blessing is, God has dealt with our rebellion once and for all in the blood of Jesus and he blots out our transgressions. Indeed, Psalm 103:10 declares: “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”
I guess my thoughts today are part warning and part rejoicing. We have to be careful not to harbour thoughts of complaint or resentment, because they will colour everything that goes on in our lives and consume us from the inside out. And we must be careful not to be rebellious in our spirit, because eventually that rebellion will get out. It is really unfortunate when people spend so much time, energy and brain power complaining, especially when they have no intention of being part of the solution. I had a pastor friend of mine whose response every time someone complained to him was: “You’re right, now what are you going to do about it?” Funny how so many people shy away from the conversation after that.
The rejoicing is that God does not deal with us like he dealt with Israel. Israel’s rebellion eventually led them into captivity, permanently. It was after the death and resurrection of Jesus, but eventually Jerusalem was completely destroyed, Israel was scattered across the face of the earth and God’s chosen people became exiles. Jesus has covered our rebellion with his blood. But that doesn’t mean we can keep on rebelling! It doesn’t please God any more today than it did in the desert with Israel. There are so many better ways to spend our time and energy than in complaining and rebelling. We build better relationships, stronger churches and deeper faith without those distractions.
So the next time you think about complaining about something, consider whether or not your complaint really means anything in the grand scheme of things; consider what your motives are for complaining because selfishness plays a lot into complaints; and consider whether or not your complaint will hurt or hinder the unity of your church family. You just might come to realize that what you had to complain about doesn’t really matter.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Numbers 14-15