Today’s Bible reading: Numbers 10-11:23; Mark 14:1-21; Psalm 51:1-19; Proverbs 10:31-32
After spending over a year in the desert at Sinai God, in the form of a cloud, lifted from the Tabernacle and the people followed Him (Numbers 10). They must have been so excited! After more than 14 months they were finally moving towards the Promised Land.
During that time God had taught them many things. He had worked at making them His people, reliant and obedient to Him. It took over a year. God is willing to work with us for as long as it takes. He is incredibly patient. He wants to give us great things just like He wanted to give the Promised Land to Israel. But we have to be ready first. I can’t tell you how much I have grown and changed in just the past 67 days since January 1 when I started reading through the Bible in one year. And I’m barely 1/6 of the way through. I am very excited about the person I will be on December 31.
When the people got up and moved from Sinai it was the end of their “training”. But it was just the beginning of taking the Promised Land. Every end is just a new beginning.
But not long after they set out the people start to complain about how hard their life is (Numbers 11:1). They had just spent 14 months in the presence of God Himself and now, after less than 3 days, they are already complaining about what they don’t have. Isn’t that always the case? We can have things real good for a while. But when we start to think about what we are missing in life we forget all about what we do have and we focus on the one thing we don’t have. That’s how it was for Adam & Eve. They had access to everything except one tree. Yet that is the thing they wanted most. As the old saying goes: “Happiness isn’t having what you want. It is wanting what you have”. Sadly the Israelites (and we) do not look at life that way most of the time.
Notice in Numbers 11:4 that not all the people who left Egypt were Israelites. Apparently some other people went with them. Perhaps these were Egyptians who realized that their gods were false. Whoever they were, they decided that they enjoyed life more in Egypt than they enjoyed trekking through the desert with no permanent home. Certainly that was a tough way to live. But they needed to be looking to the future. God will sometimes send us through the desert so we can get to an oasis.
In Numbers 11:5 the people start to “remember” how good things were in Egypt. They recalled all the tasty food they had there. There’s only one thing they forgot… they were slaves! Human memory is both selective and creative. The people “selected” to remember the plentiful food they had in Egypt. Whether they really had all this or not we don’t know. Perhaps it was “creative” memory that made them believe that they had these things.
The complaining of the people not only angered God but it affected Moses (Numbers 11:11-15) too. We see Moses realize that he cannot lead these people by himself (verse 14). This was true. Moses’s complaint to God was very real and justified. When we have problems we should turn to God for answers just like Moses did. We should not seek help from friends or family who have no power to help us. God is always willing to listen to us, even when we are emotional. It doesn’t matter how we come to God. What matters is that we go to Him in the first place. He will never turn us away.
Notice that God tells Moses to chose men to help him who are “recognized” as leaders of Israel. These men already had the respect of the people so they could more quickly help Moses carry the load. These men would “stand” with Moses. Its great to have support of others, even if they are just standing beside you for moral support.
Isn’t it interesting that Moses, who had seen many miracles, questioned God’s abilities in Numbers 11:21-22 today. If a great man of God like Moses can lose sight of what God can do, how much more so can we.
The plot of the religious leaders against Jesus begins to unfold in Mark 14 today. Notice that they wanted to seize and kill Jesus, but not during the Passover. These evil men did not fear God, but they feared the people.
In Mark 14:21 Jesus reminds his disciples, and us, that He was born to die. God’s plan always was, from the beginning, to come to earth, live in a human body, and then die for the sins of the people He created. When I was an atheist and someone would tell me that Jesus was God I would wonder, if that is true, why didn’t He come down from the cross? The answer is given right here by Jesus. The plan always was for Him to die. In fact, the actual method by which Jesus would die – by crucifixion – was planned by God thousands of years before man even invented crucifixion.
In Psalm 51 David admits his sin (vv 3-5). That is a good example for us to follow. The first step in conquering a problem is to admit it. Notice that when we sin we may hurt other people but ultimately we are sinning against God (v. 4). Notice too that we are sinful when we are conceived. That is why we must be born-again as Jesus will tell us in John 3:3 when we get there. There is no one who is not sinful.
Notice too that it is not possible for us to “undo” our sinfulness. Only God can cleanse us from our sins (v 7). This is exactly why God allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross. He took on the sins of the world in order to cleanse us from our sins so that we could be with him forever in heaven. How does that happen? Psalm 51:17 tells us. We need to have a broken spirit. We need to repent (agree with God about our sinfulness). Only then can God enter our lives.
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