We are ONE MONTH down!
"The LORD is with us"
As we march forward through the Negev with Israel, we come to the book of Numbers - a study on the courage of obedience and the rebellion of fear, and a window into the perfection and patience of our God.
In chapter 13, God commands that one man from each tribe of Israel join a team to explore the land of Canaan, which has been promised to Israel since the life of Abraham back in Genesis 12.
These twelve men take courage and obey, though have no idea what may await them.
They return with a story of the land's riches - as well as its threats. And fear creeps in. "We are not able..." "We are too small..." "The enemies there are like giants..." "If only we had died in Egypt..."
Just like that, centuries of fulfilled promises and wondrous signs of God's power are shrouded out by rebellion - sneakily disguised as self-focused fear.
The people's eyes turn away from the cloud of God's glory which fills the tabernacle, and the pillar of fire which has led them this far, and look instead at each other - at themselves. They see men who are small, weak, and fallible. They fear. And they rebel.
Fear itself doesn't have to be a sin, if it breaks our self-reliance and points us back toward God. But too often, our choice instead is to trust in ourselves and our own solutions - to look for a way to get back to Egypt, to the "safety" of the past, to avoid having to walk forward into a future unknown.
And what untold blessing we lose in so doing.
I have been afraid. I have looked ahead, and I've seen giants, enemies so much bigger than me. I have wanted to run and hide, to go backwards, to avoid forward motion at all costs, because I'm afraid of what it will bring.
But the generation of Israel who was set free from Egypt (except for Caleb and Joshua, whose fear pointed them to courage in God's character instead of rebellion) spent the rest of their lives in the desert because they were afraid to enter the Promised Land. They never saw the blessing God had intended for them, because they took their eyes off Him and chose to look at the giants instead.
What riches of blessing and depths of faith might they have enjoyed, if only they'd had the courage to set their eyes on God and obey?
What riches of blessing and depths of faith might await me, if only I choose to walk with God in spite of my fear?
There are terrible, terrible giants ahead for all of us, all the time. This life is fraught with pain and hardship. But as Caleb and Joshua pleaded with their faithless people,
"Only do not rebel against the LORD, and do not fear the people of the land, for they are our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them."
The LORD is with us, if only we will choose to go with Him where He leads.
And though the dangers along the way to the Promised Land may seem massive in comparison to me, they are tiny in comparison to Him.
And His presence and His blessing make the whole journey worth it.
Numbers: God of Perseverance
Genre: Narrative (chapters 5-6, 15, 28-30 are Civil Code of Law)
Total read time for the book of Numbers: 3 hours