Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 10 Mar 18:
1. Numbers 19:12 — “And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.’” There wasn’t any water for the Israelites, and they were turning against Moses and Aaron; but God told Moses that He would bring water out of the rock for the people. If you recall, this wasn’t the first time that God allowed this miracle to be performed through Moses; the first time was in Numbers 17 – the accounts from Numbers 17 and Numbers 19 are almost identical, with one major exception, in today’s readings, Moses takes partial credit for the work of the Lord – “shall we bring water for you out of this rock (Numbers 19:20)?” God shares His glory with no one, and His response to Moses makes that clear — “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them (Numbers 19:20).” Our purpose is to glorify God, not ourselves. Fear of man, selfishness, and lack of faith in God’s provision often causes us to seek reverence or honor from others as a defense mechanism or for self-gratification. We take pride in the gifts, talents and opportunities that God alone gave us, failing to uphold Him as Holy. When we are secure in God’s love, we have no need to be justified by others. When we act out of insecurity or pride, we dishonor the LORD. I pray that I won’t worry about what others think about me but rather about what others think about God when they observe His works in my life.
2. Numbers 20:2 — “Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.” Based on many Bible verses such as Ephesians 2:1-3 and 1 John 2:16 (provided below), church tradition teaches the three enemies of the soul or the “trinity of temptation” – the world, the flesh, and the devil (mundus, caro, et diabolus). Arguably the greatest threat of the three is “the flesh” because the other two are external threats while “the flesh” is “inside the wire” or an “insider threat.” This is the traitor within. This is where we become the problem and where we now have responsibility for the temptation. When we are tempted externally by the world and the devil, we have not yet sinned; but when we start tempting ourselves, we are now guilty of thought sins. In the wilderness for 40 days, hungry and thirsty, Jesus was tempted externally by the devil, but not internally. In His hunger, He did not sin in His heart. Contrarily, when the Israelites in the desert became thirsty (tempted by the lack of external provisions), their internal temptations caused them to sin and turn against God and Moses. How you act under pressure reveals what is really in your heart. Jesus was led by the Spirit. The Israelites were led by the flesh. Such as in Proverbs 7, the Bible gives us many practical steps to help us fight the insider threat — specifically, remaining saturated in God’s word and physically avoiding sinful environments. However, we are dead without the Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit, which includes love and self-control (Ephesians 5). The saved in Christ have the Spirit, but as mentioned previously, we often “grieve” the Spirit; “quench” the Spirt; and get out of step with the Spirit. Fortunately, we are justified through Christ as we seek to become more and more compelled by the love of Christ. “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19) Leave no room in your “bottle” for sin by being filled fully with the Spirit — “Being filled with the fullness of God is like a bottle in the ocean. You take the cork out of the bottle and sink it in the ocean, and you have the bottle completely full of ocean. The bottle is in the ocean, and the ocean is in the bottle. The ocean contains the bottle, but the bottle contains only a little bit of the ocean. So it is with the Christian.” (Tozer) 1 John 2:16, 17 – “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
3. Numbers 20:10 — “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” It is hard to understand what happened at Meribath. Moses struck the rock first time in Exodus 17 – no problem. This time, however, it cost him entry into the Promised Land. What happened? True, Moses was not supposed to strike the rock this time but rather “speak” to it. True, Moses seems to lose His temper. However, It would appear to me that the key issue was that Moses gave himself credit for the miracle of the water rather than God – “shall WE bring water….” God said this to Moses — “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold ME as HOLY in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them (Numbers 20:12).” It is unthinkable for God’s servant to share glory with God. One thing we do know is that God can see past our actions and words to understand what is in our hearts. Clearly, God saw something in Moses that was not trustworthy enough to keep Moses in leadership. God held Moses accountable, though Moses was forgiven and actually did make it to the Promised Land — “And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus (Mark 9:4).” While Moses was forgiven, he had forfeited his right to lead. Christians have a hard time understanding the difference between forgiveness and accountability. Also, I believe that at this point in the journey, God was more interested in the greater refinement of Moses than in Moses reaching a temporal goal. God’s standard for Moses was much, much higher than His standard for everyone else, because Moses was at a different place in his relationship with God than anyone else, and God intended to take Moses to the next level by exposing Moses’ hidden pride that He would understand His total reliance on the love and grace of God. Eternal life is not found in accomplishment but rather in “Knowing the Father and the One He has sent, Jesus.” (John 17:3) God causes us to fail in the areas of strength we tend to rely on and take pride in. Moses was the humblest man of his time, and he had to fail through pride to understand the sufficiency of God’s grace. Abraham was known for his faith, yet time and time again, God had to expose his lack of faith. David was known for his integrity; so God had to humble him through Bathsheba. Solomon was the wisest man of his day, and God had to bring him to the place where he would see that his wisdom and unapparelled accomplishment was ultimately “meaningless.” Peter was courageous, yet he had to fail through cowardice, denying Christ three times in order to come to a place where he truly was ready to die for Him. Righteous Saul had to facilitate the stoning of Stephen to eventually understand, “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Where might you still be trying to share glory with God in your pride and efforts? What personal ‘strengths’ will God have to expose as idols in your life, that you may learn to understand the total sufficiency of God’s grace?
4. Numbers 20:11 – “Water came out abundantly.” Despite their sin, God still provided for His people.
5. Numbers 20:14-21 – God’s people still face many obstacles. People will treat you unfairly, and God won’t stop it or tell you why He is allowing it to happen. You must trust God while being treated unfairly by others. Move on. Let God deal with them. Romans 8:28 tells us that God allows and uses all adversity for the greater good and ultimate goal of drawing us closer to Him while glorifying Himself through it all.
6. Proverbs 10:22 – “The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” Whatever we achieve outside of God’s will only causes unwanted sorrow in the long run. God gives blessings without sorrows, but in our lack of faith, we add sorrows. God promised Abraham a son, yet in his lack of faith, Abraham chose to have Ishmael in his own way, cause generations of sorrow. God promised Jacob the inheritance, yet in a lack of faith, Jacob tried to steal it, causing generations of sorrow. Don’t add sorrow to God’s blessings through fearful, prideful disobedience.
7. Proverbs 10:25 – “When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever.” Everyone goes through the storm, but only the righteous make it through, because the righteous (right with God) have placed ALL of their hope in the righteousness of Jesus. Jesus said it this way — “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27)
8. Psalm 28:3 – You cannot tell what is really in a person’s hearts simply by what they say. People disguise selfishness with pleasing words. People also disguise pain with happy words, fear with confident words, and guilt with prideful, self-righteous words. None of us know the heart of another person – God does. Our commanded response to all is to offer the message of reconciliation.
9. Psalm 28:8 — “The Lord is the strength of his people.” If the Lord is your strength, what could possibly stand against you?
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 March: Be sure to give God ALL the glory today. Take credit for nothing; give God credit and public praise for all that He has done in your life.