Thursday, January 23, 2014

From the Wilderness to Jordan

From the Wilderness to Jordan
by Gary D. Erickson

   Life is like an arduous journey through a wilderness. We are forced to cut our way through thick vegetation, cross rivers, climb mountains, and fight threatening predators. Life is filled with opportunities as well as pitfalls. Sometimes we detour around things and sometimes we persevere through them. Sometimes we triumph over our obstacles and sometimes we suffer defeat. Nevertheless, we forge on. We cannot opt out even if we want to. Time moves on and we move with it.
     God has provided all we need to make our journey a success. The Bible is our map and the Holy Spirit is our inspiration and empowerment. Sometimes there are well-worn paths that make our progress smooth, and at other times we have to cut our way through uncharted jungle and up the sides of steep cliffs. The perils are many and the obstacles are real, but life is an exhilarating challenge!

     God made us for the challenge. Some people climb Mt. Everest, others swim the English Channel, and others sail around the world in a yacht. We may not be so adventurous, but everyone needs a challenge. It is what makes life meaningful. The challenge gives us opportunity to engage our talents and abilities. It gives us the opportunity to triumph over opposition. God built us for the rigors of the challenge.
     Living the Christian life is one of the most challenging undertakings. It will not be easy, but the rewards are amazing. Jesus said, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Because He overcame, we can overcome as well.

The Faithless Report
     In accordance with God's command, Moses chose an influential man from each of the twelve tribes to scout out the land. God hoped their discoveries of the beauty and plenty of the land would inspire faith in His promises. He said, "Be ye of good courage" (Numbers 13:30).
     The Hebrew words translated "courage" or "courageous" could have many connotations: steadfastly minded, fortified, established, or obstinate. But most important was to go in "the strength of Jah" or Yahweh (The Complete Word Study Old Testament). God desired Israel's confidence in His power to conquer, whether the opponent be Egypt, Canaan, or any other foe. However, only two of the spies approached the mission with courageous determination. Although the other ten approached the good land, their courage shriveled when they saw the massive walled cities inhabited by the children of Anak (giants), Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites and Canaanites.
     Preferring the known to the unknown, the people decided to return to Egypt. They did not consider that if they turned back, God in His displeasure might not continue to protect and lead them with the pillar of cloud and fire. If they went forward into Canaan they could die. If they went backward to Egypt without water, food, and protection, they surely would die. Their weeping, complaining and rebellion pushed God to the brink of destroying them.

God's Guidance
   Because of failure to accept and believe the promises of God, Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years, one year for each day the spies had explored the Land of Promise. In spite of Israel's faithlessness, God continued to guide and protect them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When the cloud moved, they pulled up stakes and followed it to the next encampment. Through these gifts of grace, God was attempting to teach the people that if they could trust Him to take care of them in the wilderness, they could trust He would fulfill His promise to give them a land flowing with milk and honey.
     One would think enough rebellions and swift punishments had occurred to preclude any further attempts to take over Moses and Aaron's authority. But a Levite named Korah (Numbers 16:1), who did not think his position was lofty enough, rose up against Moses' civil authority and Aaron's priestly authority. Dathan, Abiram, and On, descendants of Reuben, took part in his rebellion.
     After several confrontations, the entire congregation gathered to see whom the Lord would vindicate---Moses and Aaron, or Korah and his followers. Moses told the people to stand back, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the leaders of rebellion, and fire from the Lord devoured the 250 men who had offered incense. Thus, to oppose and despise Moses and Aaron was to oppose and despise God, who had placed the prophet and the priest in authority.
The Bible is our map and the Holy Spirit is our inspiration and empowerment.
We can learn valuable lessons from contrasting these two generations of Israelites. The first generation grew up with resentment for Egyptian authority and seemed to transfer the same resentment to Moses' authority.
as the second generation grew up, the teaching of Moses and Aaron had taken root in their hearts. They believed the messages they heard about the promise of God. Their strong desire to obtain the promises propelled them into the Promised Land where they conquered the giants and their walled cities and obtained an inheritance.

The promise God has for you is as true as the love He has for you. Don't get lost in the "wilderness" looking for it yourself. Instead be lead by Him to the very promise He has in store for you!

Published by: Sis. Joy Jones
Last Days Ministries Apostolic Church
Reference: Lessons From History for Christian Living (Spring 2013)