Today’s Reading: Numbers 18-22
Do I live in fear or in faith?
Now the Lord told Moses to send out men into the land of Canaan to explore the land. The men came back and reported what they had found and brought back the fruit of the land. They celebrated the bounty of the land but worried about the size of the men in Canaan, calling them “giants”. They chose fear instead of faith.
But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!’
But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers and that’s what they thought, too!” – Numbers 13:30-33
God was angry with the people for living in fear instead of faith. God was ready to destroy the Hebrews with a plague, but once again Moses intervened and prayed for God to forgive His people.
“Please, Lord, prove that your power is as great as you have claimed. For you said, ‘The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty…In keeping with your magnificent, unfailing love, please pardon the sins of this people…” – Numbers 14:17-19
Now God recognized in Caleb a different spirit. He saw that Caleb followed him wholeheartedly (14:24). Caleb and Joshua were the only ones who would enter into the land of Canaan because of their faith in God. When others chose fear, they chose faith.
Do I want to be a “Caleb” or one of the other spies? Do I choose to live in fear or in faith? I want to be a like Caleb, one who has a different spirit and follows the Lord with all my heart – living in faith and not fear.
Do I trust in God or trust in my “staff”?
When God’s people camped at Kadesh, there was no water and they began to rebel against Moses and Aaron once again. They blamed the leaders for their discomfort and circumstances. Without water, there would be no grain, no grapes, no pomegranates, and no water to drink. Moses and Aaron fell face down before the Lord with this new problem and God gave them clear instructions, just as He is generously in the habit of doing for us.
“You and Aaron must take the staff and assemble the entire community. As the people watch, speak to the rock over there, and it will pour out its water. You will provide enough water from the rock to satisfy the entire community and their livestock.” – Numbers 20:8
Moses took his staff of leadership with the intent of following God’s instructions but, when the moment came for him to act on his leadership, Moses trusted in his staff more than God. He was to speak to the rock and he instead struck the rock. Water poured forth and the needs were supplied, but not in the way God had instructed Moses. Moses found himself relying on the strength of his own leadership instead of God’s miraculous power, and the consequence was great.
“Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” – Numbers 20:12
Am I focused on my plan or listening for God’s plan?
Balaam was so focused on his own plan, what he thought he should do, that he was both blind and deaf to God’s attempts to block his plan.
God’s response through his angel (22:32-33): “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to OPPOSE you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her.”
Yesterday we talked about how Miriam was called out by God when her attitude needed corrected. She was literally called out from the rest of the Israelites and made to spend time alone outside of the camp. Today, we see that Balaam was OPPOSED BY GOD. He was trying hard to go one direction and God was blocking his way. God literally stood OPPOSITE of Balaam to get his attention – to force him to turn around and go the other direction.
Once God had his attention, Balaam’s response was one of repentance and obedience (v.34): “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”
Am I focused on my plan or listening for God’s plan? Do I want to be a “Balaam” or his donkey? I want to be a “Balaam” – one who has a heart of repentance and is willing to go with God’s plan once I realize that I am doing my own thing instead of following the Lord…Did you really think I was going to say I wanted to be the donkey?!! 🙂
Thank you for the reminder, Lord, to live in faith and not fear. Please show me if at any moment today I am trusting more in myself than in You. Quiet the distractions and circumstances in my life so that I can better listen for your clear instructions and your plan. My desire is for your way and not mine. I love you, Lord. Amen.