Thursday, May 19, 2011

Numbers: Chapter 20

Yesterday we looked at the cleansing water, today we see the sustaining water...and much more!  The chapter opens and closes with death--and marks a transition point for the nation of Israel.  This event takes place near the end of the years of wandering; the nation will again begin marching!  Death often has many impacts:  grief, despair, and anger.  God's mercy and provision are not thwarted by death or its results.  In fact, God can use even death to propel us forward.

After Miriam's death, the people fell to complaining (again! Murmur number 7 according to McGee).  The despair drove Aaron and Moses to the right the same place we must always go:  from the presence of circumstances and complaints to the place of God.  Only then can we bask in His presence and receive direction.  All too often, I do just what Moses does here.  I listen and then fall back into the emotions of the present--forgetting His presence.  God instructed them to take the 'rod'--remember Aaron's rod?  Life from death.  Focusing on the rod would have reminded them that God can bring water from a rock.  Instead, they  seem to have fallen back on experience (striking the rock was commanded before).  We are not to box the Lord into our experience; we are to obey His exact commands.  Striking the rock--which is a picture of Christ--had already been done; it was unnecessary and a breaking of God's 'picture.'  The consequences were Moses' and Aaron's alone.  God still provided for the nation and water poured forth to sustain the thirsty bodies; our mistakes will cost us but Jesus will still provide eternal sustenance for thirsty souls.  I take great comfort in that! 

Since I've shared for so long about my blessings in reading the chapter already, I'll quickly touch the other pieces of the chapter and trust you to seek the Spirit for greater depth and blessing.  Edom was given the option of blessing the nation--at no cost to themselves.  They refused the opportunity, lost blessing and incurred lasting consequences.  Aaron wandered with the Israelites for years and served well but never entered the Promised Land--the rest of the Lord until his physical death.  We have access to Canaan every moment; the provision and blessing of God on this earth.  Let us press onto receive the blessings today--and bring others along with us!

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