Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Power of Numbers

The book of Numbers appeared to be a daunting if not boring read on my initial perusal. However as I completed the reading, I found myself reflecting a lot on my own faith walk, and was left humbled, encouraged and broken. Numbers was for me an unexpectedly powerful if not transformational read. 

Through the example of Moses, Aaron and the Israelites, my own journey was reflected back to me. My desire is to serve the Lord, to go where He sends me. I have prayed those words in earnest, wanting nothing more than to be used by Him to affect positive change, to His glory and the benefit of His children and His kingdom. God has blessed me abundantly and I have seen His provision in my life over and over again, I have witnessed miracles, and yet when things get tough I doubt, I complain, I forget the promises of God and His call on my life. It saddens me to think that I too have caused God to ask “How long will [she] treat me with contempt? How long will [she] refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among [her]?” (14:11). My fear is to get to heaven and have God say “well done good and faithful servant, but this is how much more I had for you and for others, this is how much more there was for you to do, this was my plan – but sin, fear, doubt, pride, insecurities, kept you from following and serving me fully”. The power of sin to slow us down and delay us from fulfilling the purposes God has planned for us is evident throughout this book. The blessings of those who follow God wholeheartedly versus those who do not  is abundantly apparent in chapter 32:11-11 and serves as a both a fair warning and encouragement. "Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of the men twenty years old or more who came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-not one except Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the LORD wholeheartedly." Overall the book of Numbers encouraged and reminded me to focus less on the size of my problems, the magnitude of the mountains before me and trust in the greatness of my God, following Him faithfully, even through the desert times, the valleys and the darkness. I am grateful that I serve a God who is “slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving [of] sin and rebellion” (14:18)

There were specific verses throughout Numbers that caused me to reflect and remember and revealed greater understanding. Verse 5:6 served as a powerful reminder when the Lord said to Moses “When a man or woman wrongs another in any way, and so is unfaithful to the Lord.” So often we forget that our faithfulness and obedience to God is encompassed in our relationships to others, a principle carried on from Leviticus and into the New Testament.

God continues as in the three previous books to reveal himself in tangible ways to Moses, audibly speaking to him, face to face, clearly and not in riddles, giving him direction and guidance. Moses is blessed with being able to see the form of the Lord. The thought of this leaves me wanting more of God, believing that there is more of God to receive, that He is not only whispering but speaking clearly if only I would turn down the world and listen.

If only the Israelites; if only we; if only I could maintain the consistency of trusting and following in the Lord’s command, despite our circumstances. Moses after all he has seen, everything he has brought to and through, still questions the Lord and His plans and the Lord answers him with a question that we would each do well to remember “Is the Lords arm too short?" (11:23). Numbers 9:23 reminds me that our life is best when left in the hands of God. It reminds me too that there is a time to be still, to wait, and a time to advance.

The continued promise of God’s provision is illustrated once again in 11:17 when God brought leaders alongside Moses to “help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.” When the burden is too much for us to bear alone, God provides a means for us to accomplish the task He has laid before us, bringing people across our path to share the burden.

At the conclusion of Numbers, I am rejoicing as I reflect on the faithfulness of God, and His extravagant goodness towards me. This has been especially apparant ot me over the last 3 months. I am repentant of any past grumbling, lack of trust or distraction from God’s plan for my life. I am encouraged, to press on being faithful to the plans God has revealed to me, trusting in His provisions, remembering all that He has brought me to and through, knowing that He is in control.

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