In the last section, we followed the Children of Israel in their bondage in Egypt and how God supernaturally moved them from their bondage across the Red Sea. We were also shown that God's People also brought some of their Egyptian way with them in their hearts as evidenced by the "golden calf" incident.
We read about God giving the Ten Commandants and how Moses broke them all in one angry move. We also looked a little bit at the working of God's dwelling place, the tabernacle.
Next, we follow the Children if Israel in the wilderness and beyond, looking for lessons for us.
The bronze serpent.
- A Painful Lesson -
In Numbers 21:5-9,We read about the People of God complaining in rebellion about their wilderness experience. They specifically complained about the water and bread that God was providing them, saying, that they "loathed" the manna.
Since rebellion against God equals death, God sent death that would come looking in the form of "fiery serpents."Once the people saw that they had a bigger problem than boring food, they admitted to Moses that they had sinned and they ask him to pray to the lord that the snakes would go away.
Instead of taking the snakes away, God instructed Moses to make a serpent and put it up on a pole and that those people that looked upon the raised snake would be healed. Incidentally: the symbol of the American Medical Association is, you guessed it, a snake of a pole.
Thoughts and lessons:
Like our lifetimes, the wilderness experience, gave time for God to root rebellion out of the hearts of His Children. For us, continued rebellion against God will ultimately lead to death (eternal separation from God).
In the story of the serpents, just how hard would it have been to believe and trust God's instructions? Sadly, there were no doubt those that decided that God's provision for healing was foolish, and they refused to look.
In John 3:13-15, Jesus said He would be "lifted up" like the serpent that Moses and that whoever believes in Him, would not perish but have eternal life.
A closer look.
- Looking a little Closer at this Serpent Event -
The serpent is representative of sin.
And brass, (what the serpent was made of) represents judgment.
When we combine these two representations, we have "SIN JUDGED."
In 2 Corinthians 5:21, the scripture says that sinless Jesus, became sinful with our sins, in order to take our punishment.
Scripture says that sin separates us from our Heavenly Father. God cannot, and will not, have sin in his presence. We see this plainly in Jesus case when we notice that in Jesus relationship with His Father, whom He always addressed as, "My Father" changed.
While hanging on the cross laden with our sins, the relationship between them was completely broken. We see this because while Jesus was on the cross, instead of referring to His Father as "My Father", which he always did, Jesus instead said, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me." Mark 15:34
We see and empathize with the suffering that Jesus endured, but, we really don't really have a clue, what the total eternal ramifications were, for Him being punished for our sins. One thing though, in Revelation 5:6, the Apostle John sees a Lamb "as though it had been slain." Our Savior in Heaven, eternally carrying the scars earned while redeeming us.
When we the redeemed see Him, we will see Him like a daughter would see her mother that was horribly scared, while rescuing her (the daughter) from a fire. We will see Him as our Hero.
Nadab and Abihu struck down
- Severe Consequences for Disobedience -
- Offering "Profane fire to God" -
Leviticus 10:1-3, In the first roll-out of the Tabernacle services, Aaron's sons approached God's dwelling place in what appears to be a caviler way. We can't be certain what the specific offense was. It might have been that instead of lighting their censer from the altar that God Himself lit, they perhaps used their own fire source. Or, it may have involved drunkenness because of what is listed in Leviticus 10:8-11. A harsh consequence for sure but the Living God was in the process of separating a people for Himself. should never be marginalized or trifled with.
Korah and the confederates
swallowed up by the ground
- It is "Holy" only when God says "it is Holy" -
God's instructions concerning the care and ministry of the Tabernacle was to be by those from the Tribe of Levi only. For some reason, Korah, the son of Izhar stirred up some of the Congregation to rebel against the Lord and Moses. They felt that Moses was exalting himself and they made the point that the "whole congregation is holy " and should be allowed to work in the duties of the Tabernacle. Moses wisely thought to let God figure it out (Numbers 16:1-5).
After some drama, judgment came upon all those that rebelled when the ground opened and swallowed them up. (Numbers 16:28-33).
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, instead of reflecting on the serious punishment that was meted out and conducting their lives accordingly, the following day, the congregation of Israel accused Moses and Aaron of killing the people. (Numbers 16:41).
Once again, God's anger was roused against the rebellious and He sent a plague. Once again, Moses intervened for the people by sending Aaron out in the middle of the people with a censer containing burning incense and the plague stopped, but not before 114,700 people died (Numbers 16:42-50).
Uzzah touches the Ark and is stricken dead
- Don't touch this! -
In 2 Samuel 6:2-8, we have another sad lesson. The problem started when the Ark was loaded into a cart instead of being carried by the poles as was the instruction from God. Earlier, there was an incident where the Philistines had "borrowed" the Ark and returned it on a cart (1 Samuel 6:7-8).
Perhaps this is where David got the idea that it would be OK. But during the transport, the oxen stumbled and Uzzah put his hand on the cart to steady it and he was stricken dead.
Lessons for Us? - God is both Stern in Justice, and Loving in Mercy.
Basically, God says what He means and means what He says. Yes, He is The God of Love as proven by Him sending Jesus to redeem us when we were still sinners. But, God is also a completely Just Judge and it is eternally dangerous to disregard His instructions.
Now God being The "Just Judge" is not all bad, because we can be assured that every un-repentant murderer and rapist will be punished. No sinner is going to get away with anything. But on the other hand, no lier or thief will get away with it either, and who of us has not done these things during our lifetimes. Sins, both big and small will eternally separate us from God, unless they are atoned for.
This is the crux of the problem, but thankfully, God has provided us with the way for our sins to be completely atoned for, His perfect Son, offered as a sin offering for those that would believe in Jesus event of atonement on the cross. Just like back in the days of the Tabernacle and the Temple, a sinful person had to obtain an appropriate sacrifice and physically take it to the altar. Like that, we have to willingly believe and trust in Jesus, the Object of our sacrifice and salvation. We enter into a ongoing relationship with Jesus and appreciating what God has done for us, we strive to live lives that please Him.
Water gushes from the rock.
- God judges His People's Disobedience and Poor Attitudes -
He held them responsible for their conduct and attitudes because that witnessed His Glory (Numbers 14:22-23).
Part of the judgment upon the Children of Israel for their murmuring, was that they would not enter the promised land. (Numbers 14:27-29).
Just what was God looking for in His People? (Numbers 14:24). And also in (Deuteronomy 1:35-36).
The same thing he is looking for now, people that would, and will, wholly follow Him.
Lessons for us?
Any parent can probably relate to this. A parents job is to provide for their children the basic requirements of food and water, clothing and safety. In addition to tending to these physical needs, a parent spends a lot of time, teaching and modeling the right way to do things, getting his children ready for the riggers of life. During this time, one of the unlovely things to deal with from time to time, is a poor attitude and ingratitude exhibited by many, during their rebellious "teen years."
Instead of complaining about the things in our lives that we lack, or, disappoint us, because it was not all we expected. How about giving God the credit for what He has provided, and showing a little gratitude and maybe even some trust for what He is doing. These are simply what a good father deserves.
Have you learned any lessons from the Jew's wilderness wanderings?
In this section:
We saw that God's People, even after seeing many supernatural events and the visible Glory of God, still, had a difficult time following God's instructions and maintaining good attitudes toward their Creator during their time "in the wilderness."
Romans 15:4 says, "For whatever things were written before, were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope."
For those that crave or demand some supernatural sign from God, history has shown that such events are probably for the most part, non-life changing.
However, God's Word, the Bible, and the Gospel of Christ, has been shown to have the power to re-create even the hardest of hearts. If you think that you are not reachable even by God because of your "issues", Click Here.
For those of us in an ongoing relationship with our Creator, the lesson for us is to not murmur or complain about hardships that come upon us during our time "in the wilderness." We should live, one day at a time, live, knowing that God knows and cares about each situation we face and that there is eternal good that arises, even during our most difficult trials.
Our Creator knows everything about us, especially how difficult is can be for some people to believe in Him. God has given us all a "free will" and in a radio analogy, there is just so much background static from what others are saying, it is difficult to hear God's voice saying,
"believe and trust Me."
I suggest praying this in a quiet place:
God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, I sense that you are there, but I am having a difficult time connecting to you, so, I humbly ask you to please show yourself to me in the circumstances of my life, in a way that I will understand, that you are there, and that you love me.
Then keeping this prayer in mind, keep your eyes open for the confirmation. It may come in the form of a stranger ministering to you, an answered prayer, or, a vivid dream. The scripture says that if we search for Him with all of our heart, we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)