The Israelites are about to cross over into the Promise land.
And this is what the Lord has to say to them:
"It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. "He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.
Then He warns them:
"Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. "Or the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you. Deut. 11:12-17
Not only that, but HE really wants them to pay attention to these words:
"You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. "You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth. Deut.11: 18-21
Pay attention to those words, and remember them. And be sure you teach them to your children. Not just on Sundays, but as you go through your day.
You do not want to ever forget these words.
If you remember these words, and keep His commands, He promises this....
"For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, then the LORD will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you. "Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; your border will be from the wilderness to Lebanon, and from the river, the river Euphrates, as far as the western sea. "No man will be able to stand before you; the LORD your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you. Deut.11: 22-25
We had some news this week that was hard to swallow.
Our life as we know it could possibly be turned upside down.
I do not know what God has planned for our life, for our family, and I could easily loose my mind if I spend too much time thinking about it. But I think I will throw myself unto the promises here...and trust that the Lord will provide for everything we need, that He will go before us, and protect us from those who may try to tear us apart.
So we are in Numbers now and there is a lot going on!
The sons of Israel were still grumbling.
Moses would go before the Lord and intercede on their behalf.
The spies went out, came back, and blew it.
The Lord decided they would die in the wilderness:
"Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice,
shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it.
But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it." Numbers 14:22-24
The Lord is not happy. He decides to punish those who have experience HIS glory and HIS signs, and have not listened. They will not enter the land.
Caleb, however, had a different spirit, and followed the Lord...FULLY! The Lord blesses this spirit, and promises Caleb will enter the land!
Oh that the Lord would say that about our family some day. That we have a different spirit, and follow the Lord fully!
After the Israelites hear this, they take matters into their own hands.
"When Moses spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people mourned greatly.
In the morning, however, they rose up early and went up to the ridge of the hill country, saying, Here we are; we have indeed sinned, but we will go up to the place which the LORD has promised."
But Moses said, "Why then are you transgressing the commandment of the LORD, when it will not succeed?
"Do not go up, or you will be struck down before your enemies, for the LORD is not among you.
"For the Amalekites and the Canaanites will be there in front of you, and you will fall by the sword, inasmuch as you have turned back from following the LORD. And the LORD will not be with you."
But they went up heedlessly to the ridge of the hill country; neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses left the camp.
Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down, and struck them and beat them down as far as Hormah. Numbers 14:39-45
The Israelites reacted to that sobering news, fumbled around and took matters into their own hands. They didn't get it. They did not really hear what the Lord had said. They filtered out what they thought was the good news, and heedlessly took off to claim the promised land.
And were slaughtered.
Ya know, reading through the Old Testament can be very sobering. God is really into the details, and really expected the Israelites to pay attention to them. God gave them details, so that HE might dwell among them. And when the Israelites ignored those details, they felt the consequences. Going it alone did not work. They ran off, without the Ark, without Moses, without God's presence, and were pummelled.
Going it alone does not work. It did not work back then, and it does not work now. But for some reason we keep trying it.
We need God's presence. We need His protection. And we cannot enjoy either if we chose to go it alone.
Check out Proverbs 10:29-30
The Way of the Lord is a stronghold for the upright, but ruin to workers of iniquity.
The righteous will never be shaken, but the wicked will not dwell in the land.
Jeff and I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how to use our blessings to bless those in need. This has been a much discussed topic lately and then we find ourselves in Leviticus and reading about sabbath rest and Jubilee. These are not just words written for the children of Israel oh so long ago.
They are the living words of God that were written long ago for all those who would read them through the ages.
They are words that were written for you and me.
I think our culture tends to believe we deserve rest. We deserve our vacation time, our trips.
I think we spend enormous amounts of time, money, and energy planning vacations and trips so we can enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Oh, the planning. The planning is so much fun, isn't it? You read up on historical hot spots and lovely hotels and map out the best route. You find local restaurants you "must" check out and attractions your kids just have to see!"
I am not so sure that is what God would really have for us. I am not so sure that is how we should be spending our time "off."
To be honest, I am a little nervous about even expressing these thoughts. I do not want to held accountable for them! We really like to travel. We love to explore new places and experience new things. We love to camp and fish and indulge in the great outdoors.
I do not want to give that up.
But we are only given one life. We are given one life by a God who provides for us just what we need. And perhaps He is wanting us to help Him provide for those who are in need. Perhaps we would not see so many "in need" if we let go of all the extras in our life. Can you even imagine?
(I just deleted a rant about all the "stuff" we could give up in order to care for those in need. You all know that rant. You've either ranted about it yourself or have listened to someone else rant about it....no need to go there in this post)
We know a family who is spending their vacation time going on a missions trip. They are taking their children and are going to minister to orphan children and work in a children's camp in the mountains.
Isn't that just lovely?
Those kids will not get to experience Mickey Mouse this summer.
They will experience something so.much.more.
They will experience God's blessing and provision as God uses them to bless and provide for those kids.
And that is way cooler than riding the Giant Drop at Great America.
I read on in Leviticus and this is what the Lord said:
You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God. You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the LORD. If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land. But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword. So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you. You will eat the old supply and clear out the old because of the new. Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.
What an amazing passage!
Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.
Isn't THAT what Leviticus has been all about? It has been about God preparing the Israelites for HIS plan to dwell among them. This is God's deepest desire. To dwell among HIS people.
Can you even imagine? The awe and wonder and fear of it all?
Just a note:
I wrote this post last week, and then had to sit on it. I am still chewing this all over...what Jubilee meant to the people of Israel and how we are to see it and apply it to our life. What do you think?