I am late tonight. The week was long with hospital visits and a beautiful service of remembrance for Janet Ek's Mother today. Finished my sermon preparation this evening. Preaching out of Numbers again and looking at the cities of refuge theme in Numbers 35. Hope that whets your appetite.
Moses continues in his dialogue with Israel reminding them that there is to be no treaty, no peace with the pagan occupants of the land that they are about to possess. The land may be filled with giants, the cities fortified and the armies great, but none of those can stand against God. We often get snagged on this annihilation of the inhabitants but think of the correlation between us and our sin. God knows that if Israel allow these people to exist among them that they will eventually pull down Israel, that they will adopt their pagan customs and build altars to false gods. Aren't we like that....we know that we have sins that we ought to get rid of, but we keep them around because we kind of like them.....they don't hurt anybody we say to ourselves, but they do make us less than God intended for us to be....those little sins do mar the image of God that is within us and the testimony that we are to the world. Like Israel should do with Canaan but does not.....we should live sinlessly in the power of God who is greater than our sin.
In chapter 8 Moses reminds them that God allowed them to be hungry and then fed them on Manna. There clothes didn't wear out. Their feet never got sore in the years of marching through the wilderness. All of this was to demonstrate to them that "Man does not live on bread alone, but every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." God speaks and their is manna. God speaks and their is a pillar of fire and a column of smoke to lead them. God speaks and their is quail. God speaks and their is water from the rock. Our difficulty is that rather than feeding on God's word we are too willing to fight with God's word......trying to find some wiggle room rather than living obediently and receiving the blessing that comes with that obedience.
God reminds Israel of the problem that they will face when they enter into the land and prosper. It is the problem that America suffers from as well. We begin to think that all of this power and riches is the result of our power, our intellect, our strength. It is not......it is the gift of God to the people that he has chosen to bless. Failing to remember it is God who blesses, sets Israel and us up for a rude awakening. Pray that we will not err as Israel did and that God would remove his hand of blessing from this great nation of ours.
Chapter 9 continues in Moses reminding Israel that none of the victories that they have experienced or will experience are the result of their righteousness. They are sinner, but God is righteousness. Later we will read in the scriptures that all of our righteousness is as dirty rags compared to the righteousness of God. When we begin to think to much of ourselves, we begin to build idols to ourselves. A little humility every day will keep us from putting ourselves in places where God alone belongs.
Our God is a consuming fire.....destroying all that is vile and corrupt and imperfect but in that process purifying all that is good and holy. Be good, seek right living, honor God and receive the blessings of being known as children of God.
Hope your weekend is a God filled weekend and that all that you do and say brings glory to his name. See you at church!!!