Thursday, September 13, 2012
Scratching the Surface of Numbers
Scratching the Surface of Numbers
I'll never forget Pearl.
Reflecting the sense of audacious entitlement, defiance, and rebellion of the people constantly complaining to Moses about everything including their hardships, diet, living arrangements, and God's leadership through him, I'll never forget how she rushed past my secretary into my study, plopped down in the chair in front of my desk, exhaled, inhaled, and blurted, "I hate your beard!'
Though I didn't take the bait and took the time to peel the onion to discover what was really bothering her - her estranged son had a beard and she was transferring her frustrations to me - I made a terrible mistake by offering, "If it will make you feel better, I'll shave off my beard."
Unlike the Nazirites of Numbers who symbolized their devotion to God and set the standard for John the Baptist as well as succeeding generations of hippies by letting their hair grow long along with other funky stuff with no regard to popular fashions, I shaved off mine to curry her favor.
When I saw her coming through the receiving line at the end of worship on the succeeding Sunday, I expected her to shower me with affirmation and affection.
Instead, she exhaled, inhaled, and blurted, "Now about your moustache!"
The Nazirites or anyone else truly devoted to God would never curry favor with anyone at the expense of their relationship with God; knowing everyone is going to be responsible to God a lot longer than anyone else which makes establishing Him as the #1 priority of life for eternity a no-brainer.
Even a jackass can understand that; or as a prophet's jackass in Numbers explained to him when tempted to curry a politician's scheme over the instructions of the Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior, the only way to make it in this world and beyond is by living out a familiar chorus: "Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, all creatures here below. Praise Him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."
Or as God began His summary of how to honor Him along with the consequences of doing and not doing that at the beginning of the journey to the Promised Land, "No other gods before Me...No idols...As for those who are not loyal to Me, there will be bad consequences...As for those who are loyal to Me, they will experience My loyal love."
Essentially, Numbers is about life being a journey of getting closer and closer and closer to God to experience His best in and after time.
It shows how God does not allow anyone to enter His Promised Land of peace and prosperity here and now and hereafter apart from proving trust in Him through obedience to Him.
As a biker, I often hear, "It's about the journey not destination."
Yes, I understand that means to enjoy the trip; and Genesis from the very first chapter proves the truth of those hats and shirts that sport, "Life is Good!"
And as Genesis and Numbers and all of Holy Scripture verify, life is good when we trust and obey Him.
This life with all its wanderings comes to an end; but eternity lasts, uh, forever; which is why the Psalmist said, "You get 70 or 80 or more years in this life; so number those days in the right way so life beyond those days will be everything promised by Him."
Simply, trust and obey right now to guarantee His best forever.
That's why Numbers spends so much time organizing for the journey - counting, identifying resources, considering who and what and how in a Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 kinda way.
Even a jackass knows you've gotta pack the right stuff to get where you want to go.
Everybody wants to get to the Promised Land; and Numbers shows how to do it.
Unlike my mistake with Pearl, believers know there's only One who really, really, really deserves our focus and favor.
He has the only divinely trustworthy directions on how to get to the Promised Land.
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!