February 19, 2020
The book of Numbers begins with, well...a lot of numbers. The tribes are counted and then they are arranged around the tabernacle. But there is more. They are given an order to walk in, and other duties and additional laws are given. A major offering is collected for the consecration of the Tabernacle and then the nation celebrates the Passover. It is a promising beginning and by the middle of chapter 10, the nation is on the move toward the land promised to them. They have the Tabernacle now (and the presence of God), the law (their constitution), the consecration of the priests, order and organization, and daily manna. This really shouldn't take long. They are already near the border, but then comes chapter 11 and 12 and the disastrous 13th chapter, the disastrous 14th chapter, the terrible 16th chapter and, well, you get the picture. There is a lot of complaining, a lot of judgment, then complaining about the judgment, then more judgment. Will it ever end? Miriam dies. Aaron dies. Moses strikes the rock instead of speaking to it. We get tired of reading all of this. Can you imagine living through it?
I've been thinking of doing a series on the life of Moses after we complete the book of Acts. Here is a man who was far from perfect, but at the same time was used by God in an extraordinary way even though he never got to finish the job. I think that there is so much that we can glean from this man. Here is why I bring that up.
In Numbers 11, Moses once again faces a crisis of frustration. He did not ask for this job, and, in spite of his best efforts, he once more faces a people whose greatest ability is complaining. This is when Moses says, "I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness." (Numbers 11:14-15) Go back and re-read that last phrase. Do you see what Moses is saying? Let me paraphrase. God, fix this mess or just kill me now because my own heart is being exposed by this and I can't stand to see that.
What a hard place to be! But, we are often there, aren't we? From our perspective we think that we didn't ask for the struggle (like anyone actually does), therefore, it is not fair that we should have to face it. And yet, our biggest fear is what the struggle reveals about us to us and to others. It is so hard to have to face the truth about our own hearts, and nothing like frustration to bring us face to face with it. But it is in those moments, when all self-righteousness and self-sufficiency has been wrung out of our souls, that we cast ourselves completely upon the mercy of Christ.
I do not think that there is a short-cut, detour or any other road to take, but the road of affliction and frustration that empties our pockets of our resources so that all we have is Christ. Even knowing it in theory is not the same as knowing it in reality. Are you tired? Are you tired of seeing your own heart? Are you afraid of what difficulty may reveal about you? Jesus knows. Run to him. Hide in him. Rest in him. He is yours!
Grace and peace,