Last year I exercised almost every day. I lost weight, my blood pressure went down, my sugar went down, my cholesterol went down, and I felt like a million bucks. This year I was feeling strong and wonderful so one or two chocolate puddings wouldn’t hurt. Then it grew to daily drinking Sprite zero. Well, you know, I work hard so a slice of pizza for lunch couldn’t hurt much, since I’ve been doing well. The candy is tempting … you get the picture. Working out for a season does not provide LIFELONG results. Starting out right is not the same as finishing well. When it came to enter the Promised land, the Israelites were not getting the keep keeping on idea. They stopped often to grumble and complain, thinking they could do their own thing.
It reminds me of my kindergarten graduation. I walked the “line” in my new special dress, I sang “I’m a little teapot” in my best voice and recited the poems our teacher taught us. Was I surprised when they told me I had to go back to school the next year. But I graduated! Didn’t that celebration mean anything? Grade school, high school, Bible school, seminary, graduate school… this stuff just won’t end. It is a principle that we can see really clear in the book of Numbers. God did not just save us FROM sin, God saves us to something… the Promised Land, Destiny and a life lived in glory for HIM. We don’t just leave Egypt and STOP.
This week we were reading in Numbers. Studying a book of the Bible weekly is vigorous but there is so much good stuff in there! I want to share three of the highlights that inspired me. In Numbers 6:24-26 is says:
The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelite’s. Say to them:
24 “The Lord BLESS you and keep you;
25 the Lord make His face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn His face toward you
and give you peace.”’
27 “So they will put my name on the Israelite’s, and I will bless them.” When you are heading across a hot desert with a nation, this would have been a pretty good promise!
The word bless here is barak in Hebrew. It means to benefit, adore and congratulate. It is a HUGE, over the top type blessing. It follows a narrative about purity and the importance of living a holy life –obeying His ways. We have a Lord who helps us stay pure. We have a God who desires to bless us. Paul said it this way, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:32). We take these verses for granted because they are spoken in a lot of churches but they were not meant for the General crowd – only those who follow God in purity and truth. That’s a much different message than the one the world will tell you. Do we win God’s approval by our actions? No, but He still wants us to be holy and that is often overlooked in a culture that values equal treatment in every arena regardless of life choices.
God wants to bless us and keep (protect, watch, guard over) us.
He also wants to illuminate our pathway and give us pity, kindness and compassion. When these blessings are spoken and received, God’s name is placed on us – His reputation, fame, glory and renown, then… It says once God sees that on our lives, He blesses us again! That’s amazing. If His peace includes completeness, safety, soundness in body, welfare such as good health and prosperity, quietness, tranquility, contentment, friendship and peace = that’s BETTER than winning the Superbowl! God wants to bless His followers, specifically YOU.
That same loving, blessing God speaks to Moses in the desert. In the New Testament, Hebrews 1 tells us that in these last days God has spoken to us through His son, Jesus. Hearing Gods voice happens over 100 times in the Bible. Christianity is the only religion I know of where the God is actively participating and speaking in the life of the follower. The voice of the Lord shows us how involved and alive He is! When you are heading to the Promised land, that is good information to keep at hand and repeat often.
These concepts are basic yet when we find ourselves in a time of discouragement or disillusionment isn’t that the thing that creeps in our mind and accuses God before us? “Is He real? Is He good and trustworthy or a tyrant and villain? These verses show us what a kind, compassionate God He really is. Yea, but… does He want to bless me, actually- me? Yes, all those who follow Him with a pure heart. The 613 commandments cannot be met daily but standing behind Jesus and letting His life pay for all weaknesses and sin certainly can.
Numbers 15 tells us about the visual reminder of God’s commandments and promises. Moses instructed the people to tie tassels (tzitzit) on their garments so that they could remember His love for them and that He wanted to speak to them through His precepts and their leaders. We’ve tried it here for a few days and it is cool. It is not salvific, meaning it cannot save us. It does not earn us brownie points with God, but it does keep us in a pattern of listening to what God says instead of the enemies lies about God. Watching the Superbowl game Sunday was fascinating – the team did not function as individuals. They kept going back to their huddle, the coach and reminding themselves of the rule book. It was not “beyond or beneath them” even though they had won multiple Superbowls before.
God wants to bless, keep us and make us shine. God wants to give us Peace and the reputation and glory of His very name. God wants us to remember His ways and promises. If we really got a hold of just those 3 things , our lives would drastically change.
Numbers is a great book – lots of very specific instruction on continuing in our journeys as we head HOME. Remember my forgotten exercise routine, my kindergarten graduation? In error, we think once we are saved, that is it. No more building, tearing down old things or following God’s pattern –we just move forward with our lives and think it’s all good. But it doesn’t work that way. The benefits of our relationship with God, like exercise and other Spiritual disciplines cease when we discontinue it. It is not an accumulative relationship but a living, breathing relationship. Seeking and following God must continue until its GAME OVER.
Wherever you are on your journey, maybe it is walking away from your past, or maybe you are stuck in the desert? Maybe you are trudging along but have lost heart to keep moving. Wherever you stand – start walking and remind yourselves of the very things God did to encourage the Israelite’s:
“I want to, and I am going to BLESS you, make my face shine on you and give you PEACE.
I want to and will speak with you – avail yourself to hear ME.
I want you to actively remind yourself of my ways and promises (NT – hear Jesus). “
You are not alone as you continue walking towards the Promised land. If you are receiving God’s blessing and listening for His voice, being reminded of His ways and promises – now THAT’S a WIN! Congratulations.