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April 2, Day #93 - God’s Way, or the World’s Way?

Earlier, in Numbers 25:16-18, we saw that God told Moses to “treat the Midianites as enemies for their deception in the affair at Peor.” Here, in the beginning of Numbers 31, God now tells Moses to fulfill that responsibility and “take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites and for the LORD” (verses 1-2). This would be Moses’ last official act before he would “be gathered to his people” (31:2). The reason given for this vengeance relates to the Midianites following Balaam’s advice as “a means to turn the Israelites away from the LORD” (verse 16). After the battle, the Israelites are allowed to divide the spoils and the plunder, which we see here in the beginning section of our reading for today (cf., Numbers 31:25-32:42). In Numbers 32, we read about the Reubenites’ and the Gadites’ request to settle in the land where they were then located – “Do not make us cross the Jordan” (verse 5). This request is framed within an excuse for the large size of their “herds and flocks” (verse 1). However, there is a deeper motivation for their request, which is selfish and focused on worldly desires. Moreover, the land they were requesting was outside the borders of the land promised to Israel. Finally, they demonstrated a preference for avoiding wars, whether present or future. Moses picks up on their dark motivations: “Shall your countrymen go to war while you sit here? Why do you discourage the Israelites? This is what your fathers did … discouraged the Israelites” (verses 6-9, and ff.). These are proper assessments of their wicked intent and behavior (cf., Numbers 32:14). Both tribes are reflecting a spirit of unbelief, sedition, selfishness, and flirtation with the world system, and notice where it leads – to compromise (cf., Numbers 32:20-42). May I say this clearly? God’s way is never the way of compromise; His way is the way of obedience. Compromise is the way of the world, and no matter what the world says, compromise is not good.

In Psalm 40, David shares how – after “waiting patiently,” - God lifted him “out of the slimy pit” (verse 2). Before we came to faith in Christ, such was also our own estate. As I meditate on this, I am reminded of my utter dependence on God to accomplish my freedom from my natural estate. Truly, the defilements and stench of our sinful condition are far worse than the horrors and confinement of being in a physical pit, but before we can escape this greater prison, we must first recognize its terrors. However, spiritual blindness prevents people from making an accurate judgment about the pit’s true conditions, resulting in the false conviction among many that the pit is really not such a bad place to be. And there they choose to dwell - in the slime. On their own, humans cannot discover a way out of this dilemma. We need the light and revelation of objective, external truth - we need to be told by Someone Who knows and can see what we don’t know and cannot see - that we are actually living in the sludge. But awareness of the mud is not enough. Because we are incapable of climbing out on our own, we need Someone Who can lift us from the hole and set us up on a rock (verse 2). This is what God has done for us.

In Luke 8:40-9:9, we see Jesus healing Jairus’ daughter and the woman who “had been subject to bleeding for twelve years” (verse 43). Here again, we see Christ’s authority over sickness and death. In Luke 9, we see Jesus sending out His disciples for ministry, and He gives them power over both demons and diseases (verse 1). Luke draws our attention once again to Herod and his interest in “all that was going on” (verse 7). The text informs us that Herod “was perplexed” (verse 7), and he wondered, “Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” (verse 9). Herod’s position and his wonder represent the world’s official position and wonder about Jesus Christ – perplexed.

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The Psalm reminds me of Pilgrim’s Progress…

“This miry Slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore is it called the Slough of Despond: for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place; and this is the reason of the badness of this ground.”

An apropos description of the downward emotional and spiritual spiral that is brought about by life without God’s grace. Hopelessness bred by hopelessness.

I read “I waited patiently” as David’s demonstration…

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