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March 22, Day #82 – Guarding Against Evil Influences

Our readings today emphasize the problems of evil influences. In Numbers 11:4 – 12:16, we see that, after things seemed to be going along so well for the Israelites, here they begin to “complain – arousing the anger of the LORD” (cf., Numbers 11:1). As a result, God “consumed some” of them (verse 2). In our section for today, “the rabble with them began to crave other food” (verse 4). These people simply grew tired of the manna that God provided, and today they typify people who reject Christ as the Bread of Life (cf., John 8:35). Such people are described fittingly here as “rabble” or a “mixed multitude.” Evidently, they were non-Israelite people who escaped with the Israelites from the oppression of Egypt. What is important to see here is the breadth of their influence on the Hebrews. The “rabble” began to complain; then, complaining led to “craving” which further led the “Israelites to start wailing” (verse 4). Eventually, the whole group whines about “the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic which they ate at no cost” (verse 5). Who were the Israelites trying to kid? Most of these foods only produce stomach upset! The real issue here is this: God has their best interests at heart, but the Israelites want to settle for second best. God was taking care of them. Who among us has not experienced questions, doubts, fears, heartaches, attacks, and the temptation to turn back? Life consists of joys, excitements, difficulties, disappointments, and traumas. As missionaries, we were always on the move, and there were definitely exhaustingly hard times as well as pleasant ones. But looking back now at our lives, I would not change one second of knowing that God Himself directly led us through all the questions, doubts, fears, heartaches, attacks, temptations to turn back, and worries about when and where we would go, how we would get there (or get back again!), or how we would live. In so many ways, our lives parallel the wanderings of the children of Israel, but what our family learned and how we all grew has been worth every fear and tear. As a boy growing up, I had no idea what God would eventually lead me through. How easily I might have missed God’s best for me by choosing second best - my own desires over His - just to “settle down” somewhere by my own will. How absolutely dull my life would have been! To miss God’s best for us by “settling” for the best of our own choosing would result, at best, in settling for second best … and by doing that, we would miss the best of everything. Never settle for anything less than God’s best! In Numbers 12, we see the jealousy of Miriam and Aaron in their opposition to Moses. They “talked against” Moses (verse 1), which was tantamount to slander. God will have none of this. He calls them out and states, “With Moses, I speak face to face” (verse 8). In righteous anger, God strikes Miriam with leprosy. As we have seen previously, sin against man is sin against God. Not a good idea.

In Proverbs 7:21-27, we see in the prostitute’s seduction of the young simpleton a further example of negative influence. Notice, “she seduced him with her smooth talk” (verse 21). He followed her “like an ox going to the slaughter” (verse 22), and that’s exactly what’s going to happen to him. Cattle out in the field have no idea they are headed to the slaughterhouse. The simpleton “little knows that it will cost him his life” (verse 23). Why does he not know this? Because he is unobservant and ignorant of the wisdom of God – which prefigures the Person and work of Jesus Christ – “Who is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (cf., 1 Corinthians 1:24). Wisdom, which personifies our Lord, teaches: “Do not let your heart turn to her ways – her house is a highway to the grave” (verses 25-27).

In Luke 3:23-4:13, we see the genealogy of the Man, Jesus Christ, going all the way back to Adam. Then in Luke 4:1-13, we read about Satan’s complete temptation of Christ. In verses 2-4, we see the devil’s temptation on the body – the physical part of the Man, Christ Jesus – which related to His hunger after being in the desert with nothing to eat for forty days. Already, as the Bread of life, Jesus did not need to convert stones into bread, for His sustenance was the Word of God. In verses 5-8, the devil attacks our Lord’s soul – His mind, intellect, cognition, and mental capacities – through the attractions of worldly authority and splendor. Jesus was already in possession of all authority and splendor. Finally, in verses 9-12, Satan tried to tempt the spirit of Christ by soliciting His worship. Jesus responded, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test” (verse 12). We see here that the whole Man was tested. Like Jesus, we need to guard ourselves against evil influences.

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