Sunday, March 9, 2014

Wandering and Whining

I'm reading Numbers and need to write this stuff out to make it clear in my head. No one reads these posts if I don't link them to facebook, so I'm just going to ramble. If you happen to read it and have any insight, feel free to share. :-)

The Israelites have been freed from 400 years of slavery. They should be happy, right? We have been freed from sin through the redeeming work of Jesus on the cross. We should be happy, right?

They're stuck in the desert though, and starving. We have to live our lives out on earth and have needs.

God meets their need and provides manna - a daily miracle.

God meets our daily needs as well. (Give us this day our daily bread.)

They get sick of the manna and cry for meat. Honesty card: I'd cry for something besides manna too. I don't even like eating leftovers from last night's dinner. The same thing every single day for years? Yikes. I'd be whining.

God gets MAD. Why? Because they're not happy with his provisions? Because they're asking for more? Does God get mad when we ask for more? When we're not happy with the basic necessities he's given us? Should I not pray for Justin to get a better job? Should I not pray for a vehicle that runs consistently? Honest questions. What about "Ask and it shall be given to you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened unto you." (Matt. 7:7) Is that strictly about salvation? What about "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?" (Matt.7:11) What about "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine . . ." (Eph. 3:20)

God gives them what they want in the form of a sea of quail. But "while the meat was still between their teeth" his anger resurges and he sends a plague, killing many of them.

Does God give us what we want - what we perceive as blessings - but silently seethe? Are curses soon to follow?

In the following chapter God's anger burns against Miriam and he strikes her with leprosy. Moses mediates for her and her "sentence" is lessened to 7 days living outside the camp. Is that the key here? Our mediator has already come. He's taken God's burning anger once and for all. That's a relief, but I still don't want to displease God. God's character never changes. Do the things that made him mad in the Old Testament still make him mad today?

Should we be content with the blessings we've been given - with our daily bread - and consider any other blessings an added bonus? Or should we "approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Heb. 4:16) Maybe I should just be praying for mercy and grace instead of material blessings.

One more thought: maybe God wasn't angered by their desire for something more. Maybe he was just angered by the whining. Instead of saying, "God can we please have something besides manna" they said, "Why do you torment us by giving us the same thing over and over? It would have been better to stay in Egypt where we had meat to eat."

That'd be like me saying "I wish I'd never accepted your gift of salvation. I wish I'd stayed a sinner so I could keep doing all the sinful things that felt so good." Maybe he was angry that they cheapened his gift and forgot what he had saved them from. Now I think we're getting somewhere . . .

It's amazing how writing this all out clarifies so much. (Or maybe that's the work of the Holy Spirit . . .)

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