Israel’s enemies were used by God to accomplish two purposes (Judges 3:1-2). First, to test the faithfulness of the next generation. Second, to teach them warfare. We desire to protect the next generation from all things hard. We should protect them from what is evil and immoral. Sometimes we need to allow some hard things to test them and to mature them. Other times they need to learn warfare—how to deal with hard things—because real life is full of hard things. Sometimes God wants to fight our battles; sometimes God wants to equip us to fight our battles.
Sunday, March 17, will be 90 years since Redfield Wesleyan (Methodist) Church was established. Churches are lot like people—they have their individual quirks, personalities, talents, strengths, challenges and life history. I am too new to this church to be much of an expert, but I know I feel honored to be pastor. I know I’m among awesome people who have kept the faith. I really appreciate that this 90 year old church is not dying, not pushing a walker, and not just keeping the doors open. God help us to be Sarah and Abraham in old age!
My “Service Battery Charging System” light came on my dash. I hoped the alternator would last until I got home. I shut off what I could shut off and keep going. After several hours the alternator failed and the car started shutting down one system after another. Eventually the car died. We used a jump starter battery pack and got to the next town where I left the car until daylight. If we don’t maintain our charging systems, our bodies begin shutting down our systems also. Life also drains us spiritually so we need to keep our spiritual battery charged.
Deuteronomy 9:4-5 tells us Israel did not gain possession of Canaan because of their righteousness, but rather because of the wickedness of the Canaanites. There was no room for spiritual arrogance among the Israelites. It is also true that once they possessed Canaan, the Israelites would only be blessed when they lived in obedience to God. Life is gradually teaching me the same truth: Life and salvation are a gift from God I do not deserve; there is no room for spiritual arrogance. My response to the gift should be one of obedience to God.
Exodus 33:16 presents a picture of being people set apart for God. The key was that God’s presence was with them and they had found favor in God’s sight. The surrounding verses show us that Moses wanted to know God’s ways and to see God’s glory. So Moses had no interest in being distinct (different) for the sake of drawing attention to himself. But Moses was so interested in knowing that God was with him that he was willing to be different from everyone else in order to accomplish what God wanted to do through him and through the Israelites.
The book of Numbers reminds us to have Godly confidence when God has called us forward. If God hasn’t called us forward, our faith is mere risky presumption. But I am more prone to err by playing it safe than by taking a risk! I am Moses instructing God that there isn’t enough meat in the world to feed all the Israelites. And God responds “Is the Lord’s arm too short?” Numbers 11:24-25. When the ten spies argue for going back to Egypt, Caleb and Joshua plead with them to possess Canaan because “The Lord is with us.” Numbers 14:4-10.
As I read about the tabernacle furnishings and the glory of the Lord in Exodus 39-40, I ponder the significance today. Clearly, the New Testament teaches we are God’s temple and we should take care of that temple. But it amazes me how much detail God gives in the construction and care of construction and care of the OT tabernacle and temple. God can and does meet us in all kinds of environments from rustic tabernacles to grand cathedrals, and they should be loved and cared for. But they are only buildings until the glory of the Lord comes.