Author Topic: Our spiritual journey  (Read 815 times)

Description:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Deborah

  • Bible Buddies - together
  • ******
  • Posts: 430
  • Total likes: 83
  • Thanked: 24 times
  • Gender: Female
  • New :
    • Discovering the Bible
Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #56 on: August 09, 2017, 09:27:15 PM »
Facing death (Numbers 20:22-29)


Not long after the incident at Meribah (Numbers 20:1-13), Aaron is told that he is about to die, in fulfilment of God's judgement. He will not enter Canaan, but will go straight to the final home of God's people (verse 24). He is given due warning, so that he can hand the office of high priest over to his eldest surviving son Eleazar (symbolised by the transfer of Aaron's sacred garments).

Aaron accepts his fate with dignity, and without protest. With Moses and Eleazar, he heads up the hill for his final appointment, and never returns. "By this solemn procession Aaron lets Israel know that he is neither afraid nor ashamed to die, but, when the Bridegroom comes, can trim his lamp and go forth to meet Him." (Matthew Henry)

Few of us are given even a rough idea of when we shall die, but unless Jesus returns soon there will be a time for all of us when our pilgrimage is abruptly terminated. Will we then be able to say, like Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (II Timothy 4:7)? Will we 'go forth', like Aaron, to meet our Bridegroom with courage and joy?
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline Deborah

  • Bible Buddies - together
  • ******
  • Posts: 430
  • Total likes: 83
  • Thanked: 24 times
  • Gender: Female
  • New :
    • Discovering the Bible
Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #57 on: August 19, 2017, 09:16:11 PM »
Grumbling (Numbers 21:4-9)

Now the Israelites are in the final stage of their prolonged journey. But it must seem to them as though they are never going to reach their destination! Within weeks, discouraged by the unusually arid terrain they are obliged to traverse, they are complaining again - yearning for 'the good old days' in Egypt (a country that few of them have seen for themselves or are able to remember!) and grumbling yet again about the monotony of their diet.

But suddenly they are faced with a really serious problem - 'venomous snakes' (probably an outbreak of guinea worm infestation). As the worms emerge from the body, they cause intense pain and ulceration, and often death (from secondary infection, gangrene or tetanus). And the people, as always happens when they are in a desperate situation, know that only Moses and God (the targets of their complaints!) can help them.

But God's response is unusual - and interesting. Instead of simply taking the 'snakes' away, He uses the situation as an opportunity to teach the Israelites a lesson about salvation. The remedy presented to them for the consequences of their sin is a bronze representation of a snake coiled round a pole. Winding the worm slowly onto a rod is the only way to extract it safely, and thus prevent the fatal complications. And everyone who follows this instruction survives.

The details of this story are so sketchy that it is easy to misunderstand it. After a few hundred years, the Israelites began to treat the bronze snake as if it had magical healing powers of its own, and eventually King Hezekiah had to destroy it as part of his drive against idolatry (II Kings 18:4). But no magic was involved, just a basic principle: if you want to live, you must trust in God?s way instead of following your own instincts. And this is also the message of the Gospel: "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life." (John 3:14,15) We cannot save ourselves from the consequences of our sins by our own efforts, but must put our faith in the means that God has provided - in this case, the death of His Son.
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)
The following users thanked this post: Guardian

Offline Deborah

  • Bible Buddies - together
  • ******
  • Posts: 430
  • Total likes: 83
  • Thanked: 24 times
  • Gender: Female
  • New :
    • Discovering the Bible
Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #58 on: August 30, 2017, 07:13:26 AM »
Idolatry again (Numbers 25)

Finally the Israelites come to the east bank of the River Jordan, on the border of the country of Moab and within a stone's-throw of their goal. And at this point, at the very end of their long journey, they very nearly throw it all away. For those who could not be defeated by sword or sorcery (Numbers 22) are overcome by the prospect of good food and sex...

After a lifetime of austerity, an invitation to join in one of Moab's festivals must be very tempting for Israel's young men. But what probably begins as 'harmless' socialising quickly leads to ritual prostitution and idol-worship. Whatever excuses they might make for it, this is idolatry - and it arouses God's jealous anger.
"When they came to Baal-Peor,
they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol
and became as vile as the thing they loved."
(Hosea 9:10)
Yet the tribal leaders apparently do nothing to restrain or discipline the guilty men - which makes them participants in their sin. Moses has to warn them that unless they take action promptly, they themselves will be subject to the death penalty (verses 4,5)!

And at this critical moment, while people are dying in their thousands from a plague of judgement, and their representatives are weeping and seeking God's mercy, Zimri ben Salu comes brazenly into the camp with a Midianite princess at his side. As if it were not bad enough to be unfaithful to God, he has to do it publicly within the supposedly holy camp of God's people! If he is allowed to get away with such provocative insolence, the situation could get completely out of control - with disastrous consequences for Israel. Phinehas is the 'man of the moment' who realises what is at stake and takes decisive action. Following the couple to their tent (and catching them in the very act of having sex), he kills them both with a single spearthrust (verse 8 ). And God approves (verses 10-13).

If we find this brutal and shocking, it is because we have not grasped the seriousness of the issue. To participate in idol-worship is 'consorting with the enemy', and is the spiritual equivalent of adultery. Can we do that and expect God to bless us regardless? "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons. Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than He?" (I Corinthians 10:21,22) Idolatry is a perennial temptation; even those of us who have been Christians for many years are not immune from the lure of such things as money, ambition, or extramarital sex. It can have disastrous consequences - for our spiritual lives and for our ministries. And if we are in positions of leadership we need to be particularly careful not to compromise our faith, because other people will be encouraged to follow our example.
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline davetaff

  • Moderator
  • ***
  • Posts: 1434
  • Total likes: 106
  • Thanked: 45 times
  • Gender: Male
  • New :God is Love
Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #59 on: September 01, 2017, 11:52:41 AM »
Hi Deborah
Thank you for your post I do like reading them comparing Israels journey and our Spiritual journey I find interesting.

Love and peace
Dave

Offline Deborah

  • Bible Buddies - together
  • ******
  • Posts: 430
  • Total likes: 83
  • Thanked: 24 times
  • Gender: Female
  • New :
    • Discovering the Bible
Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #60 on: September 23, 2017, 10:34:52 PM »
Eyes on the prize: five wise virgins (Numbers 27:1-11)

In an intensely patriarchal society such as ancient Israel, daughters do not normally inherit any share of the family estate. But a certain Israelite (Zelophehad) has died at some point during the nation's wanderings without leaving a son to claim his promised inheritance in Canaan. His five unmarried daughters perceive the traditional system to be unjust, and dare to challenge it. Moses seeks God's advice - and not only does God uphold the women's claim, but He commands that the principle of female inheritance be written permanently into Israel's lawcode.

These 'five wise virgins' are remarkable not only for their initiative but also for their faith. Even though the land of Canaan is as yet unentered, let alone conquered, they petition for a share in it as if it were already in Israel's hands! They believe (probably with good reason) that once the land allocation actually begins, the men won't give them a chance to put their case.  So by staking their claim in advance, they are making sure that they won't miss out.

Could this passage shed some light on the notoriously hard-to-understand parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-10)? What makes five of them wise, and why are the other five foolish for not being prepared? The wise virgins are thinking ahead; they are determined not to run any risk of missing out on their places at the wedding feast. Like the daughters of Zelophehad, they want their inheritance - and they make sure that they get it. But whether through lack of faith or lack of desire, the foolish ones are less motivated; and they suddenly wake up to the fact that they may get left out at the last moment. So we must ask ourselves: do we give the Kingdom of God a high priority in our lives? If we do not think it sufficiently important to invest in it now, might we risk losing it altogether?
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline Deborah

  • Bible Buddies - together
  • ******
  • Posts: 430
  • Total likes: 83
  • Thanked: 24 times
  • Gender: Female
  • New :
    • Discovering the Bible
Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #61 on: October 02, 2017, 08:01:46 PM »
Handing on the baton (Numbers 27:12-23)

Like Aaron, Moses has excluded himself from the land of Canaan by his failure to uphold God's honour at Meribah. With Israel now poised to cross the Jordan, the time of his death is rapidly approaching - and his main concern, as always, is for the wellbeing of his people. The conquest of Canaan will place exceptional demands on them, and without exceptional leadership they will be desperately vulnerable - "like sheep without a shepherd" (verse 17). So he prays earnestly for a suitable successor.

Moses himself could not take the responsibility for making such an appointment; only God (who knows us all intimately) can choose the right person for such a vital job. And God announces His decision: the leadership will not pass to either of Moses' two sons, but to Joshua - a man already marked out by his close relationship with God. The transfer of responsibilities will begin straight away, so that the people will get used to taking orders from Joshua before Moses departs from the scene.

Once again Moses displays exceptional leadership qualities. Instead of hanging on to his power and position until the very last moment, he takes immediate steps to ensure a smooth transition between him and his successor. After forty years, it will be hard for the Israelites to come to terms with Moses' departure. And his will be a particularly hard act to follow, because his role has been unique and his performance of it exemplary (Hebrews 3:5). But Joshua has been called and commissioned for his task by God Himself, so he can undertake it with confidence: God is with him, and will not let him fail.

Human leadership must change from one generation to the next; but God is always the same, and He will never abandon us.
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline Deborah

  • Bible Buddies - together
  • ******
  • Posts: 430
  • Total likes: 83
  • Thanked: 24 times
  • Gender: Female
  • New :
    • Discovering the Bible
Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #62 on: October 14, 2017, 09:42:36 AM »
Settling for less (Numbers 32)

The tribes of Reuben and Gad (who have been camping close to each other for 40 years) suddenly come up with what they think is a brilliant idea (verses 1-5). The plateau east of the Jordan (which gets more rain and is therefore relatively fertile) has an abundance of good grazing, and is absolutely perfect for their livestock. Not only that, but its inhabitants have already been killed or driven away, leaving the land empty and ready for resettlement. So they can move in right now, without having to cross the Jordan or do any more fighting.

But for Moses, this apparently reasonable request rings alarm bells. It will set a dangerous precedent: if two tribes are allowed to opt out of the risks and rigours awaiting them across the Jordan, why should the others not follow suit? It's also a rejection of God's declared purpose (which is to settle the whole nation in Canaan). They seem to be showing the same contempt for His promise as the previous generation did at Kadesh-Barnea. Their reasons might ostensibly be different, but it comes down to the same thing in the end: a refusal to take what God is offering them. In this instance, their desire to be happy, wealthy and secure is not godly but sinful - and it's a serious threat to the unity and well-being of God's people. They are thinking only of themselves and forgetting that they are part of a larger body (verses 14,15).

Having listened to Moses' concerns and conferred amongst themselves, the Reubenites and Gadites put forward a compromise solution: they will settle in Transjordan, as they want, but will send their best troops into Canaan with the other Israelites to do their share of the fighting. They even offer to be in the vanguard of the invasion, the first to face the enemy (verse 17). Thus they can't be accused of shirking their responsibilities, or of diminishing Israel's military capabilities. And Moses finally agrees - but he gives them a solemn warning. "If you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out." (verse 23) We can't order our lives just as we please, without reference to the needs of others or the will of God. Our decisions will have consequences, not only for ourselves but also for other people. And to some extent Moses' fears are justified; once the request has been granted, a large portion of the tribe of Manasseh decide to join the defection.

Like Lot hundreds of years earlier (Genesis 13:10,11), the Reubenites and Gadites thought that they could do better living outside the land of God's choosing than in it. And many Christians seem to be under the impression that they can enjoy all of God?s blessings without being fully committed to doing His will. But Lot lived to regret his choice to settle in the lush Jordan valley; and the self-willed decision of the Transjordan tribes was to have a considerable negative impact on their descendants. Transjordan might have been fertile, but it lacked natural frontiers and was vulnerable to invasion. Also, the Jordan river cut them off from the other tribes, leaving them without easy access to help and support. Although they could pride themselves on being the first tribes to receive their inheritance, they were also the first to lose it.
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline Deborah

  • Bible Buddies - together
  • ******
  • Posts: 430
  • Total likes: 83
  • Thanked: 24 times
  • Gender: Female
  • New :
    • Discovering the Bible
Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #63 on: October 21, 2017, 11:03:20 PM »
Crossing the Jordan (Joshua 3 & 4)


At long last, the Israelites are standing on the east bank of the River Jordan - as close to Canaan as they can possibly get without getting wet. And there they pause, to prepare themselves for what is to come. There is a feeling of tense anticipation in the air, mixed with trepidation. For this is the worst possible time of year for making the crossing, as the river is swollen with melting snow from the mountains of the Lebanon (Joshua 3:15). And what challenges await them on the far side?

But a river is no barrier to the Lord of all the earth. He commands the priests to carry the Ark - the symbol of His presence - into the deep, fast-flowing water. And as soon as they step into the water, the current suddenly subsides to a trickle, as if a tap has been turned off. (Actually, an earthquake or landslide has dammed the river several miles upstream - Joshua 3:16.) The river bed remains dry for several hours, allowing the whole nation to cross safely and easily. They are home at last!

God does not demand 'blind faith' from us; He always gives us evidence on which we can base our trust. Because we have seen what He has done for us in the past, we can be assured that He will take care of us in the future. But what happens when we reach the end of our pilgrimage? Is there still a 'future' for us then? Is death a literal dead-end, or is it a fordable river? And even if it's the latter, it's still a daunting prospect for most of us: an overwhelming flood, rather than a trickle.

So we find ourselves in the same position as the Israelites, walking into the unknown. But our Lord, having led us all the way through life, will continue to lead us through death. "Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before." (Joshua 3:4) We have not been that way before - but He has (John 14:1-6)!

"When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside.
Death of death, and hell's Destruction,
land me safe on Canaan's side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee,
I will ever give to Thee..."
(William Williams)
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)