Tuesday, May 10, 2016

PRAYERS OF THE BIBLE SERIES: THE BOOK OF NUMBERS #2

OH NO YOU DIDN'T!
 11 So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have You afflicted Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I beget them, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a guardian carries a nursing child,’ to the land which You swore to their fathers? 13 Where am I to get meat to give to all these people? For they weep all over me, saying, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’ 14 I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If You treat me like this, please kill me here and now—if I have found favor in Your sight—and do not let me see my wretchedness!” (Numbers 11:11-15)

Have you ever gotten to a point in life where you wanted to throw everything down and just walk away from an appointed task? It does not matter if you have the biggest job in the town; or a church leader or even the head of a home. There comes a breaking point where even the best of us may have had it and even wanted to throw the towel. Sometimes a person can give and give and give, see no gratitude and in fact, you may see the opposite - complaining, whining and no concept of the grander picture at all, just incredulous commentary. 

If you feel that way, you will not have been the first. Moses would not have been the first leader of a congregation, nation, even a family to want to pack it in and walk away. Fortunately he had the greatest Listener for what burdened his heart - the Lord God of Heaven! What had set him off was the entire group of ingrates whom God had liberated from 400 years of brutal oppression in a godless, hot and evil land of Egypt. Yet, they incredibly spit in the proverbial Eye of God by saying the following "5 We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; 6 but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!”

They conveniently forgot the hopelessness, death, harsh treatment and worse they suffered at the hands of their slave masters in Egypt and focused on things which I am sure they did not eat of regularly. On slave wages, there is no way all these people could be eating as high on the hog as an official in Pharoah's court as they let on. Yet, they despise the very food miraculously provided from Heaven - manna.  The bible passage here even goes on to say how good it tasted - (like cakes) "taste was like the taste of pastry prepared with oil" (verse 8).

So Moses had the same reaction that a parent may have towards an ungrateful child and prayed the prayer above to the Lord. He sorts of blames God for "afflicting him (Moses) with these (grumbling) people" and twice asks for relief "if he had found any favor" at all in God's sight (verses 11 and 15 above).

The specific complaint which set him off was the one of continuous manna from heaven when the people, who had done nothing to deserve their freedom and good health and clothes which never wore out...wanted steak, baked potatoes and corn on the cob...for free! No just that, they wanted it well done, with steak sauce, cheesecake and expresso for after dinner. They had done or deserved nothing for the Grace which God showed them.

The first thing, therefore, which we should notice here is this: God knew all along Moses could not handle all of this on his own, but was waiting for Moses to realize this and then ask for help. We can say that because the Lord did not send them the desert equivalent of Ruth Chris Steakhouse but told Moses to get 70 elders from the tribe leaders, who will assist him in managing an unruly people. This occurred in the very next verse after Moses' prayer above.

The second thing is a great lesson for today, as it was then. The real issue was not the fact that Moses was overwhelmed trying to lead millions of people with their individual hangups. The real issue was and always is - UNBELIEF. Like Christians and in fact, all people today, God is their personal ATM. He is their blessing and cash machine to withdraw from without even the thought of saying "thank You" to Him. There was no trust in Him to complete what He said He would complete (the Promised Land) and in fact, all these people could see was the moment, nothing further than their noses and taste buds and even after they saw God on the mountain....they still did not belief. Modern man, and even Christians do the same thing because they don't fellowship closely with God through Bible study and prayer. We either believe His promises or we do not.

Third, if we do not guard our hearts and minds and souls, by staying close to the Source, the Giver of life, the Father of Lights, from Whom cometh all good things, we too can become horrible grumblers like those in this bible passage. We will have no clue until Judgment Day what God has kept us from, protected us from and given to us DAILY, sometimes minute by minute, yet we are never grateful for small mercies....and sometimes not even the big ones. 

If we do not acknowledge the One Who gave it all for us - Jesus Christ - by living in the realm of Him as our Lord and Master, we are basically no better than some of these people who looked back at the time before they were freed from slavery and saved from the Bondage of Sin and Satan. How dare we, who were bought at the ultimate price - the Life of God on a Cross - compare the pleasures of sin for a season by looking back across the divide, when the Joys of Jesus are divine, eternal and so much more?  How? Indeed.....


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