Thursday, May 19, 2016

PRAYERS OF THE BIBLE SERIES: THE BOOK OF NUMBERS #5

HOW SHOULD I PRAY WHEN WRONGED BY ANOTHER?
15 Then Moses was very angry, and said to the Lord, “Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them.” (Numbers 16:15)
22 Then they fell on their faces, and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?” (Numbers 16:22)
I have chosen these two far apart verses as a continuation of the same prayer. The reason for this is they are both part of the same incident – the Rebellion of Korah. Korah and his family and “followers” were all jealous of the special relationship which Moses and Aaron had with Almighty God. In those early Bible days, God would come down from Heaven in a Cloud of Glory into the Tabernacle and meet with both men, but mostly Moses.  Another Levite, whom Moses called a minister, was envious of all the ceremonial aspects of what Aaron and his other son Eleazar did for the Lord Himself in the desert Tabernacle and directly challenged them with bold accusations.  Numbers 16 gives us that account, starting in verse 1. Korah and his 250 rebels basically accused Moses and Aaron of acting “mightier and holier than thou”.

Both Moses and Aaron knew better than this and God Himself, through the Holy Spirit told us that Moses was the most humble man on earth (Numbers 12:3). These two men of God reacted with proper humility rather than lashing out, as modern human nature would….even in ministerial circles.  God had given Korah and his clan (all Levites) a special ministry but they went even further in their unseemly rebellion. From Numbers 16:12 and following, the records show that these so-called men of God even called Egypt the “land of milk and honey”! They had the nerve to blame Moses for trying to get them killed when they were the ones who were among the many who doubted the good report of Joshua and Caleb about the REAL “land of milk and honey”.

The Bible records Moses praying in righteous anger for the first time. This is the first Imprecatory Prayer of Scripture.  So now therefore, now, how does the Christian respond in similar situations?  What occurred here is a prime example of the violation of the Tenth Commandment, which is a direct command against envy and lust for something (or somebody)belonging to someone else. It does not matter if thing envied is a ministry or your neighbor’s new car, when your car is 12 years old – this is a violation of His commandment and the spirit of the Law. Moses, a man with almost nothing to his name, who spent his time serving a bunch of ingrates and praying for God to spare their lives time after time, was in perfect order to appeal to God for help as he did in verse 15 (see above). Should we, as Christians, pray likewise if under assault like this? A lot of what Moses faced here has been faced by many people – from church leaders, to bank tellers to moms and dads and even teenagers bullied in school. It is abhorrent and worthy of laying the case directly and promptly before God. The words may be different because the circumstances are not always the same, but if a person proceeds down that road, extreme caution is necessary.

Take a very good look at what Moses said in his prayer. He only asked God not to accept their expensive grain offerings because of their attitude. Nothing else.  God responded in severe anger at the rebels because He knew Moses was telling the truth about accepting nothing from these people. He also knew the hearts of Korah and his 250 rebels who were not really rebelling against the leadership of Moses and Aaron, but God Himself.

In the final analysis, all rebellion, sin, transgression and iniquity are against God and His Sovereignty. Because God is sovereign He can also do what He wants. For the second time in five chapters (the last time was Chapter 12 when Moses’ prayer stopped God from wiping out over one million people), Moses, putting aside the personal attack against him, pleaded with God in verse 22 (see above)( to not destroy all the people when it was only one man leading the rebellion – Korah! The Lord relented and only punished the 250 rebels and their families.

This second prayer (verse 22) is important to tie in with the first one in verse 15. In what was the mildest imprecatory prayer in history ("Lord do not accept their grain offerings"), Moses continued to show why Jesus/Yeshua/Yahweh chose him to be the Redeemer of Israel.  After God told Moses to stand back, “let Me at them…ALL of them”, Moses again prayed and begged for God to only deal with the one person who started this entire unpleasant episode.

Here again, we have the example of how we should pray when wronged by someone else.  The example of Moses is perfect. I know people whose lives have been almost ruined by others calling themselves Christians. They have lost jobs and been called names and even threatened….by so-called fellow Christians, one of whom was a church elder. Do you know what all that pain, tears and fears led to, in the long run? They led to prayers for not just protection from all evil, but for the offending party’s salvation and restoration. This is grace upon grace. Jesus told us to pray for our enemies and in so doing, we heap coals – burning coals – upon their heads. If we respond in love and grace like Moses here, we would be better off in the long run. If we do this, we would be more like Christ, Who said “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”.

You mean, “I am supposed to put aside all the tears, stress, heartburn and worse…where I cannot sleep at night and now need medical attention, so that I can pray for them, so that I, the wronged party, can be more like Christ?” The answer is – YES!  There is nothing we can do in this lifetime to correct somebody’s attitude towards us or pay them back, where we will not end up worse than we were before. There is nothing that we think we can do to the offender in the equation that will equal what  God can and will do to them, if they do not repent and make it right. Therefore it better for us to lean on the Scriptures, the written Word and humble ourselves even MORE before our Heavenly Father and then just do like Hezekiah did – lay out the entire case before Him and let Him deal with it. I know this works, having been through the fire for several years of trial by co-worker. How God worked in this situation was tremendously productive. The offender came to Faith in Christ several years after her retirement . Is the Arm of the Lord too short? No, it is not! Simply trust Him fully to do what He said He will do. Trust....and pray!


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