Archive for » May, 2011 «

May 16th, 2011 – Numbers 25

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One of the most famous military anecdotes in all history is the story of the Trojan Horse. Without going into too much detail, the basic idea is that you should in fact look a gift horse in the mouth, particularly if it’s 90 ft high and sounds like it has a platoon of soldiers inside it. The warning, be it historically accurate or not, is to pay as much attention to what’s going on inside your walls as you do to the machinations outside.


The previous few chapters of Numbers have focused on the work of Balaam, a hired gun for Israel’s enemies. As Israel passed through various lands during their lengthy trek to the Promised Land, the kings of those lands freaked out at the rather large of number of strangers parking out in their driveways, and decided to call out Balaam, a shaman with the supposed powers to curse people. As the previous couple days have shown, his efforts were less than awesome, and it looks like Balaam may actually be a convert.

However, notice that the next chapter involves men being men, and they started indulging in various dalliances with foreign women, including sexual immorality and worshiping foreign gods. In fact, one man took a woman to his tent under the eyes of Moses and the leaders. (Go ahead and read the story to see what one of the leaders did to the offenders). Long story short, God sends a plague to remind the Israelites that he values purity, and we can hope that the Israelites get the message.


Jump ahead to Chapter 31. Guess who’s behind this seduction of the Israelite men. Good ole Balaam. When he couldn’t get his way by frontal attack, he shifts to a sneaky way of undermining the Israelites (and succeeds, unfortunately).

We spend a lot of time in the modern church discussing “the attacks of the enemy,” and how Satan wants to destroy us. This is true, but let’s not forget that attacks don’t always come from the front. No attack of the enemy does the damage that our own sin and weaknesses can do. When we think back on some of the high-profile failures of our life, public and private, how many were caused by direct spiritual attack? How many were caused by our own failure to keep our eyes focused on God, and instead allowed our attention to wander to things that sparkle and shine?

Today, ask God to show you where the enemy may be attacking you, but don’t be surprised if it’s closer to home than you may like. Sometimes we can see the enemy’s best weapon by simply looking in a mirror.

May 11th, 2011 – Numbers 20

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The hard part about reading the Bible is that sometimes it’s like looking in a mirror, and not a good mirror like in the dressing room at JCPenney, but the bad mirrors like at rest stops that make you look like you’ve been running the Iditarod on foot for the last fortnight. When we read the stories about the Israelites, it’s so easy for us to laugh at their idiocy, until we realize that we do the exact same things on a daily basis. Example? Very well.

In Numbers 20, we find the famous story of Water Coming from the Rock II, the Sequel. 40 years earlier, the Israelites were wowed by God providing water from a rock when Moses struck it with his staff, but by this time their memory has faded and they start complaining again.


We tend to think that they are complaining about water, but look at what they actually complain about: Num 20:5 “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!” There’s no figs, grapevines, or pomegranates? Oh, and also, no water. It’s like water is the afterthought.

Let’s not forget, this is after 40 years of God providing manna everyday, quail for the potlucks, and clothing that never wears out. And what’s the first thing on their mind? “Where’s my figs and pomegranates?”


Before we get on our mocking pants, let’s update this story to our time.

After 40 years of serving the Lord in the most prosperous nation in the history of the world, the children of America turned to their pastor and said “why don’t we have cappucino like the church down the street? Why is our church van so old and worn out? How come our carpet is so dirty?”

I don’t know about you, but that makes me think less of how silly the Israelites are, and more “ouch.” How many of us have served the Lord for years, but we complain when we have to make due with a 5-year old car? Or have to shop at wal-mart instead of Macy’s. Or only have “one” laptop? Maybe we aren’t as different from the Israelites as we’d like to think.

What pomegranates are you focused on today?