October 4, 2007

Sacrifice

I finished reading Colossians yesterday. As much as I could hang out there for a while, soaking in the goodness and pondering Paul's challenges to us, it was time to move on. So, I asked the Lord where He wanted to take me, and He directed me to Numbers.

For a mathematically-challenged gal like myself, I avoid numbers whenever possible. Still, He is so good & I could tell exactly why He wants me there.

The first few chapters recount the Lord's command for a census of Israel (hence the title of the book):

The LORD spoke to Moses in the Tent of Meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: "Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. You and Aaron are to number by their divisions all the men in Israel twenty years old or more who are able to serve in the army..." All the Israelites twenty years old or more who were able to serve in Israel's army were counted according to their families. The total number was 603,550.
--Numbers 1:1-3, 45-46

God gave Moses and Aaron a daunting task: gather all of the Israelites together, determine who met the age and gender requirements, and make a record of their findings. Moses, Aaron, and 12 other chosen men were responsible for counting the men, one by one. By the time it was done, there were more than 1/2 million men who would serve in the Israelite army. (My Bible had a note that if you estimated one woman and two children per man, there would have been 2.5 million Israelites!)

I wonder, did Moses think God had lost His mind? Did he complain about the planning and effort this job entailed? Did he tell God to come back later, when it would be more convenient?

Would I?

Moses and Aaron took these men whose names had been given, and they called the whole community together on the first day of the second month. The people indicated their ancestry by their clans and families, and the men twenty years old or more were listed by name, one by one, as the LORD commanded Moses. And so he counted them in the Desert of Sinai
--Numbers 11:17-19


God placed Moses in leadership over Israel because He knew that Moses would be faithful to accomplish God's plan. If we seek to be Godly leaders, we must be willing to do whatever He commands...no matter how outrageous, difficult, or time-consuming it may seem. We must sacrifice our time, talents and resources for His purposes.

After the census was done, God gave detailed instructions on the arrangement of the tribal camps around the Tabernacle. (Numbers 2)

Did the Israelites grumble about having to pick up their belongings and move to a specific spot around the Tabernacle? Were they offended that the Levites got to camp right next to the Tabernacle, and that Judah was on the East, closest to the sunrise? Did they refuse to leave their comfort zones?

Would I?

So the Israelites did everything the LORD commanded Moses; that is the way they encamped under their standards, and that is the way they set out, each with his clan and family.
--Numbers2:34
God's chosen people were obedient to what He commanded. Likewise, if we want to see the Promised Land God has for us, we must be willing to leave our comfort zones and to move where He directs. When others get the "prime spots", we must accept that He has appointed us to a specific place for a very definite reason...even if we don't understand. Even if it hurts. We must sacrifice comfort and our "rights". Then we will find protection and blessing.

Even though I really dislike math, I'm sticking with Numbers. There's a Promised Land waiting!

5 comments:

Alana said...

I'm impressed...Numbers! Aack!

I really enjoyed your observations, though. I look forward to reading more!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Melissa,

As I am journeying through the bible (just finished Lamentations), I wish I had this to read when I was in Numbers! So often I breeze by a passage that seems to have "no significance", but as I have gone through the bible, I am learning more and more that there is significance to be gained in every passage. I pray for God to open my eyes! Thanks for sharing the way he opened yours today.

Merrie said...

I love your blog. I just found you. Not sure how - I just followed some other bloggy friends and got to you.
Thank you for your wisdom and insight and honesty.
I also like your blog with recipes. Being originally from Georgia (now in Oklahoma) these are fresh and wonderful and bring back wonderful memories... I can just smell the goodness!

Angie said...

So glad I found your blog. Thanks for the encouraging words to be obedient, no matter what.

The Small Scribbler said...

It sounds like you are digging deep here. I never really thought about the amount of work involved in counting a half-million people. It's funny how a single sentence can make one ponder and see a whole story if one only takes the time to think.

Kate