Devotional on Numbers

2014 – Mt Rainier National Park

God’s second best
Numbers 21: Israel moved in and lived in Amorite country.
For some reason I’ve always imagined the ancient Israelites just wandering around in the wilderness for forty years. Apparently, it wasn’t quite like that. As they prepare to enter the territory ruled by King Sihon Moses sends representatives to negotiate safe passage through the territory. He promises that he and his people will only pass through and won’t take anything that isn’t theirs. However, Sihon sees them as easy prey and orders his army to attack them. Israel fights back and not only defends itself but takes possession of the territory ruled by Sihon. Later on they also defeat Og’s forces and take his territory too. They haven’t arrived in Canaan but now they have a base of operations. In spite of their massive failure to occupy Canaan the Lord has provided them with temporary housing. The other stories of battles and other conflicts all orbit around this territory which is east of the Dead Sea and of Canaan. For this generation, this is as good as it gets. They could have been taking the Promised Land, securing a future for their children but instead they’re in a “holding pattern” just shy of their goal. On one hand, I’m moved by the grace of God. In spite of their failure the Lord continues to care for them. On the other hand, it’s disappointing that they came so close yet failed to take possession of Canaan. (Even to the point of fighting Og who is described in Deuteronomy as one of the giants of Canaan). As I see the Israelites busying themselves with moving into their temporary housing I can’t help but wonder how often I’ve accepted God’s second best for me. There’s a lot of grace in this passage, but things aren’t what they might have been.
Take Away: God’s people never need settle for second best when it comes to God’s provision.

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