Purifying the land
Numbers 33: Everyone you let stay there will become a cinder in your eye and a splinter in your foot.
In preparation for entering the Promised Land the Lord gives Moses instructions on how to divide the land between the tribes. He also tells Moses that the current inhabitants are to be driven out. No one currently living there is to remain. One way or another, they have to go. If the people of Israel fail in this mission the Canaanites will become thorns in their sides; the source of downfall and destruction. I wonder if the spiritual failures I sometimes see in people’s lives parallel this. The Lord calls me to full surrender to himself. I’m to give him my past, present, and future placing it all in his hands. My habits and wants, my plans and dreams must be handed over to the Lord. As long as I hold things in reserve, I haven’t yet purified the “Canaan” of my heart. If I keep some things locked away in some dark corner of my life the day will come when they will become a “cinder” in my eye and a “splinter” in my foot. The old hymn of invitation that’s actually a prayer beautifully speaks to this: “All to Jesus I surrender, I surrender all.”
Take Away: I surrender my all and in return, the Lord fills me with himself – it’s a very good deal for me.
Settling for God’s second best
Numbers 32: Don’t make us go across the Jordan
After the failure of the Israelites to cross into Canaan the Lord gives them temporary possession of the land to the east. They defeat the inhabitants and take over their territory. Now, it’s time for the next generation to make preparations for the campaign to take Canaan. Two of the tribes come to Moses requesting that they be allowed to forfeit their portion of the Promised Land and settle right where they are. Moses is livid. He sees this as the prelude of another failure on the part of the Israelites to obey the Lord and to move forward to the land they were promised long ago. The people of Ruben and Gad respond that they’ll join the fight and help their fellow Israelites take the land but that they’ll be happy with right where they are. Moses agrees but warns them that they’ll have to keep their part of the bargain. As good as that land east of Canaan might have been, I think Ruben and Gad made a huge error. They settled for “almost Canaan” instead of Canaan, itself. No matter how good that area was it wasn’t what the Lord had for them. It was good, but it wasn’t the best. This kind of compromise is always a temptation for us. We shouldn’t let so called human wisdom serve as a substitute to God’s call and promise on our lives.
Take Away: Don’t settle for merely good when the Lord offers us the very best.