Ahhh..Finally!! Week Fifteen! You have been a patient bunch of girls. Life has been crazy busy around my house. I am so glad to be getting back to this study. Let’s get straight to it!
In Lesson 14, we alluded to the fact that sometimes we can feel we aren’t truly living in our place of Promise (or abundant, effectual living) simply because we are still fighting. We were able to spiritually map ourselves depending upon whether our struggles were centered on lack of faith/belief in God or the attacks of the Enemy. At this point in the study, we are so close to the Promise we can almost taste the milk and honey that flow there. Don’t stop now! If you are like me, the middle can be a much more comfortable place to be instead of within inches of the finish. I can use this study as an example. Only two lessons to go and I find myself stalling – not for lack of zeal but because in some weird way, I dread the let down when it is over. I don’t know how NOT to fight. For me, the days without struggle are the ones that breed laziness and apathy. It’s like being 5 lbs away from the goal on the scale or within a few payments of being out of debt. The last days are the most weary and we wonder if we’ll have strength to maintain the prize. Am I talking to anyone out there?
This week, we are going to revisit Numbers 32. This is the portion of Scripture where Moses is still alive but has already been told by God he would die before crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land. As Moses’ last act of war, God has just executed vengeance upon Midian for their part in seducing Israel to idolatry. The spoils were divided amongst the tribes and the request arose from the sons of Reuben, Gad, and the 1/2 tribe of Manasseh to be given the land east of the Jordan as their inheritance since it was a suitable place for livestock.
There are many events in the Exodus account that stir my heart – many of them regretfully skipped for sake of topic and time, but this particular scene is HUGE to me. Here we find ourselves in a familiar place, one the Israelites had been before. Once again as forty years prior, the nation is standing at the edge of the Promise and here are a small number who want to remain behind. The set up is reminiscent of Numbers 14 when the nation wailed over the reports brought back from the spies about the land and its inhabitants. Only Caleb and Joshua trusted God to go before them into the Land while the other ten spies discouraged the people by spreading doubt and fear. The ensuing rebellion cost Israel forty long years and the death of the entire generation – all because ten men did not trust their God to finish the work He had begun by leading them out of Egypt.
Was this about to be a replay of what had happened forty years earlier? Had Israel learned anything in their wanderings? Which leads us to ask ourselves the very same question: What wisdom are we gaining in our afflictions? How are we reacting differently when we are presented with circumstances which yesterday would have found us in rebellion against God? There comes a time, Girls, that something has got to give. We can live in this borderland the rest of our days but this is NOT the life Your God intended for you to live! How long do we have to flounder without yet learning to draw from the well of experience we have with our God in order to let His deliverances CHANGE the way we move through this life? AFFECT our decision making? MOVE us from bondage to abundance? When are we going to stop making the same ridiculous mistakes over and over and over? God can and will clear the way for you into abundance, but He can not take the steps for you. Just like the Israelites, the Promise is there waiting for the generation and more specifically, the woman who will be brave enough to possess it.
Moses had learned a thing or two about His God. He’d been found a pauper at the foot of Horeb and had returned with a multitude at his side to worship. He’d been one afraid to even speak and yet found himself singing praises to the God of Israel in front of millions. He had been one who believed his sufficiency rested in his position in Egypt but had been taught God’s I AM is very much magnified when we are not. Not beautiful. Not famous. Not enough.
As Moses stood before these tribes believing they were about to make the same mistake – again – we can only imagine the grief he felt in believing they still did not get it. No wonder he flipped his lid! “Now behold, you have risen up in your father’s place, a brood of sinful men, to add still more to the burning anger of the Lord against Israel. For if you turn away from following Him, He will once more abandon them in the wilderness, and you will destroy all these people.” (Numbers 32:14-15)
And what a relief when the tribes instead told Moses “you’ve got us all wrong! We just want to settle our families and livestock. We are going to fight alongside our brothers and will not return home until every Israelite has received their inheritance.” (vs. 17-18, my paraphrase) And yet, what should have come as an assurance was still met with some doubt. Moses knew this people and their propensity to go back on their words the moment the going got tough so he charged them in an oath saying, “you are free from obligation after all your brothers are settled in the Land. But if you do not do this, you have sinned against the Lord – be sure your sin will find you out.” (vs. 22-23) I read one commentary which stated this phraseology literally means, “your sin will hunt you down.”
We learn later these tribes held to their word and returned to their homes in peace and victory. Hear me on this one – they learned from the mistakes of their fathers and determined to act differently because of them. They had witnessed the destruction their unbelief had caused and chose to trust God instead of longing for the control of Egypt. That is what our lives are all about! Absorbing experiences, processing them through the balm of Scripture, and allowing them to color – in a healthy way – every decision, word, and deed that pours forth from our bodies. Scripture is clear that men and women are responsible for their own sin, but reality shows children often repeat the poor actions of their parents even when that action brought great pain. Even if you do not have a lineage of faith, can you be brave enough in the power of your God to break the yoke and be the first to stand for His Name? Your answer to this question will affect a multitude. What will you do?
Another thing I want to address before we end today is found in Joshua 22. In this Chapter, Reuben, Gad, and 1/2 Manasseh are settled in their inheritance across the Jordan from the rest of Israel after fulfilling their oath to the brothers. They then built an altar to God as a witness between them and the tribes living across the Jordan that they indeed were a part of Israel even though the River separated them. The Law of Moses strictly prohibited any altars at any location other than the Tabernacle. When the other tribes heard of this altar, they immediately prepared to go to war against Reuben and Gad to destroy them for their disobedience.
Goodness – talk about being a misunderstood group! First Moses, now the entire nation of Israel has questioned the faithfulness and integrity of these three tribes. Certainly their fathers had made many mistakes in the past, but the only thing these men were guilty of was asking for an inheritance on the fringe of the Promise.
This very much speaks to me in a personal way about our propensity as women to hold a mistake over some one’s head for a very long time after our sister has already paid the price for making it. The offense may not even be something that was truly worthy of being offended over, but by the time we blow that thing out of proportion the girl doesn’t stand a chance in the event of any misstep whatsoever. You may be that girl – the one who is constantly misunderstood or never feeling quite forgiven for something that was settled between you and God long ago. Can I encourage you this day? You be found faithful before your God and HE alone will be your justice. And girls, may we never be found guilty of lacking the same grace and mercy that has been poured on us time after time!
The Israelites were ready to go to war over a huge misunderstanding. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and the two sides were able to reconcile to one another. May we follow their example of Joshua 22:33, “The word pleased the sons of Israel, and the sons of Israel blessed God.” No matter the offense, let’s commit to blessing God together for the sake of His Great Name.
We’ve got a few things to talk about so let’s get to Discussion!
1. I think we can all agree most of us find ourselves closer to God in the struggle than without it. How does it affect you knowing that trial is what draws you more intimately in relationship to Your God?
2. Have you ever made a huge mistake but then found yourself in the position for a ‘do-over’? Did you make a better decision the second or third or fourth time around? :)
3. Is there a ‘generational sin’ in your family you have overcome? This can be anything from a lineage of unbelief to issues of many kinds. This may be a private matter. Share if you feel liberty or quietly thank God for His deliverance. If you have not yet been delivered, I pray with all my heart God’s Word is giving you courage to ask for help in that area.
4. Have you ever been misunderstood? Do you feel unforgiven for past mistakes even though you know God has forgiven you?
5. Is there a sister you need to extend grace towards in order to be able to ‘bless God together’? Do you comprehend how your unforgiveness is hindering her from inhabiting her own Promise? If no, do you recognize a situation within your church body where this may be happening? If so, ask God to raise up a ‘Phinehas’ (mediator) in this situation. He may just reveal the Phinehas is you. :)
I look so forward to our discussion this week – It’s so great to be back on track! :) Don’t forget to link to your Study Post, not your homepage, if you are placing your answers on your blog. As always, you are more than welcome to leave your thoughts in the Comments!