Saturday, March 05, 2011

Convo with Pastor - Numbers 16:31-32

[Moses] had hardly finished speaking ...
when the ground suddenly split open ...
and swallowed the men ...
Numbers 16:31-32
This is a strange part of the Bible isn't it?
It seems like on every page there's rebellion from humans. And it seems like on every page there's judgment from God.
Understandably, many people don't like judgment and so they make an intuitive leap. They point at Jesus and say that God is forgiving. (And that is absolutely true!!!) But seeing judgment as an absolute contradiction to grace, they wind up writing off large sections of the Bible as ancient myth. (And that is absolutely dangerous! In fact, Jesus himself didn't write off the Old Testament, he says he fulfilled it -- Matthew 5:17.)
Rather than writing off large parts of the Bible, we would be wise to know recognize that grace and judgment are not contradictory ... but complimentary! In fact, grace proved judgment! If judgment is what we deserve, then grace is what saves us. And if there is no judgment, there's no need for grace.
Therefore, I'd like to suggest an alternative view to this section of the Bible. Rather than seeing Numbers as a chapter of rebellion and judgment; I invite you to look at it as a reminder of God's extreme patience in the face of constant human rebellion.
Patience: The people complained about hardships (11:1), the lack of water (20:2), the lack of meat (11:4), "giants" in the Promised Land (14:1-4), Moses' leadership (16:3), God's leadership (21:5), and the consequences to their own sin (16:41). They were disobedient, disrespectful, and discontent. But God was patient and he ultimately, powerfully, and victoriously delivered them anyway.
That's grace!
In Christ's Love,
a rebel
who's required a lot of patience
Imagine the onlookers when the ground opened up and swallowed those people. What would they have been thinking ... 'Hmmm-maybe we should straighten up or we could be next.'  How often should we be the victims of the ground swallowing us for complaining about life? Yet, how often does God spare us? I can't keep track of that count. Can you?

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Speak gently. carefully. thoughtfully. graciously. humbly.

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