Have you ever played the game where you analyze a photo and discern all the discrepancies and incongruities within the picture?
Do you detect a seemingly glaring
defect within the scenario that is depicted in Numbers 14:32-33 when the Lord
proclaims the consequences to the unbelieving Israelites who refused to follow
the Lord into the promised land?
“But as for you, your carcasses will fall in this wilderness.
And your sons will be shepherds in the wilderness forty
years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your
carcasses are consumed in the wilderness.”
Wait. What?!? The younger generation was going to have to suffer because of the older generation’s lack of belief in God?!?
Before we add God’s ‘missing justice’ to our list of wrongs in the above scenario, I pose this question: Why are we so quick to scrutinize the picture of a God who is:
all-powerful (Psalms 62:11, “God has spoken once…that power belongs to God.”),
all-seeing (Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”),
all-knowing (I Samuel 2:3, “Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth. For the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed.”),
unchanging (Job 23:13, “But He is unique, and who can make Him change? And whatever His soul desires, that He does.”), and
just (Deuteronomy 32:4, “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice. A God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.”)
After glorifying, celebrating, and worshiping God in Exodus 15:11-18, for His astounding deliverance from the oppressive Egyptians, we soon find His people complaining against and blaming God and His chosen leaders for every difficulty and perceived challenge they came across (Exodus 15:22-29; 16:2-8; 17:2-7; 32:1-9; Numbers 11:4-6, 10, 18-20; 14:1-4).
What is wrong with THIS picture?
God had proven Himself to be faithful time and again; yet, the people’s default was set on tabulating their perceived wrongs with God’s picture.
What if, instead, we analyzed discrepancies and incongruities within the picture of our human nature?
Numbers 23:19 bluntly states,“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” Implicates that man is unreliable.
Psalm 103:14 says,“For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” Emphasizes man’s fragility and lack of substance.
Proverbs 16:25 states, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” We’re a gullible lot.
Ecclesiastes 11:5 reminds us, As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, So you do not know the works of God who makes everything.” We have inferior knowledge.
James 4:14, “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” Our perspective is limited.
Let’s revisit Numbers 14:32-33. From a human perspective, it definitely appears that this picture is missing God’s justice. However, IF God’s justice was askew…even once…in any given scenario of life, God and His Word would be a lie. Given the vastly different character sketches between God, the Creator, and man, the errors are certainly to be found on the human side. As discussed in my previous blog, Wonderer or Wanderer?, belief and trust in God were missing from the picture. Accountability…the realization that their choice to not pursue God’s promised land would affect their children’s future, in addition to their own…was missing. Perhaps we could add faulty expectations to ‘the list’…that after Egypt, life would be easy and He, being their God, would fight all their battles single-handedly, as they basked in the splendor of being God’s chosen.
God never promises protection from difficulty and hardship within life’s scenarios…whether it is a part of His plan or brought on by other’s irresponsible usage of free will (God is relational; therefore, He allows man the choice to follow…or not.). Job admitted in Verses 23:14-17, that this unknown aspect of life was scary and intimidating,
“For He performs what is appointed for me; and, many such things are with Him (Insert *shoulder shrug and hands, palms-up*). Therefore, I am terrified at His presence; when I consider this, I am afraid of Him. For God made my heart weak, and the Almighty terrifies me; Because, I was not cut off from the presence of darkness, And He did not hide deep darkness from my face.”
Are you struggling with what appears to be God’s missing presence? Is it hard to see God at all through the darkness of the picture that is facing you right now? Or…even more…how a just God could even allow the picture you face to be set before you? I urge you to imitate Job’s resolve in Job 27:3-4, 6,
“As long as breath is in me, and breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness…nor deceit. My righteousness I hold fast; and, will not let it go. My heart will not reproach me as long as I live.”
I pray that you will determine to believe and trust beyond what your limited human perspective allows you to see at the moment.
We can be assured that in whatever scenario God places us, it will be for His glory and our growth (James 1:2-4, I Peter 4:12-13). Neither is brought about via a life of ease. How will you respond when you are called to face a challenging scenario? Will your first reaction be to find all the ‘wrongs’ with God’s picture…to take ‘pot shots’ at His character? Or, will you take time to examine, acknowledge, and own the discrepancies and misconceptions that so frequently manifest within our limited, fallible, human perspective of the picture before us?
In Jeremiah 17:5-8, the Lord reveals two different end results for any challenging life scenario we find ourselves facing,
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he will be like a shrub in the desert, and will not see when good comes, but will inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.”
Will you end up a wanderer…without vision…lost hope…refusing to see past the perceived wrongs with God’s picture? Or, will you choose to be a wonderer…anticipating what God can do…and will do…with the chaos in front of you?
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green [Green even in the midst of heat], and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit [Thriving, despite the drought].”