Friday, March 25, 2011

Moses (Part 4: The Problem with Envy)

The Problem with Envy, image courtesy of www.ingodsimage.com

The Problem with Envy: As I indicated, the problem with lust is characterized by the demand:

I want it!

Lust objectifies what it wants because relationship is not a factor. A man rapes a woman not because he wants a relationship with her; he simply sought to gratify his desire for sex. The methodology one uses to gratify lust is unimportant because the mindset is always, get me that. Lust seeks to get; it never gives. I believe this is true in every instance of lust.

The problem with greed is characterized by my answer to the question, how much is enough?

It’s never enough!

Greed establishes a conduit relationship solely for the purpose of abusing it to get what it demands. The alcoholic bonds with a container, not because she wants a relationship; the container is simply a conduit through which she abuses her access to drink alcohol uncontrollably. I was in a building where a fire started and I foolishly tried to put it out. I had no idea how quickly fire could spread. I witnessed the flames consume everything because the thirst to burn was insatiable.

Petty thief or corporate exec, greed operates the same in both. There are many factors why so many Americans are unemployed, why so many homes are in foreclosure, and why the price of goods and services are so high, but I believe at the root of these problems is the problem with greed. We will never be satisfied in our abusive acts of greed.

The problem with envy is characterized by the acknowledgement of:

You don’t deserve that, I do!

Envy can never be pleased with the success, accomplishments, or life of another. Envy determines that I am better suited to have what belongs to another. Envy says,

That should be me!

Envy does not comprehend joy. Envy will not embrace love. Envy cannot live in peace. Envy does not despise what another has; envy despises another for having it. In my youth, I played sports and I hated losing, but I didn’t hate my competitors. I admit that in competition, there is a certain element of animosity present that is directed towards one’s opponent; but envy doesn’t want to succeed as others have, envy wants to take what others have. What I’ve come to believe is that in every instance, a relationship with God (or another person) is always superseded by an object. In Romans, Paul writes:

They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.1

It is the ultimate insult that Satan desires when we usurp our relationship with God for a thing. It also occurs to me that each of these problems must sacrifice something on the altar of idolatrous worship:
  1. Lust sacrifices relationship in order to get
  2. Greed sacrifices humility and self-control in order to feed
  3. Envy sacrifices love, godliness, contentment and joy in order to hate
At the root of all envy is an unwillingness to love another. I’m unwilling to love someone because I want to take from them. I want to take from them because I believe I am more deserving than they are. I’m more deserving because I am superior. I’m superior because I believe myself to be better than others. I’m better than others because I deny the truth of how God views me.

A coach once remarked to hall of fame basketball player Michael Jordan, “There’s no 'I' in TEAM!” Immediately, Jordan shot back his response with, “Yeah, but there is in WIN!

Envy is all about I, me, and mine.

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.2

Speaking of those who dispute the gospel message concerning salvation through Jesus Christ, Paul writes:

…he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.

But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.
3

What is godliness?

The Greek word for godliness is eusebeia (yü-se'-bā-ä), which means reverence, respect, piety towards God, godliness, the doctrine that promotes godliness, the truth that leads to godliness. It is an attitude of devotion towards God that is committed to pleasing God.4 It is one who believes and confesses the truth regarding Jesus Christ.

By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.
5

"Godliness is the sum of religious virtues and duties, bringing to its possessor blessedness here and hereafter."6

...On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.7

Godliness is the consistent practice of devotion to God by having the same attitude as Jesus Christ.8

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples.Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?’”9

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.10

How do I resist envy?

Resisting envy does not mean that I don’t have desires, or I deny the presence of desire in me. A person may desire to go to college, get married, have children, start a business, become a doctor or president; these are healthy human desires. I must understand that I am a steward of God’s life in me. This means that I understand my desires must conform to the will and purpose God has for my life. Operating outside those parameters negates my devotion to God. I must understand that when I desire what belongs to another, I’m embracing an attitude and philosophy that only seeks to please myself; not God. Godliness overcomes envy. It means that everything that I do is with the attitude that God Himself has asked me:

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.11

Envy is also overcome when I demonstrate contentment in my life. I learn to live in the spirit of contentment and joy when others succeed in life. I no longer measure myself through the lives of others; I now seek to please God, regardless of my material status in this life. Rich, poor, Black, White, Red, Yellow, tall, short, large, or small; my life belongs to Christ, it is no longer mine.

This is what often frustrated me in my relationship to God and others. The truth is I was unwilling to put God or anyone above my own desires; I always came first. I’m thankful that I’m finally learning that the frustrations I created for myself (and others) has been replaced with a Godly contentment and joy that seeks to please God. Like anyone who runs a business, I want and desire my business to grow, but I thank God for where I am; I realize this is where he wants me for this season. I’m not measuring myself against others. I am living the life of godliness and contentment; I also have joy.

Father God,

So often in my life I've sought to please myself at the expense of sacrificing my relationship with You. I created so much frustration for myself. Heartache, disappointment, and disillusion always followed my selfish and destructive behaviour. You are teaching me the more excellent way of following Christ. Praying, searching the scriptures, and living a life of faith and obedience. My goal is the upward call of Christ; that the offering of my life in sacrifice is pleasing to You. I pray Father for those who struggle with heartache, disappointment, disillusion; who experience frustration rather than joy. May we who call upon the name of Jesus, be used to illuminate the light of truth by our life; revealing a love, joy, peace, godliness, and contentment that connot be discerned by human thinking. There are so many needing to be touched by You Lord. Reassure them that they are not alone. Where there is sickness, speak forth the word of healing. Where there is lack, speak forth the word of increase. Where there is anger, strife, and unforgiveness, speak forth the word of peace. May I and other believers be vessels worthy of Your calling and purpose. In Jesus name, Amen.


Spiritual SundaysNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).

Footnotes:
  1. Romans 1:25, NLTB
  2. Titus 3:3, NLTB
  3. 1 Timothy 6:4-6, NASB
  4. Eusebeia, reference number 2150, Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
  5. 1 Timothy 3:16, NASB
  6. Godliness, page 411, Unger’s Bible Dictionary.
  7. 1 Timothy 4:7-8, NASB
  8. Philippians 2:5
  9. Matthew 16:24-26, The Message Bible
  10. Philippians 2:3-4, NIV
  11. Colossians 3:17, NLTB
References:
  1. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  2. The Amplified Bible, by The Lockman Foundation, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, ISBN-13: 978-0310951414
  3. King James Version, The Crusade Analytical Study Edition, Crusade Bible Publishers, Inc., PO Box 90011, Nashville, Tennessee 37209
  4. The Message Bible, by Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress Publishing Group, Colorado Springs, CO, ISBN-13: 978-1600060250
  5. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  6. The New Living Translation Bible, by Tyndale Charitable Trust, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, ISBN-13: 978-0842384896
  7. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, By James B. Strong, S.T.D, LL.D., Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126
  8. Matthew Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6
  9. Unger's Bible Dictionary, By Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, Chicago

Friday, March 18, 2011

Moses (Part 3: The Problem with Greed)

The contrast between Temperance (Self-Control) and Greed, image courtesty of www.sirjohnsworld.com

The Problem with Greed: Unlike lust, greed has a much different focus. The Greek word for lust, epithymia (e-pē-thü-mē'-ä) means desire, craving, or longing. While the Greek word for greed, pleonexia (ple-o-ne-ksē'-ä) means a greedy desire to have more.

With lust, I want to be gratified. With greed, I always need more gratification. Greed is the thirst that cannot be quenched. Greed stands in opposition to Christ who proclaims:

Jesus answered,Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”1

Greed is unquenchable!

Christ quenches!

Three important points in Numbers 11, beginning at verse 4:
  1. Greed begins with a craving for more. How quickly we forget that God requires obedience. They had not departed the camp at Taberah, the Place that Burned and Consumed those who complained of hardships, when some of the foreigners in the camp began to complain about the food. The dissatisfaction with God continued to increase. Instead of repenting and submitting, more complaining sprung up. They no longer were satisfied with simply manna. They reflected on life back in Egypt, as though they lived in luxury, instead of slavery. They spoke of eating fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic; implying that in Egypt that they only ate the freshest and choice foods. They forgot that as slaves they were only given the scraps that the Egyptians discarded.
  2. Every family began to wail. Unlike the previous group of complainers who were on the outskirts of the camp, this complaining engulfed the entire camp. Just as a little leaven leavens the lump, the complaining infected the entire camp.
  3. Moses was troubled. Here we see Moses now frustrated with his ministry and calling. His frustration leads into a series of questions posed to God:
    1. Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? (v.11)
    2. What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? (v.11)
    3. Did I conceive all these people? (v.12)
    4. Did I give them birth? (v.12)
    5. Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? (v.12)
    6. Where can I get meat for all these people? (v.13)

    Rather than seek direction from God, Moses vents his emotional exhaustion to God. Finally, at the end of his rant, he offers a suggestion to God:

    If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.2
God then addresses the problems cited in the order of priority:
  1. God instructs Moses to bring seventy men before Him.
  2. God will endow each with a portion of the same Spirit that is in Moses.
  3. God requires the people to be told to consecrate themselves; tomorrow their wailing for meat will be answered.
In hearing God, Moses fails to understand God. He rationalizes that in a camp of six hundred thousand men, there is not enough meat to feed everyone. It reminds me of the logic Nicodemus used when Jesus told him, “You must be born again.3

Moses raises two questions regarding how the entire camp can possibly be fed meat for an entire month.

How can God make such a promise?

The LORD answered Moses,Is the LORD’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.’”4

Sadly, I have too often questioned God’s ability just as Moses in this situation. A fellow blogger recently reminded me of the differences between God and me when she said,

Remember his ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours.

I have friendship with God, and as a result, I have peace with God; but this does not mean I have equality with God. While the Lord may at times reveal to me aspects of His will, He does not seek my counsel to guide His sovereignty.

How can I (or anyone else) understand the deep things of God if Moses himself could not understand how The I Am would feed the entire camp of Israel meat for a month?

The next day we see the results of greed:
  1. For two days people went out and gathered quail.
  2. No one gathered less than 1 ¾ tons of meat.
  3. A plague broke out in the camp before the people could finish consuming the meat.
The plague killed all those who craved other food.

Greed will drive me to think, say, and do things that are harmful. While lust doesn’t seek to establish a relationship because lust seeks to get, greed establishes an unhealthy bond through a pattern of unrestrained abuse. The more I’m driven to crave a thing, the more uncontrollable I become in the abuse of it. Drugs, alcohol, food, and sex all reveal a pattern of abuse when my behavior is uncontrollably driven by greed.

How do I resist greed?

Resisting greed requires spiritual self-control. It also requires humility. One does not truly experience spiritual self-control apart from humility. Greed is always produced in my life when I lack self-control in an area. I lack self-control because I have not submitted. I have not submitted because I refuse to humble myself. I refuse to humble myself because of my pride.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.5

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.6

The key then to resisting greed is living my life in humility and submission to the Lord; this will in turn develop spiritual self-control in my life.

Lord Jesus,

I want my life to honor You by living a life of humility, selflessness, and self-control. I want an attitude of giving, picking up my cross each day and following You. You see Jesus, the only thing that really matters are hearing the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant!...Come and share your master’s happiness!" I join with other believers today in prayer, asking for blessings of health, peace, employment and joy. I pray for that friend lying at the point of death. I ask You Father God, to remember him and just as You remembered Hezekiah, answering his prayer and restoring his health. I pray for that infant child lying in a hospital, only needing for You to speak a word. I pray for that father lying in a hospital with a stroke, and I ask You Lord to touch and heal his body. Look now on those men and women dealing with unemployment, or facing a layoff. Open up windows of opportunities on their behalf. Our faith and hope abide with You dear Lord. No other help do we know. Thank You Father for hearing and answering our prayers. In Jesus name. Amen.


Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).Spiritual Sundays

Footnotes:
  1. John 4:13-14, NIV
  2. Numbers 11:15, NIV
  3. John 3, NIV
  4. Numbers 11:23, NIV
  5. James 4:10, NIV
  6. 1 Peter 5:6, NIV
References:
  1. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  2. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  3. The New Living Translation Bible, by Tyndale Charitable Trust, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, ISBN-13: 978-0842384896
  4. Matthew Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6

Friday, March 11, 2011

Moses (Part 2: The Problem with Lust)

The Problem with Lust

Last week, I indicated my belief that the underlying reasons that often bring imbalance in my relationship with God have occurred in three problem areas:
  1. Problem Number One: Lust
  2. Problem Number Two: Greed
  3. Problem Number Three: Envy
Obviously there are other problem areas one experiences, but in the context of this discussion of Moses and the book of Numbers, I would like to focus on these three.

The questions of how and why do these problems arise have obvious answers. We can look at those individuals and groups in scripture to see the results of sin in their life, and we can examine our own life as well to see the parallels.

In Chapter 11, we discovered that:
  1. The people complained: There was an uproar that grew to such an extent in numbers and volume that it angered the Lord. What may have started as minor grumblings among a few began to spread among many. What spread among many were not just complaints, but an attitude of ingratitude. What may have begun as a grievance became an outcry against God Himself. It no longer became a problem of hardships; it was God who was now seen as the problem. They had traveled for three days (Numbers 10:33), and having traveled for three days, found reason to complain.

    Hardships have a purpose in my life. They are to bring me to that place of dependence upon the Lord. They teach of His love, kindness and mercy for me. When faced with hardships, I can look back and remember, how the Lord showed Himself faithful and delivered me. Israel could also look back to those four hundred years of slavery in Egypt, and how God delivered them. They could look back to the shore of the Red Sea and remember the pursuing armies of Pharaoh, and how God parted the Red Sea and they escaped on dry land; while Pharaoh’s army drowned. They could look back and remember how in the early morning of that present day; they gathered manna (that bread from heaven) to nourish them. They could have done anything to count their blessings, but instead, they chose to complain.

    It’s one thing to dislike hardships. It’s another to accuse God for our hardships:

    Let no one say when he is tempted,I am being tempted by God; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.1

    In effect, Israel complained because they allowed their own desires to supersede faith and trust in God. In three days, He was no longer their Deliverer. In their minds, He was the oppressor, treating them more harshly than did their Egyptian slave masters.
  2. Fire from the Lord burned among them: Their complaints brought a swift response from God. The response was unexpected. They looked not on God as The Lord, but as a man:

    These things you have done and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes.2

    They took comfort in their complaints, they sought solace and support from other complainers; yet they did not seek God. Perhaps they viewed themselves abandoned by God in the desert.

    Where is the Lord? Does He even exist?

    What began as a grievance became a consuming lack of trust in God. Without faith, it became impossible for them to please God. Their unfaithfulness made them into dry wood, needing only a spark to ignite them. It was not the spark of faith; sadly, it was the spark of their unbelief that burned. We must take care what type of structure we erect upon the foundation God establishes. I am purified by the holy flame of God’s Spirit.

    Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.3

    Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.4
  3. The people cried out to Moses: Often we do what we know not; we do what we would not. Our complaints don’t bring the results we seek. Only faith can bring the peace and joy I need. The people complained and created in their midst a combustible situation. They didn’t realize what they were creating; their minds were solely focused on complaining. When many became consumed by the flames of God’s anger, they no longer wanted God to hear their complaining voices; they cried out to Moses.
What causes me to lust?

I believe that there is within me a desire that strives to please me, rather than please God. It is love of self over God and others. I have heard it said that, before you can truly love anyone, you must first love yourself; but is this saying really true? I have never found a problem with loving myself. I don’t mean that it hasn’t created problems for me; it has. Loving myself will always lead me to a fork in the road of my life; which way will I choose?

Do I choose the way of sacrifice or the way of self?

What I’m saying is that loving me will always conflict with loving God and others because I must give instead of get. When I lust, it is purely from my motivation to get, to obtain for myself, something I desire; something I tell myself will please me.

What I see in lust is that I want to substitute relationship for a thing (the object of my desire). I don’t want a relationship; I just want some thing to satisfy my craving. Lust never seeks to give; it is merely a desire to get, no matter the cost or expense.

When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying,I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves.And all the people said, ‘His blood shall be on us and on our children!’”5

How do I resist lust?

It is important for me to understand that I will always find pleasure in satisfying myself; even if it is only temporary. A drug can make me feel good, but the euphoria doesn’t last; eventually I’ll need another dose. I can find pleasure in many things, alcohol, food, clothes, money, cars, property, career, sex, and other things, but eventually, I’ll need another dose. What I must understand is that things don’t last; and the reason why is because I cannot establish a relationship with a thing. I believe this is true in all areas of my life where things are substituted for a relationship.

Without a relationship, I can never build intimacy. Without intimacy, I cannot have honesty, commitment and trust. Without these components in my life, I will never be in a position to give of myself to God or to others. I cannot learn to trust God without giving myself to God. I will never reach the place of trusting others until I freely give my life in service to others.

Then Jesus went to work on his disciples.Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?’”6

Next week I'll continue this discussion on The Problem with Greed.

Father God,

I am so very thankful that through Jesus Christ I have a relationship with You. I want to please you with my life by living faithfully comitted to Jesus Christ, Your way, Your truth, Your life and purpose for me. I pray Lord for Your grace and blessing upon Eliana, thanking You for those caring for her health. I pray for those men and women currently unemployed; that You would bless them with employment opportunities. I pray for those facing home forclosure, asking You to be a shelter in their time of need. I pray for those in a health crisis and those in emotional distress; speak the word of healing, peace and comfort into their lives. We have brothers and sisters, family and friends near and far; in New Zealand, Uganda, Haiti and other places. The needs are many Lord, but You Yourself have asked, "Is the LORD’s arm too short?" You are the same Lord, yesterday, today and forever. There are children dying and being exploited. Voices cry out on their behalf. I know You hear them. Thank You Lord for relationships, with You and others. You're teaching me to give and not get; there is a different attitude and it is an attitude of thanks and adoration. Amen.


Spiritual SundaysNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).

Footnotes:
  1. James 1:13-14, NASB
  2. Psalm 50:21, NASB
  3. Hebrews 12:28-29, NASB
  4. Psalm 51:7, KJV
  5. Matthew 27:24-25, NASB
  6. Matthew 16:24-26, The Message Bible
References:
  1. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  2. The Amplified Bible, by The Lockman Foundation, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, ISBN-13: 978-0310951414
  3. King James Version, The Crusade Analytical Study Edition, Crusade Bible Publishers, Inc., PO Box 90011, Nashville, Tennessee 37209
  4. The Message Bible, by Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress Publishing Group, Colorado Springs, CO, ISBN-13: 978-1600060250
  5. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  6. The New Living Translation Bible, by Tyndale Charitable Trust, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, ISBN-13: 978-0842384896
  7. Matthew Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6

Friday, March 4, 2011

Moses

Note: Last August, I wrote that my marriage ended. My wife informed me that our life together was over. I admit it came as a shock, particularly at a time when I was dealing with being unemployed. She would decide several weeks later to remain with me and it was our hope that the Lord would bring healing to our relationship. Last week my wife moved out and in the aftermath, I am left to trust the Lord (as I have now for the past year) to get me through each day by the measure of grace He so generously pours upon me. I cannot (nor will I) speak for my wife. I do not seek to find fault, assign blame, or cite wrongs; it no longer matters to me what went so terribly wrong, only the end result remains vivid in my mind. I have not denied my own selfishness, insensitivity, and inconsideration. I am thankful that during the past year, the Lord has helped me move from a position of spiritual ignorance to one of trust and dependence. I want my wife to be happy, and I pray that our Lord bless her with that which she seeks. My thanks to so many who’ve prayed on our behalf and I would simply ask that you keep us both in your prayers.

Miriam and Aaron complain about the Cushite wife of Moses, image courtesy of wondersforoyarsa.blogspot.com

I’ve been reading through Numbers and for this month, I would like to focus on the life of Moses. I want to specifically focus on his character and personality; how in the illumination of scripture I may learn something about myself.

There are many events which occurred during the life of Moses. His life is viewed by biblical scholars through three forty year periods:
  1. Moses spent the first forty year period of his life from birth to his escape to Midian. As Pharaoh’s son, his time was spent learning to be somebody.
  2. Moses spent the second forty year period of his life from his escape to Midian to the Exodus. Wandering in the desert, his time was spent learning to be nobody.
  3. Moses spent the third forty year period of his life from the Exodus until his death. As the leader of God’s chosen people Israel, his time was spent learning God is above everybody, and to be submitted to the God of all creation.
I’ve looked at my life during ten year periods. Much can happen during ten years of a person’s life. Quite a bit more happens during a forty year span of life. The number three seems to be a common occurrence in the life of Moses because I discover three significant events that occur in chapter 11:
  1. The people complain about their hardships (11:1).
  2. The foreigners among them lusted for other food (11:4-15).
  3. Those who lust were struck with a plague (11:33-34).
So many things happened in the desert and yet the lessons of humility, gratitude, and obedience never seemed to appeal to Israel. Even after many who had complained and died in the place called Kibroth Hattaavah (The Graves of Lust), complaints continue to occur. The next set of complaints occurs in the beginning of Numbers 12:

While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman. They said,Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?But the Lord heard them. (Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.)1

I’ve heard it said that, “We want what we cannot have”, but the truth is we often want “what we truly don’t need”.

What truly satisfies a person above friendship with God?

Very little is known about this wife of Moses, except she was a Cushite (African). Some argue that this wife and Zipporah are two different women. What is certain is that Miriam and Aaron took exception to Moses because of his Cushite wife. One can speculate that perhaps Miriam and his wife had a dispute, perhaps Miriam and Aaron felt that this Cushite woman had a much more influential position with Moses than they did, perhaps it was the dark complexion of her skin that created the animosity, perhaps Miriam and Aaron were upset that they were not consulted about the appointment of the seventy elders, or perhaps they became consumed by the same attitude of lust as those who died by the plague, perhaps they sought an increase in their role and visibility instead of being satisfied with their position and personal relationship with God.

The word relationship is a common thread in the life of Moses:
  1. His relationship with God.
  2. His relationship with Israel.
  3. His relationship with Aaron and Miriam.
  4. His relationship with his wife
Obviously his relationship with his wife is what resulted in the criticism by Miriam and Aaron, but there had to be an underlying reason. I’m learning that it’s the underlying reasons that often bring imbalance in my relationship with God. Three problem areas have often been the culprit:
  1. Lust
  2. Greed
  3. Envy
What I learn from reading this is that it is easy to complain about what one does not have. It is better to be thankful in all things.

…pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.2

When I focus on what I don’t have, I begin to crave for it. I complain about what I lack, instead of thanking God for what He provides; I become a type of Israel in the desert. I complain to Christ (my New Testament Moses) that things aren’t right.

I tell myself that things would be alright if I just had______.

I may entertain the idea that things were not as bad before I began following Christ. Now that He has me following Him, I begin to think He isn’t measuring up to what I need in the relationship. I’d be happy if He just did what I ask. It’s a fool’s deception that robs me of a meaningful relationship with God.

What I learn from the life of Moses is how to combat these three problem areas. I'll talk more on this next week.

Father God,

You satisfy me with Your precious love and grace. Certainly, there are times when I'm uncomfortable and would like nothing better than a nice breeze and sunny skies, but even when the storms of life are raging all around me, my heart cries out for the safety and shelter of Your love. Your word declares, that I have peace with You and there is nothing that is more valuable than knowing that I'm in a secure relationship with You. I am weak Lord, but You are strong. Your grace is sufficient for me. I trust You Lord, and each day, I learn to trust You more. Thank You Jesus for securing a relationship with the Father on my behalf. I ask You to look on the needs of many who are troubled and discouraged. Many are in the midst of great strife. Many are devastated by tragedy. Pour out Your grace upon their lives Lord. May Your strength be pefected in our weakness. We trust, cling to and rely upon You Lord. In the name that is above every name, I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.


Note: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).Spiritual Sundays
Footnotes:
  1. Numbers 12: 1-3, NLTB
  2. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18, NIV
References:
  1. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  2. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  3. The New Living Translation Bible, by Tyndale Charitable Trust, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, ISBN-13: 978-0842384896
  4. Matthew Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6