"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
July 31, 2013
In last week's devotional I wrote about the consequence of Moses' disobedience to God. To briefly recap: After God specifically instructing him to speak to the rock and it would pour out enough water to provide for all the people, as well as the livestock, Moses disobeyed. The people had been complaining, and when Moses turned from the presence of God to face the people, he shouted, "You rebels! Must we bring you water from this rock?" Then he raised his hand and struck the rock with his staff.
God spoke to Moses and Aaron and said, "Because you did not trust Me enough to demonstrate My holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them."
Much later, the Lord once again spoke to Moses and said: "Climb one of the mountains east of the river, and look out over the land I have given the people of Israel. After you have seen it, you will die like your brother, Aaron, for you both rebelled against my instructions in the wilderness of Zin. When the people of Israel rebelled, you failed to demonstrate My holiness to them at the waters."
Moses knew that he was not going to be the one who would lead the Israelites into Canaan, so asked that God would appoint a new leader for the community. The request of Moses was, "Give them someone who will guide them wherever they go and will lead them into battle, so the community of the Lord will not be like sheep without a shepherd." The Lord instructed Moses to anoint Joshua as the new leader.
Even though Joshua had been anointed as the new leader, Moses still had a desire to be able to enter the promised land. (Deuteronomy 3:23-29) Moses pleaded with the Lord, "O Sovereign Lord, You have only begun to show your greatness and the strength of Your hand to me, your servant. Is there any god in heaven or on earth who can perform such great and mighty deeds as you do? Please let me cross the Jordan to see the wonderful land on the other side, the beautiful hill country and the Lebanon mountains."
But the Lord was angry with Moses on Israel's behalf and would not listen to Moses' request. "That's enough!" He declared. "Speak of it no more."
Moses was then instructed to go up to Pisgah Peak and look over the land in every direction. He was allowed to view the land of promise, but was not allowed to cross the Jordan river and enter it.
After his last instructions to Israel, Moses climbed Pisgah Peak, which was across from Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land. The Lord said, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendants.'"
Even though Moses couldn't enter into the land, he led the people to the border, then God allowed him the privilege of seeing the beauty of it. That is an awesome picture of grace!
From his view from Pisgah Peak, the Lord showed Moses the whole land, from Gilead as far as Dan; all the land of Naphtali; the land of Ephraim and Manasseh; all the land of Judah, extending to the Mediterranean Sea; the Negev; the Jordan Valley with Jericho -- the city of palms -- as far as Zoar. Even though he never got to enter the promised land, Moses got a view of it that the rest of the Israelites didn't see. He got to look out over the whole land and get a birds eye view of the entirety of the vast country. Everyone else only saw what was in front of them, wherever they happened to traveled.
A simple example of this is when Jon and I traveled to Singapore. Whenever we went sightseeing, we either walked or rode in a cab. But whether on foot or in a vehicle, the only view we got of the country was what was along the specific route that we traveled. We decided to ride the Singapore Flyer, which was a giant observation wheel (kind of like a gigantic ferris wheel with enclosed capsules), that is the height of a 42-story building. From the top you can see the entire island of Singapore, and on a clear day can even see parts of Malaysia and Indonesia. We got to see what the layout of the country looked like; which was something we were unable to do from street level.
God graciously allowed Moses to see the entirety of the land of Canaan! He punished Moses for his disobedience by not permitting him to enter the land they had spent forty years traveling to; but He showed mercy to Moses by allowing him to climb the mountain peak and see what the promised land looked like.
There may be consequences when we sin, even though we repent. But God will also extend His grace to us when we ask for forgiveness. He not only forgives, but He also remembers it no more. Even though Moses missed out on finishing the task of leading the Israelites into Canaan, God bestowed favor upon him by allowing him to see it.
Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyesight was clear, and he was as strong as ever. (Deuteronomy 34:7)
Although Moses was unable to be the one who ultimately led the Israelites into Canaan, it didn't mean that he was a complete failure or that God had forgotten the great leader that he had been.
All of us have failed and made mistakes that we wish we could undo. But that doesn't nullify or invalidate our total worth as a person; nor does it erase all the good we've done. We will often concentrate on that one act or period of rebellion and sin, feeling as if it outweighs all the good in our life. The guilt and shame will burden us so heavily that we generally have a hard time forgiving ourselves and moving on.
I heard an example recently that a mother gave her daughter regarding driving. If you are constantly looking in your rearview mirror to see what's behind you, then you will not see what's in front of you and crash. That's the way it is in life. If we are consistently looking behind us, focusing on our regrets and failures, then we will miss out on what's ahead of us and will sooner or later crash.
Deuteronomy 34:10-12 says, "There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. The Lord sent him to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, and all his servants, and his entire land. With mighty power, Moses performed terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel."
Moses knew God face to face, yet he disobeyed and failed. David was called a man after God's own heart, yet he committed adultery and sinned; and had Bathsheba's husband killed in battle in order to try to cover his sin. The men that we consider heroes in the Bible were human, and they sinned and messed up, just as we often do. But when they repented and asked for forgiveness, even though they still had to suffer the consequences of their sinful actions, God forgave and continued to show His grace and mercy and favor to them.
When we repent of our sins, God forgives and forgets. As far as the east is from the west, our sin is remembered no more! There may sometimes be consequences for our sinful deeds, but in spite of that, God can still bestow His favor upon our lives and protect us and open doors for us that we never thought possible.
I'm glad there is no sin so great that God will give up on us, as long as we repent of it. One sin won't ever wipe out all the good in our lives. But all the good in our lives won't overcome even the smallest of sin, either. It is only through Jesus and His sacrifice that our sins are removed. That includes the little sins and the huge sins.
Getting mad and striking a rock instead of holding the staff over it seems like such a minor lapse. But Moses needed God's forgiveness for that, just as David needed forgiveness for adultery and murder. They both had consequences, but God forgave them both.
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 heaping Tbsp. self-rising flour
Mix all ingredients together; let set for 5 minutes. Stir down and fry by spoonfuls in hot oil. (Dip spoon in water each time before putting in mixture and it will slide right off into the oil.)
I called my sister's cell phone and was surprised when her 11 year old deaf adopted son answered the phone. I thought perhaps she had saw my name on caller ID and let him answer, but turned out he was in the house alone and had heard the phone ring and answered. I was so surprised! He has had a cochlear for several years, but since he was born deaf, he has never heard words so it has taken him a couple years of working with an exceptional speech therapist to finally figure out the difference between words and noises. He was able to hear me relatively well on the phone -- and found out that he loves talking on the phone. That afternoon, my sister left him again for a short amount of time, and my phone once again rang. He had figured out how to pull up her contacts on the iPad and get phone numbers! And again.... he later called a third time!! I speak to him in very short, easy sentences so he can understand the words, and he is able to give me answers. His speech is hard to understand, but I've been around him for years so am able to figure out most of what he says. My sister finally told him that he could not play on the phone! He wasn't playing -- he was calling people!! Duh!!!
You can't escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today. - Abraham Lincoln
We love you!
Loretta & Jon