Hukkat & Balak
For the week of July 4, 2009 / 12 Tammuz 5769
Torah: Bemidbar / Numbers 19:1 - 25:9
Haftarah: Micah 5:6 - 6:8
Taking Matters into Our Own Hands
And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them." These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD, and through them he showed himself holy. (Bemidbar / Numbers 20:12,13; ESV)
One of the central messages of the whole Bible is the reconciliation of God and people. The Torah begins with proclaiming God as creator of the universe, intimately involved at every stage. The culmination of creation is God's special intervention in the making of man and woman in his image. No room for macro-evolutionary theory here.
It isn't long before our first parents take matters into their own hands and turn from God's clear directives, resulting in the predicament into which every human being has found themselves in. Our alienation from God is the primary cause behind sickness, death, suffering, our inability to get along with others, and our failure to properly care for the planet.
The Bible documents God's plan of restoration of his creation and in particular the re-establishment of our relationship with him. The purpose of writing this down is to extend an invitation of reconciliation to all and any who would put their trust in the Messiah.
Sadly, many who have been exposed to the Bible with its promise of God's reality, his love, his forgiveness, and his peace continue to feel far away from God. The claims of Scripture remain simply words. Praying prayers, singing songs, taking courses, and getting involved in various programs have failed to remove a continued sense of alienation.
While I am aware of countless stories of the dramatic internal change God has brought about in the lives of so many followers of Yeshua, is it possible that we have created an expectation that the genuineness of biblical faith is confirmed through our feelings rather than through God's truth? When I first heard about Yeshua I was told that if I believed in him I would be happy for the rest of my life. Thankfully there was so much more to the message I heard that day even though the offer of endless happiness intrigued me. That day I learned how Yeshua fulfilled messianic prophecy, of my need of forgiveness and how Yeshua met that need through his sacrificial death and his rising from the dead. I learned that through turning from my sins and trusting in Yeshua as Messiah, I would be made right with God. All this would become real to me no matter how I might feel emotionally. Still, since then I have had to fight my tendency to focus on my feelings rather than on God's reality.
I get the impression, however, that some people purporting to represent the Bible's teaching would rather I did focus on my feelings. The message of reconciliation with God has been transformed into one of self contentment as if God's goal in sending the Messiah was so that we could all learn to feel good about ourselves.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Over and over again the Bible calls us to turn from ourselves and to submit to the truth and reality of the God of Israel. While he has gone out of his way to restore us into right relationship with him, he doesn't cater to us. He indeed loves us, cares for us, helps us, even serves us, but always on his terms, not ours. When Moses momentarily took matters into his own hands, it disqualified him from entering the Promised Land. His and Aaron's failure to treat God as holy didn't break their relationship with him, but it did result in unnecessary disfavor.
This is a far cry from the "God's children can do no wrong" philosophy that appears to be sweeping the hearts and minds of so many today. I don't know why so many who claim faith in Yeshua struggle as they do, but this struggle will not be resolved by molding the God of the Bible into something more palatable, understandable, and predictable.
In our frustration and disappointments, let us be careful not to take matters into our own hands, but rather let God reveal himself on his own terms according to who he really is.
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