For the week of June 11, 2011 / 9 Sivan 5771
Torah: Bemidbar / Numbers 8:1 - 12:16
Haftarah: Zechariah 2:14 - 4:7
In the second year, in the second month, on the twentieth day of the month, the cloud lifted from over the tabernacle of the testimony, and the people of Israel set out by stages from the wilderness of Sinai. And the cloud settled down in the wilderness of Paran. (Bemidbar / Numbers 10:11, 12; ESV)
About 13 months after Israel left Egypt, they broke camp at Mt. Sinai and began the next stage of their journey to the Promised Land. The time spent at Sinai was one of the most essential periods in the history of Israel as God established his covenant and its directives with them. The Sinai covenant was the greatest revelation of God to this point and was necessary in the life of Israel for subsequent centuries until the time of the coming of the Messiah.
It would be about another year before God would lead the nation to the border of Canaan. They would then have the opportunity to acquire it, an opportunity they would lose as a result of unbelief. This is described in next week's Torah portion. The point I want make here is that it was God's will that Israel not acquire the Promised Land immediately. He designed a particular two-year process before there was any possibility of entering Canaan.
There are many good things that God wants us to experience, but he not only desires to bless us in this way, he knows the best process through which to bring us into these blessings. When I stop to think about it, why would I want to rush the Master of the Universe when he knows what is best for me and everyone else? Yet, so often I presume to be a better expert on timing than he is. It would be far better if I would accept his sense of timing and submit to his leading.
God's timing is not always due to his preferred process for us, however. We can actually delay what God wants to accomplish in our lives and the lives of those close to us. I already referred to how Israel's unbelief delayed their acquiring Canaan - a delay of thirty-eight years. In this week's portion we read of another, though shorter, delay that took place due to Aaron and Miriam's (Moses' brother and sister) challenge to Moses' leadership (12:1-16).
It may be difficult to understand how our actions could disrupt God's processes in our lives. But we can. The mismanagement of our lives can undermine God's will and set us back in our growth in God. Attempting to comfort ourselves with "God is in control" fails to grasp our God-given need to lovingly submit to his will. God doesn't overlook our disobedience. Through the Messiah we are forgiven, but actions still have consequences.
Miriam didn't have to be arrogant towards Moses and hold up the whole nation for a week. And we don't have to be like Miriam, holding up the plan of God in our own lives either.
If you have a sense that God's process in your life is taking too long, it would be good to see if it might just be your fault. It does no good to think that God will do whatever he will do regardless of how we live. On the other hand, you may be going through a God-designed process that will take as long as it takes. The sooner you recognize that, the more beneficial that process will be to you.
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