Rejecting God…the fountain of life

23 03 2011

DAY EIGHTY-ONE : Numbers 13 v. 26 – 14 v. 45; Luke 4 v. 14 – 37; Psalm 36 v. 1 – 12

Reporting Back – the spies report back and bring the ‘fruit of the land’. “It does flow with milk and honey”; they bring a message about powerful people and fortified cities, giant-sized people (descendants of Anak); Caleb is the only one to speak confidently about going in and taking possession of the land. The others spread fear among the Israelites, through their own twisted anxiety, ‘we’re like tiny grasshoppers compared to those powerful giants’.

‘The ten spies saw only the magnitude of the task before them. These people lost the battle before it was waged. To halt through fear when God’s direction is clear is nothing less than to rebel against Him.’

More Rebellion – there’s a weeping and a wailing in camp! The grumbling increases in volume! Why couldn’t they go back to Egypt? Shouldn’t they just choose another leader?
Moses and Aaron fall facedown in front of the people, Joshua and Caleb tear their clothes and tell the people not to rebel, to trust God and not be afraid.
“If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land….”
Oops, everyone wants to stone them, there and then.

God’s anger is felt by Moses, when He says He will wipe them out with a plague but still make a great and strong nation through Moses.
Moses pleads for God’s forgiveness for his people – for the sake of God’s renown in places like Egypt (‘what would it say about You, God, if You wiped them out before fulfilling Your promise to bring them into the land?’); appealing to God’s great love (‘You are slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion’).
God’s reply is that none of that rebellious generation will get to inherit the promised land – only Caleb, who ‘has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly’ and his descendants will inherit the land. So, God sets the wandering Israelites off on a longer route.
“How long will this wicked community grumble against me?… Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home…except Joshua and Caleb.”
The children of the current generation of Israelites will grow up as shepherds in desert land for forty years ‘suffering for your unfaithfulness’. The spies who had stirred up this rebellion were struck down with a plague, and only Joshua and Caleb survived.

The Israelites mourn bitterly when Moses tells them what God’s decided. More weeping and wailing!

They decide, despite going against the will of God, and without the ark of the covenant (God’s presence) to press on towards the promised land. They are roundly defeated and pushed back by the Amalekites and Canaanites.  

Jesus Rejected – after His battle with Satan in the wilderness, Jesus goes back to Galilee, and as He teaches in the synagogues, He gains a following and ‘everyone praised Him.‘ Things begin well.
In His home town, where He grew up – Nazareth – He reads to the people the words of Isaiah (61 v 1,2)
“God’s Spirit is on me – I am anointed by Him
to preach good news for poor people, speak freedom for captives,
breathe light and life into blind eyes, break the chains of oppression,
to let the world know that God loves to do good, to bless, and that this is the Year of God’s favour”

(like the Year of Jubilee in the Israelite calendar, yet a ‘greater liberation – a time of reconciliation with God and freedom from the results of human sin’)

Jesus suggests that these words are literally coming true, in Him, before their eyes.
There was a moment of ‘wow’, and all are amazed at His words, struggling to believe that this is the same son-of-the-carpenter who grew up amongst them.
However, Jesus tells them that His familiarity amongst them will work against them, and they will see Him doing greater things in towns and cities outside of Nazareth (‘no prophet is accepted in his home town’), citing the examples of Elijah and Elisha, who did some of their greatest miracles outside of Israel – the beginning of Jesus’s ‘gospel for all’, not just the ‘chosen ones of Israel’. (As Israel had rejected the prophets, like Elijah and Elisha, so Nazareth is about to reject Jesus – in rejecting God’s messengers, the people reject God).
Mmm – they don’t like the sound of that, and violently chase Jesus out of town, threatening to throw Him off down the cliff edge, down the hill.
“Jesus walked right through the crowd and went on His way”

Undoubtedly difficult for Jesus (and any of His family present) to experience such hostility from those amongst whom He had grown up. 

Driving out Evil – so, Jesus moves on from Nazareth to Capernaum, on the shore of Galilee, teaching in the synagogue there. Here, His teaching is received ‘with authority’.
An evil spirit has hold of a man in the synagogue, and cries out, “Jesus of Nazareth…I know who You are – the Holy One of God.”
Jesus tells the spirit to shut up and commands it to leave the man. The man falls to the ground, and the spirit is gone.
The people are gobsmacked, awestruck!
The news begins to spread further – ‘this guy, Jesus, possesses power and authority….you should go and see Him.’

There still is nothing better, in spreading the ‘gospel, good news’, than personal testimony, eyewitness accounts, of how God’s power, authority, gentleness and grace has touched lives….

In this song of David, the wicked are marked out as those who don’t fear God, who big themselves up, who speak deceitful words, who cease to act wisely, to do good, but who plot evil and plan a sinful path.

In contrast, God Himself, is full of love and faithfulness (stretching out, along the expanse of the skies).
God’s righteousness stands like a mighty mountain.
God’s justice is as deep as the deepest ocean.
God’s love is priceless, preserving ‘man and beast’.
God’s protection is like a refuge in the shadow of His wings.
God’s feast is abundant.
God’s drink cabinet is like a fast flowing river of delights.
“For with You is the fountain of life – in Your light we see light.”




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