Numbers 14:13-25 (Part 2) – That’s Me In the Spotlight! (Much is Given, Much is Expected)

Posted: September 6, 2016 in 04-Numbers

Numbers 14:13-25 (Part 2 of 4)

Moses Intercedes for the People

There is an old song by REM whose lyrics include, “that me in the spotlight! Losing my religion!” Sports athletes live in the spotlight. Since it is football season, let’s talk about football players. When you think of how kids idolize sports stars and make them into celebrities, you sometimes wonder what some of these highly paid professional football players and, even, the unpaid, but scholarship-receiving football players are thinking with their actions. Even in college football, with the media coverage it receives now, talented college football players become celebrities even before they get on campus. You here all the time about football players getting in trouble with the law. In college, the antics of various football players at Baylor University being involved with violent acts toward women and how the university’s athletic department administrators and football coaches tried to cover it up. You hear of college players getting involved with drugs, or getting arrested for theft. They make a bad name for those who have been given the privilege of exchanging their athletic talent for a free college education. May However, there are those who realize that they are public figures and that they have a responsibility to set an example for the public. One of those kids is the quarterback of my favorite college football team, the Clemson Tigers. DeShaun Watson is a good kid. Not only is he a very talented quarterback and a leader on his team but also he is just a good kid. He works hard at football, studying film like crazy, and believing that he can always get better. He also is well-spoken and patient with the press answering question after question. I am sure that he has his moments where he probably snaps off at people and does and says stupid stuff. He is 20 years old after all. But, he is a true student-athlete that represents his university well. Not only is a really, really good quarterback but he is also a good student. He has almost a straight-A average in the classroom while at some schools it is rare to even see a star football player in the classroom at all. In fact, he is already as a Junior only 5 hours from completing his hours necessary for his Communications degree. Too, DeShaun knows it is the fans who give him his celebrity status and he is known for tirelessly signing autographs for Tiger fans. Many times, he is still on the practice field with Clemson fans for an hour after practice tirelessly making the day of many a Tiger fan.


DeShaun had to grow up in the tough part of Gainesville, GA but had a mom who refused to let become a statistic and pushed him hard to excel in school and in football. A single mom, she pushed to use his academic and athletic skills to achieve things that she could not afford to do for him. She was able to get them into a Habitat for Humanity home and get out of the projects. Then, she was stricken with cancer and almost died from throat cancer and did lose most of her tongue before being declared cancer-free, but yet it did not end her life. She is still working and still pushing DeShaun. After having watched his mom go through all that before he got to college, it is no wonder that DeShaun has his head on right. He knows from almost losing his mom that there are more important things that football. He doesn’t act spoiled as some college players do as if they are entitled to their scholarship and social status. Just look at the social train wreck that Johnny Manziel was in college and the disaster he has been since he left Texas A&M. There are some college football players out there that think they can get away with anything because they know the school will cover it up. However, DeShaun is one of those breath of fresh air kids that you just have to root for and pray that he has a wonderful pro career when he leaves Clemson after this year. He is one of the few mature college football players that realize that he has been blessed and that he is, even though he is a college kid, a public figure whose every action is watched. He understands the role he must play as a star quarterback on a successful team. All eyes are upon him all the time and he does not disappoint. Although he had a less-than-Deshaun-like performance against Auburn Saturday night, he is entitled to an off-game now and then, but I have never been prouder of this kid. He represents the university well and he is just a likeable guy. You just want to see him do good!


So many times, we see athletes who cannot put a cogent sentence together, but are handed the world and live spoiled lives in public view after they get into the pros and you just wanted to turn your head cause you know they are going to crash and burn. But, with DeShaun, you just know that this kid is going to appreciate the moment and live a life of respectability and do well on and off the field. He’s the kind of guy you can just root for! He realizes he has been given a privilege and that much is expected. With the litany of spoiled athletes out there, he is a breath of fresh air.


It was that thought of realizing the special privilege that you have been given and using that privilege in the right way that came to mind when I read through today’s passage for a second time, Numbers 14:13-25:


13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. 14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’


17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ 19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”


20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. 25 Since the Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.”


Here in this passage, Numbers 14:13-25, we have to think about how privileged the people of Israel have been. They had a clearer view of who God is than anyone in human history before them. They had both His laws and His physical presence. The refusal to trust God is almost incredulous to us after all that they have seen God do. Their refusal to follow God into the Promised Land, after witnessing His miraculous deeds and listening to His words made their judgment more severe. Increased opportunity brings increased responsibility. As Jesus said, “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return” (Luke 12:48). How much greater then is our responsibility to obey and serve God. Not only do we have the Old Testament, we have the New Testament. We have the WHOLE Bible, and we have knowledge of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We have the knowledge and the experience of knowing the destiny of our lives in the absence of Jesus. We have the knowledge and experience of knowing the destiny of our lives because of Jesus.


How can we not live lives of thanksgiving and abundant love for the world around us? Yes, the world vilifies us when we hold ourselves out as Christians but when we do not act Christian. And, yes, it is probably correct that we are judged unfairly by the non-believing world and we are often in no-win situations with them. Often non-believers have such preconceived notions about us Christians that no matter how we respond to them, they will find fault with it. And, yes, when we know our theology well, we can logically dispute every claim they make (because Christianity is just that sound). Yes, we are held to unbelievably high standards by the world, and it is a burden that we have to carry. It is unfair at times.


But maybe that is the way it should be. To us, much has been given. We have our eternal destiny secured in our salvation through Jesus Christ. We have been saved from the ravages of hell caused by our sins. We have been given the keys to the prison door. We have been set free. If we are not living lives of thanksgiving and praise for what God has done in us through Jesus Christ, then, something is wrong. We should be the most joyous people on the planet. When people watch us as Christ-followers, and they do, they should see people that are so in love with and so thankful to God that they overflow with love. When we have a bad day or show our humanity, we should be the first to admit that we are wrong and demonstrate that we serve a forgiving God, which should then add to our thanksgiving and praise. We should be so different from the world that people are attracted to us. We should have that something different from the normal world kind of aura about us that people are drawn to us. Much is given. Much is expected.


Like a football player who is given many privileges, much is expected of them to be the face of their schools and not disappoint. They are held to a higher standard than the average student because of the spotlight that they are put in. Because of that they have names known around the country whereas the average college student does not. It is pretty cool to be that popular but with that role comes responsibility. Some accept that they are role models and welcome the extra scrutiny that other students do not have to put up with. Much is given. Much is expected.


As Christians, we are held to a higher standard. We should be. Much has been given. Much is expected. Let us live lives that are marked by the appreciation of what God has done in our lives. Let us live lives of thanksgiving and praise. Let us live lives that demonstrate to others the wonders of a relationship with Jesus Christ. Let us take on the burden of the spotlight that shines upon us.


Amen and Amen.

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