Numbers 20:1-13 (Part 2) – Keeping Perspective of Where We Are At, How We Got Here…

Posted: September 28, 2016 in Book of Numbers
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Numbers 20:1-13 (Part 2)

Water from the Rock

As many of you who read my blogs, you know that I am a really passionate Clemson Tigers fan. As any of you who follow college football know, Clemson has been very successful on the football field over the past five year and there success at present is only surpassed by the success of the football program during the late seventies through the early 90s, and then again back during the decade of the 1950s. However, the current success if continued at its current pace, it will become the new glory days of Clemson football. Beginning with the 2011 season, they have won 60 games while losing only 12, an 83.3% winning percentage. As well, just since the 2012 season including the first four games of this season, they have a 50-8 records, an 85% winning percentage. Even more impressive is the fact that over the last 29 games (since the end of the third game of the 2014 season), the Tigers are 27-2, a 93% winning percentage. Very impressive.

 

Yet, with the beginning of this, the 2016 season, there were sky high expectations for the Tigers, particularly on offense, where they had virtually the entire group of starters from last year back. This offensive unit, last year, had ended the season as almost an unstoppable force. So, this year, there was an expectation that they would pick up exactly where they had left off, a team that was within 5 points of winning a national championship. However, with the exception of a perfect first half against Georgia Tech, the offense has seemed inconsistent and unable to do what was necessary to put other teams away. They seemed unable to put together a string of consistent scoring drives. All of this lead to a lot of grumbling among the Clemson faithful as well as among the national media. The seemingly inconsistent play has cost the Tigers anywhere from 1 to 3 spots in the national polls. Starting the season ranked #2 only behind #1 Alabama, the Tigers have fallen to #3 in one national poll and to #5 in the other. However, at the same time, Clemson is 4-0. They are undefeated. At this same point last year, they have actually scored the same amount of points as they did last year at this point (134) and their defense actually seems better this year than last. It is all a matter of perceptions and expectations, I think. This same team started off slowly last year and built toward the national championship contender that it became by season’s end. I think we forget that as Tiger fans. This year we have seen other teams be offensive juggernauts from the get-go such as Alabama and Louisville and so on while the Tigers have seemingly struggled to generate big numbers.

 

As Tiger fans, we have grown accustomed to a high level of play and now complain about how many points we are scoring rather than enjoying the fact that we are still undefeated so far this season. Not too many years ago during that long dry spell of mediocrity between 1993-2009, we would have been extremely happy to be 4-0 right now, winning two road games already in places that we have rarely won over the years (at Auburn and at Georgia Tech). We would be grateful for the success. However, now after being one of the winningest college programs over the past five and one-third seasons, we start to see the problems rather that the successes. We are knit-picking and saying that the sky is falling rather than enjoying being 4-0 and ranked in the top 5 for a long time now. Myself, I believe that the Tigers can do better for sure. However, I am grateful that my favorite team has found ways to get the wins so far this season. I am thankful for the fact that our defense has really been the star this year. And, some football philosopher once said, “offense fills the stands but defense wins championships!” I guess we will find out who this 2016 Tiger team really is this weekend when they face another Top 5 team, Louisville, in a ACC showdown game, but nonetheless, in order for this to have become a big game, the Tigers have had to have remained unbeaten. For all their imperfections so far this season, they are undefeated and thus had made this game with Louisville a big one.

 

As my wife reads this blog, I am sure she is yawning about all the football commentary, but I think the comparison of the detractors of the 2016 version of the Clemson Tiger football team and how the Israelites were complaining against their leadership.

 

Let’s read Numbers 20:1-13 together for a second time this morning:

 

20 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.

 

2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3 They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! 4 Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

 

6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

 

9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

 

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

 

13 These were the waters of Meribah,[a] where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he was proved holy among them.

 

What I want us to walk away with this morning is the fact that we must keep things in perspective. Here, in this passage, we see the Israelites grumbling again. Yes, grumbling again. They see what they don’t have instead of what they do have. They are alive right now and over the past 40 years because of the provision of God. He has never failed to provide for His people, but yet they complain at every turn. This is wrong and that is wrong. Nothing is good enough. Sure, we sit here reading God’s Word and say, “You idiots! Can’t you see what God has done for you!” However, we cannot speak with such derision towards the Israelites because, are we not the same? We complain about not having more than we have because we are caring more about what others have than being thankful for God’s specific provision for us in our life – not someone’s else life. We complain about our situations too when we fail to realize that our situation is of our own making.

 

The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years because of their own sin. They failed to obey the Lord and thus the wandering for 40 years in the wilderness was their just punishment. We whine and complain at where we are in our relationship. Have we ever thought that our condition is caused by our own disobedience to God? Often our disobedience to God’s Word leads us to consequences that are difficult for us to deal with and we whine and complain about how things got this way. Wake up! We put ourselves in these positions and we need to accept responsibility for them and do what is necessary to get through our consequences of sin. Let us learn to be obedient to God’s Word and work our way through the valleys of the shadow of death that we have created for ourselves. Let us learn to find joy in that journey. Let us realize and learn from our mistakes. Let us find the joy in finding a flower in the midst of the storm. Let us be thankful that God is still providing for us. Let us be thankful that He has not cast us aside. Let us be thankful that He provides even when we are disobedient. Let us take our lumps and learn from them. Let us take heed on being obedient going forward so that we do not have experience the consequences of sin going forward. Let us be thankful for what God has done for us even though He has allowed consequences to occur that were of our own making. Let us change and be thankful for His provision. Instead of complaining about what a friend or a spouse or a coworker is not doing because of the fact that we have both done things to cause distrust, let us realize that we played a role in the relationship getting to where it is and become the change we seek. Become obedient to the Lord and seek to love despite fear. Let us be the ones that seek obedience to God regardless of the situation. God provides when we are obedient. It may take time to work through the problems caused by our sin but the first step is being thankfully obedient to a God who always provides.

 

Just as Clemson fans need to keep in perspective that the Tigers are being successful though it might not be pretty, they are being successful. The victories have come. The team is undefeated. It might not be in the fashion that we have come accustomed to where it was easy and seemed a thing of precision and beauty. We cannot grumble for the way it is being done. We should remember the days when we simply celebrated victory and not how it was done. We, too, must realize that God is our provider and He will provide for us. It may not always be the way we like. All of us have created circumstances that we whine and complain about but yet we forget that it was our own disobedience to the Lord that caused things to look and smell as they do right now. But has God ever stopped providing for you? Are you not experiencing victory simply by not being completely destroyed for our disobedience? God is there for us and is providing for us. He loves us and provides for us even while He allows us to experience the consequences of our sin.

 

Let us be thankful for God being with us in the storm. Let us be thankful that we have a God who loves us despite our sins. Let us be thankful that He provides for us even when we are disobedient. Let us see that provision and be thankful for it. Let us see that obedience will lead us out of the wilderness. Instead of complaining about why we are in the wilderness and why things are not perfect like we want them, let us see the wilderness of our own making. Let us see that our sins have caused the wilderness. Let us see that our way out of the wilderness begins with our own obedience to God and not someone else’s. Let us see that obedience to the Lord is the key. Let us quit complaining about our condition and begin seeing the wonders of God’s provision even in the storm. Let us quit complaining about our condition and get to the business of being obedient to the Lord. Then, the blessings will flow. Let us quit whining and complaining and begin being obedient to the Lord. Let’s get to work on that!

 

Amen and Amen.

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