Numbers 33:1-56 (Part 1) – Journal & Journey of Discovery: Seeing God’s Work In Your Life

Posted: November 14, 2016 in Book of Numbers

Numbers 33:1-56 (Part 1 of 3)

Remembering Israel’s Journey

So far between Facebook posts only and then through postings on my blog page, we have journeyed through twelve complete and now almost thirteen complete books of the Bible. We are at least four years into this project. What a journey it has been and one that we will continue until we have walked through every book of the Bible. It is a journal of sorts of the intersection of the books that we have been in during this steps of this journey and the events or memories of my life.

 

It has been interesting to see over these past four years or so, how the Bible speaks to my life. One of the things that I have learned in this process is that God has guided my life even when I was rebelling againt His presence in my life. It has reminded me that there are no coincidences in life and that God does not make mistakes. I have learned that He even uses our mistakes as part of His guidance of our journey through life. When you look my journey these fifty-four years, God was there using every positive and every negative thing to lead me, to teach me, and to guide my journey. There was nothing wasted.

 

My journey was not unlike that of Israel that has been documented so far here in Numbers. There has been idolatry for me and for them. I used to make the women and the access to sexual relations the god of my life. I lived and died tried to gain the approval of the women that I have been married to or dated. It was the single biggest flaw of my life and I have learned that during this journey through the Bible so far. In reflecting on my life, I know that I was addicted to approval and it expressed itself through thinking that sexual congress was the validation of that approval. If I was having sex, it meant that I was in the good graces of the woman in my life. If I was having sex a couple of times a week, I felt that I was of value. Life was about the pursuit of sex. I was no sexual deviant but sex dominated my life. It was my addiction of sorts because it made me feel better about myself when I got a fix or a hit of my drug. All the stupid decisions of my life can be traced back to this fatal flaw. Living life in this manner was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs emotionally. It was a life of feeling out of control. It was a life where people got hurt by my need to have the positive reinforcement fixes of congress with the women in my life. It caused me to cede my authority as husband in both my previous marriages to the woman. I gave up my authority to maintain my fixes of my drug of choice, sex. Instead of being the authority in my homes, I was contingent man. I would be in authority if authority would maintain my access to sex. I would gladly and willingly shy away from being the authority in my home if giving in would maintain access to sex. Virtually every decision and every mistake had to do with this fact. I would like to say that there were other combinations of flaws that have caused my mistakes in my life. I would like to say there are equal fatal flaws in my character, but being an approval junkie validated through sex is the story of my life.

 

And, I wish that I could say that immediately upon salvation in December 2001, all of that changed immediately. Many people who have just been saved think that the clouds above their life will immediately clear and that sunshine will immediately be the order of the day. They often believe that life will immediately get better. They often believe that they will have no more problems because their character flaws are going to be immediately gone. However, that is simply not true. Salvation is the beginning of a new journey called sanctification. We are all sin-filled people and we begrudgingly give up our top ten sins slowly over the process of a lifetime. For me, this approval junkie validated through sex lifestyle was one of the toughest strongholds of sin for the Holy Spirit to bust up in my life. Just as Israel had a problem with lasting faith in the Lord (their fatal flaw), I, too, could not see how this god of sex and approval was the biggest baddest god of my life. It took drastic measures from God to drive this demon out of my life. He had to yank me out of Greenville, SC after living there for nearly three decades and planting me in what might as well have been a foreign nation, Rock Hill, SC. It was only there that I met the woman that would eventually become my third (my current and final) wife, Elena. It was only through her unconditional love for me that I was able to break free from this god. She loved me no matter what. She examined me thoroughly and I shared all my deepest, darkest secrets and she still loved me. Then, in God’s own unique sense of humor of hitting you where you have your gods, after Elena and I fell in love, He shipped me off to California for a year-and-a-half without her. I was in a relationship without sex on the table! God probably used my favorite line after my corny sense of humor produces blank faces, “Well…I thought it was funny!” Cross country from the woman in my life. Wow! Guess what? Elena and I had to become friends in that process. We actually got to know each other on a deep, deep level. Our relationship was founded on friendship first. She just loved me for who I am. I did not have to perform to maintain approval. I did not have to chase after the carrot of sex. Man, what a burden relieved that was. What freedom that was. Having a woman in your life that you are compatable with both inside and outside the bedroom. What a relief that was and is. There is peace when your let go of your gods. And God used all these seeming coincidences to get me where He wanted me to go. Burning off of my biggest god, my biggest idol was the beginning of God opening the doors that He has opened since.

 

Without my journaling journey through the Bible, I don’t think that I would have ever seen so clearly what God has been doing in my life. I don’t think that I would have ever been able to see the gods of my life as clearly without having this journal of my journey through the Bible. It has been a journey of discovery that we are long from finished with.

 

That is not to say that I do not have plenty of demons left in my life that God is still working on, but in His wisdom, He knew the biggest god that was a roadblock to me moving into what He had and has in store for me was this one big, huge idol in my life. Convicting me of my other sinful flaws were all contingent upon getting rid of this one big thing. Then, I would be ready for the rest of the journey as He refines me. Similarly, right now in Numbers 33, we find the Israelites ready to move into the Promised Land. They have been through the wilderness of refining and getting rid of the gods of their lives – fear and lack of trust in God. It took a lifetime. It took a generation. Now they are ready to take on the Promised Land. It is here in this chapter that Moses reflects on the journey:

 

33 Here are the stages in the journey of the Israelites when they came out of Egypt by divisions under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. 2 At the Lord’s command Moses recorded the stages in their journey. This is their journey by stages:

 

3 The Israelites set out from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover. They marched out defiantly in full view of all the Egyptians, 4 who were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had struck down among them; for the Lord had brought judgment on their gods.

 

5 The Israelites left Rameses and camped at Sukkoth.

 

6 They left Sukkoth and camped at Etham, on the edge of the desert.

 

7 They left Etham, turned back to Pi Hahiroth, to the east of Baal Zephon, and camped near Migdol.

 

8 They left Pi Hahiroth[a] and passed through the sea into the desert, and when they had traveled for three days in the Desert of Etham, they camped at Marah.

 

9 They left Marah and went to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there.

 

10 They left Elim and camped by the Red Sea.[b]

 

11 They left the Red Sea and camped in the Desert of Sin.

 

12 They left the Desert of Sin and camped at Dophkah.

 

13 They left Dophkah and camped at Alush.

 

14 They left Alush and camped at Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink.

 

15 They left Rephidim and camped in the Desert of Sinai.

 

16 They left the Desert of Sinai and camped at Kibroth Hattaavah.

 

17 They left Kibroth Hattaavah and camped at Hazeroth.

 

18 They left Hazeroth and camped at Rithmah.

 

19 They left Rithmah and camped at Rimmon Perez.

 

20 They left Rimmon Perez and camped at Libnah.

 

21 They left Libnah and camped at Rissah.

 

22 They left Rissah and camped at Kehelathah.

 

23 They left Kehelathah and camped at Mount Shepher.

 

24 They left Mount Shepher and camped at Haradah.

 

25 They left Haradah and camped at Makheloth.

 

26 They left Makheloth and camped at Tahath.

 

27 They left Tahath and camped at Terah.

 

28 They left Terah and camped at Mithkah.

 

29 They left Mithkah and camped at Hashmonah.

 

30 They left Hashmonah and camped at Moseroth.

 

31 They left Moseroth and camped at Bene Jaakan.

 

32 They left Bene Jaakan and camped at Hor Haggidgad.

 

33 They left Hor Haggidgad and camped at Jotbathah.

 

34 They left Jotbathah and camped at Abronah.

 

35 They left Abronah and camped at Ezion Geber.

 

36 They left Ezion Geber and camped at Kadesh, in the Desert of Zin.

 

37 They left Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor, on the border of Edom. 38 At the Lord’s command Aaron the priest went up Mount Hor, where he died on the first day of the fifth month of the fortieth year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. 39 Aaron was a hundred and twenty-three years old when he died on Mount Hor.

 

40 The Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev of Canaan, heard that the Israelites were coming.

 

41 They left Mount Hor and camped at Zalmonah.

 

42 They left Zalmonah and camped at Punon.

 

43 They left Punon and camped at Oboth.

 

44 They left Oboth and camped at Iye Abarim, on the border of Moab.

 

45 They left Iye Abarim and camped at Dibon Gad.

 

46 They left Dibon Gad and camped at Almon Diblathaim.

 

47 They left Almon Diblathaim and camped in the mountains of Abarim, near Nebo.

 

48 They left the mountains of Abarim and camped on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. 49 There on the plains of Moab they camped along the Jordan from Beth Jeshimoth to Abel Shittim.

 

50 On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho the Lord said to Moses, 51 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. 53 Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. 54 Distribute the land by lot, according to your clans. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one. Whatever falls to them by lot will be theirs. Distribute it according to your ancestral tribes.

 

55 “‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. 56 And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.’”

 

Moses recorded the journey of his people as God instructed him. It provides us a record of their spiritual journey as well as their geographic one. In their journey between Ramses and Acacia on the plains of Moab, Israel finally became the people who could invade the land of Canaan and claim the promises of God that He made to Abraham. Have you made spiritual progress lately? Recording your thoughts about God as you read His Word will help you see and focus on what you have learned from your journey of mistakes and successes and how God guided it all. It will help you see what your gods are more clearly and what has prevented you and what is preventing you from reaching the Promised Land that God has in store for you?

 

My journaling journey through the Bible has been valuable and will continue to be so as we move through the remaining books of the Bible. It has been revealing and cleansing and instructive. Are you journaling? Are you meditating on how God’s Word applies to your life? Try it. You may just learn something

 

Amen and Amen.

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