Numbers 34:1-15 – He Has Set Me On High Ground & I Know It: Lessons in Thanksgiving

Posted: November 17, 2016 in Book of Numbers
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Numbers 34:1-15

Boundaries of the Land

One week from today is Thanksgiving Day. It is a day that is a uniquely American holiday. It is a day where we give thanks for the bounty that the Lord has given us. Of course, we, as the Americans that we are, the holiday has morphed into something other than it was intended. It is now a day where we rarely give thanks for the generosity of our God in His provision for our lives but rather a day for early bird specials for Christmas shopping, college and professional football, big meals and sometimes travel. There are the logistics of going to her family and to his family. There is extensive food preparation. Rarely is there time of reflection of just how God has provided for us. However, we can reclaim the thanksgiving of Thanksgiving. I know for one, the Lord has richly blessed this young man (yes, I still consider myself a young man and will do so as long as my corny, middle school sense of humor holds out!).

 

When I think back on the past decade, the Lord has richly blessed me even when I did not deserve it. In August 2004, my second wife and I split up. It was the beginning of a difficult time for me financially that would last until the fall of 2007. First off, there was the financial mess that was the life that I had led while married to my first two wives. There was the bankruptcy declared in the Summer of 2002 during the second marriage after the death of my second wife’s oldest child in February 2002. After the split up, there were stupid financial decisions. One was the purchase of a Dodge Neon SRT4 (the turbocharged sports car) that I could not afford and because of the poor credit that I had, the car payment was astronomical – $600 plus per month (in 2004 dollars). After breaking up and having to find a place of my own, there was the constant eating out at places like Applebees, Outback, Chilis where I would drop $50 per meal. In those days, it was all about massaging the emptiness that I felt in my life with wine, women, and boos and whatever I could spend my money on. Then, there was that disastrous trip to London that was a business trip but I so overspent on that trip that I had to get a loan when I got back to pay off the overspending on my company credit card. Add that to the mountain of debt that I already had, I had reached the point that there was one week that I had to get one of those payday loans. NEVER do that! It is fine that first time. You get the money you need to avoid that self-made financial crisis or one that is forced upon you by circumstances. However, it starts a cycle of payday loan, payday loan payoff two weeks later, finding yourself short and having to get another and the cycle continues. You may even have to get a payday loan to pay off your payday loan. There was a point between 2006 and the fall of 2007 that I was juggling as many as three payday loans on a maddening and unending cycle. I even accepted a job outside of Greenville for the first time in my adult life just to try to get my finances under control. After living in Greenville for nearly three decades (since age 14), I accepted a job in Charlotte and moved to the suburb of Rock Hill in January 2006. Although the geography changed, the financial woes continued and finally had to let my SRT4 be repossessed in 2007. Bankruptcy in 2002 and a repossession in 2007. I was screwed.

 

The biggest blessing of my life came actually came in the form of a loss of that job at the end of September 2007. That may sound weird but it actually was the blessing that I needed. I know you are saying, “how can the loss of a job be a blessing.” Rest assured, it did not seem that way to me when the shutdown of our corporate office was announced in June 2007. The shutdown was completed by September 30th. I was out of a job. However, they did give us three months worth of salary as we left plus a bonus. I was able to end the cycle of payday loans with that cash infusion. Then, by the hand of God, I was hired as a financial consultant with Vaco Resources out of Charlotte within a couple of weeks after my shutdown termination. My first gig started 4 weeks after my termination. That was the beginning of recovery for me. It was the greatest blessing of my life in retrospect. The irony of working as a consultant for Vaco was the fact that I ended up with a gig in Duncan, SC (in the Greenville-Spartanburg, SC area). After making the toughest decision of my life to leave Greenville after 30 years, a place I had lived since I was 14, and live in Rock Hill and work in Charlotte, here I was being sent back to the Greenville area. Living in Rock Hill, my new home, but working in the Greenville area, my old home – the irony! Baaaack to my point though. Because of the fact that Rock Hill and Duncan are within driving distance of each other, they are far enough apart that a commute just did not make sense. So, with this job with Vaco, I was living in a hotel in Duncan 5 days a week and then going back to Rock Hill on the weekends. My financial blessing was that I was making a consulting rate that was slightly more than I was making at that job in Charlotte. Add to that I was given a daily per diem amount for my hotels and meals. Talk about your financial blessing. For almost a year, I had not only salary but a per diem that far exceeded what I was spending on hotels and meals. Add to that I had that big burst of cash when the office I worked for previously was shutdown. All the rough waters began to subside financially.

 

Later that consulting gig in Duncan led me out to California with more salary and per diem and a corporate paid apartment. And as this gig came to an end, God’s hand was in action again as the controller’s position at this company’s division there in California suddenly came open at just the time my consulting gig was about to end. It had been a year long consulting gig with Vaco which was fantastic. Few consulting gigs last that long. However, it was about to end and Vaco did not have anything for me for my immediate future. So, this controller’s job was appealing. When the job came open, what is now my current employer, Fujikura America, Inc., offered me the job immediately. And immediately I took the job. That was October 2008. Here I am still with the same company 8 years later. During these eight years and because of the wisdom and advice of my wife, Elena (who followed me to California from Rock Hill and whom I married while we lived out there), I have established more frugal life habits. With her advice and wisdom, I have paid off old debts. I have invested in my company’s 401k. My financial ship is righted. During my eight years at Fujikura America (who has blessed me financially for sure), the wisdom of a good wife, and a more frugal lifestyle, and the blessings of God, I live in financially peaceful waters. We now live a life marked by generosity because we have been frugal with our spending on ourselves. We can now actually say “when can I give” instead of “if I can give.” It really makes me teary eyed to think of how richly blessed I have become. It is so far beyond what I could have imagined back in 2007. It is not lost on me that I am blessed. I do not take it for granted. God has set me on high ground and I know it. No longer am I in the raging river. I am on high ground. It is nothing but a miracle of God who orchestrated all these circumstances and people in my life to put me where I am today. I am richly blessed by God. It is He who did this. It is He I owed my dry clothes on the high ground too. He pulled me from the wet raging torrents and dried me off and set me here. It is for a reason. It is to be generous and to serve. It is not lost on me. I will never forget where I came from financially a decade ago and where God has led me now. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. Shout praises to the Lord in the highest tabernacles!

 

It was this sense of God’s deliverance of His people into the Promised Land that I thought of this morning when I read through this passage, Numbers 34:1-15, about the division of the land among the tribes. Let’s read it together:

 

34 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter Canaan, the land that will be allotted to you as an inheritance is to have these boundaries:

 

3 “‘Your southern side will include some of the Desert of Zin along the border of Edom. Your southern boundary will start in the east from the southern end of the Dead Sea, 4 cross south of Scorpion Pass, continue on to Zin and go south of Kadesh Barnea. Then it will go to Hazar Addar and over to Azmon, 5 where it will turn, join the Wadi of Egypt and end at the Mediterranean Sea.

 

6 “‘Your western boundary will be the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This will be your boundary on the west.

 

7 “‘For your northern boundary, run a line from the Mediterranean Sea to Mount Hor 8 and from Mount Hor to Lebo Hamath. Then the boundary will go to Zedad, 9 continue to Ziphron and end at Hazar Enan. This will be your boundary on the north.

 

10 “‘For your eastern boundary, run a line from Hazar Enan to Shepham. 11 The boundary will go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain and continue along the slopes east of the Sea of Galilee.[a] 12 Then the boundary will go down along the Jordan and end at the Dead Sea.

 

“‘This will be your land, with its boundaries on every side.’”

 

13 Moses commanded the Israelites: “Assign this land by lot as an inheritance. The Lord has ordered that it be given to the nine and a half tribes, 14 because the families of the tribe of Reuben, the tribe of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have received their inheritance. 15 These two and a half tribes have received their inheritance east of the Jordan across from Jericho, toward the sunrise.”

 

As we see here in this passage, the land was given by God as an inheritance. The boundaries declared by God are larger an area than was actually occupied by the early Hebrew settlers. The boundaries correspond more to the land of Kings David and Solomon generations upon generations later. The size of the gift of the Promised Land is a portrait of the generous nature of God. It was far beyond what was needed or imagined. That is the nature of God. He richly pours out his blessings upon His people. All He asks is that we are obedient to Him and His Word and He will bless us. It will not always be in dollars and cents or in land or possessions. From our obedience to Him, we find peace of mind and contentment that only comes from obedience to the Lord. It changes our mindset on things. It gives us satisfaction in the moment and gives the worries about provision over to the Lord. He will provide for us. And man there is contentment in trusting the Lord.

 

When I see Israel being blessed with the land they are about to invade and settle, I see their journey from the horrors of slavery, the travails of the wilderness and the stupid mistakes and consequences they lived during the wilderness, but it was all for a purpose now. They are staring at the promised land. They are staring at their high ground. God has seen them through the wilderness and placed them on the high ground. That is the comparison and parallel to my life that I see. God has seen me through the wilderness and He has placed me in the Promised Land in which I now live. I am on the high ground. I am in the dry and warm place. He has delivered me from so much pain and suffering and placed me in a sweet spot. It is not lost on my how generous God has been to me. It is far beyond what I deserve, expected, or imagined. I am the child of an amazing God. Shouts of praise. Shouts of thanksgiving in the highest tabernacles!

 

Amen and Amen

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