Wednesday, February 13, 2013

They Turned Sweet Grapes into Sour Whine

"...they are stronger than we are...and they spread a bad report..."
Numbers 13:31-32
The LORD GOD Almighty was preparing to fufill a promise He made to His people. He told them they were about to enter into the land "flowing with milk and honey." He told Moses to send men to explore the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:1). These men were representatives of the tribes of Israel and were instructed to thoroughly explore the land, the inhabitants, the towns, the soil and even the fruit. (Numbers 13:17-19). The men discovered single clusters of grapes so large it took two men to carry one of them. There were also pomegranates and figs.
Imagine that, God sent them into the land of promise and it was so fruitful that  even the size of the grape clusters was bountiful! Think of it. God was giving His people generous portions of rich foods and abundance in the land. Hmmmmm. And these are the same people who grumbled. Hmmmm.

After 40 days of exploration of the land the men returned and said, "It does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit! But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large." (V. 28) Uh-Oh! Big people! Better run now while there's still time. They saw the richness of the land and the fullness of the life the LORD had prepared for them, but in their eyes the size of the inhabitants were bigger than the blessings -- and even worse, they saw the inhabitants as bigger than the faithful God who sent them in to bless them. They were afraid because they looked at the circumstances instead of God. Hmmm. Do we do this today? I certainly have and when I do that I think about myself. That's never a good thing and it was a bad thing for them, too. When we don't believe God we lose so much.
Caleb, one of the men who explored the land,  stepped up  in faith and said to all the people, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." (V. 30) Wow. Such awesome, invigorating faith! Caleb had a clear vision of God's faithfulness!
But the whine was flowing freely all over the camp and the people said, "We can't attack those people they are stronger than we are.We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them." (Numbers 13:31) Too much whine has blurred their eyes of faith.
Moses cried out to God on their behalf -- the  Cry Babies. Sorry, I just can see that if we're honest with ourselves: we are abundantly blessed people of God but we can easily become whining Cry Babies, too. OK, maybe it's just me. But I can see it.
However, He cursed their ongoing rebellion and eventually "these men responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the LORD." (Numbers 14:37) Joshua and Caleb were the only explorers who survived.
After this the people repented (Numbers 14:9) and said they would finally go to the new land. Moses told them "Do not go up, because the LORD is not with you. You will be defeated by your enemies." (V.42)
To whine is a choice. Is life hard? YES! Is there pain, heartache and suffering? Yes! Yes! Yes! But as God's people we have the privilege of using our prayers and our praises to outshine  the darkness. Nothing is greater than God. He promises to never leave us. We have to keep reminding ourselves and each other of this truth.
Only God can make water flow from a solid rock. (Exodus 17:6)
Only God can will mountains to move when His people believe. (Matthew 17:20)
Only God can make an iron axhead float. (2 Kings 6:5-6)
Only God can make city walls collapse when His people shout. (Joshua 6:5)
Only God can fill His people with the same power that raised His Son from the dead. (Romans 8:11)
Hmmmm.  We are the Body of Christ. We are the light of the world. What if we turned our whine into praise?
For HIS glory,
Copyright 2013 Totally Devoted 3, #28, by Polly Balint