ROAD TRIP TO MATURITY
Great lover of my soul, I praise you for your compassion, your grace and mercy poured out for me. Thank you that I face this day with you as my Redeemer and King.
Read NUMBERS 21:10-35
10 The Israelites moved on and camped at Oboth. 11 Then they set out from Oboth and camped in Iye Abarim, in the wilderness that faces Moab toward the sunrise. 12 From there they moved on and camped in the Zered Valley. 13 They set out from there and camped alongside the Arnon, which is in the wilderness extending into Amorite territory. The Arnon is the border of Moab, between Moab and the Amorites. 14 That is why the Book of the Wars of the Lord says:
16 From there they continued on to Beer, the well where the Lord said to Moses, “Gather the people together and I will give them water.”
17 Then Israel sang this song:
“Spring up, O well!
Sing about it,
18 about the well that the princes dug,
that the nobles of the people sank—
the nobles with scepters and staffs.”
Then they went from the wilderness to Mattanah, 19 from Mattanah to Nahaliel, from Nahaliel to Bamoth, 20 and from Bamoth to the valley in Moab where the top of Pisgah overlooks the wasteland.
Defeat of Sihon and Og
21 Israel sent messengers to say to Sihon king of the Amorites:
22 “Let us pass through your country. We will not turn aside into any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the King’s Highway until we have passed through your territory.”
23 But Sihon would not let Israel pass through his territory. He mustered his entire army and marched out into the wilderness against Israel. When he reached Jahaz, he fought with Israel. 24 Israel, however, put him to the sword and took over his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, but only as far as the Ammonites, because their border was fortified. 25 Israel captured all the cities of the Amorites and occupied them, including Heshbon and all its surrounding settlements. 26 Heshbon was the city of Sihon king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken from him all his land as far as the Arnon.
27 That is why the poets say:
“Come to Heshbon and let it be rebuilt;
let Sihon’s city be restored.
28 “Fire went out from Heshbon,
a blaze from the city of Sihon.
It consumed Ar of Moab,
the citizens of Arnon’s heights.
29 Woe to you, Moab!
You are destroyed, people of Chemosh!
He has given up his sons as fugitives
and his daughters as captives
to Sihon king of the Amorites.
30 “But we have overthrown them;
Heshbon’s dominion has been destroyed all the way to Dibon.
We have demolished them as far as Nophah,
which extends to Medeba.”
31 So Israel settled in the land of the Amorites.
32 After Moses had sent spies to Jazer, the Israelites captured its surrounding settlements and drove out the Amorites who were there. 33 Then they turned and went up along the road toward Bashan, and Og king of Bashan and his whole army marched out to meet them in battle at Edrei.
34 The Lord said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have delivered him into your hands, along with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.”
35 So they struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army, leaving them no survivors. And they took possession of his land.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Consider Paul’s words: ‘Not that I have … already arrived at my goal, but I press on.’1 How do you feel about where you are today in your faith journey?
When my sons were young, a trip out of town would usually begin on a high note but, as we piled on the miles, little voices would invariably turn whiny, punctuating the journey with a relentless refrain: ‘Aren’t we there yet?’ As my boys grew older, the tone of these trips mellowed to one of quieter confidence.
Most of today’s passage is a travelogue: ‘The Israelites moved on … and camped … set out … and camped … in the wilderness … continued on … went from … to …’ (vs 10–20). This record of their wilderness travels doesn’t spell out the length of the journey nor describe the rough reality of the terrain. Yet, as they move on from place to place, setting up camp yet never able to settle down for long, there isn’t even a hint of a querulous, ‘Aren’t we there yet?’ God’s people have begun to grow up!
Despite meager details about geography, the travelogue is punctuated with poetry and narrative that record a different kind of journey – a journey into spiritual maturity. The people thirst, but they also trust. ‘Gather the people together and I will give them water’ (v 16) echoes God’s earlier call, yet without the grumbling that preceded it (v 5) and accompanied, instead, by glad songs (vs 17,18). The Israelites don’t simply experience God’s gracious provision but also receive his powerful protection. The conquest of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og had great significance, both historically and symbolically, since these Transjordanian territories would be the first to be settled by the Israelites.2 Their determined pressing on yields progress. There is no room for complacency, however. The unfolding story demonstrates that maturity is still a long way off!
Christian maturity is characterized by the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.3 How does your garden grow?
Thank you, Lord God, that you are with me; I never face anything alone. Help me to remember that you journey with me in both the high and the low places of my life.
1 Phil 3:12 2 Num 32:33; Gordon J Wenham, Numbers, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, IVP, 1981, p163 3 Gal 5:22,23
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