Today you should read: Numbers 34
Yesterday we read Numbers 33:50–56, how the Israelites were to drive out the inhabitants of the Land that was promised by God. In verse 53, the Lord said, “I have given the land to you to possess it.” If, however, the Israelites did not drive out the inhabitants, God gave a dire warning, “those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides.”
In today’s passage we read the boundary of the Land they were supposed to clear out. The map below shows approximately where the boundary should have been.
Unfortunately for Israel, they never came close to clearing out the Land to that extent until the time of Solomon. Even then, it was imperfectly conquered as much of their western boarder remained under non-Israelite control and pockets of pagans remained in the Land.
This last Summer, I was able to lead a Summer Study with Josh “The Man” Osterfeld on the book of Judges. Judges records the fact that the Israelites failed to trust God enough to clear out the Land of its inhabitants. Likewise, God’s warning came true as Judges vividly illustrated the consequences—the pagan remnant was certainly barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides.
As I think about how we might apply this text, at the risk of allegorizing it too much, have you taken control of the boundaries in your life? What I mean is that Israel had a promise from the Lord. They failed to live up to the promise for a variety of reasons. As such, they never actually had control within their own divinely promised boarders.
One reason that I think Israel failed to live up to their promise was that they didn’t take God at His Word. We are the recipients of a great many promises in Scripture. However, because we fail to take God at His Word, we aren’t active in the places he has for us. Judges records how the Israelites were afraid of the chariots and military might of some of their enemies. I think sometimes we get afraid too. We’re afraid of the repercussions of sharing our faith at work. We’re afraid of making things awkward at the Thanksgiving table by calling sin “sin” to our family. We fail to shine the light of God’s glory in the spaces He’s given us because we’re more afraid of people than taking God at His Word.
Another (related) reason I think Israel failed to live up to their promise was that they decided their way was better than God’s way. Sin and idolatry permeated Israel and hindered them from claiming the boundary of the Land God had promised. Sin holds us back—it’s was as true then as it is today. You wonder why your boundary (your influence, your finances, your relationships, your work, etc.) hasn’t expanded? The area to which our boundary can safely expand is directly related to the faithfulness and purity with which we manage what God has already given us. You’ve heard it said, a blessing at the wrong time is a curse—a winning lotto ticket for someone who has no clue about stewardship (like spending your milk money on lotto tickets) is for sure a blessing that quickly becomes a curse.
The locations in Numbers 34 doesn’t just represent dots on a map. To a greater degree it represents an opportunity to see God work through people to expand His Kingdom on Earth. Live inside God’s Promise and expand His Kingdom today.
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate
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