Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

Desert Breakdown


Desert wreck with cactus for seats by Crystal A Murray. Taken 05-17-2010 in Seligman, Arizona, CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

Desert wreck with cactus for seats by Crystal A Murray. Taken 05-17-2010 in Seligman, Arizona
CC License = Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

The one place you don’t want to break down is in the desert. It’s hot, there are bugs and snakes and scorpions. It’s dry. There’s little to no water. You could die out there. And did I say that it’s hot? Yep, there are some beautiful things about the desert, like the colorful flowers on some cactus, but it’s definitely not a place to get stranded.

In today’s reading from Numbers 14:26 through Numbers 15:7, we read about a different kind of desert breakdown. In this one, there was a huge breakdown of honor and respect between the community of Israel and Yahveh, their Deliverer. The community of whiners and complainers have gotten on God’s last nerve, so He tells Moses to give them the bad news of what their complaining has brought to them.

God makes a promise that all who treated Him without honor and respect would die in their journey instead of entering into The Promised Land. He tells Moses to let the people know that their carcasses would fall and rot in the desert. On top of that, He says their children will be forced to wander the desert with them until their parents’ carcasses turn back to dust. I don’t know exactly how long that would take with the desert heat and scavengers, but God tells them they will wander for a total of forty years because their punishment is to wander one year for each day the spies were on their mission. Forty days of recon have now turned into forty years of sunburn.

But even as God is issuing this justice to those who continually failed Him, He lets them know that His eyes have been on two men from the same generation, and those two men have not failed God. Joshua and Caleb will enter the land sworn to their ancestors because they have honored God as God and respected His word with trust.

After all of this is decreed, the people are sorrowful and want to make up for their misdeeds, but again they want to do it on their terms and without either respecting or honoring God. This part really must be read to be appreciated, so here are verses 39-43 from Chapter 14 in The Message Bible

When Moses told all of this to the People of Israel, they mourned long and hard. But early the next morning they started out for the high hill country, saying, “We’re here; we’re ready—let’s go up and attack the land that God promised us. We sinned, but now we’re ready.” But Moses said, “Why are you crossing God’s command yet again? This won’t work. Don’t attack. God isn’t with you in this—you’ll be beaten badly by your enemies. The Amalekites and Canaanites are ready for you and they’ll kill you. Because you have left off obediently following GodGod is not going to be with you in this.”

Still, even with the warnings, these disobedient people did things their own way, and the Amalekites and Canaanites attacked them just as Moses said they would. Those who lived in the hill country beat the arrogant Israelites all the way back to Hormah.

The beginning of Chapter 15 talks of the sacrifices that will acceptable to God when those who do enter The Promised Land get there, so I guess this change is just to show that it’s time to focus on those who will dwell there and not spend anymore time on those who will die in the desert. I almost feel more of a sadness over the end of God’s conversation toward these people than when He was angry and threatening them.

To me, the very definition of “Hell” is eternal separation from God, and there can’t be more of a dry place than one where His presence and voice are absent. Thankfully, because our Messiah is The Lily of The Valley and The Rose of Sharon (desert), we have an advocate who will deliver us even from the dryest desert breakdown. If we are broken under the burdens of our sin, we can turn to Him for redemption and salvation. His mercy will bring us cool comfort in the dryest places of our lives, and from there, He will continue to deliver us as long as we walk with Him and show Him obedient trust.

And, here, for a little contrast to the rusty old cactus-filled clunker above, is a mosaic I put together from beautiful cactus flowers I found around Flickr. If you click on the image, you can find links in the image description to view each picture in full size and by its original photographer…

Colorful Cacti & Cactus Flower Mosaic

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June 3, 2014 - Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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