Purim is a microcosm of our own lifelong quests: to walk in Yehovah’s ways despite the pressures around us, to trust that his purposes are being manifest in the events of our nation and world, and to have the courage to submit to his sovereignty and will at every turn. In short, it’s about living a life of faith.
As you read the story and the following posts, you will see yourself and your circumstances, as well as Yehovah’s sovereignty and guidance in your own life.
The weekly portion of Sh’lach L’cha, Numbers 13-15 is the account of the 12 men going into the Promised Land to reconnoiter it and come back to report to the people what it’s like. This is the point at which Yehovah decides that the Israelites are going to spend 40 years in the desert.
40 years! How old were you 40 years ago? It was the 1970s – What were you doing in 1970s? 40 years ago I was 11 years old. A lot has happened since then. What about ten years later in the 80s? I got my first career job. What were you doing in the 1990s and the turn of the century? Think about everything that’s gone on in just the last ten years.
40 years is almost half of our lifetime. It’s a long time. It seems like a harsh punishment. (more…)
Have you ever been in a situation in which you wondered what Yehovah was up to? You knew you were in a specific place for a reason, but not sure what it was. Or maybe you’ve felt you were meant for something more than you’re currently doing and have asked Yehovah to open new doors. You’ve prayed and waited on the Lord for your next assignment. But once you realize what it is he’s asking of you, it seems daunting, more or different than you had in mind. You might feel overwhelmed at the prospect, maybe reluctant or anxious.
Take heart, you’re in good company. Joseph, Moses, Noah, Gideon, even Yeshua – they’ve all been where you are.
Have you noticed that the enemy often increases his efforts just as we’re about to approach a victory? We don’t always perceive what’s happening in the moment, but we notice that things get very difficult. Then all of the sudden, there’s a breakthrough in an area where we’ve been struggling or praying for.
A new opportunity arose from someone in my congregation, and I was asked to participate. Wow, I’d never thought of that idea, I didn’t even know we had those resources. It was an obvious God-incidence in answer to my prayer. I was excited about the prospect and what it could lead to.
Then the obstacles began to mount against my participation — to the point of impossibility. Under my current circumstances there was no way I could participate in the project. (more…)
“As a Christian, serious about living out Christ’s intention for me, I view life as a series of opportunities to respond to and maximize… to recognize opportunities – either immediate or in the future – and prepare for, or respond well to them.” Dr. Jerry Cook
This summarizes our partnership with God in bringing his will. This is exactly what Esther and Mordecai did when the Jews were threatened with extermination by the Persians, as recorded in the Book of Esther – the story commemorated on the festival of Purim. (more…)
In Numbers 1-2 God appoints leaders from each tribe of the Israelites, counts the men for military battle and organizes them as to how they are to camp and move. By Numbers 10 they are moving toward the Promised Land. These are our bookends in this study. Everything within this 20-day period can be considered the last minute instructions before the Israelites can move forward.
“it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it ‘Today.’ ” … “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;”
The last minute preparations in how to enter our Sabbath rest in these last days are the same for us as they were for the Israelites in Numbers 1-10. These are our instructions for what is required in order for God to fulfill His promises to us. (more…)
Numbers 1 begins the culmination of God’s main purpose for the Exodus: entering the Promised Land. Hebrews 4 tells us we are still headed for the Promised Land, calling it our Sabbath rest. Numbers 1-14 are the last few weeks before His grand plan is finally realized. The first 10 chapters provide an outline of how to prepare to enter the Land – for the Israelites, and for us today. These are the last few instructions for following God’s presence into our land of blessing and abundance. (more…)
In an earlier post, we reviewed the lifestyle of following the 10 Commandments and the blessings it produces based on Deuteronomy 26:16-19. But God’s blessings go beyond human logic. It’s not only that if you do this, then that will happen. While that is certainly true in the natural realm, when we pursue God’s commands, the spiritual results are compounded beyond what we can imagine. (more…)
As I walked a familiar path, I pondered my goals and pursuits — the progress or lack thereof, the advances and obstacles. Were my efforts having the desired effects? Were my primary purposes being met? These were pursuits I know God had led me to, called on me to participate in. Yet, while I could point to advances I had made, I couldn’t see tangible results I believed were God’s greater purposes. I could hear in my mind, “If only…” “If only this project were to reach that point, then it would be successful.” “If only I could get beyond this or that, I could really make a difference.” “If only…”
I recently wrote an article on how the phrase “If only” is a red flag for the temptation to reach beyond what God is already doing, to jump out ahead or create my own plan when things aren’t as I think they ought to be. On my walk, my own “If onlys” echoed through the trees. I knew I needed to repent. When I did, God responded in His typical fashion with patience, understanding, gentleness and fatherly love. (more…)
At one point in my career, I had not been demoted, but it certainly felt that way. Our administrative help was let go, and I was asked to take on her work in addition to my own. The new arrangement was working, so there was no hope of it changing any time soon. But I grew restless and sometimes frustrated. It also began to change other peoples’ perceptions of my capabilities and my status in the organization. I considered looking for another job, but in the current economy, this was not the time.
I asked a question I often use to glean answers and direction from God: “Who in the Bible has felt this way, and what did he or she do about it?” Two Bible giants came to mind — Joseph and Moses.
With today’s violence and random attacks, the rising price of food, gas and supplies, civil unrest, political upheaval and natural disasters of Biblical proportions, it seems the Bible’s prophecies are now daily headlines.
Fear of the possibilities, or even fear born from first-hand experience, can creep in and begin to change our mindset and our focus. It’s easy to start making a plan for our security: saving more money, storing up food and supplies, buying additional insurance, making plans for various disaster scenarios, and the list goes on — all good considerations and wise counsel.
But there’s a danger even in our planning: pursuing our own plan for security can take us away from God’s. The very things we amass to keep us secure can begin to replace the true source of not only our security, but the source of all those things we’re gathering. When we take our eye off the Source, the result is more fear of the unknown and more worry about protecting it all. Before we know it, the provisions become our security instead of the One who provided them.
The key is balancing stewardship of our resources while remaining completely dependent on God for our security and provision. (more…)
In our review of Numbers 11, we’ve seen how rejection of God’s provision (Part 1) and replacement with their own desires (Part 2) forces God’s presence out of the Israelites’ wilderness camp. But that’s not all. The story includes details that provide clues about something more God had planned.
In His mercy, I believe God hid a blessing in the midst of the incident for those who would pursue the path He laid out. While, there’s no account of any of the Israelites doing so, it serves as a lesson to us today of how God provides us a way to correct our path when we’ve gone astray. It’s a testament to God’s patience and tenacity in His pursuit of us and shows us how to stay in His will and presence. It’s a revelation the Israelites missed. (more…)
In Numbers 11 we read of one of the complaints the Israelites brought against God and Moses during their sojourn in the wilderness. They asked for meat; however, as we discussed in Part 1, they already had meat. Their true sentiment stemmed from discontent and a rejection of God’s provision.
As true today as it was then, when we reject God’s provision, we end up pursuing our own agenda. As a result we are presented with opportunities to either turn back or continue with our own way of living. In this case the Israelites’ choices led them away from the blessing of God and into separation from God’s presence.
Did they realize what they had done and what the implications were? Hindsight is wisdom’s teacher. Based on their experience, I realized I had to change my own course. (more…)
Remember the story of how God fed the Israelites quail – tons of quail – in the wilderness? It takes up one chapter in the Bible but seems to be just another incident in the litany of complaints the Israelites brought against God and Moses.
How was it different from the other incidents? Why was God so angry? Why so many quail? The story almost raises more questions than it answers. Yet there are a few hints that create intrigue as to its deeper meaning. Contrary to my first impressions, I believe it holds some (almost) hidden lessons about God’s mercy and desire to dwell with us and bless us. (more…)
Have you ever had someone give you a scripture saying they believe the Lord wants to use it to speak to you, yet it doesn’t seem to fit anywhere in your life? Hold it. I mean literally hold onto it – write it down, log it, memorize it.
I have a wonderful friend who has often done this for me. At times, the scripture or insight exactly fits with what I’m facing. Other times we talk through it and can’t seem to connect the dots. But I know she is a woman of God gifted in intercession and speaking into my life and others’. So I hold on to it.
One such scripture was Isaiah 30:21:
With your ears you will hear a word from behind you: “This is the way; stay on it, whether you go to the right or the left.”
On a recent vacation, I decided to try rock climbing on the simulated rock wall. I had never done it, but watched several people in front of me, some succeeding to the top and some quitting part way up. With each one I could, I asked how they did it or what stopped them from finishing, trying to learn whatever might help me make it high enough to ring the little bell at the top, announcing my success.
When it was my turn, the attendant, Alex, roped me up and gave me climbing shoes to help me hold on. I took my first few steps on the holds and knobs. “This is pretty easy,” I thought. But like anything else physical, it got harder as I went along. (more…)
Not long ago I saw a documentary featuring the gray whale migration from Mexico to Alaska. A mother and her new calf, born just a few months earlier, were passing off the coast of Monterey, California, when they were attacked by a pod of killer whales. The story showed the hunting strategies of the six killer whales and the rare escape of the two grays.
Since an adult gray is far too large for a killer whale to overtake, the baby calf was the prey. The main strategy of the killer whales was to separate the calf from its mother. A brutal struggle went on for hours. With the two grays becoming weaker and weaker, I couldn’t imagine how the two whales would ever rid themselves of the strong and determined predators. (more…)
“A living sacrifice to God” (Romans 12:1). It’s a familiar term, one that’s always in the back of my mind as my position and purpose in God. Then, I unexpectedly learned a deeper understanding of what that actually means and how I can really live it out.
The idea of sacrifice to us today refers to giving something up. But the audience of Paul’s day at the time it was written would have understood it to refer to the temple sacrifices — animals, birds, oil, grains — which were a major part of their life and had been in their history for nearly 1,500 years.
One of the offerings required was a “whole burnt offering” — the Hebrew word “olah” (referred to repeatedly in Lev. 1-6). This offering was used to symbolize that the worshipper had offered himself in service and obedience to God. But what I didn’t know was that the word “olah” was also used to describe bondservants. (more…)
Have you ever felt God asking you to do something for which you know you’re not talented or maybe not qualified? No doubt Esther felt this way when Mordecai instructed her to speak to the king about saving her kinsman. Esther’s obvious gift was in her beauty, her speaking of political matters with the king was never a thought. In fact she hadn’t even had an audience with him in a month, and then only at his request. A person could be sentenced to death for approaching the king without his summons.
God has promised us so many blessings in His word. Many of these are conditional – that is, they require something of us in order for God’s full blessing to be released. Some of the most familiar are the “be-attitudes”: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:7-9)
There are three promises I’ve decided to make a pursuit of mine in recent years — promises of blessings that require my action. These are probably some of the most explicit promises of blessing in the Bible, yet possibly some of the most overlooked. I began pursuing these three within a few months of each other. Not too long afterward I felt showered in unexpected blessings. (more…)
On a recent vacation, my husband and I stayed at a house beside the Wenatchee River in Eastern Washington. There were two families of geese, one with three goslings, one with four. The cute babies were very young, their feathers still fluffy yellow. We watched them in our small yard for nine days.
It quickly became obvious how completely trusting and dependent on their parents the goslings were. The parents did all the planning and leading. The goslings were only concerned with eating, sleeping and following their parents. (more…)
The Sabbath – we think of the Jewish day of rest, or maybe any day when we’re not working, or the day we attend church. Yeshua says of the Sabbath, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27). The Sabbath is one of the blessings God made for mankind to enjoy. He practiced it Himself on the seventh day of creation. Was God tired? Had all the work He’d done on the first six days worn Him out? I can imagine it could, but no — God created it along with the world and its inhabitants as a gift to man, animals and the land.