Something happened that should not have happened. The Lord–the all-knowing One–had gone before them, He had protected them, and all this without them even knowing. The chosen one’s–the people of Israel–had God as the benevolent Defender, but they despised Him just when they should have been thanking Him. Little did they know that their journey would entail a long-distant relative turned enemy-king, a hired curse-diviner, and still the abundance of God’s blessing. Little did they know that God was protecting, guiding them, and going before them. Their mission was simple, serve as a kingdom of priests to the nations, trust and obey God’s Law as mediated through Moses, and fill the earth with His blessing and glory. But they didn’t. Their mission–though simple–was not easy. And so…
“While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor…”
The canvas of the biblical storyline once again takes on a dark hue through the disobedience of a uniquely chosen people. They didn’t deserve to be chosen, and they are not acting as though they should remain chosen. Their sin was to look at their surroundings–the world, and instead of blessing the people of Moab with the Oracles of God–the Law–they capitulate to their desires and turn to their gods. Incredible.
How Does This Apply To Us Today?
Are there times when you–as a Christian–look at the world’s definition of success, definition of comfort, definition of pleasure, or definition of power and then begin to find your identity in those things? Is it easy to lose sight of God’s work in your life in the past, to forget what He has accomplished through Christ on your behalf, to blur the lines of morality and take on a worldly ambitious approach to areas of your life where you should simply trust and obey?
Maybe it’s manipulation of your spouse. Maybe it’s shading the truth in your workplace to get ahead, to get the promotion, or to cover your tail on a mistake you made. Maybe it’s fudging a resume. Maybe it’s shading the truth on an addiction. Maybe it’s carelessness or greed with your money. Maybe it’s fashion that leads to a desire to have someone’s or a group’s approval. Maybe it’s entertainment that crosses the line into lustful pleasure. Maybe it’s language that is rough around the edges and colorful. Maybe it’s anger to power your way through a deal or a situation. Maybe it’s an unwillingness to confess your sin, an unwillingness to admit you’re wrong, or unwillingness to forgive someone who has wronged you.
The list can go on and on. The bottom line issue is that we have the same propensity as the Israelites of old to attach ourselves, find our identity in, and partner with the world in more ways than we are willing to admit it. Maybe we’re not bowing down to Baal of Peor, but we don’t hesitate to bend the knee and find our identity in another’s approval, a position of power, or an addiction of pleasure.
And this is yet another reason why Christ had to die…
Just like the Israelites, we’re too weak. We need someone who never touched the water of this world. One who stayed faithful all His days. One who then offered His perfect life as a Substitute for ours. One who rose from the grave to conquer death forever. And then One who would give us His righteousness through faith–not through our myriad failed attempts at doing good or being good.
Glory. We’re not alone. Christ has made a way. Do you believe?— December 29, 2017