By the Numbers

By Gene Bertolet ACTION Staff

Israel’s journey from Egypt to the Promise Land narrated in the Book of Numbers had a two-fold destination. Israel was on a journey of the heart to discover their true God, and on a walking journey to discover their true homeland. Ideally, hearts following God to a place of His choosing could expect to enjoy both the journey and the destination.

The Numbers narrative offers both encouragement and warnings as you begin or continue your life-changing journey. Your journey must have both a heart for God and obedience to His call. A passport to do, go, and give for God, without a heart passion for Him is, at best, a half-hearted journey.

Numbers 9:15-17.

Now on the day that the tabernacle was erected the cloud covered the tabernacle... So it was continuously; the cloud would cover it by day, and the appearance of fire by night. Whenever the cloud was lifted... the sons of Israel would then set out; and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the sons of Israel would camp. (NASB)

Does this passage describe an aimless, wandering people? God has provided His perpetual presence for your life-changing journey. Following the road ahead and His guidance from above are two dimensions of the same journey. The daily challenge is to keep looking up and not be distracted by the often chaotic scene around you.

Numbers 14: 7-9.

The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us... Only do not rebel against the Lord... (NASB)

Men willing to do, go, and give whatever God asks of them can expect His presence and guidance on a life-changing journey. Those unwilling to heed His voice or say yes and then rebel can anticipate wandering a lonely path. Stepping out on a journey without His leading is presumptuous. Beginning the journey and turning back is not an option. Looking up keeps both your heart and feet committed to your life-changing journey.

Numbers 20:5.

Why have you (Moses) made us come up from Egypt, to bring us into this wretched place? (NASB)

The cloud had settled. God’s people were camped in the place of His choosing. His presence hovered above. But it was a “wretched place.” How could that be? The wretchedness was in the human view of the place, not in the spiritual reality. Likewise, your journey has bumps in the road. The natural tendency is to fault others, especially leaders. Looking up keeps your lifechanging journey of the heart and service to Him in perspective.

Numbers 21:5.

The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” (NASB)

The miserable food was manna. It was God’s provision to physically sustain His people on the journey for more than forty years. His provision to sustain you daily on your spiritual journey is His Word. There are places, perhaps wretched places, on the journey where your flesh finds His manna unsatisfying, even tasteless for a season. Look up and feed your spirit anyway. It will sustain you on your journey.

Numbers 33:5-49.

Then the sons of Israel journeyed from... and camped at... (NASB)

Forty-five times in this chapter the cloud lifted, the Israelites broke camp, packed, and moved. When the cloud settled they unpacked and set up camp. If you are a typical MFMer, your passport(s) and itinerary read like Numbers chapter 33, but with more familiar names of places. However, from God’s perspective there is little difference. He retains sovereignty over His people, whether Israel, the Church, or you. He chooses places of service and provides the resources to get there and finish the task. That sets before each of us an open door, an opportunity, and a road ahead to do, go, and give whatever He asks. But there are conditions; Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV)

So, if you are on the road, focused on doing, going, giving, and the finish line, look up or you will miss the best part of the journey.

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