Monday, March 7, 2016

The Numbers Don't Lie: The Price of Rebellion

After the children of Israel came out of Egypt, God directed Moses to take a census of the men who were able to go to war. Before they entered the Promised Land, God directed him to take another census. The second census revealed a decrease in the population of 1,820 men.

Most of the tribes had increased in number. There were five tribes, though, that had decreased in numbers (Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Ephraim, and Napthali), with Simeon having the greatest decrease of 37,100 fewer men after their years in the wilderness. 

Numbers like this can be very telling. The losses happened for a reason, and I believe there's a lesson to be learned.

Dathan and Abiram and On were from the tribe of Reuben and co-leaders with Korah in the rebellion against Moses. (Numbers 16). Dothan, Abiram, and On wanted control. They wanted to direct their own steps, rather than follow Moses' leading. In rebelling against Moses, however, they were rebelling against God, rejecting His leadership. 

Zimri was a prince of the tribe of Simeon and the man who wanted to choose his pleasure. He joined himself with a Midianite woman and brought her into the camp.(Numbers 25) In rejecting the law of Moses, Zimri was rejecting the law of God.

Four men rebelled against God and many men followed their example. Their choices resulted in the deaths of thousands, but also had a profound effect on their families for generations to come. 

The size of each tribe's portion on entering the promised land was proportional to the size of the tribe's population. The smaller tribes received a smaller portion of land. Had their tribes not lost men, the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Ephraim, and Napthali would had been given a larger portion than they received.

Rebellion doesn't emerge full-grown. It begins as a smoldering dissatisfaction that increases, worsens, leads us to consider an action, convinces us that even a wrong-doing can be justified. 

Rebellion is a seed that grows and eventually blossoms in actions that would have been unthinkable at the beginning. 

Rebellion is a deadly contagion that always affects more than just ourselves.

Faithful obedience matters, but rebellious disobedience matters, too. Our decisions are not made in a vacuum. What begins as a small thought of rebellion can mushroom into something that changes the course of our families for generations to come. 

Let's examine ourselves today. Are we nurturing seeds of rebellion? 

Followers are called to follow. Let's be sure the One we follow is Jesus, the One we obey is God Himself.

"Know that the Lord Himself is God; 
It is He who had made us, and not we ourselves, 
We are His people and the  sheep of His pasture." 
                                               Psalm 100:3 nasb

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