“Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord; and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. The people therefore cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord and the fire died out. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the Lord burned among them” ~ Numbers 11:1-3, NASB.
Near as I can figure from the timeline of events, and I could be off some on this, but I don’t think by much: God led Israel through the wilderness, taking about a year to get to the Mountain of God which was about a 13 day journey going in a straight line there. He then took most of another year to give the people the laws and instructions they needed before entry into the Promised Land: leading them to build the Temple, and numbering the people for the purposes of service assignments as priests and warriors.
Why so long? Why not just cross quickly and head into the Promised Land before all this complaining began? Not wanting to get too much into this subject, as lead-in to our subject for this writing, here is what I see as the reason for God taking the long way to get to their destination:
- The people were weak from their time as slaves and needed to be built up mentally, physically, and spiritually.
- The people were divisive, each thinking they knew a better way, and they needed to be brought to one heart and mind, God’s; and to the ability to follow His lead through the leadership of men He anointed and appointed.
- The people were filled with the falsehood of Egypt and needed to have Egypt worked out of their system of belief and wantonness.
- The people needed to grow in their ability to trust God to do all He told them He would.
- The people needed to learn obedience in order to cooperate with God in seeing the promises fulfilled.
Don’t confuse these events on the timeline of Israel’s wilderness experience with the 40 years that follow. It was failure to believe in, trust in and rely upon God with the first approach to entering the Promised Land that led to Israel’s 40 year wilderness wanderings.
At this point, I am sure that there is more that can be gleaned from a two year jaunt to make a 13 day journey. But as I consider where to go in introducing our subject matter in this writing, these things listed above come quickly to mind. The point is that God always has good purpose for any adversity and every storm He allows to touch our lives. Yes. Always. And His purposes are for our good, to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11-14).
It has been years since I have not had a storm raging somewhere, at least on the outskirts of my life. It seems when one situation dies down, another flares up or begins again. Sounds horrendous, doesn’t it? It may even sound familiar. But the reason I can pronounce a storm to be on the outskirts of my life – sometimes touching life, maybe stirring things some, but not destroying life, is because throughout all the storms to date, God has taught me how to enter into His rest and remain in the eye of the storm, where calm waters dwell.
Our focal scripture that leads to this writing reveals that frequent complaining over adversity stirs up the winds of the storm, and can even put us in the midst of a God-driven Firestorm. This is the beginning of a rather lengthy, two-part series on dealing with life’s adversity that I believe, if you will read all over these next three to four days, you will find it worth the time.
Through this study, we will look first at the things I have learned that are vital to entering into the Eye of life’s storms and remaining there (see the next two to three posts). Then we will look at this “firestorm” sent by God and discover what it may consist of and why He would send such into our lives.
I look forward to visiting with you again in our next post as we begin to look at “In the Hearing of the Lord: The Eye of Calm Waters”.