Numbers 14 Part 2–Leading When the Wheels Come Off, Part 2

Imagine the disappointment, Joshua and Caleb had just returned from this beautiful land that was to be theirs.  They were to be a part of the transformation of a people that were once slaves but, now were to be a nation of priests.  Situated between Assyria and Egypt, Israel was set to become the center of action and help to transform these groups of heathen peoples into a god fearing culture–BUT, instead, the people are talking about stoning the leaders and running back to Egypt?!!?  
 
Joshua and Caleb were trying to reassure the people while Moses was trying to persuade God not to kill the lot of them.  This clearly was not the shining star of leadership that business guru’s pen management books about.  Still, Joshua had no idea that it was this defining moment that would propel him into the leader that would actually claim the very land he surveyed.  Joshua would learn patience, and he would watch this nation transform over time from slave to free.  He would see a generation grow to trust God for all aspects of their lives and that would be the people he would lead. Sadly, there would be years of travel and disappointment ahead before the transformation would occur.
 
In our journey, we have to stay focused upon God and his flawless faithfulness.  We have to understand that life is a series of experiences used to prepare us for what God so eagerly wants us to enjoy.  Trying to hand us the reward before we are ready to receive it, is like this encounter, a disaster just waiting to happen.  If we could grasp the reality that God truly wants to bless us, then we could live expectantly rather than fearfully. It is the difference between Joshua and Caleb and the other 10 spies.  Help us, Lord to live expectantly and not fearfully!
 
God Bless You

 But the whole assembly talked about stoning them. Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they.”

13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. 14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’

17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared:18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people,just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”

20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked.21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lordfills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signsI performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. 25 Since the Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.

Numbers 13-14 Leading When the Wheels Come Off

There was little doubt that the land to be inherited truly flowed with milk and honey.  They had to carry grape clusters on poles they were so large! So you ask–“What’s the catch?” Well if you had been paying attention when God parted the Red Sea, killed the Egyptian army, provided manna every day, or quail, or water out of rocks…you would probably say there is no catch.  That is what Joshua and Caleb reported.  
 
But, sadly the other spies looked past all of that, and saw only the giants and the walls in the land.  In short, they admitted that they were scared of the enemies and their fortified cities.  The people were quick to accept the report of the fearful spies, and quick to discount the wisdom of their leaders and the spies that focused upon what God provided; not what men could do. It really defined these people as liberated slaves and not free and chosen children of the Lord. 
 
What happened next would define Joshua as the leader of a nation ready to claim the land promised–but not that day, and not those people…Joshua and Israel had a lot to learn, and a great many steps to take before entering that land flowing with milk and honey.
 
We have to be prepared for the great times and also for the times when the wheels come off.  The outcomes can be horrible and demoralizing.  We can be confident, however, that in God’s time and in God’s way that He will prepare us and use us to forward His plan.  We have to remain faithful no matter the circumstance.  We have to keep our focus on the Lord and His plan and not on the circumstances that lay before us.  If we will keep our focus on the Lord, it will define us and make us ready to live an eternal life with Him.
 
God Bless You

At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. 26 And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.”

30 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” 32 So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. 33 And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”…

 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” 10 Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.

11 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? 12 I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”

Exodus 33–Joshua Stayed Close

Moses had a big job.  He had to convince God to stick with His chosen people–even after they worshiped a golden calf. They turned from God as He was putting the law on tablets for them. While working to restore the relationship between God and the people; Moses set up a tent to meet with God and took Joshua with him. Over time, Moses and God became friends.  As Moses would meet with God, the pillar of cloud would cover the tent. The people would see the the pillar cover the tent and then they would worship the Lord. Then as Moses finished the meeting, He would leave the tent.  Then, after the meeting Joshua would stay at the tent.
 
Joshua was not the person that befriended God, but he was the one that remained at his side.  Moses left the tent, but Joshua stayed behind.  Joshua never grew tired, never lost faith, and never questioned God’s authority.  If their was a human that had reason to question, it was Moses’ assistant. That was the amazing thing; Joshua learned to love the Lord from God’s friend.  He stayed close to Moses and he stayed close to God. Then as years passed, Joshua remained close. He remained close to Moses, and then as Joshua took the lead, He remained close to God.
 
In our lives, we have opportunities to follow the Lord. Through the years, we build our relationship with God.  We see life at its best and at its worst. If we remain close to the Lord, whatever the circumstance, we learn–as Joshua did, to be a friend of God.  There are no short cuts, it is a function of time and proximity. Like Joshua, we have to simply remain close to God, to those that would mentor us and with others in fellowship with God.  Then at the end of the journey, we can say as Joshua did–“Choose this day whom you will serve…As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!”
 
God Bless You

Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the Lord would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp. And whenever Moses went out to the tent, all the people rose and stood at the entrances to their tents, watching Moses until he entered the tent. As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to their tent. 11 The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.

Moses and the Glory of the Lord

12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 32–The Darker Side of Leadership

One of the most difficult parts of leading is understanding that your passion and commitment to the plan may not be shared with the people you lead.  Forty days earlier, Joshua accompanied Moses up Mount Sinai to receive the law from the Lord’s own hand. It was to be the Lords first direct tutoring of His leader on how to build and administer a nation. For Joshua, it had to be amazing and exciting to be there and see Moses’ transformation into more than a shepherd of people–but to be the servant leader of God’s chosen people.
 
Then, the fun was over.  God had to break the news to Moses–“YOUR people, the ones YOU brought out of Egypt have corrupted themselves…” In that scene, Joshua was able to learn more about leadership, about God’s passion for the people of Israel, and about balancing one’s personal feelings with the duty of leading–than he had in all the miracles and events that had occurred before.
 
God was ready to wipe the whole lot of them out! the Lord told Moses to allow Him to do so–but, then Moses, personal anger set aside, became Israel’s advocate before God and offered his own life for payment of their sin. Moses literally called God out on His covenant promise–“Remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, God?” So Joshua saw that leaders were critical and had to do all that was necessary; in good times and bad to represent and ultimately preserve the folks they lead.  Needless to say, Joshua learned from the best.
 
Joshua’s life is a great picture of God’s willingness to devote a lifetime to prepare His own for the plan He has for them.  In Philippians 1:6, Paul tells us that He who has begun a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. That was true in Moses life, in Joshua’s life, in Israel’s life and it will be true in our lives. As Joshua progressed through the years, he would see Moses and God lead the people through almost every scenario. In those events, God would mold Joshua into an amazing leader for Israel.
 
God Bless You

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

11 But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

15 Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets that were written on both sides; on the front and on the back they were written. 16 The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets. 17 When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” 18 But he said, “It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear.” 19 And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people

Daniel 3 Part 3–Didn’t We Throw 3 People In?

Make no mistake, the king was furious.  He wanted his people to worship him. Shadrack, Mishak and Abednego refused to worship the king’s statue and as such, the King had the three men thrown into a firey furnace. He had the furnace stoked to 7 times the usual heat.  It was so hot, that the men that threw the friends into the furnace died from the heat. The king probably smiled a bit thinking that he made his point, and others would now worship without question. 
 
Then, the king stood, astonished–he counted the people in the furnace. 1st they were walking around in the fire; just chatting and unhurt. Second, there were four people in the fire–not 3.  The king was mystified.  After a little while, to make things worse, the king had to call the men to come out of the furnace. They said good bye to the fourth person and walked out of the furnace completely unburned; their clothing not even smelling of smoke. All the folks saw the miracle, and the king, well, he changed the rules–from that point on, they were allowed to worship the one true God!  If anyone else troubled them, that person would be ripped limb from limb.  Once again, God revealed himself to the king.  Then the king was left to make a personal choice whether or not to follow.
 
So many people look at God’s people and scoff.  They watch the devotion and think God’s chosen are narrow-minded and ignorant.  They would love to eradicate the world of all who follow the Lord.  Still, at the end of the day, God shows Himself as large and in-charge.  When He does, those who would be a critic are stunned and then changed.  God can take care of Himself. He stands out in the most difficult of circumstances. We do not have to defend God, but, when we follow the Lord, He will protect and provide for us. When that happens, He gets the glory.  We continue to follow the Lord and He continues to bless us.  Nebchaduneezer would never be the same, and Daniel and his friends would continue to follow God and remain faithful all their lives.  Daniel would change the world by remaining faithful–what a great incentive for us to do the same.
 
God Bless You

Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics,[e] their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

26 Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside[f] the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God.

Daniel 3 Part 2–“But, If Not”

Daniel’s friends made the decision long before to serve the Lord first and foremost.  When Daniel approached their handler about staying kosher, they stood beside him.  They trained together and prayed together.  All four men stood firm in their walk with God despite pressures from the other royal functionaries.  So, after their prayer and fasting had produced the king’s dream and interpretation to Daniel, the King rewarded them with top jobs in his court. 
 
The king then got proud, He took the message from the dream and decided that since he was the head of gold He should build a statue to honor himself. What is more, he decided that everyone else should worship him as well. So he decreed that when the band played, everyone should fall down and worship his statue.  Failure to do so would end in being executed by being thrown into the firey furnace.  
 
Shadrach, Mishak, and Abednego did not need to think about it, they made that decision years before.  So when they heard the band, they refused to bow. The king heard the news and was furious.  These were 3 of his top guys, after all! They set the tone for others in the administration, and in the land.  So, the king hauled them in and gave them one more chance.  He did not need to.  The men looked the king in the eye and said that they did not need even a second to consider–they would not bow down.  What is more, they told the king that God would deliver them. Here is the kicker, though–they went on to say,”BUT IF NOT king, We will still will not serve your gods or bow down to your statue!!!!! 
 
We have to choose early whom we are going to serve.  If we wait until circumstances force a choice, we will follow the path of least resistance.  It is a matter of a deep-seated faith, that allows us to stand up under adversity.  Such faith will allow us to watch God do awesome things to establish His place and authority.  If we choose to serve God, however, we can count on the fact that the enemy will try to destroy us.  
 
In those times, we have to come to the place where we too can say, we are going to serve God and He will deliver us. Then, it is that faith that leads us to continue and say, “BUT, IF NOT!” 
 
We must be willing to give up all we have, even our lives, to honor God and allow Him to lead. Jim Elliot, martyred missionary to the Aulka indians in South America said it best, “He is no fool that will trade what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose!”
 
God Bless You

Therefore at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and maliciously accused the Jews. They declared[b] to King Nebuchadnezzar, “O king, live forever! 10 You, O king, have made a decree, that every man who hears the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image. 11 And whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men, O king, pay no attention to you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.[c] But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[d] 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated.

Daniel 2 Part 2–Making Our Dreams Come True

For King Neb’s magicians and prophets, it was not a stellar day. The king was having nightmares and now somehow it was their fault. That certainly did not seem fair.  But, the fairness of the King demanding their lives for his unwillingness to work with them–even a little bit, was unbelievable. So, as the soldiers approached to take Daniel and his friends to be ripped limb from limb and their houses be laid to ruin, Daniel was able to keep his head about him and focus upon God–not on the current circumstance.  He tactfully asked his executioner to lay the story out, and when he gathered all the facts, politely and humbly asked the king far a little extra time. Amazingly, the king gave him a day.
 
Next, Daniel got the gang together and did what true men of God do in dire circumstances–they prayed.  While praying in the night, God revealed the dream and its meaning to Daniel.  No one saw that coming. So, Daniel did what mighty men of God do when God answers their prayers–He praised God for who He is and thanked Him for the great thing the Lord had accomplished.  It was a good result for an unthinkable circumstance.
 
Life simply is not fair. Circumtances appear that are by most standards, unbelievably outrageous.  They are insurmountable, awful, and impossible to manage.  In the midst of those circumstances, God’s people hit their knees, keep their heads, and seek the Lord in humility and by faith.   That is when God does what He does best–turn the impossible into a praisewothy and teachable moment. 
 
After that, all that is left is the call for praise and thanksgiving. We have watched God come through time and again. As His chosen, to do anything other than to trust and seek Him in times of trouble, is simply foolish. Then, after He delivers, once again; we must remember to be thankful and grateful for His provision and protection.
 
That pattern has worked for many of God’s people–like Daniel. Help me, Lord to make that pattern work for me and my family as well!!!
 
God Bless You

This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon. 13 So the decree was issued to put the wise men to death, and men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to put them to death.

14 When Arioch, the commander of the king’s guard, had gone out to put to death the wise men of Babylon, Daniel spoke to him with wisdom and tact. 15 He asked the king’s officer, “Why did the king issue such a harsh decree?” Arioch then explained the matter to Daniel. 16 At this, Daniel went in to the king and asked for time, so that he might interpret the dream for him.

17 Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 18 He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
wisdom and power are his.
21 He changes times and seasons;
he deposes kings and raises up others.
He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the discerning.
22 He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness,
and light dwells with him.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors:
You have given me wisdom and power,
you have made known to me what we asked of you,
you have made known to us the dream of the king.”