FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
STUMBLING BLOCKS – 2
August 9, 2017
Yesterday (Holy Warriors – Part 38), we saw the need for purity of heart, faith in trust in Jesus, humility, desiring the good of others. Today we see all these virtues, not in the leaders at the time (Pharisees and scribes), not among the chosen people of God (Israelites), but in the lowly Canaanite woman. Jesus ignored her (Mt 15:23), then brushed her aside (Mt 15:24), then finally insulted her (Mt 15:26). But she humbly persisted. “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!” (Mt 15:22b). “Lord, help me.” (Mt 15:25b). “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Mt 15:27). For that, she got the nod of Jesus. “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” (Mt 15:28a).
Now we are a chosen people. We are not only the new Israel, but we are given the privilege to serve the King and be at the forefront of the spiritual war He wages. Unfortunately, we are often the reason why we do not experience the full measure of the Lord’s provision and power. We put stumbling blocks along the way. Today, from the readings, we see more stumbling blocks.
One, fear of the enemy. Now we should not take the enemy for granted, since indeed the devil is a very powerful foe, capable to inflicting woe upon us. But we serve Jesus, the stronger man, who has already bound Satan, the strong man. At times, facing the enemy, we lose sight of this reality, and begin to hesitate, even refuse to move forward. “We cannot attack these people; they are too strong for us.” (Nm 13:31).
Two, spreading such fear among God’s soldiers. The scouts, except for Caleb and Joshua, “spread discouraging reports among the Israelites” (Nm 13:32a). Perhaps in a desire to justify our own fear, we contaminate others, we rally then to our cause. We even exaggerate a bit in order to convince them. “And all the people we saw there are huge. There we saw the Nephilim; in our own eyes we seemed like mere grasshoppers” (Nm 13:32c-33a). Who would not be discouraged by such a report?!
Three, grumbling against the leadership. “All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron” (Nm 14:2a). They started blaming them. They were already anticipating the worst in the situation. They even wished they were back to their sorry lives of slavery in Egypt! “If only we had died in the land of Egypt” (Nm 14:2b). They began to appreciate not their present situation of freedom and coming entry into the promised land, but the life they had left. “Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” (Nm 14:3c). Then they moved to the edge of outright rebellion. “Let us appoint a leader and go back to Egypt.” (Nm 14:4).
Rather than these stumbling blocks, what must the attitude of holy warriors be?
First, be not afraid. “You need not be afraid of the people of the land, for they are but food for us!” (Nm 14:9b). Joshua and Caleb knew the power of the Almighty, against whom no earthly or spiritual power can withstand. “Their protection has left them, but the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.” (Nm 14:9c).
Second, since it is God who calls us, chooses us, and sends us forth, at the same time appointing leaders over His army, know then that rebellion against the leadership is rebellion against God. Joshua and Caleb saw that the discontent and brewing rebellion of the people was not just against Moses and Aaron but against God. “Only do not rebel against the Lord!” (Nm 14:9a).
Third, in the face of challenges, threats, oppression, setbacks and even defeats, never harden your heart against God and His anointed leaders. Never close your mind to the realities of God’s working among you. Such was not the attitude of the Israelites. “The whole community threatened to stone them.” (Nm 14:10a). Wow. The enemy was really able to do his work. Not only were the people afraid, not only were they becoming rebellious, but they would even assault their own leaders, rather than assault the enemy! Unfortunately that is what happens to many Christian groups and communities, as they face the onslaught of the enemy within.
Fourth, know that the Lord is kind and merciful, but is also just and will hold us accountable for our sins. “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in kindness, forgiving iniquity and rebellion; yet certainly not declaring the guilty guiltless” (Nm 14:18a). The Lord gave the Israelites another chance, despite their great sin. But He also punished them. That generation, except for Joshua and Caleb and those less than twenty years old, perished in the desert (Nm 14:29-30).
The promised land or death in the desert? That should be no choice at all. But many Christians today choose the latter. “We have sinned like our ancestors; we have done wrong and are guilty.” (Ps 106:6). How truly unfortunate.
Holy warriors are to do the opposite of what the Israelites did in the desert. “Our ancestors in Egypt did not attend to your wonders. They did not remember your manifold mercy; they defied the Most High at the Red Sea. … But they soon forgot all he had done; they had no patience for his plan. In the desert they gave in to their cravings, tempted God in the wasteland. … In the camp they challenged Moses and Aaron, the holy one of the Lord. … At Horeb they fashioned a calf, worshiped a metal statue. … They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds in Egypt” (Ps 106:7,13-14,16,19,21).
What are the opposites that holy warriors must do?
- Be always in awe of God.
- Never forget his goodness and mercy and all the blessings you have received from His hands.
- Never disobey God’s commands.
- Be patient in carrying out the Lord’s works, wait for His perfect timing, do not take matters into your own hands.
- Resist the allures of the flesh.
- Be submitted to the leadership and do what they tell you to do.
- Do not fall into idolatry, which is having any person or thing as a greater priority than God and His work.
- Always be centered on Christ the Savior and Lord.
Do the above and expect God to use you as His holy warriors in the strength of the Spirit. Our God is a God of power and miracles. He parted the Red Sea (Ps 106:9) and defeated the Egyptians for them (Ps 106:10-11).
Have this conviction: “If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us in to this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey.” (Nm 14:8). But never forget: “Only do not rebel against the Lord!” (Nm 14:9a).
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