Friday, May 3, 2019
Moses and the people of Israel have had many opportunities to see the strength of the Lord during their deliverance from Egypt. His power was displayed in the plaques against Pharaoh, in the parting of the Red Sea, and in the miracles of provision in the desert. Now Moses is asking for a display of God’s real strength, and his request teaches us an important lesson about the strengths of our own lives.
Numbers 14:17-18a “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: ‘The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.’”
When Moses asks God to display His strength, it is in the context of human rebellion. The people are refusing to walk by faith and take possession of the Promised Land. God expresses His right to destroy them. He also reminds Moses of His power and willingness to start over with the faithful few. Moses intervenes on behalf of the people and says in essence, “God, I know you are powerful enough to destroy sinners and their sin, but let the real strength of Your character be displayed by loving the sinners and forgiving them.”
I am deeply challenged by this. I find it easy to define strength in human terms, which are primarily physical. I also find it easy to define my responses and reactions to situations as strength because of my ability to accomplish a desired outcome. I remember the time I spent over one hour on the phone with a service provider for our church. They had overcharged us almost $50 for their mistake and they would not correct it. I got pretty strong with them by our human definition of strength. I’m not proud of who I thought I had to become to bring about my desired outcome.
But there is a level of strength that is modeled by God in His every day responses to our human behavior. It is to be the model for our growing faith and character as well, and it involves 3 things:
- God is slow to anger. His patience with people’s failures and inconsistencies is incredible, and because of that we survive each day. Maybe there are those around us who need a chance to survive another day.
- God abounds in love. He never stops doing what is best for others, even when they don’t deserve it. It is not a true act of love if it is earned. Maybe there are others around us who need to see real love.
- God forgives sin. Moses asked for forgiveness on behalf of the people. They did not realize they even needed it. They were so blinded by their sin that they thought they were right. God forgave them anyway. Maybe there are those around us who need a gift of grace – an act of forgiveness – even though they have not asked for it.
My friends, how do you measure your strength? God’s strength was displayed in its highest form by these three characteristics. May we learn to display strength as He does.