Continuing to focus on “so near, yet so far” cases in the Scripture today, we come to the second part of the series…wherein we shall train our spotlight on two such cases…
“And the people of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.'” (Numbers 11:4-5)
How far was the presence of the Lord (in the form of Pillar of fire by night and pillar of cloud by day — Exodus 13:21-22) from the tent-dwelling Israelites during their journey towards the Promised Land from Egypt?
Close enough for them to see it at any time.
But were their hearts one with that of their Eternal benefactor who had not only redeemed them from their cruel Egyptian bondage, but was day-in and day-out providing for their needs? No. Otherwise there would not have been any grumbling or complaining as is evident in the above-captioned Scripture. Our love for God is directly proportional to our humble acceptance of the circumstances He in His sovereign wisdom has placed us in…even if it were…hold your breath… the Cross itself!
Are you complaining about Cross-bearing despite having the perpetual joy of the Holy Spirit in your heart? Time to take out the spiritual compass and resume the right spiritual bearings…by…what else… repentance (Psa 119:59 –TLB)! Rick Warren the writer of that oh-so-popular Book “Purpose Driven Life” once stated “Christian life begins not only with repentance but is also sustained by repentance”.
“Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, ‘This man receives sinners and eats with them.'” (Luke 15:1-3)
It is correctly said in connection with Bible exposition that a text without context is a pretext. Oh how often is our perspective distorted when we try to understand the true intention behind our Lord narrating the three “Lost and Found parables” enshrined in Chapter 15 of Luke’s Gospel, among which is the most popular one of “The Prodigal Son”. Did Jesus really only want to bring out the importance of repentance in this parable? No way! As sadly personified by the contemptuous, hard-hearted attitude of the “righteous” Elder son (in that parable — Luke 15:25-32), Jesus wanted the ones who prima-facie zealously work day-in and day-out right inside God’s Temple (the Pharisees and the Scribes) to grasp how distant they could be from God’s heart and its priorities. This Elder son never left the Father’s house, yet he was miles adrift in matters of properly understanding the father and his primary priorities.
Let it be said here: “he who hates his brother (whom the Heavenly Father has accepted) is a murderer at heart” (I John 3:15) even he is ministering right inside the temple.
Prayer: Father, by the leading of Your Spirit, enable me to have sincere reality check as to the health of my spiritual heart daily. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
J and SM Ministries
(To access the entire “So Near, Yet so Far” mini-series, please click here.)