I watched a good movie, just 26 minutes about the Tabernacle. Seeing the tabernacle was cool, but a scripture jumped out at me and I had to look it up and read the whole story. It really got me thinking. Here’s the story in a nut shell. Moses brought the people out of Egypt like God commanded him and along the way they grumbled and complained. It got so bad that at one point a guy named Korah and 250 of the “leaders”, prominent men, started thinking they could do better than Moses and Aaron. They said, “”You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?” Moses set up a way that would prove to them that God chooses who He wills. There was going to be a test! The 250 men were to bring incense to burn before the Lord. Then God tells Moses and Aaron to separate themselves from the people because He was going to just destroy them all! Moses pleads for the people and God tells them to, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’ Then God caused the earth to open up and swallow those men and their families. Then God sends fire and consumes the 250 leaders who had rose up against Moses and Aaron. I think that would have been the end of the complaining, but not these stiff-necked, hard-hearted people. They continued to grumble against Moses and Aaron (God’s chosen vessels!). So a plague comes, immediately and Aaron goes between the plague and the people and only 14,700 perish. I think that would have been the end of the complaining, but not these stiff-necked, hard-hearted people. They continued to grumble against Moses and Aaron (God’s chosen vessels!).
So Moses sets up another test. They were to bring the staff of the head of each tribe, writing their names on the staff. Numbers 17:6-11 shows what happened next, “So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron’s staff was among them. Moses placed the staffs before the LORD in the Tent of the Testimony. The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the LORD’s presence to all the Israelites. They looked at them, and each man took his own staff. The LORD said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the Testimony, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” Moses did just as the LORD commanded him.” Not only did it bud, but flowered and PRODUCED FRUIT! Was God saying that Aaron was perfect? NO! Aaron was a human with all of our messed up ways, but Aaron was CHOSEN of God to lead the people. I found it interesting that the ones who “rose up against” Moses and Aaron were all LEADERS! How many times have we seen people in leadership begin to think that they know better than the Pastor?
Now I come to the part of the movie that got me thinking. They show all the contents of the Ark of the Covenant. Each item put there as a reminder of something. The jar of Manna was there to remember God’s willingness to provide for His people. The stone tablets, a reminder of God’s covenant with His people and Aaron’s staff “to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” Only three things were placed in the Ark. All VERY important, enough so that God wanted them preserved and handed down for generations. They are still in the Ark! This tells me how important it is that we honor and respect those that God has placed over us as our “Mother’s and Father’s in the Lord.” We don’t judge them as more than human, expect them to be perfect and without flaw! We honor the call, the anointing, the Gift! When we grumble and complain about them, God gets mad! He wanted to destroy everyone, not just the men who rose up against Moses and Aaron! Don’t allow yourself to think that someone else could do a better job, or God forbid that YOU could do a better job! God chooses who He wills! If someone else wants you to jump on their wagon of “discontent” refuse. Don’t even give place to the devil. Yes, he is the one, who sets our flesh on edge against our leaders. Tell him to shut-up, and crucify your flesh. Ask God where you are called to, who you are called under, and stay, support and respect His decision. Period!
Really, what does He want? You could ask dozens of people and get dozens of different answers. Those answers would range from- obedience, praise and worship, money (tithes and offerings), time, energy, loyalty, attention, commitment, and the list could go on. All of those things are true, but doesn’t that make God sound like some ego-maniacal, dictator who lounges on a throne demanding attention and glory? Who wants that for a Father?
Simply put, God wants you. I know cliche. But He wants your heart. He asks all of those other things from you because those things benefit us. Let’s break this down a little. God doesn’t need your money, but He asks us to give 10% (tithe for the running of the Church and the support of the staff) and offerings (to help others), because He knows that “if we give, it will be given back to us”. (Luke 6:38). Also when we give to God, He promises to “Open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing” (Mal 3:10). God wants us to praise Him because praise “stills the enemy and the avenger” (Ps 8:2), it makes Satan shut up and stops his actions against us. He asks us to work because He works with us (I Cor. 3:9). He doesn’t sit while we work, in fact “He works while we wait.” We work because the Church toilets need cleaning, those little noses in nursery need wiped. Those things bring us together as a family.
God is love! He doesn’t just possess, show, or talk about love, He is love. It is the very nature of God (I John 4:7). That’s why He loves everyone. He loves the drug addict, the prostitute, the serial killer, the child molester, everyone! But don’t be deceived they are not His children, or part of His family. His children are the ones who have surrendered their lives to Him. Those are the ones he promises to take care of. Because He is love and He wants all to be His children, He asks us to work together with Him to build His family. He doesn’t want this love to remain one sided. What does it benefit them if He loves them, but they never experience love for Him? Those others who have Satan as their father (and they don’t even know it), they need to be reached. They need to know God’s love. How can they be reached if we aren’t co-laboring with Christ.
Our ‘work’ for God, those things all mentioned in the first paragraph, and any other thing God may have asked of us, should come out of our love for God. If they are coming out a sense of obligation, duty or fear, the motivation is wrong. Even worse if they are coming out of self-righteousness and pride, it’s going to be harmful to you instead of helpful. What motivates your work? It’s easy to “grow weary in well doing” (Gal. 6:9) if we have the wrong attitude. I know I’ve been there. I’ve screamed in my head, “What do you want from me!” on more than one occasion. I had allowed the thoughts to take root in my heart that I was doing so much for him already, but that somehow that wasn’t enough, that He was demanding more. That I was lacking. Those are just a bunch of ugly lies, God doesn’t demand, we have a choice. At my worst moments of fear, illness, weakness and depression, God patiently reminded me that He loved me, that He wasn’t asking for a slave (being forced), but that He wanted a daughter who served from a heart of thankfulness and love. I had gone back to Egypt (slavery) when He wanted me in the Promised Land (a place of rest, provision and peace).
God showed His love for us through the ugliness and the shame on the cross. Jesus not only poured out His life’s blood on that tree, but also His great love and longing for us. When we know Him, (not know about Him with our reasoning mind, but know Him intimately in our hearts), we understand what He wants. He wants a relationship with Him, two way conversations, and fellowship. He wants us to spend time with Him, not in work or service but in relationship. Get these pictures in your head. First think about how you feel when your child obediently cleans their room, to the best of their ability. Now think of your little one sitting on your lap, with each of their little hands on either side of your face, looking into your eyes, and saying “I love you”. Which one touches you more?
Sure their room needs cleaned and we have to teach them responsibility, it’s for their own good after all (sounding familiar?), but first we want their love. The Church needs cleaned, bills need paid, and the lost need reached. But first and most importantly we need to accept God’s love for us, and love Him back, build a better relationship with Him. We don’t do that by work, but by sitting in His lap. All of those other things will get done and with the right motivation. Sounds easier, freer, and way more fun!
“Yes I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” Jeremiah 31:3