Nothing to do with Driving Miss Daisy

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You really have to read to the end of the chapter 33 of Numbers. Take courage! After we labour through the names of all the places the Israelites wandered through on their 40 year pilgrimage we finally get back to where we (or they) are supposed to be—on the edge of the land that God had promised to Abraham back in Genesis.

At the end of this chapter, as the Lord instructs Moses as to what the Israelites are to do once they enter the land, comes an important statement. God has just told Moses that they are to drive out those who currently live in the land and destroy any evidence of their pagan worship. Then comes, “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live” (33:55).

History would prove this to be sadly true. History would also prove the truth of the Lord’s next statement in verse 56: “And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.

Israel would not complete the task of driving out the Canaanites or of destroying everything connected with their worship. And God’s words would be fulfilled—the Canaanites would become “barbs” and “thorns” to God’s people, dragging them down into idolatry, rebellion against God, and eventual judgment.

Although it might be easy for us to see the inevitable result of Israel’s disobedience because we have a record of the consequences they suffered, it doesn’t seem to be so easy for us to translate the instructions they were given and the experiences they lived because of their disobedience, to our own lives.

We never think that our habits, our activities, our vices, might be “barbs” and “thorns” preventing us from being fully committed to Christ. We consider them relatively harmless. But then that’s what they used to say about smoking until someone discovered its link to cancer. I'm sure someone has noticed the effect the constant need to text rather than talk face-to-face has had on this generation's lack of social skills.

Every once on a while it is worth the effort to ask God to turn the searchlight of His Spirit on all the things that occupy our “land,” our lives, and show us what needs to be driven out. Then comes the hard part because most of us are very aware of what needs to be driven out of our lives but don’t have the will to do it. That is another issue. God is clear: You need to do the driving, but if you choose not to, remember that there are consequences and be prepared.

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