Reading through the Bible together

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Go to previous reading  Numbers 33  Go to next reading

The Bible

Bible Blog

God’s instructions for his chosen people were for them to rid the promised land of ALL its inhabitants and destroy ALL its idolatry. God did not say, drive out some of the inhabitants and destroy some of the idols. His instructions were precise and direct. Get rid of everything!


A failure to follow God’s explicit directions would lead to future trouble. He told them so ahead of time. “If you don’t drive out the inhabitants of the land and you allow some of them to live with you, they’ll cause you no end of trouble and will turn you away from me. They’ll be as irritating to you as a splinter in your eye and a thorn in your side” (Numbers 33:55 Clear Word).


God can never be satisfied with a half­hearted, Laodicean attitude. His tolerance of sin is zero. Sin is not a continuum. Sin is either right or wrong, no in­between. Either we choose to sin, or we choose not to sin. “We cannot be half the Lord’s and half the world’s. We are not God’s children unless we are such entirely” (SC 44). In the end when God eradicates sin He will do so with the same attitude expressed here in Numbers 33. His cleansing process will be complete; not even the smallest percent of sin will remain. “To sin, wherever found, ‘our God is a consuming fire.’ Heb.12:29. In all who submit to His power the Spirit of God will consume sin. But if men cling to sin, they become identified with it. Then the glory of God, which destroys sin, must destroy them” (DA 107). These words to us express the very same sentiment as God gave his chosen people in Numbers 33.


The words used in this chapter can’t be misunderstood or misinterpreted. But any time God gives instruction there is always a choice to be made. Will those hearing the instruction follow God’s way, or chose instead to follow their own inclinations? “Sin, however small it may be esteemed, can be indulged in only at the peril of infinite loss. What we do not overcome, will overcome us and work out our destruction” (SC 32, 33). As the children of Israel crossed the Jordan and began to purge the land, they failed to follow God’s specific instructions. They did some, but not ALL. Sadly, “regardless of their high destiny, they chose the course of ease and self­indulgence; they let slip their opportunities for completing the conquest of the land; and for many generations they were afflicted by the remnant of these idolatrous peoples, that were, as the prophet had foretold, as ‘pricks’ in their eyes, and as ‘thorns’ in their sides” (PP 544). What do these stories from so long ago mean to us today? Perhaps we should ask ourselves: Are there any idols in my life that need to be fully purged before Jesus comes?


Fred Knopper

Adventist Media Center