Will you believe what most people are saying? Will you believe what God promised? Will you believe the data brought back by those speaking with fear or those who are speaking with faith? Will you believe the data of the many or the data of the few? How will what you believe impact your response? How will you response impact the rest of your life?
Would you believe and trust God enough that you won’t miss the promise?
Would you believe and trust God enough that you will get to taste of the promised land?
Will you allow fear to rob you of the promise?
Will you turn back to your first love – God – rather than risk losing everything for all of eternity? Will you ask Jesus into your heart and life?
Resist the devil and he will flee. Don’t be fearful or tempted by his lies but turn to God and follow Jesus.
Would you believe and trust God enough that you will respond like a David facing Goliath or a Joshua and Caleb facing the camps who said let’s go?
Today’s reading starts in Numbers 14.
‘Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. “Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!” Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the whole community of Israel. Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord , and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle. And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them? I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!”
But Moses objected. “What will the Egyptians think when they hear about it?” he asked the Lord . “They know full well the power you displayed in rescuing your people from Egypt. Now if you destroy them, the Egyptians will send a report to the inhabitants of this land, who have already heard that you live among your people. They know, Lord , that you have appeared to your people face to face and that your pillar of cloud hovers over them. They know that you go before them in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Now if you slaughter all these people with a single blow, the nations that have heard of your fame will say, ‘The Lord was not able to bring them into the land he swore to give them, so he killed them in the wilderness.’ “Please, Lord, prove that your power is as great as you have claimed. For you said, ‘The Lord is slow to anger and filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. But he does not excuse the guilty. He lays the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations.’ In keeping with your magnificent, unfailing love, please pardon the sins of this people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.” Then the Lord said, “I will pardon them as you have requested. But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the Lord ’s glory, not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have all seen my glorious presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they have tested me by refusing to listen to my voice. They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated me with contempt will ever see it. But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land. Now turn around, and don’t go on toward the land where the Amalekites and Canaanites live. Tomorrow you must set out for the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea. ” Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “How long must I put up with this wicked community and its complaints about me? Yes, I have heard the complaints the Israelites are making against me. Now tell them this: ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord , I will do to you the very things I heard you say. You will all drop dead in this wilderness! Because you complained against me, every one of you who is twenty years old or older and was included in the registration will die. You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. “‘You said your children would be carried off as plunder. Well, I will bring them safely into the land, and they will enjoy what you have despised. But as for you, you will drop dead in this wilderness. And your children will be like shepherds, wandering in the wilderness for forty years. In this way, they will pay for your faithlessness, until the last of you lies dead in the wilderness. “‘Because your men explored the land for forty days, you must wander in the wilderness for forty years—a year for each day, suffering the consequences of your sins. Then you will discover what it is like to have me for an enemy.’ I, the Lord , have spoken! I will certainly do these things to every member of the community who has conspired against me. They will be destroyed here in this wilderness, and here they will die!” The ten men Moses had sent to explore the land—the ones who incited rebellion against the Lord with their bad report— were struck dead with a plague before the Lord . Of the twelve who had explored the land, only Joshua and Caleb remained alive. When Moses reported the Lord ’s words to all the Israelites, the people were filled with grief. Then they got up early the next morning and went to the top of the range of hills. “Let’s go,” they said. “We realize that we have sinned, but now we are ready to enter the land the Lord has promised us.” But Moses said, “Why are you now disobeying the Lord ’s orders to return to the wilderness? It won’t work. Do not go up into the land now. You will only be crushed by your enemies because the Lord is not with you. When you face the Amalekites and Canaanites in battle, you will be slaughtered. The Lord will abandon you because you have abandoned the Lord .” But the people defiantly pushed ahead toward the hill country, even though neither Moses nor the Ark of the Lord ’s Covenant left the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in those hills came down and attacked them and chased them back as far as Hormah.’—Numbers 14
Today’s reading goes into Solomon’s Song of Songs 2
‘Ah, I hear my lover coming! He is leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills. My lover is like a swift gazelle or a young stag. Look, there he is behind the wall, looking through the window, peering into the room. My lover said to me, “Rise up, my darling! Come away with me, my fair one! Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone. The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air. The fig trees are forming young fruit, and the fragrant grapevines are blossoming. Rise up, my darling! Come away with me, my fair one!”
My dove is hiding behind the rocks, behind an outcrop on the cliff. Let me see your face; let me hear your voice. For your voice is pleasant, and your face is lovely.
Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!
My lover is mine, and I am his. He browses among the lilies. Before the dawn breezes blow and the night shadows flee, return to me, my love, like a gazelle or a young stag on the rugged mountains.’—Song of Songs 2:8-17
and continues into Song of Songs 3.
‘One night as I lay in bed, I yearned for my lover. I yearned for him, but he did not come. So I said to myself, “I will get up and roam the city, searching in all its streets and squares. I will search for the one I love.” So I searched everywhere but did not find him. The watchmen stopped me as they made their rounds, and I asked, “Have you seen the one I love?” Then scarcely had I left them when I found my love! I caught and held him tightly, then I brought him to my mother’s house, into my mother’s bed, where I had been conceived. Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.
Who is this sweeping in from the wilderness like a cloud of smoke? Who is it, fragrant with myrrh and frankincense and every kind of spice? Look, it is Solomon’s carriage, surrounded by sixty heroic men, the best of Israel’s soldiers. They are all skilled swordsmen, experienced warriors. Each wears a sword on his thigh, ready to defend the king against an attack in the night. King Solomon’s carriage is built of wood imported from Lebanon. Its posts are silver, its canopy gold; its cushions are purple. It was decorated with love by the young women of Jerusalem.
Come out to see King Solomon, young women of Jerusalem. He wears the crown his mother gave him on his wedding day, his most joyous day.’—Song of Songs 3
Today’s reading then takes us into the New Testament with Matthew 4.
‘Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ ” Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.’—Matthew 4:1-11
Today’s reading then continues into Romans 1.
‘But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.’—Romans 1:18-32
Today’s reading closes with today’s psalm from Psalms 105.
‘Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds. Exult in his holy name; rejoice, you who worship the Lord . Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him. Remember the wonders he has performed, his miracles, and the rulings he has given, you children of his servant Abraham, you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones. He is the Lord our God. His justice is seen throughout the land. He always stands by his covenant— the commitment he made to a thousand generations. This is the covenant he made with Abraham and the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, and to the people of Israel as a never-ending covenant: “I will give you the land of Canaan as your special possession.” He said this when they were few in number, a tiny group of strangers in Canaan. They wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. Yet he did not let anyone oppress them. He warned kings on their behalf: “Do not touch my chosen people, and do not hurt my prophets.” He called for a famine on the land of Canaan, cutting off its food supply. Then he sent someone to Egypt ahead of them— Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar. Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character. Then Pharaoh sent for him and set him free; the ruler of the nation opened his prison door. Joseph was put in charge of all the king’s household; he became ruler over all the king’s possessions. He could instruct the king’s aides as he pleased and teach the king’s advisers. Then Israel arrived in Egypt; Jacob lived as a foreigner in the land of Ham. And the Lord multiplied the people of Israel until they became too mighty for their enemies. Then he turned the Egyptians against the Israelites, and they plotted against the Lord ’s servants. But the Lord sent his servant Moses, along with Aaron, whom he had chosen. They performed miraculous signs among the Egyptians, and wonders in the land of Ham. The Lord blanketed Egypt in darkness, for they had defied his commands to let his people go. He turned their water into blood, poisoning all the fish. Then frogs overran the land and even invaded the king’s bedrooms. When the Lord spoke, flies descended on the Egyptians, and gnats swarmed across Egypt. He sent them hail instead of rain, and lightning flashed over the land. He ruined their grapevines and fig trees and shattered all the trees. He spoke, and hordes of locusts came— young locusts beyond number. They ate up everything green in the land, destroying all the crops in their fields. Then he killed the oldest son in each Egyptian home, the pride and joy of each family. The Lord brought his people out of Egypt, loaded with silver and gold; and not one among the tribes of Israel even stumbled. Egypt was glad when they were gone, for they feared them greatly. The Lord spread a cloud above them as a covering and gave them a great fire to light the darkness. They asked for meat, and he sent them quail; he satisfied their hunger with manna—bread from heaven. He split open a rock, and water gushed out to form a river through the dry wasteland. For he remembered his sacred promise to his servant Abraham. So he brought his people out of Egypt with joy, his chosen ones with rejoicing. He gave his people the lands of pagan nations, and they harvested crops that others had planted. All this happened so they would follow his decrees and obey his instructions. Praise the Lord !’—Psalms 105