All Roads Lead To Jesus - Numbers

Readings: Numbers 20, I Corinthians 10:1-6

It was an excruciating pain. My head felt like it was going to explode. Pain relievers couldn’t touch this one. Closing my eyes made me concentrate more on the pain. Lights seemed to burn down into the depths of my soul. I had thought that maybe the pandemic had finally caught up with me. Maybe these were the first symptoms of hell-week.

Then I realized what was happening. I had taken a 25-mile bike ride earlier in the day under the hot July sun. It was over 90 degrees and humid. I had only consumed one small bottle of Gatorade on the ride. I had a few sodas during the day, but not nearly enough water. I hadn’t felt bad after the ride or during the afternoon movie I had taken my kids to see. But now, before bed, I could barely move. I drank a bottle of water, and then another. Still nothing. My wife sat with me and talked with me, trying to keep my mind off of the intense pain I was feeling and attempting to steer me clear from thoughts that I had contracted a deadly disease.

I finally fell off to sleep. I woke up about 2 hours later because my system was finally starting to fire back up. I had to pee…really bad. I had consumed several bottles of water before bed. I rose up out of bed and realized my headache had broken. My dry and thirsty body was functioning properly again.

Israel was feeling the pains of thirst in the wilderness. They had been searching for water and could not find what they needed. To make matters worse, some of their leaders were dying off.  The old days were over. Things were changing. The sister of Moses, Miriam had died. Moses was super old. There was no Promised Land for miles and there was no water for thirsty people. Their heads hurt. Their bodies ached. So, they did what the human heart knows best – they complained.

Israel complained 14 times in the wilderness on the way to the land God had promised once He had freed them from slavery. They complained when Pharaoh punished them for Moses’ interference while they were still slaves. They complained to Moses when the plagues didn’t seem to finish the job. They complained about bitter water. They complained when they had no food to eat. They complained that Moses was taking too long to speak with God on the Mountain. They complained when they were hungry. They complained about the leaders God had given them. They complained about giants. Finally, they complained not only about the leaders, or about food, or about enemies, but they complained about God Himself.

Every complaint we ever have is a worship issue. And we have worship issues because we aren’t feeding on the right source of spiritual food. When I rode my bike in the July heat, I didn’t sustain the ride with the right sources of physical energy. I didn’t recover. I drank soda and ate popcorn. I needed water. I was actually worsening my condition.

Many of us today are worsening our spiritual conditions on junk food spiritual diets. We are struggling with anxiety, depression, and the problems of the world around us, and we’re looking for help from the sources of that anxiety, depression and broken world. We fill our minds with the Scroll of Doom on our social networks. We look to feed our preconceived and ill-fated ideologies with websites and blogs and talking heads that agree with us. Then, when our depression only increases, we blame God. We blame God because our objects of worship change with the wind and the demands of life.

When Israel complained in Numbers 20 it was a physical complaint born from spiritual depression. God had provided for them at every stop in the wilderness. He had not failed them. Even when Israel failed, God continued to keep His covenant with them. Yes, Israel was thirsty but they were also spiritually hungry. Even Moses was struggling. Once again, he sought the Lord as the people complained. God graciously told Moses to stretch out his staff and tell a rock to bring forth water. But Moses was angry and depressed. Instead, he struck the rock.

When Moses struck the rock grace poured out.  God still allowed water to flow even if Moses did things imperfectly. The water that flowed from that rock gave physical sustenance to Israel. But what of Jesus? Am I stretching things to see Christ in Numbers? I Corinthians 10:1-6 is our key. Paul says, “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”

Paul sees Christ in the wilderness as the spiritual sustenance we need in our own wilderness. What was happening physically to Israel was a picture of what was happening to them spiritually. When God was supplied for their physical needs He was also doing a spiritual work on their hearts and minds.

We don’t need more of the death scroll. We don’t need more talking heads. We don’t need more political talking points. We need more of Christ. He is our water in the desert. Our souls and our hearts are hurting, and we are trying to mend those wounds with all the wrong stuff.
Be encouraged today, that Jesus is in the story of Numbers. The Christ was with God’s people in the wilderness. We too are in a wilderness. We are in a land between lands. And as we sojourn, we must cling to the Rock of our Salvation. From Jesus flows the spiritual water we need and the remedy to our spiritual thirst. Weep no more.

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