Sunday, May 1, 2011

Numbers 33 & 34 - The Boundaries of Canaan

LINK: Numbers 33 & 34

BACKGROUND

Numbers 33 starts out with a review of the journey of Israel from Egypt to the edge of the Promised Land and concludes with a stern warning from the LORD:
But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live. And as I plan to do to them, so I will do to you. (33:55-56)
He warned that if they left inhabitants there, they would become stumbling blocks to their full devotion to Him. As the story continues, we will find that the Israelites disobey God, and the Canaanites left behind eventually corrupt the Israelites by immorality and idolatry. Stay tuned for the sad story. 

Numbers 34 involves God's boundaries for the Promised Land and specific directions about how it would be apportioned and who would administer the apportioning.

APPLICATION

God did a review of the Israelites journey from Egypt to the edge of the Promised Land. Have you ever done a review of your spiritual journey? It is a wonderful way for you to see how God has led you to where you are today. Take some time to "chart" your journey. I like to do it in a time-line fashion. Here are some things to consider:

Sovereign Foundations - What people, circumstances, or events did God use to woo you to Himself? Reflect upon your desires, passions, longings, and struggles in your early years. How have they affected your spiritual journey in positive and negative ways? This may include painful things from our childhood that God can use for His glory.

Spiritual Budding - When was the first time you sensed the presence of God in your life? How did you come to a personal relationship with Him? Chart times where you first started understanding who He was through the spiritual disciplines (prayer, meditation, Bible study, fasting, solitude, etc.). When were your "aha" moments with God that brought about changes in you? What were some of your testing experiences where you had to "put away the idols" in order to have more of Him? What were some character defining experiences?

Emerging Fruit - When did you start seeing the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5) developing in your life? When did you start giving your life away by investing in other people? When did you see gifts growing and developing in your life? What were some ministries that you participated in and what did you learn from them?
 
Mature Fruit - Do you understand your gift-mix, and are you functioning in that mix in ministry and saying no to things that are not in your "primary gifting" so you can be fully devoted to the ministry that God has called you to do? What experiencing of isolation, suffering, crisis, or conflict in ministry have matured and challenged you? Does your "doing" in ministry flow out of "being" in communion with God.

It is also helpful to chart "life milestones" like births, deaths, marriages, etc. that have had an impact on you. I also like to put places that I have lived.

This exercise is part of the SHAPE plan that I told you about in Numbers 16.  It is helpful in that you can see God's faithfulness to bring you to where He has brought you. It is also helpful to see some patterns in your life that might help you understand your life passion and purpose.


Here is a handout that explains the timeline in more detail: Time-line Reflection Questions

PRAYER


Lord, You have brought us out of slavery and to the Promised Land. Help us to give You glory and honor through our lives as a response to all that You have done for us. Thank You for the joy that we have in this journey we are all on. Help us to drive out all those influences that may harm our relationship with You. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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