Regular nibbles from the Bible. . .come for a bite, leave with an appetite

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. (Psalm 19:14, MSG)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A STUDY IN CONTRASTS (Numbers 13; Mark 5)

I was arrested by God's words to Moses today, after the 10 of the 12 spies discouraged the people of Israel from entering the promised land: "How long will these people treat me like dirt? How long refuse to trust me?"

The idea of treating God like dirt--and how our lack of faith makes God feel--struck me as a rich subject.

But then I read today's portion from the New Testament, about the woman who touched the bottom of Jesus' garment: How excited Jesus sounds!  "Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you're healed and whole. Live well, live blessed!"

Let's compare the two occasions.

  • In Numbers, they are deciding whether or not to declare War. Their Commander-in-Chief, God, has already given the command. But the people refuse to ratify the declaration of war. 
  • In Mark, the woman had a very personal problem, one that kept her unclean and away from mainstream society for 28 years.  I had a hysterectomy after I have a couple of months of heavy bleeding. I was exhausted. I can't imagine living with it for 28 years! 
  • The Israelites had seen God's power displayed over and over again. The ten plagues, crossing the red sea, manna, meat, water, defeating the Amalekites. What more did God have to do to prove Himself trustworthy?  (Nothing, obviously)
  • The woman had heard reports of Jesus' healing power, but had no personal experience.
  • The spies were chosen for the task. Interesting note: not the same men as were chosen for the census in chapter 2, who led in giving in chapter 7.   (would their response have been any different?)
  • The woman was an outcast, no one of influence
  • The spies' lack of faith (with the exception, of course, of Joshua and Caleb) caused an entire nation to lose faith and cursed an entire generation to die in the wilderness.
  • The crowd didn't believe in the case of Jesus and the woman either. How did Jesus know someone had touched Him? How dare this woman come near the master?
  • The woman's faith led both to healing and to Jesus' giving her a benediction of blessing.
  • The spies trumpeted their opinions to the crowd.
  • The woman came secretly. 
  • The spies saw a risk doomed to failure.
  • The woman saw a risk with a sure reward.
How often do we let the crowd sway our faith, or lack thereof? 

What are we willing to risk for our faith?  

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