In Numbers 10, the people of God blew trumpets in the wilderness. That’s almost impossible to believe. Let me paint you a picture… They were nomads living in tents out in the wilderness for 40 long years (40 years to make an 11 day trip). All they had to eat was manna soup, manna casserole and manna omelets mixed with quail. The people of God had absolutely nothing--no gold or silver--and yet there was joy in their midst. They wandered around in the wilderness with no home and no place to call their own, afraid to enter the Promised Land. And yet there was a powerful reality. Something special happened out there. Their story provides directions for God’s people, directions for living in the between time. Why did God’s people blow trumpets in the wilderness?
They were together.
We are the people of God. We are in this together. One of the dangerous things about us is that we have this “it’s just you and me, God” attitude. The real and biblical truth is “it’s me, God and everyone else who loves him.” God has brought us together for a reason. As his people, we have to be honest, we have to love one another and we have to care for one another…simply because we are all we have.
Life is hard. How do we survive? How can we be joyous in a bad world?
In 1 Corinthians 3:16, Paul wrote, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” The apostle Paul uses the Greek word for “you all.” In other words, “you all are the temple of the Holy Sprit.” For Christians, the God of the universe dwells in our midst. In every group of Christians, we need to count One more present--Jesus Christ. Jesus himself promised, “For where two or three are gathered in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
When I cry, you ought to taste salt. When you cry, I ought to taste salt. That is a natural part of our being together. The world is a tough place and we need one another…badly. In the wilderness, it was bad for them. And in the wilderness of our world today, it is bad for us. You may be struggling financially, your family falling apart, your heart breaking…but I want you to know that, as the people of God, we’re in this together.
They were tempered.
Do you remember back in Exodus? Moses was scared to death but, nevertheless, said to God’s people, “God has spoken. We will move into the Promised Land.” Then (and I was there!) Moses ran behind a rock and cried out, “God, what are you doing? These guys are at our back. The ocean is in front of us. And we’re in serious trouble!” God said, “March,” and in obedience to God, they marched. They had been slaves and peons, but now they were leaders. Something happened in the wilderness. They were tempered.
In the wilderness, believe it or not, God is doing something special in our hearts and we should rejoice. Don’t listen to those people who say that when bad things happen to you, it is because you don’t have enough faith. Don’t listen to those people who say that when bad things happen to you, God is obviously chastening you. The fact is, we live in a fallen world (Genesis 3) and it will be that way until we get Home to heaven. But in the between time right now, remember that nothing is happening to you by accident.
It may be cancer, loneliness, divorce, conflict, temptation or even sin. But whatever your hurt, move toward the place where you can honestly pray, “Father, it hurts sometimes, but I don’t care where we go as long as I’m with you…because you’re everything.”
The people of God were tempered in the wilderness. Manna may be awful, but it will make you strong. Quail loses its flavor if you have it morning, noon and night, unless it draws you to the Father. Pain will eat you alive and may possibly kill you, but you were going to die anyway. In the wilderness, you will just die before you die. At that point, 1 Corinthians 3 won’t be your problem. You won’t have to go through the fire, smelling like smoke. Having been tempered in the wilderness, you will go right before the throne.
Don’t you hate being around “victorious Christians”? I get the feeling that they are not always honest. It’s the tyranny of testimony. Who is a true victorious Christian? It is someone who has his or her head above water. It is someone who is afraid of drowning, but knows God’s faithfulness in the past. It is someone who has been tempted and maybe failed, yet keeps crawling, wounded, back to the throne because of God’s grace. It is someone who is not really sure about tomorrow, but has no other place to turn but to God because he is life.
They were thriving.
Like the people of God in the wilderness who blew their trumpets, you’re thriving. You may be wounded, even deeply, but you’re still here and still trucking. That is something else. The point is this: you have exactly what you need. God has been faithful before and he will continue to be faithful. I can hear you ask, Well, I’m scared. What about tomorrow? What if I get sick? What if I can’t make the mortgage payment? What if I turn away? What if it all falls apart?
You are here. You are alive. In his faithfulness, love and care, God has done his part.
They were theocratic.
They followed God. Because God is God, you don’t have to be. You are a part of God’s kingdom. He is the King and, as the King, he rules. God also promises and everything is going to work out exactly the way he promises. God is trustworthy and faithful. The good news is that God is going to get you Home safely. You can count on it. We, even as the church, live under a theocracy. It may not be legal or governmental, but we live under a theocracy simply because Theos is our God. The King, the God of the universe, is our God and he is in our midst.
As the body of Christ, we don’t have to wait. The God of the universe is present and when he is present, in our freedom, we can laugh. So blow your trumpet…and laugh, sing and celebrate even in the between time.
Time to Draw Away
Read Romans 8:28, 35-39 & 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
What is your wilderness right now? Living in the between time is hard, but we don’t do it alone. We have one another for care and support. But more important, we have our Father walking beside us and ahead of us into the future…and he will see us all the way Home. In the meantime, we are in good and safe hands. And his grace is sufficient.