Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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February 28 – Staying The Course

“Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night.  And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!  Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?’  And they said to one another, ‘Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.'”  Numbers 14:1-4

Devotional Thought For The Day

You’ve probably heard about the “fight or flight” response, the options that people have available to them when facing imminent danger.  While one of these responses is generally triggered [almost instinctively] when some immediate threat comes quickly upon us, it is also a decision to be made rationally when there is time to contemplate various courses of action.  The children of Israel had been promised that God would go before them and help them to victory, but the spies had brought back a mixed report, the pessimists and fearful among them exaggerating the armed force they would encounter.  Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, brought the people an encouraging word of faith, and urged them to go and fight and take the land that God had promised to them.  However, the vast majority of the people opted for “flight” – back to Egypt, of all places, as if they would be welcomed back there after the devastation that God had performed against them by the hand of Moses!  How could they have thought that this humbled and devastated land would have provided them with a better life?

Worse than contemplating the options available to them, was the utter lack of faith and the rebellious animosity expressed against God and against the leaders He had provided for them.  They literally accused God of leading them into circumstances worse than death in slavery or death in the wilderness, as if His real intent toward them was evil.  Remember, this is after the Ten Plagues in Egypt, the manna and quail and water gushing from a rock, and God’s faithfulness to His promises uttered centuries earlier to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and reiterated to them numerous times. Regardless of God’s Word, His promises to them, the impulse to “flight” was greater than faith, their fear having neutralized what faith they might have had, and they capitulated to faithlessness, hatred of God, repudiation of His gracious love and promises, and utter rebellion.  Perhaps the worst of this was the arrogance of thinking it would be better for them to choose their own leader and determine their own destiny – back in the wretchedness of Egypt.  Lord, have mercy!

We often experience the same dynamics within ourselves, and within Christian congregations, to this day.  First, there is the blessing of God, the abundance that He has provided for us, but which we consider as principally our own to use in indulging our desires for various pleasures, prerogatives, and luxuries.  Then there are the numerous promises of God’s Word, that if we continue in His Word we will know the truth, and that the truth will set us free – that God will richly bless us as we remain faithful to His Word, and trusting in His promises.  But then challenges come along – financial challenges for the congregation, and diminishing numbers, and people rejecting the fellowship and mission of the congregation because they are unbelieving or repulsed by the instruction of God’s Word, and the sacrifices that will be required of us if we remain faithful but few in number.  Even the faithful contemplate panic in view of the conflict that ensues – and consider flight from God’s Word and promises, and weigh whether it might be better for them to choose their own leaders and to determine their own destiny – even if that means forsaking God’s gracious love and His plans for them, and returning to the darkness and ignorance of unbelief and rebellion against God.  And even God’s leaders, like poor Aaron, may contemplate building a “golden calf” for their congregation – if only it will please the people and increase the “visible” success of the organization, and make life “easier” for them.  Lord, have mercy!

Yes, even within the church we often face the options of “fight or flight,” faithfulness to God and trust in His Word even when that means facing fearful circumstances and conflict, OR fleeing from God’s calling and the destiny He has set for us, choosing our own “leaders” and setting our own course and destiny.  Thankfully, God is patient with us just as He was with the children of Israel – and He continues to call us back to repentance, back to faith, and back to His Word.  There is always forgiveness for our many sins of faithlessness and cowardice – and even for our sins of rebelliousness in choosing “flight” and self-determination.  However, the land He is leading us to is ever in the same place, and the path we must traverse is ever the same – fraught with dangers, challenges, sacrifice, and sometimes temporary loss.  Likewise, His promises remain the same, and His faithfulness to His promises remains the same.  In the end, some of the people perished in the wilderness.  But in the end, some of the people entered into the Promised Land – by God’s grace, power, and love.  Pray God that we be among those who enter in – through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and faithfulness to His Word.  Let us be careful and wise when facing temptations to flight.

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, You were tempted in all points just as we are, so You understand the dilemma we face when confronted with grave dangers, challenges, and temptations.  You also prayed in the Garden for Your cup to be removed from You, but always with the faithful proviso and determination to accomplish the Father’s will.  Grant us the same faith, and courage and confidence in Your Word, that we have the same constancy and commitment to following You, pursuing the course and the destiny which You have lovingly prepared for us in Your heavenly kingdom.  Amen.