Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Warning Against Barbs and Thorns

50 "On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho the LORD said to Moses, 51 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. 53 Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. 54 Distribute the land by lot, according to your clans. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one. Whatever falls to them by lot will be theirs. Distribute it according to your ancestral tribes.

55 " 'But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. 56 And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them.' " Numbers 33:50-56

I'm continuing on in my Bible reading, and as I finished up Numbers and moved into Deuteronomy, I noticed something. There's a lot of repetition, a lot of repeating the words of God to the Israelites. As Deuteronomy starts off, Moses is preparing to die and is basically giving an oration to his people of their journey from Egypt. Part of me wondered if all this repetition was really necessary. Do we really need to read about Aaron's sons dying from disobedience four times? Then I thought about who we were reading about. These Israelites would see a move of God one day, and then the next complain about being hungry. They obviously needed as many reminders as they could get! Every opportunity there was to remind them of their sin, and how God saved them was utilized. And yet, most times, they still didn't remember.

These verses above in Numbers really stuck out to me because of the last two verses. God is warning about the people in Canaan, the land they will be living in, and he warns the people of Israel to get rid of all the inhabitants of the land, because if they remain, they will only cause trouble in the long run. Those people don't worship the same God. They have their idols and their own gods, and if they were left to be there, eventually, some of God's people would be corrupted. I really thought about this one, because I think we can take this warning to heart for ourselves as well. I guess I started thinking about all the things that we allow in our lives that maybe we shouldn't have in the first place... think about some of the TV shows we watch, as an example. More and more, the rules around what is allowed on TV gets more and more relaxed. Language is allowed that didn't used to be, graphic scenes are allowed that didn't used to be, and we just sit back and watch them. Maybe it makes us uncomfortable at first, but after a while we get over it and just continue watching. For lack of a better word, we become desensitized, where language doesn't bother us, where graphic scenes don't bother us. But maybe, just maybe, they should, and we've let the barbs and thorns into our homes, and they're difficult to remove. Who just turns the TV off these days?

Well, we have. We have stopped watching an awful lot of television. In fact, for Andy and I, we are down to just two shows per week that we watch regularly. Three shows when one we enjoy is on, but it's not on all the time. That's a long, long way from how it used to be. We used to settle ourselves in front of the TV six nights a week, for at least two hours a night. Really, and truly. But then shows that we enjoyed started being cancelled or a storyline became uncomfortable, so we stopped watching. And oddly enough, we don't miss it. Instead, we spend time doing other things. Sometimes we watch a movie we've been wanting to see, sometimes we turn on our GODTV and watch a bit of something inspirational, but sometimes, get this, sometimes we actually sit up at night and simply talk. Do people do that anymore? We discuss our hopes and dreams for the future, and we talk about the great things that we see God doing every day. We are no longer slave to the TV screen, and it's wonderful. We truly do feel as if a barb and a thorn have been removed.

I guess we only have one life to live, and when all is said and done, do we want to be standing before God, telling him that we simply didn't have time to do all we could, only to have him point to the chart that shows just how many hours per week we wasted away on TV programs? I think we are making the right choice, what do you think?

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