Numbers 21 tells of a new generation poised to enter the Promised Land. The old generation, because of unbelief, had been judged by God as unworthy to enter the Promised Land (Num 14:20-24). They were now all were dead. It was a new chapter and new generation in Israelite history.
Yet one thing remained unchanged – the same God of their fathers was with them. When the King of Arad attacked them, they turned to him (Num 21:1-3). The same God who had delivered their fathers from Egyptian slavery again delivered them from their enemies. When they rebelled against God and had to face the consequences of their sin, they confessed to God that they had sinned (Num 21:7). God graciously forgave them by telling Moses to make a bronze serpent. Those who looked up at it in faith did not die of snakebite poisoning. This God is the same faithful God who provided their disobedient parents and grandparents with food and water. And this same faithful God gave his one and only son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us. He did it so we can be reconciled with him when we look at the cross in faith and say, ‘yes, I believe that Christ died for my sins.” This same God is with us today as we worship him and pray to him. Isn’t it comforting to know that same all-powerful God who parted the Red Sea is in our midst and walks and talks with us today?
We have just moved into a New Year. I am sure all of us think of new starts when we come in to a new year. We do not want to answer “same old, same old” when others ask about our life. Do we look forward to all the challenges, opportunities and blessings that will come our way in 2014? We should because the Christian life is an ever-moving forward life. To move forward is to grow, which is God’s plan for us – that we may be conformed to the image of his son Jesus.
How are we to face 2014? Some people will face it with apprehension and feelings of intimidation. The global economy has recovered a little but no one can predict how it will go. Singapore’s economy is very much dependent on the global economy. All it takes is for commodity prices to increase and our exports to decline and we will face job uncertainty. Just like the Israelites in Numbers 21, we face trials from without. Despite an uncertain future, we can face it if we walk in faith with God and with one another. That is how the Israelites overcame their challenges, united as a people with the blessing of God.
God expects us to walk through uncertain circumstances as a body of Christ, not on our own. Shrinking resources and an uncertain global economy pose a threat to our community life together because in uncertain times, the tendency is to give up on our life together. We want to use more and more time protecting our personal rice bowls. But God means for us to face it together. We honour him by doing it together. When was the last time you had a meaningful fellowship with someone outside your own fellowship of church friends? When was the last time you went up to someone outside your regular circle and invited them to lunch? Uncertain though 2014 may be, we can look forward in faith because God is with us. May we always remember that we belong to God’s people; pilgrims on a sacred journey to our eternal destiny with our glorious Lord Jesus.