by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro copyright 2020
Oct 22 to Jan 6 reflections from an upcoming book for tending hurting hearts at Christmas
The first generation of Israelites freed from slavery in Egypt missed out on dessert. They missed out on abundance and thriving over surviving. They kept eating the same old manna every day for the rest of their lives. They wandered. They never got to eat the treat of pomegranates God had waiting for them because in the face of certain challenges with outcomes that looked potentially precarious, they forgot who God was, what He had promised and let fear over the potential worst steal God’s plan for their future.
The Israelites knew where they had been was awful. In fact, it had been their cries out of the agony of that slavery unto God, which had caused Him to set Moses into action, so that Pharaoh would finally let God’s people go and they could come out of where they were into the way of life which would spiral out from the God as center point.
Pomegranates awaited the Israelites on the other side of the Jordan River. Pomegranates which ripen in winter. Beneath a tough-seeming outer skin, fragrant ruby jewels filled with juice wait to be enjoyed. Pomegranates symbolize the goodness of God’s provision. His abundance. Over and above what people needed. The deliciousness of pomegranates, a God-provided delightful treat. Part of the feast symbolizing the easier life which God had planned to provide, if the people would trust Him and follow where He was leading. Even though to human wisdom, moving into that place looked iffy. (There were giants living there!)
The whole idea of bringing the Israelites out of slavery was to bring them into a new lifestyle, where there was a realization that God was near and center-point. All things under His feet. It is the life to which we are called. This was to be a life which knows even now God’s kingdom is manifesting. The fear of the Lord becomes the beginning of gaining wisdom and understanding. And all understanding of now and forever is found in understanding Him more. Where there is nothing to fear because what is the worst anyone could do to you? Kill the body? Well then, so be it. (To be absent to the body is to be present to the Lord.)
Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. It cannot be contained by or in this world’s systems. It cannot be controlled by these because Jesus’ kingdom supersedes them. Thus, death simply and finally crosses us over into the realm, which was always destined to be your home, with God and with each other perfectly and forever.
Yet, despite the glory and awesomeness of the glorified life to be, you are also not to be in a rush to get there. Jesus was not in a rush to leave. Mary was not in a rush, despite her many sorrows. You are not to be vanquished by defeat-thoughts of here and now no matter the sorrow.
You are on God-assignment. As soldiers in His army bringing God-love which is a counter-cultural sort of power by His Spirit, where He does work through you to re-take ground for His kingdom but in a different sort of way. There will be battles and hardship. Sorrows and suffering. Even when there are also pomegranates in abundance.
Like the Israelites who were to come into the new land and live in a God-focused way, so also you are called. You are to stay on this assignment until He calls you home. You are His ambassador. An ambassador re-presents the homeland n a foreign country. Foreign means its customs, priorities and ways are different than that which may make you comfortable or feel at home. ambassadors do not reject that which is foreign, yet live set apart according to their own culture within the boundaries of the foreign culture. Respectful. Looking for connections. Active and honoring. True to their way of life in the midst of that which is different. Looking for ways to introduce others to their culture. To get to know each other better. To reveal glimpses of the home culture without alienating the foreign culture in which they are temporarily living. Understanding others do not yet understand. The eyeglass lenses through which they currently look cause them to see life from a different view. An ambassador is not to judge their lenses. Heaven-forbid to hate. Instead, you know God is at work through all things and trust Him. He sees. He knows. He never stops and nothing surprises Him.
Be like Jesus. Offer your own God-glimpses less through words and more via your obedience to God. Accountable to Him for spending time to know Him more. Living in the reality of His peace and joy in the midst. Spirit-led, moment-by-moment witness.
Because you are rooted in the truth about Your King. Unwavering! And manifesting His loving-kindness in ways which uniquely touch other hearts because you are obeying Spirit and He alone knows what each one needs. You do not. Taking your orders from the Top especially when these don’t make sense and you cannot see how they would have an effect. Ambassador. Representing God (and His kingdom). Not yourself. The Spirit flowing through your obedience. Not by your good ideas. Always only seeking His. This re-presenting the Kingdom of God, like a river which overflows its bank, to reach long dried out seeds that were thought dead. Not to be by words alone, but a Spirit-compelled and driven way of life, which reveals its set-apartness (devotion and dedication to God not by rigid laws, but Spirit-led love which is sometimes justice-seeking, sometimes consoling, sometimes a coming alongside in action and other times just a compassionate listening.
Go for the pomegranates. Dare to listen and follow where God leads. Otherwise desert wandering becomes your destiny. What dream from God have you let die because it seemed impossible, even though Spirit keeps nudging? What is the first God-given step into that new land?
Holy, infinite Lord, unfathomable in every regard and beyond attempts to frame you in this human language, if Your Spirit will help, my heart’s pledge is to trust You and You alone, no matter what. My life is Yours. It has always been Yours. I do not need to see all that is to come and do not need to understand all that has been. In this moment, I abandon myself to You again for You are the only One upon whom I can rely. My one request for this moment is that one which You will answer: Lord, please let Your Spirit lead me in a way which I can hear and follow. Even before these words have been fully expressed, Your whispered response echoes within the chambers of my heart. You are holding my hand and will not let go. All that is required to move from here to wherever there will become, is to trust. I trust You, O Lord God my Strength!
13 And the Lord said to Moses,
2 Send men to explore and scout out [for yourselves] the land of Canaan, which I give to the Israelites. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader or head among them.
3 So Moses by the command of the Lord sent scouts from the Wilderness of Paran, all of them men who were heads of the Israelites….
17 Moses sent them to scout out the land of Canaan, and said to them, Get up this way by the South (the Negeb) and go up into the hill country,
18 And see what the land is and whether the people who dwell there are strong or weak, few or many,
19 And whether the land they live in is good or bad, and whether the cities they dwell in are camps or strongholds,
20 And what the land is, whether it is fat or lean, whether there is timber on it or not. And be of good courage and bring some of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes.
21 So they went up and scouted through the land from the Wilderness of Zin to Rehob, to the entrance of Hamath.
22 And then went up into the South (the Negeb) and came to Hebron; and Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai [probably three tribes of] the sons of Anak were there. (Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.)
23 And they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and cut down from there a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two [of them]; they brought also some pomegranates and figs.
24 That place was called the Valley of Eshcol [cluster] because of the cluster which the Israelites cut down there.
25 And they returned from scouting out the land after forty days.
26 They came to Moses and Aaron and to all the Israelite congregation in the Wilderness of Paran at Kadesh, and brought them word, and showed them the land’s fruit.
27 They told Moses, We came to the land to which you sent us; surely it flows with milk and honey. This is its fruit.
28 But the people who dwell there are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, there we saw the sons of Anak [of great stature and courage].
29 Amalek dwells in the land of the South (the Negeb); the Hittite, the Jebusite, and the Amorite dwell in the hill country; and the Canaanite dwells by the sea and along by the side of the Jordan [River].
30 Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once and possess it; we are well able to conquer it.
31 But his fellow scouts said, We are not able to go up against the people [of Canaan], for they are stronger than we are.
32 So they brought the Israelites an evil report of the land which they had scouted out, saying, The land through which we went to spy it out is a land that devours its inhabitants. And all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature.
33 There we saw the Nephilim [or giants], the sons of Anak, who come from the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
14 And all the congregation cried out with a loud voice, and [they] wept that night.
2 All the Israelites grumbled and deplored their situation, accusing Moses and Aaron, to whom the whole congregation said, Would that we had died in Egypt! Or that we had died in this wilderness!
3 Why does the Lord bring us to this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and little ones will be a prey. Is it not better for us to return to Egypt?
4 And they said one to another, Let us choose a captain and return to Egypt.
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of Israelites.
6 And Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among the scouts who had searched the land, rent their clothes,
7 And they said to all the company of Israelites, The land through which we passed as scouts is an exceedingly good land.
8 If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey.
9 Only do not rebel against the Lord, neither fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their defense and the shadow [of protection] is removed from over them, but the Lord is with us. Fear them not.
10 But all the congregation said to stone [Joshua and Caleb] with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the Tent of Meeting before all the Israelites.
11 And the Lord said to Moses, How long will this people provoke (spurn, despise) Me? And how long will it be before they believe Me [trusting in, relying on, clinging to Me], for all the signs which I have performed among them?
12 I will smite them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and will make of you [Moses] a nation greater and mightier than they.
13 But Moses said to the Lord, Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for You brought up this people in Your might from among them.
14 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that You, Lord, are in the midst of this people [of Israel], that You, Lord, are seen face to face, and that Your cloud stands over them, and that You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night.
15 Now if You kill all this people as one man, then the nations that have heard Your fame will say,
16 Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which He swore to give to them, therefore He has slain them in the wilderness.
17 And now, I pray You, let the power of my Lord be great, as You have promised, saying,
18 The Lord is long-suffering and slow to anger, and abundant in mercy and loving-kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and fourth generation.
19 Pardon, I pray You, the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of Your mercy and loving-kindness, just as You have forgiven [them] from Egypt until now.
20 And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to your word.
21 But truly as I live and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord,
22 Because all those men who have seen My glory and My [miraculous] signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have tested and proved Me these ten times and have not heeded My voice,
23 Surely they shall not see the land which I swore to give to their fathers; nor shall any who provoked (spurned, despised) Me see it.
24 But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.
Numbers 13:2-33, 14:1-24
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