March 18: Is This “Bad” from God?
Numbers 20–21; 1 Corinthians 3:1–4:21; Psalm 18:31–50
God has granted us incredible grace in the salvation that Jesus’ death and resurrection offers, but that very grace is often used as a theological excuse. It’s dangerous to say that bad things come from God, but there are times when they actually do. What makes them good is how He uses them to help us grow. The great grace God offers doesn’t mean our sins go unpunished.
We see God directly issue what seems “bad” in Num 21:5–7. First, we’re told: “The people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us from Egypt to die in the desert? There is no food and no water, and our hearts detest this miserable food’ ” (Num 21:5). Then, Yahweh sends poisonous snakes that bite the people, causing them to die (Num 21:6). Why would a good God do such a horrific thing?
In Numbers 21:1–4, the people had experienced a miraculous victory against the Canaanites living in Arad—a people they were losing to, and should have lost to until Yahweh intervened. Yahweh showed Himself to be loyal and true; yet, the people still rebelled.
When Yahweh punishes the people with the snakes, it’s not because He wants to; it’s because He needs to. And the result is worth it. The people say to Moses, “We have sinned because we have spoken against Yahweh and against you. Pray to Yahweh and let him remove the snakes from among us” (Num 21:7). In their response, they show faith in Yahweh and His ability to change the situation. They also show confidence in the leader He appointed to them: Moses.
God sent this “bad” thing because He knew it would be a good thing (compare 1 Cor 11:30–32). This knowledge should make us boldly proclaim, as the psalmist does, “For who is God apart from Yahweh and who is a rock except for our God?” (Psa 18:31).
What currently seems “bad” that is really a result of God responding to your disobedience?
John D. Barry
Barry, John D., and Rebecca Kruyswijk. Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.
Morning, March 18 Go To Evening Reading
“Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”
The fatherhood of God is common to all his children. Ah! Little-faith, you have often said, “Oh that I had the courage of Great-heart, that I could wield his sword and be as valiant as he! But, alas, I stumble at every straw, and a shadow makes me afraid.” List thee, Little-faith. Great-heart is God’s child, and you are God’s child too, and Great-heart is not one whit more God’s child than you are. Peter and Paul, the highly-favoured apostles, were of the family of the highest; and so are you also; the weak Christian is as much a child of God as the strong one.
“This covenant stands secure,
Though earth’s old pillars bow;
The strong, the feeble, and the weak,
Are one in Jesus now.”
All the names are in the same family register. One may have more grace than another, but God, our heavenly Father, has the same tender heart towards all. One may do more mighty works and may bring more glory to his Father, but he whose name is the least in the kingdom of heaven is as much the child of God as he who stands among the King’s mighty men. Let this cheer and comfort us, when we draw near to God and say, “Our Father.”
Yet, while we are comforted by knowing this, let us not rest contented with weak faith, but ask, like the Apostles, to have it increased. However feeble our faith may be, if it is real faith in Christ, we shall reach heaven at last, but we shall not honor our Master much on our pilgrimage, neither shall we abound in joy and peace. If then you would live to Christ’s glory, and be happy in his service, seek to be filled with the spirit of adoption more and more completely, till perfect love shall cast out fear.
Go To Morning Reading Evening, March 18
“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.”
As the Father loves the Son, in the same manner, Jesus loves his people. What is that perfect method? He loved him without beginning, and thus Jesus loves his members. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” You can trace the beginning of human affection; you can easily find the beginning of your love to Christ, but his love for us is a stream whose source is hidden in eternity. God the Father loves Jesus without any change. Christian, take this for your comfort, that there is no change in Jesus Christ’s love to those who rest in him. Yesterday you were on Tabor’s top, and you said, “He loves me:” to-day you are in the valley of humiliation, but he loves you still the same. On the hill Mizar, and among the Hermans, you heard his voice, which spoke so sweetly with the turtle-notes of love; and now on the sea, or even in the sea, when all his waves and billows go over you, his heart is faithful to his ancient choice. The Father loves the Son without any end and thus does the Son love his people. Saint, thou needest not fear the loosing of the silver cord, for his love for thee will never cease. Rest confident that even down to the grave Christ will go with you, and that up again from it will be your guide to the celestial hills. Moreover, the Father loves the Son without any measure, and the same immeasurable love the Son bestows upon his chosen ones. The whole heart of Christ is dedicated to his people. He “loved us and gave himself for us.” He is a love which passeth knowledge. Ah! We have indeed an immutable Saviour, a precious Saviour, one who loves without measure, without change, without beginning, and without end, even as the Father loves him! There is much food here for those who know how to digest it. May the Holy Ghost lead us into its marrow and fatness!
Spurgeon, Charles H. Morning and Evening: Daily Readings. Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006. Print.
Shall I rouse myself up to this?
Perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Cor. 7:1.
“Having, therefore, these promises,” I claim the fulfillment of God’s promises, and rightly, but that is only the human side; the Divine side is that through the promises I recognize God’s claim on me. For instance, am I realizing that my body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, or have I a habit of a body that plainly will not bear the light of God on it? By sanctification the Son of God is formed in me, then I have to transform my natural life into a spiritual life by obedience to Him. God educates us down to the scruple. When He begins to check, do not confer with flesh and blood, cleanse yourself at once. Keep yourself cleansed in your daily walk.
I have to cleanse myself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit until both are in accord with the nature of God. Is the mind of my spirit in perfect agreement with the life of the Son of God in me, or am I insubordinate in intellect? Am I forming the mind of Christ, Who never spoke from His right to Himself, but maintained an inner watchfulness whereby He continually submitted His spirit to His Father? I have the responsibility of keeping my spirit in agreement with His Spirit, and by degrees Jesus lifts me up to where He lived—in perfect consecration to His Father’s will, paying no attention to any other thing. Am I perfecting this type of holiness in the fear of God? Is God getting His way with me, and are other people beginning to see God in my life more and more?
Be serious with God and leave the rest gaily alone. Put God first literally.
Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986. Print.
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, and they shall walk, and not faint
The eagle that soars in the upper air does not worry itself as to how it is to cross rivers.
Hardman, Samuel G., and Dwight Lyman Moody. Thoughts for the Quiet Hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1997. Print.