|Miriam is struck with leprosy after she and Aaron contend with Moses before God|
After a "long time" in the desert, they have finally arrived at the threshold of the Promised Land. God commands that scouts be sent throughout the land, to assess it and the people living in it and to report back what they find to the people of God. What do they find? They explore a land rich with resources, and the people living in it have benefited from that wealth. The cities are fortified, but the people are content. Conquering them will be no easy task, but it will be possible...particularly if the Lord goes before them. The official report back conforms to that experience...but the unofficial rumors spread by the scouts in the camp offers another story. They tell stories about their travels that populate the land with the children of giants. The fortifications are strong enough to shatter any army that attempts to assail them. The task of conquering the land? It is beyond daunting!
Israel balks...and God is incensed with anger. The judgment for their stiff-necked resistance is that this entire generation that came up out of Egypt will fall in the desert. Their children will be the ones to enter the land. Of course, that judgement comes after Moses talks God out of destroying Israel out of hand. You would think Israel would have learned its lesson? No, they try to go up before the Lord and enter anyway. That doesn't go very well, either.
What a mess. And the reward is another "long time" in the desert. You think we would learn from this debacle? Not so much...salvation history will be riddled with these moments when humanity stiffens its collective neck and resists God, even to the point of apostasy. Every once in a while, occasionally, a generation might get it right...but we just can't seem to hold on to that God-focused, faithful adherence..."Not my will, God; but yours be done..."
|Simeon and Anna greet the Christ child, Jesus|
The takeaway for the day for us, I believe, is an invitation to hold each day a little more tenderly than we are wont to do. Take some time to remember that a stiff neck too easily distracts a steadfast heart...and may we, like Simeon and Anna, find a little more strength to wait patiently on God.