Text: Numbers 20:14-29
To not be undone by obstacles
To deal fairly with others
For those who travel the highways
EDOM AND ISRAEL were adversaries from the very start. The Scriptures trace their quarrel to their mother Rebecca’s womb, who complained that there seemed to be war breaking out within her! Esau and Jacob emerged into the world grappling with each other, and the peoples descended from them grew in their mutual enmity that conflict was always threatened, and often broke out into open war between the two nations.
In this story, Edom becomes an obstacle to Israel’s forward progress. God is leading the people to the Promised Land, and they wish to go the most direct way, which would go through the territory of Edom. Edom will have none of it. The People of Israel offer reassurances—they will stay on the main road and not meander, they will not use Edom’s resources, they will be on foot and present no threat, they will pay compensation if anything goes wrong.
Edom says not just no, but….
From this story, I think we can draw three points:
There is always an Edom. We identify the straight, most sensible way forward and there is some obstacle, some opponent that thwarts our progress. It may be an outside adversary, someone who opposes us; it may be something within us, an attitude or habit that makes forward progress difficult. Honesty about our obstacles will help us determine the best path forward, which is not always the straightest.
There is always a need for engagement. If we are dealing with another person, we do well to hear what their concerns are, to acknowledge those concerns, and offer what we can toward reassuring those concerns. Honesty and fairness are key here—we cannot offer what we do not have or cannot accomplish, so don’t overpromise! If the obstacle is within us, we will not get closer to our goal by berating ourselves or falling into despair. We can be honest and kind with ourselves just as much as we can with others, and not overpromise or exaggerate what we can do. Small goals are best.
There is always God. God is not thwarted by our obstacles. Just as God determined to bring Israel to the Promised Land, so he is determined to bring us into the fulfillment of his kingdom. You and I are in God’s hands; those things that we deem obstacles can be used by our Lord to shape us, guide us and draw us closer to him. Do not let the obstacle fill your entire sight but keep your eyes on God.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks