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Opportunities for Hope

Words of Faith Final

Opportunities for Hope

Words of Faith 7-1-2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Numbers 20

   [14] Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, saying:

  "This is what your brother Israel says: You know about all the hardships that have come upon us. [15] Our forefathers went down into Egypt, and we lived there many years. The Egyptians mistreated us and our fathers, [16] but when we cried out to the Lord, he heard our cry and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt.

  "Now we are here at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory. [17] Please let us pass through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the king's highway and not turn to the right or to the left until we have passed through your territory."

    [18] But Edom answered:

  "You may not pass through here; if you try, we will march out and attack you with the sword."

    [19] The Israelites replied:

  "We will go along the main road, and if we or our livestock drink any of your water, we will pay for it. We only want to pass through on foot--nothing else."

    [20] Again they answered:

  "You may not pass through."

    Then Edom came out against them with a large and powerful army. [21] Since Edom refused to let them go through their territory, Israel turned away from them.

 

       This is a strange passage, but one packed with insight. 

       Moses was trying to find the best route for roughly 2 million people to make their final journey into Canaan.  The most direct route was on the “King’s Highway” through Edom.  Moses made a diplomatic request for passage but was rebuffed.  We are reminded that the Edomites were related to the Israelites because they were descended from Esau, the brother of Jacob (Israel).  They were, indeed, family, distant cousins.  They had their painful issues long ago-- Jacob stealing of the blessing and birthright from Esau-- but had parted on good terms generations before. Passage through their land seemed logical.  Moses made a second request offering to pay for any water consumed along the way. Still, again they were denied, and "Israel turned away from them."

         This is a strange passage for several reasons.  One is that we do not see the leading of the Israelites by God in the same way as before.  There was no cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. Moses was not ready to go to war with his “cousins” the Edomites.  They turned away and took a much more difficult route that bypassed Edom.

          This is a sad episode because the situation presented a wonderful opportunity for the Israelites and Edomites to be reconciled!  As descendants of these conflicted brothers, they could have actually demonstrated the peace of God so powerfully!  The blessing of the Lord was clearly upon the Israelites.  The King of Edom knew about the blessings of the Lord--  "You know about all the hardships that have come upon us... but when we cried out to the Lord, he heard our cry and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt".  But the Edomites could not see the opportunity for reconciliation and blessing.  They probably viewed this blessing and the numerical growth of Israel as a threat.

          The result of this rebuff can be seen for generations to come.  The enmity between the Israelites and the Edomites grew and grew.  Both Saul and David made war against the Edomites, as did several other kings of Judah.  Even though they were cousins, the bitterness continued for centuries.  Scholars believe that the Edomites actually aided the Babylonians in the destruction of Jerusalem and captivity of Judah in 586 B.C. 

           Sadly, the same kind of opportunity can be missed today.  People often turn away from one another and never allow the Lord to work a miracle of reconciliation between them.  Old bitterness and rivalry are allowed to consume the opportunity for peace.  It happened globally but also locally in communities, families, and churches.  Churches are often more likely to compete than to cooperate. Sometimes the solution is really rather simple-- extend an invitation, forward a courtesy, open a door for conversation.  Not too difficult.

           Have you refused to be a part of the reconciling work of God?  Have you “turned away” from an effort at reconciliation?  Have you clung to old bitterness rather than accept new possibilities?  Perhaps today is a day when history can be changed.

 

          Father God, help me to set aside pride and bitterness.  Help me to be a minister of reconciliation.  Help me to see the possibilities for healing.  Help me to extend the invitation and open the door.  By Your strength and in Your Spirit.  In Jesus’ name. 

 

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2004, 2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)       

2820 Business Center Blvd.

Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200

Jeff.Hoy@faithfellowshipweb.com

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.