Issue 28 – Summer 2021
There are many passages and narratives in the Old Testament that can be a bit baffling. Some passages take a lot of patience just to figure out and gain perspective. The action God takes in this Scripture seems hard to comprehend. Moses has faced the unbelief of God’s people many times in their 40- year sojourn. Scholars say this time it was different because this would determine leadership in the new land – the land God had promised his people. The utopia at the end of a long journey.
I’ve thought of the children of Israel and their journey many times during this pandemic. While there are differences, since March last year we’ve been on a distinct journey. In the beginning it felt as though there was no time to mentally or emotionally prepare for the days/weeks/ months ahead. As the situation prolongs it can feel at times that there is no space to recharge and recover from the fatigue of the expedition. In this passage Moses takes exception to the Children of Israel complaining about the lack of supply and he is weary. The Lord named the area Meribah to represent quarreling/complaining. The name is the Lord’s rebuke, but Moses receives the harshest punishment. Here in lies the difficulty understanding the passage. Why didn’t God understand that Moses was at the end of his rope? Was He not with him each step of the way as the children of Israel rebelled, complained and murmured against God’s chosen leadership?
We have to look at the whole picture to comprehend the landscape. The Lord told him only to speak to the rock, not to strike it this time. In his own flesh he’s angry and had enough. His error was not merely a failure to obey God’s command, it also was a failure of leadership. Moses, by hitting rather than speaking, responded to this current crisis in precisely the same fashion as he had responded to the problems of the generation who had left Egypt 38 years before (Helfgot, 1993, p. 55).God had asked Moses to bring together the whole congregation, so they could see Him work this miracle of provision. By the time we get to the passage in Numbers 20 the Children of Israel have birthed a new generation while on the journey. God wanted Moses to lead by example with this new group. Because Moses responded by blowing up and acting out of his anger God relinquishes his right to lead this new generation into the promised land.
It is not hard to imagine the complaining when we think about this past year. Everywhere you go you hear it:
Daily the list of complaints grows. As a leader in these times I can’t help but sympathize with Moses as he’s tired and seen the same problem circle him a few times. However, the lesson here for us is serious. We must keep a firm grasp on the new generation who are looking to too us as an example of how God wants us to live. I’m reminded of Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet he did not sin. Moses did not identify with their weakness; he just got angry. This means he is unable to empathize with this new generation who would go through their own cycles of unbelief, disillusionment and human struggles while making their way to take possession of the Promised Land.
Moses only got to see the completed mission from a distance. Because of how he reacts here in Numbers 20 he is unable to lead this new group into the land that they set out for when leaving Egypt. It is a sober reminder that we must rely on God’s Holy Spirit to guide us as we model life for our youth. We alone are responsible for our reactions and example. No matter how tired we are of the circumstances our reaction to them is the most important thing.~ DBM
Our Cannabis Campaign is on the runway to being completed this spring. We anticipate launching a video, social media campaign, brochure and content to help youth of our province understand the dangers of cannabis use. Stay tuned for more details in the days and weeks ahead.
by Marsha Boyd-Mitchell, CAFNB Executive Director
Pivot and unprecedented are two big words used to describe life these days, although in New Brunswick we have enjoyed a lot of freedom compared to much of the country. As it comes to travelling and speaking with groups things have certainly taken a big shift. In the spirit of “pivoting” in these unprecedented times the Lord has brought other methods to get our message out during this season. With the help of the Baptist Foundation we have a grant to communicate warnings about Cannabis and the dangers it presents to our youth. I have been working with a young man, Matthew Hanson, who is bringing his marketing skills to this work. We look forward to launching a campaign to be used by schools and/ or youth groups in the weeks ahead. We will also launch a social media campaign for this work.
I have also been working with New Brunswick Right to Life and to contribute to a curriculum for youth of the province. The contribution of CAFNB will be developing a section in the Know Boundaries vein.
The board of CAFNB is also excited about future plans to go deeper with the topic of youth and anxiety. Our Associate Director, Marleigh Genereaux, is a Master’s of Counselling Student and we are excited to have her expertise on this topic. There is a big need in our province to tackle and focus on this subject. As with all of our topics through CAFNB (peer pressure, media choices, substance choices, anxiety etc.) the pandemic times have only heightened our need to give youth a clear sense of direction regarding all of these topics. We are also excited to start translating our work into French so that we can also begin to reach the francophone community in the province. I appreciate your prayers for me and all of CAFNB as we balance out all the changes and challenges of a Covid-19 world.
It is through the generous support of people like you that we are able to create programs that impact the lives of our youth. Through your support, our programs provide youth with information to help them make wise and healthy choices for their lives.