Graded on the curve?

Numbers 15:13 “Every native Israelite shall do these things in this way, in offering a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.“

Have you ever noticed how many laws change over time simply because so many people don’t obey them? Gambling was once against the law; now the state sponsors it. Marijuana is another example. Its use was once illegal everywhere in the United States but now more and more states have caved to the pressure of the people to legalize it since so many people use it, regardless of what the law says. There are other examples. Things have trended in this same way in some church denominations. Things unheard of 50 years ago are now not only ok in some circles, but embraced as virtues. Is this because God’s Word has changed in some way? Not hardly, for God’s Word is eternal. No, the reason is that as more and more people disregard God’s Law, they fool themselves into thinking that that disregard is disregarded by God as well.

However, do you know that God doesn’t grade on a curve? Do you realize that even if everyone around us seems to show an indifference to the Law of God, even if the majority acts in their own way according to their own standards, and no matter if all around us unbelief rules, God’s ways and means never change? We see this very lesson in the example of Israel and their continual rebellion and disobedience to God’s commands. At every turn, in spite of God’s promises to them and goodness shown them, Israel sinned. They complained because of a lack of food, then they complained because of the type of food God gave them. They refused to go into the Promised Land in spite of God’s assurance that He would go with them. Then when God told them not to go in because of their unbelief, they presumed upon God, tried to enter in their own way, and as a result, they were defeated (Numbers 14:39-45). They rebelled against Moses’ leadership, and determined to do their own thing in their own way, and judgment fell on them as a result. They flagrantly disobeyed the sabbath laws and when they broke those laws by gathering sticks when God had commanded them to rest, God didn’t wink at what, to our eyes, seems like such a small thing. No, He commanded that that person be stoned to the death (Numbers 15:32-36).

In the face of their continual disobedience, God doubled down and reiterated His laws, as in the words above from Numbers 15. Here, right in the middle of the incident of Israel’s lack of faith regarding entering the Promised Land (Numbers 14) and the rebellion of Korah that came soon after (Numbers 16), God reiterates His promise to lead them into the Promised Land in spite of themselves, and He reiterates that when they got there, they were to obey His Law in the exacting detail in which He gave it.

He tells them to “do these things in this way” rather than do whatever they wanted as they were so prone to do. And then in verses 37-39 of Numbers 15, God commanded that they put tassels of blue cords on their robes “for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all My commandments, and be holy to your God” (Numbers 15:39-40). It’s a message for all people in all generations that God means what He says, no matter how people react to what He says. His promises are sure, regardless of the majority that won’t believe them. His commands are irrevocable, regardless of how many disobey.

So, as we look around us today and see the trends of society that are so opposite to what God has said, as we see the lack of regard people have for the eternal Word of God, as we see so many people try to justify their unbelief on the basis of the unbelief of others, and as we see a lack of regard for the God who has told us to “do these things in this way” as He told Israel in the verses above, how should we respond? Well, to follow the trends in society, to follow the ways of men rather than the Word of God is the ultimate folly. As God spoke through his prophet Isaiah “All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever” (Isaiah 40:6-8).

The Word of God: it’s a supernatural and eternal thing, while the ways of men are anything but. Throughout history each and every person has faced this question: who, indeed, will we follow? May God help us to follow the ways of men like Joshua, who along with Caleb, stood against the tide of unbelief so prevalent in the nation of Israel in their day. May God help us to stand against the trends, no matter how strong, when those trends are in opposition to the ways God has laid down in His eternal Word. Listen to the words of Joshua as he spoke to the nation of Israel, who, time after time, went their own way: “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14-15).

So, whom will you and I serve this day? Whom will you and I follow?

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