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Soaring Down Snowball Mountain

September 21, 2016
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Many of us snowbirds (a.k.a. Northerners) can look back to our formative years with great delight at the immergence of the winter season’s first snowfall. The leaves had long since fallen to the ground and withered in preparation for creation’s blustery winter encampment along with the big chill effect that lie directly ahead. Or perhaps you grew up in the South where on occasion you were blessed with that rare sighting of those white little puffballs accumulating to the point where the ground was fully covered for a few hours or even several days. With childlike excitement and anticipation you may have headed outdoors to try your hand at “rolling” your first snowman of the new winter season. You started out with a small baseball-sized snowball and rolled it to the point where it was round and large enough for you to design your own personalized snow creature.  The longer and further you rolled, the larger and more imposing of a figure could be created! It was a fun and a safe diversion that helped us usher in the long winter months we were about to experience.

However, in the extreme those same little snowballs heading down the side of a mountain could be treacherous. We have all witnessed on our television sets or in person the effects that an avalanche can have when roaring down the side of a mountain with enough momentum to wipe out entire towns or portions thereof. Those avalanches started out with little sections of snow getting dislodged, growing into uncontrollable slides of snow and debris. The momentum it creates contains so much force that very little is left in its wake. The word “powerful” seems wholly inadequate to explain the awe-inspiring rumble, devastation, and force that comes with such momentum.   

Reading through the book of Numbers in my daily devotions, I recognized a very similar snowball. No, the Israelites had not found a way to roll the manna from heaven into works of art! Neither did the wilderness provide any opportunity for such play. What they did learn, however, was how to create momentum (down Snowball Mountain) that generated such force that it left a trail of destruction.

We all remember the account of the twelve spies sent to Canaan to search out the land and report back what they had found. Moses and the Israelites were about to enter the promised land (so they thought) and wanted to get a bird’s eye view of the people, the land, fortresses, and what they were up against when conquering the land.

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I gave unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.” (Numbers 13:1, 2)

What is also noteworthy in this Bible verse is that men who were sent were the actual rulers or leaders of their respective tribe from the twelve tribes of Israel. One might say they were some of the best and brightest leaders of their day to have reached such positions of authority and influence. So off they went to spy out the land and bring back news of what they potentially would encounter when invading and conquering the land of Canaan.  

Upon return, most of the spies brought back reports that were chock-full of unbelief and negativity. Ten of the twelve spies (Joshua and Caleb being the exceptions) had a very bad case of the “ya-but” disease. “Ya-but” this……”ya but” that. In others words, they had drifted so far off course from their spiritual center and relationship with the Lord, that the momentum that they had created with their unbelief was headed down a mountain that would lead to destruction. Their report included the following details:

“Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.” (Numbers 13:28, 29)

The ten spies were basically saying that they served a small and puny God who they could not take at His Word. The peoples of the land were too big and strong; there were giants in the land; the fortresses were insurmountable; and they held the lowlands and highlands and would surround them at every turn if they went forward with their plans to conquer. The spies concluded that God was wrong and that they should not proceed! “Oh thou of little faith!” We must also remember that the little “snowballs” of momentum of unbelief had started years earlier and their unbelief manifested itself in numerous ways. Let us recap just a few of those momentum building occurrences that preceded their reports of unbelief.   

  • Constant complaining and murmuring from the Israelites
  • Fleshly desires (lust from the influence of the mixed multitude)
  • Discontentment (the manna was not good enough, they wanted flesh)
  • Complaint of Moses
  • Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses
  • Asked for a captain and wanted to return to Egypt
  • Korah’s rebellion
  • Along with other blatant examples of disrespect and dishonor to God

Yes, the snowball of unbelief and faithlessness was gaining speed and momentum at an accelerating pace. Unfortunately, the incident with the twelve spies was just the latest example in a long line of sinful indiscretions that would continue to “plague” (pun fully intended) the nation until the Lord ultimately stayed His hand.   He punished them with several specific examples:

  • God sent both the abundance of quail and the subsequent plague
  • Miriam’s leprosy
  • God didn’t allow the Israelites to enter the promise land
  • Death would be experienced in the wilderness (for those 20 years old and up)
  • Death of the ten spies
  • Death of the two-hundred and fifty men who were power hungry and wanted to usurp the authority of Moses and Aaron
  • Fourteen thousand seven hundred who died in an additional plague for their continued murmuring
  • Many smote and discomfited by the Canaanites

Have you ever tried to walk back or unroll a snowball? Think about it for a minute. Have you ever tried to reverse the unrelenting and powerful force of a landslide headed down the side of a mountain? It just doesn’t work that way in the flesh and the Israelites faced this dilemma head on. God told them that because of their unbelief that they would die in the wilderness.

“I the Lord have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.” (Numbers 14:35)

Foolishly, when the Israelites realized their sinful ways, they presumed to move forward and attack the inhabitants of the land of Canaan which was going against the very Word of the Lord. They were trying to get out from under their sinful ways with fleshly motives and desires. At this point, they were still not in synch with God Almighty and His perfect will!

Fortunately, there is a very important lesson for us to take away that gives us great hope in the Lord when we are headed down Snowball Mountain. When we sin and leave the presence of a holy and righteous God, like Israel, He has given us the ability to escape. We escape by repenting, asking forgiveness, and resting in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! He is our blessed hope for eternity! Moses stood as a “type” of Christ in this illustration as we can see in the verse below. If you are a sinner who needs the Lord, won’t you trust in Him today? If you are a Christian headed down Snowball Mountain, won’t you rest in Him with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength? Praise God in the highest!

“And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.” (Numbers 16:48)

 

 

 

 


Comments

MOM September 25, 2016 @ 4:59PM
Read this Article for the second time. Enjoyed it just as much, Praise the Lord for being our "resting place. "

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