To be an Israelite
I must say, this anxious heart has often envied the Israelites.
You might be thinking, huh?? lol.
You mean like 400 years of slavery, suffering under the hands of harsh taskmasters, fleeing in terror as the Egyptians chased after them and being told to walk through the Red Sea, wandering in the desert for 40 years with only manna to eat. Um... ALL those things sound quite anxiety provoking!
Well there is that, lol, but what I envied is the fact that God's visible presence was with them in the cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. His presence was always with them. He NEVER steered them wrong. He provided for them, despite their grumbling, time and time again.
I just think it would be so comforting to know that when I looked out my tent window and saw the cloud I would think, there is God! Surely nothing can happen to me for God is right there! And indeed the Israelites saw His protection without fail.
And then I've envied those who actually walked with Jesus. Those who saw the very Son of God, who experienced His love, kindness, teaching and wisdom, in the flesh, right before their eyes. And who witnessed the countless miracles He performed.
How comforting it must've been for the Apostles when they were in the storm tossed boat, frightened and calling out to Jesus to save them, and Jesus immediately calmed the sea. Or when Peter was filled with courage when He asked Jesus to summon him to walk on water.
And, of course, the many stories of incredible faith, like the hemorrhagic woman who knew all she had to do was touch Jesus garment and she would be healed.
I would imagine that seeing Jesus and seeing the miraculous signs and wonders He performed would bolster anyone's faith.
But we know that even though God's presence was with the Israelites, they doubted and grumbled, and we also know that many in Jesus' time refused to believe that He was the Son of God, even after having seen...
Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed;
blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
As I pondered these things I realized, I don't need to envy the Israelites who had God's presence in their midst nor do I have to envy those who walked with Jesus. Why? Because the Holy Spirit resides IN me! You can't get much closer than that!
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away,
for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.
"Jesus' promise recorded in John 16:7 contains a name for the Holy Spirit - Comforter - that reveals the uniqueness of His nearness to us. It's equally translated from the Greek into six other names, each describing a different aspect of the Holy Spirit's ministry in our lives:
Comforter: One who relieves another of mental distress
Counselor: One who gives advice
Helper: One who gives relief and support
Advocate: One who pleads the cause of another
Strengthener: One who causes you to become stronger, to endure and resist attacks
Standby: One who can always be relied on
Isn't it reassuring to know you have Someone in your life with all these attributes? That Someone is the Holy Spirit, who is Jesus in you!"
Anne Graham Lotz
Fixing My Eyes on Jesus
And not only that, but think about the Amazing Love that brought about such nearness to the Lord. Jesus had to die, be raised up and ascend into Heaven so that the Holy Spirit could come to live within us.
The bottom line is that God has NEVER left His people alone. The triune Godhead has covered every dispensation.
The Israelites - God Himself
The Disciples and the Gentiles - Jesus
The generations after Jesus death, resurrection and ascension - the Holy Spirit
What a loving Father we have! He ALWAYS wants to be near us. Let us draw near to Him.
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