Don’t Forget That God Is With You

Besides John 3:16, Jeremiah 29:11, and Philippians 4:13, there is one other verse that is extremely popular in Christian circles.

The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ houses. They shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side. – Numbers 2:1-2

Now, obviously I’m kidding. You may have never seen that short little passage before.

Recently I’ve been reading through the book of Numbers in my time with the Lord. There is a whole lot about it that confuses and befuddles me, and I’m only just getting into it. Seriously, my journal is filled with a lot of questions.

But reflecting on this chapter (2) has been convicting and encouraging.

Let me unpack what is going on in these verses and how life-forming they should be for us as followers of Jesus. Here’s some truths to take away and consider.

1. God Was With His People 

The ‘tent of meeting’ was the tabernacle, the place where the presence of God dwelled. Jesus shows us the exact nature of God the Father, but Jesus was not the first theophany (appearance of God on earth), rather He was the ultimate one.

God appears on earth over and over again, beginning with walking in the garden with Adam and Eve. He appears to Abraham, Jacob, and Moses. While leading the people of God out of Egypt, He appeared as a pillar of fire and a pillar of smoke.

Now, here in the trek towards the promised land, He is with them in the tent of meeting.

Guys, the message of the Bible is not ‘do this’ or ‘don’t do that’. The message of the Bible is NOT about being good, moral people. The message of the Bible is ‘God with us’. It’s what we celebrate at Christmas. God with us.

Y’all, the commands of Scripture (of which there certainly are many) do not come from ethereal being in the heavens who has no relationship with His people. No, the commands of Scripture are built upon the foundation of God’s presence with His people.

Every family of God’s people made sure that their tents faced the tent of meeting. Think about it. Every morning, when they left their tent, they looked at where God’s presence dwelt. Every day began with reflections about God’s presence.

2. When You Forget God Is With You, Sin Surely Follows 

Things are relatively good at this point in the story of God’s people. The people have been rescued from slavery. They have a God who is with them, leading them.

The rest of the book of Numbers however unpacks how the people of God descend into lots of sin, simply because they forget that God is able and willing to provide for them and protect them.

In Numbers 11, the people of God complain against the Lord. They doubt His ability to provide for them in the wilderness. So then this happens.

Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord,and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the Lord had burned among them. – Numbers 11:1-3

God’s anger was aroused and some of their were destroyed.

Now, this is probably one of those passages that people would use to accuse the portrayal of God in the OT to be one of anger and malice.

A couple quick things. First off, God is a righteous and angry God. We forget that anger is not inherently sinful. God has the right to be angry with His people. Our sin is telling Him that we are not allegiant to Him as Lord.

Secondly, the fact that God didn’t destroy everyone here is grace. When we accuse God of mistreatment, we forget that just one sin separates us from Him. One sin requires judgment and justice. So this passage is exuding grace, even if our human sensibilities are irked.

Lastly, God immediately provides manna and quail for His people. Even in their sin, God is still providing for His people.

Later on in the story, the people of God are on the cusp of the promised land. They are commanded and called by God to go to war and remove the Canaanites. But instead, they refuse to go in. They think that the people of the land are way too big and powerful.

THESE ARE THE SAME PEOPLE THAT HAD WATCHED GOD RAIN DOWN PLAGUES UPON THEIR ENEMIES IN EGYPT.

Yet, now their cowardice leads to sin. They forget that God is with them and is ready to protect them.

And their punishment is a generation dying out in the wilderness.

Now, before you start thinking that these people are a bunch of idiots, look in the mirror (I’m including myself in this, fyi). God no longer dwells in a tent of meeting or a temple. Rather, according to the message of Scripture, He dwells in us.

I mean, come on!

We have the very presence of God with us, in us. Yet we doubt His ability to provide and protect. We forget He is near. God is omnipresent. There is no such thing as private sin in my life. God sees it all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let your life reflect that God is with you. Do people see you trusting in His ability to provide and protect? Do people see you reflecting His character?

Brothers and sisters, God is with you.

He is with you.

Rest in that.

Rejoice in that.

God is with you.

Don’t forget it.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

 

Private Sin

There are countless stories each and every day of well-known politicians, athletes, pastors, and entertainers falling from grace in the eyes of their followers due to the exposing of private sin. Most recent in this list is comedian Kevin Hart, who had adulterous actions caught on camera. His apology has gone viral, as has his sinful decision. Now Kevin Hart is by no means a stand-up guy, and I’m by no means endorsing any of his comedy. Portrait of Kevin Hart

His circumstances are just another reminder that we live in a world inundated with cameras, and people carry around high-quality cameras in their phones everywhere they go. There is not really private sin anymore.

In light of God’s omnipresence, there truly is no such thing as private sin.

My sinful thoughts, words, and actions happen because of a myriad of reasons, one of them being my forgetfulness about God’s presence.

If we were truly to understand that God is ever-present with us, it would bring so much encouragement and joy. At the same time however, it would hopefully give us vigilance in our fight against sin.

There is nowhere that we can go to escape from His presence.

“Am I a God who is only near” – this is the Lord’s declaration – “and not a God who is far away? Can a person hide in secret places where I cannot see him?” – the Lord’s declaration. “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” – the Lord’s declaration. – Jeremiah 23:23-24

God fills the heavens and the earth. There is no secret place for us as humans to hide from His presence. So much of our sin struggles would be crippled and ultimately defeated if we were able to meditate upon and get this reality of God’s omnipresence into our hearts and minds.

Pornography would hold no power over the lives of God’s people if we were to meditate upon the omnipresence of God.

Domestic violence would hold no power over the lives of God’s people if we were to meditate upon the omnipresence of God.

Deception and lack of integrity would hold no power over the lives of God’s people if we were to meditate upon the omnipresence of God.

Private sin in general would hold no power over the lives of God’s people if we were to meditate upon the omnipresence of God.

Granted, it may not always be so black and white as this. Yet I truly believe that if we were to speak about, think on, discuss, pray through, and meditate upon the omnipresence of God, we would see the glistening vices of our various sin struggles become powerless against us. Would we slip-up in our thoughts and words and actions from time to time? Probably so. But the lifestyles and repeated offenses of private sins would be removed of their power if we remembered that truth.

May we be vigilant against sin.

Every single one of us would likely hate to have our sins revealed publicly and virally to the entire world. I do not envy Kevin Hart’s situation. I do know however that I am guilty of sins that I don’t tweet or post about. There are thoughts and words and actions that are grievances against God that are not public knowledge. Every single one of us is in that boat. We must understand not only the reality of God’s knowledge about our sin, but the amazing reality of God’s forgiveness for each and every one of our sins.

We should be overflowing in thankfulness. I’ll have Jen Wilkin say it better than me:

The fact that he sees all, yet, against all expectation, stands ready to forgive should awaken a gratitude of the deepest kind, a desire to be the same person in public that we are behind closed doors – a person who thinks, acts, and speaks as one who fears the Lord. A person who understands that the limitless presence of God leaves no allowance for a life of practical atheism – professing that an omnipresent God exists and then living as if he does not. 

You could take the omnipresence of God and use it in a not so good way.

If I’m fighting against sin just because of the guilt and fear of knowing that God’s watching at all times, then I’m treating Him like a divine Santa Claus who I want to impress in order that I can receive good gifts from Him.

God isn’t a divine Santa.

(I never thought I would type that sentence ever)

However, let the omnipresence of God strengthen and encourage you in your fight against sin. Let the omnipresence of God and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit lead you into battle against the flaming arrows of Satan’s temptations and tricks. When you are faced with temptation, you can cry out to the Lord WHO IS THERE WITH YOU and find the strength to fight back. Will you be perfect in your war against sin? By no means. But you can use the omnipresence of God as an encouragement, a resource, a weapon.

Brother or sister in Christ, there is no such thing as private sin. It’s a myth.

God is with you, so be vigilant and be confident.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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