This week marks Rosh Hashana 5781, the Jewish New Year. It will be Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement two weeks later, followed by Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. As we follow God, it is important to keep God’s appointed festivals. It is more important for us to seize the opportunities to confess our sins twice a year – on the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Pesach, the Passover), to remove our sins and enter into salvation. Another time is during the Day of Atonement preceding the Feast of Tabernacles when we enter into God’s presence through repentance. In order to follow God, we must confess sins.
Recently God has been preparing us to approach the Day of Atonement through His word read on the morning devotion. Last Wednesday we studied Chapter 14 of Numbers. God prepared the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey for the Israelites. However, hearing the bad report from the spies, the whole assembly complained against Moses and Aaron, saying, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or in this wilderness!” They complained against God for bringing them out of Egypt and even planned to choose a leader to take them back there. At the end God made the judgement that the whole generation could not enter the land He swore to give them. Despite this, they still rebelled against God and went up to the land of Canaan in presumption. As a result, they died in the wilderness, just as they had said.
This chapter reminds us that God is real! God takes every word we say seriously. We are to be cautious with what we say and do not complain casually. On the other hand, Moses interceded for the Israelites for the sake of God’s name. God is merciful and righteous. Even though that generation could not enter the Promised Land due to unbelief, the next generation could, after wandering in the wilderness for forty years. This is the mercy of God and His promise will be fulfilled.
This chapter has started a new cycle in which the Israelites were to enter into the Promised Land. Meanwhile, God has revealed to us that He is also leading 611 into a new cycle. In Hebrew tradition, every “ten” is a full cycle. The first cycle was the establishment of our church in 2001 at Fort Street, North Point, and later at the North Point Pier. The second cycle began when we moved to Tsuen Wan in 2007. Now, in 2020, this is the 20th year of our church – in fact, we held the 1000th Sunday service last week, 2020-09-06. So, we are now entering the third cycle, a brand new stage when we may face hardship, but we should never mock God. Instead, we are to follow Him in faith. When man despises God, He will judge us through pestilence!
“Then the Lord said to Moses: ‘How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.’” (Numbers 14:11-12)
May God help us to follow Him in faith and enter into the new cycle. We embark on the journey, overcoming every challenge in each station. Though there are pestilence and economic difficulties ahead, we should not be overwhelmed by what our fleshly eyes see and then try to find our way back to Egypt. Instead, we should see God and what He has done in the past. More so, we should see that He will fight for us and will surely bring us into the Promised Land, a spacious land.•[2020.09.20]