Today's Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.”
Numbers 25: 1
King James Version
“The Sacredness of Separateness”
“Fellowship with God necessitates separation from all who fail to fulfill the responsibilities of fellowship in light.”
W. Graham Scroggie
Is there something in my life that I need to be “separated” from in order to be all that God wants me to be?
“It is absolutely impossible to maintain the truth without practicing discipline and separation.”
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and the Devil? Do trust and mistrust hold hands? Who would think of setting up pagan idols in God’s holy Temple?”
II Corinthians 6: 14-16
When I was young, my mother, who is a fabulous cook, wanted to pass down her skills to my sister and me. Thankfully, she spent a great deal of time teaching us the fine art of meal planning, and also, of food preparation. One particular day, she decided to show us how to prepare Lemon Meringue Pie. I was the lucky girl who was given the task of separating the egg yolks from the egg whites. Even though my mother properly instructed me to keep the yokes out of the whites, I didn’t think it would matter if a little yolk got in with the whites. Once I began to whip the egg whites, I knew there was a problem. First of all, my mom wanted to know why the “white” meringue was “yellowish.” Oops! And second, instead of fluffy white peaks of meringue, I found myself with a flat topping. In fact, I checked out, on the internet, what cooking professionals say about my little mishap years ago and I found out that tiny bits of egg yolk don’t cause a big problem at first, but there comes a point when all of a sudden you can’t get the egg whites to do their job because the yolks are heavy and of a different character and make it impossible for whipped egg whites to fluff-up into cloud-like billows.
Our Heavenly Father knew you and I act a lot like egg yolks and egg whites, especially when we try to mix two elements together that function in very different ways. In Leviticus 22, the book we studied last week, God told Moses that the “holy” and the “profane” should be separate. This was the reason God delivered His children from Egyptian bondage and brought them into the desert where they could be separated. They needed to get a proper and clear understanding of the difference between their God and the gods of the heathen nations. A clear line of separation was needed.
But in Numbers 25, we find the Israelite men took a look at the Moabite women and trouble didn’t just break out, it exploded like a bomb. Numbers 25: 1-3, K.J.V. says that first it was the Moabite women caught the eyes of the Israelites and before you knew it, “(the Moabites) called the (Israelites) unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor.”
Things got so bad that Numbers 25: 3 says, “And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.”
Let’s get a clear picture of this situation. God had, by His mighty hand, rescued His children from slavery; brought them through the Red Sea all safe and sound; protected them by a cloud of warmth at night and cooling in the day; and sent them manna from heaven as the perfect food. What’s more, we are told there was “no disease” among all these people. Then God came down and shared His longing for having not only a place but frequent times of worship with His children. God made it clear – He was a holy God who longed to lift His children up to a place of sacredness.
He wasn’t the god of a golden calf. He was the God of the universe. His children, by following Him would be raised higher not denigrated to the level of nude dancers, howling and hollering in front of a god made by the hands of poor, fallen mortals.
Yet, the very first chance these rescued children had, they decided to hook-up with the ancestors of Lot’s oldest daughter. Remember Lot’s two girls. They decided they wanted to have children, so they got their dad drunk enough he had sex with each of them and Genesis 19: 37 says that the oldest daughter, “bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.” So now we find God’s children climbing in bed with the offspring of Lot’s incestuous relationship with his firstborn daughter. No wonder God was upset! What a disgusting situation!! God’s own children were acting no better than the Egyptians He rescued them from.
To add insult to injury, when God said the men who had joined Baal were to be hanged, and Moses and the Israelites who did not participate in the “whoredom” were weeping at God’s tabernacle, one of the rebellious men showed-up on “holy ground” in the sight of Moses and the people with “his Midianitish woman” on his arm.
Well, when Phinehas, Aaron’s grandson, and a consecrated Levite saw this degrading behavior in the face of all God’s blessings, it was too much! Phinehas took his javelin and went to the tent of Zimri, “a prince of a chief house among the Simeonites and killed Zimri and his “harlot” Cozbi.
While this story sounds bloody and gross, when looked at within the context of all the loving-kindness God had bestowed upon His children and when this evil rebellion is compared to God’s sacredness, there is such a disparity, it is no wonder that in the face of “behavioral blasphemy,” death of the evil-doers was the result.
God wanted His children, then and now, to understand that it is absolutely dangerous getting “Cozy with Cozbi,” whoever or whatever “Cozbi” is in your life and mine. Long ago, when I was dating, my dad was concerned about some of the individuals I was choosing to go out with, and he hauled out the text in II Corinthians 6: 14-16 which says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” While I pretended to pay little attention, his advice got me to thinking especially when he made this statement, “Dorothy, our emotions aren’t like a water faucet. You can’t just turn them on or off whenever you please. And one day, you may find that one of these, so-called ‘casual boyfriends’ of yours, becomes something more and you’ve been drawn into a situation that brings you a lot of heartache.”
Getting “cozy with Cozbi” isn’t just about yoking yourself into a relationship where two different people have trouble walking together. “Cozbi” doesn’t have to be a wild-woman from Moab. “Cozbi” can be a job that draws you into a place that isn’t sacred. “Cozbi” can also be certain possessions, certain friends, and certain physical or emotional attachments that destroy the power of the sacred in our lives. And this is why God wanted His children to separate themselves from all that would in any way mix the evil and the good.
In separateness, God understood He could introduce His children to the beauty and goodness found within the sacredness of His holy presence. So He warned His children at Sinai, as He warns us now, “Don’t get cozy with Cozbi.” There’s no place for the ancestors of Moab in your life and mine, if we want to be all God wants us to be.
“The mark of a saint is not perfection, but consecration. A saint is not a (woman) without faults, but a (woman) who has given (herself) without reserve to God.”
W. T. Richardson
“Be holy in all that you do, just as God who called you is holy.”
I Peter 1: 15
you are holy, surpassing human expression;
you made light
shine out of darkness.
Make us children of the light,
inheritors of your eternal goodness.
For you are the God of compassion,
full of goodness and love for all mankind,
and we give you glory,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
now and for ever,
to the ages of ages.
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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