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B'Midbar/Numbers 20:22 and the Children of Israel, the whole assembly, came to Mount Hor
Already forty years have passed and our people are now on their way back towards the Land for the next generation to enter and take possession of the inheritance that Adonai had already given us. The word for 'assembly', comes from the root which means 'to appoint' and is also the root for the word which means 'an appointed time' - the word used for the feasts and festivals - or an appointment or meeting. It conveys the idea that the assembly - or congregation - has an 'appointed' quality about it, rather than just being a natural or haphazard collection of people. An appropriate term for the group that were not only G-d's chosen people but the chosen generation to enter the Land.
Rashi comments: "The entire assembly - all of them, whole and ready to enter the Land" and goes on to point out that there was no-one there who was to have died in the wilderness, and that no-one had died in the wilderness who was meant to be there, for this generation was the one to whom G-d said: "you who stuck with Adonai your G-d are still alive today, every one of you" (D'varim 4:4, CJB). G-d had not been indiscriminate or careless during the time in the wilderness; the L-rd, the giver of life and the bringer of death, the one of whom we say Dayan Emet - the True Judge - knew each of the people and their hearts and His judgement was precisely meted out with absolute justice and righteousness.
As part of the briefing that He gave the talmidim before sending them out to heal the sick and proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom throughout the Galil, Yeshua told His disciples: "Aren't two sparrows sold for next to nothing, two for an assarion? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's consent. As for you, every hair on your head has been counted. So do not be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:29, CJB). Not one sparrow - those common little birds that chirp and shout in the hedges, that fight and squawk with each other in the dust baths in the village streets - not one of those will die or fall to the ground without our Father giving His consent and being aware of the situation. If G-d is concerned even for the sparrows, says Yeshua, how much more will He be concerned about each of the disciples, about each of us.
This is the assurance that enabled Rav Sha'ul, even though he was confined to prison on account of preaching the gospel faithfully, to write: "I am not ashamed, because I know in whom I have put my trust, and I am persuaded that He can keep safe until that Day what He has entrusted to me" (2 Timothy 1:12, CJB). Sha'ul knew that whatever befell him, whatever circumstances - not matter how dire they appeared - G-d was in control and nothing would happen that G-d did not specifically allow and know to be the best.
Further Study: Psalm 143:6-11; Luke 21:10-19
Application: When the going gets tough, many people despair and conclude that G-d has abandoned or forgotten them. Far from it - G-d is still intimately involved in their lives. If this is the way you are feeling today, take heart and know that you are worth more than many sparrows.
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
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