- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 29, 2006

This is an excerpt from a sermon preached yesterday by the Rev. Chris Looker at First Presbyterian Church of Annandale.

In his book “The Westminster Guide to the Books of the Bible,” William M. Ramsay writes, “In Numbers, there are long passages … that may seem valueless to the modern reader: census statistics of people long dead, rules governing ceremonies no longer practiced, laws that often seem inapplicable in urban society and directions for the order of a march through a wilderness long left behind.”

Yes, the fourth book of the Old Testament may appear to be outdated and boring to those of us who live in a society that loves pop art, quick fixes, fast food, instant messaging and short sound bites. Face it: We live in a culture where the motto is, “I want what I want when I want it, and that means now.”

If you even want your religion to be as easy to practice as it is to get a fast-food hamburger, then Christianity is not for you. Real Christianity takes time, effort, patience, prayer, forgiveness, faith and love, and it is anything but easy.

No one ever said Christianity was supposed to be easy. As a matter of fact, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said being a Christian involved carrying the cross. Let me tell you, carrying a cross with Jesus is a lot harder than reading the book of Numbers. Jesus also said we were to put God first in all things.

You see, Numbers teaches us that our God is a God of order and organization. It teaches us always to put God first.

In the first 10 chapters of Numbers, God works through Moses to bring order to the people. Israel is divided up into 12 tribes. They take a census, and they institute more of God’s laws to help them maintain order and develop a national identity.

Secondly, Numbers teaches us that God brings order to the world when His people become too rebellious.

The Israelites rebelled against one another and against God. They even built a golden calf to worship as a substitute god.

But we, too, have often been a rebellious people. We have often allowed ourselves as a nation to do things for which we would later be sorry: almost destroying the American Indian race, supporting slavery, building thousands of nuclear bombs that can never be used without destroying the earth, allowing ourselves to become so wealthy when most of the people in this world live in abject poverty, and polluting and destroying the world God has given us to protect and enjoy.

If you ask me, we human beings often wander so far away from what is truly good and righteous that we can’t find our way back without God’s help. During these times, it is good to know we have a God who loves us enough to never give up on us, even when we give up on Him.

How does God help us find our way back from rebelliousness and sin? He does so through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.”

Only Jesus Christ can teach us what our priorities in life should be.

Only Jesus Christ can teach us to put God first and everything else second.

Only Jesus Christ can turn us away from our rebelliousness and sin.

Only Jesus Christ can lead us to the Promised Land.

Only Jesus Christ can guide us to salvation and eternal life, and only God’s Son, Jesus Christ, can truly bring order to a disorderly world.

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