The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), March 3
The heart soon follows what the eye sees. The children of Israel learn through the fiasco of the spies that it takes very little to stimulate the sin that resides in their hearts.
The LORD commands Israel to incorporate a visible reminder of HIs commands and the dangers lurking in their hearts:
Speak to the children of Israel: tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined. (Numbers 15:38-39)
Blue tassels sewn on their garments benefit people prone to forgetfulness―much like tying a string around your finger to remind you of something you must not forget.
The wilderness offers nothing in the way of seducing temptations. No shopping malls movie theaters, all-you-can-eat buffets, topless bars, casinos, sport complexes, etc. Yet Israel struggles with the disposition of the heart toward sin: envy, anger, coveting, pride, lust, rebellion, lying, idolatry—latent propensities of the heart waiting for an outlet.
The LORD is very deliberate in His wording as He chooses the word “harlotry” to describe the person who pursues what the heart longs for and the eyes see. Harlotry is the corruption of true self—who we truly are. It is the perversion of the good that God intended between a man and a women who are covenanted together in marriage. Therefore, it is it using for evil what God had intended for good.
God created man to know Him, to fellowship with Him. Sadly, when Adam and Eve sinned, every person received from them a DNA download of lust and alienation from the Creator. Man enters this world ruined for God.
The tassels remind Israel constantly of a number of truths:
- They are God’s redeemed people, with whom He is in a covenant relationship.
- Although sin has ruined them for God, He has provided a way to have a relationship with them through the sacrificial system.
- Those who prostitute themselves by going after the lusts of their hearts and eyes ruin themselves for God.
God’s people must never forget to whom they belong; what is the tassel you have placed in your life to remind you today to walk in His ways and not in your desires?
Questions from today’s reading (Numbers 14:1-15:36):
What erroneous view do the Israelites entertain about God that causes them to complain against Him?
How does that contrast with Joshua and Caleb’s view of God?
What is the basis of Moses’ intercession for Israel?
What would be the consequence of Israel’s failure to heed Joshua and Caleb’s words?
What had some in Israel failed to learn about God from Israel’s refusal to enter Canaan (Numbers 15:32-26)? What does this reveal about the influence of a few in a culture of disobedience?