In a Perfect World… (Numbers 9)

Summary

Y’all, I hate it here.

I don’t know if you can tell, but I’ve been spending a lot more time on Twitter these days. It’s mind-numbing. It’s funny. I love a good argument. It’s great for networking.

But it’s also deeply depressing.

Where standard news sites like the New York Times may or may not bring awareness to the most sordid examples of racism, corruption and unfairness in this world, Twitter will always shine a light. There is no filter there. No million dollar investors to please.

That means you can come across the worst stories there. Police abusing children. Government aid placing the vulnerable in disgusting living conditions. Greed, sexism, prejudice going unchecked, unnoticed, unsolved.

And when I’m scrolling through, I wonder, what would it take for all of this to be fixed? What would it take to make the problems go away? Yet I know I’m asking for too much, for perfection.

What does a perfect world look like to you?

Probably nothing like the world of the Israelites. There was no Netflix. No Watchmen. No Ariana Grande. But much like the rest of the chapters in Numbers, today’s chapter gives us a glimpse into the daily life of the Israelites in those ancient times.

The first part talks about the Passover, and how Moses solved a problem – how to make sure that the Passover celebration is inclusive to everyone? The second part talks about God’s very own super special signal that He gave to the Israelites, to tell them when they should keep travelling and when they should settle down for a while. It was a cloud. It stayed all day and all night. It must have been comforting.

Lack of modern amenities and entertainment aside, doesn’t it sound nice?

Build Your Own Utopia

But back to the question: what does a perfect world look like to you?

For a nation that was once called the “Land of Opportunity”, it’s funny how exclusive American society can be today. Hiring policies and age-old prejudice exclude women and minorities from positions and pay in industries all over the map. Media and entertainment exclude minorities (again) from representation on so many screens. People who are vulnerable, hurting, in danger or disabled are excluded from conversations and decisions that affect them the most.

Meanwhile, here is God giving special commands to include everyone in the Passover celebration. People who felt overlooked and ignored by the ceremonial laws were listened to. They were acknowledged. And the law looked out for them, and not just for the majority.

Speaking of majority vs. minority, nearly everyone in America and in countries the world over are noticing just how divisive our societies are becoming. If it’s not someone from a different political party we’re beefing with, then it’s someone from a different race, a different gender, a different tax bracket, a different country of origin.

In a perfect world, we’d not just write thinkpieces about the importance of unity and coming together, we’d actually be unified. Like the Israelites, we’d move as a community, everyone on the same page. It would be nice if we weren’t fighting each other at every step. Imagine what we could get done: fighting climate change, police brutality, inequality. We’d be practically invincible.

Be honest, ancient Israel is looking pretty ideal right about now, isn’t it? But there’s one crucial feature of God’s society that doesn’t sit quite well.

Obedience.

The Israelite society was inclusive. It was undeniably unified. But it was also based on obedience. The Israelites all followed the same God. They offered His sacrifices. They learned His law. And they obeyed His commands, down to what they wore, who they married, and where they went next.

This goes far beyond our justice system. This is more than just not committing any crimes. This is invasive. This is exact. This is a big deal!

In your perfect world, in the utopia you would build, who do you obey? An ancient book or your heart? Words thousands of years old or words your soul speaks? God or self?

“Let me show you a whole new world.”

If you said your heart or your soul’s guidance or yourself, you’re incorrect. Because as nice as that sounds, that’s not what we really want.

When we cry out for an end to police brutality, we’re calling for obedience to a law about how we treat each other.

When we call out corrupt leaders and governments, we’re expecting obedience to a law about what’s fair and what isn’t fair.

When we cancel somebody for a racist comment, we’re shaming disobedience of a law about what’s right and what’s wrong.

We want equality. We want unity. We want the world’s problems to be solved. But those things are impossible without obedience.

Obedience to what? To whom? Ourselves won’t do, because that’s how we got into this mess in the first place. The criminal law won’t do, because look at how flawed our justice system is already.

God is the only viable answer. We can stumble around in darkness and filth, like we are now, or we can open our eyes to a new world. A new set of possibilities. A utopia, if you will.

God promises that His way is better.

He promises that His way will make us happy.  That His way will solve our problems. That His way will fix us and this broken, broken world.

Do you trust Him? Will you obey Him?

What does a perfect world look like to you?

Well? What does it look like? Comment below, and share this with somebody.

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