Today's Reading: Numbers 16-17
The conflict which began with complaining and murmuring has now reached its height. Open rebellion, anarchy and mutiny are in full sway. The conflict is no longer under the surface but blatant and out in the open.
Throughout these chapters, we hear both sides arguing their points, thrusting insults upon each other. There is no longer room for compromise or mediation. The ugly monster of disunity will now lead to death.
I cannot read these chapters with any joy in my heart. Though media in our culture teaches us that violence is sometimes the best response to conflict, I cannot agree. To cheer the victory, despite the fact that it means death and destruction for other humans is a concept I have difficulty embracing.
And yet, in this passage, the way God's enemies are treated is with death. The earth opens and though they are alive, they are swallowed up and gulped down by the digestive system of Sheol.
Fire consumes others, hoping to wipe out all the dissension. As if trying to purify the community of the plague of conflict and rebellion, the soiled lives of the dissenters are burned.
Still, by the end of chapter 17, grumbling still is present. It seems to be a resistant strain even to the most harsh destructive methods known to the people of Israel.
Just how seriously do we take the first signs of conflict and complaining in our own lives. Do we treat it like a common cold, hoping it will go away on its own? Or do we aggressively attack the symptoms the moment they begin? Are we willing to take the time from our busy schedules and make a trip to the Great Physician as soon as the throat of barbed speech is apparent? Or do we drip the mucoid and infectious secretions of our hatred, leaving contaminated rags around to spread the dis-ease?
Discomfort, disrespect, and pride make us vulnerable to this virus. We best treat it seriously before an epidemic spreads and causes great destruction.