How to be a Whore – Numbers 22

Nov 16, 2015   //   by James Johnson   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Yes, I know that the title of this post is a bit provocative. Bear with me for a few minutes.

In the traditional thinking of the word, “whore” means to sell your body to someone. But it would appear that either God was using such a word provocatively in Scripture to make a point, or it means more than we thought it meant.

In Numbers 22, we read the continuation of a crisis story. Leaders from the tribes of Israel had gone to the Land of Canaan to scout it out. They came back and affirmed that the land was incredible. They even hauled back a cluster of grapes that took two men to carry. But they also asserted that the men of land were enormous, spreading rumors that they made them feel like grasshoppers by comparison. They even went a step further and claimed that the land swallowed men whole, something that, looking back on it several thousand years later, seems pretty outlandish. However, keep in mind there was a mass group panic going on at this point.

As the story goes, the people were in an uproar. Two men, Caleb and Joshua (whose name means “God saves”), tried to calm them down and encourage them to go forward and take the land, as God was fighting for them already. The same God that delivered them from the world’s superpower at that point would be able to deliver the land from these nations that were nothing like Egypt in strength.

But the people wouldn’t hear it. Their panic turned in to rage. They started off by accusing God of bringing them out to the new land just to kill them. They wanted to return to Egypt, against God’s desires, to a place where the gods expected horrific things of them. Then they turned on the leaders who defended God, getting ready to stone them. Had God not intervened, their history would have looked much different after this point.

God might have killed them if it wasn’t for Moses. Moses did something audacious. He called God out! He held God accountable to His own character claims. Some time earlier, God claimed, with Moses in His Presence in a way no one had experienced since Adam and Eve, and no one has experienced since, that He was the loving and compassionate God, full of love and mercy, forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin, even while holding people accountable for sin (see Exodus 34).

And God listened and responded. The people were not killed! They were forgiven. Yet they were held accountable. The generation that accused God of being unfair would not enter the land. They did not trust God in the wilderness, and could not be counted on to trust God in the land they were supposed to take away from the giants they so feared.

I see a few takeaways from this. First, the greatest sin of that moment was their “whoring unfaithfulness,” according to The Message. They trusted and preferred the gods of Egypt over the true God. They preferred their “love” to God’s true love. They trusted the one they loved more in that time. Only a people who loved God would trust Him to deliver on His promises.

Second, in crisis, God’s leaders truly step up. Caleb and Joshua stood up for God and His desires against the tide of a nation. Moses even went as far as to call God to accountability on His promises and character. Leadership looks to who God is, not what’s happening in the moment. It seeks out His promises and holds them up before people as the goal and the preferred future, even as everything seems to be crumbling to pieces all around them.

Third, God is unbelievable forgiving. He is zealous to defend His reputation, but wants us to do the same. He holds people accountable to prefer Him and His love┬áto what the world offers (and the world’s “gods”). He wants His people to trust His character of love, even to accepting His discipline (the people would still try and go to Canaan, only to get absolutely routed).

So, how do you become a whore? Stop trusting the one who really loves you. Stop preferring the love of your true lover, even when things seem to be falling apart, and prefer the “love” that seems easier (even though you’ll soon discover it is anything but “easy”).

How do you become faithful? Prefer God’s love, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. Anything less is “whoring unfaithfulness.” Call upon God to be faithful to His own character when you doubt it. Call upon His claim to be a loving and forgiving God. Even embrace His discipline. If He didn’t love you, He wouldn’t discipline you!

Finances falling apart? Need a job? Remember to love God with your money and your time first. Yes, it’s tempting to get that job that asks us to work on the Sabbath, even though His Word tells us it’s not a day for our kind of work. Yes, it’s tempting to withhold that check you were going to write out for tithe, to help your church, to help a ministry, to feed the hungry… but is that the world’s love you’re preferring, or God’s?

Relationships going sour? What are you going to do? “God, why did you let this happen to me? I might as well do what I want!” Or, “God, I trust you with this. Help me to follow the path you laid out rather than the one I just instinctively want to run down.”

Every day is a choice when it comes to my relationship with God. Will I become the whore, or will I be His faithful child?

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