I am a “word” person. A particular one often stands out like a lightbulb in my head, capturing my attention when I least expect it. Like the day I walked into my kitchen and “Zebulon” came to mind. Of all things to think about! I remembered he was one of the sons of Israel but wondered what that had to do with me. Then I discovered the meaning of his name. It referred to a place of habitation or dwelling, a state of intimacy. As I thought about the definition, I sensed it represented my need to draw closer to God. More than church attendance or ministry, a renewed call for a deeper relationship with the Lord.
I believe intimacy is the key to victorious Kingdom living. As a branch in the Vine, I remain in Him through Bible reading, prayer, meditation and worship. Our God longs to be our dwelling place! Israel chose to make other places their habitation, longing for the comforts of the world rather than trusting in God. These verses give us a point of contrast on where we should not dwell.
Numbers 14:1-4 That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt or in this desert! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us all by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
Isaiah 31:1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.
Deuteronomy 17:16 The king must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, You are not to go back that way again.”
Ephesians 2:12-13 Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
Questions to consider:
1. Where did Israel prefer to dwell instead of taking possession of the land of promise?
2. On what was Israel relying? Was was the warning from God?
3. What do you think “Egypt” represents for us today?
4. Why might people want to go back to places of slavery or oppression?
5. What brings those once far away close to Jesus Christ?
In the same way Israel’s memories of Egypt tugged on their hearts, memories of our former lives can also have that kind of pull on us. God doesn’t want us to go back to our old “Egypts,” no matter what that former life may hold for us. He warns us to move away from the slavery of sinful habits and ungodly patterns of thinking.
If it’s not the desire to return to the comfort of sin, it might be the comfort of the familiar that gets us stuck in a spiritual wilderness. We won’t open our eyes to the new things God’s trying to show us. Like Israel, we make golden calves out of religious ideas and preferences, choosing to worship them instead of our Holy God. The familiar feeds our comfort zone.
Do you remain in Him daily or are you always looking back? Are you abiding in the Vine or abiding in thoughts of the past? The Lord calls us to draw near, but it’s our choice to deliberately make Him our Zebulon, our habitation. As we draw near to Him, He draws near to us. It’s a kind of dual citizenship–I in Him and Him in me! Can you think of a place you’d rather live?!