In our reading from Numbers today we see that God's anger is a consuming fire. He does not accept substitutes. He does demand that his people take him at his word. All too often we decide to go our own way. We decide what would seem like a good idea, what might enable our church to reach out in a more meaningful way to the community, what would enable people within the church in their ministry, what seems to be a culturally conditioned mandate as opposed to something the Lord has said will not change. We need to approach these ideas with great caution. Our Lord distinguishes ever so clearly between what he has ordained and what he has not ordained. He can take sin and make it a sign to everyone. He can and does destroy both the sin and sinner in hell.
May the Lord grant that we who trust in Jesus should realize again and again that our Lord and Savior has borne he penalty for our sin. May his goodness ever move us to repentance for the times when we have thought we knew better than he does. May we seek his face with repentance, rejoicing in his forgiveness. May we be those who trust him, who accept his finished work of atonement on our behalf to be just that - complete, finished, and on our behalf. May we ever remember that our Lord is a consuming fire.