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Beating Hearts

Numbers 14:10a
Then all the congregation of Israel said to stone them with stones.

These are truly heartbreaking lines. We can’t even read them without being bruised and bloodied ourselves. How must Joshua and Caleb be feeling at this moment? If the mere weight of a pessimistic outlook in the assembly overwhelmed their joy, if the crushing blow of others’ faithlessness thrust them to their knees, if the infernal groan of a commonwealth on the brink of blasphemy pelted their hearts only moments ago, how must this blood-curdling curse, this back-stabbing verdict, this penetrating shriek of betrayal strike them as it flies from the mouths of their comrades like a flurry of demonic darts? “STONE THEM! STONE THEM! STONE THEM!”

The earth quakes at the sound. It bleeds too. Gravity tries to keep the stones down, but it can’t. The rocks strain as they hurl forward, try to pull back in midflight, try to tear away from their fixed trajectory, but man’s will, man’s hatred, man’s treachery is too great a force to reckon against. The stones will weep from the deed. So, too, will the invisible molecules in the atmosphere and the forces of velocity and speed that serve as instruments to the horror; but all get stained in the metaphorical blood of man’s betrayal.

How can this be happening now after all the revivals and ceremonies and advancements these pilgrims have added to their spiritual calendar? They’re so infuriatingly close to the Promised Land! They’re at the doorstep of God’s desire! They’ve even seen glimpses of the milk and honey with their own eyes! But it makes no difference to them. “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil,” said our Lord in Luke 6:45, and the diagnosis of these pilgrims’ hearts is finally laid bare. Theirs are hearts that refused to drink the nourishing water of God’s presence, that lost all nutrients and moisture and fertility, that have, over time, through unbending pride, become as cold and hard and jagged as boulders, that, from the shattering force of their own spiritual demise, must now crush others.

Friend, mark this: your heart will beat in one way or another today. Either it will beat to the rhythm of God’s creative vision, or it will beat others down.