Wednesday, May 8, 2019
When I read the history of the Israelites, I am amazed at how visible God was and how rebellious the people were. In my pride I think, “If I could have seen the mighty works of God the way those people did I would never have doubted or grumbled.” Just look at their past experiences. They refused to enter the promised land because of the faithless testimony of ten spies, and they watched as God wiped them from the earth with a plague. Then several key leaders began a mutiny of sorts against Moses, and 250 people formed a committee with the sole purpose of overthrowing his leadership. In response, God judged them severely and they were killed with the fire of the Lord. The very next day the Israelites grumbled against Moses and blamed him for the deaths of the leaders, and God again demonstrated His power by bringing a plague that killed 14,700 people. Then, to affirm His call on Aaron’s life as the spiritual leader of the priesthood, God had each tribe’s leader place a staff in the tabernacle and declared that the chosen one would bud. In the morning, not only had Aaron’s staff budded, but this dead stick had also blossomed and produced a harvest of almonds.
At this point I would like to think that I would have been on my face before God with thanksgiving for His love and care. I hope I would have repented of any doubts I had that He was capable of providing for my every need. But would I have been any more faithful than they were? I probably would have joined them in continuing to complain that things weren’t right. The first time something went wrong again, they grumbled.
Numbers 20:1-5 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the LORD! Why did you bring the LORD’S community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”
They didn’t have any water, and they blamed God. It’s been over forty years since they left Egypt, and most of the people who had refused to enter the Promised Land were dead. Those alive were the ones who were not held responsible for the rejection of God’s plan, but they looked back at their youthful days in Egypt and wanted to go back. All they could think about were the luxuries of life – figs, pomegranates, and grapes – rather than the way God had sustained them and provided for them for the past 40 years.
I would like to think I would never do that, and I bet you do to. But let’s look honestly at our own history. Take some time to do this exercise. Reflect on your past 40 years, if you are that old, and make a list of all the wonderful and powerful ways that God has worked on your behalf. List His physical protection, physical and emotional healing, financial provision, answered prayers, loved ones saved, needs met, and so on. Your list will probably be a long one.
Now look at the latest entry on the list – maybe it was yesterday or the day before. Have you complained since that event? Have you doubted since that direct experience with God? Has some circumstance of life caused you to turn inward instead of upward? I have. I’m ashamed. We are no different than the Israelites except we’re worse.
Why are we worse? Because the Israelites only saw the effects of God on their circumstances. We have the abiding presence of Jesus Christ living within us through the Holy Spirit. Every moment of every day is a direct experience with God, and we still doubt and grumble. Something needs to change, and it is our faith. It is time to admit that our faith is not weak, it is just misplaced. We have plenty of faith, but it’s placed in the wrong people or things. Our faith quickly turns from the invisible God to the visible self. Knowing the limitations of self, we soon turn from faith to doubt.
We must return to faith in God. We must not look at the seemingly endless hardships of our life but rather look at the enduring love of the Father. He will not fail! He cannot fail! Let’s fall on our faces today in repentance, confessing our doubts and grumblings and our need for faith in His everlasting love and care. He has done it in the past. He is still doing it!