“ … but no weapon that can hurt you has ever been forged. Any accuser who takes you to court will be dismissed as a liar. This is what God’s servants can expect. I’ll see to it that everything works out for the best.” God’s Decree.” Isaiah 54:17 (The Message)
I have always been fascinated with the story in the Bible about the Israelites wandering the desert for 40 years, being led out of Egypt by Moses and heading to the Promised Land. There is so much to learn from that time in history as it’s filled with so many lessons, promises, miracles, and truths.
If you’re not familiar with the events, I would encourage you to read about them yourself in the Bible. It begins, really, in Exodus 1 where God talks about the enslavement of the Israelites in Egypt, takes you through the birth, childhood and adult years of Moses, through the 40 years of wandering in the desert to the crossing of the Jordan River into the Promised Land with Joshua and Caleb. It’s a long period in history and therefore encompasses all of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy through Joshua 5 if you want to read just about the slavery in Egypt through the crossing into the Promised Land. However, if you want to read about the miracles God performed for the Israelites AFTER their feet touched the Promised Land, then I would encourage you to keep reading.
What I want to focus on today occurs after the crossing of the Jordan River, when the Israelites stepped into the Promised Land that God had promised them 40 years prior.
To give a brief summary to make today’s truth understandable, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and for years had been begging the Lord to save them. God chose to use Moses as His representative for the saving of His chosen people (the Israelites). After a series of miracles that God performed through Moses, the Israelites were freed (remember the story of the parting of the Red Sea?) and headed to the Promised Land.
When they set out in the desert, the trek wasn’t supposed to take 40 years. However, the Israelites and their behavior is what caused the delay. They grumbled and complained, complained and grumbled at God about everything. Imagine a hungry, tired, sick two-year-old and that’s how the Israelites acted. They complained about everything, and even though God performed miracle after miracle after miracle, they still needed more and more confirmation and miracles to keep going.
Finally God had enough. There were only two people, Joshua and Caleb, from the thousands of original Israelites freed from Egypt (those not born in the desert during the hike) who would be allowed to cross into the Promised Land. God declared that the rest weren’t worthy of seeing the promise fulfilled and because of their disobedience, grumbling and bad attitude, would all have to die before the next generation would step into the Promised Land. In addition, their disobedience created consequences even on their children because the new generation was forced to wander in the desert until everyone else had died off. It was only after everyone had died from the original “exodus”, except Joshua and Caleb, that God allowed the Israelites to cross into the Promised Land.
However, even after entering the Promised Land, the next generation Israelites quickly forgot all the miracles God had performed and began grumbling and complaining again … turning their back on God, worshipping idols and repeating the history of their parents and grandparents.
The Old Testament is full of history explaining how one generation would completely turn their back on God, they would receive the natural consequences of living a sinful life and then cry out to God to save them from their own mistakes. After they asked forgiveness, because of His love for them, He would save them, there would be peace for a time, and then once that generation died out, the cycle would start all over again with the next generation of Israelites turning away from God, receiving the natural consequences of their sinful lives, etc.
Having the cycle replayed across generation after generation after generation on the pages in front of me hit hard. Am I like the Israelites? More than I want to be. While I have never turned away from God and started worshipping idols, when He performs miracles in my life, am I quick to forget about His power the second life gets hard again?
How many times do I ask God to “show me, reassure me, tell me, give me confirmation” when I’m facing less-than-stellar circumstances and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight? How often do I choose worry and fear when all He asks is for me to trust Him with the circumstances in my life, take my hands off and watch Him work? God also tells me to worship Him, praise Him through the difficulties … yet, how often do I actually do that instead of trying to fix things myself?
After hearing God speak that truth into my soul, I made the decision this year to be less like the Israelites. To still come to God with my concerns, but to praise and worship Him more even when, or especially when, life gets difficult. To try and resist my old habit of asking for confirmation constantly and instead believing His promises are true even when I don’t see the miracles happening, yet.
Come back next time as I show you how I began putting this commitment into action.
© Cheri Swalwell 2018