What do you do when circumstances are trying and you see no hope before you?
"The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert... traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded... the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said,"Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?" Ex 17:2-3
The children of Israel felt like Moses and God had brought them out to the desert to die. The desert sands get hot and the lack of typical provision and purpose brings out what's really inside a person;it's easy to grow weary and feel like God has left you out to die.
Have you ever felt the heat?
"Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. "
Ouch! It is so easy to complain sometimes, but it doesn't go over real well with our Father and creator.
I feel for them:
The children of Israel had reason to be afraid as they wondered aimlessly in this vast and lonely desert not knowing where God was leading them or where there next meal was going to come from. It must have been tough.
Our journey has been difficult too: failed dreams, unfulfilled visions, going from place to place and thing to thing wondering where God was leading us. We have lacked in every major area of life: provision, purpose, relationship... We seem to be going nowhere fast. Many months have left us not knowing where our next provision was going to come from. We have been in a modern-day "Desert" of lack and it's been tough (yet he has faithfully provided "Manna" each month).
If all we have is the current trying circumstances to gauge from then we are in Big trouble! When all you can see is trying circumstances, it is very easy to panic and question God, His leaders, and others around you. Sometimes we do wonder, "did you bring us out here to die?"
Thank God we have past history to learn from (so we don't make the same mistake twice):
"Because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of the men twenty years old or more who came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-" Numbers 32:10-12 "Not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their forefathers. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it." Numbers 14:22-24
Why was God so angry with the Children of Israel?
My guess (based on evidence from scripture and speculation): 1. The trials revealed their true heart and lack of gratitude 2. He is their maker and they His chosen people, yet they held tightly to their own lives and did not trust Him with their whole being. 3. They were so consumed with their natural circumstances/hardships that they totally missed God. God did so much on their behalf, and they missed most of it: A. He led them out of Egypt, freeing them from years of slavery. B. He gave them a Godly, desert trained, leader (Moses). C. He parted the Red Sea (Come on!). D. He led them with a cloud by day and fire by night. E. He destroyed their enemy (Red Sea). F. He provided for all their daily needs (Manna, their clothes and shoes never wore out). G. He protected them. H. He visited them (His Glory). I. He gave them the best land as their inheritance (Promise Land). J. HE IS GOOD-It's who He is!
We move toward what we think about most:
Most of the Children of Israel were so self-consumed, fearful, ungrateful... that they were blind to the greater reality. All they could see was the natural trials around them. They were so consumed with the hardships of the moment that they missed God and all the wonderful, amazing ways He supernaturally intervened on their behalf. They obviously did not know Him well, or they would have known His goodness.
"And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites... a land flowing with milk and honey.'" Exodus 3:16-18
It was there's to have. All they had to do was walk and obey!
Remember the 12 spies who went to scout out the Promise land? 10 negative scouts saw giants and were afraid, 2 positive scouts - Joshua and Caleb -saw the goodness of God and and the great land he promised to give them.
The Negative report:
"...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 fall by the sword?... Numbers 14:1-4"
The Positive report:
"Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, "The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them. Numbers 14:6-9"
God's Report (The bottom line):
"...The Lord said to Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?... "...Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun." Numbers 14:1-44
The plight of those who gave the reports:
"...So the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it- these men responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died of a plague before the Lord. Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived. Numbers 14:36-39"
Be careful not to miss the "Promise Land" God has for you:
Many of the Children of Israel missed the promise of God due to their grumbling and complaining. Moses also, though he was God's faithful leader, missed the Promise land as well:
"(Moses)and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, "Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?" Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them."
It sounds like a raw deal, after leading these people for 40 yrs, but Moses allowed the rebellion of the people to get him out of a yielded place before the Lord. Moses struck the rock in anger, not trusting and honoring God, therefore he was unable to enter the Promise land... Leaders must be careful to stay in a yielded place of trust before the Lord at all times, even when people are being very difficult. Anger, not surrendered to the Lord, can cost dearly.
Thank God, we are not under the Old Testament law any longer. Thank You Jesus, for your death and resurrection that brought forth Grace. Glad we will not be destroyed for our rebellion. But, there are still consequences to our decisions - we still have our will and our choices do matter. God does discipline those He loves (Heb 12:5-7), and He also rewards the faithful(1 Sam 26:22-24).
As a reward for His faithful obedience, Joshua got to lead the people into the Promise Land (40 yrs later):
" "...No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them." Joshua 1:1-6
What made Joshua different?
1.He spent time in The Glory:"The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent." Exodus 33:10-12 Joshua knew the goodness and presence of God. He was intimate with His creator.
2. Joshua obeyed God regardless of the price.
3. Joshua saw the promise land and knew it was good - He kept the Vision before him.
4. Joshua was grateful for all that God had done, is doing, and will do.
Count it all joy, in the midst of the desert:
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."James 1:2-4
"...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:3-5
How can we be sure to reach God's "Promise Land" for us?" 4 Keys:
1. Spend ample time in His Glory... (Exodus 33:10-12)
2. Obey God regardless the price "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:38-40
3. Keep the Vision before you "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1-4.
4. Thank God for all that He has done, is doing, and will do (Attitude of Gratitude: "In all things"... even in the desert while being prepared.)
God is preparing a people for the fulfillment of His promises!
Will you and I be among those who endure, who keep the vision before us, rest in His Glory, and praise Him in all things?
If so, we too will see His Glory and dwell in His promises! We are being prepared for His Promises!
Enjoy The Journey!