Today you should read: Numbers 33
“I thought I was never going to make it.” This was the thought running through my mind as I stood upon a bald in the Smokey Mountains. A couple of years ago my wife and I took a back packing trip with my father-in-law and mother-in-law. If you have never been back packing let me fill you in. You hike up a mountain with all of your supplies on your back and you stop at different points to set up camp for the night. We did a three-day trip that was about 26 miles round trip. It was a lot of fun, but there are points along the journey where you have to battle the urge to stop. For example, when you get to a point of the trail when it looks like it goes straight up for about three miles and you have 50 pounds of gear strapped to your back. That was the situation I found myself in right before we reached the bald. A bald, for those who don’t know, is the very top of the mountain where you are above the trees and a lot of cool flowery vegetation grows. There is nothing more beautiful then standing on top of a mountain and looking across at ridge after ridge of mountains. It really gives you an understanding of how big God is. In our passage today, Moses is giving the people of Israel the “mountain view” of their journey.
This part of the passage is one that we know to be explicitly written by Moses and from Moses’ perspective. The rest of Moses’ writing is said to be from God to Moses directly. I am not saying that this passage is not God-breathed; I just mean that it is a different perspective. Moses is showing the reader a summary of God’s work and more importantly God’s faithfulness to his promise. There were definitely times through the journey (i.e. Egypt, parting of the red sea, etc.) when the fulfillment of God’s promises looked bleak, but God always came through. Also, Israel was about to enter the Promised Land for the second time, and Moses is showing them how they can take courage and trust in the Lord.
If you didn’t know more of the story, you might think, “Israel will never question the promises of God ever again. Look at how many times God has proven himself to his people and he didn’t even have to.” Of course that is not the case, and Israel continually fails to listen to God’s instruction and trust in his promises. One particular way is illustrated in this chapter in verses 50-56 when God tells the people of Israel to wipe out every last tribe and people that inhabit the Promise Land. Why?
But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. And I will do to you as I thought to do to them.” (v.55-56).
Did Israel listen? Nope
Now the angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.” As soon as the angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim. And they sacrificed there to the Lord. Judges 2:1-5
Israel did not listen and it led me to make an observation:
We will not be faithful to the Lord based on what he has done for us. We will only be faithful when we trust in his word. We must trust in him as God of our lives.
It is a great exercise to look back and see how God has provided through different times of your life. In fact, we should do this because it will strengthen our faith. However, mere circumstance will not be enough to help us continue forward faithfully. The reason is because circumstances change continually and the trial you are about to face may be unlike anything that you have trusted in before. Also, focusing on our circumstances makes us lean on our own understanding. Israel fell into this temptation because they defeated the enemies in the land, but they did not drive them all of the way out and cleanse the land. Why? Because they thought that it would be okay to have them as slaves. That is kind of like following God’s command right? The problem is only God knows the outcome, and he had a purpose for telling them to drive out the inhabitants. Israel did not trust in God’s word!
Questions to Ponder:
- Do you read the Word of God and act on it no matter what the circumstances look like?
- Is his Word good enough? Or do you only act when you see how God is going to work it out?
- Is that faith?
Posted by: Chad Wiles