I often find myself relating to the Israelites on a pretty personal level. Now, before I ruffle any feathers, please understand that I know that I have never been held captive, or made to endure years and years of oppression and abuse and slavery. But I think that we can all relate, in some way, to their struggle. Let me explain.
The Hebrews needed a deliverer. And God heard their cry. He loved them fiercely. They were (and still are) His chosen people! So he used Moses as his voice to Pharaoh, who eventually (reluctantly) allowed them to leave. You all know the story. But then, freed from captivity and far away from their oppressors, the Hebrew people started to question God’s goodness and love for them. They worried about food – they were hungry! There was no food in the desert! So God provided food. They worried about water. So God provided water. (from a ROCK. Dude.) They saw evidence of His love, all around them, and still they questioned. They whined. They wailed. They even started regretting leaving captivity! And still the Lord provided. He gave them exactly what they needed, exactly when they needed it. Despite their whining and petulance. He lovingly provided.
And then, He decided that they had spent enough time in the desert, and it was time for them to take the land. He told them “do not be afraid, do not be discouraged!” But they decided to take it upon themselves to scout out the land. To check it out and make sure it would suit them. To make sure that there wouldn’t be any threats there.
But there were threats. There were obstacles. Big ones. Literally. Big, scary obstacles. And they blamed God! “The Lord hates us!!!” they said. Instead of trust and obedience, instead of believing God’s promise to deliver them out of the hands of their enemies and into the Land that he promised them, they gave in to the fear. They rebelled. They disobeyed. And God responded. “no one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.” (Deuteronomy 1: 35). God kept his promise. He was always going to keep his promise. He wanted to give them good things. But because of their disobedience, an entire generation (except 2 faithful men) would not live to see the promise fulfilled.
I am the Hebrews. I wander, hearing God’s promise, knowing that He intends to guide my steps and provide for me and protect me, but my blindfolded humanity is the voice in the back of my head. “Is He really trustworthy? But you can’t SEE what He’s doing. Maybe you should check it out yourself. Do some risk assessment. See if blind trust and unquestioning obedience really is the best thing. Does He REALLY know what He’s doing?”
Of course the answer is yes. He does. But my nature is to question. I tend to back away from obstacles that I perceive as insurmountable.
My job is to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. I need to be obedient, even (especially) when I can’t see or understand His reasons. He has promised me good things. I believe Him.