Monday, March 31

Oh, Those Israelites

Occasionally, (ok, sometimes more than occasionally) when I read the story of the Israelites and their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land I stop and think to myself, "Oh, those Israelites. How quick they were to forget and how quick to doubt."

Most recently I had this thought in my mind last week when I read Numbers chapters 13 and 14 for my daily devotions. These chapters tell the story of how God told Moses to send spies into the land of Canaan to determine whether or not the people of the land were strong and whether or not the land was good to live in. At the end of Numbers 13 the general gist of the spies' report is that the land is very good and the people are very strong. The spies even go so far as to say of the people of the land, "... we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them." Numbers 13:33, ESV.

And then... here it comes-- Numbers chapter 14 begins with those faithless Israelites wailing and grumbling against Moses and against God (again).

"And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, 'Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?' And they said to one another, 'Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.'" Numbers 14:2-4, ESV

The options that they set out for themselves still baffle my mind a little bit. Essentially those doubting Israelites say that they wish: 1) That they had died in Egypt, 2) That they had died in the wilderness, or 3) That they were slaves in Egypt again. So, to recap-- death, death, or slavery. Nowhere in that list of options is God at all present.

Then we hear God's response to the Israelites' despair.

"And the LORD said to Moses, 'How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?'" Numbers 14:11, ESV

Ouch. As I read that, I could almost feel the hurt in God's questions. He loves the Israelites, protects them, provides for them, and desires to do good to them. And their response? Distrust. Doubt. Oh, those Israelites. How could they so quickly forget the miraculous things God had done to bring them to that present point? How could they so easily doubt His power and His desire to give them good gifts?

After I finished reading these chapters, I began to pray to God to finish out my morning devotional time. One thing that I've been praying a lot about recently involves mine and Timothy's future. We hope to relocate sometime this summer and have been looking at many options. And it has been stressing me a lot. So, I was praying and asking God to help Timothy and me to find good jobs that we would enjoy and that would help us to provide for ourselves and pay off our debts. As I prayed, I could feel myself getting more and more anxious. I found myself listening to all the doubts and fears in my mind instead of feeling the calm release that should have resulted from my prayers to the God of the Universe, who loves me, provides for me, and desires to do good for me.

I stopped myself mid-prayer. Ouch. Oh, faithless, doubting Kristin. How my distrust and doubt in God's ability to lead and guide in mine and Timothy's lives must pain Him. How could I so quickly forget how God has led me to where I am today? How could I doubt Him? I have very clearly seen His orchestration of my life and path in the past, even up to this very present moment. He has always provided for me and led me before; why should the future be any different?

Oh, those Israelites. How well I identify with them so often. May God continue to be as patient and long-suffering with me as He ever was with them.