Failure of faith
Can you imagine yourself as a member of the Israelites who miraculously escaped from Egypt?
After seeing all the remarkable plagues, the wonder of crossing the Red Sea, then camping beside Mount Sinai with the earth quaking, the clouds, the fire and the voice from the mountain! After that the miraculous provision of manna, also quails, and the water from the rock. Then, the teamwork to build the tabernacle as a centre of worship, with the divine presence indicated by fire and cloud! Next the great celebration of a ‘Passover’, one year and one month after leaving Egypt to celebrate their deliverance!
Surely, if we had been part of all that, our confidence and anticipation of God’s power to lead us to the promised land would be very great. Well might we be astonished at what we read today in Numbers! Why did ten of the twelve spies sent to explore the land, come back in such a negative frame of mind? Although they said the land “flows with milk and honey and this is its fruit” (13:27). They spoke against the two other spies who came back and had said, “Let us go up at once and occupy the land for we are well able to overcome it” (verse 30).
But the ten said “We are not able … for they are stronger than we are … all the people we saw in it are of great height … we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers” (verses 31-33).
We are going to read of God’s anger with them because of this failure of faith after all the evidence they had experienced of his power surrounding them to their benefit.
Let us examine all the evidence for our own faith. How strong are our convictions in serving God?
If difficulties arise will our faith falter? Will we only follow in the way of faith, when all is easy and there are deliverances and blessings? Recall that remarkable Psalm 139 we read recently, David wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me … see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting”.
Next month we will read Moses’ final message to the people before he dies, “and you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not” (Deuteronomy 8:2). It was a message to the next generation, for their parents had died during the forty year journey.
They had learnt their lesson the hard way! How are we learning ours?