by Tim Hall
Ancient Israel provides a needed lesson for Christians today.
Before Moses led them triumphantly out of Egypt, they were just a bunch of slaves linked by a common ancestry. Now they were a young nation, standing on the doorstep of their new home, a land God was handing to them. All that remained was to accept the keys from his hands and take possession. But that’s when things went seriously awry.
Numbers 13:1,2 begins the tragic episode:
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them” (NKJV).
From there we know the rest of the story. Ten of the twelve spies returned with a discouraging report of an unbeatable enemy. The fear-filled people refused to follow God’s orders to march in and conquer the land. Forty years and a generation of Israelites passed before the opportunity came again.
Why did God give Moses such a command? Didn’t he know they might stumble? Apparently it wasn’t God’s idea to begin with; he merely acquiesced to the demand of the people. That becomes plain when we read Moses’ later account:
And every one of you came near to me and said, “Let us send men before us, and let them search out the land for us, and bring back word to us of the way by which we should go up, and of the cities into which we shall come” (Deuteronomy 1:22).
It was similar to God agreeing to the people’s later request for a king (1 Samuel 8:19-22); God knew the plan was flawed, but granted their foolish demand.
In hindsight, wouldn’t it have been much better for the people to have simply trusted God’s wisdom in bringing them to this land? Instead of insisting on inspecting the property, the people should have accepted the Lord’s gifts with gratitude, knowing they would be better than anything they could imagine. By not trusting God, they totally messed up what could have been wonderful.
• “How could forgiving my enemy be the right thing to do?”
• “Why should I submit to my spouse when everyone else looks out for number one?”
• “Are you seriously asking me to follow the instructions of a 2,000-year-old book instead of doing what others are doing?”
With such questions we attempt to shove God from beneath the steering wheel so we can go where we wish.
Old truths are still true. Two plus two equaled four thousands of years ago, and the bottom line is the same today. So is this truth:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5,6).
Just ask those refugees from Egyptian slavery and they’ll tell you: It’s better to trust God.
By not trusting God, Israel totally messed up what could have been wonderful. Let’s learn from their bad example.