This walk…the Christian journey is like no other.
What sets Christianity apart from the other religions of the world is that it’s not religion at all…it’s a relationship…It’s not a long list of principles…it’s personal. It’s not about doing sacrifices but it’s about sacrificial Love. It’s not about man reaching out to a god…It’s about God reaching down to man. It’s Jesus humbly walking side by side with the very people He died to save. It’s about journeying through life with God as our Guide not just telling us what’s right and what’s wrong, but actually showing us and enabling us to do right and flee from wrong.
This month, we are going to learn about the journey of a Christian in June’s series, The Journey…
The Modern Day Israelites
For those of us who’ve accepted Christ, God has already parted the Red Sea and loosed the chains but for some, we’ve been residing in the wilderness or are remaining in the jail cell. Don’t become complacent with just being set free. Don’t become complacent in a place where you were meant to journey through. Christ set us free so that we may journey through life to the Promise Land.
It’s time to get up and do something. It’s time to get up and move, step by step even if they are baby steps. Something is better than nothing. When we stop complaining about how hard things are or could potentially be…when we decide to stop trying to go back to the past place of familiarity…when we decide that the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change and when we decide to trust God and follow Him no matter what, God shows up and shows out.
The Israelites in Exodus teach us many great lessons and one of those lessons is how to turn a two week (11 days to be exact) journey into a 40 year journey.
Quick rundown and comparison:
The Israelites were God’s chosen people. They had journey to Egypt as a place of refuge during a famine but became too comfortable there and decided to stay when God said it was time to move. Their disobedience caused them to become enslaved by Pharaoh.
– How many times are we disobedient to God when He tells us to move?…when He tells us to leave a job or leave a relationship but we stay because they bring us security so we end up enslaved by something that was only meant to bring momentary.
But God didn’t forget His people or leave them there. Hundreds of years of slavery, God sent His servant Moses to go before Pharaoh and tell him to let God’s people go.
After many plagues, Pharaoh finally decided to let God’s people go. God parted the Red Sea just long enough to allow the Israelites to cross and then closed it to kill off Pharaoh and his army who went after them when Pharaoh changed his mind about their release.
So here we have the Israelites set free from slavery by the Lord God Who had warned them not remain in the land in the first place and here we have us set free from the sin (friendship, relationship, job, org, etc.) that Christ warned us to leave alone.
The Journey Through the Wilderness (life)
“Then the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded. So Moses cried out to the LORD for help, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink…”Exodus 15:24-25 NLT
“There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron. “If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow My instructions.”Exodus 16:2-4 NLT
“In the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because He has heard your complaints, which are against Him, not against us. What have we done that you should complain about us?” Then Moses added, “The LORD will give you meat to eat in the evening and bread to satisfy you in the morning, for He has heard all your complaints against Him. What have we done? Yes, your complaints are against the LORD, not against us.””Exodus 16:7-8 NLT
“At the LORD’s command, the whole community of Israel left the wilderness of Sin and moved from place to place. Eventually they camped at Rephidim, but there was no water there for the people to drink. So once more the people complained against Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded. “Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the LORD?” But tormented by thirst, they continued to argue with Moses. “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Are you trying to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?”” Exodus 17:1-3 NLT “Exactly two months after the Israelites left Egypt, they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai.” Exodus 19:1 NLT
For brevity, I’m going to stop the list of complaints here after just 2 months. During the 40 years in the wilderness, the Israelites complained so much about any and everything. They so quickly questioned and doubted God. So soon after their deliverance, they forgot Who had parted the Red Sea for them. They knew Who had done it but they had obviously forgotten Who He is. He is faithful, steadfast, never changing, always providing…but they couldn’t remember that for all of their focusing on the current discomfort. Right after God provided, they’d find something new to fuss and complain about.
– How often do we complain about the things we don’t necessarily like about the journey and fail to realize God’s mercy and favor all throughout the journey?
The Israelites didn’t stop there…they began to create and worship idols!
“When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain, they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.”” Exodus 32:1 NLT
“The LORD told Moses, “Quick! Go down the mountain! Your people whom you brought from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. How quickly they have turned away from the way I commanded them to live! They have melted down gold and made a calf, and they have bowed down and sacrificed to it. They are saying, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” Then the LORD said, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are.” Exodus 32:7-9 NLT
“But as surely as I live, and as surely as the earth is filled with the LORD’s glory, not one of these people will ever enter that land. They have all seen My glorious Presence and the miraculous signs I performed both in Egypt and in the wilderness, but again and again they have tested Me by refusing to listen to My voice. They will never even see the land I swore to give their ancestors. None of those who have treated Me with contempt will ever see it. But My servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to Me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land.” Numbers 14:21-24 NLT
When we read the scriptures, we see time after time, verse after verse the complaints and disobedience of the Israelites while in the wilderness. When reading it’s so easy to get irritated with them and annoyed by their actions…until we take a look out ourselves and how we’ve been behaving while on our journey. We complain so much to God without thinking about it. The Israelites complained to Moses about their problems and he told them that their complaints weren’t against him but against God. When we complain, even though we may not be complaining about God, our complaints are towards Him. When we complain about the people in our lives, or the work we have to do, or the struggle to pay bills or whatever it is we complain about, it’s a complaint towards God! It’s all about how we present our prayers to Him. The Word tells us to present our requests to Him with prayers and petitions (Phil. 4:6), not grumbling and complaining. Complaining causes us to focus on the problem…prayer causes us to focus on the Problem Solver.
We are like the Israelites not only in our complaining but in our disobedience as well. God made a covenant with the Israelites and gave them commandments just as He has done with us. And just as the Israelites did, we sometimes feel God isn’t moving as quickly as we want so we take matters into our own hands and we create idols. Yes. I said it. We create idols. As I’ve stated in other posts, idols aren’t just golden cows or some gold statue of a fat man. Idols are anything that we put before God. We follow the guidance of others or put our issues into the hands of other people trusting their instructions over God’s…boom-just made them an idol. See how easily we fall into the same patterns of the Israelites?
God said to Moses at the beginning of this journey that He was going to test the Israelites to see if they’d follow His instructions (Exodus 16:4). The journey was a test…meaning that there was something that the Israelites were to learn. They had already failed this test before, hundreds of years before when they refused to leave Egypt when God instructed and now they were being taught the same lesson of trust and obedience over again because they failed to grasp it before.
I believe that we all struggle with these lessons at some point in our life and in at least one area of our lives if not all of them…but it’s an imperative lesson to learn!
We prolong our own journey, we prolong our own pain, we prolong our own depression, sadness and bitterness and delay our peace, joy and prosperity when we focus on the struggles of right now instead of keeping our eyes on the Prize. We can’t get mad and blame God for us going through cycles and remaining in a season when we refuse to learn the lesson and pass the test. Our disobedience is what delays us…not God.
We must learn the lesson God is teaching us and we must be obedient. Some of us have been enduring the same season and going through the same trials because instead of following God’s instructions and doing things His way, we’ve been complaining and doing things our way. We will not possess the Promise Land until we learn the lesson of the wilderness.
God is saying, “Journey with Me…”