Today I am an Israelite.
It’s an embarrassing thing to admit. For one thing, the Israelites definitely don’t come off looking good in the Old Testament. They are the ones in the Bible that I love to roll my eyes at. Like really? How could they say that? How could they think that? How could they not just trust God?
But today I am an Israelite.
Like the Israelites, I grumble and complain. I complain when following God on the path He has for me gets hard. Or, honestly, just uncomfortable. (Numbers 11:1) I grumble when He has provided for my needs, but it’s not the way I wanted Him to provide or maybe I just don’t like it. (Numbers 11:4-6) Most unbelievably, I complain even after God has recently answered prayer or done something amazing and unexpected. (Exodus 15:24; 16:2-3; 17:3)
Today I am an Israelite.
Like the Israelites, I forget. Psalm 78 details some of the amazing things God did for them, especially in rescuing them from slavery in Egypt. But it says in verses 11 and 42 that they “forgot” and “did not remember”. I’m not sure how you could forget those things, but they did.
I have my own amazing things God has done for me. I drive a car that is my dream car that was given to me for free. Yes, free. New. It seems like I would “remember” every time I drive it. God has provided for bills, provided roommates, provided for me to buy a home when I was single. I have seen Him change lives and answer prayer after prayer after prayer. And if that wasn’t enough, there is the cross! That in itself should be enough. And yet, I forget. Which leads to the complaining and lack of faith and doubt.
Today I am an Israelite.
A couple of weeks ago, we were driving to church, and I saw a sign that offered what seemed like an easier path than the one God has me on. While there are some wonderful things about that path and I am sure I’m following God’s will, some things lately have brought a lot of fear and have just been hard. Because of that, my heart had already been tempted to find an easier path so often that when I saw that sign that Sunday, I actually voiced the thought to my husband. He looked at me surprised that I would even consider such a thing. And the next morning, as I thought about it, the Lord said, “That’s your Egypt.”
God’s path for the Israelites was leading them to the Promised Land – one flowing with milk and honey. In Numbers 13 and 14, God brings them to the edge of that land and tells Moses to send in 12 spies to check it out. While the land is as wonderful as the Lord promised it would be, ten of the spies who saw it are fearful and pass that fear on to the rest of the people. Their response? “Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:3, emphasis mine)
That last question is the one that always gets me – “would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” Um – NO! No, no, no, no, no! You were SLAVES there! How could you possibly consider that and think that Egypt is better than God’s plan for you? Kind of like the look my husband gave me in the car that morning as I suggested a different path that seemed easier but, of course, would never be in the end.
I don’t like being an Israelite. They actually serve as a great example of how NOT to follow God. Paul uses them that way in 1 Corinthians 10 saying that these things happened as example for us so we wouldn’t crave the evil things they craved (1 Corinthians 10:6). So how can I not be an Israelite?
- Remember God’s character, choose to trust Him, and be content. There are times I don’t like my circumstances, but instead of complaining, I need to focus on God’s character. That He is sovereign over my circumstances and has allowed or caused them to happen. That He is good and so all He does is for His glory and my good. That He is wise and, as A.W. Tozer put it, “Not only could His acts not be better done: a better way to do them could not be imagined.” (Knowledge of the Holy, pg 60-61) We can do things to put these truths in our mind more like spending more time in His word, listening to sermon podcasts, or listening to Christian music.
- Remember what God has done. This is a great benefit of journaling. If you have been in that habit, go back and read old journals to remind you. Or take some time and write out everything that comes to mind that God has done for you. It could be listing all He’s done for you in Christ or just the answers to prayer and amazing ways He’s taken care of you.
- Don’t go to Egypt. Honestly, I was tempted again just the other day as I saw another sign luring me to my current “Egypt”. This one was actually even more appealing than the one I saw a couple of weeks ago. It was so appealing that I texted the temptation to my best friend as a way of keeping myself accountable to not go there. Don’t go to “Egypt” physically but also don’t go there mentally. Don’t start dreaming of ways life could be easier if they are things you know God doesn’t want for you or a direction in which He doesn’t want you to go. Don’t dwell on how you wish life were different. Instead focus on trusting Him, embracing His call, and obediently following Him no matter how hard it is.
Today I am an Israelite. But I don’t have to stay one. I can choose to trust, choose to be content, choose to remember, and choose to keep following God.
Don’t be an Israelite.