Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Promises never claimed

Israel at Mt. Sinai - artist unknown
Israel at Mt. Sinai - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus 23:20-35

TO CHEW ON:
"'And I will send My fear before you, I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.'" Exodus 23:27.

In exchange for obedience and a thoroughness in destroying idol worship in Canaan, God made a covenant with Israel at the foot of Sinai to:
  • Lead them with His Angel (the cloud by day, pillar of fire by night) to the land He had promised them (Exodus 23:23).
  • Bless their food and water (Exodus 23:25).
  • Take sickness away (Exodus 23:25).
  • Keep them from miscarrying (Exodus 23:26).
  • Cause the people in the land to which they were going to be filled with fear and confusion (Exodus 23:27).
  • Drive the inhabitants out before them, though slowly and in manageable amounts (Exodus 23:29,30).

What an exciting future of possibilities God painted for them. And they eagerly signed on:
"So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, 'All the words which the Lord has said we will do'" - Exodus 24:3.

How sad to read then, perhaps a year or so later, the reaction of these same people to the report of the spies Moses had sent out to view Canaan before they began to enter it. The first ones who failed the faith test were ten of the spies themselves. They reported back what they tasted, heard, and saw but without taking into account any part of God's earlier promise. After talking about the land's agricultural wealth the conclusion of ten of the spies was:
"'Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong, the cities fortified and very large …'" - Number 13:28.

When Caleb, one of the two spies who saw things differently, said, "'Let us go up at once and take possession for we are well able to overcome it,'" the others argued him down with negativism, fear and doubt: "'The land … is a land that devours its inhabitants. … and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight'" - Numbers 13: 30-33.

But men, what did God tell you? Just the opposite—that these people are full of fear and confusion over you, not confidence. They are conquerable. Didn't you hear? Didn't you believe?

What a tragic consequence these Israelites were about to suffer. Because of their unbelief, they were doomed to spend forty more years wandering in the wilderness.

Let's remember this tragic example of unbelief next time we're tempted to face a life challenge with fear and negativism. In their places, let's review God's promises and put our faith in Him—not ourselves and what we see.


PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to have a long memory for Your promises and the wisdom to apply them to the challenges of my life. Amen.

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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