Numbers 12:32b “The land we
explored devours those living in it. All
the people we saw there are of great size.”
an unfortunate report. God freed the
Israelites from slavery in Egypt
and showed them sign after sign to prove that God was with them. God miraculously saved this rag-tag bunch of
slaves from the mighty armies of Egypt, led them across the fierce
desert by providing manna and quail and water when it seemed there was none to
be found. So here they are, at the edge
of the land God promised to them. The
desert time is behind them, and the land of milk and honey is just over the
border. So they send out some scouts to
look at the place.
every bit as good as was promised. The
scouts bring back fruit and tales of abundance.
But they don’t stop with that description. The scouts come back fearful. They tell stories of giants that live in the
land and warn the people not to try to go in there…that the people are too big
and too strong. Fear grips the
Israelites in response to the report.
They complain loudly to Moses that he has brought them to their doom and
they start wishing they had never left Egypt. Even after all they have seen, they refuse to
trust that God can give them what God has promised, and Moses gets an earful. God gets angry at their lack of trust and
vows that only the two scouts who tried to remind the people of God’s
faithfulness…Caleb and Joshua…will ever enter the promised
land. God sends them all back out
into the desert for 40 years.
wasn’t for their fear, Israel
could have experienced God’s blessings and abundance 40 years earlier. If they had only been willing to trust God,
they could have spared themselves all those years of harsh, desert living. Some time in the desert was necessary for
their formation, but it was only 40 years because they refused to trust in
God. How often our own lives are like
that. Hard times come to all of us, but
often we make those hard times longer or harder because we will not trust that
what we see as insurmountable boulders in our path are mere pebbles to God. Lots of times we make our suffering worse by
believing that God is working for our harm or punishment rather than our
salvation. We think God has shut us out
of happiness, just because we don’t see how God can get us there.
of the Israelites reminds us that God is the one who provides for us. It also reminds us that we can refuse that
provision and stay in the desert if we so choose. The key that opens the door to the promised
land of our lives is trust…trust that God can do things that we cannot. Trust that God is at work for our good. Trust that if God says, “Step out,” God will
provide solid ground under our feet.
God of fiery
pillar, you feed us in the wilderness.
Help us to trust you to also lead us out. Amen.
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