In my devotions this morning I was reading Psalm 78. There are 72 verses in this Psalm telling us about the Israelite’s deliverance from bondage, their grumbling against God and plenty of instructions for us not to repeat their sins. I have read the story of Exodus numerous times and always get frustrated when I read how ungrateful the Israelites were when God delivered them from Egypt, parted the Red Sea, gave them water from a rock and manna in the desert. He was trying to lead them to a better place but they complained and even decided to follow their own idol god at one time while Moses was up on the mountain with the one and only GOD (Exodus 32).
It wasn’t until I was in my late 30’s that I really studied and understood the Old Testament and the Patriarchs. The New Testament seemed more applicable to my life as a Christian and it didn’t seem necessary to study the OT…until I did. It was then that I realized how much I am like the Israelites. This is the story of God’s people and as a Christian I am now one of them. I, too, complain when God leads me to the “Red Sea” and asks me to wait on Him while Pharoah (life’s difficulties) bear down on me and sometimes I don’t think the “water” will part…ever. It is I who complains and wails about what I used to have compared to what I have now and how it used to be better when… It is I who complains of not having enough and then I am not grateful when He lavishes upon me more than enough.
We Christians are like the Israelites and so much like little children when it comes to how we respond to God’s leading. How frustrating and difficult it is for us as parents when we do really good things for our kids but don’t get any gratitude in return. After we give them what they need and protect them from harm they throw tantrums or treat us with disdain when they don’t get exactly what they want, when and how they want it. Aren’t we like our children with God? Don’t we act like spoiled rotten brats at times wanting more from Him? I am ashamed to say it but I AM A BRAT with God sometimes. He has been such a good Father to me, He has taken care of me and given me just what I needed but unlike the Israelites, who had no idea what their God could or would do, I do know and still choose to act like them.
Many times I have asked God to let me go back to “Egypt” because I felt secure there. There was good food, there was a big house to live in, consistency of life and now there seems so little out in the “desert”. The Israelites only remembered the pots of meat they had eaten in Egypt (Exodus 16:3) but had forgotten the relentless labor, beatings and heat that filled their day. It is so easy for us also to look back on a time in our life that seemed really sweet and long for that day again. What we forget is that life has been and always will be a struggle and we should ask ourselves, do we want that particular struggle or pain again? Do we really want to go back?
The Promised Land is still awaiting us, you and me, as it was for the Israelites. We must be born again and taken out of the bondage of sin, as the Israelites were taken out from under the bondage of Pharoah. We must walk the sandy, hot desert of this life in order to be led to the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8). Along the way God will provide shelter, water, food and occasionally some amazing oases to rest by. We are not alone in this desert walk either, we have each other and Christ. We also have the example of the Israelites who finally made it to the Promised Land and we have the assurance that we will too (John 3:16).