31st May 2012

God’s Timing is Best

And they rose early in the morning and went up to the top of the mountain, saying, ‘Here we are, and we will go up to the place which the Lord has promised, for we have sinned!’”
Numbers 14:40 (NKJV)

The Israelites had left Egypt almost two years previously.  They had experienced many things during that time.
They had experienced being sent out of Egypt—released from bondage with extraordinary gifts from their neighbours.
They had crossed through the Red Sea on dry land with walls of water on each side.
They had seen their enemies, the Egyptian army follow behind and be swept away to their death as the sea returned.
They had seen God’s presence in the pillar by fire at night and cloud by day.
They had seen water come out of rocks to prevent them from dying of thirst.
They had heard God speaking to them.
They had built the Tabernacle—full of splendour, specified by God.
They had gathered and eaten manna—food from heaven.
They had gathered and eaten quail that God had blown inland for them.
Yet with every obstacle the reaction was always the same—the Good Times in Egypt, the leeks, cucumbers and garlic!

I often wonder how they could experience so much yet still doubt God and disobey.  And then I look at my life and see the same pattern of discontent and non-reliance on God, although it may not be leeks, cucumbers and garlic that are hankered after!

They say one never forgets one’s first love and that’s just what Satan uses to work on us.  That special relationship when both are still too young to appreciate or handle it.  That opportunity is passed over and a later opportunity is taken on to marriage.  It starts well, but without proper maintenance, days, weeks, months, sometimes even years later, the thrill subsides and the mundane sets in, or worse, troubles come.  Eventually, passed over ‘opportunities’ come to mind and may be pursued, but the results are just like those of the Israelites so many years ago.

We human beings seem to have a built-in ‘hankering after the past’ setting.  We turn down a good offer and go for something else, then at the first obstacle we give in and try and go back to the original offer, which now won’t work, as time never stands still and therefore the opportunity is lost.

This is what happened to the Israelites in the book of Numbers and their reaction caused them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.  Twelve men were sent to scout out the promised land.  The report by ten men was focussing on the negative and forgetting all that God had already done for them.  Two did bring back a good report, but it was drowned out by the ten.  Instead of looking to God to help them, they remembered ‘Good Time Egypt’, and feared for their children and wives.  So God, understandably, said “Fine! You won’t enter this land, but your children will.”  But the next morning the Israelites arose and went into battle to claim the land, ignoring Moses’ protests.  The result was and still is the same every time: we try to force God’s timing—never good.

Great Father, Thank you for these lessons you have recorded for us.  Please open our eyes to see the opportunities we have and help us to have the wisdom to discern when you are directing us, and to have the hearts to obey.  In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Jackee Brown

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