Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments.
"Sometimes I wait on God to change a situation only to realize he was waiting on me."
A friend of mine said that recently, and that thought has stayed with me ever since. I'm so quick to point to outside circumstances for why God is not changing a particular situation in my life. I question, I complain. And in essence, I Israelitize! That's right. I'm just like a cranky Israelite who's wandering in the wilderness and wondering if I'll ever reach the Promised Land.
As I refreshed my memory about the plight of the Israelites after they had been delivered from Egypt and what happened during their 40-year wilderness experience, I was reminded that they did have a earlier opportunity to enter the Promised Land—two years into their ordeal.
During those two years, the Israelites had been trained and instructed in how to fight battles (it was not if but when they would occur). They were also given laws (The Ten Commandments) and instructed how to worship (detailed plans and guidelines for the Tabernacle, offerings, priests, etc.). So this time period was not for naught. It was to prepare the people, to test them to see if they would trust in God, worship him and submit to him as a unified body.
But they still didn't get it. And in the face of great blessing, they chose not to trust the Lord and disobeyed him.
In Numbers 13:1, we read:
The LORD said to Moses, "Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving the Israelites."
There it is, plain as day. God was going to give the Promised Land to the Israelites, and they knew this. But when the twelve spies came back with their report, ten of the twelve prevailed and offered their own plan:
"We went into the land to which you sent us," they said. "And it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. … We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are" (Numbers 13:27).
The Israelites were scared and they were "sold," so they began grumbling and weeping aloud. Moses and Aaron quickly tried to reason with the people ("Do not rebel against the LORD"), but it was no use. The Israelites were going to do what they were going to do.
And then the Lord spoke:
For forty years—one year for each of the forty days you explored the land—you will suffer for your sins and know what it is like to have me against you (Numbers 14:34).
The Israelites could have experienced tremendous blessing so much sooner. But because of their disobedience, they suffered for 38 more years in the wilderness. They brought it upon themselves! And therefore, they had to wait.
It's a story that shouldn't feel too distant from you and me today—despite the time gap. Think about it. How often have you brought upon yourself the various wilderness experiences in your own life? Times when you're uncomfortable or you don't like your circumstances or you don't understand what is happening and where you're going?
Either we wait for God's perfect plan in our lives and for him to unfold events exactly when and how he wants them to be, or we will wait to get out of what we have planned for ourselves. So what are you waiting on God to do today? And what is God waiting on you to do or to learn or to repent of and confess to him?
The next time you are even thinking about turning away from God's Word and rejecting his plan for your life, remember the Israelites and get on your knees. Remember God's kindness. Remember his mercy. And remember to wait on your faithful Father whose hand has provided everything an unfaithful people will ever need.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
What are you grumbling about today? What's going on in your current wilderness? Is it a relationship? A work situation? Your spiritual life? What got you there? And what is God asking you to do in the meantime while you wait? If God's waiting on you, then it's time to pay attention and start following his plan for your life.
**Listen to the audio/podcast version of this devotional here.