The Weeping of Self-Pity
"Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night." (Numbers 14:1, NASB95)
Every preacher loves a crying crowd! This verse looks like a great revival has sparked among the nation of Israel. Be careful before you make a judgment, however. When crying comes, follow its salty stream to the source. Not all tears are tears of repentance.
In Numbers 14 Israel is crying tears of self-induced self-pity. Having rejected the faith-report of Joshua and Caleb (and thus rejecting God), they were sentenced to 40 years in the wilderness. "Would that we had died in this wilderness" they cried (v. 2), and they would get their wish in time. The one thing this passage doesn't show is a desire to repent, follow God in faith, and walk humbly and obediently before Him. Still, their cry is "would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?"
I have to wonder if the tears of American Christians in these days are not tears of self-pity rather than repentance. We left our first love, fell in love with American prosperity, and now cry that the America we once knew is gone. I have not heard any cries of repentance, however. Where is the recognition that the American church forsook the faith of their fathers, abandoned the literal interpretation of the Bible, and mistook church-growth for discipleship? Until this cry comes forth, I suppose God will not be entirely sympathetic.
In His Grace;
Dr. Randy White
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