Numbers 4 - 18
The early sections of Numbers present a foreboding picture of the work ahead for the Israelites; God calls Moses and Aaron to assemble and number the fighting-aged men by tribe as they prepare to set out from the Sinai Desert and into their conquest for the promised land. Certainly a heavy feeling of apprehension weighed on the people throughout the camp as they began to witness the preparations for war, as expressed by the text, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?” (Numbers 14:2-3). Though apprehension and uneasiness about their circumstances is understandable, especially considering the reports of the Nephilim (giants) that inhabited the land, the Israelite community chose to rebel in their doubt of God’s promises.
In Chapter 9, we were reminded of the Lord’s command to the community, to observe the Passover in remembrance of the miraculous events that led up to the release of the Israelites from the oppression of the Egyptians. How is it that after witnessing these events first-hand, this mistrust and anxiety overwhelmed the community to the point of mutiny against their leaders Moses and Aaron? God echoes this sentiment in Chapter 14: “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?” (Numbers 14:11).
From the outside looking in, it seems almost incomprehensible how the Israelites reached this point of lack of trust, despite: the miraculous rescue from Egypt, the manna, water, and quail provided in the desert, and the witnessing of the physical, visible manifestation of God in a pillar of cloud and flame. Though, if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s relatively easy to identify areas where we are mistrusting God’s ability to come through for us according to His will for our lives, despite having experienced His unmatched grace at some other point in our histories. While our past encounters with God may not have been as dramatic as the miracles listed above, the mindset of mistrust is undeniably tantamount to that of the Israelites.
Though we know the Israelites are eventually victorious and are allowed to enter the land as God fulfills His promise, their plight is extended as a result of their skepticism and disobedience. What might be some areas where we are holding ourselves back from experiencing the fullness of life that God promises due to a lack of trust in His advocacy for us?
Help us to turn from our doubts, leaning fully into your promises, confidently trusting in your plan for our lives born out of your uncontainable love for us.