Not Much Difference
by Brandon Knight
I grew up in church and I enjoyed going, especially to Sunday school. I can still remember some of the lessons I had when I was little: Creation, Noah, Jonah, etc. Every year it seemed like we went over the story of Moses. Growing up and learning more about the story that spans from Exodus to Judges, it has always seemed that the main lesson was how often Israel lost faith and complained.
Israel had hardly gotten out of Egypt before the complaining started; Pharaoh released them in chapter twelve of Exodus, they started complaining by chapter fourteen. They had gotten to the Red Sea and Pharaoh was behind them and they lost faith and complained to Moses. Then, over and over again, we read about how the Israelites complained about not having enough food or water or about Moses’ leadership skills. Nothing seemed to make them happy. God was faithful, though, and provided for them. A few times He showed judgment like the fiery serpents (Numbers 21:4-9), and when the ten spies showed their lack of faith when they spied out Canaan (Numbers 14:19-25). Deuteronomy 9:6 says, “Therefore, understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people” (NJKV). In other words, God was not blessing them because of how great they were, but because of how awesome He was.
When we read these passages, we may be quick to say, “When will Israel figure out that they should just trust God?” Before we start judging the Israelites, however, let’s look at ourselves. Who are we? We are a sinful people (Romans 5:12), we are headed for hell because we have fallen short of God’s perfect standard (Romans 3:23, 6:23), and we cannot rely on ourselves to save us from our future (Ephesians 2:8, 9; James 2:10).
We are hopeless, but God made a way for us to be redeemed from our sins. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We did nothing to deserve this; we were still dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:5). God did not wait for us to get our act together before He sent His Son to die for our sins (John 3:16). We do not even have to work for forgiveness. All we have to do is ask for it and He will give out forgiveness (Matthew 7:7, I John 1:9). Even after we believe on Him, when we lose faith He does not leave us out to dry like when His disciples were scared and He stopped the storm (Matthew 8:23-27). Now, He continually blesses us each day.
We often criticize the Israelites for their unbelief, but we are sinners. We do not deserve the forgiveness of sins, along with the blessings God gives us every day. Like Israel in the Old Testament, we have fallen away, and God in His awesome love has not only given us the ultimate gift of salvation, but also provides for us every day and blesses us with spiritual and physical gifts. Praise God for His greatness!