Over the past couple of weeks, I have been seriously studying the books of the Old Testament. While studying I have come to some realizations that have been eye-opening and challenging at the same time. This past week I have been studying the book of Numbers and trying to come to a better understanding of the bigger lessons to be learned. I have come to the conclusion that Numbers is a book that is extremely relevant and valuable in today’s church.
We must understand that faith in God and obedience to his words are central to being God’s people. Numbers show us that God always honors faith and punishes unbelief. At the root of Israel’s problems was their lack of faith in God. This unbelief plagued them the entire 40 years. It kept them from being successful and happy while marching toward their inheritance but more importantly, it kept them out of the promised land. Instead of claiming the Promised Land by faith they chose to wander and die in the unbelief. Too many Christians are stuck in the wilderness, marching to their death, never actually getting the blessings of God. Sometimes they are allowed to stand and look into the Promised Land but they don’t believe they can have it.
It seems like this is true of so many Christians today. Instead of claiming the blessings by faith they spend their time wandered somewhere between sin (Egypt) and blessings (Promised Land). They have been delivered from their Egypt but have not been able to get to the Promised Land, the new victorious life in Christ (Eph. 1:3). It is like they are aware of the blessings of God and desire them but they are not able to let go of Egypt long enough to actually get there. At every turn, every hardship, every little thing that doesn’t go the way they think it should, they want to give up and go back to Egypt. Thinking that it was at least familiar and comfortable. I am often amazed at the naïve way we look at the past, at the hardships, and forget just how bad life really was.
For Israel, Canaan represented a life of battles and blessings that they were unsure if they were able to accomplish. Too many Christians reach their Kadesh-barnea (the point of decision) and they look into the land, turn around and run. Instead of being conquerors (Rom. 8:37) their fears force them to march to their death, all the while, dying a little more each day. They have obeyed the gospel, become Christians but are falling way short of their blessings. In fear and unbelief, they miss out on God’s purpose for their life. They don’t trust that God is big enough or strong enough to overcome their giants, to knock down the walls before them, and part the waters standing between them and God.
I am sick and tired of watching Christians wasting away in the wilderness, stuck in a life that is difficult at best. All the time that Israel wandered through the wilderness, they were dying, and in fact, their total numbers went down. Christians and churches throughout our world are lost in the wilderness, wasting away, enduring unnecessary hardships, and failing to grow or honor God.
Instead of dying, stuck in the wilderness, let’s take God at his word and march to our promises.