Unbelief

Rembrandt Doubting Thomas

Our worries and fears are not uncontrollable emotions, they are decisions, they are unbelief, and they are sin. Our God deserves better. The answer is to praise Him.

“Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness.” (Psalm 95:8)

Exodus 17:1-7 records the Israelites, camped at Rephidim in the Sinai desert, complaining to Moses that they had no water to drink. This was no little grumbling, as they were accusing Moses of plotting their deaths and preparing to stone him. Moses appealed to God for a solution to the problem and for protection from the mob. The Lord provided water, and things simmered down for a while.

Numbers 13:1-33 recounts Moses sending twelve men, each a respected leader in his tribe, from the wilderness at Paran northward into Canaan to scout out the land. They were to look for cities, places to live, agricultural produce, water supplies, and a host of other economic and transportation indicators. Further, these scouts were to size up the defenses of the land, including fortresses and armies. The journey lasted forty days.

On their return, the men reported agricultural bounty, streams of water, and lush plant life. It was a good land, “flowing with milk and honey.” However, the spies continued, its people were very numerous, its fortresses large, and its soldiers like giants. Ten of the scouts concluded that Israel would be destroyed if they tried to conquer the land. All twelve recognized the difficulty in taking Canaan, but two, Joshua and Caleb, advised Moses and the people to attack anyway, because God would fight for His chosen people. The Hebrews sided with the ten scouts, and rebelled against Moses, Joshua, and Caleb (Numbers 14). God withdrew His protection, and the Hebrews withdrew into the Sinai for thirty-eight more years.

God had shown His love for Israel and His power on their behalf for two years. He brought ten plagues on Egypt, the most powerful nation in the ancient near east at the time, to set Israel free. He blocked Pharaoh’s army with wind and fire, and then destroyed them in water, thus eliminating a far more dangerous foe than any Canaanite coalition. God provided food (manna and quail) and water, gave the Israelites places to camp, protected them from their enemies (the Amalekites and others), and placed His tabernacle, His presence, among them. And still they chose, again and again, to disbelieve.

Failing to believe God’s promise is failure to trust His character. It is a decision. Our God never promises to do what we want Him to do, but does guarantee to keep His promises to us. In these times of rioting, COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment, and other hardship – worse than many Westerners have ever seen – we can choose to trust God and obey Him, or chose not to. Whether we trust and obey or not, God will accomplish what He sets out to do. From the tiniest sparrow to the mightiest king, He holds everything in His hands. But how much misery will we cause ourselves and those around us because we refuse to believe Him?

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

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