Peace family, I’ve been reading through the Old Testament, and right now, the children of Israel are stuck in the desert, waiting to get into the Promised Land of Canaan.
There are all kinds of lessons to pull from this passage, but something that especially struck me on this reading, was how they (and we) often get so mixed up, lose perspective, and choose what is bad or even just okay over God’s best. Maybe we’ve suffered a long time, we got tired, we forgot God’s truth, promises, and power, and we decide to meet our needs on our own terms.
We want what we’re familiar with, even if it’s bad for us, and it takes courage to obey God and do as he asks. Sometimes, the depth of our fear can make us confuse what’s good with what’s bad, and mix up God’s plan with things that are not God’s plan. We can become so fearful, that we long for what God did not want for us to the point of despair.
A lot of it starts with discontentment. In Numbers 11:4-6, the Bible says, “Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish we freely ate in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic, but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” The people fail to be grateful for the large miracles that God has done (like the plagues in Egypt and parting the Red Sea), as well as the smaller miracles that he does in their lives every day (like manna.) They are describing Egypt, the place that they were abused as slaves for hundreds of years, as an ideal! Besides forcing them to do hard labor, Pharaoh had put out an edict for all of their sons to be murdered by throwing them in the river! Surely that kind of oppression is not worth leeks and melons?
It’s easy for us to look at them and say, “I’d never do that. How can they possibly forget the cruelty of their enslavement to such an extent that they crave to return to it?” And yet, how many of us return to the same sin habits over and over, choosing to disobey God and not trust that He knows what’s best for us? I’m pretty sure that that’s something we all do.
Even with the reassurance of leaders like Joshua and Caleb, who said, “If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them,” in Numbers 14:8-9, the people were overwhelmed by the scary accounts given by other leaders, and rebelled. They outright refused to enter the land that God had promised them! In fact, they took it a step further.
In Numbers 16:13, the people say to Moses, “Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us?” Up until this point, only Canaan, the Promised Land, has been referred to as “a land flowing with milk and honey.” The people are so warped in their perspective, that they have misplaced the attributes of Canaan onto Egypt, the land of their oppression.
How many times have I failed to trust God, despite the miracles He had previously done in my life? Too many to count. So many times, we are willing to sacrifice what is not God’s plan, for what is best, because we feel like that will satisfy us, but it won’t.
Peace family, what are the “Egypt”s in your life? Are you settling for Egypt when you could be striving for the Promised Land? Let’s you and me both take today to realign our vision with God, and to start training our hearts to love God, his ways, and his will, instead of our own. You won’t regret it!