1 “I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,
2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
3 and all ate the same supernatural food
4 and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
5 Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-5
The great event of the Old Testament was the Exodus. God led His people out of slavery in Egypt, through the waters of the Red Sea, into the wilderness and then on to the Promised Land.
Last Sunday I was invited to preach at the local Anglican Church for the first Sunday of Lent. The text was on Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus temptations in the wilderness, and that started me thinking about the children of Israel and their wilderness experience.
1 “All the commandment which I command you this day you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers.
2 And you shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not.
3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. “ Deuteronomy 8:1-3
The children of Israel are commanded to follow the commandments of God as they go up to possess the land. They are reminded that everything they have comes from the generous hand of their God and deliverer. But, they are also reminded that the wilderness experience for Israel was a time of testing and humbling of the people. (v. 2)
The question I began to ask myself was what were they tested on in the wilderness? The answer I believe is found in Deuteronomy, chapter 6.
1 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord;
5 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
6 And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart;
7 and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:4-7
The test was did they love God enough to trust Him, obey Him, and follow Him to the Promised Land? God’s simple question to Israel was, “do you love me?” The children of Israel, unfortunately, didn’t trust God and every time something didn’t go right or they ran into misfortune they complained and wanted to go back to slavery in Egypt.
In his book, Introducing Covenant Theology, Michael Horton states, “The point of idolatry is to maintain our own autonomy (i.e. sovereignty) over God, either by banishment or absorption.” p. 15
God had brought them out of slavery as their Lord and God. Would the children of Israel see their redeemer as savior or Santa Clause? Would they trust God with every aspect of their lives because they trusted Him based on their love for Him, or see Him as a Candy Man?
We live in the time of the new Exodus where Jesus is leading us out of sin and onward to the Promised Land of our salvation. We must ask ourselves whether or not we are willing to put all our tribulations, cares, pain, and suffering into His hands through trust in His love, or as Israel sees Him, simply as a safety net against troubles?
When we follow Jesus we go through trials, temptations, and vicious storms. Anyone who follows Jesus because they think Jesus alleviates those problems is stuck with Israel in the wilderness. God never told the Israelites that they wouldn’t have to cross the desert to get to the Promised Land; He promised them He would lead them safely there.
I know the following video is a bit long, but I hope you take time to listen and allow the testimony of Mark Hall (of Christ group Casting Crowns) speak to your heart about God’s love.
Wondering what song he was about to sing?
* Please take the time to read some of the stories of Christians who are experiencing persecution for their total commitment to Christ. They need our support and prayers.. http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…