Review and Preview
Day: 32 | Plan: Numbers
Today's Reading: Numbers 33
Numbers 33:55 (NIV) “But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live.”
Numbers 33 begins with a synopsis of Israel’s wilderness wanderings, documenting their exodus from Egypt all the way to the plains of Moab. It reads like a travel journal and includes 33 different encampments that span 40 years.
It’s almost impossible to read this list of locations and not think about all the wasted days and nights. Thirty-three camping spots and 40 years of wandering is a long time! And they were right there on the southern border of the Promised Land. But instead of moving forward in faith, they refused to enter the land due to their unbelief.
The Israelites’ unbelief resulted in wasted energy, wasted time, wasted opportunities and, as a result, an entire generation died out. Unbelief has disastrous consequences! Surely looking back at this exhausting journey would help Israel learn from the consequence of their choice! Surely they would obey God completely moving forward! Unfortunately, not.
In the final verses of this chapter, on the verge of entering the Promised Land a second time, the Lord commands Israel to fully obey Him in their conquest of this land. (Numbers 33:50-56) This time, they are to go in and take possession of the land, driving out the inhabitants, destroying all their idols. Then they can divide the land and receive their inheritance.
But … if they don’t fully obey God’s instructions, He warns they will have trouble. (Numbers 33:55) And that is exactly what happens.
Rather than learn their lesson after 40 years of wandering, they refuse to completely accept God’s assignment. This results in a repeated decline into idolatry and ultimately leads to their exile from the Promised Land.
Once again, they circle back to the same sin of unbelief and don’t allow God’s past faithfulness to infuse their faith.
The pattern of unbelief began when the nation of Israel doubted God would protect them against the enemies living in the land of promise. In their latter years, Israel doubted God was serious about sin and idolatry. In each case, they doubted God, and their doubt turned to unbelief that ultimately led to disobedience.
Unbelief is always grounded in doubt. Doubt is a feeling; unbelief is a choice. No matter the doubts in our heads, God calls His people to heartfelt obedience. Just like the Israelites, we have the privilege of looking back at His faithfulness in the past. While looking back may not erase all our doubts, it can give us the confidence we need to move forward in faith.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the countless ways I’ve seen Your faithfulness at work in my life. Thank You for today’s passage. It’s a sweet reminder that looking back can help me learn valuable lessons and infuse my faith going forward. When I have doubts, would You enable me to choose faith and full obedience? In Jesus’ name, amen.
Today’s passage gives Israel very specific instructions on how to deal with the pagans... Read More
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