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A Lesson from Israel to Christians, Only Believe
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Heb 3:15 While it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

Heb 3:16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

Heb 3:17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?

Heb 3:18 And to whom swore he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?

Heb 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

A Lesson from Israel for Christians             Aug 31, 2006 

  "Only Believe"

Exo 15:22  So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.

Exo 15:23  And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.

Shur means "wall" and they really were up against the wall in the wilderness, their only provision was God, but they could not trust that He was more than enough. The first place the Lord brings them to is the wilderness of Shur. (meaning wall) and to the waters of Marah, which means bitter. Elim means "strength of the trees,".

Exo 15:27  And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.  

They were slaves to the Pharaoh, a type of Satan. They were punished with hard bondage, labor, beatings, oppression. Made to feel less than nothing. They had no rights. Their children were slaughtered. God delivers them mightily. What kind of trials did they face when they were led out of Egypt? They were led out wealthy, and none were sick or feeble. They came out triumphant, their captors and slave masters totally incapacitated, the land destroyed. He takes them through the Red Sea. Red Sea means " the weed, sea of the weed, to come to an end, a whirlwind.

After the Red Sea deliverance, they come to Marah. They face bitter waters. Bitterness. That's what Marah means. The Lord sweetens the waters by showing Moses a tree to cast in the water. Elim was the second place. It means "to strengthen, the strong trees." There were 70 trees, and 12 wells of water. A good place to rest and be refreshed, and regain their strength for the journey ahead. Then they go into the wilderness of Sin. Sin is defined (used here as the Biblical name of an actual place) as clay, thorns, mire, muddy or like clay. (Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names) It'd be pretty easy to get bogged down in a place like that, wouldn't it? Sinai means thorny. Bush of the Lord. A thorn bush? Hmmm. They murmured for hunger there. Got manna and quail. They pitched in Ex 17, in Rephidim, meaning support, rest. It was a dry place, near Mt. Horeb (which means desert, solitude, destruction, dry up, desolate). This place is renamed "Massah, and Meribah", the first meaning temptation, and the second meaning dispute or quarrel. When God is sending water out of the Rock, the people are wanting to go back to Egypt. Complaining again-after God had given them water throughout the journey, here they were complaining again. God had always provided. They'd seen him sweeten the waters at Marah. They'd seen him part the Sea. But here they are, unwilling to believe God, and Amalek comes out against them. Every time Israel faced opposition, or hunger or thirst, every time their flesh started making demands on them, they complained, instead of prayed. They doubted instead of trusted. They'd been delivered from a hard place, from terrible bondage. They'd been made miserable in Egypt by their taskmasters. How quickly they forgot the misery and pain, and wanted to go back when times got a little rough. Is this sounding familiar to you? This is a temptation all Christians fight. This is a lie the devil will whisper when you start being tested. "If you just go back to your old life, it won't be so hard. Remember all the good times? How much fun you had? It'll be better if you go back..." But the only thing to go back to is death, so don't listen to him.  

Exo 16:1  And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.

Exo 16:2  And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:

Elim means strong. Israel was taking a journey from a place of strength, in their flesh. Sinai means enmity. Enmity means hostile, hatred. Moses means taken out, drawn forth. Aaron means a teacher, lofty, mountain of strength. Egypt means that which troubles or oppresses; anguish. It helps when you know what some of these names and places, what they mean. It gives you insight.

 

These people were traveling through the wilderness, on the heels of a great victory. They had just in the previous chapter been singing glorious praises of thanksgiving to God for the victory and freedom he had wrought for them. They had not contributed to their own freedom. They had simply marched out of Egypt after God went before them and destroyed the land for their sakes. (Exo_10:7) They had not warred against Egypt. They had not fought themselves. They had hid in their houses while their God went forth in fury and wrath upon this place. But even in his judgment on Egypt he had shown mercy to the Egyptians who would fear him. He had been faithful to send warning every time before he did anything. He wanted them to know what was coming. 

Now they are traveling through the wilderness, a free people, having been loosed from an idolatrous society. But the idolatry was still in their hearts. They had been heavily influenced by their four hundred thirty years in Egypt. They carried little images, little idols out of Egypt with them when they left and God knew this. Eze_20:8; Amo_5:26; Act_7:43;  

Here is a people who had been horribly used and mistreated by their Egyptian slave masters. They had been enslaved, forced to hard labor. Perhaps they had seen the idols of Egypt and envied the Egyptians' beauty and prosperity. Their cities were grand, their appearance exotic. Their idols appeared attractive. Mostly of gold. Too numerous to consider them all. Perhaps they became convinced the gods of Egypt were indeed powerful because these people were beautiful and wealthy, and prosperous. Here they had been poor, afflicted, seemingly with no hope and no one who cared. And to the Israelite people Egypt appeared to be a wealthy land, full of rich and beautiful people. Surely, they believed the idolatry they saw practiced was responsible. They had the history handed down to them of some long ago time when Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had known somebody named God. How Joseph had saved his family by leading them to this prosperous land. After hundreds of years of living in this land, being prospered, influenced by the idolatry, they had grown strong, and the Egyptians themselves became fearful and suspicious of them, and turned on them. That was God's doing.

Psa 105:24 And he increased his people greatly; and made them stronger than their enemies.

Psa 105:25 He turned their heart to hate his people, to deal subtlely with his servants.

And this was the working of God. He turned the Egyptians hearts away from them. He could never liberate a people who did not want to be freed. He had to make sure they were not comfortable in their idolatrous Egypt so he could take them out of there and into a better place, and make a glorious testimony out of them. He had something much better for these people than they realized. He wanted to make a great nation out of them and raise them above all the people of the world. He wanted to use them as a testimony to the rest of the world, to show the world who He was, and he wanted to use Israel to reach out to the rest of the world, teaching them who He was.

And then he sent Moses and Aaron to deliver them a word, a hope set before the people of freedom that had been promised. That the time of the visitation Joseph had prophesied was here. Gen_50:25. Deliverance was at hand. The enemy knew it and he stepped up the hard labor and the abuse. He determined to make it so much harder on them that they would not believe Moses or God. But God triumphed, and spoiled the Egyptians, he led his people out free, wealthy, and victorious. And there was nothing anyone could do to stop him from liberating his people. If you read about the plagues God sent on Egypt, and then you study just a little of the idols, the most visible and supposed powerful of their idols, you will understand that that He sent plagues that targeted and revealed the helplessness of the Egyptian idols, openly revealing the vulnerability and uselessness of the idols of Egypt to His people before He led them out. He showed their powerlessness. But people, in their hardened hearts refused to recognize the truth God laid so plainly out in front of them. They refused to acknowledge the mercy he even showed the Egyptians. He warned before the plagues came. Before he sent the hail, he warned them to get their animals and servants out of the fields. Those that feared God did and were spared. Those who regarded not the word of the Lord were destroyed. Exo_9:17-21;

 So soon upon the heels of such great demonstrations of God's power, ability, and love for these people, do they go murmuring and complaining. They have a twisted view of Egypt in their hearts. They look back, and talk about the flesh pots of Egypt. How soon they forgot the misery they had known in Egypt. The Lord is so patient with them. He sends them bread from heaven. Angels' food. Psa_78:25

Moses warns the people they are not complaining against him, they are complaining against God. And he hears them. He doesn't react in anger, he lets them know he's aware of their murmurings, and still, mercifully, he sends them bread in the morning, the manna, and the quails in the evening. He gave them instructions on how to gather the manna, and when and how much. Early in the morning while the dew was on the ground, before the sun got hot. They were to gather their bread first thing, for the day. Daily bread. Still there were those who did not follow instructions, and the leftover bread stank, and bred worms. On the Sabbath day, there was none to gather. They had enough gathered on the 6th day to last through the 7th. What a merciful God.

Exo 16:32  And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.

Exo 16:33  And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.

Just as the ark was in the Holy of holies in the temple, with the tables of the Law inside, an omer of manna was laid up before the Lord, too, inside the ark. God wanted to provide the people the food that was good for them. But they wanted flesh. He wanted them to eat food that would not weigh them down or slow them down. They wanted flesh that would make them fat and slow. God knows what is best and we need to listen when he instructs us. As I have been studying these Scriptures, I couldn't help but consider how loving and wonderful God was to these people. Think back, he told Abraham about their captivity hundreds of years before it was time. Then consider what He told Moses.....He told Moses before He died how the people would forsake Him. Can you imagine this? God knew they would turn on Him, take His holy things lightly, pollute themselves in the world, with idolatry. He said they would go "a whoring after the gods of strangers". This is what struck me about the Lord: He knew this, yet He loved them anyway. He knew what they'd do, but He showed them kindness, and mercy, anyway. He gave them victory as through Joshua He led them in. Knowing their fickle hearts, and fickle ways, He still loved them and showered them with good things. What a precious, awesome God we have. He even left them a way out when they turned on Him. He left a door open for them to return so He could be kind to them again.

Deu 31:15 And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle.

Deu 31:16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.

Deu 31:17 Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?

Deu 31:18 And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.

Deu 31:19 Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.

Deu 31:20 For when I shall have brought them into the land which I swore unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant.

Deu 31:21 And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.

Deu 30:1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,

Deu 30:2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;

Deu 30:3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.

What a mighty God we serve, and how we need a compassionate and forgiving heart as His is. He knew they'd fail and made the way for their return before it even happened. He gave them a way of escape. In our failures, let us run to Him, to His mercy. Don't run and hide as we are tempted to do, and let the enemy shame us away from God. That is when we need Him the most. He loves us and knew we would make mistakes before He ever saved us. We have the blood of the Lamb, the promises of God and the Holy Spirit to help us. Believe in God's love, and trust in Him, and love him. He will not fail us or forsake us. But we must listen to Him and take heed. If we trust ourselves to Him, commit ourselves to Him, He is well able to lead us where ever He wants to take us..and make us what He wants us to be. The most frightening thing is only 2 souls, Joshua and Caleb made it out of Egypt and into the promised land. Israel couldn't believe God could love them so much. Israel couldn't believe God's promises because they just sounded too good to be true and most all that generation had known was pain and suffering. Let us not follow in their footsteps and be dying in our wilderness because of unbelief. This world is hard, but God made the world. He is bigger than any problem, any fear, any sin. He is bigger than any devil or spirit or power of darkness. Let us learn from their mistakes and not repeat history.

Heb 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

Heb 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

Heb 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.


It's ready. He's waiting. I believe He's saying COME. Come now while the Door is still open. Don't let anything stop you. Not your fears, doubts, or failures. He's bigger than them all. If he told Paul that love covers a multitude of sins in the Word of God, how much more the blood of Jesus shed out of His love? We can hope in His mercy, we can rest in His love if we will only believe......

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