What do we do when God has delivered us from “Egypt” and we are now in the wilderness? That trying time when we are separated from the things that used to enslave us and forced to have faith in the one true God. We do this because God is the only one who will get us through the wilderness. In the book of Deuteronomy God makes it very clear what we as His people should do in situations like this. Let’s first see what God said.
Besides loving God with all our being, Moses made it very clear not to put God to the test. “Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did in Massah.” Deuteronomy 6:16 Moses was referring to the time when the Israelites had no water in the wilderness and started complaining. “But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst? Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.” -Exodus 17:3-4
God had been faithful to provide for their every need, and had done miraculous things to deliver them from their slavery in Egypt. God had given them absolutely no reason to doubt. In Exodus He proceeded to tell Moses to strike a rock and from there the water would come. After all this happened Moses called the place Massah. “And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”-Exodus 17:7
Not only have the Israelites been guilty of testing God, but many Christians today test God and do not realize they are doing it. This happens when we start to lose faith despite all that God has done for us. We start to think God Himself is setting us up for failure and simply does not care. Have you ever felt this way? I’m guilty! Doubting God and losing faith leads us into the sin of testing God. Testing God is really a bad decision on our part. Here is why.
In the first chapter of Deuteronomy, the Israelites had made it close to the promise land, yet there was one obstacle that stood in their way. Their lack of faith in God. Though the land was currently taken over by the Amorites, God told the Israelites to take possession of the land. “See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” -Deuteronomy 1:21 After the Israelites had sent the spies to scope the place out, here was how they responded according to Moses, “But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. You grumbled in your tents and said, “The Lord hates us; so He brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. Where can we go? Our brothers have made our hearts melt in fear. They say, “The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.”-Deuteronomy 1:26-28 Moses then proceeded to tell them this beautiful verse of why they should not be afraid.
“Then I said to you,”Do not be afraid; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as He did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a Father carries His son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”-Deuteronomy 1:29-31
I love the word of God because it is how we come to know God’s character. God is faithful, and pulls through with all of His promises. He is like a Father carrying His child. Sadly it is so easy for believers to fall into the same mindset of the Israelites in the wilderness. The Israelites become stiff-necked, and despite all God had done for them, they still continued to doubt God. Here is how the Israelites responded, according to Moses, “In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.”-Deuteronomy 1:32-33
Because of their lack of faith, that generation was then not able to enter into the promise land. All except for one man named Caleb.
“The Lord was angry and solemnly swore: “No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.”-Deuteronomy 1:34-36
Let us not be like the Israelites that tested God but like Caleb, who followed the Lord wholeheartedly!
“Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the Lord your God is a God of gods and Lord of lords, the Great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.”-Deuteronomy 10:16-17