Hold On To Your Hope (part one)

The book of Exodus tells us how God handed Moses and Israel a great victory over Pharaoh and freed them from slavery in Egypt. It tells how they came right up to the border of the land of Canaan which God had promised to them through Abraham 600 years before. With the promised land in sight, however, Israel faltered in their faith.

At God’s command, twelve Israelite spies (one from each tribe) were sent into the land of Canaan to take a look at what God wanted to give them and bring back a report, Numbers 13:1 - 14:4. Ten of those spies returned from their reconnaissance only to deny the possibility of taking the land, instilling fear in the hearts of the people and turning them against Moses and the Lord.

As a result, God sentenced all of Israel to spend the next forty years in the desert ‘dying off’ so that the next generation could receive their promised inheritance.

Great. Now Moses would be ‘stuck’ with these faithless, grumbling people for the next forty years in a desert wilderness. What a disappointment that must have been! I believe this was what Solomon referred to as a ‘hope deferred’:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick….. - Proverbs 13:12

You probably know how it feels to look forward to something with great anticipation and expectation, only to have it snatched away. It really does tend to make you feel sick.

None of this was Moses’ fault. God even spoke of destroying Israel right then and there and making a new nation from Moses to inherit the land. This ‘plan B’ was never executed of course (God is longsuffering in His faithfulness, even to the faithless) which meant, however, that Moses‘ life was taking a turn he‘d
never counted on. All because of circumstances that were out of his control.

What happened next? Well, the people had a change of heart and decided on their own to attack the Canaanites anyway. They came back with their tails between their legs. Another broke the Sabbath and had to be stoned to death. Korah conspired with other high ranking Israelites and rebelled against Moses. God caused the earth to open and swallow them up. The very next day the Israelites grumbled against Moses, blaming him for their deaths, so God punished them with a plague that killed almost 15,000 of them. Would they never learn anything?!

Then Miriam dies. Oh my. On top of all this other trouble, Moses loses his sister. She was likely the sister who watched him when he, as an infant, was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and made sure that Moses’ own mother became his nursemaid (Exodus 2:1-10). But Moses wasn’t even allowed time to mourn her death as the people assembled themselves to grumble against him yet another time.

What was it this time? Water. Rather than asking Moses to go to God on their behalf for a little water, they chose to grumble, complain and accuse.

To be continued next week

Marty Kessler