When our kids were young I was involved in an incredible Bible study called BSF (Bible Study Fellowship). During the seven years I was involved, my favorite study was the “Life of Moses!” Even though I loved and learned from all of the studies….I just flourished and changed the most from studying the Life of Moses. I think because I could relate best to the complaining Israelites. Recently, I decided I would take the summer to revisit the book of Numbers and….studying the Life of Moses. I have loved every minute of it so far. With this being said, I feel that a ton of my journaling over the next few weeks will be from what I learned then and now!
One principle I remember learning years ago involved repentance and the character of God. Even though…how we repent of our sin looked different after Jesus came to earth and died on the cross for our sins, the character of God has never changed. Yes, God is the same today, yesterday and forever. That is so comforting to me…..that we have a God who is not moody or fickle, but is just and has NO favorites!!!
Before Christ came….animal sacrifices were used in atonement for sins. Today? We just have to confess our sins and ask God to forgive us. I have thought about this so much especially with revisiting and studying the life of Moses….I very much identify with the Israelites. They very quickly forgot, or maybe they just often had short-term memory problems, when it came to remembering how God provided and did miraculous things for them. At times when things got tough in the desert, they were ready to go back to enslavement just to have “fish” or meat to eat.
From parting the Red Sea so they could safely flee Egypt when being pursued by Pharoah’s army to being led by a pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day in the desert…..with all those miracles, they still wailed and complained. Realizing that I get to read the end of the story and have the helicopter view, I have put myself in the Israelites shoes many times and found myself guilty of complaining and not recognizing God’s protection and provisions in my life.
I have also spent time reflecting on the fact that I don’t have to kill an animal, cut it up and burn it on an alter to show remorse over my sins. But I have thought about and posed this question to myself….Am I truly repentant and am I truly remorseful enough to be aware and make every effort to not repeat the same sin??? I am not a perfectionist…you can take one look at my closet and know this to be true….but I do want to “be perfecting the seeking of God and following His Word”…..allow me to explain.
It is in God’s character to be slow to anger, to be patient, and very quick to forgive…..but if you study His character in the “life of Moses” and in the book of Numbers and understand the principle that God’s character is the same now as it was then….you read repetitively about God’s anger. God’s anger was brought about over grumbling and complaining which I feel was a direct result of a lack of gratitude and much pride.
Numbers 11:1, “Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down.”
Numbers 11:10, “Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled.”
And when Miriam and Aaron were grumbling against Moses in chapter 12 of Numbers, it states in verse 9, “The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.”
I won’t rewrite the whole story of Moses here but understand…..God is a just God…He doesn’t like sin. Our sin hurts Him and yes, sometimes he gets angry…..He is forgiving and loving…..but we fail to realize we serve a Just God and just like parents should love their kids unconditionally, even when they mess up, it doesn’t stop the parent from being angry and punishing…the kid for their misbehavior.
As Christians, me being the first, we need to understand…God does not like to be mocked. We can’t give God a head fake on repentance…He knows the sincerity of our heart…He knows if we, in the depths of our heart, are sincere…or we are just a bobble head…thinking somehow we are tricking God……
Needless to say, we may not see God but He sees us….Yes, He sees the real us…..He knows our thoughts and our motives…..and that is what God judges…Man may look at the outward, but God judges the heart. 1 Corinthians 4:5, “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.”
I love the idea that we serve and have an awesome God who loves us more than anyone. But, we also have a God who desires for us to obey and serve Him and not disregard His Word…the Bible….I know for sure from the study of Moses….that God isn’t into complaining and whining….not at all. I am not afraid of God…I know He is quick to forgive as He was quick to hear Moses’ prayer…on behalf of the wailers and tone down the fire! His Word even says in Psalms 103:8, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” He is all that but…. I find very often…we tend to glaze over the “slow” part….about anger. God is slow to anger but we don’t get to put a time frame on “slow” for God. He does that…..with that being said…
I want to communicate that our sin hurts God and yes, we can quickly ask forgiveness….but let’s not fool ourselves when it comes to sincerity….God knows our hearts and it will show up in our actions. You can’t fake that…..Actions are our demonstration to God of the sincerity of our hearts.