But even after all He did, you refused to trust the Lord your God
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Numbers 36:1-Deuteronomy 1:46
Honestly … what more did God need to do to prove His love for Israel? And yet, what we see in this passage is utter distrust in God’s power and willingness to go before them.
Unbelief leads to distrust. Israel was kept out of the Promised Land for their unbelief in the loving character of God. Sure, He provided a leader for them, delivered them from Egypt, split the sea in two so they could walk forward on dry land, provided food from heaven daily for 40 years, led them by a cloud during the daytime and a pillar of fire during the nighttime, provided water from a rock twice. Add to that all the other rescues and miraculous deliveries. “But … can we trust Him in this new land?”
It’s interesting to me that the accompanying Psalm today recounts some of those same protective, benevolent acts of God:
Shout joyful praises to God, all the earth!
Sing about the glory of his name!
Tell the world how glorious he is.
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
Your enemies cringe before your mighty power.
4Everything on earth will worship you;
they will sing your praises,
shouting your name in glorious songs.” Interlude
Come and see what our God has done,
what awesome miracles he performs for people!
He made a dry path through the Red Sea,[a
and his people went across on foot.
There we rejoiced in him.
For by his great power he rules forever.
He watches every movement of the nations;
let no rebel rise in defiance.
The heading for Psalm 66 says, “For the choir director.” They had even written songs recounting God’s deliverance, but despite the oral stories and the story set to tune, it still hadn’t permeated their hearts. And I have to believe that broke His.
Belief matters to God. Over and over in scripture, we’re told exactly how much:
- “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6)
- “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17)
- “There is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith” (Romans 3:30)
- “So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Galatians 3:9)
The danger, when we look back at the children of Israel, is that we shake our heads and tsk-tsk their behavior, but we stop short of asking ourselves if we’re doing the same. Are we forgetting His goodness to us? Do we accept those blessings but relegate them to the past, as if God’s mercy and His sovereignty was in short supply, and maybe there’s none left over for today? When a fearful something presents itself to us, do we panic, or do we pray? Do we remind ourselves repeatedly of all He’s done for us? Do we believe He is good and that He gives good things to His children?
God’s deeds have to live in you, and in me. They have to become part of our fabric, and part of our story. They have to rise to our lips when someone needs an encouraging word, or when we ourselves need that remembrance. And we must learn to add daily to the list—the long list—the new things He does for us every day. That’s the way to make faith your essence, and not just an accessory.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17)
Every good and perfect gift is from above