Daily Archives: March 10, 2014

Day 86


Joshua 15:20-17:18 (NLT)

Mike James, Pastor of Children and Young Families
As you have been reading along in the Old Testament, do you ever find yourself yelling at the Israelites?  I mean, here are these people who have been walking along with God, have seen some clear miracles (such as the parting of the Jordan River and the fall of Jericho) and are only a generation from some really big miracles (like the Red Sea, daily manna, God’s presences as a pillar of cloud at day and a pillar of fire at night, etc.). And yet they still don’t follow God.  They just don’t seem to learn from the past and have faith in the present. Why can’t they get it?
For instance, a generation ago the Israelites sent spies into Canaan to size up the locals and the land.  Ten spies came back with reports that no way could Israel take the land.  Two spies (Caleb & Joshua) said that since God was going before them, they could trust and follow God to clear the land. Israel followed the faithless route and did not enter the land. Because of their faithlessness, God had them wander in the desert for forty years until that entire generation died out (including Moses but excluding the two faithful spies).  OK, now fast forward. One of the spies, Joshua, is named Moses’ successor, and with God’s help the Israelites enter the promised land and clear it of the sinful nations who inhabited it just like God said they should in Joshua 13:1-6. (And in fact God said that “I myself will drive these people out of the land ahead of the Israelites.”)  Sounds like a victory celebration in the making.
But then, the faithless Israelites show up again–a whole new generation. In today’s short reading three different times, with three different tribes, we hear that the Israelites failed to drive the local people out.  One of the times, they gave the reasonable assessment that the “Canaanites in the lowlands have iron chariots… they are too strong for us.”  Wait!  Did they not listen? Didn’t God say that He, Himself, would drive out the Canaanites? Didn’t they just see God already do this when they first crossed into the promised land?
Usually about the time that my rant against the Israelites is just starting to ramp up, the Holy Spirit gently taps me on the shoulder. “Hey Mike – what about you? Are there giants and troubles in your life that you are facing that you can trust me with?”  Wait a moment God.  What I’m facing is totally different. I’ve got problems that I cannot see how they are going to work out.  I’ve got a few character flaws that I thought I had fixed that seem to be an issue again. I have some emotional hurts that just don’t seem to heal. I have stress at work, concerns over if I will keep my job, relationships on the ropes. You cannot compare these to what the Israelites were supposed to do.
“Mike, have you trusted me before?”
Well, yes.
“Why can’t you trust me now?”
Guess it is easier to see things from the sidelines, than when you are the one in the game. Maybe I need to stop yelling at the Israelites. At least until I stop acting like I’m one of them.