This morning, I had the first instalment of Bible Gateway’s new thanksgiving devotional. (You can sign up here to get the Email twice a week.) I wish we had thanksgiving here in the UK. It never does any harm to remind ourselves to be grateful.
Anyway, today’s passage was Exodus 15:1-19 (the song of praise sung to God after He miraculously parted the Red Sea for the Israelites). Verse 17 jumped out at me; I hadn’t noticed it before. They sing about how the nations will hear of God’s power. “All who live in Canaan melt away; terror and dread fall upon them.” Then in verse 17: “You will bring them in and plant them on Your own mountain” – amazing. They’re proclaiming with absolute certainty that God will bring them into their promised land.
It immediately made me think of later on, when they were in the opposite frame of mind. They wander through the desert, camping when God tells them to camp and moving when He tells them to move. They get to the border of the promised land, and Moses sends twelve spies in to explore. They come back with an evaluation. “It is indeed a bountiful country – a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there” (Numbers 13:27-28).
Only Joshua and Caleb were optimistic. Most of the spies were terrified and told the people: “The land we travelled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there” (Numbers 13:32), and it was their fear that rubbed off on the rest of the community. Joshua and Caleb tried to motivate everyone, but the people talked about stoning them (Numbers 14:6-10). This resulted in their having to remain in the wilderness for forty years. From that generation, only Joshua and Caleb lived to enter the promised land.
If only the Israelite community had remembered what God did for them – how unstoppable they felt after He led them across the Red Sea. It encourages me to stay strong in my faith – not just when things are going well, but also when times are hard and things seem to be against me. God’s truth is still true, and He’s still worthy of my love and all I can give Him.