I imagine it was somewhat disappointing at times.
They had left Egypt in a state of incredible euphoria. God had dramatically defeated Pharaoh and they walked out of their slavery loaded down with amazing riches.
I don’t know if they imagined that they’d walk straight into the Promised land, but I’m certain they never imagined that they’d wander around the desert for years, eat the same food for every meal, and have to battle off enemy after enemy.
But the biggest enemy they’d battle was not a physical one, but the one inside their hearts.
It started only days after they left Egypt and landed at the Red Sea. Sandwiched between a body of water and the encroaching Egyptian army, they had already forgotten the powerful hand of God that had delivered them from the most powerful dynasty of that time – utterly crushing it to powder.
Rather than meeting their obstacle with faith, they lashed out at Moses saying that it would have been better to die in Egypt.
And this narrative is repeated with alarming regularity throughout their journey to the Promised Land; and, in fact, grows with each obstacle until they Israelites actually look back on their time in Egypt with strange fondness!
And God was patient with them for a season.
But there came a point when they pushed too far.
Did you know you can push God too far? Did you know that God will sometimes give you what you want when it’s not His will?
There is an odd sort of mystical belief in the body of Christ that the outcome of a situation reveals the will of God. But this sort of que-sera-sera-type of belief system is faulty at best and dangerous at worst because it fails to go into spiritual warfare for those things that are God’s will and that the enemy seeks to stop. But it also fails to take into account man’s sinful nature that manipulates and pushes until it gets its way.
This belief system actually supposes that God refuses, despite the rebellion of man, to allow anything to happen to him that isn’t His will, but we see differently in Numbers 11.
The Israelites were tired of mana.
Yes, the same mana that was literally dew from heaven, a supernatural provision of food. Negativity had taken root and had borne such ungratefulness that they actually dared to criticize the supernatural provision of God.
They wanted meat.
The Bible says that every Israelite stood at the door of their tent and wept. But not only did they weep, they actually began to reminisce on their days in Egypt, dreaming about all the wonderful food they ate there.
And Moses had finally had it.
He goes before God in anger, and God’s response is this: (my paraphrase)
“You want meat? Oh, I’ll send meat! You’ll eat meat not one day, not two days, not five, ten or twenty days, but everyday for a whole month until you literally gag on it!”
Can we offend God?
I think we clearly see here that God was offended. Deeply offended.
He had led them children of Israel out of terrible slavery and on a journey to a land He’d promised and prepared. He’d rescued His children and then blessed them with supernatural food that no one on earth had ever seen or eaten before or since.
And what is there response? They began to despise that food and regret that they ever left Egypt.
They offended God!
We must be so careful to guard our hearts.
Do the desires of our heart line up with God’s desires? The Bible says that if we delight ourselves in the Lord He will give us the desires of our heart. But what is often missed is that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, meaning that if we find our complete and total satisfaction in Him, His desires become our desires!
But what happens if our desires are not in step with God’s desires?
Will He give us those desires, too?
Yes, sometimes He will if we pressure Him enough. He will give in to our will.
And it is never good when He does.
But it doesn’t stop there.
As the Israelites finally near the Promised Land, Moses sends in a delegation.
We all know the story: 10 spies bring back a negative report while only Joshua and Caleb have the faith to believe they can overcome the enemy.
These words are telling: “and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, an so we were in their sight.”
The seed of unbelief that was planted in their hearts bore the fruit of insecurity. “Since we felt like we were like grasshoppers to these giants, that must be how they see us.”
And they offended God.
The same God who single-handedly destroyed the mighty Pharaoh in Egypt was apparently powerless against these giants; because the 10 spies said it would be impossible to defeat the enemy.
In Numbers 14 we read that the children of Israel voted to not enter the Promised Land.
The negativity, ungratefulness, dissatisfaction, and pessimism of the Israelites deeply offended God and He destroyed the 10 spies who brought back the disparaging report.
And no one 20 years or older would enter into the blessing of God – except Joshua and Caleb.
The consequence for their negativity and ungratefulness to God was death in the desert.
May this be a lesson to us.
Our negativity offends God!
Our ungratefulness offends God!
Our pessimism offends God!
Hebrews 11 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” And the antithesis is true. Our lack of faith displeases Him!
And the consequence for offending Him is that we miss out on the blessings He has in store for us.
Dear sister, you may be in a desert right now, but hold on to faith. He is leading you to a destination of blessing and wholeness. It is a journey of faith! Don’t allow the enemy to plant negativity in your heart. Do not offend Him with your unbelief. Because unbelief will bear the fruit of ungratefulness, negativity, and insecurity in your heart.
Do not do as the Israelites. Do not die in this desert.
Learn from Joshua and Caleb, have faith in your God.
Joshua and Caleb saw the same giants the other 10 men saw. But instead of seeing an impossible situation, they saw an opportunity for God to be glorified!