"Nevertheless as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, not one of those who saw My glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed Me and tested Me ten times- not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated Me with contempt will ever see it." -Numbers 14:21-23 (NIV)
Can you imagine if God says a similar statement about us? To think of us as treating Him with contempt? Do we think of ourselves as treating God with contempt when we grumble, and when we complain, and when we seek to have things differently than they are today? One of the greatest effects of discontentment in our world is that it robs us of the rest of God that is promised to us in Christ.
The Israelite community was given a Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. But, they did not respond in faith. Instead, the Bible tells us that after the spies had returned from scouting out the promised land, they responded in fear and grumbling. Caleb and Joshua believed that God would make a way for victory over the inhabitants, but the people sided with those who gave the negative report: "But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored." (Numbers 13:31-32) "That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” (Numbers 14:1-4)
In Hebrews 4, it tells us that the Israelites were not allowed into the Promised Land because of their unbelief. The writer encourages us not to follow their example. For us, the promised land is not a location, but a state of being. It is the state of being at peace. Jesus tells in the Gospel of John (14:27), “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus gives us peace as the birthright of the children of God. We have the responsibility to ENTER the peace and take it, just as God expected the Israelites to do. We like the idea of the gift, but we don’t like the idea that there’s anything to the gift that we actually have to do to obtain it. Our unbelief and contempt for God stifles within us the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). We can enter into the rest of God by praising Him, thanking Him, trusting Him, and radically obeying Him.
Dr. Rob Weinstein is the Founding/Senior Pastor of Bethany Grace Community Church in Bridgeton, NJ. He is also a Professor of Business Studies/Academic Director/Chair of Human Resource Management Studies. He is the Founder of the M25 Initiative, a nonprofit dedicated to ending homelessness and food insecurity in Cumberland County, NJ.
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