When January 1st came around this year, many Americans woke up with a new-found sense of hope. The previous night was filled with yummy food and games around a kitchen table. Surrounded by friends and family we love. Another year just came and went. For some, they met a lot of their goals and aspirations. For others, they lost loved ones they passionately cared about. But when the first day of the new year came, we all knew there was a new sense of excitement in the air. What would this new year bring us? What adventures would we have? What stories would be recorded in future history books?
I don’t think anybody could have imagined how crazy this year has gone so far. We have less than 5 months left until the new year, and for many, this year has felt like 5 years! First, we have had the Coronavirus scare this year. We still are dealing with the unknown fears many have surrounding the virus. Then, we had the murder of George Floyd. People protesting for weeks. Some, doing so peacefully. Others, sadly taking the criminal approach by looting and rioting. Violence against others, some of it just for 15 minutes of fame on a YouTube Channel.
For many, they feel like they are in a desert right now. Things were pretty good last year! People could go to eat and drink where they wanted, without fear. Without mandates. But now, they feel like they’ve been wandering in a hot, humid, waterless desert. With no sign of water in the distance. In times like these, when we are tested in ways we have never been before, it’s really easy to see what is the true foundation of each of our lives.
Matthew 7:24-27, NASB, gives us a nice illustration: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, maybe compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall.”
Are we built on the rock? 1 Corinthians 3:11, NASB, says: “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Is Jesus our foundation? If not, then we have built our lives on a foundation of sand. What does it look like to build one’s foundation on sand? To not believe the promises of God?
The Bible gives us an example of a people who, like many feel in 2020, were in a desert. Literally. For the Israelites, God had just freed them from their bondage in Egypt, after 400 years of slavery there. God had just used a man named Moses to perform many miracles in the sight of Egyptians, and now they were on their way to a new, Promised land. Led by Moses, they now had new hope. The promise of a new start. But what happened? On their journey, on their way to their Promised land, things didn’t go as they planned. It was hot and they were thirsty. They didn’t enjoy the food, manna, God provided. God provided food for them called manna. They wanted meat. They wanted variety. They wanted the food they used to eat in Egypt. Numbers 11:5-6, NASB, says, “We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.” Like some of us, the Israelites loved to complain. Loved to let Moses know God wasn’t doing enough for them. And when Moses was on the mountaintop, getting the ten commandments from God, the Israelites were so unholy that they made an idol, in the form of a calf, made by their own jewelry! They didn’t treat God as Holy at all times as they should have.
When they continued on their journey later, twice they complained about having no water to drink in the hot land they were in. The second time, when they got to the wilderness of Zin, it was actually Moses who didn’t treat God as Holy. The Israelites started complaining and confronted Moses about not having water to drink. Instead of trusting in God to provide, and showing God reverence and honor in front of the Israelites, Moses fell on his face. Seemingly hopeless. But he had hope! God was his hope! Why didn’t he express that to the Israelites? He should have! When Moses was on his face, not knowing what to do, God showed Moses how to get water for them, telling him to hit a rock twice with a rod. Water poured out of the rock, for all to drink. But the damage was done. Moses had failed to treat God has Holy at that moment. And the consequences would be severe.
God told Moses, in Numbers 20:12, NASB: “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Moses, God’s chosen leader to bring the Israelites out of Slavery. Somebody God spoke face to face with. A man the Bible described as the most humble man on the earth would not be permitted to bring them into the promised land. Why? Because he did not treat God as holy! And the generation of Israelites who constantly rebelled also would not get to see the promised land. Their descendants would, after the rebellious generation eventually died off walking 40 years in the wilderness. The Israelites also didn’t treat God as holy.
One mistake. Just one. Moses didn’t treat God as Holy. And that cost him the chance to bring God’s chosen people into the promised land. It’s very tragic. And it’s also a very good lesson to us for how we are expected to treat God. Sure, some people might feel like they are going through a desert right now. With good reason! There has been a lot of unpleasant change this year. Many have lost jobs. Lost loved ones. Lost a will to live. But even in the desert, we MUST remember at all times to treat God as holy!
God is holy! Psalm 77:13, NASB, says: “Your way, O God, is holy;
What god is great like our God?” Psalm 78:41, NASB, says: “Again and again they tempted God,
and pained the Holy One of Israel.” In times of trouble. In times of great distress. When we may even feel like we are wandering in a desert. Thirsty. With no water in sight. Let us remember to not act like Moses and the Israelites did. Instead, let us remember to treat God as holy at all times. We MUST! He knows best. He has a plan. And may we continue to trust in His holy and divine will for each of our lives. What an amazing and holy God we serve! God bless you all.