The Danger of Unbelief

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Song of Solomon 3, Hebrews 3

Out of Egypt (Exodus 1-14)

In response to the cries of His enslaved people in Egypt, God planned to give them a land flowing with “milk and honey.”  He rescued them from Pharaoh by sending ten plagues, parting the Red Sea, and defeating their enemies [1].

Water, Bread, Meat (Exodus 15-17)

Within three days of their miraculous escape, they began to question God’s goodness.  When they complained about not having water, bread or meat, God provided for them daily.  But they continued to grumble, as they questioned His plan (“Would that we had died in Egypt!”) and His presence (“Is the Lord among us or not?”).  Yet, He still provided.

Golden Calf (Exodus 19-35)

As the Lord was giving Moses the law on Mount Sinai, the people became impatient.  They created an idol and proclaimed, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (32:4).  The Lord was livid, but He remained merciful; He mitigated their punishment and renewed their covenant.

Spies (Numbers 13-14)

Within two years of leaving Egypt, the Israelites were at the threshold of the Promised Land (Canaan).  Moses sent twelve spies to advance.  Ten of them returned and fearfully spoke of the “strong” occupants with well-fortified cities.  Joshua and Caleb, however, spoke of the “exceedingly good land” whose inhabitants were no match for God.  Yet, the people did not listen to them and, instead, plotted against them.

Enough was enough.  Although they’d seen God profoundly, consistently and miraculously work for them, they persisted in unbelief.  Thus, He delivered His verdict – everyone except Joshua and Caleb would wander and die in the wilderness.

Warning (Hebrews 3)

Hebrews 3 offers a sober warning: Don’t be like the Israelites! Although they had enough faith to leave Egypt and enter the wilderness, they did not hold fast.

Likewise, we cannot presume upon God’s grace by thinking that being a Christian is merely about checking a box or praying a prayer.  It’s about receiving His mercy and allowing it to shape our lives and love for Him.  It’s about trusting in Him forever: “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence from to the end.”

How can this warning be a promise for you – one that you can put into effect today? (Hint: See vv. 13, 15)

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[1] For a more artistic take on these events, check out two short video clips: Subway Series: Passover (video), Disney’s Prince of Egypt (video clip)

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