Devotional: ‘Beware of the Temptation to Look Back’

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During the journey from Egypt to Canaan, Moses sent out twelve spies in order to investigate into the Promised Land. Upon returning, the spies reported –

Numbers 13:27 … We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. 28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.

The spies could not deny that it was a land of great opportunity. Yet ten of the spies also saw it as a land of great obstacles. “The people living there are strong and their cities are well fortified; and besides all of this, the land is filled with giants.” 

Though two of the spies (Joshua and Caleb), tried to encourage the people to trust in God, the evil words of the fearful spies spread through the people like wildfire.

Numbers 14:1 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would God we had died in this wilderness! 3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? Were it not better for us to return into Egypt?

How foolish it was for the children of Israel to want to go back to Egypt. Egypt had been a place filled with heartache and sorrow. Yet the fear of facing the future caused them to choose the familiarity of the past and rather than feasting on milk and honey, the people longed garlic and onions. (see Num 11:5)

As the people continued to murmur and complain, the hand of the LORD turned against them. We read from the book of Hebrews that God said – “So I sware in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter into my rest.’” (Hebrews 3:11) For the next forty years, the unbelieving Jews wandered aimlessly in the wilderness.

It is with this great truth in mind that the writer of Hebrews gives each of us this stern warning – “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Hebrews 4:11) Rather than being like the foolish children of Israel who looked to the past, may we be men and women of God, who like Joshua and Caleb, looked to the future.

The Bible says – “Eye hath not seen , nor ear heard , neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

 

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