The spirit of my Tobagonian story-telling ancestors rises in me and compels me to reenact certain bible stories. So on those occasions, I excitedly get into character and change voices, alternate my volume, contour my face, exaggerate, gesticulate, pontificate, and ‘personificate’. That morning, for that particular story, it was like a monologue on Broadway with me as both artist and audience, along with the typical taunts, raucous laughter, and heckling, as I turned the events of the bible into a theatrical play.
My performance of the scenes that played out in Numbers 14 had me laughing, mocking, and pitying the Israelites while fearing and admiring our great God.
At that point in the book of Numbers God was just about fed up with those stiff-necked, ungrateful, and complaining bunch of people. The essence of the story is that the Lord kept and provided for the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 long and dare I say, unnecessary years. When they were on the cusp of entering the promised land, the descendants of Jacob began to cry and complain against God based on the witness of 10 out of 12 spies, who advocated that the Canaanites were giants that could crush them.
Thanks to their continual whining and rebellion, only two of the estimated two million people whom the Lord rescued from Egypt, entered the land that was “flowing with milk and honey”. Caleb and Joshua were their names and they were able to enter because they chose to believe God’s promise that the Israelites would be able to overpower the Canaanites. After lauding the richness of the land Joshua and Caleb said, “Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them” (vs. 9 NKJV). Instead of finding courage in these words, the gang was so incensed that they threatened to stone the duo.
I couldn’t help but ponder whether believers today have that similar ungrateful, unbelieving and complaining spirit as the Israelites, because the response of the Israelites seemed so unbelievable. The bible says that neither their clothes nor sandals wore out for those 40 years in the wilderness, that bread and meat were provided in the desert, that clouds covered them every day and that fire went before them every night.
One argument for their unbelief is that these descendants of Jacob who left Egypt some 400 years after Jacob and his family migrated to Egypt at the behest of his son Joseph, those millions of people did not know God. I found that this still did not adequately explain their incessant doubting and unbelief. They must have at least heard stories about God although they never experienced God themselves. I believe that in addition to showing His might to Pharaoh through the onslaught of plagues on the Egyptians, the Lord demonstrated His power to show the Israelites who is the Lord God of their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
At every turn on their wandering in the wilderness, the Lord executed feats that the Israelites never saw or heard of before. The account of the Lord parting the Red Sea lives on and provides hope and encouragement to generations thousands of years after, yet the very people for whom the red sea parted like a wall, those people, continued to doubt. They continued to desire the bondage of Egypt than believe in the possibility that God will actually do what He promised. In His anger, the Lord threatened to strike and disinherit the people of Israel and He was justified because time after time and miracle after miracle, the Israelites still complained unrelentingly.
Maybe I was quick to condemn the unbelief of the Jews in those days because I am on the other side of the Cross of Jesus Christ with the benefit of the entire story, and so my earlier pondering about believers today being any different from the Jews, reemerged.
The Lord told Moses, “How long will these people reject me? And how long will they not believe me, with all the signs which I have performed among them” (vs. 11 NKJV).
The Holy Spirit answered my pondering and said, “many believers are just like the Israelites whose faith was limited to past miracles, and who doubted God’s ability to deliver when faced with a new obstacle”. He said, “believers today rejoice and testify about God’s power, favour and ability for the things that He did in the past, but when a new mountain/trial/obstacle appears, one that seems too big to handle they completely forget His power and descend into worry, unbelief and complaining.”
His words convicted me and the natural introspection that followed caused me to realise that I sometimes do exactly what the Israelites did. When a challenge is new and unknown, we look at our human ability to overcome it and even drown out the words of others who try to encourage us that God is more than able.
God could help you finish a post-graduate programme, but He can’t make a way for a career change. God can provide food for your family but He won’t ever give you a home. God can answer your heart’s desire for a spouse, but He can’t overcome PCOS or Endometriosis to give you children. He delivered you from abusive parents, but there is no way that He can rescue you from an abusive marriage. Then and now, people praise God for what He did and then turn around and doubt what He can do.
The Lord used this theatrical reenactment of Numbers 14 to remind me (and you) to not be stubborn and unbelieving. He reminded me that when He says that a situation is conquered, it doesn’t matter how monstrous or impossible it appears, it is conquered. One thousand people can say ‘no’, but it is only the ‘yes’ from God that matters. Hold on to God’s ‘yes’, hold on to His promise, believe Him more for what you can’t see, and hold on to Him tighter when you feel as though you are facing the opponent of your life. Say as Joshua and Caleb said, “the Lord is with us”.
Love Ya! Krystal Baynes-Hoseinee
Order Your Copy of my book 'My Favourite Scriptures' on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/My-Favourite-Scriptures-Devotional-Believers/dp/0578945614/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1634861325&sr=8- OR on the Imani website at www.imaniblog.com/book ‘My Favourite Scriptures: A Devotional For New Believers” contains reflections on fundamental principles about God’s love, His forgiveness, your character/nature in Christ, submission and obedience, His blessings, provision, purpose and protection. In this devotional I use deeply personal experiences to make the scriptures relevant to you. This book is a reflection of the grace that God showers on me, having used my lowest points and all my failures to increase my compassion so that I can spread the message of His love to the world. Follow me on FB & IG Here: https://www.facebook.com/imaniinspirational/ https://www.instagram.com/imani_blog2020/