Day 21: There is No Heaven on Your Own Terms

"And all the people of Israel murmured..."

Numbers 14:2, RSV 


Thus begins the tale of Israel's rebellion against God: "all the people of Israel murmured". What were they murmuring about, you might be wondering? Well the setting was as follows:


Israel had just been led out of Egypt after hundreds of years of slavery. When the Egyptians disobeyed God by not letting Israel go, God brought down upon them one of the greatest displays of His power ever witnessed in the history of the world.


And it was Israel who witnessed it.


But when God brought them to Canaan and told them His terms for entering this Promised Land, they forgot the display of God's power that they had just seen and refused to go in. They said that it would be better to go back and become slaves in Egypt again. Some even suggested that it would be better to simply die in the wilderness. 


Perhaps you might not blame the Israelite's timidity. After all, the people in Canaan were big and they had fortified cities. But Israel forgot two important things: First, God was on their side. Second, God had told them to go. But they didn't go into the Promised Land because they did not trust in God.


So God punished them.


Then the people decided that they would go after all, but God told them that they could no longer enter the promised land. Again, you may be wondering why, and the answer is perhaps the greatest lesson that God's people of every era need to learn. It is simply this:


When you turn down God's terms, you will not enter the Promised Land.


Even if you decide that you would still like to go, but on your own terms. 


Did you catch that? If so, then you will have much fewer difficulties getting along in this world that God has placed you in. But, if you and I do not learn this lesson the easy way, we will most certainly some day learn it the hard way, for we cannot enter the Promised Land if we refuse God's terms - even if we decide to "negotiate" with terms of our own. Unfortunately, Israel did not learn this lesson right away, so God gave them the lesson in another way. Here is how that lesson unfolded:


"Early the next morning they went up toward the high hill country. 'We have sinned', they said. 'We will go up to the place the LORD promised.' But Moses said, 'Why are you disobeying the LORD's command? This will not succeed! Do not go up because the LORD is not with you...'

Nevertheless, in their presumption they went...

Then the Amalekites and Canaanites who lived in the hill country came down and attacked them and beat them down all the way to Hormah." Numbers 14:40-42; 44-45, NIV 


Today is Day 21 of the Thirty Day Challenge to read through the Books of Moses. Today's reading consists of Numbers 13-18. May God richly bless you as you seek the Promised Land on His terms!