© 2021 Tate Kandi / Harvest City Church

Throughout the pandemic, apart from, ‘You’re on mute!’, I would guess the most popular phrase has been, ‘I can’t wait to get back to normal’. As the country begins to slowly open up again and cautiously ease restrictions there is a sense of nervous excitement in the air. This is a good thing! The idea of returning to restaurants and going away on holidays and being able to meet with friends and family again is a welcome relief. However, as much as I look forward to the complete easing of restrictions and a return of all of life’s comforts that we have missed for over a year, I also want the fullness of God’s promises in the future.

Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.” (Exodus 3:7-8, NLT)

The children of Israel had experienced a long time of suffering and God finally engineered a plan that would see them set free and step into a land that He had for them (Exodus 3:8, 17). Moses was to lead them out of Egypt, God Himself was going with them (Exodus 3:12; Deuteronomy 1:33), and the journey to their promised land was a short one (Deuteronomy 1:2). However, some of them failed to step into God’s promises because of their disobedience and lack of trust in God’s plan.

Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. “Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!” know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.” (Numbers 14:1-4, NLT)

God had already promised to bless and rescue them, but throughout the journey the Israelites displayed disobedience to God in ways that resulted in a short journey of only a couple of weeks turning into a decades-long event (Numbers 14:33-34). Sometimes we look back and we miss what’s ‘normal’ because it’s what we are used to—but just because it is what we have always done (or it’s what everyone else is doing) does not mean it is normal. When we are headed into the future that God has for us, we must be wary of the dangers we face on the way.

Three Dangers On The Journey:
  • Forgetting God’s promises (Genesis 17:7-8; Exodus 6:6-8; Exodus 14:10-11)
  • Looking back in desperation (Exodus 14:10; Numbers 11:4-6)
  • Giving in to weaknesses (Exodus 15:24; 16:17-20; 32:1, Numbers 11:4,10)

As we look forward to the country opening back up we need to realise that there are certain elements of pre-Covid life that need to stay in the past.

“How long must I put up with this wicked community and its complaints about me? Yes, I have heard the complaints the Israelites are making against me. Now tell them this: ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very things I heard you say. You will all drop dead in this wilderness! Because you complained against me, every one of you who is twenty years old or older and was included in the registration will die. You will not enter and occupy the land I swore to give you. The only exceptions will be Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.” (Numbers 14:27-34, NLT)

Some of the Israelites failed to grasp hold of what God had for them because they longed to go back to what had become normal for them. They complained about their situation to Moses (showing a lack of trust in God), disobeyed Moses’ instruction (going against God’s Word) and turned to idols (rejecting and replacing God). We are now so accustomed to practices like complaining and ‘calling out’ those we feel are not doing what we think they should be doing—to outright disobedience and disregard for those in authority, without caution—that I’m disheartened to say this kind of behaviour has crept into the church.

Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2, NLT)

We don’t make and worship golden calves (Exodus 32:1), but we put our trust in things, systems and customs of this world. When things get tough, we take matters into our own hands and forget God’s promise that He will look after us. When we forget who God is and disobey Him, we delay God’s promises and forfeit His blessing. Not everyone made it to the promised land (Numbers 14:21-23, 27) and the Israelites’ disobedience affected the next generation. We need to understand that our level of faith and obedience will affect future generations.

“Therefore, be careful to obey every command I am giving you today, so you may have strength to go in and take over the land you are about to enter. If you obey, you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord swore to give to your ancestors and to you, their descendants—a land flowing with milk and honey!” (Deuteronomy 11:8-9, NLT)

Three Things To Remember:
  • Trust God (Psalm 37:3-5; Matthew 6:25; Jeremiah 17:7-8; Isaiah 26:3)
  • Obey God (Luke 11:28; Acts 5:29; Matthew 7:21-23; John 3:36)
  • Turn to God (James 4:8; Acts 3:19; John 14:23; Deuteronomy 11:8-12)

As we return to normal let’s leave the customs of this world behind and learn to trust, obey and turn to God in all circumstances. This is the only way to enjoy His promises and blessings in our lives.