For forty years Israel had been wandering in the wilderness. Now before finally entering the promised land, Moses, who is 120 years old, gives the people a series of messages. In them he reiterates the importance of complete obedience to God, the consequences of choosing not to, and most of all to remember each step of their walk with Him.
Moses begins by giving a history of the Israelites and their journey after the Exodus. All God wanted was for the people to have faith in Him. To believe that what He promised, He would fulfill. He wanted with them, like He does with us, a close personal relationship built on love and obedience. They were His chosen people to whom He offered not only a land filled with milk and honey, but victory over their enemies. But instead of trusting God and His vow to go before them and fight on their behalf, (v. 1:30) they grumbled against Him and filled themselves with unbelief. An unbelief that caused a whole generation to perish. Instead of drawing near to God, praying for His protection and keeping His commandments, they went their own way, followed their own desires, and caused their own destruction.
I think about the story of the Israelites and find myself shaking my head. I wonder how a people who had seen the mighty hand of God working on their behalf could so easily turn away from Him and His love. And then I think about my own life. How many times have I seen the hand of God at work and still grumbled against Him? How many blessings have I missed out on because instead of walking in trust and obedience, I gave in to fear and rebellion? How many days, weeks, and months have I wasted wandering in the wilderness?
Thankfully, I serve a loving and forgiving God. Even after the people rejected Him, God cared for them as His precious children, meeting their every need. I too am His precious child, and with each step of my spiritual walk He cares for me. No matter how far I may wander, He is always there. Through the highs and the lows, the good and the bad, He is loving me and patiently waiting to welcome me back. By refusing to trust God and submitting to His perfect plans, an entire generation of Israelites missed out on the joy of seeing God’s promises fulfilled. I would do well to remember their example of what happens when I refuse to trust and draw near to Him.
“For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God whenever we call on Him?” (vs. 4:7) The people of Israel were God’s special possession, His very own. He gloriously and graciously led them and performed wondrous miracles in their sight. They could call on Him at any time, for any reason. When we receive Jesus as our Savior, we too become a part of God’s very own. He is near to us and just like the people of Israel, we can call on Him. God wants us to have the very best life possible. There is no one who loves you more, will fight harder on your behalf, or is more worthy of your complete faith and devotion. So draw near to Him, remember Him in all things, believe and obey, and watch the blessings flow!