By Colleen Donahue

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If history is to be of any benefit to us today we must look at the mistakes and failures of men who went before us lest we repeat them in our own lives. In the last study we saw that God was taking the Israelites to the Promised Land via the wilderness to teach them some very definite things. But it wasn't His plan that they should remain there so long. This prolonged journey was a direct result of sin.

Sin, in its simplest description, is knowing what is right to do and not doing it (James 4:17). After the fall, man's basic nature had changed from one that was perfect and clean before God into one that was bent on sinning. We each have an inward inclination to sin.

"There is a power within that draws me to sin and when that power breaks out I commit sin. I may seek and receive forgiveness, but then I sin again, and life goes on in a vicious circle? sinning and being forgiven, but then sinning again. We need forgiveness for what we have done, but we need deliverance from what we are!" (Watchman Nee)

Certainly, we can see this pattern of sinning and seeking forgiveness in the life of the Israelites. Because their nature was bent on sinning they continued to sin. Let's continue this month with...

THE WANDERINGS OF ISRAEL-- Learning From History

I. Murmuring, Complaining & Criticizing

Over and over we hear this ugliness coming from the people. In fact, by the end of our reading about the Israelites on their way to Canaan this is what we associate them with...

Day 1- No sooner had the Lord miraculously opened the Red Sea and saved the people from the Egyptians, before we hear them complain to Moses.
Exodus 15:22-24

Day 2- Then again, a short time later...
Exodus 16:2-3

Day 3- Upon leaving the Desert of Sin, the Israelites went by easy stages to Rephidim. But once again there was no water.
Exodus 17:1-3

What can be more dishonouring to God than to see His own people complaining? But wait? before we ourselves get too critical of the Israelites we ought to look at our own wilderness journey!

Day 4- Do you find yourself dissatisfied with your lot in life and complaining privately or to those closest to you?
Ecclesiastes 2:11,17-20

Day 5- Do you find yourself complaining at times because you lack the money or the time or the ability?
Lamentations 3:31-33; 38-40 / Hebrews 13:5

Day 6- Do you ever murmur against your boss at work or teachers or church leaders that you are treated in some way unfairly? Or that you deserve better?
Matthew 7:1-5

Day 7- Complaining, murmuring and criticizing come in many forms but at its base is an unthankful heart that doesn't believe God is in control and has the best intentions for us. Deuteronomy 32:6

Day 8- A heart that isn't grateful to God will readily become dark and lose all sense of being in God's hands. This is direct lack of faith and it always brings the same results.
Romans 1:21 / Romans 14:23B

II. Rebellion Against Authority

So often our complaints are directed towards those in some kind of authority over us.

Day 9- Rebellion was the sin of the followers of Korah. What did they charge against Moses and Aaron?
Numbers 16:1-15

Day 10- The spirit of rebellion is born out of envy and pride. It is a destructive force. It's a sin that is often camouflaged with smart arguments and ideas of reform and thus can affect many people.
2 Peter 2:10-19

Day 11- How did God punish Korah and his rebels?
Numbers 16:16-33

If we do not want to be servants of Satan?the chief of rebels?then we must take a clear stand against all rebellion within us.

Day 12- We must surrender our opinions completely to God.
Mark 14:36 / Acts 21:14

Day 13- Then, we must make every effort to fit into the established order God has placed around us. That means treating our superiors?even the overbearing ones?with respect and obedience.
Ephesians 6:5 / Colossians 3:22 / I Timothy 6:1 / Titus 2:9 / I Peter 2:17-18

Day 14- Lastly, we must call upon Jesus each time rebellious thoughts come. He is the only one who can break the grip that Satan can have over us in this area.
I Peter 5:6-7 / Hebrews 4:14-16 / Hebrews 7:25

III. Idolatry

Another sin that seemed to be a constant temptation to the Israelites was that of idolatry. An idol?both then and now?is any object that we worship or give passionate devotion to other than God.

Day 15- What did God clearly say to the Israelites?
Deuteronomy 5:7-10

Day 16- This is a side of God that we don't often think about, i.e. that He "jealously" loves us and wants to be close to us and first in our lives.
Deuteronomy 4:24 / Exodus 34:14 / Joshua 24:19

Day 17- Just imagine the heartbreak our Father must have felt when He looked down and saw one of His chief priests and leaders organizing the people into making a metal cow to worship! What did the Lord confide to Moses?
Exodus 32:9-10

Day 18- The anger of the Lord is not a sinful anger but a righteous anger resulting from a hatred of sin.
Numbers 11:1 / Numbers 25:1-3 / Numbers 32:13 / Psalm 7:11

Day 19- Now, do you think God's heart is breaking today when He looks down at the lives WE are living?
Ephesians 5:3-6

Day 20- Idols today are a bit different and more difficult to recognize. It could be your car, or your wife, or your stereo. Where do you lavish all your time and attention?
Psalm 115:4 / Acts 17:29 / Romans 1:22-23

Day 21- The essence of idolatry is looking to something or someone other than God for our significance, our security or our happiness. What does God actually give us in exchange for our devotion and faithfulness?
Deuteronomy 5:29 / I Kings 3:14 / Psalm 92:13-14 / Matthew 6:33 / James 1:25

Day 22- We may believe in God and worship Him on Sunday but He is no fool! He can see where we commit most of our time, energy and interest.
I Corinthians 7:29-31 / Ephesians 5:15-16

Day 23- God cannot tolerate anyone else being first in our lives if we have committed ourselves to Him. If worldly love takes hold of us in any form it will separate us from God even here on earth. What does God ask of us?
Deuteronomy 10:12 / Joshua 24:14 / Isaiah 8:13

IV. Unbelief

This was another sin that constantly plagued this nation. They did not believe that God would do all that He said He would.

Day 24- Unbelief is always reasoning and thinking. "It leads us to interpret God in the presence of the difficulty, instead of interpreting the difficulty in the presence of God." (MacKintosh)
John 11:38-40 / John 20:25

Day 25- "This is a great practical truth. Unbelief is not humility, but thorough pride. It refuses to believe God because it does not find in SELF a reason for believing. This is the very height of presumption. If, when God speaks, I refuse to believe, on the ground of something in myself, I make Him a liar." (MacKintosh)
I John 5:5,10

Day 26- What is the verdict that God pronounces over this sin?
Revelation 21:8

Day 27- Why is this such a serious sin?
Hebrews 3:12-19

Day 28- Today, a more modern term for unbelief is DISCOURAGEMENT. It is essentially the same sin. We simply do not trust God that He loves us and has only the best planned. How does God ENCOURAGE us?
Isaiah 41:10 / Isaiah 43:1-3 / Matthew 10:30-31

Day 29- As surely as Jesus exhorts us to believe, "Have faith in God" (Mark 11:22), WE CAN BELIEVE. If we do not it is sin!
John 8:24/ John 16:8-9

Day 30- "No one, not even God Himself can help me out of my need: my hopeless situation, my temptations and sins." When we say such things we think we know better than God's Word which says....
Psalm 50:15 / Isaiah 43:25 / Hebrews 13:5B

Had the Israelites really known and loved God they would never have been discouraged and fallen into the unbelief they did time and again. Yet God honoured the belief and trust of a few men and women. Next, we'll study how Joshua finally leads the Israelite nation into the Promised Land and how many parallels there are in our own walk with God.

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