So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:6
I just finished a study on the book of Numbers. It finds Israel wandering about the desert grumbling, complaining and disobeying God at every turn. And God gives mercy over and over at Moses’ pleading. Until He doesn’t. There’s so much death in this book because of the unfaithfulness. Some because God allows the Israelites to try their own path, leading to deaths during wars. And some because God rains down His punishment with plagues.
It’s so easy for us to read what happened thousands of years ago and judge the Israelites. They were asleep to God’s ways and character.
At the end of one of my commentaries was the statement that from God’s point of view there are only three locations in the Israelite journey and only three locations in our own journey.
- Egypt: the land of bondage
- The Wilderness: the land of unbelief, doubt and falling short
- Canaan: the land of inheritance
The question for us is, which location do we currently find ourselves in?
Throughout the Bible we find an underlying message about growing in our faith. The sooner we recognize where we are and why we are there, the sooner we can move along on our journey.
For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18
This statement by Peter is so self-reflective. He has one foot in the wilderness while reaching with the other into the land of inheritance. He actively searches his heart and soul, asking God to reveal the blemishes and the blind spots.
We can spend a lot of time, like the Israelites seeing what God is and does. We can hear the good work He does in others. But do we, like Moses, truly understand God’s actions? Do we still ask “why” and wishing we could go back to Egypt? Or do we ask God to do even more work in us so that we are constantly changing, stripping away our old selves for His glory?
We want to be awake, vivacious, alive in our faith journey. We need to not just know “of” God but truly know Him – His character, how He works and how much He loves to see us grow.
You either obey, ignore or resist.Warren Wiersbe on the will of God
We humans like to blame the outside world for being stuck. For not reaching our full potential. We blame our church for not inspiring us. We blame our circumstances for not having time for God. We blame fellow Christians who have hurt us. But the Holy Spirit resides in us. It is a personal journey lived out for all to see. King David, in Psalm 51 does some deep reflection on where he is in his faith journey.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; Psalm 51:3-4
The Israelites blamed Moses and God for not quickly and without hardship reaching the Promised Land. They lacked David’s self-reflection. They sat for so many years in the Land of the Wilderness. It took me almost 20 years of wandering to finally wake up and begin understanding God. So, I have no place to judge them.
If you are stuck it’s time to look inward. It’s time to shake off your sleepiness and do a deep dive with God into your own heart. Only then can He lead you to the Land of Inheritance.