During the Exodus, Moses and the children of Israel escaped the slavery of the Egyptians. As they traveled toward the Promised Land, they witnessed a lot of miraculous things.
- God parted the waters of the Red Sea and the Egyptian army was wiped out.
- God guided them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
- God directed their path as Moses was out in front of them, leading.
- God provided food to eat; manna from heaven and water from a rock.
They were surrounded by unmatched privileges. God was constantly in their presence. His working in their midst was evident. In fact, I think these people should have been the epitome of godliness, if for no other reason than out of gratitude for what God had done for them, but they weren’t. The apostle Paul wrote about these people, “Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness” (1 Corinthians 10:5). As they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land, they played games with their lives and with their God.
I believe this is dangerous business.
Just what happened to God’s own people? What caused their bodies to be scattered in the wilderness? Paul tells us the reason for their tragedy and downfall, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry” (1 Corinthians 10:7). Many of you were in college; doesn’t this sound like a fraternity party?
What was the real problem? I submit to you that:
- They lost their sense of wonder and awe in God’s presence.
- They lost their wonder; the supernatural became commonplace.
- They were good at God-talk (which was plentiful), but they lacked a reverence and respect for God.
- They became calloused to the divine.
- They became indifferent in their values.
- They compromised their religious beliefs.
- They forgot their heritage.
- They were apathetic about spiritual matters and God’s Law.
- They did not mean business with God.
- They had a relationship with God that became a farce.
Never in the history of the world has one country been so blessed. Sound familiar? Now take a look at America. We are inundated with churches, Christian radio and television programs, Christian magazines and books, Christian schools, Christian conferences and seminars. Never has the potential for religious instruction been so prominent. Our churches should be overflowing with godly men and women intent on fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) and the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). We cannot blame it on the government for taking God out of the public school; remember that we are the ones who should be salt and light in the world, making a difference in our society.
But are we? All too often, Christians walk down the same paths of carnality as these ancient Israelites. Non-believers can’t tell the difference between church people and anyone else in society. We make light of what we should honor. We wink at that which we should weep. We play with what we should take quite seriously. And our families suffer the effects of our shallow faith.
The children of Israel serve as a warning to every believer. Heed the warning of Paul who tells us that God was not pleased with them. Pleasing God should be the desire of each follower of Christ, to please the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Let’s take God seriously.