God wants us to apply this spiritual counsel to our relationship with him. He says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion during the time of testing in the desert” (Hebrews 3:7).
God speaks to us in his Word, and he wants to live in a personal relationship with us. If we also want this relationship, we must faithfully read his Word, meditate on it and pray. He needs some of our time to get our attention.
God raised up Israel to become the nation from which the Savior of the world would come. However, Israel was rebellious. They wanted to be God and call the shots on how they would live their lives.
He led them out of slavery in Egypt toward the Promised Land. Yet they experienced difficulties, for they had no water. Grumbling on the way, the Israelites asked Moses, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to make us and our livestock die of thirst?”
God heard their complaints and told Moses to speak to the rock and thus water would appear. Yet, even Moses was rebellious. Instead of just speaking to the rock, he struck it. God did give them their water, but because of Moses’ disobedience in striking the rock, God sentenced Israel to spend forty years in the wilderness, and Moses would never enter the promised land.
This incident in the life of Israel teaches us that we must obey God. He, and he alone, is supreme. The past teaches us that if we live contrary to his will, we will experience his anger. Israel was slow in learning what the psalmist wrote, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 32:12).
This lesson applies to our day: Live contrary to God’s will and he will withdraw his blessings from us.
William Barclay writes, “God makes an offer. Just as he offered the Israelites the blessing of the Promised Land, He offers to all people the blessings of a life far beyond the life that man can give to us. However, to obtain the blessings of God, two things are necessary: trust and obedience.”
We have to learn the lesson that we are not God. We are to live under the Lordship of Christ. He is the Lord of our home and will guide us in the raising of our children. He is the One who can take us to our Heavenly Home. Clearly God teaches that we do not have the power to save ourselves. We are completely dependent on Christ, his death on the cross, and his glorious resurrection if we are going to enter the Promised Land (our Heavenly Home.)
This lesson also applies to the Church.
The Church is the spiritual Israel. It is Christ’s Body. Christ spoke to his Church when he said, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go and make disciples of all nations . . .” (Matthew 28:19).
This is the God-given mission of the Church. The past teaches us that we cannot substitute another mission, though often we do try. All other missions for the Church are to be secondary. They are important, but are secondary.
Congregations and denominations that hold true to this mission are vital and growing. God uses them to change lives and convert people to Christ. We learn this by studying the past.
When God looked at Israel and saw that they had hardened their hearts and did not listen to his voice, he was angry. Have we as Americans hardened our hearts to what God says in his Word? The past speaks specifically about God’s action when people turn away from him. He is a God of punishment and will withdraw his blessings from that nation if they continue in their greed and unrighteous living.
Hear then, America: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Could it be that the future of our blessed land hinges on what we do with these words? We are not God and do not have all the answers to the problems of our day.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12). This is one of history’s great lessons.