In Ex 33 God was not pleased with the children of Israel and twice referred to them as 'stiff necked people'. Ever wondered why?
"Tell the Israelites, 'You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you.
Undoubtedly, Miracles are great, spectacular, mind-bowing, supernatural, convicting and convincing. But they are not a daily occurrence and we should not expect them daily. God gives miracles when He wants to. He is a sovereign God and does the miraculous according to His will. We need to develop our intimacy with Him and our faith in Him and learn to live by faith, appropriating the promises; obtaining them with the heavenly currency of faith.
Often we say ‘If I can just see a miracle I will believe.’ We forget that miracles do not make beliefs. You can see a miracle today and resort to doubt tomorrow when you‘re faced with a different situation or even a similar situation.
The Israelites saw God at work first hand as He humiliated the Egyptians with the ten plagues while they were spared of the locusts, lice, flies, frogs, darkness, death of first born etc But when they came to the red sea and looked back and saw the Egyptians advancing, they panicked, grumbled and wanted to stone Moses.
God brought them out from Canaan to Egypt because of an approaching famine, gave them favour because of Joseph who had been sent ahead. They were settled in the best part of Egypt at that time-Goshen, before another Pharaoh who did not know Joseph came to power. They were maltreated from then on and they cried to the Lord and he heard their cry and decided to rescue them by sending Moses to Pharaoh to 'let my people go!' He was to take them to a Land flowing with milk and honey. Unfortunately they thought it would be milk and honey and partying all the way along. But God had a different plan- that of character building, patience, integrity, consecration, devotion, worship, intimacy, unity, love, selflessness, which were foreign to them.
And we too can often be like them. Why? Because they are a mirror of those who claim to believe in God, or God’s people. Only very few followed Him whole-heartedly, like Joshua and Caleb.
As they threw tantrums, Moses cried out to the Lord and the Lord told him to use his authority symbolized by the rod he had. He used the rod and the red sea was parted and they all walked through on dry ground. It was the first time that a sea had been parted. A highway, express way was created in a twinkling of an eye as the sea bed congealed and the waters stood at attention on both sides as they marched through. How awesome a sight! Millions of people crossed over to the other side. And when the Egyptians dared to continue in their pursuit venturing into the blood trap, Moses used his authority gain, stretching his rod over the highway which closed instantly engulfing the pursuing army of enemies. Moses’ prophetic utterance: "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." was fulfilled right before their eyes.
Some people see miracles and they explain it away with illogical logic. For instance they say the red sea was not deep and people could easily cross over. But they forget that it was in that same ‘not so deep sea’ that the Egyptian army was drowned.
Others believe the miracles but it’s just a passing phase, it does not build faith in them. They want the miracles all the time and have made God a celestial Santa or fairy god mother that they could make a wish to. and realise their dreams But God has something better- faith in God, growing in grace.
You would think that the difference God put between the Israelites and the Egyptians, His protection and provision would settle the issue of trust once and for all but it was not to be so. Soon they met with another problem or test of faith- bitter water and then no water and see the result.
They had just seen the parting of the red sea and were euphoric, singing:
4Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.
5The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.
6Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.
7And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.
They not only sang but danced too, gyrating, some doing acrobatics as they rejoiced over what the Lord had done, and rightly too. (Ex.15:20-21) But a few miles down the road they were tested again and failed the test. They encountered bitter water when they got thirsty. This is akin to the repeated trials we face on our way to the Promised Land.
They soon forgot that God was still in control. He had brought them there. He knew what He was doing. They forgot that Moses who led them there would have been thirsty too and had to do something about the bitter water. Some perhaps thought they could only get results by complaining. Little wonder we are told that they only knew the acts of God whilst Moses knew the ways of God. Moses knew why God gave the miracles. Moses knew the faithfulness of God. He knew God was refining them, training them for reigning like He does to us now from time to time. (Ex.15:22-25)
There was another water test in the desert of Sin which they failed again
4 Then Moses cried out to the LORD, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me."
You would wonder why they had to face another water test. They had not passed the previous test.
This is why we repeatedly encounter certain tests because we have not passed them and God is fair and would not let us skip a grade. It is in our own interest though we would be hard-pressed to admit it
Strike the Rock
In Horeb they became thirsty again and there was no water and God told Moses to strike a rock and water gushed out. Ex17:5-7
Speak to the Rock
Later on another occasion they were faced with a similar test and Moses got into trouble ( failed his own test)by striking the Rock instead of speaking to it. That Rock we now know symbolized Jesus Christ who was crucified once and for all. Striking the Rock twice was like crucifying Him afresh. (Number 20:2-13 NKJV). Paul gave us that revelation here:(1Cor.10:1-5 NKJV)
Let us mix what we hear and the miracles we see with faith so that we would have God’s promised rest.
The Promise of Rest
1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith
Let’s not be like the 10 spies who saw the giants and forgot giant grapes they harvested and the Big God they served.
We need to watch what we say When you are tried. Lets us not say: “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.” (Num13:31-33NIV)! In the passages above, the Israelites craved to satisfy the desires of the flesh, no matter what and failed to see that they were being tested. They failed the test again and again by complaining and wanting to go back to Egypt- a picture of the world. We too will be so tempted to go back to the world when we face temptations or tests. That is why the scriptures were written for our example, teaching , correction, instruction in righteousness so that we would not be found wanting.
Let us speak words of faith. Confess the Promises. Take sides with God, quiet our roaring voices o doubt. with ‘God is able and we are able with Him.’
Let be like Joshua and Caleb who brought a good report in spite of the giants they saw.
30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” (Num13:30, Num 14:7-10 Num14:27-30)
Your salvation itself is a miracle; in fact the miracle of miracles. That you and I who were once dead in sin , without hope, groping in the dark, imprisoned by the devil, enslaved, hell-bound, blind, received our sights, were raised from the dead; enemies of God are now friends of God, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; that is a miracle. We need to remind ourselves from time to time, especially in times when we don’t have things our own way or when don’t get what we want when we expect them. 'Man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' 'The kingdom of God is more than food and drink.'
It is all about Him and not us. He has good plans for us regardless of what we face. His plans remain good and all things work together for the good of those who are called according to His purposes. We are in training for reigning and if we suffer with Him we will also reign with Him.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Rom.8:18NKJV
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.2Cor.3:188 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—2Cor4.8-916 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,(2Cor.4:17)
3Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
Thank God when He gives you a miracle but don’t make a shrine on the altar of miracles. Grow up! Grow in grace. Grow in faith for daily living! Miracles do not make belief as we have seen from the foregoing. Having miracles always will make our growth stunted and make us spoilt kids. God has something better.
On the other hand, let’s not go to the other extreme where we regard miracles as a thing of the past. That would be unbelief in itself and amount to putting God in a box. Let God be God! He works miracles even in this day and age. He said, ‘I am the Lord, I change not.’ Jesus Christ the same yesterday, to day and forever.
In our sojourn to the Promised Land, God is building our character-the whole being. Let’s expect miracles but in His own terms at the time He chooses. Let’s eat His Word, chew it, digest it, meditate on it, practice it, mix faith with it; buy the heavenly goodies with the currency of faith. Let’s be wise to know when we are being tested and endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ and pass the tests that come our way and move up higher to His glory.