Much is made of the 40 years the Israelites spent rootless in the desert after crossing the Red Sea without a bridge or a boat. Even people unfamiliar with the Bible know of that side trip. It was never meant to be that way. But it was. Because…
The Israelites wanted a pill when God required a process.
It is only about 250 miles, or about a month’s journey from the KOA at the Red Sea to the milk and honey stand at the Promised Land. Yet after two months they were not even gazing it. Did God fail them? Nope. God’s design was for them to spend a couple years or so in the desert preparing for the challenges ahead. These were idol worshipping, fearful, complaining, uneducated ex-slaves who didn’t know how to take care of themselves let alone go to battle for the Promised Land. God intended to use the comparatively short time in the desert to transform them into the people of God who could take the land from the people there, who would represent Him and who would bless all nations. The only way for that to happen was a process that would take more than 8 weeks.
But they insisted on a pill when God never relents on requiring a process.
Like every other person left to human tendencies, the Israelites didn’t want to wait, to say no to their desires, to allow the necessary process. They wanted the promises of the Promised Land NOW! They saw God’s delay as God holding out on them or punishing them when in truth He was protecting and preparing them for more than they could imagine.
The demanded a pill when God offers only the path of a process.
As a result, only two months after the ejection from slavery, they thought Moses was lost and they were abandoned. They felt Moses had been gone too long a time (it had been less than 40 days) so they voted God out of their lives and golden calf in. Instead of being the people of God, they became a laughingstock to the other nations by their revelry. God had to use the Levites to cut down 3000 to regain order, and He sent a plague to punish them.
We want a pill; God requires a process.
It appears to me anything less than 10 years is a bargain when we look at the length of Biblical processes.
Abraham: over 35 years waiting, watching and obeying.
Joseph: 13 years as a slave.
Moses: 40 years in the wilderness.
Joshua: 40 years as Moses’ assistant.
Jesus: 30 years growing up as a human.
Paul: 3 years in the desert of Arabia and more years learning from Christian leaders.
If we asked them, “Would you prefer a pill that would deliver instantly or a process that will be painful, long and try you to your last reserve?” I’m sure the natural preference would be the tablet with a glass of water, please. I also believe that if we asked them at THE END of the process, “Was it worth all that you went through?” they would answer without hesitation, “YES, YES, a thousand times YES!” Because the results of God’s process are ALWAYS far beyond what we could dream up. And pills never, ever deliver what we really want.
God doesn’t do pills. The world offers a pill when God offers a process. And we know how that works out.
8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)
So which will it be - pill or process? If you choose God, give up the complaining and moaning. Look for what God wants to do and do it quickly. The Israelites could have been out of the desert and into the Promised Land in a fraction of 40 years but they did not submit to God’s process.
What about you? Pill or process? Desert or Promised Land? Golden calf or cooperate with God? Your Choice.
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