People who have studied the lives of ghetto gang members tell us that only three out of ten still on the streets after 5 years. Of the seven others, four are dead and the three land in jail. The point? Crime decreases one’s chances of survival.
The book of Numbers gives even more startling statistics. About 3 million men, women, and children came out of Egypt. During 38 years of wandering, all died in the wilderness except Joshua, Caleb, and those under 20 at the first census. Why? Because the people, who could have made the journey in less than 3 weeks, didn’t believe God. Unbelief led to sexual immorality, murmuring, lusting, jealousy, and rebellion.
All Christians are capable of committing those same sins. That’s why the apostle Paul cited the Israelites as “good” bad examples. They learned by disobeying God. We can learn by obeying Him. Both paths are difficult. To follow the one leads to regret and wasted years; to follow the other results in a rewarded faith with no regrets. What if we’ve already made some of Israel’s mistakes? There is still hope. We do need God’s discipline, but in His mercy He offers forgiveness and ample grace to live with the consequence of wrong choices. Painful lessons learned can be woven into the fabric of new service and faith. Then we will not become good examples of what is bad. – Dennis J. De Haan
Study Israel’s 38 years of wilderness wanderings (Numbers 10-21). List Israel’s sins (Numbers 11:1; 12:1; 14:1-2; 16:1-16; 16:41; 20:11-12; 21:5). Why did they sin? How can we avoid their failures?
He is wise who learns to obey where others go astray.
- February 17, 1989, Our Daily Bread