You’re Not Moses, But Israel

Who do we most resemble in the Biblical text? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For those wondering where I have been, last week I had a massive toothache. The antibiotic is starting to work now, but I wanted to take a break. Things should be back to normal entirely relatively soon, although future work is going to be needed.

I have a habit in Bible reading. I read in the morning, but before I go to bed at night, I read a short little bit. Normally, just a couple of verses. I think about those and examine them and keep in mind the best I can the verses I read earlier and see how it all fits. A couple of nights or so ago I was going through Hebrews and read this in Hebrews 3:15-16.

15 Remember what it says:

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts
    as Israel did when they rebelled.”

16 And who was it who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice? Wasn’t it the people Moses led out of Egypt?

So who was Israel? Israel was a nation that had gone down to Egypt and originally been treated with favor. Now they were not. They were enslaved by a Pharaoh who did not care about the history of these people. They were people of a strange religion in a strange land. They were people in covenant with YHWH.

They were like us in many ways. We are the covenant people of YHWH as well since we are in Christ. We have a strange belief system to the people around us.

These people cry out to God for deliverance. They’re really asking Him if He’s going to honor the covenant. This is something common you see in the Old Testament. Many of the Psalms are not talking about reminding the people of their covenant, but God of His.

Then these people are delivered by Moses and what do they do after all the miraculous signs they themselves personally saw? They rebel. When they get to the Promised Land, they declare that God is against them and refuse to obey them. God tells Moses those people will never enter His rest and the people wander for 40 years until that generation dies off and a new one comes up.

Today in the church, it’s quite common to see ourselves in the same position as the heroes of the Bible. Now to be sure, we are to emulate them when they do right and live like them, but they are also exceptions. Many people expect to hear God speak to them because Moses did. They forget the numerous Israelites at the base of the mountain who realized how frightening a prospect that was. Hebrews even reminds us that Moses was trembling with fear at the presence of God.

In reality, we are not like Moses most often. We are more like Israel. We are often the people in rebellion against God and who do not think He will do what He said and that we have to handle things our own way. Every time we do that, we are in essence doing what Israel did. We are hardening our hearts.

It’s nothing we really want to hear. I certainly didn’t want to come to such a conclusion that would implicate myself as well, but I don’t see much other way around it. We can say it’s worse for us as well. We have the promise of the resurrection. Many of us could have a more sophisticated theology than the average Israelite in the wilderness back then. Those of us especially who are apologists are to be held to a higher standard since we specialize so much in the truth of what God says. We had better live it!

So why don’t we trust God more? That is something I am still pondering on more and more. Each of us will have to answer that on our own. We can keep in mind even Moses didn’t do all the trust right so if we struggle, we’re in good company.

We should also be more humble when we read the Bible. All the good promises are there, but they’re not there because we’re so special and earned them, but because God is so gracious and gave them. Many of us would like to be the heroes, and there’s nothing wrong again with wanting to emulate them, but too many times we’re like the failures and even the enemies in the Bible. Let’s all watch ourselves to make sure we’re living more and more like Christ.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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