We Are No Different Today Than the Israelites of the Old Testament
Every couple of years or so I read the Old Testament in its entirety. I typically read this in an ESV Study Bible. This is particularly helpful when slogging through parts of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The study notes can pinpoint things you might miss when just grazing over the names of all those Israelites, dietary restrictions, and temple dimensions.
Another quick tip if you are rather new to the bible, is to read the OT with a Living Bible, at least for your first time. Some folks have an issue with the Living Bible, but it’s a great way to digest the Old Testament on your first run-through. I stick with the ESV for all my normal bible reading.
Those Early Israelites Were Just Plain Dumb…right?
Time and again when reading the Old Testament, I’m always surprised and how quickly the Israelites were to speak of returning to Egypt and complaining to, or about, Moses every time something when wrong. You would think that the first time a pillar of smoke spoke to you or opened the ground and swallowed your neighbors, you’d keep some thoughts to yourself for a bit and hang in there a while longer.
Still, the Israelites repeatedly complained about their conditions. First there wasn’t enough food, then they were tired of what they did have. They wanted meat, so the Lord gave it to them until they were sick of it. They got tired of walking, and on the cusp of the Promised Land, they were afraid of giants, and weren’t allowed in. On and on throughout the first five books of the bible, aka the Pentateuch, the Israelites acted like spoiled toddlers despite the God of the Universe practically holding their hand.
We Aren’t Much Different Today
Well, as it turns out, we aren’t much different than those Israelites ourselves. No, we don’t have a pillar of fire to remind us of God’s presence, but we do have the Holy Spirit working within each of us. We also have thousands of years of history to look back on and see these things in the rear view mirror, and we have a complete biblical record. For those of us that believe, there is no doubt that God is alive and presently active in our lives.
Yet we still do dumb things out of a lack of faith, or simple laziness. We might not be sacrificing blemished goats, but we are fudging on our tithes because, well…you know, because of that thing and just in case and well I gave an extra large tip at Starbucks. Half the time we don’t even have a good excuse for why we do stupid things.
We are all still Israelites. God answers a specific prayer in a miraculous way and six months later we’re fretting and in dire straits over something, as if He didn’t exist at all. We worship on Sunday, professing to dedicate our hearts and minds to the Lord the following week, but He gets crowded out with work, kids, schedules, and entertainment. Then we complain because He isn’t moving in our lives. We are all Israelites.
But God – There is Hope for Us Today
Fortunately, through faith in Jesus Christ, the ultimate scapegoat for humanity, we have hope. We can be dumb and still get to heaven. We can question God, as long as we truly seek His face for answers. We can fall and stumble…repeatedly. As long as we look in our hearts and truly believe that Christ has redeemed us, and that HE IS coming back one day, we will see His face in Glory.
Remember the next time you read your Old Testament, don’t be too harsh on those Israelites. We aren’t much different. We all wander around in our own wilderness, failing to look forward, or up, and only focusing on the past.