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Faith in the Wilderness

Christian Living

Faith in the Wilderness

Bob Yandian

Mix It with Faith

There were three problems the Israelites had which led to their death and failure to enter Canaan. First, a failure to mix God’s promises with faith, second, a failure to rest on the promises and third, the resulting hardness of heart they developed toward God Himself. 

The first failure of Israel in the wilderness was not mixing the promises of God given to them for the past four hundred years with faith. From the time of Abraham and for generations following, God gave the Israelites promises of deliverance from Egypt and promises for a future home in Canaan, the land of abundance. Yet, even though the Jews knew the promises by heart, they did not mix them with faith. Instead, they acted in fear and unbelief toward God’s word to them.

James warned us as New Testament believers that being a hearer of the word is not enough. It is not a guarantee of success. We must be doers of the word, or act in faith on what God has told us in His word (James 1:22).

Application of the word of God to life’s problems brings success. You cannot look at a promise in the Bible and expect God to fulfill it if you do nothing.

Rest on the Promises

Whether you like it or not, conflicts in life will come. Whether you are resting on God’s promises or griping and complaining about your life, storms will come. The griping and complaining Christian will probably not come through the problem successfully, stronger and more mature. The one who rests on the promises will end up on the other side of the situation with increased peace, maturity and stability.

God never said we would not have storms in life. But He did promise to bring us through them. Jesus might have known a storm was coming. He might not have known. Yet, it did not matter. The promise had been given.

The greatest gift God can give you is His promise. It is His guarantee that you will be fine and taken care of. Jesus stood up and rebuked the storm for the disbelieving and worried disciples. Jesus then rebuked their unbelief and told them they possessed little faith. Think of the comparison. Jesus had great faith and they had small faith. Jesus slept, and they feared. When awakened, Jesus rebuked the storm and stopped it in response to their fears. Sometimes, it is a demonstration of greater faith to sleep through a storm than rebuke it. Jesus showed us the value of resting on a promise given.

You can find rest in the worst situations. Rest does not come from what you experience, but from what you know. Paul told the Corinthians, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing…” (2 Corinthians 5:6). Knowledge produces confidence. Confidence is another term for resting on what God has told us.

Hardness of Heart is a Choice

While it is said: (Psalm 95:8) “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (at Meribah). For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So, we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.  (Hebrews 3:15-19)

The writer of Hebrews quotes the writer of Psalms and tells us hardness of heart is a choice, “Harden not your heart.” It is often the choice we make after the choice of unbelief toward God. Israel could not enter Canaan because of unbelief. Unbelief led them to hardness of heart.  When you fail to believe God’s promises, you begin to move toward hardness of heart. Faith always has a vision and looks forward. Unbelief has no vision and finds its comfort in the past.

Here is something interesting. The second generation followed the first generation in refusing to mix God’s promises with faith. They also followed the first generation in refusing to rest on God’s promises. Both generations came to the point of unbelief. Yet, the second generation chose not to harden their hearts against God. Recovery is one decision away. The second Meribah incident was the fork in the road, the parting of the ways. The first generation hardened their hearts. The second did not.

The Promises of God

Someone said there are over seven thousand promises in the Bible. If the promise is in the Old Testament, it has not lost its power. A New Testament promise is as real today as it was in the day it was given.

What is your current storm?  Are you struggling financially?  Physically?  The list of life’s problems could go on and on.  Here’s the good news.  God has provided promises for whatever you need.  For your finances Philippians 4:19, “But my God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  Health? Matthew 8:17 “He, Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sickness.”

You can learn from the failure of the Israelites. First, find a promise and mix it with your faith. Second, rest on the promise, knowing the God who declared it has already accomplished it and will cause it to come to pass.

“Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.”  (Psalm 116:7)

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