Word of Encouragement (07/28/2022)

Pastor James
July 28, 2022

And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Ex. 16:2-3)

This “prayer” is terrible in so many ways. What is the worst thing about this “prayer”? It is the evil motive the Israelites attributed to God: “...you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Here, we are reminded of the distinction between facts and our interpretation of them. What was the fact in this situation? God brought them out of Egyptian slavery with great signs and wonders. When Pharaoh chased them with his chariots, God drowned them in the Red Sea. Three days after leaving the Red Sea, they ran out of water and came to Marah where the water was too bitter to drink. They grumbled against Moses, yet the LORD sweetened the water with a log. Now, they arrived at the wilderness of Sin, and, this time, they complained about the lack of food.

There was no denying it: they were out of food, and they were in the wilderness where food was scarce. That was a fact. But that was not all they saw, was it? They also saw what was in the heart of God(!)—His dark, secretive intentions to play with them and destroy them in the end. Did they really see what was going on in God’s heart? Of course not! But they would have said that they didn’t have to. What was happening with them was enough to show them exactly what God meant to do with them.

This is where we get into a lot of problems in our relationships, isn’t it? God wired us to interpret so we can come to know God through what He created and have a deeper understanding of what we see with our eyes. But sin has corrupted our ability to interpret correctly. Our self-interest distorts our perception and interpretation. Our insecurity can make us overestimate others unreasonably as well as cut them down unjustly. When we are repeatedly hurt, we can attribute malicious intent to others and their kind gestures. And we give undue credence to the conclusion of our faulty interpretation just because it is ours. Gradually, the line between facts and our interpretation gets blurred and we begin to think that our interpretation is the fact!

This affects our understanding of God, too. We start to believe that our interpretation of what is going on with our limited and myopic perception is what God is actually doing. If we do not check ourselves (against the Word of God and what other godly people say), we end up with an idea of God, which is far from the God of the Bible. We either fall in love with, or hate, the God we made according to our own image. How tragic! It is not hard to see that this is what the Israelites had done.

What is your perception of God? If it does not humble you in godly fear and makes you want to bow down and worship Him, if it does not make you grateful and eager to love Him, if it does not make you want to turn away from sin and do what pleases Him, we can be sure that we have a faulty, defective understanding of God. How can we do otherwise when we come to know a God, who is eternal, infinite, all-powerful, holy, just, righteous, and yet loving, gracious, and merciful? How can we attribute any malicious intent to the One, who loved us even to the point of sacrificing His only begotten Son for our salvation? I hope we all can trust that God is good and learn to wait patiently for His deliverance even when the whole world seems to crumble down.