Pattern of Behavior
Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt. Numbers 14:4
I needed to go to chemical dependency treatment long before I actually went. I knew I needed it, but I was afraid. I did not want anyone to know about my diseased behavior and I did not want to disrupt my life. I asked God to change me. He told me to go to treatment now. I refused. In my disobedience, I caused massive destruction.
The Israelites in today’s passage, likewise refused God’s command. God promised He would deliver the land of Canaan to them and commanded them to send 12 spies to investigate land. When they came back, 10 of the spies reported that conquest of the land was impossible. The people listened to the majority and in fear, they again devised a plan to go back to Egyptian slavery. God then declared that those who disobeyed would all die in the wilderness. It was another 40 years before the Israelites would return to Canaan, after all those who rebelled had died.
The repetitive pattern of rebellion and pain that the Israelites displayed is maddening to read, until I see myself in it. I too have a pattern of disobedience. It seems that I often must prove the misery of my own behavior before I’m willing to obey God. I must find the disaster of drug addiction before I’m willing to get help. I must find the misery of my pride before I embrace humility.
We are often very much like the Israelites, often requiring some painful experience before we obey. God is patient, desiring that we learn to follow Him, but He does allow horrible, even deadly, consequences. For addicts, like the Israelites in today’s passage, many will not survive the consequences of continued rebellion. This is no game. This is life and death.
If we want life, we must embrace a new pattern of behavior, one in which we continually say yes to God. We must learn to live for the joy, purpose and meaning that we find when we obey Him, even when it is scary to do so.