I am an Israelite

I am an Israelite
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
February 24th, 2019
Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

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I am an Israelite
Exodus 15,16,17

In this scripture God freed the Israelites from the Egyptians and started them on a journey to the promise land.  Now this part of the story, this journey, is where I connect most with the Israelites and why it is my favorite part of their story…And it is why our message is titled, I am an Israelite.

The Children of Israel’s escape from Egypt is our story too.  It is our story of escaping the bondage of Sin, not under our own power but under the power of God… And then just like the Israelites, we begin a journey for the rest of our lives through a difficult dessert but headed towards a promised land that is flowing with milk and honey.

And the reason I think I connect with the Israelites so much in this part of our story, is because of the fickle nature of their faith.  If you read carefully, you’ll notice that is how their faith works…

In Exodus 15 The Children of Israel were so excited about everything God had done for them, they were singing songs!!  And understandably so, if we think about everything they had just seen God do:  The 10 plagues, being led by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night, the Red Sea being parted so they could escape, and then close up just in time to kill their enemy, then we can understand why why they were so excited.

Let’s face it, the Israelites had witnessed in just a matter of months or maybe even weeks, more powerful and in your face miracles than we will perhaps ever see in a lifetime. So yeah… I expect they would be singing. 

But then look what happens just a month and a half later in Exodus 16:1-3 they begin to complain and grumble that they don’t have food.  And they tell Moses it would have been better for them to have stayed in Egypt in bondage than to die in the dessert of hunger.

Wow, what a short term memory.  I mean after everything they had just witnessed, they still thought it would have been better to stay in bondage under the Egyptians, as opposed to looking for another miracle from God.

Well, God heard their groanings, so He sent them manna and quail.  Once again, He provided for them, and they didn’t have to do anything except go out and pick it up. 

Okay, so you would think that this would prove to them that God does care, and that He does have a plan and that He will provide… But then…in the very next chapter they begin to complain once again, this time about being thirsty. And in Exodus 17:3 “…They said, ‘Why did you ever bring us up from Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’”

Once again, they seem to have short term memory and they are complaining once again.  And once again, God, provides everything they need.

So, here we are seeing a people with a fickle faith.  One day they are like YAY… God is Good!  All the Time… All the time, God is Good.  And then just a few weeks later… man, life stinks and following God is hard…it would have been better if we stayed in bondage!! And this back and forth continues on throughout their entire journey.

And here is the thing, I think we do the same thing.  I think we have short term memories as well and we end up going back and forth and back and forth between:
“Yay… God is good!  All the Time!  All the Time, God is good!...”

“Man, this week is really hard... I don’t know if I can do this… God are you there?  God are you listening?”

“Yay God is Good, I made it through surgery… I got that job… the kids behaved this week…. what a miracle…”

“Wow it is so hard to do what is right, it would just be easier for me to give up, or to cheat, or to go back to not caring….. God Why?! Why can’t you make this easier for me?”

Now, I don’t think it is quite this dramatic in our own lives.   But I do think we do this without even realizing it.  I honestly believe that if we were to examine our lives we would realize just how much we are back and forth and back and forth in our belief that God will provide and that God cares. So perhaps some reflection is in order… but the real question is…

So, how do we avoid this?  How do we avoid this back and forth in our faith, because God REALLY IS good ALL the time.

The first thing we need to do is remember.  We need to take time to remember all of the miracles both big and small that He has performed in our lives.   

Taking time to remember is a big deal to Christians.  God even commanded The Children of Israel to begin holding the festival of Passover which was in celebration and remembrance of how God freed them from the Egyptians when the Angel of the Lord “Passed Over” the Israelites who had slaughtered and lamb and put the blood on the door post.

The next thing we need to do is remain obedient.  When the children of Israel didn’t remain obedient, they suffered.  God told them that the day before the Sabbath, they were to gather up twice as much manna as the other days, so that they would have enough food for both days. 

Exodus 16:26-30
For six days you will gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will be none.”
27 Yet on the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they did not find any. 28 Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and instructions? 29 Understand that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he will give you two days’ worth of bread. Each of you stay where you are; no one is to leave his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

For those people who were not obedient, guess what… they went hungry for a day.  And when we skip being obedient here and there, guess what… we are going to find ourselves being hungry too.  We will be asking…what happened?  Why did God not come through? And yet, God will be asking… How long will you refuse to keep my commands and instructions?

We must strive to be obedient to a fault. Don’t give yourself a pass.  We cannot have the mindset “Well, I think it will be alright just this one time.  I’ve been good for a while I think I can lighten up for a minute…” If we do, we run the risk of going hungry or getting ourselves into situations that could have been avoided.

And the last thing we want to do to avoid a fickle faith, is when we are thirsty and when we are hungry, we need to make our requests known to God (Phillipians 4:6), instead of just sitting there complaining because God will hear us either way.

Exodus 3:7 (at the burning bush)
Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people in Egypt, and have heard them crying out because of their oppressors. I know about their sufferings,” [emphasis added]

And in
Exodus 16:12 when they were hungry God says
I have heard the complaints of the Israelites. [emphasis added]

But in Proverbs 15:29
The Lord is far from the wicked,
but he hears the prayer of the righteous. [emphasis added]

So, if God is going to hear us one way or the other, would we rather have Him hear us complaining or praying and asking?

So, in order to avoid being fickle in our faith and constantly Yo-Yoing between, God is Good and Life really stinks.
1. We need to take time to remember the Miracles in our Lives…
2. We need to remain obedient in everything we do.
3. We need to request (make known but not complain) our needs to God.

Are you and Israelite in your faith too?

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