October 18, 2021
“I have been the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt. I will make you live in tents again, as in the festival days.”
“I have been the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt. I will make you live in tents again, as in the festival days.” Hosea 12:9
I love to watch documentaries, especially the ones about rock bands. My favorite part of every documentary is “the early years.” I like knowing how bands got together, how they struggled to make it, and how they overcame the odds to become successful. Once a band reaches success, I’m really not interested in most of their stories, nor am I particularly interested in their music. I would rather watch VH1’s “Behind The Music” than MTV’s “Cribs.”
Somehow, I relate more to a person’s struggle than their achievement. Perhaps, that early era resounds with me because I learned most of my important life lessons during hard times.
I get the same feeling when I read the story of Israel. When they were wandering the desert, living in tents, God taught them to RELY on Him. When He miraculously provided for their needs, He taught them TRUST. Then, as He brought more challenges, they began to respond in FAITH.
Once Israel was settled into Canaan, their story took on a more unappealing perspective. Everyone cheers for the underdog long shot. Nobody has sympathy or empathy for the unappreciative kid who was born into blessing. The Lord recognized that the spiritual condition of Israel could not be cured with more “abundance.” If Israel was going to amount to anything, as a “nation of priests,” God was going to have to take them back to their roots.
Israel would have to wander again as a people. If the Hebrews were bent on forsaking God’s festivals, He would make them suffer those same conditions of Egyptian-style oppression again. If they were to undergo the same oppressive conditions, perhaps, the children of Israel would again cry out to God for deliverance.
There was one exception: Israel would not wander as a nation, as in the Exodus. This time, they would be in small communities, families, and individuals. God was sending a message that Israel’s sin was not so much at the national level but rather the personal one.
God cares as much about the process of our faith as He does the product of it. Do not despise the day of small things, those initial faithful attempts to return to God. (Zechariah 4:10) From our humbled states, meekness sprouts roots. When we have been rebuked for our rebellion, God graciously allows us to repent and submit again to His Lordship. We learn our greatest lessons amid our most difficult hardships. And by virtue of His holiness and great love for His children, the Lord will ordain hardship so we can reach the end of ourselves, realize the futility of rebellion and return with the remembrance of how bad sin feels and how wonderfully restoration resounds.