by Sarah Ng
The way God relates and deals with His chosen nation Israel is a picture of how God relates and deals with us His Church. We can learn much from their history with God especially through their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. God humbled them and tested them to reveal what was in their hearts. Would they really love and obey God when circumstances changed for the worst?
“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Deut. 8:2)
Before we shake our heads and sigh at the Israelites, we need to see that God allowed what had happened so that we today can learn from their mistakes. In His longsuffering and kindness, He admonishes us to look to them as examples:
“Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them… Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Cor. 10:6-7, 11)
How can we apply what happened to Israel to us in the midst of COVID-19 today? Among the many things that God is doing in this global pandemic, He is testing and humbling His people. 1 Cor. 10:12 says, “… let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”
The nature of man in all our frailty remains the same, whether a thousand years ago or now. The same temptations surround and ensnare us. We lust after evil things; run after other idols; commit sexual immorality; tempt, resist and doubt Christ; and complain and grumble against God (1 Cor. 10:6-10).
We can also be doing all the “Christian” things — going to Church, fellowshipping with believers, serving, giving, tithing etc., but yet still not be living lives that are pleasing to God. We see this clearly through Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness.
“…all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” (1 Cor. 10:1–5)
God has caused the global pandemic to humble most of the world’s population by putting a halt to our usual routines and highlighting the mortality of man when faced with a virus. He is also testing us as His people — when things go south, will we still love Him, trust Him and obey Him? Or will we become offended and grumble at God?
May we take heed and respond to God and rend our hearts and not our garments. May we seize this window of getting right with God! Our confidence rests not in our ability to repent or humble ourselves, but on our faithful God. We can be assured that if we take heed and turn towards Him, He will hear our prayers and respond.
“When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
(2 Chr. 7:13–14)