The first generation of Israelites who came out of Egypt were familiar with God’s acts. He did miraculous signs among them. When Moses was pleading with Pharaoh to let them go from Egypt, they saw 10 different plagues come on Egypt. Water turned into blood, the land was covered with frogs, then gnats; livestock died, boils showed up on the people, an unusual hailstorm destroyed the food, locusts covered the land, an unusual darkness came and finally, the firstborn of the Egyptians died, while Israel’s was spared. Many of these could be attributed to natural disasters, rather than God’s power, but they were the ways that God dealt with Pharaoh for his rebellion. Read Exodus 7-10.
The miracles of God were seen at the parting of the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross over on DRY GROUND, while the Egyptians were destroyed when they tried to do it. Ex. 14. Three days in, they came to a place in the wilderness where the water they found was bitter. Ex. 15. Moses threw a log into it and it became sweet. In Exodus 17, there was no water, and God provided it from a rock. Realize we are talking about satisfying the thirst of a few million people!
Hebrews 3:10, quoting Psalm 95:10, says that the Israelites did not know His ways. They knew His acts, they were used to the supernatural, but they did not know His ways. They continued to grumble and complain and commit other sins. Their hearts did not change! I Corinthians 10:1 says God was not pleased with most of them and they were struck down in the wilderness.
God’s acts are wonderful indeed to see and experience. He fed them from heaven. Every day, manna fell from the sky and they gathered it up and ate. We are talking about a major amount of food and water here. There were 3 million people in their number. Their clothes and shoes didn’t wear out. The people came to rely on supernatural acts to save them from certain disaster.
When they came to Mt. Sinai and Moses went up the mountain to receive the law on stone tablets, the people were so afraid of the noise coming from the mountain that they asked Moses to hear God for them. They didn’t want to deal with Him themselves. (The priesthood mentality was born.) God intended for all of them to have relationship with Him, but they didn’t want to do that. Are we like that?
What does it mean to know His ways? I believe it means to have such a love relationship with God, that you would never want to do anything to offend Him. As we come to know Him, we change into His image. He is a holy God. Changing is not only for our benefit, to keep us from evil and keep us safe, but also to display to the world that there really IS a God! And He is good! Knowing God’s ways means knowing and developing His attributes, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. I Cor. 14. He IS all of these things. We are to partake of His actual character. It is possible. 2 Peter chapter 1 says “His divine power has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him,” and that by the exceedingly great and precious promises, we might be partakers of the divine nature having escaped the evil that is in the world through lust.
God was not pleased with most of that first generation of the Israelites. They lusted, they complained, they were idolaters, and they committed immorality. Their faith did not grow. And they suffered the consequences. Their bodies fell in the wilderness. Do we lust? Do we complain? Do we commit immorality? Are we idolaters? If the answer to any of these is yes, do we think we can escape the consequences? We shouldn’t, because “these things happened to them as an example FOR US on whom the end of the ages have come.” I Corinthians 10:6-11. It is important to know His ways in THIS life! God doesn’t grumble or complain. He is always positive.
Even though His acts convey His love, for many of the Israelites, they were unable to see it. It did not touch their hearts and so they died prematurely. I have been known to sit and cry when I hear testimonies of people being healed of incredible life-destroying diseases and disabilities. That’s because I am so greatly touched by that manifestation of God’s great love for people. It’s personal! Let’s be sure we recognize His love for us and respond accordingly, looking to walk always in His ways. Let us TRUST that insanely great love He has for us. That love let His own Son Jesus die a very cruel death on a cross to pay for ALL of our sins, forever. No one else has ever done that.
Pray: Oh God, our finite minds have trouble grasping the eternal, wonderfully immense love that You have for us. Enlarge our understanding through prayer and reading Your Word. Teach us to wait and watch for your intervention in our lives each day, to comprehend and celebrate everything that You do for us. Deliver us from every attitude that displeases You. We want to live our lives in Your kingdom and bring You glory.