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Relying on the Past

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We are creatures of habit. If we do some task and it turns out we tend to do it the same way again.

Our scripture today is from a passage about Moses relying upon the past experience for a present and similar situation. Read Numbers 20:7-12 before continuing. I’ll give you a little background. The Israelites had just entered the wilderness of Zin, Moses’ sister Mariam had died and was buried and there was no water.

No water in the wilderness means the people got scared about how they were going to survive and started to complain. If you know the story about the Israelites wandering for 40 years you’d know that God took very good care of them. Their sandals never wore out and their every need was taken care of. But that didn’t stop them from panicking and complaining to Moses. In fact, this had happened before. Read Exodus 17:1-6 before continuing.

Now back to Moses’ present situation in Numbers. Same kind of scenario as in the passage in Exodus except for one thing. In the Exodus passage we see that God commanded Moses to, Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink” (Exodus 17:5-6). In the Numbers passage we see that God did not command Moses to strike the rock with his staff. He told Moses, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle” (Numbers 20:8).

Did you see the difference? The first time Moses was to strike the rock with his staff. The second time Moses was told to bring the staff with him but to speak to the rock. But if God didn’t want him to use the staff why did He ask Moses to bring it? In Exodus 4:17 God said to Moses, “And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.” A staff or rod was used several times to perform miracles and was often a symbol of authority, judgment and power. Whatever God’s reason for having it there it was not to be used to strike the rock.

So why did Moses disobey God and strike the rock? Probably because that is what he did before. The consequence of his disobedience? “And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them'” (Numbers 20:12). The price of is disobedience was that he wouldn’t be able to enter the promised land.

The problem with relying upon past experiences is that you can get caught up in your own feelings and understanding instead of listening to what God is asking you to do. And we all know that our feelings and understanding can lead us wrong. Priscilla Shirer says about these things, “None of these things is an accurate compass of God’s truth. Each of them is subject to being trained by our evil environment and is still in the process of being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

The problem with relying upon our past experiences, feelings and understanding is that Satan can use those things to deceive us into “moving forward without consulting truth, veering us off course and outside of God’s will.”

How do we change this? I think the one thing I’d say is to pray about your situation, consult the Word to see what God has to say about it and maybe even talk to someone who can give you wise biblical counsel.

I will leave you with some instruction given to me through my bible study by Priscilla Shirer, “Carefully consider any areas of your life where you are allowing your feelings, gut instincts, or previous experiences to be the determining factor for your actions, then realign your allegiances to the “Light of Life.” Refuse to be a woman (or man . . . sorry men, I’m getting this info from my women’s bible study) who walks around with a Bible under her (his) arm but doesn’t actually stand firmly on it, affirm it, and actively support it. Instead, ask the Lord to give you the courage to hold it up as a banner over your life. And as you do – as He does – ‘your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This us the way; walk in it'” (Isaiah 30:21).

Krista Jones – 2.29.16

Note: All quotes by Priscilla Shirer, taken from “The Armor of God” bible study pages 60, 61 & 62.