How could they? How could they have walked out of Egypt after witnessing the mighty arm of God throughout his ten round showdown with Pharaoh, and yet complained so rebelliously about being delivered in order to die in the desert? How could they have walked through the Red Sea, gazed up at the walls of water about them as they were held back by the very hand of God with them, yet doubted that God could provide water during their journey to sustain them? How could they have gathered bread provided freely and faithfully from heaven, day after day after day, yet doubted that the God of heaven was prepared and able to give them the land He had promised?
And how could they, when after possessing the land–the physical, tangible, surrounding evidence of God’s power to provide what God has promised–how could they then turn away from God, forsaking Him in order to serve and worship the non-gods of the nations who had been dispossessed? How could they?
That’s the question that echoes again and again as you read through Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. How could they?
Why weren’t they ready, willing, and able to do what God had asked? What prevented them from following His commandments? What kept them from obeying His word? After all they had experienced, after all they had witnessed, why didn’t it take? Well, based on something that caught my eye as I read this morning, apparently seeing ain’t necessarily believing.
And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: “You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.”
(Deuteronomy 29:2-4 ESV)
So, when it comes to encountering God it’s possible to see but not see. To hear yet not hear. To take in all the facts and data and evidence and still have no understanding. I know that. Been there.
So, apart from God’s intervention, there can be no fruit from our perception. The secret sauce for knowing God, and fearing God, and obeying God is something only God can do.
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
(Ezekiel 36:25-27 ESV)
Unless God gives us eyes to see, we can see but not see. Unless He gives us ears to hear, we can hear but won’t hear. Unless He gives us a heart to understand, we can do all the math we want and still come up with the wrong answer.
And so I sit hear this morning, with whatever understanding I have, reflecting on whatever I have seen through the eyes of faith and whatever I have heard through the word of God, and I’m grateful.
Reminded that it’s not about me. Not about how bright I may or may not be. Not about whether I’m prone to be a student or not. Not even about how faithful I think I might have tried to be. Instead, it’s only because God, in His abundant goodness and through His Holy Spirit, has given this sinner saved by grace eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to, in some measure, understand.
And seeing that is believing. And believing that is to worship.
By His grace. For His glory.