Have you ever been in a relationship with someone that only seemed to call when they
needed something from you? So much so that the moment you perceived them being
extra nice to you, you’re already asking ‘what do you want?’. What happens here is that
through experience (which comes with time), you have become familiar with and
knowledgeable of their methods, their characteristic ways of getting what they want.
A similar thing can be said of God and our relationship with Him. In Hebrews 3:7-11 there
is admonition against rebellion and unbelief such as that demonstrated by the children if
Israel during the Exodus. As the years went by, from the very first signs and wonders
displayed against the Egyptians at the genesis of the exodus to the mighty miracles
performed in the thick of the wilderness, one would think that when hunger and thirst
came these people will be sure to rely on God for sustenance. But no, instead with every
hurdle came moanings and feelings of despair and impending doom.
From this recurrent defection of the children of Israel, God drew the conclusion that they
had not known His ways (Hebrews 3:10). Now Isaiah 55:8-9 makes it expressly clear that
His ways are not our ways. Therefore God is not expecting us to know His ways per say in
the sense that we are able to outline the details and workings of His plan (after all He
alone is God), but He is expecting us to know first of all, that they are different from ours.
Secondly, as we mature as Christians, we are expected to be able to recognise patterns
in happenings around us and be sensitive to the idiosyncrasies of His dealings with us so
that in any given situation, we are able to say ‘this is God at work’ or indeed discern that
this is not the hand of God as pertains to the case at hand.
The children of Israel clearly had not grasped this. Thus when they were faced with one
upset or other, the first reaction was to turn away from God. God eventually got fed up
with this behaviour – rebellion at every flicker of trouble, despite His attempts at
reassurance. This attitude so annoyed God that He ended up swearing in His wrath that
they will not enter His rest and needless to say, this came to pass. We therefore see that
as believers it is not just advisable but in fact expedient that we mature and become
more familiar with God and His ways if we are ever to attain His promises to us. As I
alluded to earlier, this comes with time and experiences which God Himself would make
available to us but we must choose to respond in a way that is profitable. As
demonstrated by the story of the Exodus, stagnancy is a dangerous thing.