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The God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob (Part 3)

Aug 10, 2011, 12:20 PM | Article By: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye

God’s intent in delivering the Children of Israel from slavery in Egypt and in leading them into the Promised Land was not only to fulfill the promise that He had made to Abraham but also to reveal Himself to them as God the Almighty; the One who made heaven and earth.

In championing their course, He wanted to make them aware that He loved them unconditionally, with an everlasting love. He wanted them to rely on Him totally for everything. He intended to lead them through the wilderness and through enemy territory to the land flowing with milk and honey, if only they would believe. “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.” (Exodus 6:7-8)

At each time an opportunity is offered Him to reveal Himself to them He did so in order that they would get to know Him better. Remember the Israelites had been used to serving pagan gods during their 430 years sojourn in Egypt. Having to serve one God, whom they could not see, was strange to their ears. It was going to take a while for them to enjoy their freedom. Furthermore they needed to build up confidence and total reliance on Him; that He would see them all the way to Canaan - the land of milk and honey.

Did they believe this? Soon after they left Egypt, the Egyptian army gave chase and they regretted having quit Egypt where they were relatively safe and had enough to eat. “Was it because there were not enough graves in Egypt that you have brought us to the desert to die?” (Exodus 14:11) At the height of their desperation, He told Moses to tell the Children of Israel to go ahead, to keep moving. “Tell the Israelites to move on.” (Exodus 14:15) Yet as they crossed obstacle after obstacle, and incident after incidents, He remained steadfast and faithful. Throughout the journey, though they were in the millions, the Children of Israel never lacked anything. They never farmed; “they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.” (Exodus 16:35) Their enemies “the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites” were driven out before them. Throughout these forty years “(their) clothes did not wear out and (their) feet did not swell.” (Deuteronomy 8:4) God the Jehovah-Jireh, was their Provider.

In spite of all that God did on their behalf, the Children of Israel complained; they quickly forgot what God had done for them, liberating them from slavery, fending for their needs and fighting their battles against hostile pagan nations.

One wonders why God did not change His mind after the Israelites turned out to be so unfaithful. The Bible teaches  that God’s anger is not ignited that easily. “He made known His ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel; The Lord is compassionate and gracious slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbour His anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” (Psalm 103:7-10)

He reminded them that they owed Him an existence and that they should be grateful. “When the Lord your God brings you into the land He swore to your forefathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you – a land with large flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant – then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

In spite of the privileges God extended to the Israelites they trampled it underfoot. “The Lord’s anger burned against Israel and He made them wander in the desert forty years, until the whole generation of those who had done evil in His sight was gone.” (Numbers 32:13) This trip was an eleven- day journey that lasted 40 years, because of the stubbornness of the Israelites.

This was one of the reasons God dealt with the people of Israel indirectly through prophets. In so doing He could not be easily enraged by their stubborn behaviour. How many times did they not grumble against Moses to the extent of wanting to stone him because they could not get water to drink. “So they quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ ” Moses retorted: “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?” (Exodus 17:2

When we understand God, then like Abraham we can be called His friend. When we find favour with God, like David, we can be described “a man after God’s own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14) Saul became arrogant as the first king of Israel and lost his throne. He wanted to please the people rather than obey God. God is supreme and desires that we become obedient to His Word.

How often have we put God to the test? Because God is slow at manifesting His anger does not mean He has compromised His standards – far be it. He requires total submission and obedience from us. 

The God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob is a marvelous God. He has not put a burden on us; all He does and will permit in our lives is for our own good. If you find yourself going round in circles and not making any headway, check your standing with Him.