Understanding the Old Testament

Putting God to the Test Ten Times

All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

In Numbers 14:22, the Lord says that the Israelites “have put Me to the test these ten times.” Numbers does not elaborate on what those “ten times” were, but I believe they were:

1.       Exodus 5:20-21 – When Moses first confronted Pharaoh and demanded that he let the Israelites go into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to God, Egypt's ruler instead made the Israelites’ labor more burdensome. (Exodus 5:1-19) The Israelites’ response was to blame Moses for their misfortune. In doing so, they were indirectly blaming God, who had sent Moses.

2.      Exodus 6:9 – So God told Moses to relay a message to the people from Him, assuring them that He would deliver them from their bondage and burdens at the hands of the Egyptians, and would bring them into the land promised to their ancestors. (Exodus 6:1-8) But the people refused to believe Moses when he delivered God’s message.

3.      Exodus 14:10-12 – When Pharaoh pursued the Israelites with his army and trapped them against the Sea of Reeds, the people complained to Moses: “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?” (Exodus 14:11) This was of course after they had witnessed God afflict the Egyptians with ten miraculous plagues.

4.      Exodus 15:22-24 – After traveling in the Sinai Peninsula for three days without water, the people “grumbled” at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” (Exodus 15:24)

5.       Exodus 16:1-3 – About forty-five days into their journey the people again lost faith, accusing Moses of bringing them “out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:3)

6       Exodus 17:1-2 – At Rephidim the people complained about a lack of water to drink.

7.       Exodus 32:1-4 – With Moses up on Mount Sinai, the people persuaded Aaron to make an idol—a “molten calf”—for them to worship in place of God.

8.      Numbers 11:1-2 – Numbers is vague about exactly what the people did next to anger the Lord, except to say that they “became like those who complain of adversity.”

9.      Numbers 11:4-6 – Shortly thereafter, the people complained about the lack of meat to eat, adding: “There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.” (Numbers 11:6)

10.     Numbers 14:1-4 – Finally, when the spies returned from Canaan with warnings about the strength of the land’s cities and people, the Israelites despaired and actually discussed returning to Egypt.

In each instance, the people focused on their circumstances instead of placing their faith in God and His ability to deliver them despite their circumstances.

 Questions to ponder or discuss: As Christians, we believe that God is able to change our circumstances. Yet experience teaches us that He does not always do so. What reason(s) could He have for allowing us to remain in difficult, trying, or even dangerous circumstances? How do verses like Matthew 26:39 and 2 Corinthians 11:23-30 impact your answer?

Copyright 2017 by Don Davidson

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Beyond Blind Faith: Reasons for the Hope We Have (1 Peter 3:15):

Why Reasonable People Should Consider Christianity

Stories of the Faithful (with some church history)

Christmas Stories

Understanding the Old Testament

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