Despising God’s Goodness

The first generation of exiles from Egypt had every opportunity to experience the full and amazing blessings of God. Yaweh longed to give them a land of their own — and that, “flowing with milk and honey.” Instead, we see the sad story of this generation wasting away for 40 years in the wilderness. They had spurned God’s grace and chose a life of futility.

In Numbers 14:31, God states, “‘You said your children would be carried off as plunder. Well, I will bring them safely into the land, and they will enjoy what you have despised.” Oh how God despised the negativity of this 1st generation of Israelites.

  • They lived with a victim orientation. They didn’t believe that they could actually have it as good as God had declared. Instead, they chose to forsee a future of trouble, hardship, and emprisonment…even for their children. They were slaves at heart to such a degree that they couldn’t see themselves as anything different than pawns to circumstances around them.
  • They had a twisted and small view of God. Even though God has already demonstrated unlimited power through the plagues to free them, the parting of the Red Sea to save them, water from the rock to sustain them, and victory over the Amlekites to embolden them, they still suspected God of leading them to their ultimate defeat. Their twisted view of God could not embrace the truth that God is love and that He demonstrates that with ulimited grace. God was not big enough to handle the giants of Canaan, nor was He good enough to care to do it.
  • They lived with an expectation of disappointment and hardship. Rather than living by faith, they were defeated by fear. Rather than capturing the generous heart of God for His people, they languished under an attitude that said, “The whole world is against us and we’re nobodies.”

Numbers 14:31 makes it clear that the Israelites despised the good blessings that God longed to lavish on His people. The Hebrew word used for “despised” is the word “mawas.” It literally means to spurn, reject, or have a strong distaste. The idea here is that these people had no desire at all for the good things God wanted to give them. They were so caught in their negative rythm of life that they couldn’t even think of embracing another lifestyle, even if that was dreamy good. The idea of receiving what God wanted to give them repulsed them. They winced at it. They cringed at the thought. They look away when a glimpse was available.

As I think of this story, I’m reminded of several important issues for my life:

  • How easy it is to became faithless and negative rather than faithfilled and positive. In God’s economy, negativity has no place in the life of the believer. Negites deeply dishonor God. They did in this story of ages past–and they still dishonor God today.
  • When I have a distaste for the things of God–even a little–I better take note and take action. It reveals a wretchedness in me that needs to be fixed. Quickly.
  • If I fail to embrace the good things God is longing to pour into my life, I will wander in a wilderness of my own making.

How I long to see the smile of God on my life as He watches me step into unknown terrain with an attitude of faith and good expectations. How about you?