As Israel left Egypt, God showed his mighty saving power. He was for them, and could save them. The people needed to trust him and obey. As the sea crashed in over Pharaoh’s army, they saw his power again. Those who “left Egypt led by Moses” had seen mighty things (3:16b).
God’s expectation was that the Israelites, having observed these things, should use their mental faculties to reflect and wonder and therefore in the future be able to trust God. But it seems they didn’t, at least not to any depth. Instead we hear the commentary: “they always go astray in their hearts, they have not known my ways.”
Despite having seen God’s gracious saving power, “they [did] not known [His] ways.”
When times got tough, instead of having hearts prepared through sober reflection to understand and trust, they had hearts primed to question and doubt and disobey. Why? Because despite having seen God’s gracious saving power, “they have not known my ways.”
Their experience is held up for us as an example. “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion …”. We too will experience difficulty and pain. When we do, we will need to trust him. We need to “know his ways.”
This is massively, eternally, important. The Israelite’s complacency cost them dearly. “… they have not known my ways. As I swore in my wrath, they shall not enter my rest.” (3:10c-11) We are to take responsibility for the state of our hearts and minds (3:12). God expected it from them and held them accountable, and so he does with us.
If you are complacent about the state of your heart, be earnestly warned: complacency did not end well for Israel.
This does not mean perfection or self-sufficiency. No, we deeply need God’s daily mercy and help (4:15-16), and we need the mutual encouragement of brothers and sisters (3:12-13). But it does demand our attention and care, which may feel unusual in our culture so inclined towards comfort and entertainment. Consider also: Prov 1:20-33; 2 Tim 2:7.
If you are complacent about the state of your heart, be earnestly warned: complacency did not end well for Israel (2:2, 3:11).
Go back to part 2 of this series…
Meet our Devotional Blog Contributor: Robert Elphick