In Deuteronomy chapter 8 we read why God led the Children of Israel the way He did to the Promised Land. He said, “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”
You see, even though we all have various sins and troubles throughout our lives, there is one thing I’m sure of and that is pride is at the bottom of it all. We all enter this world deceived. We all grow up thinking we are “independent” beings, we’re in charge of our own lives, and no one is going to tell us otherwise. So God led the Children of Israel in such a way in order for them to see the true state of their hearts. God is God you see; so He already knew it, but it took a bit of time for their eyes to be opened. Theoretically, if the Children of Israel were already humble, God could have gotten them into the Land much sooner.
The Promised Land is for mature believers. It’s not that they were to stop trusting God but the manna was going to stop, they were going to have to plant their own crops, care for their own homes and deal with any opposition they would face. When it comes to us, God wants us to grow up too. He wants us to move into the inheritance He has given us in Christ. You see His plan involves a whole nation of priests, a whole nation of people who have learned to walk in His Spirit in order to represent Him to the world.
God started from scratch with Israel. He fed them manna and kept their clothes from wearing out. He did this in order to teach them He was their true source of life. It was the discipline of God; His way of training them to walk in His ways. In other words, if we haven’t been through anything how would we ever know He can and will provide? The Children of Israel had to be tested before they could enter the Promised Land. They had to grow up a little and become responsible before God would let them live there.
The Apostle Paul gave Timothy a bit of similar advice when appointing leaders in the church. In 1 Timothy 3:6-7 Paul told Timothy an overseer shouldn’t be “a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” I thought this piece of advice given to Timothy for overseers was very revealing. The warning was about the “condemnation incurred by the devil”, and “the snare of the devil.”
To understand this we have to look back into Ezekiel chapter 28 where we learn “Satan” started out as an exalted being. He was blameless…until unrighteousness was found in him” (Ezekiel 28:15). Verse 17 tells us “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground…” So there it is! Pride was the root of Satan’s downfall. I wonder if this is because he was never tested. Could it be that he was created and placed in a high position from the very beginning? Could this be why the Apostle Paul said, “they shouldn’t be a new convert?”
I’m simply speculating but could this be why throughout the New Covenant we read things like, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2). What about “we exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance…(Romans 5:3). In other words, maybe those that have walked through the most painful and trying times are the very ones God is preparing to walk into the Promised Land. Remember all but two of the Children of Israel who left Egypt died in the wilderness. Only two ever entered into what God had promised them years before. The very things the enemy throws at us wanting us to give up are the very things God looks at as our opportunity for faith. You see God knows how to promote one just as well as demote another. Either way the test is meant to humble us and show us what’s really in our hearts. We must learn the lesson of humility, and see our utter powerlessness apart from Jesus Christ. We are invited into rest but we must learn how to receive what God has for us with humility and if there’s to be any promotion we have to wait on Him.
Remember: A testimony requires a test. Without a test all you have is the moany’s.