In the first chapter of Deuteronomy, we can read Moses’ account of certain aspects of Israelite history. Specifically, he addresses the situation in which the people were too afraid to enter the land due to the reports of the spies. In short…
Spies disagreed on report.
The people despaired.
God sent them back to the wilderness.
The people recanted.
The people entered the land.
The Amorites rocked.
And in verse 45 Moses laid it out: “You came back, sobbing like schoolgirls, licking your wounds, but the Lord totally ignored you and let you cry yourselves out.”
(I would like to be able to say that I used my two semesters of Hebrew to accurately translate the above section, but if I were to do so, my Biblical Ethics professor would come to my house and put a sleeper hold on me. The actual passage in my NKJV is “Then you returned and wept before the Lord, but the Lord would not listen to your voice nor give year to you.”)
What happened to “I will always be there for you”? Where is the God of “…and I will never forsake you.”?
What I really want to ask, though, is what do we do when someone comes to us in pain, agonizing over some problem of his own creation, and asks for advice? How can we comfort those whose sins are the source of their own pain? Do we tell them, “He’s still there for you..”? Because based on this passage, it would seem that, just for moment, God was most decidedly not there for His people.
Please…no pithy sayings. I would really like to see some suggestions.
What would you tell my friend Gonzalo, living alone because of all the damage he’s done to his family? He’s a baby Christian, but is more worldly than holy in his thinking.
What would you say to the minister whose kids have gone off the rails because he was never around?
How do you counsel my pastor friend, the one I mentioned here, as he tries to figure out where his future place in the church might be?
A fired worker who is lazy? A gossip who drove away all his friends?
Lay it out here, folks. What advice would YOU have given the Israelites, knowing that God wasn’t listening anymore?