The children of Israel are trapped. They’ve left the slavery of Egypt and started for a land God promised to give them as their own. Now they are camped on the seashore, with no way to cross the water, and the alarm goes up: the Egyptians are coming after them. They have nowhere to go. They’ll be captured or slaughtered. Panic and despair run through the millions of people.
Moses tells them to be calm. “Just stand still and watch how God will fight for you.” So they watched, and they moved when God said to move. And they saw their pursuers swept away in the sea. The people were filled with awe of what God had done, and they put their faith in Him.
But you know what happens to these people. Time and again, they forget the awe they felt that day. They forget the rescue. They grumble about what God gives them and the plans He has for them. They even decide to seek other gods that might be more to their liking.
That cycle is repeated again and again. God rescues and provides. His people forget and turn away from Him. Until, generations later, God sends a messenger to the people He had chosen and called His own, and He says to them, “You don’t see what I have done for you, what I am doing for you. And you rebel against me and despise me.”
Oh, what a sinful nation they are —
loaded down with a burden of guilt.
They are evil people,
corrupt children who have rejected the LORD.
They have despised the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him.
These were the people who had a unique relationship with God, the ones He had chosen to bless with special favor. He had protected and directed and blessed them. Now they despise Him and rebel.
What a sad story. How did people chosen for great blessings and great destiny wind up an evil people, corrupt, loaded with guilt?
And how can we keep that story from becoming ours? How do we — who also have been chosen, rescued from slavery and given a promise of a rich land — how do we make certain we do not fail in the same way?
Perhaps the key is in the verse just before this. God says, “My people don’t recognize my care for them.”
Is recognizing God’s care for us the key to living in relationship with Him?
Letting our days gallop by and living blind to God’s care opens the door to violating our covenant with Him and turning our backs on the Holy One. Evil. Corrupt. Despising God. Harsh words, but if we fail to recognize what God does for us, the path can easily lead to such a life.
When I fail to look for God’s care and gifts, when I cannot stand still and see how He fights for me, then I become frantic or gloomy or defeated or frustrated or …. I’m sure you can add a few more words of your own. And when I do not look for, do not see God, then all too easily other gods slip in.
But when we can see how He cares for us, when we see His gifts in every day, then we also see His heart for us. God does still care for and fight for His children. Jesus says the Heavenly Father is far more benevolent with good gifts than any earthly parent, and Paul says God is always working for our good. Do we recognize this in every day?
Once we see our Father’s care, there can be only gratitude for:
* what God has done to bring us out of slavery and into a free life
* what He has given us by adopting us as His own children
* the battles He fights for us
* the power He plants within each of us
* His daily gifts to sustain and encourage and delight
Ann Voskamp says that “…gratitude is not only the memories of our heart; gratitude is a memory of God’s heart and to thank is to remember God.”*
Come, let us worship and bow down,
Let us kneel before the LORD our maker,
for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
the flock under his care.
Let us worship and bow down.
Scripture: from Exodus 14; Isaiah 1:3-4 (NLT), Psalm 95:6 (NLT)
*from One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp