Monday, May 18, 2015

How To Limit An Almighty God

How often they provoked Him in the wilderness,
And grieved Him in the desert!
Yes, again and again they tempted God,
And limited the Holy One of Israel.
They did not remember His power:
The day when He redeemed them from the enemy,
Psalm 78:40-42

Can we limit God?

Too many people to even suggest that would be considered blasphemous. Because God is all powerful and sovereign they think that He is in complete control of all things regardless of what we do. However here we have a very clear statement that the people of Israel limited God. 

In the pretext we see that this Psalm was written by Asaph who we know to be the chief minister before the ark of the Lord in David's time (1 Chronicles 16:5). He is also called a "seer" (2 Chronicles 29:30) which is an old testament term for a prophet. This Psalm is a written history of Israel's time in the wilderness meant to remind the people of the importance of following the law and remembering what God had done for them. 

When we refuse to follow the Word of God then we limit God in our lives!

As my regular readers know, God has kept bringing me back to the topic of the wilderness this year. This has been a big part of the Word that God gave me both in 2014 and 2015. If you would like to review here are some links:

There are many references to the wilderness throughout the Bible and it seems that everyone that was a huge player in God's plan spent some time in the wilderness, but the concept of the wilderness starts with the people of Israel traveling from Egypt to the promised land. 

When we read the story of the people of Israel there are a few things that become immediately evident:

1) In order to go to the promised land they had to go through the wilderness.

They could have stayed in Egypt. In Egypt they had plenty of food, houses to sleep in, and for the most part things were taken care of and they knew what to expect. When you put it like that it doesn't sound so bad but there was one problem - they were slaves. They were forced to work to build someone else's empire and deny their own identity as a people. They could have avoided the wilderness all together and in some ways that would have been easier but they never would have been free, they never would have gotten to the promised land, they never would have established themselves as a nation.

2) In the wilderness they received God's vision for them as a people.

As long as they were in Egypt the people only knew God as the God of their fathers, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Even Moses when he came he only told them that God wanted to free them from their oppression. It wasn't until the wilderness that God, through Moses, revealed to them what He had called them to be: "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6). 

3) They stayed in the wilderness a lot longer than they were supposed to. 

Scholars say that the people of Israel could have made it the the promised land in 11 days. We also see in Numbers 13-14 that the Israelites were already at the promised land and were not able to enter. It was then that God declared that they would spend 40 years in the wilderness. 

So why did they spend 40 years in the wilderness when they only had to spend 11 days?

Many preachers have made it sound like it was due to their complaining that they were not able to go into the promised land, but as much as God makes it clear that he hated their complaining He was still ready to lead them in. It was simply because of their unbelief. 

The Israelite's unbelief limited God!

The interesting thing here is that the Israelites never said that God was not able to lead them into the promised land. By their words they never directly limited God but instead limited themselves: "we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” ( Numbers 13:33)

By limiting themselves they limited God!

A lot of times we tend to think that talking down about ourselves is a sign of humility but it is actually a sign of unbelief. The Bible makes it clear that God Himself lives in us, so when we say that we can't do something what we are really saying is that God is not powerful enough to help us do it. 

Through our unbelief in ourselves we express our unbelief in God!

It's time to stop limiting ourselves and start taking a stand of faith in God's ability! When we limit ourselves it keeps us in the wilderness and away from God's promises longer. A lot of Christians, like the Israelites, turn an 11 day journey through the wilderness into 40 years because they don't feel that they can access the vision that God has given them.

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