In the last chapters of Genesis, we find out how Egypt became home to the Israelites. The account ends on a positive note with one of Israel’s ruling second in command to Pharaoh, but only after 30 years, the Israelites found themselves in slavery to the Egyptians, just as God prophesied (Genesis 15:13-14).
The question is: Why would God allow this to happen to his chosen people? What did Israel do, or what would they eventually do that would warrant slavery?
Apart from showing his glory to the world at the expense of Egypt, some scholars say God allowed their first bondage as payment for Abraham’s wife, Sara, mistreating Hagar (who was an Egyptian servant). Others say it was because the sons of Israel/Jacob sold their brother, Joseph, into slavery.
It’s clear that sin always has consequences as seen from Lucifer up until this very day (whatever we do, there will be judgment), but in reading Ezekiel chapter 20:4-10, it seems to suggest that idolatry was the reason for their first bondage.
Perhaps, God told his people early on, shortly after they moved to Egypt, to stay away from the idols and the sins of that land, but they didn’t listen, and oppression was the penalty. Of course, after 400 years, descendants might’ve forgotten the real reason why the Egyptians were oppressing them. The verses in the Ezekiel passages also mention how God could’ve, and wanted to destroy them all then, but for his name’s sake, and the promise to Abraham, he didn’t.
We see, shortly after Israel was delivered from Egypt, and while Moses was absent for over a month, they made a golden calf and worshiped it (Exodus 32). So I could imagine the bondage to Israel was allowed as the punishment for idolatry; it was just something they were prone to practicing.
We also see that God allowed three of the ten plagues to fall on Israel too. All of Egypt’s water turned to blood (Exodus 7:19-21), and Israel experienced the frogs and the lice too. It was only until the fourth plague that the territory of Goshen, where the Israelites lived, was spared (Exodus 8:22-23). The favor of God didn’t seem to be too heavy on the Israelites initially, but we know that God was showing his glory to both Egypt and Israel.
Even if idolatry was not the reason for their bondage, oppression does something to a group: it humbles them. God could’ve been conditioning them to appreciate the prosperity he was able to give them, and coming from the bottom could definitely do that.
We know God didn’t want another Satan on his hands. We are aware of his story: Lucifer was a person who had it all, from the start. He never had a low point in his life to compare to his later greatness, and we saw how it puffed him up. With Israel being former slaves, they could appreciate the coming blessings and glorify the god that provided it.
Why Israel was established
Before we get into the pride of Israel, and the conflict they faced with their creator, we need to understand why the nation of Israel was created; this is brought out in Isaiah 42:
6 I the Lord have called thee [Israel] in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; 7 to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. 8 I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. (Isaiah 42:6-8)
God established Israel to be a light to the rest of the nations of the world; to show them who the true God is with hopes of the Gentiles abandoning their false gods to follow the Truth. Israel’s purpose was to bring God glory and salvation of mankind.
God mentions the light of Israel would open the eyes of those blinded by darkness and set the captives free (vs. 7); this is the state of everyone who doesn’t follow the true God. False gods hold the souls of men as prisoners. Everyone who rebels against the true God, while they may believe they’re liberating themselves, are chaining themselves to Satan.
Later, the Son of God, being an Israelite, came and fulfilled the mission of Israel. He too said something similar to Isaiah 42:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised (Luke 4:18)
But before God would use his people to display his glory, he had to get them in shape. He had to teach them, as children, what he expected as their parent. The Old Testament is all about that shaping. The following is a few things the Lord was trying to teach Israel:
#1 God is your strength
God demonstrated his strength and power through humbling Egypt, and the many other nations God destroyed. But the people of God are only triumphant when they are in His will. When Israel tried to take the Promised Land, after being prohibited because of unbelief, they were defeated (Numbers 14:40-45).
God is the god of dependence. You must depend on him for power against the enemy, and you must remain in his will for success. One has no strength without him. In our strength, we’ll eventually fail. The Lord said it best:
Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm [strength], and whose heart departeth from the Lord. (Jeremiah 17:5)
The fact we must depend on God for success in any battle is hard for the proud to accept. Once again, their god complex says, “I got this. I’m strong. I know how to beat my enemies. I can beat the devil. I can overcome sin. I don’t need God for this.” While this might not be said verbally, by our actions, we show that God is not our source of strength.
Pride is the reason behind many people’s failure to overcome sin in their lives. God is saying that you can’t beat the enemy, the flesh, the world, or the devil, without the power of God. And you must be directed how to do it.
#2 God is your provider
Upon exodus from bondage, God allowed the Hebrews to spoil Egypt. As they moved into the wilderness, and out of drinking water, God purified a bitter water source (Exodus 15:25), and when water became scarce again, God provided water from a rock (Exodus 17:3-6). When the food got low in supply, God provided manna in the morning and quail in the evening (Exodus 16). He told them not to save any food the next day because he would provide fresh bread each day; but some didn’t believe him (Exodus 16:19-20).
The people who saved manna didn’t trust God to provide for the next day. They didn’t believe they could depend on him. Therefore, God allowed their leftovers to stink and be filled worms for their disbelief in his ability to provide consistently.
Relating this to us, today, most people don’t trust God to meet their needs. And a lack of confidence in God comes from pride. Pride (the god complex) says, “I have to take care of myself. A god depends on no one.” And we’ve all been taught, “When you get older, get a good job so that you can take care of yourself.” But this ideology conflicts with a God that will supply all our needs, and this teaches reliance on ourselves, rather than God. Therefore, it’s difficult for people to trust God in the area of finances which leads to two attitudes: The Hustler and the Stingy.
We see this often in the case of some Christian pastors; they stress their members for money, manipulating scriptures to keep their house note paid, and the church lights on. The motivation behind their aggressive preaching on “giving to the Lord” is because they fear, if they don’t preach this way, their needs won’t be met. Many of these men don’t trust God to provide, they trust in their ability to get “tithes and offerings” and so they fleece the flock instead.
If not a preacher, we’ve all known people who are always working. They will make sure they “get that money.” While some limit how far they’ll go, others have a “by any means necessary” attitude; even if illegal, demeaning or immoral, they’ll make sure get what they need. These people are honored for their aggressive attitude towards making money, but they don’t trust God either; they’re slaves to money.
Stingy people treat money like it’s rare or scarce. Whatever they earn, they hold tight. They can’t possibly share their resources with someone else because they believe they won’t have enough left over for themselves. And they’re right. Since God isn’t their source, the little they have, they must hold on to.
While the hustler and the stingy are extreme examples, we’ve seen various levels of both in ourselves; and this indicates that God is not our provider. The majority of humanity are servants of money rather than God. Therefore, Jesus had some advice for us found in Matthew 6:24-33:
Jesus and money
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matthew 6:24)
Mammon is money. If a person is always struggling financially, they will begin to hate God because they feel he doesn’t care enough for their situation to bless them. But their situation is their fault. They don’t trust God to provide for them. Instead, they believe God should be blessing them for their efforts to take care of themselves.
God is not in the business of rewarding us for attempting to be our own god. Until that person submits and declares God as their sole provider, they will despise him, and remain a servant to mammon, as they hustle or struggle to make ends meet.
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (Matthew 6:25-26)
Because God is our provider, we shouldn’t be worried, anxious or even thinking about the utility bills, rent, food, gas, clothing, etc. With an all powerful God providing for us, there’s no need to even think about these things.
Then Jesus speaks to those slave laborers, the proud “hard workers”, juggling two and three jobs, having just enough time to visit their living quarters for a few hours of rest, just to go back to the plantation the next day; he says to them, “Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” In other words: Isn’t life more about working just to eat, have clothes, and a roof over your head? God didn’t put anyone on this earth to be a slave! But this is exactly what many people have become.
Until men and women become servants of God by appointing him as their sole provider, they will remain servants to the cruelest task masters out there: their employers and themselves.
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:27-33)
Again, Jesus encourages us to stop thinking about how our needs will be met; this is what the Gentiles, the people who rule their own lives, seek after, but we have a heavenly Father who loves and takes care of us.
The Saints of God should be an example to the rest of the world when it comes to provision. We should be the only ones calm and collective about our needs, in contrast to the anxiety and worry of the world. This attitude alone would serve as a witness to the world and draw them to our God.
Finally, it’s not just about believing God for provision; we have to seek his kingdom first. Seeking his kingdom means to pursue the King’s dominion, the King’s way of life, the King’s way of doing things. This includes remaining thankful for the King’s provision. We’ll be completely taken care of if we continue to do this.
If we don’t continue seeking the kingdom and remain thankful for God’s provision, we may end up with the bare minimum to survive. What I mean by bare minimum is: the living conditions and the food aren’t ideal, it’s not what you want, but it’s good enough; it’s sufficient. We see that God fed Israel with manna every day and they soon got tired of it:
4 And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? 5 We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: 6 But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes. (Numbers 11:4-6)
Israel got tired of the manna from God and lusted for all the foods they had back in Egypt. They were no longer satisfied with what God gave them, so much so, that they acted as if they were starving, and didn’t have any food. At first glance, I can see their perspective, if I ate the same food every day, I’d probably get tired of it too; but there were three reasons why all they got was manna, and why God really wasn’t unfair for doing so:
- Impatience. They were quickly approaching the Promised Land. All they had to do was be patient, and soon, they would’ve had all the food they wanted. But they wanted everything now.
- Discontentment. In Numbers 11:1 it says that their constant complaining about the manna and wanted something better angered the Lord so much that he just destroyed some with fire and plagued the rest with snake bites (Numbers 21:4-6).
- Disobedience. Their lack of faith in his consistent provision, their idolatry, and all these sins combined, hampered the grace of God till all that was left was the bare minimum for their survival. He could’ve given them more, but they just didn’t deserve it. It was his mere mercy to provide the manna in spite of their sin.
Likewise today, as children of God, we can wonder why we have just enough, even if we believe he’s our provider. It’s usually for one of these reasons:
- It’s because we’re impatient with God’s pending blessing.
- It’s because we’re discontent and ungrateful with what he’s already provided.
- It’s because we’re not in the will of God and have yet to repent of some sin.
Let’s deal with each problem and how pride is the root.
When reading that Israel couldn’t wait just a few months to get everything they wanted, one could ask, “What’s wrong with these people?” We have to understand that they lacked the Spirit of God, they had no spiritual connection to God, and by default, Satan’s nature, the god complex, was in full effect, showcasing the very opposite characteristics of God, one being patience.
A culture that needs instant gratification is a culture that is void of God and full of pride. Measure how long you can wait for something without complaining, and that’s the amount of God you have. In regards to his children, God wants to bless us, but in his timing. He knows when it’s best to give us something and when it’s not quite the right time. When we begin to complain in impatience, it’s a clear indicator that we’re not ready for it, and so our resources stagnate. God won’t increase our resources until we learn patience.
If you’re not happy with what God has already provided, why should he provide more? Not being satisfied with what you already have is a clear indication of pride, whether or not you believe God is your provider. Discontentment comes from the void in our souls due to the god complex and which leads to nothing being satisfactory. Even if we get that thing we so much coveted, it’ll be another thing we want after that. The cycle never stops because we’re trying to fill the void in our souls with stuff.
However, a person who is properly attached to God is content. They know their current resources are sufficient, and in due time, all their needs or desires will be fulfilled. A content person’s desires are not for vain things that don’t satisfy—for they’re already satisfied with God. Content people don’t lust for fancy cars but are happy with the reliable transportation God provided. Content people are OK with walking or taking public transportation because that’s where God has them. They know that whatever state they’re in, it’s good for them because God is working something out in them; and he will provide all their desires in his due time.
The third reason manna is all we get is that we’re either operating outside the will of God or we’re committing some sin. Sin is a disorder which comes from pride. God won’t provide more for his child while we’re offending him.
Sometimes we believe God’s will for our lives is one thing when it’s not. The truth is often discovered through frustration. Other times, there’s some sin we keep practicing. These things cut the generosity of God off, and we get nothing but manna.
I remember knowing my purpose in the Body of Christ, early in my new life, but I didn’t understand how I could do it alongside running a business. So I was always torn between self-employment and ministry.
Ministry would often suffer, and I would end up in sin, and outside of the will of God because of it. God wanted me to put ministry first, but I was too focused on how I had to take care of myself. And that was my error: thinking I had to take care of myself. Once God got me to see he was my provider, and he would take care of me, and my family, I was able to focus on ministry without the stress of building my business and making ends meet every month.
I want to be clear: patience, contentment, and obedience is a discipline. These are attributes that are worked out by the Holy Spirit over time with hardship (James 1:1-4). I wouldn’t have learned contentment without having been poor and then homeless. I wouldn’t have learned patience without waiting on the bus without a car for several years. I wouldn’t have learned obedience without consequences. God had to mold me, and through these things, he taught me that he is my provider.
Years earlier, I prayed, and continue to pray today, that he does whatever it takes to conform me into the image of his Son (Romans 8:29). Whether or not we request things like that, he does it anyway. Immediately after rebirth, the Holy Spirit begins to work to make us like Christ.
I’d say to any child of God that seems to have a tough time, hang in there, and don’t reject God’s discipline for temporary comfort. God is trying to save you, and you must get out of the way, and let him mold the character of Christ in you.
Therefore, as a living witness, I’ve found when I aligned myself with the will of God, obeyed him, and believed he would take care of my needs, I didn’t have to think about where food, shelter, and clothing would come from, it was just there. God consistently provides for my family and me; and it’s the best food, shelter and clothing one can receive. How awesome and liberating is that?!
#3 God wants spiritual worship
God hates worship through physical objects. Exodus chapter 32 gives the account of Israel’s idolatry right after leaving Egypt. Let’s read it:
1 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.
2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. 3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. 4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the Lord. 6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
7 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 8 they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
9 And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: 10 now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. (Exodus 32:1-10)
We know that shortly after, Moses interceded for Israel and God didn’t completely destroy Israel for their idolatry. Note what God says about the Israelites (verse 9), they’re a “stiff-necked people.” Stiff-necked means to be haughty (arrogantly superior and disdainful) and stubborn (showing a dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so). At the root of Israel’s conflict with God, was pride. Even today, you can see this same stiff-necked behavior among us.
Let’s examine these passages to see what was going on with the Hebrews. First, it’s revealed they really didn’t acknowledge the Most High as their deliverer, but rather Moses. Or, since Moses was with God, and Moses was now absent, they figured the Lord was absent too. For this reason, they needed a god to take his place. This goes to show they didn’t understand that God was omnipresent. They didn’t understand that he was a spirit.
So they tried to worship God their way. The calf represented strength, the image of a false god of Egypt, as I explained earlier. They took this idea and applied it to God’s strength. While their intentions to give worship to God was right, the method through a physical object was wrong.
The god complex naturally rebels against God’s standard for receiving worship. Because the Israelites were spiritually dead (like anyone not born of God), they couldn’t interact with him on a spiritual level, so they naturally used a physical medium to do so. Being spiritually dead makes one bound to a physical world. Therefore, that person needs God to be physical as well.
Pride has the same effect even on those who’ve been born again. Pride can block the connection between God and us, and we’ll try to interact with God with our five senses rather through the spirit.
This is where Christians start seeking visitations from Christ in the form of dreams or visions. I’m not saying that God doesn’t visually appear to us on occasion, it’s just that the seeking such experiences is not what God wants. Doing so will lead to frustration—feeling as if God isn’t meeting our needs because he won’t interact with us on our terms, or worse, we end up entertaining an evil spirit posing as Christ.
To this day, there are so-called Christians whose churches and homes are filled with physical representations of Christ: statues, paintings, figurines, crosses, etc. This is their medium for connecting with God, they need these items to make God tangible and relatable to them, but they’re committing idolatry just as the Israelites did.
Why is this such a problem for God? Because he wants to be worshiped in spirit and in truth, as the scriptures say:
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24)
When we use an object to worship God, he doesn’t receive the worship because he’s a spirit, not the object. The worship goes to the object. And we know that demons can inhabit objects and receive the worship instead. Therefore, one who practices such things is corrupting themselves, as God brought out to Moses (Exodus 32:7).
#4 God requires absolute trust
God showed Israel he could provide all their needs, and deliver, and protect them from anything. Now he was leading them to the richest lands on earth, which was promised to their ancestors. The book of Numbers chapters 13-14 gives the account of what happen.
Before they were to enter the land, God commanded leaders of Israel, one from each tribe, to spy out the Promised Land, and report back. He knew they’d see the vast wealth of the land, but also hostile inhabitants, giants, and walled cities. God was testing their faith in him (Numbers 13:27-29).
Faith is a huge part of God, without it, it’s impossible to please him (Heb 11:6). Faith is about taking his word for it, believing he can do what he says he will; and this all happens before we actually see him do it.
Faith is vital to a smooth operation in God’s kingdom. If people are always doubting if God is able, delaying his work, and being disobedient, it disrupts the whole system. Therefore, there is no room in his nation or kingdom for people who don’t trust the Lord.
After forty days of spying out the land, they reported back. Two, out of the twelve, had positive feedback and believed in the Lord’s ability to give them the land (Numbers 13:30), the other ten thought it was suicide to attempt such a thing (Numbers 13:31-33).
After the congregation had heard what they were up against from all twelve spies, they chose to believe the ten instead of the two. And all of Israel cried that night as if God was leading them to the slaughter. They thought it was absolutely crazy to attempt to take a land inhabited by people far greater than them. They even began organizing a party to return to Egypt and wished they would’ve died in the wilderness, rather than suffer defeat at the hands of those foreign nations (Numbers 14:1-4). The people even tried to stone Joshua and Caleb, the only two spies who trusted God, when they tried to comfort the people (Numbers 14:6-10).
What was going on with these people? What was wrong with them? Their pride destroyed their faith in God.
As I said before, pride detaches you from God, because you think you are your own god. With that mindset, you look at circumstances based on your own ability outside of God’s strength. Israel heard the report and compared themselves to the nations and found themselves to be weaker.
That’s the natural response anyone should have if an all powerful god doesn’t cover them, but that’s what made their response so sad; because they were. Oh, how pride can destroy all confidence in the Lord!
Those spies are to blame as well. Being that they were leaders of their tribes, their faith could’ve steered the people toward the Lord. But it was an external force that influenced that led them to lose faith in God and become fearful.
Pride brings about a demon spirit of fear and unbelief. Let me explain. God was furious with their lack of trust. They treated him as if he was incapable of giving them the victory.
Scripture calls their report an “evil report” (Numbers 13:32, 14:37) and the word evil meant “defamation.” The report was an attempt to damage the good reputation of God. A synonym for defamation is “slander;” and we know the devil means “slanderer.”
God was about to kill everyone, but Moses interceded, and God decided he would just make the adults wander in the wilderness until they died off, and let their children enter the Promised Land instead. He made an exclusion for Joshua and Caleb, the two spies that believed his word. It’s important to note what he said about Caleb:
But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land where unto he went; and his seed shall possess it. (Numbers 14:24)
God said Caleb had “another spirit” with him; this implies that the other spies had spirits with them as well. Therefore, I believe that Satan’s demons inspired that evil report.
If you humble yourself and trust the Lord, you’ll be given a spirit of faith, if you hold on to pride, you could receive a spirit of deception and fear. Those ten spies had demons whispering in their ears, and they returned with a message, so fearful, it scared the entire nation of Israel. It was the Adversary at work, using God’s beloved creation to slander him.
God knew this would happen. He had them spy out the land, knowing their lack of faith would show, just to punish them, and let their children enter instead. He wanted them to see the severity of unbelief, and his capacity to fulfill his every word. Before spying out the land, God had already shown them his power, so there was no excuse to distrust him then, yet they rebelled, and suffered the consequences.
Unbelief is a great offense to God. It hurts his heart to see people distrust him because, without trust in him, there is no other hope for those people.
Jesus and unbelief
The Son of God wept at the funeral of his friend, Lazarus, not because he died, but because the attendees didn’t believe he could raise Lazarus from the grave (John 11:1-45). They had no idea he was capable of such a thing. Read the passage again.
Why would Jesus cry about a friend he knows he’s about to resurrect? Christ let him die so he could perform that miracle and glorify God. It was the people’s inability even to conceive God’s ability to raise the dead that led him to cry, and shortly after, those tears turned to anger (John 11:38). Just like his father, Jesus gets angry when people don’t believe him.
Without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 12:6). But until this day, this remains Israel’s problem. All of chapter 11 in the book of Hebrews was written to get modern-day Israel to understand this, but humbling one’s self is the beginning (2 Chronicles 7:14).
#5 Don’t mess with God’s order
The Almighty is a god of order. He has set things to fit into its proper place. Whether this is the role of men and women, the leadership in the Church, natural ecosystems, etc., usurping authority, throwing a wrench into the ecosystems of life, or switching the roles of men and women, will always invoke the judgment of God. But pride does it anyway. We see the first instance of this with Moses’ own sister. Let’s study Numbers 12:1-10:
1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2 And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it. (Numbers 12:1-2)
We see here that Moses’ sister was challenging his authority, but she got his brother Aaron in on it too. It’s clear that Aaron’s heart wasn’t truly against his brother, rather, he was being stirred up by his sister; this is why Miriam was later cursed with leprosy, but no judgment fell on Aaron.
While the highlight was Moses’ gentile wife, the root was really his position as leader of Israel. She wanted his authority. Does this sound familiar? She figured since God spoke through her, and her brother as prophets, they too, more so her, should have authority equal to, if not more, to Moses (Micah 6:4).
This also brings out the fact that people often use false reasons behind why they should be in charge rather than the one established. The Ethiopian wife, whom God apparently approved of, was being used here.
3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) 4 And the Lord spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. (Numbers 12:3-4)
Meekness means that a person is absent of any feelings of being better than others. This also means that they are modest and lowly in spirit. When we later learn how to overcome pride, we’ll talk about this, but this is the main reason why God chose Moses to lead his people. Moses didn’t have a god complex much like his proud sister did.
This fact about Moses was mentioned in parenthesis to give insight into why God moved so quickly after hearing what Miriam was saying, and the evil she would probably plan against Moses if she was allowed to continue.
Meek people rely solely on God. While meekness does not imply weakness (as Moses killed an Egyptian defending his people and warded off scavengers at the well), God was still his protection. Therefore, God moved quickly to protect his servant.
The proud don’t get this benefit, as their god complex leaves them to defend themselves. But with meekness, God becomes our protection and what better protection to have. Moses had a protector who could see and hear everything his enemies were planning. With the meek under God’s protection, their enemies are quickly handled:
5 And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. 6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? (Numbers 12:5-8)
Moses was unaware of his sister’s envy of his position as leader of Israel. Just like Satan wanted to be like God and usurp his authority, so did Miriam want Moses’ position—pride rears its ugly head again.
We see here how God shut that arrogant idea down responding with, “Yes, I have prophets, I speak through men and women, but Moses is special, he’s my chosen vessel to lead my people. Your attempt to usurp his authority and disrupt my established order will not be tolerated.”
9 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and he departed. 10 And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. (Numbers 12:9-10)
Temporary leprosy was a light sentence compared to what happened to hundreds of others who attempted to do the same thing to Moses. Korah, a Levite of the same tribe of Moses, joined Dathan and Abiram of the tribe of Reuben, plus 250 other famous men of Israel (Numbers 16:1-3,3, 8-14) to stand against Moses with this claim:
And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord? (Numbers 16:3)
Here they are accusing Moses of arrogance when we know this is a false claim because God already said that Moses was the meekest of all men at that time (Numbers 12:3). False accusations are often the start of someone attempting to change God’s order. The real reason was similar to Miriam’s, they wanted the position of leader, but more so, they didn’t like Moses because he represented God. They really didn’t want God as their leader, so they attacked the representative instead.
8 And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi: 9 Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?
10 And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also? 11 For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the Lord: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him? (Numbers 16:8-11)
Moses exposes their discontent; these men already had positions of leadership, but they desired more authority. Pride always leads to discontentment and those in higher positions become a target of envy and covetousness.
12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab: which said, We will not come up: 13 Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us? (Numbers 16:12-13)
The mindset of these men were wicked to think that 1) salvation from 400 years of slavery was a small thing, 2) to attribute this feat to Moses instead of God, 3) to claim that Moses was trying to kill them and 4) they accuse Moses of lording over them as if he’s some arrogant tyrant!
This is pride at its finest. It was complete lunacy for them to think the humble and righteous man of God, who are guiding them to safety, was the problem, and not their own wicked hearts! Deep down, again, this was about not wanting God to rule their lives. Pride seeks to rule itself; it can’t follow a god.
Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up. (Numbers 16: 14)
The reason Israel wouldn’t be entering the Promised Land anytime soon was their fault, and these men knew that, yet they blamed Moses! This is crazy, but this is pride. The nature of Satan was on fire in these men. They hated the leadership of God, his judgment, and his order.
For their rebellion against the established order, God made the ground open up and devour the leaders of the rebellion, and their families (Numbers 6:31-33); and the remaining 250 followers were destroyed with fire (vs. 35). God doesn’t play with rebellion and disorder, in particular against his chosen vessels!
Take note of this: When you seem to be great in the eyes of people (even your own family), they may want your position. When humble people are elevated by God, the proud will always envy their gifts, positions, and power, and attempt to degrade them and take their authority. The danger behind their actions is they’re fighting against God at that point. If we live as meek as Moses, and let God fight our enemies, we don’t have to worry about these usurpers, God will expose them, and if they don’t repent, destroy them.
Another thing to note: Pride is not content with one’s position, and always seeks to go higher and higher, even though that isn’t where God has placed that person. Pride compares itself to others, and because Moses seemed to be highest among the rest, they wanted to be there too. Just like Satan wants to be like god.
If they would’ve just kept their eyes on God, and realized Moses was just a chosen vessel, envy wouldn’t have developed in their hearts. This is a lesson to all of us to stay in our positions, never usurp God’s ordained order, or there will be consequences. At the end of the day, deep down, these people didn’t want to be ruled by God, because they were their own gods.
#6 God is righteous and holy
Before Israel went into the Promised Land, the Lord wanted them to know how holy he was; and that his chosen people had to be the same. “Holy” means to be set apart. God is not like any other god of this world, and his people were not like the rest of the nations (Exodus 19:5-6).
The Lord laid down the standards of living for Israel. He taught them how to relate to him and how to love each other. The Ten Commandments (laws of morality) were given along with hundreds of other laws designed to govern his society (Deuteronomy 4:5-9).
There were procedures they had to follow when they sinned and annual celebrations they attended to help them remember God’s blessings (Deuteronomy 4:39-40). He was realigning his people with his kingdom on earth so their lives would remain prosperous; and through those lives, advertise to other nations the glory of God.
All these rules were without exception to anyone. Even Moses lost the right to enter the Promised Land due to his disobedience (Numbers 20:11-12). God was teaching the Israelites that he has no favorites, not even his chosen vessels would get away with sin (Acts 10:34).
God made a covenant with his people, but the overall teaching was this: If you obey me, you’ll be blessed. If you disobey, you’ll be either punished or cursed.
The adamant pride of Israel
In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses recaps Israel’s history from salvation from Egypt, to their unbelief delaying entry into the land, the wars in the wilderness, up until the point before entering the Promised Land. Now that they were allowed to go in, Moses reminded them of the covenant they made with God, and to honor it so they would remain blessed in the new Land (Deuteronomy 11).
Initially, after Moses died, and under the new leadership of Joshua, Israel obeyed the Lord and prospered, but after Joshua had died, they began to slip into sin. They didn’t completely drive out the nations, as the Lord commanded, thus they worshiped the foreign gods of their neighbors.
As we later read, in the books of the Old Testament, Israel continued to dishonor their covenant. And why? Because of pride. The nature of Satan can’t submit, and so the people had a difficult time honoring the agreement.
One thing they failed to do was remind themselves (especially their children) of God’s goodness. As a result, they became “lifted up” thinking they were responsible for their land and prosperity, just as God had warned (Deuteronomy 8:11-20).
Israel’s relationship with the Lord became a cycle of rebellion, punishment, repentance, restoration, and rebellion again. Over and over, they’d fall into sin (usually idolatry), and slavery to their neighbors was the punishment.
God gave them judges to keep them on track—interim leaders—but after each judge died, they’d fall into sin again. Later, the people requested a king instead of more judges. Demanding a king wasn’t wrong, but the motives behind it were. They wanted a king to mirror other nations, yet they were created to be holy.
The other reason they wanted a king was that they didn’t want God to reign over them; they wanted a man to do it (1 Samuel 8:7-9). Their pride was, again, showing itself.
Moses, Joshua, and the judges all represented God, and he ruled through those leaders. With a man as the figurehead of the nation, they got to associate themselves with that man’s greatness. Then they could say, “See our great king… he’s one of us!” But with the Creator as the king, they couldn’t make that claim; God is nothing like a man.
With a man lifted up as God, the people didn’t have to think about the real one; and that’s the whole purpose of a king: to blot God’s existence out of their minds—the nature of Satan doesn’t want to even think about God.
Another reason for a king was they’re physical, something the people could handle and control. If they liked him, they could exalt him, if they disagreed with him, they could pull him down.
But there are downsides to having kings as God said (1 Samuel 8:10-18). If you lift a man up as a god, he’s going to demand servitude, taxes, and other unnecessary stuff; and because men are imperfect, an earthly king would cause distress to the citizens (Proverbs 29:2).
This is why we have to be careful to pray God’s will because God could give us what we want, as he did Israel. Even though the Lord warned the people through Samuel how bad of an idea it was, they still wanted one, and God gave them Saul.
It was in the will of God to eventually give his people a king, so after Saul was rejected (due to disobedience), God appointed a king after his own heart, David, to rule the people (1 Sam 13:14). This king listened to God and reestablished the nation on the correct path. With God as the leader, the nation flourished, but just as each judge died, and the people fell into sin, so much so the state of Israel, depending on each king.
The history of the kings showed how righteous leadership prospered the people, but how idolatrous kings cursed the people; and we watch another cycle of rebellion, bondage, repentance, restoration, and rebellion again.
Israel kept failing God. The books of the prophets reveal their sins, yet God’s love for Israel remained. He punished them but restored them after they repented. They’d kill his prophets—servants of love sent to warn the people to turn back—and their pride kept them defiant.
For their rebellion, captivity under another nation was, again, the consequence. Then God sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ from heaven. He came to save Israel from their sins, the nature of Satan, and from the cycle of rebellion and repentance. More importantly, Jesus came to teach Israel how to please God, and of his heavenly kingdom they could inherit if they followed the Holy Spirit.
Up until this point, they hadn’t heard from a prophet of God in a long time, and they were currently under the rule of Rome due to disobedience. Their leaders were the scribes and Pharisees, teachers of the Law, but these men obviously weren’t able to deliver the people via religion, and in some cases, they were making the problem worse. Suffice to say, Israel had become very religious, but powerless to overcome sin and please their God.
God instituted a New Covenant which comes with God’s own Spirit giving men the power to please him, but instead of accepting it, Israel’s religious leaders, along with most of the people, rejected their salvation for traditions of men and laws; and they killed the great prophet. This opened the door for the gospel to be preached to all nations while putting the Israelites to the side.
For killing the Messiah, in 70 A.D., God allowed the Romans to slaughter them and Israel fled from Judea into the west sides of Africa. From there, scattered as a nation, they were taken captive by Europeans, and other nations, and dispersed around the world on ships as chattel slaves.
Today, they’re known as the Igboos, Hebos, Negroes, Blacks, and African Americans. While the enemy nations of Israel set out to erase their heritage from history (Psalms 83:2-8), their identity is still found, and the curses of Deuteronomy chapter 28 reveal who the true Israelites are today.
In America, some have awakened to their true identity, and much more are waking up. But even after learning their true history, and why God allowed them to be treated so badly, they still revert to law keeping to please God. Many of them reject the New Covenant and the help of the Holy Spirit that empowers them to prosper.
But why? Why reject God’s only avenue towards reconciliation and eternal life? Pride, again. Attempting to keep the Law today is rooted in pride because that Hebrew can get the credit for doing the work, but with the Spirit empowering him, he must give all the credit back to God. And to glorify God is to acknowledge that he is not God. So, naturally, pride (the flesh) has a big problem with the Holy Spirit.
This empowerment from the Spirit, where we receive none of the glory is an essential part of the Kingdom of God; failing to grasp this and we can’t be a citizen.
Still today, the Hebrew attempts to keep the 600 plus laws (minus the animal sacrifices), and he still fails. He smiles at the challenge to please God in his own strength but never quite measures up. But because of his pride, he’ll never confess, “I need help, I can’t please God, I keep falling.”
Pride just keeps getting back up proclaiming, “I’ll get it right next time…” but he never will… It’s because something is wrong with his soul; it’s the nature of Satan.
The Hebrew, and all of mankind, are like defective products that need to be completely replaced, this is where the New Covenant, Christ, and the Spirit comes to the rescue (Jeremiah 31:31-34). But why did the Lord give laws to men in the first place if he knew no one could keep them? Here’s what Scripture reveals:
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient… (1Timothy 1:9)
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. (Romans 7:7)
Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. (Galatians 3:19 NLT)
23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. (Galatians 3:23-25)
5 When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. 6 But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. (Romans 7:5-6 NLT)
So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. (Romans 7:14 NLT)
22 I love God’s law with all my heart. 23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 7:22-25 NLT)
For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. (Romans 3:20 NLT)
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. (Galatians 5:16-8)
So we see, that the Law was given to govern our immoral behavior, to show us how sinful we are, and to lead us back to God for salvation. We also see that no one can keep the Law except those that yield to the Spirit, and by walking in his power, we’re no longer under the Law.
But even after hearing all of this, proud Hebrews return to doing anything they can to get the credit. Even when Bible says:
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Putting the Law aside, the Hebrew will pick up anything, including church activities, as a way of self-justification and personal accreditation. Pride says, “I must earn my salvation. I must get the credit. I can’t just accept something without paying for it. To accept a gift without repayment would mean I owe God, but I’m a god myself, so I can just receive something without reimbursement.”
To add to all that, sadly today, most awakened Hebrews are so proud of their heritage, they don’t even attempt to get to know the God who established them; they’re just happy knowing who they are! Oh, how terrible pride has made us!
Next, we’ll look at some everyday examples of pride to hit the point home, and then uncover God’s solutions to dealing with this wretched nature of ours.