…But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” – Num. 21:4-5 NIV
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The Israelites had just routed the Canaanite king of Arad who lived in the Negev and his people. He it was that had made the first move to attack them but after vowing to the Lord that everyone in the city will be destroyed if He should grant them victory over the people who lived in Arad, the Lord granted their request and they completely fulfilled their vow to the Lord – Num. 21:1-5. Meanwhile, the Edomites had refused the request of the Israelites to pass through their land, on their way to the Promised Land and so they had to go through a longer route. This refusal definitely added to the travel time of the Israelites and they probably became impatient – Num. 20:14-21. In a reaction that has come to be characteristic of them since they left Egypt, they started grumbling asking for food and water and accusing Moses of bringing them into the wilderness to kill them – Num. 21:4-5. These were the same people who had witnessed the Lord provide Manna as food and Quail when they requested for variety in their menu – Exo. 16:1-26; Num. 11:4-32, had witnessed the Lord provide water for them from the Rock, not once but twice – Exo. 17:1-7; Num. 20:1-11. Yet they never stopped grumbling about these same requests. They were no longer interested in the Manna that was being provided by the Lord which they described as miserable, as they had a different idea of the kind of food they desired.
This latest reaction of the Israelites got the Almighty God expectedly angry and he sent venomous snakes into their midst that bit and killed most of them. Seeing the reaction of the Almighty God to their actions, they quickly approached Moses, asking that he mediates on their behalf with the Lord. In their words, they admitted that they had sinned when they spoke against the Almighty God and Moses. Moses heeded their request and pleaded with the Lord who instructed him to make a replica snake which he is to place on a stick for anyone who gets bitten to look at. This he did and everyone who subsequently got bitten by snake and looked at the replica snake hung on a stick lived – Num. 21:1-9. However, before this solution from the Lord, many of them had died due to impatience. Their impatience got them nothing but the same death that they had accused Moses of wishing them by bringing them into the wilderness.
Impatience of man with the plan of God, although may be attributed in some cases to anxiety, can be considered a subtle way of expressing distrust in the ability of the Almighty God to do all He promised to do. The one who trusts the Lord will wait patiently for Him without allowing anxiety to becloud his/her judgement. Such will not think of any alternative outside the Almighty God and His promises. Such will behave in a manner that will continue to attract His favour and will not do anything to jeopardize the already good relationship with Him. This was not the case with the Israelites who at every turn put up actions that seemed that their relationship with the Lord had no value once they felt their needs were not been met. It was like the Almighty God had to keep pace with their requests else they will settle for the alternative choices that they had.
The Christian today behaves in a similar if not worse as so much distrust and disrespect is shown to the Almighty God. Worse because several Christians today actually activate their alternative plans even when they are still pretending to be with the Lord in what becomes the practice of spiritual adultery, because they loose patience waiting for the Lord. The repercussion of impatience for them is therefore not just distrust and disrespect but also spiritual adultery all of which can only bring destruction. That explains why the same challenge that they run from is the one that eventually consumes them. The sin of impatience is not only against the Almighty God but also against His servant through whom the promises were delivered – Num. 21:7. Like the Israelites who were killed by God-sent snakes, most Christians today are under one form of God-sent affliction or the other but which unfortunately is being attributed to the devil or his agents. Truth be told, their affliction has nothing to do with those seen and unseen enemies but is the direct reaction of the Lord to their impatience and its follow-up actions. Their pain will be alleviated if only they can acknowledge their transgressions against the Almighty God and His servants whom they have shown disregard, disrespect and distrust for. That is when divine solution will be provided for them and peace can return into such lives.
Patience is no patience if it is exhausted as genuine patience is based on complete trust that no matter how bleak the situation may be, the expectation will still be met over time and that there is no need to survey other options. Trusting in the Lord will always remain the only way, not only to receive His promise but to avoid His wrath. May God grant us all the grace to trust Him sufficiently so as to remain patient for the manifestation of His promises, and avoid His wrath in Jesus name. Amen