Who would argue that pride, envy, gluttony, lust, avarice, and wrath are not toxic to the soul?
But the Enemy of our souls likely is happy to distract us with the “big seven.” It’s how he diverts attention from the root sin: unbelief.
Is unbelief really that big a deal?
It seems not so to us. After all, everyone has doubts.
And the “Big Seven” are sins we commit. Unbelief is a sin of omission. Who doesn’t lack faith at times?
The Torah gives us insights into why unbelief is so dangerous by offering stories that seem very similar:
Beginning of Wilderness Wandering
Toward end of Wilderness Wandering
Rephidim (near Mt. Horeb)
Kadesh-Barnea (11 days north)
Complaints over lack of water
Complaints over lack of water
Cried to the Lord
Went before the Lord
“Strike the rock, Moses”
“Speak to the rock, Moses”
Struck the rock
Struck the rock twice
Water supplied; no judgment
Water supplied; Moses judged
Moses’ led the Israelites for 40 years in the desert (no easy task, this). But for a simple infraction – two smitings of a rock rather than one – Moses will not be allowed to enter into Canaan.
Does this punishment seem overly harsh? Why the big fuss over an extra strike of a stone?
The Scriptures are instructive:
“Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?”i
“Aha,” we might say. “Looks like two of the Big Seven here, Moses. Calling out the people as rebels sure sounds like Anger. And puffing yourself up as the provider of water sure sounds like Pride.”
And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.ii
And two raps on the rock proves the point: prideful anger, for sure.
So we may be surprised that is not the reason God rebukes Moses and Aaron so strongly.
12 “And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”iii
And there it is: “You did not believe in me.” The root cause of Moses and Aaron’s sin was unbelief. And unbelief led to disobedience.
God informs them (and us) why this matters: “You did not uphold Me as holy.”
Believing in God is more than acknowledging His existence (though that is an essential starting point). It extends to recognizing God is holy – and “wholly other.”
“T-shirt theology” often misses the mark. But I like this one: “There is a God – and you’re not Him.”
As with Isaiah, may God give us a fresh vision of His glory: “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted.”iv
And “Lord, increase our faith.”v
We’d love to hear back from you (on these or other matters).
Your thoughts, please?
* How do you measure your BQ (Belief Quotient”)?
* For what are you trusting the Lord, that only He can do?
* What temptations (Big Seven or otherwise) would you avoid by giving God His rightful place on the throne of you heart?
* How do you relate to the prayer, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief?” (Mark 9:24).