Why Israel Failed

Exodus 23:20-33


They did not take the promises of God.  Do you see the promises of God to Israel in these verses? 

We fail when we do not take the promises of God.  If you do not see the promises of God to Israel in these verses, do you also see the promises of God to you?  Notice in all these verses the things Israel did not see.  It is very sad, but it is also very true there are many things we do not see, therefore we are defeated in this life.  I do not mean to give any offense to Israel, rather to state why they failed, so we can learn the right lesson, and not fail.  I do want each of us to see the potential God has for us, then look at what we have really accomplished for God.  If these two are not the same, then we can understand we have not used the promises God has given to us.  It is very likely we will not see where we have gone wrong, even though we can see we have not lived up to the potential God promised us.  We cannot see our own errors, or faults, because in any given situation we did the very best we knew how to do – and that is exactly the problem.  We did the best we knew to do, not the best God knew to do for us.  We looked at the circumstances surrounding us, not at the promises of God; therefore we failed to achieve what God has promised. 


Verse 20 – God has directed his Angel (capital “A”) to go before Israel.  God has also directed his Angel (capital “A”) to go before us.  Notice the things God has promised to Israel (and us).  The instructions to the Angel of Israel assures them of perfection and completion.  There is also an end God has promised to us, if we will only see that end, and remain faithful and true to him. 


Verse 21 – Israel (and us) must be very careful to listen to God’s directions for us, and never fail to listen to him, nor provoke him, for he will not pardon their (and our) transgressions.  To provoke the Angel of God is the same as provoking Jesus Christ. 


Verse 22-31 – God’s instructions for complete fulfillment of the promises of God. 

1.       Verse 22-23 – There are many blessings of God if we obey.  Note: obey his voice, do all I say.  God will be an enemy and adversary to our enemies and our adversaries.  The Angel will bring us to the final place God has prepared for us. 

2.       Verse 24 – Do not pay any attention to the false religion of this world, nor of the pull of this world.  This pull is not just to the wickedness of this world, but anything that takes our minds away from the things of God.  God desires our full devotion to him – that we understand the complete will of God to us, and that we completely dedicate ourselves to that perfect will.  Some of the blessings of God that we will have if we obey that we would not otherwise have. 

3.       Verse 25 – Our sole requirement is that we serve the Lord God and him only.  Matthew 6:24 states, 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.  God will bless our necessary food and water, and give us health.  All these things are greatly desired of every person.  Many people spend their lives working to have all these things, but if we will only dedicate ourselves to God, he will give us those things, without us spending our lives worrying and working for those things. 

4.       Verse 26 – There will be plenty of healthy babies, as a natural result of contentment. 

5.       Verse 27 – God will cause unbelievers to be afraid.  Two things: God will cause unbelievers to fear God’s people, and when unbelievers see the way God blesses and protects them and gives them strength against them, they will fear them the more.  There is a promise of victory in all their battles, when the enemies turn their back (run away). 

6.       Verse 28 – Israel will not have to fight their way to victory in all cases.  Sometimes God will go before them with hornets to drive the enemies out.  It could be the Israelites would not see the hornets driving the enemies out, just as sometimes we don’t see the circumstances of the wicked, who drive the wicked away from, and protect us from them.  It is amazing the hornets would drive the enemies out, but not bother the Israelites.  The same is true for us. 

7.       Verse 29-30 – God promised the fulfillment of his promises a little bit at a time, not all at once.  This is one point where Israel failed, just as we fail in this point.  Israel did not understand the slow way God works, just as we often do not understand the slow way God works.  Israel (and us) often expects God to immediately supply everything for us, and fail to accept his promises the way he wants to give them to us.  It is very important we all understand that God will never give us the completed promise if we don’t do exactly what he instructs us to do.  Often, we look forward to another time when we will do as God desires, and receive his blessings.  Those times somehow seem more real to us than the present.  But if we don’t do today what God gives us to do, he will never entrust us future blessings. 

8.       Verse 31 – Here God describes the entire land area God intends to give to Israel, but they never occupied the entire area, because they did not do what God told them to do.  It is very likely we never inherit all the things God intends to give to us, simply because we do not obey God in the things he has revealed to us.  It is very important that we do not pass over the promises of God because of the natural blindness and worldliness we all experience.  Matthew 13:22 speaks of believers who do not bring fruit to completion because they become entangled in the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches. 


Verse 32-33 – God instructs Israel to make no covenant with any of the unbelievers, just as God instructs his people to come out and be separate from this world.  II Corinthians 6:11-18 states churches should not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  Joshua 9:3-15 describes how Israel made a league with the Gibeonites, which they came to regret.  II Samuel 21 describes how God send a famine to Israel in the days of David, because Saul destroyed the Gibeonites, against the league Israel made with them.  It is very amazing that there is no Bible record of exactly when this happened, therefore we don’t know when Saul killed them, but it is thought Saul killed them when he killed the priest at Nob, described in I Samuel 22:19.  There is likely many things we have done in secret, that nobody knows about, and which things we try to hide, yet God knows all about, which things will hinder the blessings of God from coming to us.