Driven by God’s Presence
July 23-24, 2022
One of the great themes that we’ve been looking at recently, it’s a theme that runs through the entire word of God from beginning to end, is that God is Emmanuel, God with us. That’s a promise. That’s a promise to cherish, a promise to hold onto, to rely upon, to build your life upon it, and to never take for granted. What if God were not Emmanuel? What if God’s presence did not go with us? That is the crisis point that Israel comes to in Exodus 33. What had happened was, Israel had become such a difficult, stiff-necked, obstinate people that God finally got to the point where he said, “Go on up to the land I promised but go without me. If I should go up in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you for you’re such an obstinate and stiff-necked people.”
Well, when Moses heard that, it broke his heart and he couldn’t imagine Israel traveling through the desert without the presence of God. Moses interceded in behalf of Israel and that interceding and what happened there is really the crux of the story. He intercedes and he says, “If Your presence does not go with us, then don’t lead us from this place.” In other words, Moses is saying, “Without you, God, I don’t want to go anywhere.” There are life lessons in this story that are so important. Now, one of the great keys to understanding Exodus 33 is to realize that it follows chapter 32. I say that because you need the backstory, you really need to understand what happened in chapter 32, to really understand what’s going on in chapter 33.
What happened was this, God had brought Moses up to Mount Sinai, those 40 days, Moses dwelled in the presence of the Lord. God showed him the pattern for the tabernacle, which is really a shadow of the very throne of God. He gave to him the law and commandments, the word of God, the way of greatest blessing, but he had been up there for 40 days. Well, the people of Israel thought Moses had been gone far too long on that mountain. They didn’t know what had become of him, so they went to Aaron, his brother, and insisted that Aaron make a God to go before them.
They hadn’t heard anything from Jehovah during those 40 days, and they decided they needed another God. Aaron told them to take the earrings and whatnot of gold that were in her ears, and from these things, he melted them down, fashioned a golden calf. Then they said, we don’t know the they, but they said “These are your gods, oh Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” Interesting use of the plural there “These are your gods.” There was just one calf there. What do you mean these? Well, to make the story even more intriguing, Aaron built an altar before the thing, obviously for the purpose of worship, and then made a proclamation, “Tomorrow, we shall have a feast for Jehovah.”
Now the phrase, “These are your gods,” comes into the focus. In other words, they weren’t trying to cast off Jehovah. They wanted to add the golden calf to it. They wanted both. That was the thing. In other words, you can take the people out of Egypt, but it’s pretty hard to take Egypt out of the people because there’s an Egyptian God, Apis, a sacred bull that they worshiped there in that region from where they came in Egypt. This sacred bull was supposedly the son of Hathor, mother of the son God Ra, the symbolic mother of all Pharaohs. This sacred bull was the god of virality, of power, fertility, strength.
That was the vitality and strength of the Pharaohs, so they said. They wanted Jehovah, but they also wanted the golden calf, the god of virility and power. Now I’ll tell you it’s a great lesson in the story for many people are like that today. They want God and they want the “golden calf” thing. Whatever that golden calf thing is, God will explain. I think God will show, but they don’t want to cast off God. No, they want God, but they want that thing too. God, you can be sure is not pleased. They hold this great feast and they began to dance before it but the Scripture says, “Their dancing got lewd, worldly, sensual.”
That’s where it all went. When Moses and Joshua came down from the mountain, Joshua said, “There is the sound of war in the camp.” Moses said, “That’s not the sound of war, that’s not the sound of triumph and that’s not the sound of defeat. That’s the sound of singing. That’s what I hear.” He was furious and angry. He took the tablet, you know the story, he threw them down, broke them, grabbed the golden tablet in the powder, made people drink it, and then he said, “Whoever is for Jehovah, come to me now.” The entire tribe of Levi came to Moses was a great scene. He said, “Strap on swords men” and purged the camp. It was a tragic story.
That is the back story to chapter 33. God then told Moses, “Take these people, move these people and go up to that land that, that He had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but I will not go with you.” There’s that interceding, that part of the story. There are so many insights to take hold of for our lives today. Let’s read it. Exodus 33, we’ll begin in verse 1. “Then the Lord spoke to Moses,” again after all that happened in chapter 32, the Lord spoke to Moses, “Depart, go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought from the land of Egypt to that land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob saying to your descendants I will give it. I promise to give it. I will give it. Go on and I will send an angel before you.
I. God is Faithful to His Promises
I said I would send an angel I will do it go. I will drive out to Canaanite, Amorite, Hittites, Perizzite, Hivites, and Jebusites. Go on up to that land flowing with milk and honey, but I will not go up in your midst because you are an obstinate and stiff-necked people. Lest I destroy you on the way.” Now, when the people heard this sad word, they went into mourning, sadness, mourning. The reaction to such a word is also very, very key to the story. Sad, they’re mourning and none of them put on their ornaments. You’ve been wearing these ornaments the whole time?
It says for the Lord had said to Moses, “You say to the sons of Israel, you are an obstinate people. Should I go up in your midst for one moment I will destroy you, now therefore, put off your ornaments from you that I may know what I will do with you.” The sons of Israel stripped themselves off these ornaments from Mount Horeb onward. Mount Horeb and Mount Sinai are the same. You what? You were wearing those ornaments you were wearing in Egypt? From that moment onward no more. Now he’s going to explain again, part of this, the backstory scene, verse 7.
Now Moses used to take a tent, and he pitched it outside the main camp, a good distance from the main camp. He called it the tent of meeting. It came about that everyone or anyone who served the Lord could go out to that tent of meeting, which was outside the main camp. Anyone who wanted to. Tent of meeting. Anyone who wanted to meet God, anyone who wanted to seek God, anyone you want to? You desire to? There’s the tent of meeting. Now, what’s interesting, verse 8 is that a came about that whenever Moses went out to that tent, that all the people would arise and stand at the entrance of his own tent and they would gaze after Moses until he entered the tent.
Now take hold of this scene. It’s really a critical understanding of what’s happening. He sets up a tent outside the main camp, tent of meeting. Anyone who wants to seek the Lord, there it is. Whenever Moses would go out there, the people seeing him leaving to go to that tent to meet with God, they would stand on their feet and they would rise. It came about that whenever verse 9, whenever Moses entered into the tent, that the pillar of cloud would descend that presence of God would descend on the tent and would stand at the entrance of the tent. The Lord would speak to Moses.
Now, when all the people saw that pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise and worship each at the entrance of the tent. Thus, the Lord used to speak to Moses, face to face just as a man would speak to a friend. Oh, highlight that verse. That is a beautiful, beautiful picture of that kind of relationship. Speaking to Moses like a man would speak to a friend. Then when Moses returned to the camp, the servant Joshua son of Nun a young man would not depart from the tent. Oh, what a privilege is that he’d stay right there.
Then all of that explanation to this next moment because now Moses goes to the tent because he could speak to God as a man would speak to his friend. He’s now going to intercede because when he heard that God said, “I’m not going with you” he intercedes and here it is. Moses, first of all said to the Lord, “See you say to me, you say, bring out this people, but you yourself have not let me know whom you’ll send with me like this angel. Moreover, you have said, I have known you by name and you have found favor in my sight. Now, therefore I pray if I have found favor in your sight–” now here’s what’s interesting. He’s interceding for Israel, but he takes opportunity to ask for something personal.
He has something he wants to ask of God personal. He says ”You say that I have found favor. I therefore pray to you if I have found favor in your sight, let me know your ways that I might know you. I want to know, I’m asking for more. I want to know you more so that I might find favor in your sight. Now consider also that this nation is your people.” He said, ”My presence will go with you and I will give you rest. You have promised this.” Then he said, ”If your presence does not go with us, then do not lead us. I don’t want to go anywhere if you don’t go with us, don’t lead us from this place. For then how could it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, is it not by you’re going with us so that we, I and your people may be distinguished from all other people who are upon the face of the earth.” Now that’s a great truth.
The Lord said to Moses, ”I will do this thing. I will do this thing which you have spoken for you have found favor in my sight and I have known you by name. I will go with you in other words and I will give you rest.” Then Moses dares to ask for one more thing. “While we’re asking, since you’ve made it known that your favor is poured out, I would like to ask just for one more thing,” verse 18, “I pray, show me your glory, show me your glory.” He said, ”I myself will make my goodness pass before you, will proclaim the name of the Lord before you, for I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” Great verses.
The interceding here the result of it in God’s answer is such a wonderful opportunity for us to understand some things about the Lord. Starting with this. God is faithful to his promises. I promised you that land and though you are obstinate and rebellious and stiff-necked people, I am faithful to my promises. You will go to that land. I promise to send an angel before you, I will send an angel before you to drive out the enemies, but I will not go with you, for you an obstinate and rebellious people, lest I destroy you along the way.” I submit that when he said that it was an act of mercy for that they not be destroyed. It was an act of mercy.
A. His mercies are new every morning
It’s one of the great things the themes that we know of God is that his mercies are new every morning. That’s one of the things we love. Now, every person in this room has failed at one time or another. I don’t even need to do a show of hands because I already know it’s true. Every person in this room has failed at one time or another. Therefore, we all understand that if God gave us what we deserve, we would all be in great trouble. By God’s mercy, He does not give us what we deserve. Now this clearly certainly was the low point of Israel’s relationship to God thus far.
Thou they were in fact a rebellious people, therefore God said He would send an angel before them as He promised, He would give them that land as He promised, but He would not go with them lest He destroy them on the way. He was saying this for no other reason than mercy. He is holy in every way. He knew that if they’re going to continue being stiff-necked, hardhearted, obstinate that they would be destroyed. If you’re going to continue being that way, it will not end well. The neck, that phrase stiff-neck it’s a very uncommon phrase and it’s a picture of an attitude, an attitude of heart. The one who is stiff-necked won’t bow, his neck is stiff.
He refuses. There’s a resistance there see, and it’s a picture of a Father putting his hand on the neck of a child. We raised and God says many children and there’s a vast difference of reactions when you place your hand on the neck of a child who has a willing heart. When there’s a good relationship between the Father and the child, that child’s heart is like, ”That’s my dad, there’s something powerful and strong about my dad. He’s strong and the big strong hand on my neck just feels so good.” It’s just strength and you love your dad. There’s strength there. Then you know that all of that strength and that covering is for you, it’s to your good.
You love your dad. It’s like you like welcome it. Oh, my dad that’s because there’s something wonderful there. What if there wasn’t? What if there was resistance? What if there was almost a rebelliousness? What would the attitude then be like uh-huh? No. Don’t touch me. No, no, don’t do that. Don’t touch me. You see the difference? By the way if my kids ever demonstrated a resistance or whatever my question and then would always be the same. Am I for you or am I against you? Let me just remind you. I am for you in every way and I will never stop being for you in every way. Amen.
See an amazing thing is that God is steadfast to his promises though they be stiff-necked. That’s the amazing thing. Go on up. I promise to give you that land flowing with milk and honey, go. It’s a powerful statement of God’s faithfulness. 2 Timothy 2:13 He says it similarly, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot deny himself. He who promised his faithful though we are faithless.” It’s one of the aspects of God’s heart. How about this one? Romans 3:3, “What then if some of them did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God now will it?” Now that’s a really key verse.
Now here’s what’s interesting. You roll the tape forward in the history of Israel many years and they will once again come to a place to a point of wanting the gods of the world so much so that it will lead to their destruction. This is predictable, but even while the Babylonian soldiers were pouring into Jerusalem, Jeremiah the prophet wrote this, and becomes one of the most beautiful, powerful, wonderful expressions of the mercy of God. While the Babylonian soldiers were pouring into Jerusalem, he wrote this. In fact, one of the great hymns, perhaps one of the greatest hymns of the church was written on the foundation of this promise and this verse, Lamentations 3: 21-23.
“This, I recalled in my mind” there he was, he says he could see he was looking he can see the Babylonian soldiers pouring into Jerusalem, but I recall to my mind and therefore I have hope. The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never ceases, His compassions they fail not. They are new every morning, new every morning, great is they faithfulness. Oh Lord, great is thy faithfulness. Ah, that’s a great truth. That’s the truth to hold onto. His mercies are new every morning. That comes to us out of the story. Then we see this, the interceding of Moses becomes a picture of the interceding of Jesus Christ in our behalf.
B. We have an advocate with the Father
In other words, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. Moses is the picture of our advocate. He’s interceding for the nation. The relationship between Moses and God is like none other we’ve read in the Bible thus far. In verse 11, you see the depth of that. God spoke to Moses, as a man would speak to a friend. I tell you, that’s a powerful thing because God does want that today. He wants a nearness, he wants a relationship to you and to me of nearness. I will speak to you as a friend.
Let me give you what Jesus said in John 15:15, Jesus said to His disciples, “No longer do I call your slaves for the slave does not know what the master is doing. I call you friends. For all things that I’ve heard from my Father, I made known to you. I call you friends.” God wants that kind of relationship, a nearness. When Moses heard that God would not be in their midst, He intercedes. He’s appealing to God. Consider Moses said, “This nation is your people” and as a result of Moses interceding, God said, “My presence will go with you, I will give you rest.” He’s an advocate. In fact, in chapter 32, such was Moses’ interceding, that he even went so far as to say, “Please forgive their sin but if not, then block me out of the book, of which it is written.” That is powerful.
Please forgive their sin but if not, then blot out my name, too. That’s powerful. Moses is a picture of Jesus Christ. If it were not for what Jesus has done for us before the Father, we would all be in desperate trouble. Let me use some really amazing verses. Romans 8:33-34, Paul writes, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” You tell me, God is the one who justifies. Who is the one who condemns Christ Jesus is the one who died? Yes, He was raised, who is that the right hand of God and who is interceding for us? We have an advocate with the Father.
Let me give you another verse. 1 John 2:1, would you take note of this verse? I tell you this is one of the most powerful verses in the New Testament. Take note of this verse, it is that powerful. Some of the insights at that depth come to us here, “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin.” Clearly, we know that is God’s heart. I want to give these things to you and promises you, I want to equip you to fill you that you may not sin, but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous He himself being the propitiation for our sins. That’s an amazing thing.
I read these things to you that you may not sin, but if anyone does sin, you have an advocate. See, this is not the way many people understand God. Many people think that when they fail, when they blow it, when they falter, that God responds by something like stiff hand be gone. I have nothing to do with thee because you’ve blown it again. You faltered again, you failed again. That’s not what I read in Scripture. I read this, if anyone does sin, we have an advocate, a sinner has an advocate. That’s amazing. Jesus Christ, the righteous is the advocate for the sinner. That’s one of the most amazing truths in the Bible that should give hope to everyone in this room. Amen.
C. His presence gives power to purpose
Let’s give the Lord praise and glory. It’s just amazing. Absolutely, but would you notice this in the story, his presence gives power to purpose. His presence, His power to purpose, verse 15, after God said that his presence would not go or that sorry– that his presence would go with them, then he said, and if your presence does not go, then don’t lead us in this place. It’s though Moses is saying, it’s not your purpose that drives me, I’m driven by your presence. That’s more important than anything else in my life. It’s your presence is more important than anything else in my life.
I am reminded of the lyrics of a song that I’ve been listening to recently. Love just putting on my headphones and listen to worship when I’m mowing the lawn or working outside or whatever. You can do a lot of worship when you’re mowing the lawn. This is one of the songs that just came out to me. We don’t sing it yet, but maybe we will I don’t know. It’s called Nothing Else. It’s by Cody Carnes. I just want to give you some of the words. I’m caught up in your presence. I just want to sit here at your feet. I’m caught up in this holy moment. I never want to leave. Oh, I’m not here for blessings.
Jesus, you don’t owe me anything more than anything that you can do, I just want you. Take me back to where we started. I open up my heart to you. I’m not here for blessings. You don’t owe me anything more than anything that you can do. I just want you. I love that verse. That lyric it’s so powerful. I just want you. It’s the most important, it’s the most, there’s nothing else. See, God promised them a land flowing with milk and honey. Moses is essentially saying, I don’t want the land if you’re not in it. I don’t want the milk or the honey or any other blessing unless you’re in the midst of it.
It’s the presence of God that Moses cherished more than the land or any other blessing and the same should be said of us. May we cherish the presence of the Lord. The presence of the Lord is beautiful on the soul. Notice, for example, Psalm 139:5-6, “You have enclosed me behind and before and you laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me. It’s too high, I cannot attain to it.” Psalm 73, “Whom have I in heaven but you and besides you, I desire nothing on this earth.” That’s power. There is nothing on this earth that I desire that compares to you.
II. Desire More of God in Your Life
My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart, and God is my portion forever. As for me, the nearness of God is my good. I have made the Lord God my refuge. He has understood a great truth. Now, back to Exodus 33 Moses is interceding but he takes the opportunity to ask for something for himself and here, take hold of this, it’s a great truth. He wanted more. While we’re asking something personal, I want more. I want more of you in my life. There’s that thing, desire more of God. That’s what He’s showing us, desire more of God, I want more. How many would say the same thing, I want more of God in my life, I want more Lord?
A. “Let me know your ways”
See, when Moses does interceding he wants this request to be known because Moses is seeking more, he wants a deeper spiritual life. Can you imagine what Moses has already seen? He’s already seen God destroy Egypt. He’s already seen God part the Red Sea and bring forth water from a rock. He’s already seen God provide mana for all of the people. He himself received the pattern of the tabernacle, the throne of God. He Himself received the law and the commandments but he still wants more. He says, “Let me know your ways that I might know you. I want to know you. Show me more. Let me know your ways that I might find favor in your sight.”
He wanted to know what God is like. He wanted to know his ways, so that he would know God more. He knew that favor and blessing would come from knowing God’s ways, from knowing God’s heart, and then living by God’s ways. That’s the way that my life would be the greatest blessing to be in that place. It’s interesting. There are a lot of articles and books today written about successful people and the way that they live. Many people want to know the way that they live. Warren Buffett, a very successful person. Many people want to know, well, how does Warren Buffett live? I want to know the ways of Warren Buffett because he’s a successful man and I want to be successful like that.
They write articles 10 habits of Warren Buffet, or they’ll write Seven Ways to Organize Your Life like Satya Nadella. He’s the CEO of Microsoft. He’s successful. I want to know how does he do it? How does he organize? How does he live his life? I want to be like that. Or how to balance your life like Pat Gelsinger CEO of Intel. By the way, side note Pat Gelsinger the new CEO of Intel, I’m here to tell you he is a man of God. We are very fortunate to have a man of God, a pillar of God in the community. It is a joy to see what God is doing in his life. He truly is a man of God. Well, of course, people want to know, well, how do people like that live?
Well, I’ll tell you, here’s my point. You can’t get any better than knowing how God lives. You want to know how God is, you can’t get any better than that. You live the way God is and your life will be truly blessed. Do you believe me? Here’s the thing you want to mess up your life? Yes, live by your ways. That’s a sure way to mess up your life, but when you live by God’s ways, it’s beautiful. God wants to give a beautiful life, live by the ways of God. Let me know your ways that I may know you. I want to know your heart. I want to live by your ways so that your ways become my ways, and so He gives many places where you see God’s ways.
Exodus 23:4 “You see if you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering away of your enemy, go return it to him.” Or Exodus 22:26-27 “If you ever take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge,” like a personal loan or something, “You are to return it to him before the sun sets, for I am gracious.” You see, that’s the way I am. That’s the way of God. I am gracious. I want you also to be gracious. Now we love the fact that God is gracious. It is the way of God. We love that. God is gracious, especially when we’re the ones receiving it. We all have stories. I’m sure many, many people here in this room have stories of God’s amazing grace.
We love God’s grace, especially when we’re receiving it. You’ve got your stories. I’ll give you one of mine. Many years ago when the kids were still in the house our oldest son called and said he was sick. He wasn’t feeling well. Could I come pick him up at school? He was going to Beaverton High School at the time. Of course, I said, “Sure, I’ll be right there.” I’m taking the back route over to the to the school to pick him up but then a police officer pulled me over. I was going just a little bit over the normal little bit over. You know what I’m talking about? He comes up, and he goes license and registration and so he says, “Where are you going? Why so fast?” I said, well, my son is sick at school. “I’ll be right back.”
He goes to his motorcycle and he’s on the radio, whatever. He comes back and he says, “I have a question. What do you do for a living?” Oh, now I got to tell him “I’m a pastor.” “Oh, you’re a pastor, be right back.” I’m thinking oh it is what it is, and so he’s back there whatever and he comes back up and he says, “So, you’re a pastor.” I go, “That’s true.” “Then you tell me, what should I do?” Oh, yes. I said, “Well, I was speeding so I deserve a ticket. However, grace is a good thing.” “I’ll be right back.” He comes back, I don’t know what he is doing. He goes back and he says, “Now, listen, you and me, we share the same birthday and I have a policy. I never give tickets to anyone that has my birthday. Happy birthday.”
I’m thinking, “God, you are the blesser of my life.” We love God’s grace when we’re on this side of it, but he says, “I want my ways to be your ways” for his ways are higher. His ways are better. He wants to give you a beautiful life. Like Isaiah 55, “Let the wicked forsake his way. Let the unrighteous man forsake his thoughts and let him come. Let him return to the Lord.” Then he says, Isaiah 55 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways” declares the Lord “For, as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts and your thoughts. I want my ways to be your ways.”
B. “Show me your glory”
Ask for more. “I want to know your ways that I might know you.” Moses said. Some people, they come to receive salvation and that’s enough. That’s all they want. They have salvation. They’ve taken a hold of that. Wonderful, but that’s enough for them, but there are others who want more. They seek for more. A deeper spiritual life. Moses is an example who wants more and we should want more also. I want to know you, show me your ways that your ways would become my ways, but then he asked, “While I’m asking, I want one more thing. Show me your glory.” Moses had already seen more of God’s glory than any human that had ever lived, more than Abraham, Isaac, more than Jacob.
Moses had been in the presence of the Lord to the point that when he returned from the mountain after being with the Lord, those 40 days, there was an actual light of God’s glory visible to the eye. There was an actual light visible when he added the presence of the Lord, out of the glory of being in the presence of the Lord, those 40 days, an actual visible glory on his face. Moses knew that was not the fullness of God’s glory. He knew there was yet more. He had experienced enough of God’s glory to want more, and he had the boldness to ask for it. He understood something.
He tasted of the glory of God that no one else had ever tasted, and he knew how beautiful it was. “I want more, I want more,” because he understood something. The presence of God and the glory of God is beautiful on the soul. It’s beautiful on the soul. It’s beautiful on the soul. I want to give you that beautiful soul. It’s my presence, John says that does that. “I want that, which is beautiful. Show me.” He had the boldness to ask. You got to love that. He had the boldness to ask. In verse 20 God said that no one could see the face of God and live and yet Scripture tells us, when we stand before the Lord of God in heaven, we will see Him in all of his glory. We will see Him face-to-face.
You get a portion, a taste, but long for this, you’ll see him face-to-face in all of his glory. You have no idea. Moses is trying to show us. “You have no idea. The presence of God, the glory of God is beautiful on the soul.” 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now in this life we see in the mirror dimly, but then we will see him face-to-face.” Now I know him only in part, but then I will know him fully, just as I have been fully known. God made himself known to Moses there in that fiery bush on that same mountain, it was the beginning of a relationship that continued to grow through the trials and the conflicts in Egypt, leading the people of Israel back to the same mountain. Verse 11, that relationship grew and continued to the point where it said that the Lord would speak to Moses like a man would speak to his friend.
Moses would go to that tent and just be there, and at that place of meeting with God and they would just talk, a tent to meeting experience, I submit, we need more meanings with God. We need a tent of meeting experience with God. The first meeting you ever have with God, we could call it the come to Jesus’ meeting. We need that meeting. What’s interesting is the world has taken that whole idea and picture and they made it a business phrase. We’re going to have a come to Jesus’ meeting. It means we’re going to reckon with this thing. You’re going to have to come to Jesus’ meeting. They use it in the business world.
They took it right out of the point. God sent his Son to seek and to save sinners so that sinners could come to Jesus. You come to Jesus and you to come to Jesus’ meeting. When you recognize your sin for what it is, when you see the devastation that it does to the soul, there’s no hope in that. God answers by sending his Son to go find sinners, bring them to himself that they would have a come to Jesus’ meeting. Let me just submit that if that’s the only meeting you ever had with God, you’re not going to grow very much. We need more meetings with God. That should be the beginning of meetings with God.
We need personal intimate, devotional, spiritual meetings with God. May I suggest that there are those who don’t want spiritual meanings with God. You know why? They still got have that golden calf thing. That’s why they still have that golden calf thing. God is trying to show us something. You can’t have that golden calf thing and the glory of God’s presence. I want to do a wonderful work. You have no idea how beautiful is the presence of God to the soul. Don’t let this thing stand in the way, this golden calf thing, whatever that golden calf thing is, don’t let that thing hinder you. It’s standing in the way that which is glorious, beautiful to the soul. Don’t let that thing hinder you.
Get rid of that thing that you would have everything that God has for you because the presence of God and the glory of God is beautiful to the soul. God wants you to have that glorious, transformed, beautiful soul. We need personal, intimate, devotional, spiritual meetings with God. I want more. Let me know your ways. and I might know you, but just one more thing show me your glory. It’s beautiful to the soul. Let’s pray. Father, thank you so much. Oh, how beautiful is the presence of God to the soul. We want that. We want that, we want more.
Tell me you would say that to the Lord today. I want more. I want more of you in my life. I want the glory that transforms. I want that. God this golden calf thing, you can have it. You can have it all. I’m done with this golden calf thing. It’s hindering. It’s standing in the way. I don’t want this anymore. Take it. I want you. That’s what I want. I want that which is glorious to the soul. I want more of you. Show me yourself and Lord, one more thing. Just one more thing. Show me your glory. It’s beautiful on the soul. That’s what I want.
How to Live the Effective Life
Exodus 35:29 to 36:7
July 16-17, 2022
When you think of people that have lived an effective life, who comes to your mind? I think for example in the Christian world, I think many would say of course Billy Graham, Chuck Smith in the Cavalry Chapel movement, Louis Palau local, perhaps James Dobson. Going back further in history, maybe people might say someone like Corrie ten Boom or Charles Spurgeon who was like a prince of preachers, but there are others.
I submit that there are others who have lived a very effective life and you probably never heard of them, but I submit that they are famous in heaven, for God makes people effective to His glory and He gives them recognition. He knows who they are. Now when you think of effective people in the Bible, right away we think of people like Moses, or Joshua, or David, there’s Daniel, Ezekiel, perhaps the prophets, Elijah. These are names that come right to mind when you think of effective people who lived their lives.
I. God Calls You to His Purpose
What about those who aren’t so famous? Have you ever heard of Bezalel or Oholiab? Well, you will hear of them today and I submit that they lived effective lives. There are principles to take hold of when it comes to living the effective life, but the question really has to begin with well, what makes a life effective? Now, I think it’s important to therefore recognize there’s a distinction between the world’s definition and God’s definition. God’s definition of an effective life really comes from our relationship to Him.
God made the soul and the spirit within us and He wants our lives to be effective to His glory and then comes out of that spiritual bearing of life. See, to live with God’s purpose, to be effective, you must fulfill God’s purpose in your life. He wants your life to have meaning, to have purpose, to have value, to live for that which is higher and greater than yourself, to have spiritual significance, to make an impact on the kingdom of God, to make an impact on people’s lives around you.
See, the effective life is also the fulfilling life because you are fulfilling God’s purpose. I tell you, there are many people who want God’s purpose in their lives. I want to live by God’s purpose in my life. Anybody agreeing with me? I want to be effective for the kingdom. In these verses today, we are going to see that there are principles that God would give us for those who want an effective life to fulfill His purpose to His glory.
Now, the backstory is this. When God called Moses to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt, he brought them to Mount Sinai which is where we were looking recently, and there at Mount Sinai, not only did He give them the law and the commandments, the way to live of greatest blessing. Not only did He do that, He gave instructions for building the tabernacle. Now, this was that place where His glory, His Shekinah glory would be seen. This is the place that God’s presence would be known amongst His people. This is the promise that His presence would go with them, and so God gave Moses them these detailed instructions about how the tabernacle was to be built.
Every aspect of the tabernacle is a shadow of the throne of God. It is an image of the throne of the living God itself and all of the other aspects of the tabernacle point to Jesus Christ because it is through Jesus that we have access to the throne of the living God, and all of these picture for us Jesus in all of His glory. Now, therefore, it’s very important all these details would be done right. He’s going to now call these men that He desires to use in the craftsmanship in the tabernacle. He’s going to call them by name. Bezalel, Oholiab.
They’re not famous in the annals of biblical history, but they are effective in God’s purpose and they become examples of those who desire to live effective lives for God’s glory. Let’s read it. We are in Exodus 35 and we’re going to begin right in verse 29. Picking it up in the middle of this where he says all the Israelites, “All the men and women,” notice this phrase, “whose heart moved them,” he uses this phrase over and over. Whose heart moved them to bring material for all of the work which the Lord commanded through Moses to be done. They brought a freewill offering to the Lord.
They get any materials and so people brought their necklaces or their earrings or their brooches or their scarlet material or blue, whatever it was. I have this, let me bring it. Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel son of be Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and He has filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all craftsmanship,” filled with this spirit for the purpose of craftsmanship, very interesting, “to make designs for working in gold, silver, bronze, cutting of stones for settings, carving of wood to perform every inventive work. And,” verse 34, “He has put it in his heart to teach.”
This is God put it in His heart to teach others, “both he and Oholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill,” God filled them with skill, “to perform every work of an engraver, designer, embroider in blue, purple, and scarlet material, fine linen, as a weaver, as performers of every work and makers of designs.” We continue in chapter 36. “‘Now Bezalel, and Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the Lord has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all of the work in the construction of the sanctuary, shall perform in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded.’
Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the Lord has put skill.” You notice the theme here? Then He adds, “everyone whose heart stirred him to come to the work to perform it. They received from Moses then all the contributions which the sons of Israel had brought to perform the work in the construction of the sanctuary. They still continue bringing to him freewill offerings every morning.
All the skillful men who were performing all the work of the sanctuary, they came each from his work which he was performing, and they said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough,” which is to say it’s too much. We can’t handle all that they’re bringing, “for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform.” So Moses issued a command and a proclamation was circulated throughout all the camps saying, ‘Let neither man nor woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.” Thus, the people were restrained from bringing any more. Don’t you love that right there? You’re bringing too much, people. We can’t handle all that you are bringing.
Do you see what was happening? They heard that God wanted the tabernacle to be built. They understood its significance and so they said, oh, then use my stuff. Here’s my earring. Here’s my brooch. Here’s my scarlet material. I’ve been holding this for something. I want my stuff to be used for God’s glory. Here, you take it, and Moses finally said enough, we can’t handle it all. Don’t you just love this part of this story?
All right. These are the verses I want us to look at. Great principles to take hold of for those who want to live by God’s purpose and meaning in their life starting with this. God calls you to His purpose. God has a purpose. It’s God’s purpose in your life and God calls you to that purpose. Specifically, He calls Bezalel and Oholiab by name for that purpose in which He call them.
Does God do that today? Does God have a purpose specific to each person? I submit that He does. By name. God has a purpose for each individual person. I tell you what, that’s very encouraging to know. Let me give you a verse out of Jeremiah 1:5 where He says to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I consecrated you.” That means to set you a part for a purpose. Before you even born I set you apart. I pointed you a prophet to the nations. That was the purpose for which he was called.
A. God calls you to relationship first
God has a purpose each person individually. What you notice is, because it’s very important, God calls you to relationship first. He has the purpose, but He fulfills that and calls you out of relationship first. Now, calling, what does calling mean? The word literally means to call someone’s name to get their attention. For example, if we’re in a crowd of people and I hear the word ‘rich,’ somebody could be talking about the rich cake they had for dinner and I would be like, “Rich?” My mind, my ears immediately are attuned to that because our ears are attuned to our names, and God uses that as an illustration.
God will call you by name. Revelation 3:20. We love this verse out of the book of Revelation. “Behold, I stand at the door and I knock; if anyone hears My voice,” that suggests that He’s calling out your name, “if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will die with him, and he with Me,” eating together. See, even Jesus is into the eating together. It’s a beautiful picture.
God has a calling. God has a purpose, but God calls you to relationship first. I use as an example David. You know that David, when he was just a young man was called and anointed for God’s purpose in his life to shepherd the people of Israel, to be king. God anointed him. God called him for that purpose. I submit that long before that, David had a beautiful relationship to God. God called him, but first he had a beautiful relationship to God.
Do you know that David was a good musician. David was a singer. David wrote songs. We would call them psalms. All of the psalms were written for the purpose to be sung, and David wrote many of them. He was a singer. He loved to write and to sing. Why? Why did he write these songs? Did he write these songs because he thought, “One day these can make me famous. God can use these to make me famous. I might need a publisher. These are that good. I really could be. God can use this. I could be quite famous one day”?
No, he didn’t write for that purpose at all. Do you know why he wrote them? Because he loved the Lord and he wrote them out of a heart that was stirred by the presence of God, by the beauty of God’s presence. He just wanted to write it down so that he could sing it again and again to the glory. God called him out of that. I’ll tell you one of the psalms that David wrote, God used in my life in a beautiful way. Psalm 27:4.
God used it. I remember when I was a young man, I was in my young 20s and I was going to a church and I would love to just go to church early and just sit there. I was going to Beaverton Foursquare at the time and I would just sit there and I loved it. I just loved church. I loved getting there early reading. I would just open the Bible and read. They’d put music on the speakers. Oh, I just love being there. I love the smell. I just love being there. Just something. I don’t know. My soul was just so at home. One day I’m there and I’m reading my Bible and just waiting, listening. I read Psalm 27 and I came upon this verse. When I came upon this verse, it stirred me. It’s like, that’s my heart.
This is what David wrote. Psalm 27:4, “One thing I have asked from the Lord and that I shall seek.” One thing. “That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.” I read that and I thought, that’s what I want to do. That’s my desire. I want to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord,” and God confirmed my calling as a pastor.
I even called the pastor the next day. This is what God did in my life. I have decided it’s time I’m going to be a pastor. I tell you, it is a beautiful thing. I have the privilege of being in the house of the Lord. I am at five services a week. I am so blessed. I tell you, it is the privilege and joy of my life. The pastor, this church. This is a beautiful church. I love you. This is amazing what God is doing. Amen.
B. God empowers his purpose in your life
It is the privilege of my life to behold the beauty of the Lord. God is doing beautiful work. See, the first part of having an effective spiritual life is having a personal, spiritual, devotional, intimate relationship to God. He calls you out of that for His purpose, but then as you notice this, then God empowers His purpose in your life. If God is giving you a purpose, He will empower it.
God promised to fill Bezalel with the Spirit of God so that he could do what he was called to do. The Spirit of God is the presence of God and the power of God to accomplish the purpose of God. We have a saying, many of you have heard it, where God guides, He provides. He captures the same idea. If God has given you, guided you into a purpose, then God provides, God empowers.
As an illustration, I think of Israel, many years later of their history after they had been exiled to Babylon, the 70 years, you remember the story, when they came back, they were sent back to Jerusalem with a purpose, to rebuild Jerusalem, to rebuild the temple. When they got there, what they discovered was that the city was in ruins and literally, there was a mountain of rubble. The more that they got into the work of the thing, the more discouraged they became. It was a monumental difficult thing. A mountain of rubble. There were all of these peoples around them that were resisting them in every turn. They became discouraged at the size of the rubble, the troubles against them.
That’s when God sent a word to encourage. That word that He gave, the governor at the time was Zerubbabel. The word that He sent through the prophet is a word that is as true today as when He said it back then. It’s a truth to take hold of in our lives to fulfill God’s purpose. He gives this promise. Zechariah 4:6-10. “This is the word of the Lord.” Again, He’s trying to encourage them. They’re so discouraged. Look at this mountain.
“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel, saying this, ‘It’s not by might, it’s not by power, it’s by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts. What are you, oh great mountain?” He’s talking about the mountain of rubble. ‘What are you, oh great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain and he will bring forth the top stone,'” that’s the capstone, the finishing stone.
“‘He will bring forth the top stone with shout of “Grace, grace to it.”‘” He will declare it. God’s grace did this. By my spirit, by my grace, God did this and then he adds this. I love the way he phrases this. This is so powerful. “The hands of the Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house and his hands will finish it.” Don’t despise the day of small beginnings. Now, that’s a great word. You’re called to a purpose and you begin to work and move in that purpose and then it seems so monumentally difficult.
Don’t despise the day of small beginnings. Do you not believe where God guides, He provides, He empowers His purpose in your life? I tell you the same is true, there are New Testament verses that’s saying the same thing. The Spirit of God is given to receive the power of God to accomplish the purpose of God. Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you for this purpose.” He’s calling His disciples for this purpose to be my witnesses, both in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, even the remotest part of the earth, God will give you the power of God. He will empower His purpose.
C. God gave you a gift – to use for His glory
Therefore, would you see this out of the story? God gave you a gift. Each person, God gives a gift to fulfill the purpose of their lives. God gave you a gift and He gave you that gift to use for His glory. God gave you a gift to use it for His glory. Now, sometimes when someone does something amazing, people will say, “He is gifted,” or you might say to that person, “You have a gift.” I submit, God gives all gifts. Whatever gifts you have, God gave it.
James 1:17 says the same thing, “Every good thing given, every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” God gave the gift. That’s what it says in this chapter, in so many places, also in Exodus 31:6. “In the hearts of all who are skillful, I put that skill.” How many times does He say this? Over, and over, and over. “In the hearts of all who are skillful, I put that skill, whether they know it or not.” That’s important. Whether they know it or not, God gave them that skill, that they may make all that I commanded. God gives all gifts.
I was thinking of an illustration. Some of you remember that famous painter on television, he was on PBS, Bob Ross, who could create entire beautiful masterpieces in 30 minutes while teaching the television audience how simple and easy it was. “We just need to put some happy clouds here. We need to put a tree that’s a friend. Everyone needs a tree as a friend,” and you are all going, “I can’t do that.” I submit that he was moving in the gift that God gave to him, whether he knew it or not.
See, God is the greatest artist of all, and every artist is simply made in the image of God, whether they know it or not. Musicians, God gives gifts of song, music. Do you know that music is a tremendously important aspect of heaven? Even God rejoices over us with singing. Heaven is filled with the music. I love music, so I’m thinking, “This is glorious,” and it is glorious and it will be glorious. He gives an aspect of that, that musicians are made in the image of God, whether they know it or not.
See, the question is whether that musician will use that gift to His glory. God gives gifts to use for His glory. Here’s an example. One of the greatest classical composers of all time has to be Johann Sebastian Bach. Wonderful. On every piece that he wrote, every single piece that he wrote, he wrote the word Soli Deo gloria, and it means only for the glory of God. “I wrote this for one purpose and one purpose only, for the glory of God.” Now, there’s the right heart.
Now, someone might say, “Well, you’re talking about these people who are amazingly gifted. There’s nothing special about me. God can’t use me. There’s nothing special about me.” I have found that God uses all of the humble and simple things that we have done to prepare us for what God’s purpose is. God’s purpose. God’s calling. He prepares.
You look back in your life. I do. I look back in my life and I can see all of those things that God used to prepare me for His calling. I think back before I had my first real job, my thing was picking berries and working on the farm. I’m sure many people did the same thing. I’ll tell you, God used that for His glory. Working on the farm, God can use. You say, “Really? How?” Teaching you work ethic. That’s one thing. God can use people with work ethic. Anybody agree with me?
My first paying job was a janitor at an elementary school. My assignment, my task was cleaning toilets and mopping floors. I did that for many, many hours. I don’t mean to brag, but I am good at mopping floors. I’m just saying. I am probably the best mopper that you know. I don’t like to brag, but if you can do it, it’s not bragging. I’m good. God used it to prepare me to be a pastor. You say, “Really?” Yes.
We had a gymnasium that we met at first for a while. Actually, we started in cafeteria, which we had to clean, mop, then we had a gymnasium that we had to sweep. Then we had the dining room here, fellowship hall that we’d sweep and mop regularly. I was the trainer. I would see people mopping, “No, no, no, no. Let me show you how to do that.” God used it. Then I was in the restaurant business, started out as a dishwasher. God can use that. A cook, a server waiting tables, later manager, and later on– God used all of that. That’s why we have so much food here. God used that background to His purpose and to His glory. All things God can use.
Can you hold a baby? God can use your anointed hands for His purpose and His glory. God can use you. Can you swing a hammer? We’re doing some construction. God can use you for His purpose and His glory. Cleaning, cooking, so much more, worship, so much, they are all for the purpose of honoring God. When you move in the purpose of God, you are honoring God in the purpose. It’s a spiritual service of worship. Roman 12:1, “Therefore I urge you brethren, by the mercies of God I urge you,” that’s very emphatic right there, “to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
II. God Will Make You Effective
Now, back to Exodus 35. Notice, then, this great principle, God is the one who makes you effective in the calling. God makes you effective. God said that He would fill these men with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, understanding, and in knowledge, and in craftsmanship. That’s God’s making you effective. He’ll do it for you as well. Would you notice He repeats this also over, and over, and over, God did this, God put that, but for each one whose heart moved him, each one whose heart stirred him. This is a very important part of fulfilling God’s purpose in your life, that there’s the stirring.
A. Let your heart move you
Let your heart move, and when you move, then you are moving in the purpose of God. I’ll tell you, verse 21, 22, 26, 29, over, and over, and over, everyone whose spirit moved him came. He called Bezalel, Oholiab, and they came. Their hearts were stirred. They made themselves available. Here’s a very important thing. God gives the ability, whether by special gifting or by anointing the gifts you were born with. I want you to see the difference. God can give special gifting, or He can anoint the gifting you were born with. Either way, you must make yourself available. You have to move when your heart is stirred. “Here I am. I want you to use me. Here I am. I want your purpose in my life. I’m available. Here I am, Lord.”
Now, having said that, I also want to clarify that God does not give every ability to every person. God gives specific things to specific people that all might have a place in the kingdom of God. God does not give every ability to every person. For example, I make myself available to be a professional golfer. Well, even if my heart stirred me, it’s not going to work because I don’t have that gift. Those who have golfed with me would say, “I know that. I’ve seen your golf, pastor.”
Here’s an interesting story. Once, I was given an amazing privilege of golfing with a professional golfer. Now, how did that happen? It’s an interesting story of God weaving, with His sovereign hand, a blessing. What had happened was this. It was the Monday morning. It was my day off. It was a beautiful day. I thought, “Oh, I’d love to go golfing today.” I called a friend, “Want to go golfing?” “No, I’m sorry. I can’t go.” Called another friend, “Do you want to go golfing?” “No, I’m sorry. I can’t do it. If you want to hit a few balls, I can do that.” I said, “Okay, let’s do that. I’ll meet you down there at the–” and so we go down.
Then when I arrive, I see there’s this big golf tournament fundraiser happening for a friend of mine, who was the chaplain for the Portland Trail Blazers, Al Egg. I said to my friend, “Oh, look at this big thing. This is for my friend. Let me go and say hi.” I go in and find Al and say, “Oh, Al, look at this. This is amazing, what you’re doing here.” They had a celebrity and all that. He says, “Rich, want to go golfing?” I thought God is the blesser of my life. As a matter of fact, I would love to go golfing. I woke up this morning wanting to golf. He said, “Listen, somebody won’t show up. Always happens, somebody won’t show up, you can take their place. It’s free.” God is the blesser of my life. “Okay, I’m in.” He says, “Just wait right here. I’ll be back and let you know.”
I’m out there waiting with my friend. He comes back and he says, “Guess what? You’re going to golf with Bob Gilder. I said, “No.” He said, “Yes, yes, you are going to golf with Bob Gilder.” He said, “You wait right here. I’ll be right back.” He goes, I turned to my friend, “Who’s Bob Gilder?” He’s a professional golfer on the tour who’s a Christian. Now I found out that God gave him a gift that he uses for the glory of God. He does Bible studies with professional golfers and he shares Christ at the tournaments that he plays in. Now, there’s a person who’s moving in God’s purpose who’s been given a gift to golf.
He comes back and he says, “Okay, I’ve made all the arrangements.” I said, “Listen, there’s got to be 200 people here who would love to golf with Bob Gilder. Let one of them do it. I’ll golf with anybody.” “No, I want you to golf with Bob Gilder. I think God made this happen. God wants to do it. You’re golfing with Bob Gilder.” I said, “Okay, fine.” 18 holes riding in the cart with Bob Gilder was so fun. He hit two eagles that day.
I love just watching when someone’s good. It’s fun. I just watch him. There was this one tee shot that I hit. That was really good. It was a beautiful thing to watch. I hit that tee shot and like, it lifted as it sailed through the air. I turned to Bob and I said, “What do you think? Do I have potential?” He turned to me and says, “Don’t quit your day job.” God didn’t give me that gift. God gives different gifts and abilities to each one so that everyone can contribute something.
Let me say, everyone has equal value. Everyone has equal value. Bezalel and Oholiab had the same equal value as Moses and Joshua. The question is faithfulness to your purpose. One has this purpose, another that purpose. Are you faithful to the purpose that God gave to you? Everyone has equal value. The problem is for most people, it’s not the ability. God has given much ability. The problem is they don’t move when their heart is stirred. They don’t make themselves available.
Maybe it’s because they see doing something for God as an inconvenience rather than an opportunity to honor God with their lives. When Moses made it clear, we’re going to build this tabernacle, the Shekinah glory of God is going to be here. It’s God’s presence among His people. All the people said, “Well, then use my stuff. Here’s my ring or my necklace or my brooch, or whatever. I want my stuff to be there. What do you mean I can’t bring my stuff? Should have brought it earlier.” They wanted. That was the stirring. I want.
See, God wants us to have a willing heart. Exodus 36:2, “Moses called Bezalel, and Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the Lord has put skill,” everyone whose heart stirred him to come to the work to do it. Same as you in our lives. Let me give you a New Testament verse. 2 Corinthians 9:7. “Let each one do as he is purposing his heart, not grudgingly, not under compulsion.” Okay. Fine. All right, Lord, I guess I have to do it. You know what the Lord would say? No, don’t do it. Anybody agree with me? If anyone moved by compulsion begrudgingly, okay, fine, I said, no, don’t do it. Actually, I don’t want you to do it.
God loves a cheerful giver. God loves a cheerful doer. I’d love to mop that floor. I’d love to serve those donuts. I’d love to help out here. I would be blessed to do that. See, God wants us to have that willing heart, that willing mouth, that willing character. Then there’s this and we’ll close with this. Stay in the shadow of the Almighty. Now, that comes out of the name Bezalel.
B. Stay in the shadow of the Almighty
Names in Hebrew mean something. His name in Hebrew literally means in the shadow of God. That’s a great name. It’s very interesting to give a man like that that name. To stay close, that’s what it means. To stay near in your heart. It means relying on the covering and protection that comes from abiding in the shadow of the Almighty. If you’re in the shadow, you’re right next to, you can’t get any closer than abiding in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” It’s one of the most beautiful phrases to describe that kind of relationship where there’s a nearness. You know why that’s so important? Because it is in the nearness of God that something happens in the soul that’s beautiful. The presence of the Lord is beautiful and He does the beautiful work in the soul.
The nearness of God moves a soul to that desire to want that which is beautiful in your life. This is an important principle. God makes this effective. He empowers that which glorifies Him. That’s the key to an effective life, but it comes out of that abiding in the shadow of the Almighty. His strength, His might is the help that you need for His purpose. We need His hand. We need His help.
We need the nearness of God. We need to stay in the shadow of the Almighty. Back when I was in the restaurant business before I eventually became an owner, back when I was assistant manager or something, I was working for this fellow. We were, I don’t know, doing something. I suggested that we would pray. Let’s pray about this. Let’s pray, let’s ask God’s help in this thing. He said an interesting phrase to me and he was a little put off by my suggestion. He said God helps those who help themselves. It’s in the Bible. I’m sorry. I’ve read the Bible several times. That’s not in the Bible.
I will tell you what is in the Bible. Psalm 121:1-2, I will lift up mine eyes to the hills; where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.” I am not my own helper. God is the one who moves. I lift up mine eyes, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord. Psalm 63:7, “You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.” I love that verse right there. “My soul clings to You; for Your right hand upholds me.” Do you see how they work together? You’re my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
It’s a delight to me, God, it’s a delight to my soul. Your right hand upholds me, your right hand empowers me, your right hand moves, your right hand strengthens that the purpose of God might be fulfilled. That’s what I want. I want the purpose of God fulfilled. Let’s pray.
Father, thank you so much for revealing to us the heart and desire that you want us to move in purpose, meaning of life. It comes out of the dwelling and abiding in the nearness of God, in the shadow of the Almighty. God, it’s in the shadow of the Almighty that our heart has stirred, our soul sings with joy. You’ve done a beautiful work. Church, how many would say to the Lord today, “Here I am. I want your purpose in my life, I want your purpose in my life. Here I am, Lord, use me and I will dwell in the shadow of the Almighty. That my soul would be made alive, I want my soul to sing in the nearness of God, and I want your purpose fulfilled in my life”?
Possessing the Promises of God
July 9-10, 2022
After God called Israel out of Egypt, He brought them to Mount Sinai. Now, this is a monumental place in the history of Israel. This is the place where Moses first met God when God revealed Himself to Moses out of the burning bush. It was here that He revealed that He was the great I Am, and all that it means is so powerful to understand. He told Moses that when you bring those people out of Egypt, you will bring them back to this very mountain and that is where we are now in this chapter.
One of the things I mentioned Wednesday, by the way, it’s really amazing is that when they came to Mount Sinai, Israel met God. They heard His voice. He revealed Himself to them and there was this amazing scene where 70 elders, along with Moses and Aaron came to Mount Sinai and they saw God. You look it up. It’s an amazing scene that unfolds. There the throne of God was, sitting on a sea of glass, purest crystal, blue as sapphire, clear as the sky, they ate and they drank with God. This is amazing.
God is revealing that He wants relationship to them. He wants them to draw near. He says, “I bear you on eagle’s wings and I bring you to myself,” because they’ve been in oppression and slavery all those years. They need to know how to live. They need to know how to be blessed. They need to be transformed.
Hey, living in oppression and slavery does something tragic to the soul. It breaks the heart. It breaks the soul. They’ve got to learn to walk in the ways of God. He gives them not only the love, Moses, the Word of God, He gives them these promises that they would take hold of, to possess the promises, but in the how to walk, how to be a man or a woman of character, uncommon kindness.
Let’s see, there were things about justice and righteousness, how to respect one another, there were rules for charity, there were rules for generosity, there were rules for the kind treatment of animals, there was rules for the forgiveness of debt, instruction and how to be men and women of heart and character. In fact, you see that earlier in the chapter where He says, “If you meet your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering away,” in other words, lost in the wilderness or something, but notice, it’s your enemy’s ox or your enemy’s donkey that you see wandering away. He said, “You will return it to him.” You go and get that wandering away donkey or ox, and you bring it back to your enemy.
Now, that’s not common. That’s not the way a lot of people are. Even today, that’s not the way a lot of people are. “Oh, they see, oh, that’s the ox or donkey of my enemy? Ha, let him go, that’s what he deserves that little stinker, let him go.” That’s the way a lot of people are. God says, no, you go and get that donkey or ox and you bring it back.
Then He says, “If you see the donkey of someone who hates you lying helpless under a heavy load, don’t leave it. You will help him, you will release it.” In other words, uncommon kindness. Oh, what character they would have if they would live by such things. What’s interesting is that Jesus said something very similar to the church. Jesus said this, “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” That’s uncommon. That’s not the way people are, but you’re in the Kingdom of God now and different principles apply. I’m trying to transform you into the nature.
Notice He says this, “Pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father, who is in heaven.” You will be like God. Jesus on the cross says, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” This is kindness and grace. Now, interestingly, some of the rules have been applied in such a way as to what I call, make legalism out of them. For example, in verse 19, there’s a rule. “You are not to boil a kid in the milk of his mother.” Now, a kid of a goat. The idea here is, there’s just something cruel about the idea of boiling the kid of a goat in the milk of his mother. That’s just a cruel thing and this is what the pagans would do and He wants them to be different, of course.
What that translated into in modern times is what I call legalism because at dinnertime in Israel today, when you go to Israel and you want to have dinner, you cannot have milk of any kind on the off chance that you might eat the meat rather of something that was cooked with that milk, maybe of his mother. On the off chance and we don’t want even the slightest possibility so we don’t serve milk with meat at all. You cannot even get milk of any kind or cheese or anything even with chicken. Last I heard, you can’t get milk from a chicken, but that’s the way the rule is and it’s turned into legalism.
Now, God wanted these for the character of the thing, for the transforming character, uncommon kindness, but then He give them promises. Promises to take hold of. To strengthen your faith, do you see what God wants to do in your life? The promises of God are to be taken hold of. Possess the promises of God. Here we are in Exodus 23, we’re going to begin in verse 20. Notice these promises and there are many more, but notice these verse 20, “Behold, I’m going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way to bring you into that place, which I have prepared.”
He’s talking about the land of promise. “Be on your guard before him, my angel, obey his voice, do not be rebellious toward him. He will not pardon your transgression because my name is in him, but if you will truly obey his voice and do all I say,” notice “I will be an enemy to your enemies. I will be an adversary to your adversaries.”
That reminds me, of course, of that famous blessing that God spoke to Abraham in Genesis 12, “I will bless those who bless you. I will curse those who curse you.” I believe that is still true today as it was then. Those who bless Israel will be blessed. That should inform our foreign policy as a nation because that is as true today as when it was spoken. Amen. Absolutely, let’s give the Lord praise.
He says, “You listen to his voice. I will be an enemy to your enemies, adversary to your adversaries.” Verse 23, “For my angel will go before you and will bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, Jebusites, and I will completely destroy them. You will not worship their gods. You will not serve them nor do according to their deeds. Don’t be like the people in whose land you will then go.” Don’t be like the world, we could say today. Be uncommon, be different. Have the character and nature of God and the blessing and the promises of God are yours.
Don’t worship them. Don’t serve them, but verse 25, “You will serve the Lord, your God, and He will bless your bread. He will bless your water. I will remove sickness from your midst. There will be no one miscarrying or barren in your land. I will fulfill the number of your days. I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion all the people among whom you come and I will make your enemies turn their backs to you” because they’re running away from you. “I will send hornets ahead of you that they may drive out the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites before you.”
Notice verse 29, “I will not drive them out before you in a single year that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the fields become too numerous for you, but I will drive them out before you little by little until you become fruitful. Until you increase your capacity and until you take possession of the land and I will fix your boundary.” Would you notice these boundary points? This is amazing.
From the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, that’s the Mediterranean, from the wilderness to the river Euphrates, which is way to the east, and I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand and you will drive them out before you. Make no covenant with them or with their gods. They will not live in your land lest they make you sin against me. For if you serve their gods, it will be a snare to you, it will trip you up.
I. God Will be with You Along the Way
Now, these are the verses I want us to look at very, very important, great promises here, to take hold of, to possess the promises of God. Starting with this, “God will be with you along the way.” Now, this is a promise. It’s a promise to take hold us. He says, “I will bear you on eagle’s wings and bring you to myself that you would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” God says something very similar to the church today, calls the church a kingdom of priests and a holy people. What a privilege is that? It’s one of the greatest promises when He says, “And I will be with you along the way.” One of the greatest promises is that God is Emanuel.
Jesus said, very similarly, Matthew 28:20. “I am with you always even to the end of the age.” It’s not just that He’s with you, He is with you to bless, He is your helper along the way. It is He who makes you walk on high places. It is He who is your confidence. It is He who is your strength. It is He who walks with you to point out the promises of God. Notice Hebrews 13, He, himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Notice this, “So that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid, what will man do to me?”” Notice the connection?
See, the presence of God is a promise that will bless your life. He, himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you. Therefore, we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.”” Is there something to be afraid of? God has not given us the spirit of fear. God has given us a spirit of love and power and a sound mind, the Scripture says.
This is what David wrote in 2 Samuel 22:34-36, “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet. He makes me walk on high places.” I love that right there. It’s a promise of God that comes from walking with God, His presence with you is that strength by which He sets my feet on high places. He makes my feet like hinds’ feet. Do you know what a hind is? A hind is a doe, a deer, a female deer.
If you’ve been to Israel, you know those goats that walk up on the cliffs, and when you look at them, you think, “How can I do that? That’s amazing.” They’re like almost sheet cliff. They just bound like it’s easy. David saw that and said that’s what God does. “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer. He makes me walk on high places. He trains my hands for war so that my arms can bend the bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation” Notice this, “and your help makes me great.” It’s one of the keys to understanding the promises of God. It’s a promise that God will be with you so that we confidently say, “Your help makes me great.”
A. God will bring you safely home
Then notice this in Exodus 23, He says this, “God will bring you safely home. He promises and this angel.” By the way, many believe this to be a pre-incarnate Christ that we see in many places in the Old Testament. The promise was that he would go before them, to guard them along the way and bring them to that place which God has prepared before them.” It’s very encouraging to know that God goes before you, that He knows what’s ahead in the journey of life and that He will bring you safely home. What is that old saying that’s so wonderful? I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow. It’s one of the aspects of faith. He goes before even the larger picture of this life.
We know that this world is not our home. Our home is in the presence of the Lord in eternity, and God promises to bring us safely home. Notice what Jesus said in John 14, starting with verse one. “Do not let your heart be troubled.” You’re living in a troubled world, you live in a broken mess, this world is a mess. Anybody agree with me? Don’t let your heart be troubled, as you’ll walk through this mess of a world. “believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house, are many dwelling places, if it were not so, I would have told you. For I go to prepare a place for you and I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am you may be also.”
He will bring you safely through this world, through this mess and He will bring you safely home. Oh, we look forward to the day when we will come safely home. Amen. Amen. Let’s give the Lord praise absolutely.
Because He knows we’re walking through turbulent, troubled world. He never promised life free of troubles, He promised to bring us safely home. He promised to be with us though. That’s one of the aspects of God walking with you in the journey. He’ll walk with you in the storm.
You know that famous hymn, Amazing Grace. There is one verse I want to capture the words of because it speaks to this point. “Through many dangers, toils and snares, we have already come. T’was grace that brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home.” Amazing grace, how sweet the sound is that? He did not promise smooth sailing, He promised us safe passage. Jesus said “Nothing and no one can snatch you out of my Father’s hand.” What’s interesting, it’s oftentimes those storms, those troubles that God uses to teach us the greatest lesson and to strengthen faith.
Notice, James 1:2-3. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter these trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces something, it produces endurance, and endurance of faith, the testing of your faith.” Someone once said, “If faith cannot be tested, it’s a faith that cannot be trusted, but faith that is well tested, is faith that has found great endurance in the midst of the storms.”
Some of the greatest men of faith– You do a study on this, you’ll see it’s true. Some of the greatest men of faith in the Bible are those who suffered the most, fact it appears that those with the greatest calling, those who had the greatest impact, those who had the greatest faith are those who that endured the greatest storms.
For example, let’s look at Joseph in the book of Genesis. You want to talk about enduring storms. You want to talk about troubles. God had given him this vision that he would one day arise. He was one of the youngest of the brothers, but he would one day arise to a position of authority, and his brothers when they recognize that, they didn’t like this vision at all, and were very angry and jealous, and they betrayed him. You know the story, sold him into slavery in Egypt.
You want to talk about troubles. What happened to the vision, Lord? You said one day I would arise and be in some great position of authority. What is this? I’m a slave in Egypt. Then he was betrayed by the master’s wife, and now he’s thrown in prison. One trouble upon another. You know what’s interesting? The very thing that God used to bring about that vision was that trouble. God used those struggles to bring about God’s purpose in his life. It seems that those with the greatest calling are the ones who have endured the most.
You can talk about David. He was anointed as king and then the trouble started. You can talk about Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and on and on. The disciples of Jesus went through storms and God used them to strengthen their faith to prepare them for God’s purpose. Remember the scene in Matthew 14 where Jesus, late in the evening put them into a boat and told them to go to the other side and it says that they immediately encountered a storm, a tremendous aspect and He came to them, it says, “walking on the sea”.
There’s that famous scene where Jesus is walking on the sea in the midst of the storm on the fourth watch of the night. In other words, they’ve been battling this storm for hour upon hour upon hour. Then on the fourth watch, Jesus comes to them. Matthew 14, the boat was already a long way from land battered by the waves, because the wind was against them, contrary and then the fourth watch in the night, He came to them walking on the sea.
B. Listen to the voice of the Lord
Then you see this. Notice in Exodus 23, He says, “I will send my angel to be with you to guard you along the way, but you must listen to his voice.” Listen to the voice of the Lord, is a very important aspect of possessing the promises of God. God promises in His angel, he will guard you, obey his voice. This is important to recognize because many people, they want to see the promises of God. When you’re talking about the promises of God and possessing the promises of God, many people say, “Yes, I want that”, but they missed the part about listening to the voice of the Lord.
I do want to point out something as a side note, by the way. Our relationship to the Lord is different than what He is describing here. He says to them, they were told, “Do not be rebellious, for he will not pardon your transgressions.” That is what He said to Israel. He does not say that to you and to me. For Jesus is payment in full for our sin. The payment has been made so that any who seek the forgiveness of God will find it. That is a very important distinction that we should bring about here.
I do want us to see that there are promises that are connected to listening to the voice of the Lord. There are promises that you take hold of when you listen. Let me give you a great verse. Luke 6, very famous story. Jesus says, “Everyone who comes to me, hears my words and acts on them.” See, you listen to His voice means that you take hold of them and you live by them. There are promises that go with that. He says, “I will tell you what he’s like. He’s like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on that rock, then-” and here it comes, “when the flood occurs, when the torrent burst against that house, it could not shake it, for it had been well built.”
He’s talking about your life. You build your life on this rock, on the Word of God. You build your life on this rock. Then when the torrents come, He’s talking about troubles, difficulties of life, when the torrents come burst against that house, your life will stand because it is well built on the Word of God. God wants to build your life well. Then you see this great promise in verse 22. “God would be an enemy to your enemies and adversaries to their adversaries.” Great promise.
By the way, God is not blessing Israel today because they truly listen to His voice. I want to point this out. Much of Israel today is secular, but God is watching over Israel because God is faithful to His promises and He is not finished with Israel. God is setting the stage for the revealing of the latter days. We are drawing nearer and nearer to those days that Jesus described where there would be the birth pangs of like a woman in childbirth, the Earth will experience those things as we draw nearer and nearer. I’ll tell you, we’re at the very doorstep.
There’s a very similar promise that He says to Israel that He does say to us in the New Testament, Romans 8:31, “What then shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” That’s a promise to take hold of. Is not that amazing? If God be for us, then who can be against us? In other words, the fact that God is for you, is of greater significance than anything being against you. That’s a rock. Stand on that. That’s a promise. Take hold of that.
Notice Psalm 27, but David wrote it this way, I love Psalm 27. You got to read it, memorize it. It’s amazing. “The Lord is my light. The Lord is my salvation, whom shall I fear?” You tell me, should I be afraid when the Lord is my light or my salvation? “The Lord is the defense of my life, whom shall I dread? Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear. Though war arise against me, in spite of this, I shall be confident.” David understood something that we all need to understand.
Psalm 71:5, “You are my hope, oh, Lord, God. You are my confidence since my youth.” Have that as an aspect of tremendous faith. There’s a huge difference between self-confidence and God-confidence, and God wants us to be confident in Him. Amen.
C. He promises His favor
Then we see this, the favor of God, He promises His favor. See if you are in the Lord, if God is your Father and you are a son, you are a daughter, you can be sure that you have the favor of God on you. If God is your Father and you’re the son, if God is your Father and you’re the daughter, you have His favor.
Verse 25, he said He will bless their bread, He will bless their water, remove sickness and miscarriage from among them. Would you notice though, this is a blessing specifically for Israel in the land of promise if they will listen to the voice of the Lord. Though the promises to Israel were tied to their being in the Promised Land, there are promises that are very similar that He gives to the church. He desires to bless, He pours His favor out on you. He desires to heal. The favor of the Lord is on His people.
Would you notice, there’s a great aspect of these promises that are tied to walking with Him, to having His Word in your life. There are promises that are connected with it. He says, “If you will walk in the ways of the Lord, if you have delight in the ways of the Lord, you will be like a tree firmly planted by the streams of water.” Now, in Israel, it’s a great illustration. It’s dry, it’s dusty, it’s brown, many rocks. Then you have a stream flowing through it. If you’re a tree planted by the stream, you have a constant source of that refreshing water, and they will bless your life.
Notice, let me give it to you out of Psalm 1, starting with verse 1. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the path of sinners or sit in this seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord”, the Word of God, he delights in it. “In the Word, he meditates day and night.” He thinks of, considers, because he delights in it. “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water”, notice, “which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither and in whatever he does, he prospers. Now there’s a great promise that many people would love to take hold of.
In whatever I do, you will bless, even to make it prosper? That’s amazing. God, I want that promise. He says, but do you see the connection? For those who delight in your ways, who delight in you, who want that in their– I think about it in my life, I want those things. That’s the one who will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water yielding its fruit in its season. Its leaf does not wither. His soul is made alive, he is refreshed in his soul. Then it says, whatever he does, he prospers.
Then it says, “He sends His terror ahead of them.” In other words, people will hear. Be very careful because God blesses. That’s a great thing. Then it says, “He promises to send confusion upon their enemies.” That’s an interesting one. I was thinking of an illustration fairly recent in the history of Israel. Used as an illustration the Six-Day War in 1967, Six Days 1967, by the way, very important point in the history of Israel, still referred to today. In fact, it’s very common when you read the news and hear people referring to Israel particularly those that are very critical of Israel suggest that they return to the borders that were there before the 1967 war. Many today say, give it back all that you took in ’67, give it all back.
Well, here’s, what’s interesting. Three Arab nations amassing their armies on the borders of Israel made it quite clear, their intent, complete destruction of Israel, complete annihilation of Israel. That was their intent; Egypt, Jordan and Syria. Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Israel decided on a preemptive strike. Within just days, Israel had captured the entire Sinai, pushed the army of Jordan to the other side of the river, taken Jerusalem and was ready to sign a cease fire.
Then the most amazing thing they were engaging with the forces of Syria there on the Golan Heights– Golan Heights is just to the east of the Sea of Galilee up on the plateau, when radio Damascus– Damascus is the capital of Syria– radio Damascus broadcast a rumor. There was some commotion happening in the streets of Damascus and someone wrongly assumed that Israel’s army was in the very streets of Damascus and this got broadcast on the radio. The soldiers up in the Golan Heights heard this broadcast on the radio and thought, “Oh no, we better get back to defend Damascus”. Many of them left the Golan Heights so that Israel was able to take it with quite ease.
It was still a battle, but they took it quite easily. Interesting side note, the intent of those Arab nations in attacking Israel in 1967 was not to create a Palestinian state. This is very important. The intent was not to create a Palestinian state. It was to expand their own borders.
Another interesting factoid, after the war ended, the Israeli parliaments known as the Knesset voted unanimously, that’s a 100% vote. They voted unanimously to give it all back in exchange for peace, which was flat out rejected by the Arabs. The Arabs refused to acknowledge the existence of Israel and refused to accept the offer of giving it all back. They wanted it all.
What’s interesting is, today, there are many voices around the world very critical of Israel that say, “Give it back” to which Israel says, “We offered to give it back and you didn’t want it back because you wouldn’t accept the terms.” Because Israel is still being blessed by God today. Do you believe it? Amen.
II. Trust that God’s Timing is Perfect
Now then there’s this in Exodus 23, trust that God’s timing is perfect. He wanted Israel to possess the land of promise. “I’ll will go before you. I’ll drive out your enemies.” He said, “I’ll even use hornets.” Hornets would do it. If you’ve ever been stuck by a Hornet, you’ll know they’re way worse than bees, but here’s what I want you to see. Victory may come little by little. He said he would not drive out the enemies in a single year, He would drive them out little by little.
A. Victory may come little by little
This is important to understand because people don’t like little by little. We want instantly, we want it all, we want it all now. We don’t like little by little. We live in a culture that values instant everything. I remember back many years ago when I used to be in the restaurant business, when you made mashed potatoes, you made them out of potatoes and then they invented instant mashed potatoes. Now there’s instant everything. You can have instant dinner, you can have instant messaging. You can make a call to anybody in the world. Instantly you can reach someone across the world and it creates an expectation of instant everything, including in spiritual things.
We don’t like the idea of little by little. Here’s an example, in many parts of the world, it’s assumed that sin is the result of a demon and they therefore believe that if someone could pray out that demon, that they would instantly be victorious over that sin. Well, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t work that way. What we need to learn is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ step by step, day by day. Because if you are a disciple of Christ growing step by step, little by little, increasing in measures of spiritual maturity, then you’ll see an increase of spiritual capacity.
Notice the way Paul wrote it in Philippians 3:12-14, “I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet, but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on. I press on toward the goal of the prize of the empirical call of God in Christ Jesus. It’s step by step, pressing, pressing, pressing, growing, growing, growing, one step, one day.
B. God waits until you’re ready
Notice this, it’s a great principle. God waits until you’re ready. There are some promises that God waits to give you until you’re ready to receive them, until you have the capacity, until you have the spiritual maturity. If God did this or that in your life in an instant, you wouldn’t be ready. We need to grow in the capacity, step by step, day by day, growing in the capacity of spiritual maturity so that we have that heart that we’re ready for.
Here’s an illustration. It’s like a young person who wants to get married, and they know just the kind of person that they want to have for a spouse, but they forget that they’re not ready themselves. I was thinking of a conversation I had with my son. He was in his teens and we were having a Father, Son talk, not that talk, but we were having a Father, Son talk and we’re talking about his future wife.
He’s just in his teens, right? I’m trying to help him to see a point. I said, “Do you want be married some day?” “Yes, I would like to be married.” I said, “What kind of spouse? What kind of wife would you like to have?” I’ll tell you, he gave me a great answer. It really was a good answer. “Well, I would like a woman who loves the Lord, loves kids, great sense of humor, very responsible, good work ethic.” “Wow, that’s an amazing woman you’re describing there.” I said to him, “What kind of man are you going to have to be to attract a woman like that?” Any woman want to agree with me? Women are going, preach it, brother.
You’re going to have to grow in the spiritual capacity to even have a woman like that interested in you. You’ve got to grow in spiritual capacity. I’m thinking of myself. When we first started the church, we started the church in our living room with just a Bible study, first Sunday morning, we had 18 people. A few, I don’t know, a few weeks later, whatever, we doubled in size, we had 35. Oh, I was so nervous that day.
God had to increase the capacity. When there are challenges, there are problems that we don’t even yet know about. God is preparing you. God is making you ready for what’s coming in your life by step by step, walking with Him along the way. We need patience. Trust that God’s timing is perfect and He is increasing our capacity in the Spirit. He’s increasing our soul to be able to receive greater promises.
C. Make no covenants of compromise
Then there’s this, “Make no covenants of compromise” He says. “Make no covenants of compromise with those who live in that land, lest they make you sin. Because if you serve their gods, they will be a snare to you.” A snare is a trap. It’s a obstacle. It will trip you up. Some people. make a covenant with trouble. This thing is too difficult for me. I can’t defeat it. I guess I’ll just have to live with it. Now, making a covenant of compromise, Verse 33, “Do not make a covenant of compromise, it will be a snare to you.”
Because God has a desire that you will walk in the fullness of God’s promise, that you would walk in the fullness of God’s presence, that you would walk in the fullness of God’s power. In other words, He doesn’t just take you out of Egypt, He doesn’t just take you out of the condition of oppression or brokenness in which He found you, He’s going to bring you to a place of victory. Living under the oppression and hardship that they lived all those years, it does something to the soul. Does something really tragic to the soul. Something’s going to have to change.
God knows that. He’s giving them promises. He’s showing them the way to live and the promises to take hold of for He’s showing them that He wants to do a work of transformation, that the work of transformation is a beautiful work. What God wants to do in your life is a beautiful work. It’s a beautiful thing. For many of us, we were all born in the condition of man. We were born in the brokenness of humanity. We came out of the world and the world does something tragic to the soul. Something has to change. God knows. I want to show you the way of transformation and I’ll do a work in your life.
It’s beautiful. Walk with me step by step, day by day, and you’ll see it. I’ll transform you. It’s a beautiful word. Let nothing trip you, let nothing be a snare to you, let nothing hinder you. I will bless you. I love you and I want the fullness of blessing and the fullness of God’s presence and the fullness of His promises. It’s beautiful work. That’s what I want in my life. Anybody else?
Father, thank you so much for what you are promising us here, that you would do a work of transformation, and what a beautiful work it is. Lord, I just pray that you would show us what it means to take hold of these promises, to walk with you day by day, step by step, delighting in the ways of God and seeing the transformation that comes from it.
Who God Wants to be in Your Life
June 25-26, 2022
I’ve mentioned recently about the number of themes that run through the Bible. One of the ones we’ve been looking at is that God wants to be Emmanuel, God with us, but there’s another theme also. There are many, but another theme that runs through the Bible is that as Emmanuel, all that God is He wants to be in your life. This is one of the tremendous aspects of God’s desire, what God wants to be. All that He is, He wants to be in your life. As you are walking through the journey of this life, all that He is, He wants to be for you.
Now, that changes everything when we see it. Now, all that God is that He is for you. The character of the nature of the Lords is found in His name. Now, when you go through the Scriptures, you’ll find of course that there are many names that God uses to describe Himself, His character and His nature, but perhaps the greatest of all is when He told Moses that His name was Yahweh or I AM. Now actually, it means more than that.
It actually means all that I am, I am to you. In other words, it’s very personal. It’s very relational. If you could just imagine all of the promises contained in that great statement, all that I am, the great I AM, I am to you. It will change your life to take hold of it. Now here’s the backstory to Exodus 3. When Jacob and his sons and his larger family went to Egypt, under of course when Joseph had made this great provision, there were 70 persons in all. God used that time in Egypt to preserve them as a people during that particularly difficult seven-year-famine. When you come now to the book of Exodus, that 70 people, 400 years later is now 2 million plus.
That favor which Pharaoh originally had shown when they first arrived did not last. For other pharaohs came, and they were concerned because Israel was growing in greater and greater numbers. Out of great fear, the Pharaoh gave orders to enslave them, to make life very hard and difficult, and they suffered tremendously. As they suffered, they actually grew in number.
God heard their cries and of course wanted to deliver His people, which God is going to use Moses. As you know the story, of course, Moses was a miracle baby and that Pharaoh had given the order that every son who was born would be thrown into the Nile, but Moses’ parents hid him in that basket along the reeds of the river and Moses’ daughter found him, of course, and took him in. He was raised in Pharaoh’s house, in all of the accoutrements of wealth and status. Then when he’s grown to be a man, he sees his people. He sees the harshness, he sees the suffering, and it troubled him greatly as you can imagine.
One day, he sees an Egyptian slave master beating a Hebrew, and it bothered him. Something arose in him and he looked this way and that and struck down the Egyptian, killed him and hid him in the sand. He thought no one had seen, but it had been seen and it became known. When Pharaoh heard of it, he tried to kill Moses. Moses fled into the desert, came to the land of Midian where he there became a shepherd and stayed 40 years. Then God encountered Moses, or I should say Moses encountered God in the story that we’re going to read. This is where God reveals the greatness of His name and the promises contained in it. Let’s read it, Exodus 3:1.
I. Let God be the Fire in Your Heart
“Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.” Mount Sinai is often referred to also, very famous in the history of Israel. “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed.
Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why this bush has not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses.’ He said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not come near; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.'” In fact, that worship song, we are standing on holy ground, actually comes from that very verse. He also then said, “‘I am the God of your father, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Then Moses hid his face for he was afraid to look at God.
The Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt. I’ve given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their suffering. I’ve come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite, and Hittite, and Amorite, and Perizzite, and Hivite, and Jebusite. And now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.
Therefore, come now I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?’ God answered and said, ‘Assuredly I will be with you, and this will be the sign to you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this very mountain.'” That was, of course, the place where God gave the Law of Moses to Israel, where God met Moses those 40 days. That was where that was.
“Then Moses said to God, ‘Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel. I will say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you. Now they may say to me, well, what is His name? What shall I say to them?'” This is where, of course, God reveals His name. “God said to Moses, ‘I AM who I AM.’ He said, ‘Thus, you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM,'” or Yahweh, the name of God, “‘Yahweh has sent me to you.’
Furthermore, He said to Moses, ‘Thus, you shall say to the sons of Israel, the Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has sent me to you and this is My name forever.'” This is my name. “‘This is my memorial name to all generations. Go gather the elders of Israel together. Say to them, the Lord, the God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to me. I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt.'” Then, of course, he’s going to tell them, “And the great I AM has sent me to you.”
Now, this is the verses I want us to look at. Very important to take hold of great principles to apply to our lives, and I want us to begin by Moses’ encountering God in this fire in this bush. I want us to take hold of the principle this way, that God be the fire in your heart. In Scripture, that’s another one of the themes that you can see, is that God demonstrates His presence by fire. It’s a tremendous picture for where the presence of the Lord is, there is a fire that burns. I suggest to you that it is an aspect of those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. When you’ve received Jesus Christ, that He brings forth the Holy Spirit to dwell in your spirit so that He is Emmanuel, God with you, and it is seen as a fire that burns in the soul.
God wants to be the passion, the fire that burns in the soul. Sometimes I see people that are bored with life, which to me means there’s no fire. God wants there to be fire in the soul. If you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, if you’re filled with the presence of God, there’s a fire that burns. I tell you, you will not be bored when there’s a fire of the presence of the living God burning in the soul. Like Romans 12:11, “Never be lacking in zeal, but be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Now there’s that picture. There’s a fire that burns in the soul. God wants there to be a fire in the soul.
I remember one time many years ago, there was this organization that was about to or thinking about hiring this leader. They asked me if I wouldn’t mind interviewing and giving my opinion. I said, “Okay, fine,” and so we talked on the phone for quite some time. Afterwards, I gave a report back and I said, “Here’s my concern. There’s no fire in the soul, there’s no fire in the belly.” God wants us to have fire in the soul. Anybody agree with me? It’s an aspect of God’s presence in our lives.
A. God is a non-consuming fire
Now, when we see that, one of the things that we also see in the story is that God is a non-consuming fire. When Israel was led through the desert, again, the pillar of fire, always there, presence among them. God’s presence is seen as that fire that burns within. It’s a passion of the soul. Now, the world also has passions, but when the Holy Spirit fills the heart, there’s a new passion and it’s a fire that does not consume.
God’s presence, the fire of His presence adds to your life, it adds passion, it adds power, glory, honor to God, but it does not consume. Now, interestingly, Paul wrote something similar to the church at Corinth, where he said that the fire of God will touch everything. This is a tremendously important insight. The fire of God will touch everything.
In other words, everything will be tested by fire. Some things will be burnt up, and other things which are eternal or glorious will remain. Let me give it to you. It’s in 1 Corinthians 3:12-16, Paul wrote it this way. If any man builds on the foundation of Christ, okay so if you have Christ as your foundation, then you build on that by how you live your life. If any man builds on that foundation with gold or silver or precious stones, this is a description of those things that will remain.
They will survive through a fire. Fire will not burn them up, but then he mentions, or some people build upon that foundation with wood, hay, or straw. Right away we recognize, well, these things are burned. They burn up. He says, “Each man’s work will become known.” How? Each person lives their life will become known for the day we show it, because it will be revealed by fire in everything. God’s fire will touch everything.
He says, “The fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.” How did you live your life? “If any man’s work which he has built remains,” in other words, that which is glorious, eternal in aspect, it will remain and he will receive a reward. It is eternal. God will bless you in the eternal realm because of those things which you built upon it, but, and if any man’s work is burned up, he suffers loss, but he himself will be saved yet as though through fire.
B. God is also a consuming fire
“Do you not know,” here it is, “that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” Is he not saying the same thing? He is Emmanuel for you are the temple of God. The Spirit of God dwells in you and the fire of God will touch everything. Build upon it that which is glorious. See, the results of a person’s life will either be burned up or consumed, or it will remain eternal and glorious.
I don’t know about you but when I come to the end of my life, I want to know that I did that which is eternal and glorious for the Lord. I want to do something of eternal value with my life. I want my life to mean something and I want to do something for the Lord to give glory and honor to His name. Anybody agree with me? It’s a very important drive, desire. Others, he says, do not build that which is eternal and so their works are burned up. They’re worldly in nature. They will survive, but as a man comes through a fire, which is to say not much.
I want to have something, I want to have something glorious to give to the Lord, which reminds me many years ago. Maybe some of you remember in the early ’90s when we had an earthquake here, I know this is not a fire, but I’m going to use the illustration. Back in the ’90s, we had an earthquake here in Oregon, and it was like 5.6 or something in the Richter scale if you remember. Now, we’re in Oregon, we’re not used to earthquakes. Those people from California, of course, they can come through an earthquake like 5.6 and it doesn’t bother them at all.
They could be lying there in their bed. “What do you think that is honey? 5.6?” “No, no, it might be 5.4. I don’t know.” In Oregon, we go like, “Ooh.” The thing was, I had just come from California on a– I was at a Passions conference and I had driven straight through and I got to bed at like 3:30 in the morning. The earthquake hit at something like, what was it? 5:15 in the morning. I was completely so deep in sleep, but when this thing hit, it shocked me. I just like, “Oh, there’s an earthquake.” All I can think of is we got to get out of this house, and of course my kids.
I jumped out of bed, and I said, “We’ve got to get out, I’ll grab the kids, we’ve got to get out.” I pointed at the closet and she’s looking at me like, “What?” I said, “We’ve got to get out of the house.” I’m pointing at the closet. In my mind I’m thinking, “Get my bathrobe. I’ll grab the kids, you grab the bathrobe, we’re getting out of the house.” Of course, in her mind, she’s going, “There’s no door outside in the closet.” All of this is happening while the earthquake is shaking the house and by the time we finally finished this discussion, it all stopped.
My whole point was, I want to get out of the house and at least I want my bathrobe, and if that’s all I got, I got that. Anybody with me on this? Reminds me about the robe of righteousness, at least we’ll have that. I built a little connection. See what I did there? Some people will have only that, that’s all they’ll have when they get to the end of life. That’s all they’ve got. I want to have something more.
See, the results of a person’s life. When you live by the fire of God’s passion, the presence of God in your soul, the blessing of God, the favor of God, the power of God are on what you do. That changes everything. See, it’s all about that. It’s all about God’s presence. He is Emmanuel, all that I am I will be to you. It changes everything. It’s the fire of God. It’s the presence of God. It wasn’t the bush, the bush wasn’t anything spectacular. Did God look at all of the bushes on the mountain and say, “Now I must find the most specialist of all the bushes. Only the most special bush will do here. If I’m going to reveal my presence, I have to have the most specialist of all bushes”?
I don’t think so. I don’t think it mattered. Any old bush would do. That wasn’t the point at all. The point is the presence of God, not the bush. See, then this is important because some people think, they’re convinced God only uses special people. If God wants to make Himself known in someone’s life, oh, He’s got to find special people. No, that’s not what I see. Any old person will do, any old bush will. When the fire of God takes hold of a person’s life, that’s the power of a person’s life, not the fact that they’re special about anything. It’s the presence of God that changes everything.
You know what’s interesting? Many of you know Luis Palau, and it was this very verse that God used to convince him that God could use him. He, of course, was born in Argentina, in poverty and trouble, in all kinds of difficulties. He read this verse and he picked up that great insight. God didn’t choose a special bush, any bush would’ve done. If God can use anybody, then He can use me too. That transformed his heart and his vision, and he understood that God could use even him, and of course as we know, that is faith that God can take and use in a person’s life. As you know, he’s become a worldwide evangelist now in the presence of the Lord, but what a tremendous insight that is.
We recognize He’s a non-consuming fire, but we also must recognize that God is also a consuming fire. He’s both non-consuming and consuming. In other words, the presence of God is a fire that burns within, but that same fire will consume those things that need to be burned up, worldly things, earthly things. The things which are eternal will remain. That which God is doing is eternal. God is building his character, that is eternal in nature. Those things that are temporal, those things that are earthly, those things that are worldly, those are things that need to be burned up.
Here’s the thing, those things are consumed. When the passion of God, when the fire of God burns in the soul, those things are in fact consumed. Those things are burned up. This is the key to spiritual victory. It’s a key to spiritual power. Many people do not experience the power of God, because you do not recognize the importance of that fire that burns in the soul. For when that fire burns in the soul, it will consume those things that are earthly, those things that are worldly.
Maybe some of you remember of course that old hymn. I won’t sing it for you, but I want to quote some of the words. “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.” That captures such a great truth. Look full in His wonderful face and the things of the earth will grow dim. They will be consumed, burned in the light of His glory and grace.
C. Don’t light your own fire
It’s a great truth, but then there’s this. Isaiah makes this point, and don’t light your own fire, some people try to. There’s a even expression a person is a self-made man, we say. That’s a very American understanding, isn’t it? A person is self-made man. He’s lit his own fire. Or people who pursue again the fire of passion of worldly things but they do not recognize that those things also consume. Those things also bring tragedy.
Isaiah 9:18, “wickedness burns like a fire.” We know Jesus said a very similar thing in John 10:10. The thief, he’s talking about the enemy of the soul there. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” You see the contrast? God wants to build that which is glorious and beautiful in your life. The very nature of God He wants to build in your life. The enemy wants to take, steal, kill, destroy. The enemy would love nothing more than to destroy relationships. He would love nothing more than to destroy your finances, your business. He’ll destroy your honor. He’ll destroy your integrity. He’ll burn up your life by wasting your life.
I was thinking of illustration back in the ’60s when the hippie thing was happening. Raise your hand if you remember the hippie thing that was happening in the ’60s. You’re officially old if you were there. I wasn’t there, was not. I just read about it in history books but I do know a lot about it. If a person took drugs, they would use an expression. They would say they were wasted. I don’t know. Do they still use that today?
I don’t know, but if a person took drugs they would say later, “Yes, I was wasted, man.” I’ll tell you what, I don’t think you can find a more appropriate word for it than wasted. Wouldn’t it be a tragedy to look back on your life and to see that it was wasted? When the prodigal son, that famous story in Luke 15, this young man went to his father and asked for his inheritance early, and he had a vast sum of money, he went into the city and he wasted it. He spent it all on parties, and women, and the whole world thing. He spent it all. That’s called a waste.
Then after he had spent it all on the world, a famine hit the land. He couldn’t even find a job. Finally, he found a job but it was the worst possible job for a Jew, feeding swine, pigs. Then it got worse because he became envious of the pigs because they had food and he did not. Then the Scripture says, and that’s when he came to his senses and decided to go home to his father. Now, that is a powerful illustration of that very point. Person who had wasted. See, the enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy, and he’ll waste your life, but there’s that moment when a person sees it.
II. Practice the Presence of God
They’ve come to the end of it and they see it. They come to their senses. It’s a glorious turning point of life. What you got to see is when a person comes to their senses and they turn and they look to their Father, God is more than willing to bring them home. It’s one of the great parts of the heart of the Lord, but then we’ve got to see this out of the story. Back to Exodus 3. We have to see this, the importance of to practice the presence of God. We must understand then if the fire of God is the presence of God, and the passion of God, then we need to understand what it means to practice the presence, to live out of the presence of God in our lives.
If He is, in other words, I am the great I AM, all that I am I will be to you, then we must understand the and recognize the importance of practicing the presence of the great I AM in our lives. Now, what’s interesting is it’s His name. It is important, it’s His name. I AM, that is my name. Reminds me of interesting thing that happened many years ago. I was in Russia and we were doing this outreach event one evening. We had given great invitations to many to come and hear the gospel, and there was quite a crowd listening and I saw this fellow come in wearing a white robe and bare feet.
Now, it was snowy and icy outside. I thought, well, that’s a strange thing. Wearing a white robe and bare feet, and he took a seat in the back. When the thing was over we gave an invitation. One of the people on our team said to me there’s a man in the back who says he’s God and he would like to speak with you, and so I thought yes, I’d like to speak with him and I’d like to see this person. I come up to him and I said, “Do I understand this correctly that you say you’re God?” “This is correct.” I said, “What is your name?” He said, “My name is The Action.”
A. All that God is, He is to you
See, now right there I know. See, God’s name, He reveals His name in His word. His name is I AM, not The Action. “I’m sorry, you are not God.” Amen? The power of that name is important. I am the great I AM, all that I am I will be to you. This is the key, practicing the presence of that name. All that God is, He is to you. In Hebrew, by the way, His name is made up of four Hebrew letters. It’s famous. It’s called the Tetragrammaton. In Hebrew is very famous, in Israel very famous. It is His name made of four letters.
By the way, most Hebrew is all consonants. They have very few vowels, so there are four letters that make up His name. We don’t know how to say His name, by the way. Israel even does not know how to say His name. People have tried different things. They’ve taken the vowels from the word Lord, Adonai, and tried to put it in to make Jehovah which is not really quite right either. We don’t know how to say His name, but one of the other things we need to understand is it is His name. My name is Rich. His name is Yahweh.
It’s very personal when you use the name, it’s very personal to use His name. My name is– See, when I’m in the crowd and I can hear someone say the word ‘Rich,’ my ears are attentive. When you use His name, it’s very personal, and it also refers His name is I AM, the great I AM. It also refers to the fact that He’s eternal in aspect, no beginning and no end, He’s outside of time. He’s the one who created time. Jesus interestingly shocked the Jews of His day when He claimed to be outside of time. Jesus claimed to be outside of time.
John 8:57-59. “The Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet even 50 years old, and you have seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them and here he declared it, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’ Therefore,” now that they understood what He meant. “Therefore they picked up stones to stone Him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple. God reveals His name. All that I am, I am to you. His nature, His character. We must learn to practice the presence of God, the nature and character.
When we pray, we pray in Jesus’ name. Isn’t that the often time we pray and then we say, “In Jesus’ name, amen”? When we pray therefore, we ought to practice His presence, we ought to pray according to the nature and character of God. For example, here’s the prayer not to pray, don’t pray this prayer. Don’t say, “Lord, I’m so angry with so and so, make him have a really bad day, Lord. Get him Lord, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
It’s not consistent with His nature, His character. Jesus said in Matthew 5:44, Jesus said, I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you. That is the nature of His name. Jesus said ‘I am’ in many different ways, and each of them apply to our lives. We must learn to practice the presence of God.
I am the living water, Jesus said. I am the living water, he who drinks of this will not thirst again, his soul will be satisfied and it will become welling up in him a spring of living water. I am the bread of life that which satisfies. I am the light of the world. I am the good shepherd. I am the true vine. I am the way. I am the truth. I am the life.
B. It’s who God is that matters
We must learn to practice the presence of God. Then there’s this. It is who God is that matters. That’s the point of it. The great I AM. It’s who He is that matters. Moses is told by Yahweh that He has seen the affliction of the Hebrews, He’s heard their cry, He knows of their suffering. Now, that’s very important.
God sees also the hurts, the tragedies, the sufferings of our life as well. He told Moses that He would send him to Pharaoh and that he would lead these people from bondage. Moses replied, who am I? Which is to say, I’m nothing, I’m no one. I’ve been on the run for 40 years. Moses, now, that was very pleased to hear that God saw the infliction of his people, but not pleased at all that God wanted to send him. Who am I?
Then God answers, I am the great I AM, I will be with you. To learn to practice the presence of God changes everything. It’s not who you are, Moses. It’s the one who is with you that matters. To learn to practice the presence of God. I am the great I AM, and I am with you and I’ll never leave you. Matthew 28:20. Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. I’ll never leave you. I’ll never forsake you. I will be with you. I am Emmanuel and I am the great I AM, and I will be with you.
He’s not the great I Give, He’s the great I AM. It’s not something that we need, it’s someone that we need, must learn to practice the presence of God. I am the great I AM, and all that I am, I will be to you as you walk the journey of this life. Must learn to let’s learn to practice the presence of God. Take the sandals from your feet, He said to Moses, for you are standing on holy ground.
You know without shoes, it’s very difficult to go on. Powerless, humbled, weak, uncapable. A soldier cannot fight without boots. A farmer cannot plough or work the farm without boots. A traveler cannot travel far. Take those off and put your feet on this ground. Completely humbled, completely thankful that God has invited you to draw near. This is holy ground. I am the great I AM, and all that I am, I will be to you. We must learn to practice the presence of God.
Let’s pray. Father, we are so thankful for you have pursued us. You revealed yourself to us, the great I AM, and then you say, all that I am, I will be to you. God, we’re so thankful for that, that you promise not only to walk with us in the journey, but to be the great I AM as we walk. Church, how many would say to the Lord today, “Be the great I AM in my life”? God, I am nothing special. I am a no one, but you are the great I AM. Be the great I AM in my life. God, I want to know what it means to practice the presence of God. I want your name to be revealed in my life, be the great I AM.
Church how many would say that? Would you say that to the Lord just by raising your hand to the Lord? Just raise your hand at this statement, it’s a declaration. God, it’s my prayer, be the great I AM in my life. I want to know what it means to practice the presence of the everlasting God. Be the great I AM.
Father, thank you as you move, you’re steering us up. There’s a fire that burns in the soul that strengthens and builds as we draw nearer and nearer to the great I AM. Oh Lord, move in our lives. Be the great I AM, reveal yourself and your nature and your name. We love you, Lord, in Jesus’ name, and everyone said. Can we give the Lord praise and glory and honor? Amen. Amen. Amen. Church, we’re going to–
How God Transforms Failure
1 Chronicles 21:1-30
June 18-19, 2022
This book is written after Israel was destroyed after they were exiled to Babylon. Now they’ve returned just a remnant of what they once were. He’s writing to strengthen them, to help them to see that God has called them to be His people and that they should hold onto the promises that God has given them, hold onto a hope, a messianic hope, which is very important even today. He’s talking here about David, and the lessons that come out of this story are impacting the world today. So important, is it? It actually speaks to even the Temple Mount and the history of how that came to be.
I tell you, that Temple Mount is the most precious land on the face of the world today. David buys that land in the story, and I suggest to you that he buys the most precious land because it is the very epicenter of the unveiling of prophetic events in the future. In fact, the conflicts of the world are going to be centered on that very place. I was just reading in the news this last week that the Palestinian Arabs, the Palestinians, had made a declaration that should the Jews even so much as pray in the Temple Mount, that they’re going to bring destruction of epic proportions as a consequence. Such is the nature of that land.
This is the story of David and how it came to be. What’s interesting is that it came out of David’s failure and how God transformed that failure into what then became the mount on which the temple was built. Very fascinating story. There are decisions. David made a decision that was very important. In fact, his life, the life of the nation turned on that hinge-point decision because there are many decisions that we make. If you look back on your life, you will find that the decisions you made became hinge points by which life was turned on those decisions. This is true. If that decision is a failure, what happens next is of tremendous importance.
David, he made a tremendous error of judgment, but what he did next and how he responded to it is a lesson of faith, and how God responds is a lesson of faith, because we need to recognize people fail. It’s part of human nature. It’s what you do next that determines the course, and then you must factor God into the equation for God is able to take failure and transform that failure into a victory and into faith. We need to take hold of that great truth today.
Now, the backstory of this is that David is now king, he’s been king for some time, there’s peace all around. He decided that he wanted to number the people, the fighting men of Israel. Now, the reason that he wants to take this census is not specifically given, but it’s very easy to see when you read the story. Now, it’s also important to see that taking a census and counting the people by itself is not wrong if it’s done from the right perspective and the right reason. For example, in the book of Exodus, God gave instruction to Moses that the number of people could be counted if they are going to ask for support of the tabernacle and then each adult over 20 would give a half shekel. The rich would not give more, the poor would not give less. This would be one of the reasons to take a census.
Also, a census could be taken if a nation is preparing for war. In other words, the king and the commander would need to know the strength of its forces in order to assess the ability to confront an enemy. Now, this is normal. Jesus said as much also. It’s very common understanding. Luke 14:31, Jesus said, “What king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, would not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with 10,000 to encounter the one coming against him with 20,000?” Very common.
I. Never Stop Relying on God
This was not the case, however, with David. There was people, the nations around them had been subdued. If David’s men set out for the purpose of counting the fighting men, it must mean only one thing, that people would assume David must be preparing for war, and war is tragedy. War is suffering. War is losing the young men to battle. The amount of people would be lost in a battle. They must have assumed David must be getting ready for war, but he wasn’t. That wasn’t the reason that David was taking this census at all. Why was David taking this census?
The understanding is David wanted to know just how great a nation Israel had become, how great David had become. Now, Joab, his commander, tried to persuade David not to do it. He knew it was the wrong thing to do. Others tried to convince him not to do it, but David would not relent. He was insisting, he wanted this taken, and he would not change his mind. It was a failure because it had nothing to do with faith, it had nothing to do with trusting the Lord, it had nothing to do with relying on the Lord. It had everything to do with how great David was, and that is the failure of epic proportion.
Let’s read the story. 1 Chronicles 21, we’ll begin in Verse 1. “Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel. David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, ‘Go, number Israel from Beersheba,'” that’d be in the south, “‘even up to Dan,'” far north. “‘Bring me word that I may know the number.'” Joab said, “May the Lord add to His people 100 times as many as they are. But, my lord the king, are they not all your servants? Why does my lord seek this thing? Why should you be the cause of guilt to Israel?'”
He knew right away this is not what God wants. “Nevertheless, the king’s word prevailed against Joab. Joab departed and went through Israel, and came to Jerusalem. Joab gave the number of the census of the people to David. All Israel were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword, and of Judah, there were 470,000 men who drew the sword. He did not number Levi or Benjamin, for the king’s command was abhorrent to him.”
Add those two numbers together. 1,570,000 is a world force. David and Israel have become a great world power. As soon as David heard that number, he knew it was wrong. He knew that he had done the wrong thing. In fact, in Verse 7, “God was displeased with this thing, and He struck Israel. David said to God,” immediately, he recognized it, “‘I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. Now, please take away the iniquity of Your servant for I have done very foolishly.’
The Lord spoke to Gad, David’s seer, and He said, ‘Now go and speak to David, and you say, thus says the Lord. I offer you three things, choose for yourself one that I may do this to you.’ Gad came to David and said, ‘Thus says the Lord. Take for yourself either three years of famine or three months to be swept away before your foes while the sword of your enemies overtakes you, or three days of the sword of the Lord, even pestilence in the land with the angel of the Lord destroying throughout the territory of Israel. Consider what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.’
David said to Gad, ‘I am in great distress; please let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great. Do not let me fall into the hand of man.’ So, the Lord sent pestilence on Israel and 70,000 men fell. And the Lord sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy; but as he was about to destroy, the Lord saw and was sorry for the calamity and said to the destroying angel, ‘Enough; now relax your hand.’ And the angel of the Lord was standing by the threshing floor of Ornan,” also known as Araunah the Jebusite.
David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, with his drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, covered with sackcloth, fell on their faces. David said to God, ‘Is it not I who commanded to count the people? Indeed, I am the one who sinned and have done so wickedly, but these sheep, what have they done? Oh, Lord my God, please let Your hand be against me and my father’s house, but not against Your people that they should be plagued.
Then the angel of the Lord commanded Gad to say to David that David should go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan or Araunah the Jebusite. David went up at the word of Gad, which he had spoken in the name of the Lord. Now Ornan turned back and saw the angel, and his four sons who were with him hid themselves, and Ornan was threshing wheat. As David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David and went out from the threshing floor and prostrated himself before David with his face to the ground.
David said to Ornan, ‘Give me the site of this threshing floor, that I may build on it an altar to the Lord; for the full price you shall give it to me, that the plague may be restrained from the people.’ Ornan said to David, ‘Take it for yourself; let my lord the king do what’s good in your sight. See, I give you oxen for burnt offerings. I give the threshing sledges for wood, I give the wheat for the grain offering; I give it all.’
King David said, ‘No, I will surely buy it and I will buy it for the full price. I will not take what is yours for the Lord, or offer a burnt offering that which costs me nothing.'” Very famous response that’s very important. I will not give to the Lord that which costs me nothing. David gave Ornan 600 shekels of gold by weight for the site. This is a magnanimous sum. This is a huge sum.
“David built there an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. And he called to the Lord and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven on that altar of burnt offering.” They haven’t seen fire from heaven since the time of the judges. This is an amazing, marvelous event, and on this exact site is where the temple of Solomon will be built, the very site of the Temple Mount which is so controversial today. “The Lord commanded the angel, and he put back his sword in his sheath. That time, David saw that the Lord had answered him on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. There he offered his sacrifice.”
A very, very important part of the history of the world is seen here. There are great lessons of faith for us to take hold of and apply it to our lives. I want to begin with this, never stop relying on God. David, when he was young, was an example of a person who relied completely on the Lord. Does there ever come a time in your life when you no longer need to rely on the Lord? This was the part of the story. When Joab gave the number of the valiant men, immediately, David knew that it was wrong.
It wasn’t about numbering the people. Immediately, David’s heart was convicted. I have done foolishly. I’ve seen greatly in what I’ve done. David now understands what Joab and his commanders knew all along that it was wrong. What was David beginning to see as soon as he heard the number, 1.6 million? Can you just imagine David? Why did I do that? What was I thinking? Why did I need to know that number? Why did I need to know this, the amount of strength of forces? Why did I do that?
Have you ever done that in your life? Have you ever done something really, really dumb and then looked back on it and said, why did I do such a thing as that? Now, let’s not do a show of hands here. Let me just raise my hand in behalf of all of us because I think all of us have done something in our lives where we look back on it and say, that was a really dumb thing to do. Why did I do such a thing? To search one’s own heart is good to understand why, why did you do this? It really helps your understanding to know your heart. See it for what it is.
A. Let God be your confidence – always
Submit it to God because God will remind and show us how important it is to always being in a place where we rely on God. Let God be your confidence, but let God be your confidence always. Does there ever come a time when you no longer need to rely on the Lord? Does there ever come a time in your life when you no longer need to have confidence in God? When David was young, this is what separated him from all the others. David understood something that most people never understand all their lives. In fact, he wrote it in Psalm 71:5,7.
“You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence since my youth.” I love this verse. I love quoting it because it really speaks to what faith is. It relies on God to the point that your confidence is in God and not in yourself. This is a very important aspect of faith. Does there ever come a time in your life when you no longer need to rely on the Lord? “You are my confidence since my youth. I have become a marvel to many.” Why? because, “You are my strong refuge.” Now David has a fighting force of 1.6 million men. Does he no longer need to rely on the Lord?
He’s got an epic force. No army could stand up to David now. Therefore, he doesn’t need to rely on the Lord? David began by trusting in the Lord. All his confidence was in the Lord. It’s a great lesson. Psalm 27, another verse that speaks to it so beautifully. I love Psalm 27. You should memorize it. It is such a wonderful, powerful declaration of what faith really is. “The Lord is my light. The Lord is my salvation. Whom should I fear?” See, that is faith. If the Lord is my light and my salvation, should I be afraid of something?
B. Leave faith as your legacy
“The Lord is the defense of my life; whom should I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host arise against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident.” This is an aspect of faith that many people do not understand all their lives. They would’ve understood something. Take hold of this great truth, but never let go of it. That’s the thing. See, the question of where you place your confidence isn’t an essential question of life. It’s easy to misplace your confidence.
It’s the mantra of the age. To be self-confident is very highly valued in our modern culture, and it’s a very important point of faith. I submit that God does not want us to be self-confident. You say He doesn’t, what does He want? He wants us to be fearful and insecure? No. That’s not of God either. Well, what does He want then if He doesn’t want us to be self-confident? See, if one is self-confident, by definition he is confident in self, but when you’re confident in God, it’s a whole different understanding.
Your confidence is in what God can do. When you’re young, it’s very easy to misplace your confidence because when you’re young, your confidence can be in your youth itself. You feel invincible. Your whole future is in front of you. Time is on your side. You’ve got strength. You’ve got vitality of youth. I remember when my son went into special forces in the marines and when he was graduating, you can just sense it. You can just sense that beaming with youth and confidence especially now that he’s trained as a special force warrior. It’s like [groans]. You know what I’m saying? It’s like that invincible youth.
I understand. I was young once myself. It’s very easy to put one’s confidence in one youth. Even though when you’re young, you may not have any money. You may not have anything at all, but you got your youth. I remember when Jodie and I were first starting out, we literally had nothing. In fact, it was so bad. How bad was it? My car was so bad that like when we were in our courting or dating time, we would maybe, I don’t know, go to dinner somewhere in Hillsboro to take her home to where she lived in Beaverton. From Hillsboro to Beaverton, my car would burn a quart of oil. I know. Then to go home from Beaverton to Hillsboro, another quart of oil. I know that we had youth.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re young or whether you’re old. It’s a mistake to trust in one’s self. Does there ever come a time when you don’t need to rely on the Lord anymore? Surely when you’re young. David was young. He understood it when he was young. Does there ever come a time when you don’t need to rely on the Lord anymore? You’re older now. You got stuff now, you got a heritage, you got stuff up in the bank, you got retirement, you got stuff now. Does there ever come a time when you don’t need to rely on the Lord anymore?
I suggest to you that there never is a time when you don’t need to rely on the Lord. You need to rely on the Lord all the days of your life. In fact, I submit that when you get older, there’s even more necessity of relying on the Lord. Anybody who’s older would agree with me. Amen? Doesn’t matter whether you’re young whether you’re old. Those who trust in the Lord, those who wait for the Lord will renew their strength. God will make you walk on high places. God is the one that will make you accomplish much. God is the one that will strengthen you.
I was thinking of an illustration. Back in 1872, church leaders in England were planning a revival, and so they’re having these planning meetings. One of the pastors out of the planning meeting said, “We need D.L. Moody to come.” Now, D.L. Moody, you might know, in the day, was like the preacher of preachers. I mean the power, the anointing of the Spirit was so amazing and he was centered in Chicago and God was using him in powerful ways, so they said, “We need D.L. Moody.”
Then a debate, “Why? Why do we need D.L. Moody?” Someone says, “What is it? Does D.L. Moody have a monopoly on God or something?” One of the young pastors said, “No, but God has a monopoly on him.” And that’s changes everything. When God has a monopoly on you and God has completely taken hold of your life, you are relying on God. David wasn’t like other young men when he was young. He understood something that many don’t understand all the days of their life.
Psalms 20:7, “Some boast in chariots, some boasts in horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord our God.” That’s reliance, confidence in the Lord. Now that David is old, he’s taken a census. He would have sent shockwaves of fear throughout the nation. Is this the way David would be remembered? If it became known that the only reason David wanted to number the people was so that he can know how strong he was, wouldn’t they say of him, “Where is the David of old? Where is that man of faith? That’s why we loved David. What has happened to our beloved David?”
What is the legacy that you leave is a really great question. Leave faith as your legacy, I submit, is a very important principle. When we come to the end of our lives and people look at you, wouldn’t it be marvelous to say this one, he/she relied on the Lord all the days of his or her life? He/she began in the Lord and she finished. She finished strong, he finished well. He finished the course, he fought the good fight. I don’t know about you, but that’s how I want to finish. Anybody else? Leave faith as your legacy. Faith is the question of the day. It’s the crisis of the moment. Faith, it’s everything when it comes to your relationship to the Lord, and it’s the crisis of the day in which we are living.
Luke 18:8, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” This is a failure, but what you do next determines the course. See, when you fail, run to the Lord. It’s one of the greatest life lessons because failure is part of human nature. What you do next determines the course of your life. When you fail, run to the Lord because God is able to transform failure into a victory which God is going to do in this story.
C. When you fail, run to the Lord
Now, David is called a man after God’s own heart. It’s not because he never sinned, but you see David’s heart again. As soon as he heard that number, it struck him. As soon as he heard it, he knew right away this was wrong, and it troubled him. You know, a troubled soul can be a good thing. God can use a troubled soul. God can use a troubled soul to stir a person up so that they sense a necessity to get right with God. A troubled soul can make a person run to the Lord.
There have been many, over the last number of months, who’ve made decisions for Christ. A number have made decisions to get right with God, and a lot of that is born out of a trouble of the soul, a necessity, need to run to the Lord. Some people are so hard of heart that their soul is never troubled, nothing bothers them. Now, that would be a tragedy in itself. Some people are so hard of heart nothing bothers them. No matter what they do, whatever they’re involved or whatever same thing it is, it doesn’t bother them. It’s like 1 Timothy 4:2, having their conscience seared as with a hot iron. Some people don’t like that, but other people, their soul bothers them when they fail, and that God can use. It’s a life lesson.
What’s interesting is David learned a great lesson about this after the first time, if you remember, with his sin with Bathsheba. Then he tried to hide it. Notice, for example, Psalm 32:3-4, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.” It troubled his soul so much. He said that “my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. Night and day your hand was heavy upon me.” I tell you, there are many, I think, who can relate to this. Your hand is heavy upon me. This is God, this is God moving, this is God trying to stir a person, this is God trying to get a person to run to the Lord, but when I kept silence, my body through my groaning wasted away.
II. Count the Cost of Discipleship
What you’ll love in this story is that as soon as he heard that number, he immediately ran to the Lord, immediately acknowledged his sin. David has learned a great lesson that is a lesson for anyone to take hold of today. If there is that failure in a person’s life, a great lesson, run, run as fast as you can get into the presence of the Lord. Some people when they fail, when they mess up, you know what they do? They go the other way, they run away from God.
Let me just tell you, if you run away from God, He will pursue you. Anybody agree with me? You run away from God, He will be the hound of heaven, and He will be on your trail and He is coming after you. For what purpose? Now see, this is where it’s very important. For what purpose? So that He can get you and make life troublesome for you? No. You know why he wants to come after you? To bring you home. God is going to go after sinners to bring them home. Amen?
Do you love the Lord? You’re going to go find them and bring them home, but how much better it is when a person fails to recognize it immediately in the soul and then they start running toward the Lord? The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous, they run to it. It’s a life lesson. Anybody agree with me? Then we see this out of the story, count the cost of discipleship. Count the cost.
When David saw the angel, it’s enough, the Lord had said. The prophet said to David, “Go and erect an altar to the Lord on that threshing floor.” When David came to buy it, Ornan or Araunah said, let my lord have it. Take it, offer what’s good in your sight. Here, oxen, I give it to you. Here are the threshing sledges for burning, I give it to you, weed for the offering, I give it all to you, my king. May the Lord accept you.
A. Offer God that which cost you something
David responded. His response is absolutely critical to understand. “I will not give that which costs me nothing.” It’s a life lesson. Consider the cost. Consider the cost of forgiveness, consider the cost of grace. Does it have a price? Does forgiveness have a price? It does, but would you notice this out of the story? It has a great price for the Lord, but I suggest that it does have a price for us as well.
We can summarize the lesson this way. Offer God that which costs you something. Now, we know a great lesson that David spoke. I will not give that which costs me nothing. He knew the necessity of giving an offering. A burnt offering represented the heart of the one doing the offering. A burnt offering represented a heart that was on fire. I am consumed with a fire for the Lord, burnt offering. Peace offering. There is peace in my heart with God. I’m offering this as a picture of my heart that’s at peace with God. I want to offer you that which is right and good to you.
I want to give that to you. Not which costs me nothing but that which costs me something. It’s interesting. Reminds me of a time later in Israel’s history when they only gave pretense of bringing an offering to the Lord. They knew what the word of the Lord said but they didn’t want to bring anything of any value, you might say. One of them might say, well, we know we need to bring a lamb. We have a sick one anywhere? Oh, there’s a sick one. Give that one to the Lord. He’s going to die anyway. Oh, there’s that one over there. He’s lame. He’s never going to make it. Give that one to the Lord. He’s a goner anyway.
The Lord confronted this. Actually, this is in Malachi 1. Through the prophet the Lord said, “‘When you present the lame and the sick, is this not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased? Would he receive you kindly?’ says the Lord of hosts.” Would you entreat God’s favor with such an offering as this? The lame, the blind? “Would he receive you kindly?” says the Lord of hosts. Count the cost. We know that it cost God something.
The Son of God gave His very life. The price was high. Does forgiveness have a cost? Yes. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, You’re not your own, you have been bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body. The price was high, but I submit that forgiveness does have a cost for you and for me. What is our part? We know what God did. We know the part that God gave. He demonstrated the greatness of His love when Jesus died on the cross. Does it have a cost for you and for me? Yes.
Our part is one, repentance. That’s our part. God saved us from our sin and He paid the penalty for it all so that we would turn from it. We were saved from it, so therefore, don’t go back to it. Really, that’s what repentance means. Don’t go back to it. Turn from it is like that Scripture that says, should a dog return to his vomit? Should a swine return to his wallowing in the mud? Should a sinner return to the sinful life in which he was saved? Our part is to turn from it. Consider the cost. David’s words ring true. I will not offer that which costs me nothing.
Number two. What does God want for us to give? Our part is to give love. What is the highest foremost of all the things that God has ever spoken to man? Jesus was asked. He said the greatest of these is love. To love the Lord your God with all of your heart. That’s your part. That’s my part. To love the Lord with all your heart. God demonstrated His love in that He gave His only begotten Son. What’s your part? Love, to love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
B. God answers fire with fire
Then we see this. It’s a very important part of the story. God answers fire with fire. David built an altar there on that threshing floor. He bought it for 600 shekels of gold. Magnanimous price. He built an alter to the Lord, offering burnt offerings representing the heart of the worshiper. Here’s my heart, on fire and burnt up with devotion. Peace offering. There is peace in my heart toward You, God, peace from God.
It’s a beautiful picture. He offered it with fire. Then fire from heaven consume the altar. It’s a beautiful picture. Your part, a heart that’s in love. In many ways, you can capture that as a heart that’s on fire. God wants the church to have a fire that burns in the heart, in the soul today. God wants to see a church that has revival. God wants to see a church where there’s a love and a love that is of the heart and the soul that is on fire for the Lord. God wants revival in the church. I am praying for revival in the church. Anybody want to agree with me in this prayer? Amen. Let’s give the Lord praise and glory. It’s for His call and the desire in our lives.
When you come with a heart that’s on fire, there’s a love, God will answer by fire. He’ll pour the Holy Spirit down on that church. That’s the glorious thing. God answers fire with fire. You come with a love after the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, God will answer fire with fire. You come to the presence of the Lord with a desire to honor Him in your heart, He’ll answer fire with fire. He’ll pour the Holy Spirit out on that church. That church will come alive. That church will move. That church will see the hand of God. That church is the one that God– Oh, may the Lord answer with fire when we come to the presence of the Lord. Amen? That’s my prayers. Well, Lord, pour your Holy Spirit out on your church.
It’s on this very site that Solomon would build the temple. It’s on this very site that Jesus would enter in and would cleanse the temple. This is my Father’s house. This is a house of prayer. This is my Father’s house. This is a place of worship. This is a place of honor. This is the place when Jesus at the end of the age comes and He will enter into Jerusalem and He will rule and reign the nations of the world.
God is going to send His Son at the end of the age and He’s going to set things right in this messed up world, to which we say Lord Jesus, come quickly, because this is a messed up world. What does He want now? He wants a church that’s on fire. He wants a church that’s in love and He will meet us in this place, for God responds with fire.
Let’s pray. Father, thank you so much. Oh, do we thank you for meeting us in this place now, for showing us your desire to pour fire out upon your church because that church has fallen in love with you. Church, how many would say that to the Lord today? Here I am. I see, God, what you’ve done for me. How you have paid the price for my sin when you sent your Son to die in the cross that day to take the penalty of my sin upon Himself. The cost was high. I see it and God, I respond to you with my heart filled and overflowing with thanks, with love, with great appreciation for all that you’ve done.
God, I come to you with a heart filled with a desire to love you. God, meet me in this place. Pour fire upon my soul and ignite by your Holy Spirit. Church, how many would say that pour your Holy Spirit, pour the fire from heaven on my soul. It’s a desire, isn’t it? It’s a prayer. It’s a request. Pour the fire of heaven into my soul. Here’s my heart, I give it to you. Now pour your fire. Would you say that to the Lord by just raising your hand to the Lord? Just raise your hand. It’s a prayer. It’s a way of saying, God, I’m asking meet me in this place. Pour your fire, ignite the soul within me. Father, we love you and thank you for showing us the greatness of your heart. We love you and honor you now in Jesus’ powerful name.
When God is Blessed
1 Chronicles 17:1-27
June 11-12, 2022
Now it’s important to know why this book was written and when it was written because it has everything to do to how to apply it. After Israel was defeated by the Babylonians, destroyed, Jerusalem destroyed, they were exiled there in Babylon those 70 years. Now, they’ve returned, and thus this book is written to those who have returned. The nation is a remnant of what it once was. They are such a small people now, weakened, downhearted, discouraged, they have no king.
The book is written to stir them up in their faith, to bring some revival, to take hold of God’s promises yet again. I’ll tell you, this is important because God is stirring revival today. That’s what God is doing, He’s reaching out, calling people to Himself, stirring people up to believe God’s promises are sure.
He tells them, “Look, you have every right to that land, God gave you that land,” and He’s giving them the history of that rich heritage. Then He wants to give them a hope, a messianic hope. They had no king, so it goes back and shows them the promises of God to give them that king, who would be called the son of David. That Messianic hope, our hope, is still alive today. There are many in Israel, still looking for the son of David.
Now we know his name. His name is Jesus, the Messiah. He is the Messiah of Israel and the Redeemer of the world. He will come at the end of the age, He’ll set foot in the Mount of Olives, He’ll enter Jerusalem and He’ll rule and reign the nations of the world from that place. The promises are to be taken hold of even today.
Let’s look at 1 Chronicles 17. The backstory is that David has come to the point of his life where he looks back now and he can see how God has blessed him. At this point in his life, he is sitting in a house in Jerusalem, a house made of cedar and stone. Now, this was quite something in those days to have such a house. He’s sitting, he’s looking around the city of Jerusalem now called the City of David, and he’s realizing how blessed he is. He looks back on his life, “How blessed I am, God has been with me. All of these years God has been with me.”
Now, it doesn’t mean that David’s life was easy. David had a tremendously difficult life, but yet he knows that God was with him every step along the way. Then he’s sitting here looking out over the city, he’s in a house of cedar and stone, and then he looks, and he sees that the Ark of God is in a tent of curtains, and he says to himself, “This isn’t right. I’m here in a house of cedar and stone, but the ark of the covenant, that which represented the very throne room of our God is in a tent.”
He thought, “I want to do something to bless God. God’s blessed me. Oh, God’s blessed me amazingly. I want to do something magnanimous. I know what,” and he came up with a tremendous idea. I want to build a house for the ark of the covenant and it is going to be magnanimous of glory. Oh, what he envisioned. He said this to Nathan, the prophet, who said to him, “No, God says, ‘No, you will not build my house, but I love the fact that you wanted to. You want to build me a house? I’m going to bless you even more.'” That’s part of the great story of 1 Chronicle 17.
Let’s read it. We’re going to read the whole chapter. It’s just an amazing chapter. Chapter 17:1, “It came about that when David dwelled in his house, that David said to Nathan, the prophet, ‘Behold, I am dwelling here in the house of Cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord is on the curtains.'” Nathan said to David– Now, Nathan didn’t check with God, he just said it off the top of his heart. He said, “Do all that’s in your heart, for God I know is with you”.
That night, the Word of the Lord came to Nathan saying this, “Go and tell David, my servant, thus says the Lord, ‘No, you shall not build a house for me to dwell in.'” Now he loves that he wanted to, but the answer is no. “For I have not dwelled in a house since the day I brought up Israel to this day, I’ve gone from tent to tent from dwelling to another.
In all places where I have walked with Israel, have I ever spoken a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people?
Did I ever say, ‘Why haven’t you built me a house of Cedar?’ Did I ever say that? Now, therefore, thus you shall say to David, my servant, thus says the Lord of host, ‘I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep and made you ruler or leader over my people in Israel.
I did that. I have been with you wherever you have gone, I did that. I’ve cut off all your enemies from before you, I did all of that, but now I will do something even yet greater,” he’s going to say. “You wanted to bless me, you want to bless me by building a house for me? The answer is no, but I’m going to do something even greater for you.” Listen to this, “I’m going make you a name, like the name of the great ones who are on the earth.
I. Never Forget What God has Done
When they look over the history of the world, they will count the name of David as one of the greatest names in the history of the world. That’s what I want to do for you, sir. Not only that, I will appoint a place for my people, Israel. I will plant them that they may dwell in their own place and be moved no more.”
Now that is the heart of God after Israel. God has the same heart after Israel today. It’s very important to recognize that God is not done with Israel. Those who bless Israel will be blessed is as true today as when God said it all those years before. Do you believe that? It’s a very important thing to grasp, because God is promising this to David.
“Neither shall the wicked waste them as formerly, even from the day I commanded judges to be over my people Israel. I will subdue all your enemies. Moreover, I tell you, you wanted to build me a house, I will build a house for you, and it should come about that when your days are fulfilled, that you must go to be with your fathers,” in other words, you die.
“That I will set up one of your descendants after you, who shall be one of your sons. I will establish his kingdom and he shall build for me that house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, he would be my son, and I would not take my loving kindness away from him like I took it from him who was before you,” from king Saul, “But I will settle him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.”
Now we know that this is fulfilled in his son, Solomon, but there is yet a greater fulfillment in Jesus who will be called the son of David. Jesus said, “Something greater than Solomon is here.” The great fulfillment is answered in Jesus Christ. According to these words, and according to this vision, Nathan spoke to David. Now, David hearing these words, which you’ll notice what comes next. I love this part of the story. Verse 16, “When David the king heard this, he went up and he sat before the Lord.”
He went to that tent thou of curtains, where the ark of the covenant was, the very presence of the Lord was there. He just wanted to sit in the presence of the Almighty. Don’t you just love this part of the story? Then he just wanted to be near. Oh, there’s something special, there’s something wonderful between David and God, something beautiful. He just wanted to sit in the tent and draw near, and then he gave his speech. He wanted to bless God in response to this notice.
He says, “Who am I, oh Lord God, and what is my house that you have brought me this far? This is a small thing in your eyes, oh God, for now you have spoken of your servant’s house for a great while to come, and you have regarded me according to the standard of a man of a high degree.”
David is amazed at this because he never forgot that he’s just a shepherd. This is amazing God. What more can David say to you concerning the honor, which you have bestowed in your servant for you know your servant, oh Lord, for your servant’s sake and according to your heart, you have brought all this greatness to make known all these great things. Lord, there is none like you, neither is there any God besides you, according to all that we’ve heard with our ears. In other words, we’ve heard of your fame and you made it known. “What nation in the earth is like your people, Israel?” That’s a great question, and that’s a great question even today. “What nation is like Israel, whom God went to redeem for Himself, lucky people, to make a name by great and terrible things, by grinding out nations from before your people and redeeming them out of Egypt.
For your people, Israel, you made your people forever. You, oh Lord became their God. Now, Lord, let the Word that you spoke concerning your servant and concerning his house be established forever. Do what you have spoken. Let your name be established. Let your name be magnified forever, saying, ‘Oh, the Lord of hosts is the God of Israel.’ Let it be known. Even in God to Israel, the house of David, your servant, is established before you. For you oh my God, you revealed your servant that you will build for him a house.
Therefore, your servant found courage to pray. Now, oh Lord, you are God. You promised this good thing to your servant. Now it has pleased you to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before you, for you oh Lord, have blessed and it is blessed forever.”
What a great speech is this. What a great story is this, and there’s much to take hold of for our lives. Starting with this; never forget what God has done. This is what makes David different. This is what separates David from others. King Saul never had this idea. He’s always taken from nothing and made into a great king, but he never had this idea in his mind. No, he’s too filled with anger and rage and envy and jealousy of David.
He didn’t have a heart to do this at all. This is what makes David different. He looked back, he could see it, and he never forgot it. Now, that’s right. I think this is so important for every one of us. Never forget what God has done.
You look back on your life. It makes you appreciate God afresh and a new. Never forget. David could see all of the troubles of his life. God was with him every step along the way. I never forgot what God did. I tell you this is to reference. When I look at my life, I tell you, I am so blessed. I am very, very blessed. I look back on my life and I see God’s been with me through all–
I’ve had been in troubles in my life. Many of you know my story, that I grew up in extreme poverty. The turbulence and trouble of living in a home with an alcoholic, angry father. Now, later, he came to the Lord. Those days, growing up, turbulent, terrible times. My daughter was killed, didn’t even know my story. Yet I look back and God has been with me every step along the way. I’m very, very thankful. Anyone else?
Absolutely, let’s give Lord praise, absolutely. I was thinking of one of the songs that they played that we did at my daughter’s memorial. It just meant so much to me. It’s a worship song we still do today called Goodness of God. I want to just quote from some of the words because it really captures the thought of that. The words go like this, I love you, Lord. That’s a great way to start the song.
I love you, Lord, for your mercy never fails me,
All my days, I’ve been held in your hands,
From the moment I wake up until I lay my head, I will sing of the goodness of God.
Then that famous chorus.
All my life you have been faithful,
All my life you’ve been so, so good,
With every breath that I’m able, I will sing of the goodness of God,
I love your voice. You have led me through the fire,
In the darkest night, you are close like no other,
I’ve known you as a father, I’ve known you as a friend,
And I have lived in the goodness of God.
And all my life you have been faithful,
All my life, you have been so, so good,
With every breath that I am able, I will sing of the goodness of God.
A. God blesses first
Isn’t that a beautiful heart? When you look back and you see all that God has done one of the things that you must see is that God blesses first. God moves with His hand. God takes the initiative. Notice Verse 7, God says, “I took you from the pasture, from following sheep and made you ruler over my people. I did that.”
What would your life be like if God had not taken hold? What if God had not reached out? What would your life have been like? I tell you, I look back on my life and I’ll tell you that if God had not taken hold of my life, my life would have been a disaster. In fact, I have spoken to many people who when they look back and they see what God has done in their lives,
many people have said, “I don’t know that I would even be alive had God not taken hold of me.”
How many people would say that? Just raise your hand. Isn’t it amazing? What if God had not done that? You see it reminds me of Ephesians 2, where Paul wrote something very similar. Remember, this is good to remember. “Remember that you were, at that time, you were separate from Christ, excluded from the Commonwealth of Israel, strangers of the covenants of promise. You had no hope and you had no God. Now in Christ Jesus, you who were formerly far off, have been brought near and you’ve been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
God did that. Many Scriptures reveal that God is the one who reaches out. God is the one who blesses. God is the one who takes the initiative. God is the one who pursues. Notice Revelation 3:20, love quoting this verse because it says it. He said to the church of Laodicea, “I stand at the door and I knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and will dine with him and he with me.”
Now, there’s that beautiful picture. He’s pursuing. He’s, like, knocking on the door of the heart. “If anyone would hear my voice,” suggesting that he’s calling out your name. He’s calling to you. He’s reaching out. “Open the door. I’ll come in. We’ll have fellowship. Will dine together.”
Oh, how beautiful is that picture? See, this is so important. As I say, many people have it wrong when it comes to the view of God. Many people think that God has put His stiff arm out. “I have nothing to do with thee because you are a sinner. Be gone.” Many people think that God is this way. That is not what I see. That’s not the heart of God that I read. What I see is that God is reaching out to sinners.
God is knocking on the door of their heart. God is calling their name. God is wanting a relationship with sinners. That is amazing. He’s going to take them and He’s going to bless their life. It says in 1 John 4, “We love him because he first loved us.”
It’s one of the great themes that runs through the Scripture. God blesses first. God takes the initiative. God calls your name. God reaches out. Then you see, we respond to that. It’s not the other way around. In other words, you don’t worship God to obtain His favor. No, you worship Him because He’s already placed His favor on your life. You are responding to the fact that God has already blessed you. He’s already reached out to you. He’s already poured His favor out on you. That’s why you worship. It’s not the other way around.
Contrary to what is seen on Christian television– Do they still have such a thing? I don’t watch TV anymore so I don’t know what is there. Back when I was young, the Christian TV was a thing, and I remember watching it a few times. So many times I would hear the teacher or the pastor or whatever say, “If you would give to God, you know he’ll give you tenfold back.”
What are they trying to say? Give in order to receive. Give in order to get back. Isn’t that kind of the message behind that? There’s an old saying, actually, it’s very true saying, but many have misused it. That saying is, “You can’t outgive God.” That’s true. That does not mean that you should give in order to get, in order for God to prove that He cannot give. In other words, you don’t say, “Okay, I’ve given something to you, God. Now you’re obligated to outgive me. I can’t wait to see how you’re going to bless my life now that I’ve given something to you.”
B. God says ‘no’ for a reason
No, you give to God as honor, as recognition, as thanks for what you’ve already done. I look back on my life, what you have done is amazing. All my life, you have been so, so good. David says, he looks and his life he realizes how blessed he is, “Here I am, dwelling in the house of cedar in stone and the Ark of the Covenant is in a tent. I want to do something magnanimous for you. I want to bless you, God. Look at what you’ve done for me. I want to bless you. I want to do something magnanimous. I’m going to build you a house.” Then the answer was no. Now, one of the great lessons out of the story is if God says no, God says no for a reason. It’s a life lesson. No? Now, it’s hard to understand and know especially if the heart is right. Now, if the heart is wrong, the motive is wrong. Okay, we understand you don’t have because you don’t ask, but you ask, you don’t have because you ask with wrong motives.
Well, we understand that, but if the heart is right, if God says no, he has a reason. In fact, we know that David’s heart was right because this is 2 Chronicles 6, where Solomon now who’s dedicating the building, he says, “The Lord said to my father, David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build the house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless, no. You will not build my house.'” You did well that it was in your heart.
Which really speaks to an important thing. “Does it matter what’s in the heart?” I suggest that it matters tremendously what is in the heart. Some people say, “No, it only matters what you do.” I think that right there is a very helpful picture. Know what happens in the heart matters to God.
It was, “You did well. I love the fact that you wanted to do such a thing.” Now David gave the reason later. When God said, “No, David, you cannot build this house.” He explained the reason later. Now, David hearing that no, nevertheless, realized, “If I can’t build it, at least I can prepare and give all of these preparations to my son,” because David had a vision. “I want to do something magnanimous.”
He had architectural plans built. He gathered all the materials. This is going to be absolutely glorious. He had it in his heart, built the plans, drew the plans, handed to his son Solomon. When he gathered the people, he gave a speech. He’s going to give the reason. This speech in 1 Chronicles 28, David’s Speech. “Listen to me, my brethren and my people. I had intended to build a house for the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and the footstep of our God, so I made preparations to build it. God said to me, ‘No, you will not build a house for my name because you are a man of war. You have shed blood.'”
In other words, this is a house of prayer. This is a house of worship. This is the house of peace. This is not going to be built by a man of blood. It’ll be built by a man of peace, Solomon. Actually, part of his name is peace, Shalom, Solomon. David’s heart was right, God’s answer was still no. What’s also important to see is that David accepted the answer without complaint, without attitude, without resistance.
Then you must see in the story that no is not the only answer that God gave. The answer also was, “You want to bless? No, you cannot do this, but I say to you, David, I’m going to do even more for you.”
C. If God says no, He has something better
Really, the lesson of the story is, if God says no, he has something better. Something greater. Something far greater is the great part of the story. I look back on my life, there have been times where God clearly said no. Then I saw that God something better. I was thinking, for example, back when I was in Bible college and they had a speaker come to chapel one day. He was the captain of a mercy ship.
Back in those days, there was two mercy ships that were very famous in the world of missions. One was called Doulos, one was called Logos, and they would go from port to port, very large mercy ships, of course, doing mercy work in various underprivileged places and where there’s a lot of poverty in the world and just blessing them. I caught the vision, I’d go, “Oh, this sounds so wonderful.” I was going to Bible college, I could be a Bible teacher on the ship and then at the ports where we landed.
When I was young, I had some love of the ocean. I just loved being near the ocean, the smell of the salt air. When I was really young I, for a time, wanted to be an oceanographer. There’s just that love for the ocean and I thought, “Oh, this is perfect.” I actually made an appointment with the captain of the ship Doulos and sat with him and I explained my story and my vision and all this.
When he heard my story, he then responded by saying, “No, I don’t believe that you should be part of our team.” I said, “No, we’re talking about me here. No. I know. What do you mean, no?” He said, “No, I don’t believe you should be with us because I don’t believe you’re called to be a missionary. You are called to be a pastor and you should walk in the calling that God has placed in your life. Not only that, but I believe that, as a pastor, you will do more for missions than you could have ever done as a missionary. Don’t ever leave the heart of being a missionary. Do much for missions.”
No. God’s no was very clear and it was a great lesson in my life. Then later, I discovered that being on the ocean made me terribly seasick. This thing would have been a disaster. God was saving me, but God had something better for my life. I’m very, very– I tell you, I am blessed. To be a pastor here at this church, it is a blessing of my life. This church is amazing, and I want to thank every one of you for making it so. It is amazing.
There was another occasion when God said no. Back actually a few years before this, I had a vision, of course, to go into ministry and I was a youth leader in a small church making a small salary. I knew that if I was going to be serious about going into the ministry, I would need a really good solid Bible education. The problem was how to pay for it. Well, I was thinking of, “How am I going to do this?” I came up with, I think, a very clever plan. It was very clever. I came to the Lord, “God, I have come up with a very clever plan. I would like to submit it to you and hope that you bless it.”
As you can imagine, the answer was no. I remember very, very clearly how I heard the no. It was a Friday night at 6:30, I won’t get into the details but that’s how clear it was in my mind. Friday night, 6:30, the answer came, the answer is no. My whole plan completely fell apart. I thought, “What am I going to do?” It felt like a punch in the gut, “I cannot afford this, I’m making hardly anything as a youth pastor. What am I going to do? God, I need a miracle.”
That was my all-day Saturday prayer. “God, I need a miracle.” So that I know it’s a miracle and anyone who ever hears a story knows it’s a miracle, I’m not going to tell anyone I need this money. Just please God, do a miracle.” Saturday night, I prayed all day and I’m at peace with it, I’m leaving it in the hands of the Lord. Sunday morning, I get up. Again Friday night, Saturday, Sunday morning.
I get up and come to church excited to worship. I’m not 10 steps in the door when a fellow steps in front of me, puts his hands like this, and says, “Stop, listen. God has put it on my heart this week that I’m supposed to pay your way through Bible college.”
Right away I thought, “God, your way is way better than mine.” God said, “No, but I have something better for you than that.” Then my response was this, “If you’re going to do that for me, then I’m going to sit in every one of those classes and I’m going to give everything I got. I’m going to sit in the front. I’m going to take every note I can. I’m going to ask every question I can think of. I’m going to put everything I got into this. If you’re doing that for me, then I’m going to put everything I got into it.”
Amen. Isn’t that the right answer? If you’re going to do this for me? What else can I do but to pour everything I have into it? I ended up being the valedictorian, not because I tried, because I wanted to thank God for doing it. God responded through the prophet, “You wanted to build a house for me? No, but I will build a house for you. I will establish your descendant after you. I will raise him up like a son and I will be a father to him. I will establish his throne forever. I’ll never take my loving kindness from him.” David rightly understood this as the prophecy. The coming Messiah would be called the Son of David. Now we are here today. We are blessed because of that prophecy. That word that God spoke to David is blessing us right now because it was fulfilled in Jesus Christ and the promise made is fulfilled through that son. In fact, Isaiah 9, we read it every Christmas because it speaks to it so beautifully. “A child will be born to us. A son will be given to us, and the government will rest on his shoulders.”
Right there, I’ll tell you what, there’s a hope of the world, because we are living in a world where there’s a lot of messed up governments, and oh Lord Jesus come quickly for when the Lord comes and sets foot in Jerusalem, He will rule and reign the nations and the government will rest on his shoulder. Oh, that glorious day will be. Amen? Let’s give the Lord praise for that day. Oh, Lord Jesus.
He will have a great name. His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of peace. There will be no end to the increase of his government or a peace on the throne of David and over His kingdom to establish it and uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forever more. The zeal of the Lord of Host will accomplish this.
When David heard this, he went to the house of the Lord. He went to the tent where the ark of the covenant was. He wanted to just be in the nearness of God. There’s something beautiful between David and God. There’s a great life lesson. Draw near to God and be seated. It’s a right word for all of us. We need more sitting, dwelling in the nearness of God. There was something wonderful, beautiful between David and God. God wants this thing for you and me. There ought to be something beautiful between us and God, simply wanting to draw near.
When I think of that, it reminds me of Moses when he was leading Israel to the desert, he set up a tent of meeting outside the camp. Anyone who wanted to, can go meet with God. Tent of meeting. Moses many, many times would meet with God to the point that he says that “God would speak to Moses like a man would speak to a friend.” There was something beautiful between the relationship Moses had with God.
II. Draw Near to God and be Seated
In fact, he wrote in Deuteronomy 33:27, “The eternal God is a dwelling place.” Capture that beautiful thought. “The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” There’s a tent you can meet with God anytime you want. Don’t you wonder how many would take the opportunity? Many, I surmise, would not. What a tragedy missing out on that beautiful thing that God would do in the soul.
When you’re dwelling in the presence of the Almighty, something beautiful happens there, and God wants the same for you and me. We need more meetings with God where we just dwell in the nearness of God. Sometimes, the only meeting that people have with God is that come to Jesus meeting. Well, that’s a great meeting. We need to have that meeting for sure, but we need more meetings than that because something beautiful happens when you dwell in the nearness of God.
A. See God from the right perspective
One of the things that will happen is that you’ll see God from the right perspective. David did. Verse 20, “Oh, Lord God, there is none like You. There is no God besides you. We’ve heard of your fame.” One of the things that’s interesting about David, David would have nothing to do with the idols of the world. Many of the other kings, they get all messed up because they got involved with Baal or Molek or Ashtoreth, or you name it, so many of the gods of the nations around them.
Whatever reason that many of the kings started getting involved with some of these gods of the world, they were worldly in every sense. David wanted nothing to do with these idols. They meant nothing to him. You know why? Because God was enough. God was more than enough. “There is no God like you. There is no God besides you.” He saw the Lord as the great God over all the earth. Now, that’s such a right perspective, because it really draws you to the question. Is there something wrong with God?
Well, what would cause a person to go after the things of the world? Is there something missing? Something wrong with the gospel perhaps? Well, what is wrong? What is missing? Well, the only thing I can think of that’s missing is that it doesn’t appeal to the flesh, but the world does. God would say, “Yes, that’s my point, because the things of the world will bring death to your soul. Don’t you see? I want to do something beautiful in your soul. I want you to have life, life abundantly,” life to the full, beautiful, something special, something beautiful between you and God.
I don’t want those things in your life because those things are death. Let me give you a great word that Paul wrote very similarly to this. Romans 6:12 and 21, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey his lust. What benefit did you gain from the things of which you are now ashamed? The outcome of those things is death.” Is that not a powerful verse or what? That is such a perspective. David looks back and he can see all the ways that God has blessed him.
What if you look back on your life and you look back on the life of sin? That’s what Paul is drawing in a person too. What benefit did you gain? How did those things help you? Those things of which you are now ashamed. The outcome is death. “I love you,” God will say. I want to do something beautiful in your soul. That comes from dwelling in the nearness of God. David wanted nothing to do with his idols.
In fact, it’s a great story. When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king, they were incensed at this, they sent up a great army to confront David. David asked of the Lord, “Shall I go against them?” The answer was, “Yes, you will go against them, and surely you will prevail.” David confronted the Philistines and surely they retreated, fell back. So quickly did they fall back that they left their idols in the field.
It says that after they abandoned their idols there, that David and his men carried them away. Now, when you first read that, you say, “No, no, no, say it isn’t so. What do you mean they carried them away?” Until you read 1 Chronicles 14:12, “They abandoned their idols there. David gave the order and they were burned with fire.” Now, there’s my David. “Take those idols out of that field, put them in a pile, and light the fire. That’s what we’re going to do, because there’s nothing to these idols. These things are death. I don’t want none of you men taking them home, burn them all.”
B. See yourself from the right perspective
There’s my David right there. It’s a great understanding. It’s a great picture. I don’t want nothing that stands in the way of what God wants to do in the soul, for what God wants to do in the soul is a beautiful thing, and those things stand in the way of it.
David says “Burn them all, burn them with fire, we’ve nothing to do with them.” He just wanted to be in the nearness of God. What a beautiful thing is this. When you dwell there in the nearness of God, you’ll see God from the right perspective, and you’ll see yourself from the right perspective. That too is very important.
He came in and he sat down in the presence of the Lord and he said, “Who am I that you would do this for me?” Then, “This is a small thing in your eyes for you have spoken of your servant concerning the distant future, and you have regarded me according to the standard of a man of high degree. How is that?”
See, David never forgot that he was just a simple shepherd when God found him. Isn’t that a life lesson? Never forget who you were. Never forget from what you came. Never forget your background. David never forgot. “Who am I that you would treat me as a man of high degree? I was just a simple shepherd.” Now, of course, now we could look at this and say, “Well, you are a man of my degree, you’re the king of Israel, you’re dwelling in Jerusalem, you’re given a City of David.” David never forgot who he was. “Who am I that you would do this for me?” Just a simple shepherd. This is what David did that we must take a hold of. It’s God’s hand that takes a simple shepherd and makes him something. Does not make himself anything, but when God moves, when God holds, when God places His hand, this changes everything. Let me give you a scripture that speaks to it out of Ephesians 3:20. “Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”
Not our power, not our doing, it’s God’s power that moves. We’re just simple, no special people, we’re just simple nobodies. Please take no offense, but there’s no one special in this room. Anybody agree with me? We’re just simple, no special people. Never forget that when God moves, it’s God’s hand that can take a simple, no special, nobody and do something. See, don’t miss that part because if all you can think of yourself as, “Well, I’m just a nobody,” and that’s the way you think of yourself the rest of your life, you’re going to miss out on one of the greatest aspects of your life.
Yes, but God delights to take nobodies. Don’t forget this part. God delights to take nobodies, no specials, and then He moves. It’s to His glory, to take the broken, the downhearted, the distressed, the nobodies, the no specials. Who am I? It’s a great question but who am I, when God moves, God will determine. Because God can do that which is amazing. Notice this out of James 5. He writes it this way, “The fervent prayer of a righteous man is powerful. It’s effective. It accomplishes much. It’s non-compelling.”
Don’t you just want to take hold of that and recognize there’s something powerful, there’s something effective, accomplishes much. Then he gives an illustration. “Elijah was a man with the nature like ours.” In other words, he was just a simple nobody. “But he prayed earnestly that it would not rain and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months and then he prayed again and the sky poured rain and the earth produced it’s fruit.”
He’s just a man like you and me but when God moves, great things happen. By prayer, the effective prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Then David writes it this way in 2 Samuel 22. See, David understood. It’s one of the greatest insights of David’s life. “You’re the one who takes the simple.” Notice how he said it. “You are my lamp, oh Lord God. You illumine my darkness. By you, I can run upon a troop. By my God, I can leap over a wall.”
Your help makes me great. I’m just a simple nobody but your help– See, it’s God in us that changes everything. It’s God’s hands that move that changes everything. “Your help makes me great. You’ve enlarged my steps under me. You have made my feet that they not slip.” David understood something that we must all take hold of. Every one of us are simple nobodies but take hold of what God can do with simple nobodies.
He’ll accomplish that which is exceedingly abundantly beyond all that you ask or think. Believe.
Father, thank you for showing us how you are blessed, how you’re the one who takes the first move to reach out, to take hold of the broken, the distressed, the downhearted, and make something of their lives. You’re the one. God, I just pray for everyone in this house, everyone listening now that they would take hold of this great truth.
Church, how many would say this to the Lord? “I know I’m just a simple no one but God here I am. You are amazing. What you have done in my life is amazing. I come, I want to do something for you. I want to give You my life. Here I am. All I have is just simple no special me but here I am. Use me as an instrument in your hand, use me for your glory. It’s you that move, that changes everything. Well, here I am. God move.
Here I am just a simple me and no special no one but there you are, God Almighty. I’m asking you that you would move. Here I am. Move in my life.”
Church, how many would say that to the Lord? Will you just say by raising your hand to the Lord? “God, use my life, here I am. I’m just a simple no one but what you can do, I say, Lord, do it.”
Father, thank you for everyone who wants to move by your Spirit in their lives. We honor You now. In Jesus’ powerful name.” Everyone said– Can we give the Lord praise and glory and honor? Amen. Church, we’re going to worship in just a–
Trusting in the Ways of God
1 Chronicles 13 & 15
June 4-5, 2022
Now remember that this book was written to Israel after Israel had been destroyed. Jerusalem was destroyed. They have been exiled to Babylon those 70 years and now they’ve returned, but now the nation is weak and there is no king. He wants to write to them to stir them up in their faith, to let them understand you have every right to be in this land. God gave you this land. There’s a rich heritage here. The City of Jerusalem which they found in ruins is the City of God. It is the city in which he has established his name.
He wants them to understand the right that God has placed upon them to be there and to have a king, they have no king. He wants them to recognize the Messiah. The king will be the Son of David. He writes to give them all of this tremendous foundation to bring revival. Particularly want to emphasize the importance of Jerusalem. In fact, Jerusalem is the most important city on the face of the earth, I submit. In fact, so important is Jerusalem that when you look at Scripture and the prophecy of the latter days, I submit that Israel and Jerusalem will be the center of unfolding events of the latter days.
The Temple Mount itself will be the very epicenter of the unfolding of prophetic events. So important is Jerusalem in the heart of God that the eternal dwelling place of believers in Jesus Christ will be the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, abiding upon a new earth. Many I think, do not recognize that the eternal dwelling place of believers is going to be in a new Jerusalem. So important is Jerusalem to the heart of God. The center of Jerusalem was the temple. The center of the temple was the ark of God.
The ark of God was a picture of the very throne room. The whole of the temple was a picture of the throne of heaven, but the Ark was the mercy seat, the place where His glory dwelled. David, when he first became king of Israel, one of the first things he did was to take Jerusalem and establish the capital of the nation there, knowing that this was the heart of God. Then the next thing he wanted to do was he wanted to bring the ark of God to the City of Jerusalem. It had been neglected for many years.
It had not been sought after in the times of Saul. Although it represented the very presence of God in their midst. In fact, it is a picture of one of the greatest themes of the Bible. There are many themes that run through the whole of the Bible. One of the greatest themes in the Bible is that God is Immanuel, God with us. You go from the very beginning, Adam walking with God in the cool of the evening. It’s just beautiful picture of relationship walking together in the course of this life. Beautiful. Then of course sin and separation and a great chasm between man and God.
Now, but the heart of God is still the remains. He desires to be Emanuel. It’s the theme that runs through the whole of the Bible. The ark of God is a picture of God’s presence amongst his people. David had a heart after God. He wanted the ark of God in Jerusalem. He desired God to be near. He wanted to make a tabernacle, a tent for the Ark to reside. Then David would go to that tent. David was a worshiper. David loved the Lord. You can just imagine the times when David would go to the tent of meeting and just dwell in the nearness of God.
Beautiful picture, but the ark of God, before this had resided in the house of a man named Abinadab and been there for many years, David wanted it brought out from the house of Abinadab into Jerusalem, a distance of some let’s say 14 miles. David’s heart is right. He wants to honor the Lord. When they brought the ark of God from the house of a Abinadab, they didn’t move it according to the way prescribed in the Word of God through Moses. Instead of God’s way, they did it their way and that’s when tragedy struck.
It becomes a life lesson, God’s way or our way. God’s way or our way. It’s a life lesson that we need to take hold of today. It reminds me of a song, the lyrics of a song written by Frank Sinatra, anybody remember Frank Sinatra. You’re officially old I just wanted to mention it.
I read about Frank Sinatra in history books so I know all about Frank Sinatra.
He wrote a song that I think captures the point of this thing. His song is called My Way. I promise I will not sing this song. Oh, you want me to sing this song?
I will quote the lyrics and now the end is near.
I face the final curtain.
My friend, I’ll make it clear.
I’ll state my case of which I’m certain.
I’ve lived the life that’s full.
I traveled each and every highway,
But more, much more than this, I did it my way.
I planned each charted course,
each careful step along the byway,
but more, much more than this. I did it my way.
That’s the theme, God’s way or my way, God’s way or my way. Well, God has some things to say about that. Proverbs 14:12. There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death, Isaiah 55:7. Now the whole of the chapter’s amazing but listen to this verse seven. Let the wicked forsake his way, let the wicked forsake his way and let the unrighteous man forsake his thoughts and let him return to the Lord. Yes, because God’s way is higher than our ways. It’s better than our ways. God’s way or my way? That’s the question.
I. The Presence of God is Holy
Then he says, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts and your thoughts. It’s about that question, God’s way or my way. It’s also about the presence of God. How is it possible that the very presence of God can dwell with sinners? That’s the question of the day. Let’s read chapter 13. We’re also going to look at 15, but let’s just start with reading 1 Chronicles 13. We begin in verse one, then David consulted what captains of thousands and hundreds even every leader.
David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and if it is from the Lord our God, let us send everywhere to our kinsman who remain in the land of Israel. Also, to priests and Levites who are with them in their cities with pasturelands, that they may meet with us. Let us bring back the ark of God to us for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.” Saul was not the man with the same heart. He didn’t seek the things of God. It had been neglected for many years. All the assembly said that they would do so for the thing was right in the eyes of other people.
David assembled all Israel together from the Shihor of Egypt, even to the entrance of Hamath. In other words from the farthest point south to the farthest point north, he gathered a massive crowd together to bring the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim. David and all Israel then went up to Baalah, that is Kiriath Jearim which belongs to Judah to bring up from there the ark of God. You notice how he describes it. The Ark, who is enthroned between the cherubim. The angels with the wings extended as a show of glory. That’s what it represented.
That is where his name is called. David understood the glory, the presence of God seen in the ark of God. They carried the ark of God on a new cart. Now I suggest to you that this is where the story turns in not a good way. They carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzzah and Ahio drove the cart. These are the sons of Abinadab.
David and all Israel were celebrating a massive crowd and they are celebrating with all their might with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and symbols with trumpets. Then when they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah put out his hand to hold the Ark, because the oxen nearly upset it. The anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah. He struck him down because he put his hand on the Ark and he died there before God. David became angry because of the Lord’s outburst against Uzzah and he called that place Perez Uzzah or the outbreak of Uzzah to this day.
David was afraid of God that day. He said, ”How can I bring the ark of God home to me?” David did not take the Ark with him to the City of David but took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. Would you notice this next verse. Thus, the ark of God remain with the family of Obed-Edom in his house three months and the Lord blessed the family of Obed-Edom with all that he had. The presence of God blessed, the favor of God blessed.
Now we’re going to look at 15 also, but I want us to start here in this chapter and take hold of some really important life lessons for us, starting with this. This is about the presence of God and the glory of God in the midst of Israel and with people. The presence of God is holy must never be misunderstood. David’s excited to have the ark of God, knowing it represented the glory and the presence of God in Israel. What better way to bring the ark of God into Jerusalem than with a glorious parade. He gathered all Israel from the Brook of Egypt, to the farthest north, musical instrument, singers, celebration.
The ark of God’s finally coming into Jerusalem because the ark of God had been out of place with no tabernacle for many years. Why? Well, it’s an important part of the history. Back when Eli was priest, the people of Israel thought to bring the ark of God into a battle with the Philistines. They thought the ark of God, being with the army, would assure their victory. They thought the ark, the thing itself, would bring the victory. As if the thing itself had some kind of power, but there is no power in a thing. See, this is important, things don’t have power to bring about good luck.
For example, things don’t have power to bring about good luck. I submit to you there’s no such thing as good luck. There’s no such thing as lucky charms. Even if some lucky charms are magically delicious.
Had that, of course. Some people have a rabbit’s foot for good luck. Where did that come from? Certainly wasn’t very good luck for the rabbit, but it’s an interesting thing. A rabbit’s foot. Interesting, because I submit to you that the origin of the idea of a rabbit’s foot bringing good luck actually comes from a biblical concept that has been twisted and distorted.
It’s disturbing to see the things of God being twisted in such a way. Here’s my point. The rabbit is dead. Would you agree with me? Let me just be bold. The rabbit’s dead.
You’re going to carry the foot of a dead animal in your pocket, and this is supposed to bring you good luck. How is the foot of a dead rabbit going to bring you good luck? Here’s how. Clearly the rabbit endured misfortune and death. If you take the misfortune and the death of the rabbit and put it on your pocket, then the misfortune that you would’ve deserved fell upon the rabbit and the death that you deserved fell upon the rabbit. You take that misfortune and that death, and you put it in your pocket so that it doesn’t apply to you, because it’s applied to the rabbit.
Now you’re saved from death and misfortune. Does this sound familiar? This is the very gospel of Jesus Christ because the blood of the Son of the living God died that day. When his death is applied to your life, that misfortune, that death, which you deserve, fell upon him so that you are saved from death. You see how it is a distortion of the very things of God. The ark of God represented the very presence and power of God and God’s power and presence mustn’t be trifled with. God must be honored as holy.
Instead of bringing victory to Israel, the ark was captured by the Philistines as we read, when we were studying that. Then they brought the ark of God and set it up in the house of Dagon, one of the gods of the Philistines, but the presence of God, the ark of God brought great trouble to the Philistines. Plagues of tumors and mice fell upon them, and they didn’t want anything to do with this thing. So they sent it back to Israel, but when they sent it back, they sent it back on a new cart, led by two milch cows or milking cows.
Where did David get the idea of moving the ark of God in a new cart? He got it from the Philippines. Anytime you take the world’s idea about how to do God’s things and bring it in, there’s going to be a distortion. There’s going to be a problem. This isn’t the way God wanted to move. It represented the glory and presence of God. The Word of God through Moses was clear and must be carried on the shoulders of men and the shoulders of priests and Levites. Using a pole, brought through the rings of gold that were set on the ark that no one would touch it and it would also be covered.
A. Desire God’s presence — God’s way
It’s God’s presence. It must be God’s way. That’s the point. Desire God’s presence, God’s way. David had the right idea. He had the right desire. He wanted to honor God. He knew the ark ought to be in Jerusalem. He wanted the presence of God in the center of the nation, but he did it the wrong way. He understood even the importance of Jerusalem in the heart of God. Psalm 132: 13-14, for the Lord has chosen Zion. That’s the hill in which the temple sits. He has desired it for his habitation. This is my resting place forever. Here I will dwell. I have desired it.
In fact so much is this true that Jesus, when he comes at the end of the age as the Redeemer of Israel and the Messiah long-awaited. Then he comes at the end of the age, sets foot in the Mount of Olives. He will enter Jerusalem to rule and reign the nations of the world from that place, from that city. So important is the heart of God. It’s still the heart of God today. Those who have discernment watch for the signs of the times by watching for what happens in Israel today, particularly Jerusalem, God has always desired to be Immanuel.
He’s always desired to be God with us, but sin has separated. Sin has made a great chasm between man and God. We know God’s the keys, but the Scriptures also says it Isaiah 59:1-2, behold the Lord’s hand is not so short that he cannot save, nor are his ears so dull that I cannot hear, but your inequities have made a separation between you and your God. In other words, it’s a great dilemma of man, how can sins draw near to the Holy and Righteous God of heaven. Now we know we’re sinners, and we know that God is holy and righteous.
How is it possible that sinners can draw near to a Holy, Righteous God? God sent His tabernacle and later His temple at the center of His chosen city with His chosen people to be God with us, to be Immanuel. God there in the center of the people was separated. At the center of the tabernacle behind a veil as thick as a man’s hand was the ark of God. Behind a veil, a separation. Behind the veil. It was near, but it was behind a veil. On that was the mercy seat made of pure gold. A picture of the very throne room of God called the mercy seat.
With angels also made of gold, extending their wings as a posture of giving glory to God. Above it was the Shekina glory, a cloud thick, visible by men. He was Immanuel, God with him in the midst of Israel, but there was a wall. No one could draw near to the presence of God without the shedding of blood. Why? Because sinners are made righteous, not by their own doing. Sinners are made righteous by the one who would be called the Son of David. Sinners come into the presence of God through the blood of that one, whom God sent to be the Redeemer and the Savior of the world.
For, without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. Now, this is what the Scripture says. We know this is the truth, but the Scripture says it very clearly. Hebrews 9:19-22, when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to the people, he took the blood of calves and goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop and he sprinkled both the book itself and all the people. Now, this is an amazing scene. Imagine, with me, he spoke to them, the Word of God that God gave. Then after speaking the Word of God, he took the blood of calves and goats and with water and a branch of hyssop.
He dipped the branch into the blood, and he started to sprinkle it, walk through the people. You can imagine as he’s walking their clearing out for him, as he’s walking through the people, sprinkling blood on all the people. Can you imagine being in the crowd? There’s a point he’s sprinkling the blood and, in the same way, he sprinkled the tabernacle and all the vessels of ministry with that blood. According to the law, one may almost say all things are cleansed with blood, for without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.
According to the law, the high priest, and only the high priest could draw near to the ark of God once a year on the day of atonement. The day of atoning for sins so that he could sprinkle the blood of a bull offered as atonement for the people because only a high priest bringing with him blood could enter the presence of God. All of this was disregarded. They set the ark of God in a new cart. Then when the cart almost toppled, Uzzah reached out and touched it. Touched that which represented the very presence of God with his bare hand.
Immediately the parade was over but I submit to you that all of it is a picture of Jesus Christ. It is a picture of a great truth how sinners can be brought into the presence of the living God. Well, the truth it’s a picture of this that Jesus is the way. He is the way to the Father. From the beginning of creation, God had a plan. God had a plan, a way to reconcile sinners to Himself. His Son His only begotten Son would die in your place. Your sins would be removed from you and placed on His Son. Your sins were transferred to Jesus on the cross so that when Jesus died, He died in your place.
He died as penalty for the shedding of His own blood paid for the sins of the world and He paid for them in full. Based on the blood of Jesus shed on the cross, God accepted that blood in your behalf, therefore you yourself are accepted by God, and you are given the right to be called a child of God. You have the full rights of citizenship in heaven because of what God did for you that day through Jesus Christ His Son.
Can you give the praise to the Lord? That’s God’s way that’s God’s plan and there is no other way. There is no other way for sinners to draw near and have a relationship to the Holy Righteous God of heaven. There is no other way. Jesus said John 14:6, I am the way, I am the truth. I am the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me. Acts 4:12, There is salvation and no one else for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. Now, someone out there would hear this and say, well, that’s not very nice.
That’s not even politically correct. I’ve got my own ideas about eternity seems to me that a person ought to be able to figure out their own way to God and God should accept it. That would be much more inclusive. No, it’s God’s presence. God’s way. The fire of his condemnation and judgment fell on His Son on the cross. You come to God through the blood of Jesus or you don’t come at all. No one can lay their bare hand on God’s glory. You come through the blood of Jesus or you don’t come at all. Then we see this in the story and it’s a tremendous lesson.
B. God’s presence will bless your life
The presence of God is the joy of life. David hurt that the house of Obed-Edom had been blessed. Everything was blessed. Everyone in his house was blessed. So David wanted that blessing. He wanted the presence of God and the blessing of God in the city, in that place. During that three months, he had the priest look, read, research, how ought the ark of God be moved. They discovered no, the heart of God was made clear through Moses. It must be carried on the shoulders of men on priests and Levites with poles set through the rings of gold.
That no man would touch it, but it must be brought on the shoulders of men. Chapter 15:16, David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their relatives, the singers with instruments of music and harps and loud sounding symbols. It says to raise sounds of joy. Now I love David had a right. Now that we understand the right way to bring forth the presence of God into Jerusalem, we’re going to do it the right way on the shoulders of priests but the celebration part was right. We’re going to rejoice.
C. Jesus is the way to the Father
He’s got singers and he’s got instruments and trumpets and loud-sounding symbols to raise sounds of joy. In other words, it was loud, which is to say, worship ought to be loud. There it is. It’s right in the Bible my friends it’s scriptural. Turn it up we’re going to worship with joy in the house of the Lord. Anybody want to agree with me? Come on now. Let’s agree with the Lord.
David was dancing, right? He’s just rejoicing. He’s dancing before the Lord with all his might and he’s wearing a linen ephod. Now more on that later. The thought of the presence of God in Jerusalem, in the City of David, brought David such joy such delight. He’s overwhelmed with joy and he’s dancing with all of his might because it reveals the great truth. The joy of the Lord is your strength. See when sinners are made right with God, that’s a reason to rejoice right there.
When sinners are given the righteousness of God as a gift there’s a reason to rejoice right there. I submit don’t just rejoice at the first. I remember when I first came to the Lord I was overjoyed. It was like, this was a big– it was a dramatic moment in my life and I was excited. I was filled with joy. I think many people would probably add their own testimony. Many people understand when they first made a decision for Christ, oh, there was joy. It was an exciting thing. Anybody just raise your hand. Anybody agree with me?
II. The Presence of God is the Joy of Life
Oh, the joy of the Lord was amazing. I submit that don’t just rejoice at the first. I think that there ought to be abiding joy in the life of believers. I think so many people, too many believers walk around as if they have sour grape for breakfast. God wants joy. Jesus says, “My joy, I give to you. Not like the world gives.” My joy, a deep-seated joy in the soul because the joy of the Lord is your strength. Now here’s what happened in illustration. Many years later in the history of Israel, when they turned away from God, this brought about the destruction of Jerusalem and Israel being exiled into Babylon those 70 years.
When they returned, they’re going through trying to rebuild, restore. When they go through, someone finds a copy of the Word of God. When they read it, they recognize this must be read to the people. They gathered all Israel together, the remnant who remained and they opened the book and the side of the people. They read from the book the Word of God says, “translating to give the sense so they understood the reading.” Now I love that comment translating to give the sense, so they understood it.
See, when you read the Word of God is so important to knowing the heart of God behind it. What is God speaking through his heart to you? They translated it. They wanted them to know this, but when they heard it and they heard the Word of God, their response was to weep. They started crying because it dawned on them. It occurred to them all those years wasted. We had not lived according to the way of God. Now, look at the disaster that’s come upon our people. What a waste, what a tragedy. What an epic tragedy. They began to weep.
A. The joy of the Lord is your strength
Well, when the priest saw the people weeping, they responded, “No, this is not a day to weep friends. This is not a day weep. This is a day rejoice,” Nehemiah 8:10. Then the priest said to them, “No, go eat a fat drink of the sweet, send portions to whom has nothing prepared. This is a day that’s holy to the Lord. Do not grieve for the joy of the Lord is your strength. A great truth revealed because that happens today. Some people, they look back on their lives and they realize how much of life they have wasted.
Many of you know my story, this happened to my father. I grew up with an alcoholic, angry, difficult, cantankerous, old cuss. Then at 75 years old, he wanted to talk. So we sat early morning and he said, “I see now that I’ve wasted almost all of my life.” Now that’s a tragedy. If you’re 75 years old and then you look back and realize you’ve wasted almost all of those 75 years, that is a tragedy but, “I see it now. I’ve wasted almost all of my life. I don’t know how much I got left. Would you help me?”
I said, “Oh, I would love to help you.” He had moved far away, separated himself from everyone who loved him. I moved him back, set him up in the same apartment complex where my mom was also staying. He had separated from her and of course and treated her very poorly, but I brought him back, same apartment complex. She was so gracious. She befriended him and then we brought him to church and I’ll never forget. The second day, second time he had been to church, I gave an invitation for those who would receive Jesus Christ.
As I scanned through the crowd, there he was in the back. He stood on his feet and he did this. Absolutely amazing.
Because he had a strong constitution and when he did something, he did something, boldness. I saw. I l looked. All I could say was, “Come here.” He started coming down the central aisle and I wasn’t expecting this. It was just a moment where all I could do was just break out in joy, break out in celebration. I just started singing. I’ll tell you today, what I sang, I Exalt Thee. I just started singing I Exalt Thee. The church started joining me as we worshiped, rejoicing. I said to people, “This is my father.” I prayed with him. I lead him in the sinner’s prayer.
A few weeks later, I got to baptize him with my own hands. Now that’s something to rejoice about. Should we weep over the 75 years that’s been wasted or should we rejoice that God is doing a new work now? That’s the forgetting what lies behind I press forward to what lies ahead and to rise up to that, which God has called me to now. That’s the rejoicing of the Lord because the joy of the Lord is your strength. Don’t walk in your own strength. The joy of the Lord is your strength. He is your help. You know the name Uzzah means strength.
It’s no coincidence. I think it’s obvious. It has significance here. Uzzah reached out in his own strength to give God a hand as if God needed help. God doesn’t need our help. We’re the ones who need His help. Psalm 127:1-2, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.” If the Lord doesn’t guard the city, all of your efforts will come to nothing. Then he adds this tremendous point. “It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors.”
I’m so glad he added this insight because it’s the mantra of the age. It’s the American mindset to pull oneself up by his own bootstraps. My strength, my vigor. It’s vain, he says. That’s quite vain to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors. Do you not know it is He God gives to His beloved, even while he sleeps. It’s the Lord. In Jesus’ day in John 6:28-29, They came to Him and they said, “What should we do that we may work the works of God. We want to work the works. What can we do that we might work the works of God?”
B. There is pure joy in humility
He said, “This is the work of God, believe.” Believe, just believe. Simply believe in His name. God is the strength of your life. Then there’s this, and we’ll close with this, there is pure joy in humility. This is what David understood. Now that the presence of God is being rightly ushered into Jerusalem, he’s rejoicing, he’s dancing with all his might and he is wearing a linen ephod. Now an ephod is like an outer vest that that one would wear over his clothes, but he’s wearing a linen ephod. This is a simple linen ephod worn by a servant to a priest.
It is just a lowly servant’s garb. Now the high priest on the other hand wore a glorious and grand ephod, a blue and scarlet in purple interwoven with threads of gold. On it were fixed 12 stones for each of the tribes of Israel. On the shoulders were two onyx stones set in gold each engraved with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. Now that is a grand and glorious ephod. David wore no such thing, simple garment of a servant out of humility and a desire of serving ministering to the Lord. David was the king. He wanted no glory.
David could have been in front of the parade in all of his royal robes and garb and the crown and all of this. He could have been leading the parade as though, “I am the great king and behind me is the ark.” David wanted no such thing as this. He put on the ephod of a simple servant of a priest. When David’s first wife, Michal, she was the daughter of Saul, the first king. Saul had promised his daughter to whomever would defeat the Philistine. She was his first wife. When Michal looked out the window and saw David out there leaping and dancing, she despised him.
Would you read it with me? It’s in chapter 15, starting in verse 27. “Now David was clothed with a robe of fine linen with all the Levites who were carrying the ark and the singers in the Chenaniah, who is the leader of the singing with the singers. David also wore an ephod of linen. Thus, all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord was shouting with the sound of the horn, trumpets, loud-sounding cymbals, harps, and lyres. It happened that when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came to The City of David, that Michal daughter of Saul, looked out the window and saw King David leaping and making merry and she despised him in her heart.”
In fact, it says that she confronted him. This is in 2 Samuel 6:20. David returned after this to bless his own house. Well, Michal, the daughter of Saul, she came out to meet David and she’s going to tell him what. She comes out there and she said, “Oh.” Now you got to say this part dripping with sarcasm. “Oh, how the King of Israel distinguished himself today. You uncovered yourself in the eyes of the servants, made like one of the foolish ones, shamelessly and uncovers himself.”
Let me interpret that in the modern way of saying it, “You got to be ashamed of yourself. You got to be ashamed of the way you acted today. You call yourself the King of Israel. You ought to be ashamed.” 2 Samuel 6. David said to Michal, ” It was before the Lord. I did it before the Lord who chose me above your father, by the way.
Therefore I will celebrate the Lord. I will be more lightly esteemed than this and I will be humble in my own eyes.” It says that “Michal, the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death.” Doesn’t take a marriage counselor to figure out what that means. David understood something. There is joy in humility. There’s joy in the humility for it’s in the recognizing that God is the one. God is the one who has poured His presence upon us by His favor. God is the one who’s the strength of my life. God is the one who’s redeemed.
God is the one who has saved. God is the one. It’s the joy of the Lord that’s my strength and there’s joy in the humility. Worship and honor Him and celebrate the relationship that He has given you because He made a point of seeking sinners like you and me. God is the one who’s poured His name, His favor on your life. There is joy in the humility for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Let’s pray, Father, thank you so much for revealing to us, the heart that you have after us.
You’ve always wanted to be Immanuel, God with us, and you made a way for sinners to be reconciled to the Holy Righteous Father by sending your Son to die in our behalf, taking our sins upon Himself, a way has been made. You did it. You did it all. God, we honor you and thank you. You’re the one to receive glory and honor. God, we humble ourselves before you. There’s joy in the humility. We humble ourselves. You’re the one. You’re the one who’s done amazing things. You are the one who’s made your name known. You are the one who’s reached out to sinners and give them life.
You’re the one who’s poured favor. You’re the one who’s brought us to yourself. You’re the one who has established life in your name in people like us. There is joy in the humility. Church how many would say to the Lord today, “I humble myself before you, Lord?” There’s joy in the humility. Church, how many would say– would you just say that to the Lord by just raising your hand to the Lord. I humble myself before you today. You are worthy. I humble myself before you. You’re the one. You’re the one who’s done great things and the joy of the Lord is my strength.
You’re the one I humble myself. Thank you, God. Thank you for loving us so much that you do that for us. You’re the one. We honor you for it now in Jesus’s powerful name and everyone said-
The Making of Mighty Men
1 Chronicles 11:9-25
May 28-29, 2022
First and Second Chronicles are books that oftentimes people avoid when they’re studying the Bible. Admittedly, a book that starts with nine chapters of genealogies– That’s actually how the book starts. A book that starts with nine chapters of genealogies doesn’t exactly shout, “Read me, read me, I will strengthen your faith,” but they will.
I want to encourage you. These are tremendously inspired and important books for us. They were written with purpose. Now, you got to appreciate the years of research to create genealogies like this and the exacting detail involved. The genealogies have a purpose. The amount of detail has purpose and it’s this, you have to remember when this was written.
This is after Israel was destroyed, after Jerusalem was destroyed, after they had been exiled in Babylon those 70 years and now they have returned. Now that they’ve returned, the nation is weak, the people are discouraged, there is no king. He writes for them to understand. You have every right to be in this land. God called you to be in this land. God gave you this land. He’s calling you to be a people of God and then people of faith that will walk in this land in a nearness to the Lord. He wants them to understand that they have every right to long for and wait for a king, a messiah who will one day arise to rule and reign not just that nation but the nations of the world from Jerusalem.
Now, He begins the genealogies with Adam, as we would expect. By the way, as you go through the genealogies, just listing out those names reminds them of all the stories of how God moved throughout the history of Israel. He starts with Adam and then he weaves the story, the genealogies, through Noah and then brings them then through the line until they get to Abraham, the father of faith. He reminded them of Isaac and Ishmael, sons of Abraham, brothers of animosity, the cause of many conflicts in the world still to this very day. Trace their history all the way back to that genealogy who reminded them of Jacob and Esau. These brothers that were born as twins and yet only one of them would receive the promises of God.
He reminds them of the 12 tribes of Israel. No longer is the nation divided. They are now one people, united the 12 tribes together, but only one of those tribes would be the head. The Messiah would be called the Lion from the tribe of Judah. He wants to show them that lion, that expectation, and hope of the messiah.
The ﬁrst of the lions of the tribe of Judah is David, and all kings would be compared to him. That’s the main theme of the book, tracing the line and the history of the messiah that they would take hold of that hope. You have every right to be in this land. God gave you this land. You have every right to hold on to the hope of a messiah because God gave you that hope and He will fulfill the promise.
He brings the line to them to hold on to that promise. It’s encouraging even today. For even today, Israel holds on to the hope of a messiah. There is a longing, there is a waiting, there is a praying for the messiah who will come and rule the nation of Israel, but rule the nations of the world. Now, by the miraculous intervening hand of God, they are once again living in that land that God gave them, but there is no king, there is no messiah and so they long, they wait, they pray.
First and Second Chronicles lays the foundation for that hope. I suggest to you that as believers in Jesus Christ, we know who He is. We know the name of that messiah who will come. We know His name. In Hebrew, it’s Yeshua Hamashiach. Jesus is the one who will come in the latter days. He will set foot in the Mount of Olives, and He will enter into Jerusalem. They will receive Him as that long-awaited king, that long-awaited Messiah, and they will know Him by the name that we know Him.
It’s interesting. It says that they will mourn when they see Him. They will mourn as one would mourn for an only son. You might say, “Why would they mourn? They just got their messiah.” Because they will see Him whom they have pierced and know that it was Him who was here all those years before but we rejected Him. He will pour out on them a spirit of grace and supplication. The name of the Lord will reign. He will be King of kings and Lord of lords. That’s the hope. That’s what he weaves through. After weaving the history of nine chapters of genealogies, he lays the foundation of that messianic hope by recounting the story of David. How God took a simple humble shepherd and made him a lion, a great leader of Israel.
Now, that transformation of God taking David and making him a great lion is an expression of what God can do with simple faith. God even today is looking for people who will have that kind of simple faith who will be willing to make an impact on their generation, who will make an impact in the world in which they are now called to live. I’ll tell you God is looking for people even today who will arise in their faith, because we are living in tremendously difficult times. There is virtual warfare all around us. The need for people to arise in their faith is ever more necessary today than any time in the history of the world for we are living in those days leading up to the days that Jesus said in which great travail and trouble will come upon the world.
Now, the story of David is not just a story of God transforming this young shepherd, it’s also a story of the men that God brought around David. We know him as the mighty man. For what God did in David inspired these men to believe what God can do in them. It’s a story that we’re going to see of David’s mighty men that were transformed from a group of ragtag outcasts and nobodies into men of renown. Men who had the face of a lion and the heart of David, it says. Great description of them, and they’re men of faith.
Now, I suggest it’s important to recognize that they’re men of faith. They’re not just great men of war, they’re not just great men who accomplished feats in battle, they’re men of faith. In fact, you see this when these men ﬁrst came to David. When David, of course, sends a word, “Are you for me or against me?” They said, “Oh, sir. We are with you heart and soul for we know who blesses your life. That’s why we have come.” Now, that is a wonderful declaration. My point is this, they’re not just men in war, they’re men of faith.
Now, you can learn a lot from men and women of faith. Perhaps the greatest lesson is this, that there is no such thing as great men and women of faith who didn’t do something with their faith. In other words, they didn’t just believe, their faith was alive, their faith was active. Their faith moved them to move, to do, to act, to accomplish by that same faith. Let me give you a great word out of James 2 where he gives a great lesson out of the life of Abraham with some very deep words of understanding. He said this, “Now, someone may well say you have faith and I have works.” He says, “You show me your faith without works, but I will show you my faith by my works.”
You see that Abraham’s faith was working with his works. As a result of those works, faith was completed, faith was matured. A deep word. Now, you see that same thing in Hebrews 11, that famous chapter that we call the hall of faith. These were great men and women who took their faith and then they did something with it, something for the glory of God.
It says, “By faith, Enoch walked with God and was pleasing to God. By faith, Noah prepared an ark for the salvation of his household. By faith, Abraham obeyed God and went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith, Moses shows rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. By faith, Rahab the harlot welcomed the spies in peace,” and on and on.
In fact, he ﬁnishes that famous chapter Hebrews 11:32-34 by saying it this way, “And what more shall I say,” which is to say, “I got a lot more I could say. For time would fail me if I tell of Gideon, or Barak, or Samson, or Jephthah, of David, and Samuel and the prophets who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of ﬁre, escaped the edge of the sword. For weakness were made strong by faith, became mighty and more, put foreign armies to flight by faith.
I. The Mighty in Faith are Men of Action
We need the heart of those who are willing to trust God today to take that faith and do something with it. David was a mighty man. The men around him were mighty men, and God is looking for those that will make a difference in their generation. He is looking for them even today. Let’s read the story. 1st Chronicles chapter 11. As I say, we’ll do the verses around this at the Wednesday service but let’s begin reading in verse nine.
Now David became greater and greater because the Lord of hosts was with him. Now, right there is a great lesson. It was because of God in his life that he became greater and greater. Then verse 10, “Now these are the heads of the mighty men whom David had, who gave him strong support in his kingdom together with all Israel to make him king according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel. Now these constitute the list of the mighty men whom David had.”
He begins by a man named Jashobeam, the son of a Hachmonite, chief of the 30. He lifted up his spear against 300 whom he killed at one time. What an amazing feat to take on and to defeat 300 in one battle. Now, after him was Eleazar son of Dodo the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighty men. There were three of these. David had one amazing army. Then he had special forces, these 30 and then he had these three. There was a second three also. In other words, he had the best and then he had the best of the best. Then he had the best of the best of the best. These were men of renowned that he’s going to highlight for us.
This man, Eleazar, verse 13, was with David at Pas-dammim when the Philippines were gathered together there to battle. There was a plot full of barley, and the people fled before the Philippines. They retreated, they gave way, but they, David and Eleazar took their stand in the midst of the plot and they defended it. In other words, they would not retreat. They would not compromise. They would not fall back. They held on, they defended it and they struck down the Philistines and the Lord saved them by a great victory. Just the two of them.
Then it tells this story. I love this story of one of the great things that happened of these three mighty men, the best of the best and the best. Now, 3 of the 30 chief men went down to the rock to David, into the Cave of Adullam while the army of the Philistines was camping in the valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold while the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. What was that? Wait, is he saying here that there was a garrison of Philistines in Bethlehem? You recognize Bethlehem? What was the city of David’s birth? Bethlehem. What was the city of Jesus’ birth? Bethlehem. Are you telling me that there were Philistines, a garrison of them in the very city of David? That’s what I’m saying. That’s what it says. This was a tragedy of epic proportions. This was before David was king.
There was David in the Cave of Adullam. It was a hot harvest day and David had a craving and he said, “Oh, that someone would give me a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem that, which is by the gate.” Now, David, I don’t believe for one moment was asking anybody to do anything. He wasn’t saying any volunteers? He’s just having a craving. He’s just reminiscing about how wonderfully cool and refreshing and cold and clear is the water that comes from the well by the gate in Bethlehem.
He just kind of speaks it out loud, “Oh, to have a drink from the well by the gate of Bethlehem.”
It says that the three, hearing this, verse 18, “The three broke through the camp of the Philistines. They drew water from that well of Bethlehem which was by the gate and they took it and they brought it to David.” Here’s where the story is remarkable. “Nevertheless, David would not drink it, but he poured it out unto the Lord. And he said, ‘be it far from me before my God that I should do this thing. Shall I drink the blood of these men who went at risk of their lives for the risk of their lives, they brought this to me,’ and he poured it out as a drink offering.” What a story. We’re going to look at this for sure. Therefore, he would not drink it. These things, the three mighty men did.
“Now, as for Abishai the brother of Joab, he was chief of the 30 and he swung his spear against 300 and killed them. He had a name as well as the 30. Of the three in the second rank, he was the most honored and became their commander, but he did not attain to the first three.” Those were the best of the best of the best. Then there’s Benaiah. Now, Benaiah, I love this man. “Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, son of a valiant man from Kabzeel. Mighty in deeds, he struck down the two sons of Ariel at Moab. He also went down–” look at this. “He went down and he killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day. He killed an Egyptian, a man of great stature, five cubits tall.” That was like seven and a half feet.
“Now in the Egyptian hand was a spear like a weaver’s beam, but he went down to him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. These things Benaiah the son of Jehoiada did and he had a name as well as the three mighty men. Behold, he was honored among the 30 although he did not attain to the three. And David appointed him over his guard,” over his own personal bodyguard.
All right, these are the verses that I want us to look at. As I say, we’ll mention the rest of these verses at the Wednesday service but there’s much for us to take hold of out of these verses, starting with this, the mighty in faith are men of action. Again, it’s very important to see, mighty in faith are men of action. There was the 30, there was the three, there was the best of the three. Each of these men represent keys of what it means to be a mighty man or woman of faith today. Because God is still moving today, looking to stir people up in their faith that they would make a difference in their generation.
A. Jashobe’am – when little is much
Let’s look at these mighty men and take hold of some life lessons starting with this one that he mentions in verse 11, Jashobeam. His name is very powerful. His reputation is a man of valiant great feat. But the lesson of the story is that God can do much with little. See, when little is much is the lesson of his life. Now his name in Hebrew has a meaning as many names in Hebrew do. His name means let the people return. Again, the significance of this meaning of this name is very relevant, important. It’s almost prophetic of God using his story to call people to return to faith, to return to himself, to return to a people of God.
For this was written after the people had come back, the nation was weak. The nation was little of little consequence. There was no king, so he wants to stir them up. Let this be a people that return to the Lord. Now, in 2 Samuel 23, we know that he was also given a nickname. His nickname was Adino the Aznite. That’s not a proper name, it’s a nickname. It’s important to recognize this meaning. Adino, in Hebrew it means a gentle or tender or slender, maybe even thin. That was the Adino part. The Aznite part, a mighty spear. You put those together, a gentle mighty spear. That is just an interesting combination of a reputation, a gentle mighty spear. Obviously, the spear part because he defeated 300 with one spear at a time. What an interesting thing, a man of character, a man of faith and a man of courage made it mighty.
It’s that trusting that God can take little and do much with it. That’s the lesson from the story because we understand what it means to be little. We understand what it means to be of no consequence for we’re a room full of people that are of no consequence. That’s the way that many see themselves. Even David himself was considered of no consequence. Remember the story when the prophet Samuel was told to go to the house of Jesse, David’s father. And there in the house of Jesse, he would find the new king that he would anoint to be king over Israel.
He goes to the house of Jesse and he asks for the sentence to be presented to him. Jesse starts with the oldest boy, man of stature, had all the appearance of the thing, but God made it clear, “No, it’s not this one.” The next one stood in front of Samuel, “It was not this one.” And then the next boy and the next boy and the next boy, and finally went through all the boys. Samuel is confused. “Is this all you got? Is there no more?” “Well, there is one more, but it’s just David. He’s just a shepherd. He’s out in the field right now with the sheep. I didn’t bring him. He’s just David.” I love Samuel’s response. “Then get him. We’ll wait, and we will not sit down until he arrives.”
Someone runs out to go get David, “The prophet calls for you.” When David came into the room, immediately, Samuel recognized, “Here is the anointed one of Israel.” Then God makes it clear. No, God looks at the outward appearance. God looks at the heart. It’s a whole different thing. God delights to take those who are little, those who are of small consequence, and make something greater out of their lives. David was even small in stature. But you see the faith of David arising in this famous scene when, of course, David confronts Goliath, that Philistine giant. This, of course, made David famous.
He arrives into the camp to check on his brothers. David was not even in the war. He was considered too young to even be a fighter. His father sent him to bring some gifts and to check on news of the war. He arrives in the kin to the camp and he hears what? He hears this Philistine giant taunting the armies of Israel. David is incensed that no one is answering this. As we know the story, then he comes to the point where Saul, the king allows David to go confront him. Then of course, when the Philippines sees David, just a boy, a small stature, he’s filled with disdain. “You send a boy, come here,” and he taunts him.
Now, David’s response is an epic speech. In fact, it’s one of the greatest speeches in the histories of warfare, because listen to what he says. 1 Samuel 17:45-47, “David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with sword, spear, and a javelin. I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have just taunted.'” Did you see right away what David is saying? He’s recognizing the hand of God in his life. David doesn’t get up there and say, “You will now see what a man I am.” That’s not what he’s saying at all. “You come with sword, spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name– I come to you in the Name of the Lord of Host, God of the armies of Israel, whom you have just taunted.”
This day the Lord will do it. The Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and I’ll remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the armies of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, so that all this assembly may know.” This is where I think he turns to the armies of Israel so that you know too, “that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear. The battle is the Lord’s. He will do it. He will give you into our hands.”
This is the key to becoming a mighty man or woman of God. Having the faith to believe that God is eager to take the little, the outcast, the people of no consequence and to transform them into those that will make a difference in their generation because God is with you, willing to step out into the thick of the thing and do something for God. Isaiah 41:10 expresses the reason why. “Do not fear because I am with you.” That’s why. Don’t anxiously look about you anxious, anxiety, fear. “Don’t look around you with anxiety because I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely, I will help you. Surely, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” That is faith to believe that God is still looking for people who are of little consequence that trust Him. God will use people like that.
2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us the spirit of fear, that didn’t come from God, but God has given us the spirit of power and love and a sound mind.” Very important words, power and love, and a sound mind. You see men who become mighty because they had great faith, but I suggest to you that at first, they had small faith, but then they moved in the faith that they had and that faith grew as they walked in it, it increased. When you move in the faith that God gives to you, you increase in the faith.
Notice what He says in James 2:22, Abraham’s faith was working with his works. As a result of his works, faith was perfected, completed, matured. It’s a deep understanding. David grew with his faith when he was just a lonely shepherd practicing with a sling, watching over the sheep entrusted to his care, but I suggest that there was something else happening. David, wasn’t just practicing the sling. Surely, he did master it, but there was something else happening. That’s when David was out in the fields, worshiping, writing beautiful psalms, praying. Something was happening in David’s heart. Something was happening in David’s soul. This was the foundation of God using a man like that. It really helps us to understand the significance of that relationship that God desires to have with you and to me.
B. Eleazar – clinging to his sword
How do you increase faith? Well, that leads us to the second of David’s mighty men, Eleazar. The lesson of his life, a man clinging to his sword. Now in verses 9 and 10, it says, “Eleazar the son of Dodo.” Again, his name has a meaning. It means God has helped. It’s a great word right there again. God has helped the son of Dodo. Now at first, you might think, “Well, yes, anyone called the son of Dodo better be tough, kind of like the famous Johnny Cash song, The Boy Named Sue. You name a boy, Sue, he better be tough. Is it like that? No, not at all. Actually in Hebrew, the name Dodo might be better said the Dow. It means loving. That’s actually a really beautiful thing.
In other words, this is a character of a man, not of some ruffian, macho, brash mouth bully. God’s not looking for brash mouth bullies, but a man of character, man who had a heart after God and who had a heart after others. What made him a mighty man was that he would not relent. He would not retreat. He would not fall back though everyone else did. They all fell back, but David and Eleazar standing together, men in arms refusing to quit, refusing to retreat, refusing to compromise while others did.
I’ll tell you it’s a great word today because we need men and women today that are willing to stand up, to hold their ground, to not relent, to not compromise because we live in a time of tremendous compromise. God is calling for people to stand up in their faith and not compromise and don’t relent anymore. Amen. Give Him a little of praise. Absolutely. Amen.
Now we read in the count of this story from 2 Samuel 23, that this battle went on so long that at the end of the battle, his hand was actually frozen, locked onto, you might say, the sword so that they had to pry his hand off of the sword. We’re talking about hours holding and in battling to the point where it was locked onto that sort. Now that becomes a great picture for us because you know that the word of God is the sword of the Spirit that comes out of Ephesians 6:17, “Take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” What picture is that? Mighty men and women who will cling to the word so strongly refusing to relent in their grasp of the word of God that their hearts are locked onto it.
They know it’s the authority of God. They know it’s the power of God. They know that God sends it with His purpose and it accomplishes that which He send it to accomplish. Amen. Yes, let’s give the Lord praise. Absolutely.
See, because when you hold onto the word of God, you are reminded of who He is. You are reminded of what God can do. You are reminded that God’s promises are sure. Therefore, it’s no wonder that when it comes to spiritual warfare, the enemy tries to disarm believers of the sword. He would do this by suggesting that you deny the authority of God’s word or that you deny the truthfulness of God’s word, and some do. Those who hold on firmly know that it is the authority of God. It is the power of God. It is the truth of God and they will not relent. Therefore, God uses it in their lives to strengthen their faith.
Notice Romans 10, 17, “Faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of Christ.” Hold strong, cling to, lock your heart on too. Now, it’s important to recognize that Eleazar was a mighty man not only because he clung to the sword, grasped so firmly, so unrelentingly that his hand locked upon it, not only was that true, but I suggest that it was also because he knew how to use it. It’s one thing just to hold onto the thing, but you better know how to use it. If that thing’s in your hand, you better know how to use it. I suggest to you that he was a master at its use. That’s what made him a mighty man. He practiced it. He used it, become a master at the battle.
Therefore, if the word of God is the sword of the Spirit, the same great spiritual truth applies. Better know how to use it. 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” You know how to use it.
I will speak of an illustration. Some years ago for Father’s Day, my wife gave me this book. She knows I like to read. The book was called The Complete Gentleman. Now, you might think she was hinting at something, but that’s not the point of the book at all. It was a history book. It was a history going through the history of what it meant to be a gentleman, going all the way back to the time of knights in the middle ages and on the sword fighting days, you know. I’m reading this book. It’s very fascinating as I say, I like reading history, but there is a comment that jumped out, and right away, I saw this spiritual application.
The thing that jumped out to me was this comment, “a gentleman masters whatever he does.” I like that. That’s a great word. A gentleman masters whatever he does. Then, of course, he’s talking about the sword. He said, “in those days, of course, a gentleman would have a sword strapped to his side”. His point was, you got a sword strap to your side, you better know how to use it.” He said, “if you got a sword strapped on and you don’t know how to use it, this thing is not going to end well and so the gentleman would master.” Whatever he does, he masters it, he practices it in the evenings with the other men, he practice it.
C. Benaiah – in a pit with a lion on a snowy day
It’s like the iron sharpening iron sort of thing, practicing, practicing, practicing. He masters whatever he does. I suggest to you that Eleazar was a master. God is looking for people today who will arise in their faith, who will cling and know that it’s the word of God but also they have learned to master it. They know how to use it well. For it is the truth of God applied to their lives. Then we look at Benaiah in 11:22, I love this Benaiah. What a figure of a man in a pit with a lion on a snowy day. Benaiah stands out. It says, “He was the son of a valiant man from Kabzeel.” Now, that right there speaks to the influence of a father of the son of a valiant man. Not only was he a man of valor and great deed, but so was his father.
Now, it helps a lot to have a father like that. It’s a great advantage in life to have a father like that. I suggest that many don’t have fathers like that. Now, if you are one of those who had a great father, then you are blessed indeed, but many do not. Now, I personally understand for many of you know my story. My father was an alcoholic. I didn’t have a valiant man of God for a father. I thought that it was my tremendous disadvantage. In fact, it came to a head in my life when I was 21. Actually, it was my 21st birthday.
When on your 21st birthday, it’s a time to look at your life and that’s what I was doing. I was looking at my life and I was upset. I was actually angry. Look at this, everybody else, they have a good father. At least that’s– Now, I come to understand that’s not the way it is, but that’s the way I thought it was. Everybody has an advantage over me. They all had good father. I did not and it was my tremendous disadvantage. Life is a great struggle now. Not only was he an alcoholic, very angry, abusive, cantankerous, abusive, and poverty-stricken. I had every disadvantage in life and I’m letting God know it.
Then, if you’ve ever had that word of God just pressed on your heart. That’s what happened to me on my 21st birthday, that word of God pressed on my heart. “I will be your father now and I will be a father like no earthly father could ever be. I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. I will walk with you on the journey. I’ll put my hand on your life. When I put my hand on your life, it is the favor of God.” Well, I’ll tell you it changed my life. I took hold of that. It was a tremendous healing moment. I believed what God pressed upon me and it truly changed my life. Even to the point where later on in my life, I got to lead my father to faith in Christ, and got to baptize my father with my own hands. God is able to take and give us. Amen.
I want to say that word to you because there are people here even now who have not had a good father, and you think it’s every disadvantage in your life, but I’m here to tell you that God is your father now. Everything that was disadvantaged is now changed because God can transform pain into purpose. He can take that life and He will make His name known. “I will be your father now, and I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. I will be a father to you like no earthly father could ever be.” God is saying that word to anyone in this room who thinks that you have every disadvantage in life.
“No, I would be your father now. When I put my hand on your life as your father, it is the favor of God.” Now, walk in that. It is a tremendous healing. Great truth. He struck down an Egyptian, a man 5-cubits tall with just a club. It says of him. “He went down and killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day.” Some commentators suggest that he chased the lion into the pit before he jumped into it. Most people run when they encounter a lion, but Benaiah jumped down into the pit on a snowy day. Thus, he became a man of renown. A man of tremendous valor. It reads, we read that David then placed him as chief of his bodyguard. I want a man like that to be chief of the bodyguard. Sure, can you imagine his resume?
I like to imagine scenes. I probably have too much imagination I suppose, but I love imagining the scene where there’s this hiring manager and he’s reviewing resumes to recommend to David. “We need to hire someone to be chief of the bodyguard for the king.” The first applicant stands before him. “Your qualification, sir.” “I studied security at the University of Jerusalem.” “Uh-huh. Yes, next.” The next applicant stands. “Your qualifications, sir.” “I was a security officer at the Jerusalem Square Mall.” “Uh-huh. Next. Your qualification, sir.” “My name is Benaiah, son of Jehoiada from Kabzeel. I killed a lion in a pit on a snowy day.” Now, there’s a resume right there. Hire that man, I say to you. He’s chief of the bodyguards because he defeated the natural fear that resides in the souls of men.
II. Be a Drink Offering to God
There is a natural fear that resides in the souls of men, but Benaiah would do what others would not do. He took risks that others would not take. He sees the opportunity and it made him a man of renown and a man of valor. I say to you that there are many people who have great opportunities in their lives. But God says, “then step forward and do that which others will not do and defeat the natural fear for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you.”
Then lastly, we’re going to close with this. I love this story of these three mighty men with David in the cave of Adullam when he has this craving for water. I want to bring the application to us this way, you be a drink offering to God. I’ll show you what I mean. It’s a powerful story. It’s harvest time. It’s hot. It’s dry. David has a craving. Again, he’s not asking anybody to do anything. He’s not asking for volunteers. He just has a craving. “Oh, to have a drink from the well by the gate of Bethlehem. The cold, pure, cool water. Oh.”
He remembers well. It was the city of his birth. He had drawn from that well many times. “Oh, to have a drink from that well by the gate of Bethlehem.” He’s just expressing. The three there were in the cave. They heard David say that, “Oh, to have a drink from the well.” They hear this and then I just imagine the scene, them looking at each other.
“You’re thinking what I’m thinking? David says he wants a drink from the well by the gate of Bethlehem. You thinking what I’m thinking?” “Yes.” “You want to do it?” “Let’s do it. It’s the three of us.” But all it takes is three mighty like this.
The three of them, they go out of the cave. They crossed the lines. They break through just the three of them. One of them could fell 300 himself. Another one refuses to compromise. These are mighty men. They break through the line. They go to the well. They draw the water. They put it in the water container and they bring it to David. “David, you said that you wanted a drink. Here’s a drink.” “Where did you get that?” “From the well by the gate in that land. My king, it’s for you, sir, my king.” What David did next is amazing. I say, what David did next was an expression of his relationship to God. It came out of his desire to honor God. It was out of his faith.
A. Strong faith strengthens others
I suggest to you that strong faith has an impact. It strengthens the people around you. Strong faith strengthens others. For what David did next was amazing. “You wanted the drink, sir. My king, here is that drink from that well from the gate of Bethlehem.” “I cannot drink this. I cannot drink this. Only God deserves an honor such as this. This kind of love, this kind of devotion belongs to God and God alone. I cannot drink this.”
Do you wonder how these men responded? Did they see David pouring this out then they say, “Can you believe this? I hope you never want a drink again.” No, I don’t think so. You know what I think? I think they would’ve stood around, four of them. David says, “I cannot drink this. Only God gets honor like this.” He pours it out as a drink offering. Do you know what I think the three would’ve said? “This, my friends, is a holy moment. This is a beautiful holy moment that we are witnessing now,” and I suggest to you that they loved David all the more
B. By this well, others may drink
David was called a man after God’s own heart and it’s things like this that made his reputation famous. David knows that there is a well of water and by this well, others may drink. This is the point. David knew there was a well that refreshes the soul and he drink from that well often. Psalm 23:1-3, “The Lord is my shepherd,” he wrote, “I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.”
There is a well. David had drunk from it many times. There is a well. God wants you to drink from this well. It restores, it refreshes, it renews, and from this well, others may drink. David took this group of people. It says that they were outcasts, discontented, bitter to Saul, and what’d he do? He took men like this, made them men of renowned, men with the heart of a lion because David poured into them. David knew the well from where he used to drink and he taught others to drink from the same.
Jesus said this in John 4, “Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I give shall never thirst. The water that I give shall in him become a well of water springing up to eternal life.” The blessing when you drink of this well what it does to you, what it does to your soul, what it does to your faith, what it does to your life is a tremendous blessing that overflows onto the people around you. God is looking for people that are willing to make a difference in their generation, to make a difference in the lives of the people around them. God is looking for people who will arise in God’s purpose. Let God move because you have drunk from this well that refreshes and restores the soul.
I tell you there are many things today in this world that people drink from that’s quite poisonous to the soul, but there is a well from which you drink and your soul is made alive.
When you drink from this well, others are blessed because your life has been transformed. Let’s pray.
Father, we are so thankful to you because you have shown us that living water it would transform the soul. That when we drink of it, your presence in our lives transforms so that people like us, simple people of little consequence have been transformed by it to be used to make a difference in our world, our generation, our time.
Church, how many would say to the Lord today, “I want to arise in my faith. I want to make a difference in my generation. I want to drink from this water of life that my soul would be transformed within me. That you would make me into one that you can use to make a difference in this world. I want your purpose. I want the meaning of God moving in my life. God, that’s my prayer. That’s what I want. Church, tell me you would say that to the Lord. It’s a prayer. It’s a desire. If that’s your heart, your desire, your prayer, would you just raise your hand to the Lord as an expression of that prayer? Just raise your hand to the Lord. “God, I’m just saying to you, I want to drink from that living water. I want my soul transformed. I want to make a difference. I want my faith to arise. God, move in power. I’m asking, do this in me, Lord. Do this in me, I’m asking. In Jesus’ powerful name, and everyone said.
The Prayer of Hezekiah
2 Kings 18:28-19:37
March 12-13, 2022
The backstory of these chapters is that Assyria is now arising as a world-dominating power. They are destroying nation upon nation, and they’re doing it with a cruelty that has become famous throughout history, I should say infamous. The cruelty by which they dominate nations is just tragic. At this point in history, they have already destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel. As you know, it’s been separated, north and south. They’ve done to the northern kingdom of Israel a new tactic of war that had not been seen in the world before. It was a new tactic that the Assyrians invented, you might say, to dissolve a people.
What they would do is to take the population of the northern kingdom of Israel and disperse them amongst the nation, driving them into other nations, cities of the Medes and other places, never to be seen again. In fact, these become famously the lost 10 tribes of Israel. If you’ve ever heard that expression, that’s where it comes from. The lost 10 tribes of Israel. Although it’s important to recognize that God always has the remnant. He brought forth a remnant from those tribes into the southern kingdom, which we’ll see as we go through the chapters before us.
That was a tactic of war. To disperse the people. To displace them. Then what Assyria would do was to take a people from some other place and bring them in, and establish them there. They would then intermarry with the Jews that remained and formed a new people called the Samaritans, which no doubt you’ve heard in church history or history of Israel. The Samaritans were this interbreed. The Jews did not think much of this interbreed. They disdained them and looked askance at them. Interestingly, when Jesus was ministering to that woman at the well, you know that famous story in John 4, that woman was a Samaritan woman.
Then also it’s important to note that when the Jewish leaders went into, let’s say, insult Jesus, they would call Him a Samaritan. That was their way of really putting someone down. Did we not rightly say that you’re a Samaritan? It’s that attitude. After destroying the north, then the king of Assyria, his name is Sennacherib, he turned his sights to Jerusalem. Now, here’s the thing, if Assyria is successful in defeating Israel in the south, and they are the world power, and at this point Israel has quite been weakened in the course of years, by all accounts, it is impossible.
It is impossible that Judah in the south could be victorious against such a world-dominating power like Assyria but if they aren’t successful, the entirety of the promises of God would come to an end. You know that God promised all of these things to Israel, based upon them being in that land. All of the promises are fulfilled by Israel being in that land. If they are dispersed, all of them come to not because you know that God also promised that through a seed of Abraham, through the children of Abraham would come one who would bless all the nations of the world.
We are here today as the recipient of that blessing because that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, son of Abraham, and because of that great promise, we are together today out of the salvation that God has provided through that great promise. Amen? Amen. This is a pivotal moment in the history of Israel. Does Assyria succeed? They’re the world-dominating power. How is it possible that Israel could stand up to them? That is the story as we look at now, 2 Kings 18, we begin in Verse 28. The story right here is that the king of Assyria has sent an official, his name is Sennacherib, to assault them with words.
The information campaign is always the first volley of a war. This is what’s happening. Chapter 18 Verse 28. So Rabshakeh, that’s his name, he stood out and he cried with a loud voice in Judean. He’s outside the walls. He’s calling out to everybody who’s out there standing on the walls. Interestingly, just a few verses before this, the officials of Jerusalem said, “Don’t use Judean. Use Aramaic.” He said, “I’ll speak Judean. I want these people to hear this.” Because what he’s trying to do will be revealed in the strategy. He called out in Judean.
“Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. Thus says the king, ‘Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will not be able to deliver you from my hand. Don’t let Hezekiah make you trust in Jehovah, saying, “Oh, Jehovah will deliver us and the city will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.” Don’t listen to Hezekiah.’ For thus says, the king of Syria, ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me. Come out, come out to me. Each one of you.'” Listen to these great promises he’s making to them. “Come out to me and make your peace, and each one of you will have his own vine. Each one of you will have his own fig tree.
Each will drink the waters of his own sister. No, it will be so much better for you. Life will be good if you could just only come out and surrender. Don’t worry about all those rumors about death and destruction, and cruelty. I want to bless you, don’t you know? That is to say, until I come and take you away, but I’ll take you away to a land that’s like your own land. It’s going to be a great thing, don’t you know? If you just surrender to me, it’s going to be a good thing for you. You’ll have a land of grain and new wine in the land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live and not die.
Don’t listen to Hezekiah. He misleads you saying, ‘Oh, Jehovah will deliver us.’ Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath or Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim and Hena, and Ivah? Were the gods of Samaria able to deliver from my hands? Samaria, Israel in the north? No. Who among all the gods of the lands has delivered the land from my hand, that Jehovah should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?” Verse 36. “But the people were silent, answered him not a word. For the king had given a commandment and the king’s commandment was, ‘Do not answer that man. Do not speak a word.’
Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, they came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and they told these words to him, the words of Rabshakeh.” The story continues in chapter 19. When Hezekiah heard these words, he tore his clothes,” which is again, a sign of deepest grief, he covered himself with sackcloth, and then he entered the house of the Lord. Now, this is the turning point in the history of Israel. Then he sent Eliakim, who was over the household with Shebna, the scribe, and the elders of the priests, also covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet.
Isaiah is a very famous prophet now in these days. The Spirit of the Lord gives him a prophetic, powerful word. Hezekiah sent these men to Isaiah. These men said to Isaiah, “Thus says Hezekiah, this day is a day of distress and rebuke, and rejection, for children who have come to the place of being born but there’s no strength to deliver them. Perhaps the Lord your God will hear all these words of Rabshakeh, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to reproach the living God, and perhaps, he will rebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard, therefore, offer a prayer for the remnant that is left.”
So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah. And Isaiah said to them, “Thus you shall say to your master, to Hezekiah, thus says Jehovah, do not be afraid because of these words, these words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him so that he will hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword there in his own land.” Now, there’s more to the story, which we’re going to read. I want to stop here and review these things, and take hold of some tremendous important spiritual applications starting with this.
I. In a War of Words – Abide in the Truth
In a war of words, abide in the truth, the very powerful thing. See, the opening strategy of the king of Assyria is very straightforward. Drive a wedge in their faith. Let’s start with that. Drive a wedge in their faith, and then strike fear in their hearts that they might surrender without a fight. Actually, many nations who had heard of the power and cruelty of Assyria decided that the best course was to surrender without a fight. This is what he hoped to accomplish. Drive a wedge, strike fear, let them surrender without a fight. I suggest to you that this is the same strategy that is employed in spiritual warfare today.
A. The enemy gives empty promises
We are living in times of tremendous spiritual warfare. There’s a battle for the hearts and minds of people throughout this land, throughout the world even. The strategy of the enemy is that if he can drive a wedge in your faith, if he can strike fear in your heart, that you would surrender without a fight, then he would have a great victory. Would you notice some tremendous principles to take hold up from the story? Starting with this. The enemy gives empty promises. He strikes fear and then he answers that fear by these promises, and these promises are empty. “Come out to me if you just surrender. Life will be so much better, don’t you know?
You’ll have your own fig tree. You’ll have your own cistern, much vineyard. The land that I will give you. All you have to do is come and surrender. I’ll bless your life if you just give your life over to me.” Is this not the same strategy that the enemy employs today? “Just come over to the world. That’s where the real joyful living is. Come to the party. The party is wonderful. Don’t worry about these stories of death and empty souls. No, I’ll bless you.” Promises, empty promises. Is this not the very same strategy the enemy used in the original sin of man there in the garden?
Going back to Genesis 3:4-6. The serpent said to the woman, “You will not die.” See, remember what had happened. She said, “We are told not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for the day we eat of it, we shall die.” The serpent said to the woman, “That’s not true. That’s not true. You will not die, surely not. For God knows that on the day that you eat from it, your eyes will be open. That’s why He doesn’t want that. Because He knows then that you will be like God. Oh, no, He doesn’t want that to happen. He wants you to be subservient. No, eat, and then your eyes will open. You’ll be like God knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, that’s a strategy of the enemy right there, you can be sure. “It’s a delight to the eyes, don’t you know. How beautiful is this thing that I’m trying to promise you? Don’t worry about the death behind it.” She saw it was the delight to the eyes and that the tree was desirable to make one wise. She took from its fruit and she ate, and she gave to her husband with her, and he ate also. See what he did, he drove a wedge in her faith, making her doubt God’s word, and then offered her something better.
“You can be like God, decide for yourselves what’s good and evil. Why should God get to decide what’s good and evil? You can be like God. You can decide for yourself. You can be the master of your own soul. You can be the captain of your own destiny.” I’ll tell you, many people have fallen for such a thing. To believe that they can be the master of their own soul is to choose a path of destruction. Because Israel was here in that land, all the promises of God were given to Israel because they were in that land that God gave them. If now they surrender and they are displaced, all of the promises come to not.
It’s so important to recognize that God’s promises are far better than anything that the enemy has to offer. If the enemy promises that he can make you happier, more satisfied in life, that you can have more fun, more joy, or more abundance, you need to see it for what it is, lies from the pit of hell. Anybody want to agree with me? Then you see the very same strategy that the enemy used with Jesus. When Jesus was tempted in the desert, this is Matthew 4:8-11. “Again, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory.
B. Sometimes silence is the best answer
Then he said to him, ‘Look, all of these things I will give to you.'” Promises, great promises. “All you got to do is fall down and worship me. Just surrender to me and look at all that I will give to you.” Jesus’ response is an example for everyone today. “Be gone, Satan.” Then He quoted the Word of God, “For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.” The devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him. Great spiritual lessons for us. Then we see this lesson also out of the story. Sometimes silence is the best answer. Rabshakeh is using this strategy, trying to drive a wedge in their faith, trying to strike fear in their hearts.
It’s also clear that Rabshakeh doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s talking as if Hezekiah’s reforms were a bad thing. “Did not Hezekiah take down the high places of Jehovah? Are you going to listen to this man?” No. Taking down the high places was part of the revival because they were called to worship God at the temple of the living God. There the glory of God would be revealed to them, not at the high places. He’s bringing a revival. He’s bringing a real revival. It’s an interesting thing, the timing of Hezekiah’s revival.
I’ll tell you, the nation of Israel there that was seen in the south in Judah, there was a revival that has not been seen since the days of David. This is an amazing thing, authentic, genuine revival that’s happening in the people of Israel now, because of the leadership of Hezekiah. I suggest to you that the timing of that revival is very important because God was preparing a people for the troubles yet to come. There was going to be trouble, trouble like they had never seen before in their history. God is preparing them by bringing a revival.
I suggest to you that God is doing a very similar thing today. For there is much trouble that is arising in this world. Those with spiritual discernment can sense what’s happening in the nations, what’s happening in the world. There’s a spiritual darkness that’s arising in the world. Yet God at the same time is stirring His people. There is a revival, God is stirring people. God is stirring this church, God is stirring this land. There is something that’s happening because those with spiritual discernment can sense the urgency of the hour. Now is the time for revival, and let it be authentic, genuine revival as it was in Hezekiah’s day.
He didn’t know what he was saying. He claimed that Israel’s downfall in the north was because Jehovah was weak. No, the downfall was because he turned away from Jehovah. He was wrong. What good would it do? Here’s my question. What good would it do to have a debate with Rabshakeh? What good would it do to give Rabshakeh a lesson in the truth? Does he even value the truth? Would he be swayed if he heard the truth? The answer is no. The truth meant nothing to the enemy. Which brings forth a great spiritual lesson. Don’t debate with someone who doesn’t value the truth.
Let’s use a modern example. What’s happening today with Russia invading Ukraine. Now, if you’ve been observing what’s been happening in the course of the last number of years, you know that Russia has inserted themselves in the affairs of many nations through a strategy of what could be called disinformation. Sowing discord, sowing discontent, sowing all manner of things to stir up a people to bring division and strife, disinformation. Now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, however, they don’t want their own people knowing the truth, and so they’ve shut off all types of journalistic influences, trying to shut off their people from the truth.
In fact, maybe you’ve noticed, recently, the Russian parliament or the Duma has passed a law by which a person can be subject to 15 years imprisonment for using fake news, words such as war. If you even so much as tweet the word “invasion”, you could be subject to arrest and imprisonment for 15 years. Interestingly, maybe you saw on the news, the foreign minister of Russia insisted that they did not attack Ukraine, to which people would say, “Then what are you doing there?” It’s a great lesson. Don’t debate with someone who doesn’t value the truth.
Clearly, this is what got Eve in trouble there in the garden, where she started debating with the enemy regarding what is truth and what is not. Jesus had very clear words when it came to the enemy and the truth. This is out of John 8:44. You got to read the whole of John 8, it’s an amazing chapter. John 8:44, He’s referring to the enemy and He says, “He doesn’t stand in the truth, because there’s no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he’s speaking from his own nature, for he’s a liar and he’s the father of lies.” Hezekiah, therefore, told the people, “Answer him not a word.”
C. The truth will set you free
It’s great wisdom. Sometimes silence is the most powerful response to those who do not value the truth. You, you value the truth. Stand on the truth. Take hold of the truth, for the truth will set you free. Great spiritual principle. The truth will set you free, man. Rather than debating with an enemy who doesn’t value the truth, he ran to the Lord. He asked God to rebuke these words. He ran to the Lord. That’s the right thing, Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are saved.” It’s a great principle of the Lord. It’s a great, deeply spiritual point to impact the strength of faith.
See, lies have power only if you believe them. Turn to the Lord, take hold of the truth, the truth will set you free. John 8:31-32. Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, if you dwell, if you take hold of My word, you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” Later He says, “And he whom the Son sets free is free indeed.” Here’s another one out of Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing. Faith is strengthened, faith is built from the hearing, and the hearing by the word of Christ,” because He sends that word in power, He sends it by His Spirit. He will take hold of your soul, and He will strengthen the foundation, and the truth will set you free. Truth is powerful.
II. Set it Before the Lord
Then, would you go back to now, 2 Kings 19, and let’s read the rest of the story because it’s really quite amazing. What had happened was, picking the story up where we left off, Rabshakeh had to leave the scene and go help the king of Syria on another conflict and battle. What he did then was to send a letter to continue the assault, to continue attacking, to drive a wedge, to continue insulting the God of Israel. They pick it up in chapter 19:14, where Hezekiah receives this letter. We’re going to read certain sections of this and of course, during the Wednesday service, that’s where we’ll go verse by verse through all of the rest of it.
Would you notice now, Hezekiah, he takes this letter, this missive, you might call it a missile of an assault, an attack of faith, insulting Jehovah, Hezekiah took this letter from the hand of the messengers, he read it. Then would you notice this, I love this scene right here, monumentally significant in the history of Israel. He receives this letter, reads it, and then he went up to the house of the Lord, and He spread it out before the Lord, as if to say, “Read this. Would you read what this man is saying about you?” He spreads it all out, “Read this, God.” Then he prays.
This prayer, monumental, significant, turning point in the history of Israel. Verse 15, “Hezekiah then prayed before the Lord and he said this, ‘Oh, Lord, God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are God.'” Would you notice how the prayer begins, by the way? Honor, respect, give glory to His name. That’s a right way to pray. To recognize Him, to give Him honor, to give Him glory. It’s the right thing to set your heart before Him in a right place. “Oh, Jehovah, God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, You are God, You alone of all the kingdoms of the earth, You alone have made heaven and earth.
Incline your ear, oh Lord, and hear. Open your eyes, oh Lord, and see, and listen to these words of this Sennacherib which he has sent to reproach the living God. Truly, oh Lord, the kings of Assyria have devastated nations and lands, and they’ve cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods at all but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, and they have destroyed them. Now, oh Lord, oh Lord, our God, I pray, deliver us.” Now this is a great prayer. “Oh Lord, I pray, deliver us. Deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are Lord, and that You alone are God.”
A. God is pleased with sincere prayer
What a great prayer is this. Then Isaiah, the great prophet, there in Jerusalem, instead of Amos, he’s sending word to Hezekiah. He says, “Thus says Jehovah, the God of Israel, because you have prayed, because you have prayed to me about this Sennacherib, king of Assyria, I have heard you. This is the word that the Lord has spoken against that man, against Sennacherib. ‘She has despised you and mocked you, oh virgin daughter of Zion.'” Now, by the way, that’s an interesting way to refer to Israel. “Oh virgin daughter of Zion.” It’s actually very beautiful.
It’s a beautiful way of calling His people, a pure people. He said, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, is this the same Judah that had gone after the Asherim, and that brought the idols of Baal even into the temple, what now?” Yes, this is an amazing declaration of God. Because when they brought their hearts to Him in revival, when they repented of all that they had done, and they came before the Lord, God restored them, God renewed them, and even called them something very beautiful, “Oh, virgin daughter of Zion.” How beautiful is this? See, this is important to recognize the beautiful heart of God.
He will restore. He will take you back. Many people have ruined their lives with all manner of living, but when they repent, when they come, God will restore, God will make your life beautiful again. So you believe it? He’ll make your life beautiful again. Then it continues, verse 22, “Whom have you reproached? Of whom have you blasphemed, and against whom have you raised your voice and heartedly lifted up your eyes? it’s against the Holy One of Israel.”
Now, move down to verse 27, “But I know you’re sitting down. I know you’re going out and you’re coming in, and I know you’re raging against me, and because of you’re raging against Me, and because of the arrogance that has come up to My ears, I will put my hook in your nose, and I will put a bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way in which you came.” In other words, the intervening Hand of God, He is sovereign over the nations, He is sovereign over kings, and He says, “I hear you’re raging, I will put a hook in your nose, and I will drag you back.”
Notice then, move over to verse 33, “By the way that He came is the same He shall return, and He shall not come to this city, declares the LORD Jehovah, for I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for the sake of my servant, David. Then it happened that night,” Now verse 35 is absolutely epic in the history of Israel. “It happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians, and when men arose in the next morning, behold, all of them were dead.” You want to talk about the intervening Hand of God? This is the intervening Hand of God.
Do you believe that the intervening of hand of God still moves? This is so important to take hold of for faith to believe that the intervening of hand of God is still moving today in our lives. Sennacherib, King of Assyria departed, returned home and lived in Nineveh. It came about that as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch, his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, his own sons, killed him with the sword, and they escaped into the land of Ararat, and Essarhaddon, his son, became king in his place. The youngest son. Intervening Hand of God, what a story is this. Great lessons for us to take hold of, starting with this.
I love when Hezekiah takes his letter, and he lays it all out before the Lord. Great principle right there, set it out, set it before the Lord. You have troubles? You have concerns, conflicts, difficulties? Set it out. Lay it all out. Look, God, see, see. In the detail of laying it out there is asking God to intervene. God, with your intervening hand, I lay it out before you. Then he prays. What a prayer is this. Here’s the spiritual point, God is pleased with sincere prayer. What a wonderful example of simplicity, power, humble. Then he says in verse 20, “Because you have prayed about this, you set it out, you prayed about this, I’ve heard you.”
In other words, this is right. This is exactly right. This is what you do. Then it tells us earlier that he put on sackcloth. Again, this is a picture of deepest humility. Literally it’s a sack of a cloth from which they make sacks. They would cut a hole for the head and the arms and fold it over them. It’s an outward symbol of deep humility. Question, does God honor outward symbols? I suggest to you that He does, when the heart is sincere behind it. See, an outward symbol that represents a sincere heart is quite beautiful to the Lord because of the heart that is behind it.
Now, if there is no heart behind it, if it’s just an outward symbol, that would be called empty religion. Symbols that are empty because there’s no heart behind it are empty. Notice Isaiah 29:13, another place in time where Isaiah sends a word to help the people to understand this very thing. He says to them in Isaiah 29:13, “Then the Lord says this, because these people, they draw near with their words and they honor Me with their lip service, but their hearts are far from Me. The reverence forming consists of tradition.” They just say some things that they memorized. They memorized a few things, and they repeat those few things.
That’s the reverence? I love what is happening in this church right now. There is something amazing. There is something genuine. There is something authentic that God is doing in this church right now. Maybe some of you were at this recent worship and prayer night we had, let me just tell you, it was a beautiful thing. The church was worshiping. God delights to see a people, authentic, genuine worship.
The prayer, the concert of prayer that was put forth that night is several times. Oh, is it beautiful to pray when there’s a genuine, sincere heart that’s moving before the throne of the living God. It’s beautiful to the Lord. I love what God is doing. That which is authentic and genuine. God will bless. That is what God wants to do in this church, in this city, and in this land. God is moving in power. Amen? Let’s give the Lord praise for what He’s doing. Absolutely.
Notice Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, you will not despise. No, He’ll find it beautiful.” James 4:6, He gives a greater grace. It says, ”God is opposed to the proud. God resist the proud but gives grace to the humble.” The intervening hand of God. The favor of God is poured out on that which is authentic and genuine. He’ll give greater grace to it.’ Matthew 23:12, “Whoever exalts himself, will be humbled. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” God will lift him up. God will give honor to the one who honors God.
B. Prayer availeth much
He’ll pour his intervening hand and his favor on their life. Sennacherib’s arrogance brought him down. Shook his fist against the living God, and so God says, I hear your raging against me. I’ll put a hook in your nose, and I’ll drag you back from where you came.” Then you see this, in three minutes, we’ll close with this principle, and that’s a very important principle to take hold of because it goes right along with it. That is that prayer availeth much. I’m using the King James there. I just love the way it sounds. Prayer availeth much. It’s a deep aspect of living faith to believe it.
It’s very effective, in other words. Notice James 5:16, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” Doesn’t that make you want to pray? Doesn’t it inspire you to recognize the power. It’s very effective and accomplishes much. Prayer availeth much is such a deep important aspect of faith that I’m just asking the church to take hold of this great truth. To believe that the intervening hand of God still moves, for we are living in times of trouble, and there will be greater troubles arising in the earth. For it tells us in Ephesians 6:12, our struggle is not against flesh and blood.
It’s against rulers, powers, against world forces of, darkness against spiritual forces that wickedness any places. This is spiritual battle. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4. “Though we walk in the flesh,” in this physical realm, “we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh. They are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” The intervening hand of God. 185,000 fell in one night. The entire history of the world turned on that one event. God’s hands still move in power. The intervening hand of God is still powerful today.
Will you trust Him? That which is authentic and genuine, a real faith, God will honor. Let’s pray. Father, thank you. How beautiful are these principles of Your heart that You reveal, that the intervening hand of God still moves. God, that we can trust you with our lives. Church, as we’re today before the throne of the living God, I want to ask this question, do you have concerns, troubles? Lay ’em down, lay ’em out. Set them out before the Lord. God, I trust you with these concerns. I trust you with the troubles of my life. I know, I believe that the intervening hand of God still moves. God, I’m asking you to move. I’m asking You to undertake these concerns that I have.
I’m laying them out. I’m asking, God, because I believe that the intervening hand of God’s the most– Church, would you say that to the Lord? Is that your heart, your prayer? Would you say that to the Lord by just simply lifting of your hand to the Lord? Why don’t you just say it? It’s a prayer. It’s a way of saying, “God, I’m laying them out. I’m setting them down before you. I believe in the intervening hand of God. I’m asking, God that you would move in power. Reveal Yourself now through these things.” God, we love You, we thank You, and honor You for all that You’re doing in our lives. In Jesus’ name, and everyone said?
2 Kings 18:1-12
March 5-6, 2022
It’s a story of revival in 2 Kings 18, and it takes place in the Southern Kingdom. As you know as you’ve been studying with us, the Kingdom of Israel is divided north and south. We have been looking at the events happening in the north for several weeks because it was a time of tremendous spiritual darkness as they had gone after the gods of the world. It was so interesting to see how God responded to them going after these gods in the spiritual darkness of their lives. What did God do? He sent the most powerful prophets of the Old Testament, that’s what He did. He sent Elijah and Elisha to demonstrate the power of God yet again, and to call them home, to call them back.
This is what God is doing still today. He’s calling people to come back to Himself. He’s relentless in His pursuit of them. Now in 2 Kings 18, our attention is turned to the south. The king in the south now is a man by the name of Hezekiah. He’s 25 years old when he becomes king. We know something about his father and his mother, and that is important in the story. It tells us that Hezekiah did right in the sight of the Lord. He was a good king. It’s interesting that it says that he did right in the sight of the Lord according to all that his father David had done.
Kings were often compared to David. Did they walk as David? Did they follow after David? David had a heart after God, does this king? Well, interestingly, not only does it say that he walked according to the way of David, but he even got this commendation. That after him there was none like him, and before him there was none like him. In other words, he stood out. There was David, there was Hezekiah. That’s how significant of a king and of a leader that he was for Israel.
Therefore, there are life lessons, spiritual applications from his revival and his leadership. Now, also we’re going to know a Hebrew word that’s going to be very important. I want you to know a Hebrew word that’s very important part of the story, and that word is Nehushtan. It’s a good word to know. This is one of those words that you could use to make a beautiful plaque for your home. Then when people come to visit and they say Nehushtan, what does that mean? Then you say, “I’m glad you asked,” and then you tell them all about 2 Kings 18, because this is one of those stories that’s all about Jesus Christ. He is revealed in the story in a very powerful way. Great life lessons.
Let’s read it. We’re in 2 Kings 18, we begin in verse 1. “Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea, son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiel son of Ahaz became king of Judah in the south.” Now, one of the ways that they kind of tracked the timeframes was to compare the times of the north and the south like this. In the third year of Hoshea of the north, Hezekiah became king in the south, and it tells us that his father’s name was Ahaz. Very important because it’s a very significant part of the story. Ahaz was his father. “He was 25 years old when he became king. He reigned 29 years in Jerusalem, and his mother’s name was Abi.”
By the way, in Hebrew, a B and a V are interchangeable, so you could also say Avi. I like the sound of Avi, just very beautiful. She was the daughter of Zechariah. Now, right away if you know some history you might say, “Oh, her father was Zechariah the priest? The wonderful Zechariah, the priest?” Yes, and that’s also an important part of the story. Verse 3, “And he did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done.” Then it tells us what he did. “He removed the high places. He broke down the sacred pillars. He cut down the Asherah.”
The Asherah was the female goddess of fertility, and all the sexuality thereof, that was amongst the nations around them. They, in the north, had gone after Asherah, and so then Hezekiah says, “What? You bring that into Judah? I will have none of it,” and he cuts it all down. This is part of his revival. Now, this is where the word Nehushtan comes in. “He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made.” Okay, now this goes all the way back in the history of Israel. During the time of Moses, Moses made a bronze serpent, which we’re going to hear the story of.
It says that Hezekiah broke it to pieces because the people in those days, the sons of Israel, were burning incense to it. Like what? You’re worshiping a bronze serpent? Hezekiah, it says, he called it Nehushtan, which is literally translated, “It’s just bronze, people.” Okay, I added the people part, but that’s the idea. Like, “What are you doing? This is not revival. You’re burning incense to a bronze thing?” No, and he broke it to pieces and he called it “it’s just bronze.” This is Nehushtan. Then it says, “He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him.”
You have David and you have Hezekiah, “For he clung to the Lord and did not depart from following Him all his days” – not only did he start well, he finished well – “which the Lord had commanded Moses.” He held onto these. “And the Lord was with him.” Well now, that’s predictable. “Wherever he went he prospered.” Life lesson, great life lesson, to honor the Lord in such a way. Wherever he went he prospered. “And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.” Very important. “He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza.” Even today, what we call the Gaza Strip was the area of the Philistines. “He defeated them from watchtower to fortified city.”
Now, from verse 9, the next several verses are very, very important in the history of Israel in the north. Monumental. The whole of Israel is impacted by what is going to happen now. This is extremely important. “It came about in the fourth year of King Hekeziah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel in the north, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it.” All right, this is the capital in the north. They besiege it. For three years it was besieged. “After three years they captured the city. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, which was the ninth year of Hoshea, Samaria was captured.”
Then verse 11 is absolutely epic. “The king of Assyria carried Israel away.” They are no more. The Kingdom of Israel in the north, they are no more. This is it, they are no more. Only a few remain. They are no more. “He carried them away and he put them in Halah and on the Habor, river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” Why? Because they did not obey the voice of the Lord their God. They transgress His covenant and even all that Moses the servant of God commanded. They would not listen and they would not do it.
I. Revival is Made to be Lived
Now, these are the verses that I’d like us to look at. We’ll study the verses around it, of course, at the Wednesday Verse by Verse service, but I want us to look and take hold of such an important time in the history of Israel, and such an important leader. I want us to start with this understanding: that revival is made to be lived. We see this out of the story. It’s made to be lived. In other words, revival is not just something that happens in the heart. If it’s true revival it will impact how the life has lived.
Jesus said something very similar. “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart will bring forth what is good.” In other words, the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart. The life is lived from that which fills the heart. If there’s true revival in the heart, if the soul is ignited, then it’s going to impact the life. This we see in the life of Hezekiah. God used him to bring about a great revival. He cleansed the temple, he restored the priesthood. He kept the commandments which the Lord gave Moses, but here’s the amazing thing.
All right, you have David and you have Hezekiah, the two great Kings. Then you look at Hezekiah a little more closely and you realize, “Wait, did you say that his father was Ahaz?” Ahaz was the worst. He was the worst. How is it possible? You go from Ahaz, who was the worst, to Hezekiah, who was one of the greatest other than David. How is that even possible? Because you know the influence of the father is very great. The influence of the father, very great. Many young men struggle in their life because of the things that they took hold of from their fathers.
If your father is an alcoholic, for example, children of alcoholics struggle greatly in their lives because of the influence of that alcoholism of their father. Now, I know all about that. My father was an alcoholic, I know this very well. My mother made sure that we got to church, and made sure that we had an opportunity to hear the truth; to hear the gospel. I’m very thankful for my mother because at a very young age God got a hold of me and I knew right away I cannot be like my father. I cannot do this. It will destroy my life. I cannot do this.
I sensed right away that God was saying to me, “This can end. This generation is the one that is going to end this. You don’t have to repeat the sins of your father. This can end.” I knew right away this can end and it’s going to end with me. If you are here today and you have a father that has brought such influences to you, let you also know that it can end and it can end right here and it can end now, and it can end in your generation. You don’t have to repeat the sins of your father because God is still victorious in people’s lives. Amen?
Let’s give Him praise. Even to the point that later on in my life I was able to lead my father to faith in Jesus Christ and baptize him with my own hands. He can turn this thing around-
and He can turn it around in your life. Because we see also, it’s interesting, his mother. His mother was Avi. She is the daughter of Zechariah, and he’s a very powerful priest. Avi is a mother of influence. A mother has tremendous influence on the children. All you have to do is compare Avi to Jezebel and you know exactly what I’m saying. That woman Jezebel, and all her evil, was seen in her children.
Then you have Avi, daughter of Zechariah. Her name means something in Hebrew that’s important. Her name means “my father.” Now, that’s a beautiful thing. Zechariah did not name her that after himself, he named her that after God. Many Hebrew names were named after or in relation to some aspect of God. What a beautiful thing. It was quite rare in those days to have such an understanding like “God is my father.”
Now, also we know that Hezekiah was a powerful prophet who lived during the days of Hezekiah, and she knew him. Could Hezekiah’s mother have arranged for Isaiah to mentor him? I don’t know. It’s an interesting speculation. How did it happen? How do you go from Ahaz, the worst of the kings, to Hezekiah, man of revival, man of renown? Well, it tells us that if revival is made to be lived you see it in Hezekiah’s life. It says that he did right. “He did what’s right in the sight of the Lord.” There’s a great application. Do what’s right in the sight of the Lord, in contrast to what’s right in your own eyes because the two can be in conflict.
A. Do what’s right in the sight of the Lord
What do you do if that which is right in your own eyes is in conflict with what’s right in God’s eyes? I mean, there are oftentimes where those things are in conflict with one another. What do you do? There are many people who in their hardness and stubbornness say, “I am the master. I will do what I believe is right.” Hezekiah was not like this. Hezekiah considered well God’s ways, and if there was a conflict he would go with God’s way. This is very important. Proverbs 12:15, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but the man who is wise is he who listens to counsel.”
Listen very carefully. Consider the wisdom of counsel because the Scripture tells us quite boldly in Isaiah 55 that God’s ways are higher than our ways. That God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Therefore if there’s a conflict between your ways and God’s ways, I suggest to you that going with God’s ways is a way of greatest blessing. Proverbs 16:2, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives.” It’s easy for a person to deceive oneself, but one can never deceive God. Proverbs 21:2, “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart.”
We were just reading verses 9 through 12. It describes the final downfall of the Kingdom of Israel. Why did they fall? Well, because they would not obey the voice of the Lord. They did not obey. Why? Why didn’t they obey the voice of the Lord? After all, we do know this about the word of the Lord. 1 John 5:3, we know this. “This is the love of God that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.” This is a great insight. They’re not burdensome. They’re not heavy. They are to keep you from heavy. They are to keep you from burden. They are to be the delight to bless your lives.
But no, they preferred the gods of Baal and Molech and Ashtoreth and Astarte. Why? What was it about those gods that they found so interesting, so attractive that they were so drawn to them? Well, they were gods that appealed to the flesh; the fleshly nature of man. God’s of their own making that allowed their flesh that permission to do whatever it wanted. But God wanted them to see. God wants us to see that if the flesh does whatever it wants it will pay a terrible price. God is trying to spare you from suffering and hardship and misery and emptiness of life.
Here’s the thing. The flesh nature of man, it was never meant to be a master. It was never meant to master you, but it wants to. It wants to master. Me want, you give. Me want. The flesh has many things that it wants. It wants to be the master, but I suggest to you that the flesh makes a terrible master. The reason the flesh makes a terrible master is because it does not consider the future. It has not thought about the future. It only is concerned about the moment. But God does consider your future. God is very much concerned about your future. In fact, He wants to bless your future by showing you the way to walk today.
Notice Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare.” These are God’s plans for you. Welfare means to do good in your life, not for calamity. “To give you a future, to give you a hope.” These are the plans that I have for you. I’m very concerned for your future.
I was thinking of an illustration. Many of you know, of course, that we raised five kids, and then now we’ve adopted our granddaughter, so that makes six. At one time in our lives, we had five teenagers in the home at one time.
I know, and I’ve been in counseling ever since.
No, I’m just kidding about that. No, I loved it. Actually, I really loved having that many kids, teenagers, the life, the busy, I loved all of it, but there were times when there were struggles over this thing of rules and restrictions and things like this. Of course, I had many conversations with them where I’m trying to help them understand that it’s a good thing to have a parent that’s willing to say no. That’s actually a good thing, but they often would struggle against it. I remember a conversation with one of them, who shall remain nameless, but he said–
He’s kind of struggling over the rules, and he said this. He said, “You know, when I’m a parent I’m going let my kids do whatever they want.” I said, “Yes, and right there is why you need a parent right now. I’ll just tell you right now that when you do become a parent, absolutely you will not say that,” because if you love your kids you will not give them everything they want. For if you give them everything they want you will ruin their lives. If you love them you will not do such a thing to your children. How much more is it true of God. I want to bless your life. I want to show you the way of greatest blessing.
B. Look unto Jesus, the true serpent of our sin
All right, back to 2 Kings 18. Now this bronze serpent comes into the story, and it has everything to do with Jesus. Can we capture it this way? Look unto Jesus, the true serpent of our sin. Now, I know that sounds provocative and I don’t mean it to be provocative, but Jesus is the one who makes that connection. Jesus is the one who makes the truth understood. Now, as part of Hezekiah’s revival, he broke into pieces this bronze serpent that Moses had made because the people were burning incense to it. They’re worshiping the bronze serpent itself.
The bronze serpent has an interesting history. We studied this when we were in Numbers 21. This took place while Israel was in the desert those 40 years, and they came to a point of grumbling. They were angry, they were upset. There was not enough water and the food was the manna and they were unhappy. Now, manna every morning, manna at night, manna, and they were angry and discontented and complaining. Although manna was wonderful for them, it’s nutritious, it tasted good. It says it tasted like honey with coriander seed. It’s like Krispy Kreme donuts but good for you.
They’re complaining, they’re grumbling, and so God sent fiery serpents among them who bit them, latched onto them. Death entered the camp, and so they cried out to Moses and confessed that they had sinned and so help us. God instructed Moses to make a fiery serpent out of bronze, an image of that which was the death that was latching onto them. “Make a fiery serpent out of bronze.” Clearly, it represented them. It represented their sin. “Then take this fiery image, this bronze serpent, lift it up on a standard, on a pole of wood. Lift it up that the people would look unto it.” Anyone on whom a serpent had latched on and death had taken hold of them, all they must do is look upon this serpent and they will live.
Jesus then explained it was prophetic of Himself. Now, I want to read to you where Jesus explains that because it comes to us out of one of the most important and famous chapters in the Bible. In fact, it comes to us in that chapter where we get the most famous, I think, of all Bible verses. Most memorized, most recognized, which is John 3:16, “God so loved the world.” But the context of it, just before God said those words, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son,” just before that He said that that serpent, that bronze serpent lifted up, is prophetic of me. I am that serpent. That’s amazing.
Let’s read it. If you don’t have your Bibles open to it I’ll just read you these verses out of John 3. “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Now Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can this be? How can a man be born when he’s old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?’
Jesus answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.'” You’re born of water when you’re born of your mother. “‘For that which is born of flesh is flesh, that which is born of Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I say to you that you must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from and you do not know where it’s going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.’
Nicodemus answered and he said to Him, ‘How can these things be?’ Jesus answered and He said, ‘You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand these things? Truly, I say to you. We speak that which we know and bear witness to that which we’ve seen, but you do not receive our witness. If I tell you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things? For no one has ascended into heaven but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man.'” And then He says it. “‘For as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him will have eternal, everlasting life.’
For God so loved the world that He who gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, you would not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged. He who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment: that the light has come into the world but men love the darkness rather than light, for their deeds were evil.”
All right. These are words that are amazing to take hold of. It has everything to do with eternal life. How a person is born again. How a person is saved. “I am that which is lifted up. Look unto me and you will be saved.” And there Paul gives us even more insight. For example, 2 Corinthians 5:21, similarly he says, “He made Him,” Jesus, “who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf.” That also is provocative. “He made Him who knew no sin,” the unblemished lamb of God, “to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
That is an amazing thing. You and me becoming the righteousness of God? We, sinners like we all are, how is that? He says because He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf. He took our sins upon Himself that you might become the righteousness of God in Him. So that one day at the end of your life, at the end of the age when you stand before God and give an account of your life, for everyone is going to give an account of his life.
That day, the end of the age when you stand before the living God and give an account of your life, if you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you are going to be standing that day before God in the righteousness of God that is found in Christ Jesus. Now that is a gift. How glorious is that? Amen?
Let’s give the Lord praise for a wonderful thing that He’s done.
Let me give you some other verses that correspond to it that are very deep in their understanding. Romans 6:3-5, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we’ve been buried. We’ve been buried with Him through baptism into death. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” You receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you are sitting there right now living the resurrected life because you are in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it’s no longer I who live but Christ lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Oh, what wonderful truth that is. Jesus explains the connection between that serpent lifted up and Him being lifted up on the cross, by which we have been given eternal life. How glorious is that?
II. God Wants Revival Not Relics
Then back to our story of 2 Kings 18. The message of revival is that God wants revival, not relics. He broke in pieces this bronze serpent calling it Nehushtan. It’s just a piece of bronze, people, because the bronze serpent is not what caused the people of Israel to live. God caused the people to live, it wasn’t the bronze serpent. It was a picture of what God would do through His son Jesus Christ. They’re worshiping a piece of bronze rather than having a relationship to Him.
Now, no doubt there would’ve been people. When Hezekiah broke to pieces this bronze serpent, no doubt there would’ve been people who complained. Moses made that bronze serpent. That was sacred, that was holy. How could you do such a thing? Moses did that, but holding onto and worshiping a relic is no substitute for authentic real revival. That which must happen in the soul is not replaced by burning incense to a thing.
By the way, if you go to St. Ambrose Cathedral in Milan, Italy, you will see a brass serpent on display. It is said that in AD 941, an envoy from Constantinople brought the pieces of the brass serpent as a gift to the emperor. It was reassembled, set on the column in the nave so that people can come and burn incense to it.
I was thinking of an illustration, and it has to do with the history of Calvary Chapel. Many of you know, I think, that Pastor Chuck Smith was the founder of Calvary Chapel in the days of the hippie movement. A real revival was taking place amongst the hippies. One day Pastor Chuck comes to church early and he notices that somebody has put a sign on the building. The sign read, “No shoes, no service” because these hippies, they would come in with no shoes, and so someone put a sign, “No shoes, no service.”
Chuck gets there early, sees the sign, he’s like, “What?” Tears down the sign, puts it in his office, and then later calls a meeting of the elders and the leaders. Like, “Who did this?” One of the elders said, “I did.” “Why would you do such a thing?” “Because it’s hippies. They come in and their feet are dirty, and then they sit on the carpet.” They don’t sit in chairs; they like to sit on the carpet. “Then they sit there on the carpet, our nice new carpet, in their dirty feet, and they leave dirt marks where they sit.”
Chuck says, “Oh, so this is about the carpet now? Is that what this is, the carpet?” He says, “You know what? Take the carpet out. If someone’s got problems with our nice chairs, take them out, we’ll replace them with metal benches because nothing is going to stand in front of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Nothing is going to stand in front of this. Amen?
A. Trust in the Lord with all your heart
Because it’s not about the stuff. It’s not about the stuff. It’s about what God is doing in hearts, and it lies in transforming. Then we read this. It’s about Hezekiah’s revival. That he trusted in the Lord with all his heart. That is what revival is. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Now, at first when you hear that you might say, “Well, that sounds kind of simplistic.” That is until you understand what was happening. Assyria was arising in terrible power. Intimidating, destroying nations. In verse 7 we read Hezekiah rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him because he trusted in the Lord with all his heart.
See, now when you see it in that context it’s a whole nother thing. That’s a whole nother kind of faith. This is faith that holds firm in deep water, in deep troubles. That’s what we need today. We need faith like that, because I suggest to you that this world is in deep water. We’ve been mentioning for a long time that troubles are arising. Well, the world has turned a page in history that is monumental.
When Russia invaded Ukraine with the intent to swallow it, I submit to you that there is no good end to this. Either they will spit it out or they will choke on it, for the sanctions levied against now Russia, are the greatest and they’re not done yet. The greatest that have been seen in many, many decades. The intent of these things is to break the back of that nation, for this thing is going to get very dangerous very rapidly. We will see what he will do when his back is against the wall.
I suggest to you that the danger to this world is the greatest that it has ever been since the advent of nuclear war. This is the time where we must recognize that we are living in deep waters. Now is the time for revival, now is the time. There’s an urgency about the day. Now is the time, in the time of terrible troubles, to have something real and authentic. Now, pay very close attention to what’s happening in the world, but now is the time for that which is authentic fire that comes from the throne of heaven.
Psalm 37:3-4, “Trust in the Lord, do good, dwell in the land, and cultivate faithfulness.” I love that expression. To cultivate is to be steadfast in the sowing, the giving, the standing in faithfulness. “Delight yourself in the Lord,” for that is what revival does, “and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.”
Interestingly, by coincidence, I happened to be at the bank on Friday, and one of the girls who works at the bank goes to the church and so John was with me. We went over to her desk to say hi. While we were talking she says, “By the way, I need you to know that your missionary in Russia will receive no more money. There will be no more funds sent to your missionary. It is now impossible to send him money.” I thought, “Well, now it’s getting personal.” I was there when we planted this work in Russia, and we’ve seen many, many years of faithfulness now to come to this.
I email him. He says, “I have two months of money, and then I don’t know what to do. I’ve always trusted that God will make a way, and I’ll trust that he’ll make a way again.” This is what caused Hezekiah to stand out amongst the kings of Israel. That he trusted in the Lord with all his heart in deep water. Then it says that he clung to the Lord. There’s the right understanding. To cling to the Lord is what made him separate from all the other kings. He did not depart from following Him. You know, it’s the same word in the Hebrew that’s found in Galatians 2, “A man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife,” same word, “that nothing come between. Let no wedge drive between.”
B. Cling to the Lord
It’s like what Joshua said in Joshua 23:8 when he gathered the people of Israel. “You are to cling to the Lord your God as you have done to this very day.” That’s what revival is. It means that we must be careful not to leave our first love. In other words, we must be careful to keep the relationship to the Lord fresh and new. Let God do a new work, a fresh new work. Is your relationship to the Lord based on what happened in the past? The good old days of some revival that happened before? No, let God do a fresh anointing. We need a new work, a fresh work, and a fresh outpouring.
In Russia, speaking in Russia in that Orthodox church, they have these icons; the little images of saints or whatever. They believe that these icons have power unto themselves. The icon, the thing has power. They would put an icon in their car to protect them while they’re driving, or they might put an icon in their house to protect them when they’re in the house. I suggest to you that there is no power in the thing. There is power in God and God alone, and there is no power in the thing. Isn’t this just a building? This is just a building of concrete. It’s just a thing, but God is here because you are here.
God inhabits the praises of His people. God is moving in power because God is moving in you, in your heart, and in your soul. Can we agree together that what we need is the reality of relationship with Christ where there is fire in the soul? That’s when fire will sweep through our land. Let the church catch fire, and I tell you, others will catch fire from it. Let there be fire here in this place. Let the church ask, and God will pour out His Holy Spirit and there will be fire because souls are alive. That’s what we need. We are living in times of deep water, and we need now God to pour His Holy Spirit that there be fire in the church.
Amen. Amen. Father, we do now look to you and thank you for how you have moved among us in power. How you have revealed yourself to us through your word. God, that is our heart, that is our desire. Pour out your life. Ignite your church.
Church, how many would say that to the Lord today? How many would say to the Lord, “I’m asking, I want, I’m desiring that there be fire in my soul. God, I want to be alive. Let there be fire in the soul. God, let there be fire in me, and I want to live by that. Transform me by that. I want fire in my soul.”
Would you say that to the Lord? Would you say it? If you would, would you just lift your hand up to the Lord? Just raise your hand to the Lord. I’m just saying it to you, Lord. I’m asking, let there be fire in my soul, and I want to live by that. I want to live in revival. I want to live because you have moved in power. Do this in me, Lord. Do this to me. We asked as we give you thanks. We ask this because you said we can ask. To seek for it and you’ll pour it out. Well, God, here we are. Meet us here and pour it out. In Jesus’ powerful name. And everyone said?
The Blessings of Believing
2 Kings 6:24-7:20
February 26-27, 2022
All right. Here we are studying through now in the life of the prophet, Elisha, who is in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. It’s a very dark spiritual time. As we pick up the story, one of the sons of Ahab, who was the wickedest, most evilest king in the Northern Kingdom who had married that woman, Jezebel, his son, is now on the throne. Frankly, he’s not much better, for he’s still bringing the people to follow after the gods of the world, Baal, and Moloch, and Ashtoreth, and Shamash, and Astarte. What is it? They’re going after these gods, and they’re turning their back on Jehovah, the God of Israel.
Interestingly, it’s very important to see that while the nation of Israel has turned their back on God, He does not turn His back on them. He continues to make His power known so as to call them back. That’s what he’s trying to do. There’s a spiritual warfare. There’s a battle that’s happening for the hearts and the minds of the people of God. That’s true today as well. There’s a spiritual battle going on for the hearts, and minds, and the soul of the people, not just in this nation and in this world. This is a time of tremendous spiritual warfare. Would you agree with me?
God is on the move. God was on the move then, through His prophet, Elisha, sending warnings to them about their unfaithfulness that would bring weakness and death to the nation. See, that’s what we’re going to see. 2 Kings 6, they find themselves in a place of national weakness. The army of Aram, that’s to the north and a bit to the east, has besieged the capital of Israel in the north. Now, if your capital is being besieged, your nation is weak. That’s what’s happening now. Now, besieging a city was a powerful tactic of war and quite cruel.
Besiege means that they would be encircled by the enemy, and no one could come in, no one could go out. No food could come in, and thus, many would starve. It would be cruel. It was one of those tactics that would leave the city intact and no soldiers of the enemy are killed. It was just that cruel. Under siege, as we’re going to read in the story, the condition of things in the city of Samaria had become so desperate that a donkey’s head sold for 80 pieces of silver, and 2 cups of dove’s dung sold for 5 shekels of silver, which seems like an exorbitant price for dove’s dung and a donkey’s head.
This is what you can call inflation. I mentioned this a few Wednesdays ago. I do want to touch on it if you don’t mind an economic lesson on inflation because it speaks to the strength of nations. Inflation, many of you have been watching, has been part of their national news because the inflation of our current state of affairs in the country is nearing 10%, which is the worst it’s been in more than 40 years, and could likely get worse due to what’s happening right now with Russia, attacking Ukraine. By the way, on a side note, I’ve been asked do I have an opinion about what’s happening with Russia attacking Ukraine?
Yes, I condemn it, on no uncertain terms, what’s happening now with Russia. I suggest to you that it is part of the signs of the times. We are seeing a realigning of the power of nations, and we should therefore take very careful note of what is happening because this is part of the staying on the alert, always watch for the signs of the times. Back to my point of inflation. It’s a monster, and it can quickly decimate a nation’s economy. I believe that economic trouble will be an aspect of the latter days. The turbulence leading up to those, and we are seeing those economic troubles beginning to be revealed, and inflation is just the tip of the iceberg of it.
Now, it was in the midst of this terrible famine that I mentioned, that God makes an amazing promise. That the famine would end overnight. One measure of flour would sell for 1 shekel, two measures of barley would sell for 1 shekel, and this, by the next day. As the story unfolds, it’s filled with tremendous spiritual application and life lessons for us. Let’s read it. We’re going to read this story in really two sections. We’ll just start with the first section, which begins in Chapter 6, verse 24. “Now, it came about after this that Ben-hadad, king of Aram, gathered his army and went up and besieged Samaria.”
Again, capital of Israel in the north. “There was a great famine, therefore, in Samaria, and behold, they besieged it until a donkey’s head was sold for 80 shekels of silver, and a fourth of a kab,” that’s two cups, “Of dove’s dung sold for 5 shekels of silver. Now, as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall,” in other words, you could walk on the precipice of the wall, and soldiers would be up there and whatnot, “The king was passing by on the wall, and a woman cried out, Help my lord, oh, king. He cried out in response–” Which you notice something interesting in his response.
He says, “If the LORD–” Notice the word, Lord, is in all caps. That is the name of the God of Israel, Jehovah. “If Jehovah does not help you, from where shall I help you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?” Which you’ll notice something interesting. He said, “If Jehovah does not help you.” How interesting. He knew where help would come from. He knew that God and God alone was the source of all– Interestingly, they had gone after Baal, and Shamash, and Moloch, and Asherah. He didn’t mention their name. Don’t you find that interesting?
Didn’t mention their name because there is no help in Shamash, there is no help in Moloch, there is no help in Baal. He knew where help came from. “If Jehovah does not help you, from where shall I help you? Then the king said to her, What is the matter?” Then they gave this tragic story. “She said, This woman here, she said to me, Now, give your son that we may eat him today, and then we’ll eat my son tomorrow. We boiled my son and ate him. Then I said to her in the next day, Now give your son that we may eat him, but then she went and hid her son.
Now it came about when the king heard this, when he heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes.” Now, he was on the wall, and the people looked. They could look up. “Behold, he had sackcloth beneath his royal robes on his body. Then he said this,” he’s enraged now, it’s like, “No, I can’t do this anymore. This is enough. This has gone too far.
He says, May God do so to me and more also if the head of Elisha, the son of Shaphat, remains on him today.” Now, Elisha was sitting in his house and the elders were sitting with him.
The king sent a man from his presence to dispatch his head, but before the messenger came to him, Elisha said to the elders, Do you see how this son of a murderer has sent to take away my head? Look, when the messenger comes, shut the door, and hold the door shut against them.” In other words, pin him to the wall. “Is not the sound of his master’s feet behind him? Pin him to the wall. I want to talk to the king. While he was still talking to them, behold, the messenger came down to him, and this is what he said, Behold, this evil is from the Lord, Jehovah.
Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?” We’ll get to that. That is a very interesting statement. We’ll get to it. Chapter 7, verse 1. “Then Elisha said this, “Now listen to the word of the Lord. Thus says Jehovah, Tomorrow, about this time, a measure of fine flour shall be sold for 1 shekel, and two measures of barley will be sold for a shekel, and this, in the very gate of Samaria. The royal officer on whose hand the king was leaning answered the man of God and said, Behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, how could this thing be?”
I. Don’t Remain Outside of God’s Blessing
Then Elisha said, Behold, you shall see it, and you’ll see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat of it.” This is the first part of the story. We’re going to look at the second part here, just in a little bit. Then I want to start with this, and really take hold of some life lessons, starting with this. Don’t remain outside of God’s blessing. Here’s what I mean. You look at how difficult things had gotten for Israel, it certainly ought to lead you to ask the question, how did it come about that things got this bad?
Have you ever got to a situation in your life where you asked that same question? How did it ever get like this? How did circumstances happen that things got this bad? That’s a really good question. I think that there are principles in His Word that speak to it. One of the principles, of course, that we need to see is that the way of the transgressor is hard. Hey, spiritual darkness, and transgression, and unrighteousness makes for a hard life. Anybody who’s lived that way of the world, I think there are many who would add their own testimony, and say, “You know what?
That’s a right principle. The way of unrighteousness, the way of the transgressor is, in fact, hard.” Anybody want to add your own hand, or shall I raise my hand for all of us?
A. Come to the point of turning
Secondly, they had turned their back on the Lord long before. They had departed from God, therefore, they had removed themselves from the place of God’s blessing. They had removed themself from the place of God’s protection. They had removed themselves from the place of God’s favor because they had removed themselves from God. Therefore, what we see in the story is a very practical and important point, which is, come to the point of turning.
There is a point where this thing can turn around. There’s a point, I call it the point of turning. As the king is passing by on the wall, the woman cries out for help. He answers, “If Jehovah does not help you, from where shall I help you?” This much is certain. This is a true statement, but he has much to learn, for when he heard the tragedy of these women, he tears his clothes, and there, behold, there’s sackcloth underneath his royal robe. Sackcloth, you might remember is what a person would put on them as a demonstration of tremendous humility.
It’s literally the cloth by which a sack is made. They would cut a little thing for the head, and little for the arms, put it on them as a demonstration of humility. Now, at first, you might think, “That’s something right. The king is doing something right,” but I suggest that this is not the kind of humility that brings a man to the point of turning, for he immediately blamed God. See, when he heard how bad things have become, he’s angry, “Enough, I can take no more of this.” Then, in his rage, “May God do more so to me if the head of Elisha remains on him today.”
In other words, he’s blaming Elisha, which is, therefore, to blame God, which I suggest is deeply wrong. This is what’s deeply wrong in the story. I suggest that if he was truly humble– He’s wearing sackcloth, it’s something right. I suggest that if he was truly humble, instead of blaming God, he would have asked for a meeting with the man of God. He would have sat down in real humility, and he would have said to Elisha, the prophet, “My father, what shall we do?” That is the point of turning right there. “My father, what shall we do?
We’ve come to the end of ourselves.” Unfortunately, some people don’t turn. They don’t come to the point of turning until they’ve come to the end of themselves, but at least they do then. I’ve heard many times where someone, they get into that deep place of trouble, and they call out to God. Then someone says to them, “Oh, you’re just calling out to God because you’re in trouble.” To which I say, “At least you know from whom help will come. At least you’re turning to God now. It’s way better than keeping the pride and not turning to God at all. Amen?
If he could have just come to this point, “My father what shall I do? What shall we do?” I tell you Elisha would have given him a tremendous answer. See, when a man comes to the point, when they turn to the Lord, “Lord, what shall I do?” that’s a come-to-Jesus meeting. That’s a come-to-Jehovah meeting. That’s what we need. That’s the point of turning. When we come to a come-to-Jehovah meeting, we would say, come-to-Jesus meeting, that’s the point of turning. Notice this part of the story, and let’s put an application to it this way.
B. Don’t shipwreck your faith
Don’t shipwreck your faith. Verse 33, “When the messenger of the king, which he had dispatched to take off the head of Elisha,” when the man pinned him to the wall, “Behold, he says, This evil is from Jehovah. Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?” Which suggests that he was waiting, does it? Doesn’t it suggest that he was waiting? He’s come to the point where he has now given up waiting. I will wait no more. Why? Why should I wait any longer? This is what I call a spiritual shipwreck. People come to this point when they were waiting, they were hoping, but then they turn against God and blame God for their troubles.
It’s a very tragic point when someone turns against God, and blames God, and gets angry with God. I tell you, I have had many, many, many troubles in my life. That’s when I needed God most. I suggest to you that no matter how bad things get, never turn against God. He is who you need in times of trouble. That’s who you need to turn to. “Lift up your eyes on High, from where does help come? My help comes from the Lord, Maker of heaven and earth. I have no other source of help than you, oh my Lord.” Anybody agree with me? See? Amen. Let’s give the Lord praise, absolutely.
If a person gives up, they’ve shipwrecked their faith. I tell you, that’s a tragic place. He’s the help you need. Let me give you some scriptures. 1st Timothy 1:18-19, where Paul is writing to his young son in the faith, “This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, that you fight the good fight, keeping faith.” That’s what he means, fighting the good fight. He’s not talking, fighting others. He’s talking about, this life is a troubled life. There are many struggles. There are many difficulties in life. Hold on to faith. Be strong in faith. It’s an anchor in the storm.
It’s a rock that you can build your life on. That’s what he means. Fight the good fight of faith, and keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. Never shipwreck your faith. Hold on with great perseverance. In fact, the scripture says in Proverbs 18:10, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run into it and are saved.” See, there’s the picture. If you are in trouble, if there are things that are going south in your life, you could say, using that expression, what is that you need to do?
C. Taste and see that the Lord is good
You need to run to the tower of Lord. Don’t walk, run. You need to get into the presence of the Lord as fast as you can get. You need to get right with God and come under His hand of protection. You need to come under His place of favor, and you need to get there as fast as you can get. Anybody agree with me?
That’s the answer. Then you will taste and see that the Lord is good. That’s the beautiful part of the story. When the king came to Elisha to vent his anger, God responds to the prophet with this amazing promise. The next day at about this time, essentially, they could buy six times the food for one-fifth the price. God is going to deliver in one day. That was the Word of the Lord. That was the promise. The royal officer who was next to the king, when he heard this, he scoffed. He goes like, “[scoffs] Behold.” That’s what it means.
“Behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, how can this be?” See, in other words, he couldn’t imagine how God could do it. Therefore, he concluded that God couldn’t do it, because he couldn’t imagine. How is that possible? He didn’t know. He couldn’t even imagine. “What? You’re saying tomorrow at this time? A donkey’s head is sold for some exorbitant price. 5 shekels of silver will buy you two cups of doves dung. Are you telling me tomorrow, at this time, that one measure of flower will be sold for 1 shekel? I don’t believe it.
I don’t believe a word of it. I can’t imagine how God could do such a thing. If He opened windows in heaven, how could this be?” Therefore, he didn’t believe it was possible. This is a very important aspect for faith. If you have to imagine how God is going to do it, then He’s limited to your imagination. In fact, Ephesians 3:20 is a tremendous word. “Now unto Him who is able–” Now, when He says, “Now unto Him,” it’s a recognition, it’s a aspect of worship, it’s a lifting up of His name. “Now unto Him who is able to do far more abundantly, beyond–“
That’s a whole lot of expressions right there. “Who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or even think,” which is to say, you can’t imagine, you have no idea, “According to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church, and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ain’t that a good word? What a great verse is that, that it encourages faith? In other words, you have no idea. The man couldn’t imagine how this could be, so therefore, it couldn’t be. Elijah’s response was powerful and is a life lesson itself.
“You will see it, and you will see it with your own eyes, but you will not taste of it.” See, unbelief was going to keep this man from tasting the promises of God. God is about to do this marvelous thing. He refused to believe that God could, therefore, he wouldn’t taste of it. Interestingly, Jesus gave a parable in the book of Luke verse 14, describing those who refuse to take hold of the promises of God, and therefore, will not taste them. For there are people today, there were people in Jesus’s day, there are people today who will not take hold of the promises of God.
They will not believe the promises of God, and therefore, they will not taste them. How could this be? Luke 14, I’ll just read you the story, verses 16 to 24. “A man was giving a big dinner,” this is the parable, “He invited many, and at the dinner hour, he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, Come for everything is ready. They all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, I have bought a piece of land that I need to go out and look at it. Please consider me excused. Another one said I have bought five yoke of oxen and I must try them out.
Please consider me excused. Then another one said, I have married a wife and for that reason, I cannot come. Then the servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry, and he said to his servant, Go out at once into the streets, into the lanes of the city, bring in here the poor, the crippled, the blind, the lame.” That’s a picture of the church right there. The destitute, the broken. I love that picture right there. “Go bring the lame, the broken. Then later, the servant said, “Master what you have commanded has been done, and still there’s room.
Then the master said to the servant, Then go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in so that my house may be filled, for I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner. They will not taste of it for they would not believe it.” Faith is such an important aspect of our relationship to God. I tell you, it’s everything. God wants us to believe, to partake, to taste, to enjoy the promises of God. 2nd Corinthians 1:20, “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him, they are yes.” You can stand on the promises of God, you can take hold of the promises of God, for, in Him, they are yes.”
Psalm 34:8, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him, who runs to the tower of the Lord.” Psalm 119:103, “How sweet are your words to my taste, your words are sweet.” I love that. Yes, they’re sweeter than honey to my mouth. I tell you, there’s a deep verse. That’s a very, very deep verse. The promises of God are found in the Word of God, and to take hold of the Word of God is to take hold of the heart of God. There’s where relationship comes, faith is born. He reveals Himself. Oh, it’s sweet.
II. Feast on the Promises of God
It’s sweeter than honey. All right, now let’s read the next part of the story, beginning in verse 3 of Chapter 7. Now, this is how God answers this amazing declaration and promise. Verse 3, “Now, there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate, and they said to one another, Why do we sit here until we die? Now, if we say we will enter the city, there’s famine in the city, and we will die there. If we stay here, we’re going to die also. Now, therefore, let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans. If they spare us, we live. If they kill us, we’re going to die anyway.”
Actually, there’s some pretty reasonable thinking here. “They arose at twilight,” at dark, “To go to the camp of the Arameans. Now, when they came to the outskirts of the camp of the Arameans, behold, there was no one there, for the Lord had caused the army of the Arameans to hear a sound. The sound of chariots, and the sound of horses, even the sound of a great and vast army so that they said to one another, Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us, the king of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to come upon us. Therefore, they arose and fled in the night.
There’s darkness all around. They hear this vast, great sound, and they panic. Really, they panic. They left their tents, their horses, their donkeys, even the campus it was, and they fled for their lives. Now, when these lepers came to the camp, they entered one tent, ate, and drank. Carried from there, silver and golden clothes, and went and hid them. Then they returned and entered another tent and carried from there also, and went and hid them. Then they said to one another, Look, what we are doing is not right. This is not right. This day is a day of good news that we are keeping silent.
If we wait until morning light, punishment is going to overtake us. Now, therefore, come, let’s go, and tell the king’s household.” They’re convicted, “This isn’t right. We have good news. We ought to be– We’re silent? No, we got good news.” You can’t be silent when you got good news. “They came and called to the gatekeepers of the city, and they told them, saying, We came to the camp of Arameans, behold, there was no one there, nor voice of men. Only horses tied and donkeys tied in tents just as they were.” The gatekeepers called and told it within the king’s house.
The king arose in the night, and he said to his servants, I will tell you now what the Arameans have done to us. They know we are hungry, therefore, they have gone away from the camp and hid themselves in the field. They’re saying, When they come out of the city, we’re going to capture them alive and get into the city. This is a ruse, this is a deception. One of his servants answered and said, Please, let’s some men take five of the horses which remain,” most of them had been eaten, “Which are left in the city. Behold, they will be, in any case, like all the multitude of Israel who are left in it.
Behold, they will be, in any case, like all the multitude of Israel who have already perished. Let’s send and see. Therefore, they took two chariots with horses. The king sent after the army of the Arameans saying, Go and see. They went after them to the Jordan. Behold, all of the way was full of clothes and equipment, which the Arameans had thrown away in their haste. The messengers returned and told the king, so the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. Then a measure of fine flour was sold for a shekel and two measures of barley sold for a shekel according to the Word of the Lord.
It was fulfilled exactly. Now, the king appointed the royal official, on whose hand he leaned, to have charge of the gate, but the people trampled on him at the gate and he died, just as the man of God had said, who spoke when the king came down to him. Thus all was fulfilled.” These verses are filled with tremendous again, spiritual insight, for us to take hold of, starting with this understanding, the promises of God. Feast on the promises of God. Taste and see. Israel is out of options. The situation is desperate because, in their formulations and in their calculations, they took God out of the equation, but God was not out of options.
God, in His mercy, is going to deliver. That is the demonstration of His power. Why is God doing such a thing? He’s demonstrating His power so as to bring the people back. Elisha is declaring, “Jehovah says this promise to you,” so that when they see it with their own eyes, the idea is that they would be amazed, and they would come back. There is something stirring in Israel. God is doing something, calling them back, demonstrating to them that He’s still reaching out to them. Reminds me of Romans 10:21, where Paul says, “Now, as for Israel, God says this, All day long, I hold out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”
Oh, what a picture of the heart of God right there. This, in turn, is, “All day long, I reach out to my people.” The aspect of faith says this. “We may not know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow.” Maybe you’ve heard that expression. It’s a tremendous aspect of faith, to believe. “I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow.” Faith and fear are opposites. Fear says, “What if? What if this should happen? I don’t know. Tomorrow, what if this happens tomorrow? What if that thing–
What if? What if? What if this bad– What if?” That’s fear? It’s the, “What if?” Faith is the opposite. It’s, “Even if. Even if that happens, I will always believe. No matter what, I will believe. Even if that should happen, even if that should happen, even if that should happen, I will always believe. Nothing can stop me. Even if there’s no cattle in the stalls, no fruit in the vine, yet I will exalt in my Lord. Even if that should happen, I will always believe.” Amen?
There are four lepers in the city, outside. Leprosy, as I mentioned recently, is a picture of sin. These, outcast, diseased, terminal, out of options too, so they decided to throw themselves on mercy. Now, if you think about it, those same three options are available to sinners today. Go into the city and join everyone else who’s dying, or stay where you are and do nothing, and die in that condition, or throw yourself on mercy. I suggest to you that throwing yourself on mercy is the best option of all of them. Then we see this. We can maybe capture it this way, be careful of how you listen.
When these four lepers went over to the Arameans, there’s no one there. The Lord had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots, and the sound of horses, the sound of a great army. If you remember, we recently looked at it. Elisha asked that God would open the eyes of his servant to see the horses and chariots of God, the horses, and chariots of fire, a vast army, but here, God opened the ears of the Syrian army to hear it. For one, it was the source of encouragement, the other, it’s a cause of fear. What you tune your ears to has everything to do with what you tune your heart to.
A. Be careful how you listen
Be careful how you hear. What you tune your ears to has everything to do with what you tune your heart to. Let me give you a verse out of Luke 18:17-18. This is just after He gave that parable of the sower. It’s a picture of God sowing His Word, and it lands on different types of hearts, thus, different types of soils. Then He added this to the parable, “Nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known or come to light, so take care how you listen to the Word. Take care how you listen. For whoever has, to him, shall, even more, be given, but whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away.“
This is something to ponder deeply. Be careful how you listen. As another example, when Israel heard the taunts of Goliath– You remember that story? When Israel heard the taunts of Goliath, they heard something quite different than what David heard, which is to say they heard it differently. Goliath proclaimed this great challenge, “Send out a man to fight,” and everyone’s heart was reduced to fear. David, when he heard the taunts of the giant, became incensed and angry. “Who does this uncircumcised Philistine think he is, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”
David volunteered to face him because of his faith. He heard it quite differently. Be careful how you hear. When Jesus spoke to the churches in the book of Revelation, seven times, He said a very similar thing, “Be careful how you hear.” Revelation 2:7, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” For I suggest to you that not everyone hears. They hear something different. Some, when they hear the Word of God, it blesses their soul. It brings strength to them, it increases their faith within them. It brings the presence and the life of God to their revelation.
It’s a beautiful thing when the Word of God is spoken. Other people, when they hear it, they scoff at it. Be careful how you hear. Paul says something to the church in Rome. Similarly, Romans 10:17, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing, by the Word of Christ.” When you hear the Word of God with the heart, “Even what you have,” He says, “You’ll be given more.” Then lastly, others must know the good news. When the lepers discover the camp of the Syrians is empty, they ate, and they drank. Carried away silver and gold, and hid it for themselves.
B. Others must know the good news
Then, at some point, they say, “This isn’t right. We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news, and we’re keeping silent.” In other words, if there’s good news, you got to share the good news. There’s a certain aspect to that we all understand. If there’s good news, you want to share it. As I had mentioned a few Wednesdays ago, even to the point– I remember I was at Fred Meyer, and I saw this package of cotton candy grapes. I didn’t even know that there was such a thing as cotton candy grapes. This was a few years ago, and I thought, “What?”
I tasted one, and I thought, “Oh my goodness.” Have you ever tasted cotton candy grapes? This is like a slice– How many people have never tasted cotton candy grapes? I have good news for you.
You’ve got to try these things. This is like a taste of heaven. I’m serious. I think when we get to the marriage supper of the lamb, they’re going to have cotton candy grapes on the table. They’re that amazing. I’m over at Fred Meyer, and I taste one of these. I go buy a bag of them to bring home, and just put it on the counter, and everybody is like, “Oh, this is amazing.” I started calling my kids, “Hey, you got to try this. It’s called cotton candy grapes, yes. You’ve got to try it. They’re at Fred Meyer.” It’s like, that’s what we do.
If there’s good news, that’s what you do. When you got good news, you got to share good news. Others are suffering and starving, and they’re keeping this to themselves? We, too, know that there is good news. There is good news. In fact, the Gospel is the good news. That’s what it means. It transforms. We know that the Gospel transforms lives. It is the power of God unto salvation. We know that God takes the broken, and brings healing and hope. We know there’s good news, but I already can anticipate somebody will answer and say, “Pastor, you don’t understand.
People don’t want to hear.” No, I do understand. I do understand. There are two kinds of people that you might talk to about the good news of Jesus Christ. By the way, we are soon going to have, it’s in early April, we’re going to have what we call Welcome Weekend. Welcome Weekend is an opportunity for the church to be inviters. We’re going to encourage the whole church, everybody in the church to be inviters. Does anybody in the church know anyone broken? Does anybody know anyone hurting? Does anybody know anyone who needs the good news?
Invite them because we’re going to give a very clear Gospel presentation and an opportunity for people to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and to rededicate their lives, and God is going to move. I’m telling you right now, in advance, that there are many who are going to come to faith in Jesus Christ, and many who are going to rededicate their lives. Amen?
Be inviters because there are good news. Then you might say, “People don’t want to hear.” There are two kinds of people that you might talk to about the good news. There are those who are sick, and they know it. They know they need help, and they know they need a physician. Then there are those who do not know and do not want to hear.
When the Jewish leaders saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax-gatherers, these were the despicable. Did you know that Jesus, reached to the worst of sinners, the worst of the worst of sinners?
Did you know that Jesus made a point of reaching out to the worst of the worst of sinners? When the Jewish leaders saw Jesus eating with sinners, I mean, the worst of sinners, they confronted the followers of Jesus, “Why does your teacher eat with people like that? You say He’s a man of God. What is a man of God doing with sinners like that?” This is Mark 2:17 “Hearing this, Jesus said to them, Because it is not those who are healthy who need a physician, that’s what, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous. I came to call sinners.”
I don’t know about you, but I love that verse. I didn’t come to call the righteous. I came to call sinners. There are two kinds of people you’re going to talk to about the good news of Jesus Christ. There are those who don’t need, they don’t think they need because they think they’re just fine. “I didn’t come to call the righteous.” Of course, the truth is there is no righteous, there is none. No, not one. Not one, but they’re blind. They’re quite blind. Revelation 3:17-18, “Because you say this, you say, I am rich, I have need of nothing–” You will meet people like that.
“I’m fine, I’m rich, I have need of nothing.” Jesus says, “You do not know that you’re wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. I advise you to buy from me salve to the eyes, to anoint your eyes that you might see.” Oh, what a great word is this. “I didn’t come to call the righteous, I came to call sinners.” I love my Lord because my Lord was sent the call sinners, and He is still finding sinners today.
I tell you what, I’m not afraid to use the word sinners because people know that they’re sinners. When they know that God sent His Son to go and seek and to save sinners, it does something to the heart because there’s an aspect of the soul that gets real honest with the Lord, that says, “You’re looking for a sinner, well, you found one. Here I am, Lord. You found me. Now make me a son, make me a daughter.” God is not done making sons and daughters. God is not done finding sinners, and God is still seeking and God is still saving.
Amen? Let’s give the Lord praise and glory. Amen? Amen.
Lastly, we’ll close with this, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” I love this. “When the king heard this good news, he wouldn’t believe it. It’s a ruse. Yes, I’ll tell you what this is, this is a deception.” He would not believe it. Unbelief will keep people from enjoying the promises of God. How many people do not take God at His word, therefore, don’t have the promises of God given to them? Jeremiah 32:17, I love this expression where he says. “Ah, Lord God,” I love that phrase, ” Ah, Lord God, behold, you have made heavens and earth by your great power, and by your outstretched arm.
Nothing is too difficult for thee. Nothing. Nothing, absolutely nothing is too difficult for you.” Just because you can’t imagine how God might answer, doesn’t mean that God is out of options. Is anything too difficult for the Lord? God wants you to ask Him. Just because you can’t imagine how God is going to rescue, or save, or help, doesn’t mean that God is out of options. James 4:2 says ” You do not have because you do not ask.” God wants you to ask. God wants you to believe. God wants you to take hold because when He makes you a son or a daughter, He’s going to walk with you in the course of His life.
He’ll never leave you, and He’ll never forsake you. He’ll be a father like no father could be on this earth, and He’ll bless your life. Let’s pray. Father, thank you so much for revealing yourself. We are amazed. We are truly amazed, and we thank you, for sending your Son to seek and to save sinners like us. You did not come to call the righteous, you came to call sinners. Oh God, I’m so thankful that you found me. God build now in me, the life that you desire to build in me. God, show me what it means to walk as a son or a daughter of the Almighty.
Show me what it means, I want to walk like one. I want to live like a son or a daughter of the Almighty. You found a sinner. Here I am. Now transform me. Church, would you say that to the Lord? Would you just raise your hand and say, it’s a prayer to say to the Lord, “You found a sinner here I am. Now make me, transform me, move in me. Do this in me.” Father, thank you. Thank you, and we thank you for all that you’ve done in us. We give you honor.
How to Walk by Faith – 2
February 12-13, 2022
The writer here to the Hebrews uses the analogy of running a race as a picture of walking in faith. It’s a very good and powerful analogy because there’s something inspiring about a race. One of my kids run track, for example. I myself have never been a runner, but my kids run track, and I so loved watching their races. There was something so inspiring, especially that moment when they round that last corner, and they just pour it on everything they got, and everyone is cheering for them. It’s so emotional for me. It’s like I want to start crying. It’s so powerful to see all our effort as they’re going for the finish. It’s a really good analogy.
He writes here to give them that analogy because they’re running with great obstacles, many things are against them, and here’s why. The book is called Hebrews because it’s written to Jewish believers in Jesus Christ, but they’re being pressured by the Jews to go back to Judaism, and yet, you’ve held onto Jesus as the Messiah, and yet, they’re being pressured to go back. He reminds them, in chapter 11, of these heroes of faith, men and women with inspiring stories that we know so very well, who’ve accomplished great feats because of their faith. Their faith defined their lives. Now, that’s a very important thing to consider. What is it that defines your life? By what is it defined?
I think that many people have found their lives defined by great troubles, things that they’ve encountered in their lives. For example, many of you know my story, when I grow up, my father was an alcoholic. It was a very difficult way to be raised. Now, later in life, many of you know the finish, he came to faith when he was older, but in those growing up years, it was tremendously traumatic, particularly because of the way he treated our mother. That will fire up a young man, and it troubled me greatly.
I came to faith when I was 11, and I began to have a real encounter with the Lord in 19 years, and I begin to realize, “I will not let this thing define me. I will not be known as a child of an alcoholic all my life. God is doing work in my life.” The poverty that we had, I didn’t know anyone that was poorer than us, and I determined again, “This thing will not define my life.” Some years ago, when our daughter was murdered, I realized then I cannot allow this to define my life. My faith will define my life. I will walk in my faith. See, this is a very important thing, the walking of faith.
We have this insight that he gives us in Hebrews 12 because there are keys to faith. There are keys to endurance. There are insights for staying the course, for fighting the good fight of faith, for being victorious as we run, as we live our lives, that’s what he gives us in these verses. We need faith that endures in this turbulent and troubled world that we live in today. We need to fight the good fight. We need to finish the core set before us, and we need more than just to endure. We need to be victorious. The world needs people defined by faith. Amen.
Let’s read it, we’re in Hebrews 12, we’re just going to read three verses beginning in verse 1, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, weights, and burdens, and let us lay aside the sin, which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and the perfector of faith.”
In other words, your faith began in Him, and it will be completed in Him, “Who, for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart yourself.” These are great verses when it comes to understanding how to live by and how to walk by faith. I want us to look at them, and apply them to our lives, starting with this understanding. Ask God to heal the burdens. He said, “Lay aside every encumbrance.”
I. Ask God to Heal the Burdens
Now, the word there means weights, things that drag you down, things that carry heavily upon you. The analogy of running a race is a very good one. Paul used it in several places. In another place, he says, “You are running well, who cut in on you?” That’s the idea. “Who hindered you see?” It means to live by faith on the journey set before you, it’s a picture of victory because of faith. Trust Him with those burdens. We were all born in the human condition, and the human condition is fraught with fears, insecurities, weakness, doubts. God wants more than that. Don’t walk by those things. I have an answer to your insecurity. I have an answer for fear. Let God heal the wounds.
Let God heal the burdens, that you’re not encumbered by them, that you’re not weighed down by them. If you will lay them down, you will run the race well. He uses, for example, in Hebrews 11, these examples of men and women of tremendous faith. Notice verse one, where he says, “Since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us run the race set before us.”
What is this cloud of witnesses surrounding us? There have been a number, I think, of perspectives on it. It’s met with considerable confusion. Some have suggested that this cloud of witnesses are those who have gone before us, those who have died, our loved ones who’ve gone before us, they are now in heaven, observing our lives. I suggest to you that if those who’ve gone before us are observing our lives, they’re not experiencing heavenly joy.
A. Lay aside every encumbrance
They’re experiencing some real sadness in watching the troubles of our lives. No, I don’t believe that at all. What is this cloud of witnesses? I think it’s the witness, the testimony of these heroes of chapter 11, since you have such a great example, a cloud of witnesses, who’ve done it, who’ve walked in it. They’re surrounding us. They stand as witness to us, that faith can be victorious, that it can affect the whole of a person’s life, and that great things, great accomplishments are possible when your life is defined by your faith. He says, “Lay aside every encumbrance.” Every encumbrance, lay aside.
Many people carry these burdens that keep them from living as God would desire them to live. They carry burdens that God never meant for you to carry, and it interferes with the living by faith. Using the analogy of running a race, it’s a very good one because no one would ever think of trying to run a race while carrying weights in their hands. It would hold you back tremendously or carrying a burden of a backpack, very difficult. Interestingly, the analogy of running a race was so appropriate that Paul used because the Greek games were such a huge thing at the time. They were tremendously important to the culture, the Greek culture.
They had all kinds of races, like we do, the long-distance race, the sprint. One of the races that they had was almost comedic because one of the races is where they would have the runners put on all the full armor of a soldier and then try to run the race. It is almost comedic because they’re all clinging and clamoring and trying to make it to the finish line, and everyone was cheering because this thing is impossible. They’re carrying so much weight that it’s impossible to run well. It’s a very appropriate analogy. Some people, they just drag these weights, they carry these weights with them everywhere they go. It’s very hard to make it very far dragging weights like these.
Reminds me of several years ago, I was in Tanzania, in Africa, and we were doing a pastor’s conference there, and we had a break at one point, so we went out to the shores of Lake Victoria, which is a very beautiful part of the world. On the shores there, there was these rocks, and I thought, “These are amazingly beautiful granite rocks.” I thought, “Oh, these would look great in my landscaping.” A little memento from Africa. I got several of these really nice rocks and I decided, “I’m going to take them home and put them in my landscaping.” I put them in my baggage and started dragging them.
You should have seen the looks on the faces of the security when they opened my bags. “You’re carrying rocks throughout the airport?” Well, after dragging them through the airport for a while, I thought, I was crazy myself. Let’s just put it this way. They never made it to my landscaping. That’s too much burden. See, when you don’t trust God with something, when you try to carry such burdens yourself, you’re not living by the faith that would be victorious because you’re encumbered, you’re weighed down.
I would like to put my finger on some specific things that weigh people down and hinder them from walking in the faith victoriously. One of the heaviest things that people carry is bitterness and unforgiveness. It hinders. It’s the opposite of faith. Now, I say this with tremendous compassion because I understand it. I’ve done it. I carry tremendous bitterness. When I was a young man, I mentioned my father, those were very, very difficult years, particularly in my teen years, as I’m growing larger and growing in greater strength, there’s something arising in me.
The way he treated my mother made me absolutely furious. I remember one day, I remember the scene very well in my mind, I was out hoeing corn. We had a farm, and I was hoeing corn. I could see up the row, up the hill was my dad sitting in the car, drinking his beer like he had always done, he’d just sip on it all day long. I’m out there hoeing corn, and I’m just mad. I’m just angry, and I’m just whacking at these weeds. My older sister sees this. She comes out, and she says, “What are you so mad? Why so angry?” I pointed my finger up there and I said, “One day, I’m going to settle this. One day, I’m going to finish this.”
She says, “You will do no such thing. You have to let go of this. You can’t keep carrying this all your life. It will ruin you.” I’ll tell you what, that was a good word. I started to come to a place of praying, “God, show me this. There has to be a better way. I can’t carry this. I can’t carry this on my life. There’s got to be a better way.” I had one of these moments, and perhaps you’ve had one of those revelation moments where God just speaks to your heart.
It was my 21st birthday, I remember it very well. When I was just having it out, “God, I’m 21, and I’m seeing my whole life ahead of me, I can’t carry this all my life.” I felt this word of the Lord, “I’ll be your father now. I’ll be a father to you. I’ll be a father like no earthly father could be. I’ll walk with you. I’ll never leave you. I’ll never forsake you. I’ll put my hand on your life. I’ll put my favor on you.” Well, it changed me. I believed it. I took it to my heart, and I started praying for my dad. In fact, I even wrote a song. Back in those days, I was a lot more emo. I wrote a song.
It was for my dad. The song is a prayer. Well, it was almost prophetic, because when he was 75 years old, in the course of a lot of miles, a lot of things, a lot of struggles, he came back. He came to church. I never thought his shadow would ever cross the threshold of a church, but he came to church. I gave an invitation to receive Jesus Christ, and I looked and there he was. I got to baptize him with my own hands. We spent the last years of his life close. God is able to heal. God is able to change. That’s my point. Let God heal these burdens. You don’t have to carry these burdens all your life. God can heal these burdens.
See, when God says to you, “Don’t carry such things,” he’s not wagging His finger at you. He’s saying, “Now, you stop that.” He’s not doing that. He says, with great compassion, “No, listen, I love you. You’re carrying this burden when you need to let me carry this burden. I can heal you. I can heal this thing.” That is faith. To trust that He can heal this thing is faith. Let me heal it. Hebrews 12:15, “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God. That no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble.” It’s a great picture. A root is unseen until it springs up and starts causing trouble. By it, many are defiled. You can’t carry this thing all your life. It stops you. It’s a burden.
Here’s another one. Worry and anxiety, burden that people carry that make life heavy for them. It encumbers them. They can’t run the race well when they’re carrying worries and anxieties. It’s the what-if fears. We were born in that fear, we were born in that anxiety, but God says, “I can heal it. Trust me. By faith, trust me with that thing that you are worried about. By faith, trust me with the thing that you’re anxious about.” Luke 12:25-26, “Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life spent?” In fact, you may take hours off of it. If you then cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other such things? You’ll see it in the greater context, what he’s referring to.
In another place, he’s using an analogy, the parable of a farmer, who’s sewing his seed on the ground. It’s a picture of the word of God being sown on different types of hearts. He uses different types of soils. Without giving the longer picture of it, one of those types of soils was a condition of the heart that he mentions in Mark 4:18-19. Others are the ones on whom the seed is sown, the word of God is sown among thorns. There’s some briars, thorns in the heart. It’s within their soul.
B. Don’t get entangled in sin
These are the ones who’ve heard the word, but the worries, the cares, the concerns, the worries of the world, the deceitfulness of riches is adding world focus, things, the desires for other things, they enter in and they choke the word. They hinder it from growing. It chokes the word, and it becomes unfruitful. It’s a picture, isn’t it, of the worries and cares and the concerns that hinder you? He adds this in Luke chapter 12, “And then lay aside every encumbrance and lay aside the sin, which so easily entangles.” Don’t get entangled in sin. It’s a very powerful, appropriate picture. Don’t get entangled in it.
It’s like running a cross-country race and coming up on briars along the path. Don’t get entangled in those things. Now, here in the Northwest, we have these blackberry briars that can just set out vines of all kinds of links. Blackberry briars in the Northwest can turn into mountains of troubles. If you’ve ever experienced trying to get rid of them, you know how difficult they are because they send these vines out so thick and so long. I’ll tell you why. You try past one of them and they get ahold of your clothes, or they get ahold of you, you’ve got some trouble on your hands, because it will be painful to extract yourself from such things.
Sin makes people fall. Instead of running the race well, instead of accomplishing the great accomplishments, things by faith, they get entangled in sin, and that becomes the biggest issue of their lives. They can’t accomplish anything by faith because they’re trying to untangle a mess. Maybe we could see it from this perspective, the longer you walk in the Lord, something grows of the spirit, and life is strengthened. The spirit within is strengthened. The more you walk in the Lord, the more His spirit has poured out in your life, something is great. Something is stronger. Something is increasing. By faith, something is arising within your soul.
The longer you walk, the more that you understand what I’m saying. There is something that’s arising you that’s very beautiful, that’s very powerful, that’s arising in you. It becomes such a treasure to you that you want nothing to get in the way of that. Anybody understand what I’m saying? Sin is the opposite of it. Sin drains the soul. Sin reduces a man. Sin weakens a person. Faith strengthens, something is arising. The more you walk in the Lord, the more something arises in you. Sin is the opposite. It will reduce you. God looks at that.
I believe that God is saying that because He’s saying to you, “I want you to have the fullness of life. I want you to experience the victory of faith. I want nothing to hinder you. I want nothing to stand in the way. This thing is draining you. It’s weakening you.” It’s particularly true of secret sins. Secret sins drain the soul. You cannot experience the fullness of God when the soul is being drained. “Be filled by the spirit,” He says. “Be ye filled and overflowing. My cup overflows.” There’s the picture of string something arising.
That’s what God wants. “I want this for you, I want you to have the fullness. I want you to live the life well lived by faith. I don’t want anything to hinder you.” I’m convinced that the enemy would very much like to keep you out of God’s will? The enemy would very much right to keep you out of God’s purpose in your life, and he’ll sideline you by entangling you, if you allow it. That’s why He says, “Lay aside anything that entangles or encumbers you because I want you to have life, have life to the full.” There are many types of sin. Many are obvious, but perhaps the root of them all is the sin of unbelief.
I suggest to you that there’s an aspect of unbelief involved with all manner of things. Hebrews 11 is filled with heroes of faith, great men and women in the history of Israel, but there were also failures. Those failures are instructive for us as well. First of all, notice this, we’ve been reading recently in 1 and 2 Kings and you know that when Israel was divided north and south, that something happened in the north, a great tragedy. A spiritual darkness of tremendous aspect came upon the northern kingdom as they went after the gods of the world and the worldliness thereof.
What did God do in response to this? What did God do as a response to the people who’ve turned their back on God and walked into the ways of the world? What did God do? He sent the most powerful prophets of the Old Testament, that’s what he did. He sent Elijah and Elisha to shake the people, to call them back. I just love that about the Lord. It reveals the heart of the Lord. He doesn’t toss them out. He doesn’t cast them aside. He pursues them. He sends powerful prophets to call them, to redeem them. I love this about the Lord because you’ll do the same thing for you and for me. You enter a time of spiritual darkness, God will start pursuing. I’ll tell you what, if God’s on the pursuit, you are being pursued.
He will call you, He’ll stir you to bring you back because he knows that the root of it is unbelief.
One of the examples of this in 2 Kings, which we just looked at on Wednesday, there was a point in Israel’s history in the North where an enemy, besieged the capital of Samaria. Now, if the capital of your country is under besieging, this is a sign of tremendous national weakness. Now, to siege, to put a city under siege is a cruel aspect of war. It’s just cruel. People can’t come in, people can’t go out, they start to hunger and get to a point of tremendous suffering. It’s a cruel aspect of war.
This happened. People were dying of hunger. Well, finally the king had had enough. It got to the point, it got so bad that two cups of dove’s dung were sold for five shekels of silver. I suggest to you, that’s a pretty exorbitant price for dove’s dung, five shackles of silver. Finally, the king had enough. Blaming the prophet, might as well blame God, blaming the prophet, he sent someone to dispatch his head. When the man came to the door of Elisha’s house, the prophet responded, “Listen to the word of the Lord, thus says Jehovah tomorrow about this time, a measure of fine flour will be sold for one shekel, and two measures of barley will be sold for one shekel and this will happen at the very gate of Samaria.”
Well, in a complete lack of faith, the man responded “Behold, if the Lord should make windows in heaven, how could this thing be?” You want to talk about unbelief? Didn’t believe a word of it. If God should pour this out from heaven itself, how can this be? The prophet responded, “Behold you will see it. You’ll see it with your own eyes, but you will not taste it.” Whoa, what a picture of unbelief is that. It keeps people from experiencing, from tasting that good that God wants to do for them. God wants you to experience life and life to the full, to accomplish that, which is in your life.
II. Run the Race Set Before You
Hebrew 10:38, “The just, the righteous, shall live by their faith. If anyone draws back or shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in them.” It’s very powerful. Now back to Hebrew 12, we see this insight also in these verses, “Run the race set before you.” Everyone has their own race. Every generation has had their own troubles. The generation that went through World War I, the war of all wars, that generation had great troubles. The generation that went through the depression, oh, what economic troubles shook the world. World War II, that generation, the Holocaust tragedy, that generation. The kind of culture of the 60s, and the drug movement, and the rebellion of the age.
Every culture has their own race, own troubles. This is our race. We live in a time, pandemic, all kinds of troubles around the world. Nations are rising, world order changing. This is our race. Others have gone before us showing that they have walked in faith and endured through it, showing us that it can be done despite obstacles and difficulties. Here’s my point. Others will follow after us. They will see our lives. Will we be an example of faith? Will we be an example of those who walked victoriously through the obstacles and the difficulties and the troubles of life?
I have spoken often about the prophetic aspect in the fact that troubles will arise in the world, as we draw nearer the end of days. As we draw nearer the end of the age, troubles will arise. Well, I was speaking at this one time in a class I was teaching on eschatology. It was an interactive class, and someone raised their hand with a very interesting question. I made that same point, and then the question was this, “If everything comes crashing down, will you move to New Zealand?” I never thought of that. That’s an interesting question. If everything comes crashing down, would I move to New Zealand?
A. Run the race with endurance
I said, “Well, I love New Zealand I think it’s a beautiful part of the world I would love to go visit New Zealand, but if everything comes crashing down, no, I’m staying right here because leaders don’t run from trouble, they face their troubles. They face them with faith. That’s when leaders are needed most.” This is very important. No, don’t run from troubles. You face them and you face them with faith because that’s when they’re needed most. Here’s another interesting example. Many of you perhaps are not old enough to remember Y2K.
Anybody remember Y2K? It was a real thing, it was a real concern. In case you don’t know what it’s about, 1999 the talk of the day was that when it turns 2000, January 1, 2000, all the computers in the world are going to go berserk thinking it’s the year 1900. They’re, “What in the world is going to happen. All systems are going to shut down and well, all men of trouble are– It’s going to be chaos.” I had an acquaintance of mine, I say an acquaintance, I didn’t know him well, but I know this, that in response to Y2K, or rather in preparation for Y2K, in the fall of 1999, he and his family moved to the hinterlands of Idaho. Never to be seen again.
They’re probably still in the hinterlands of Idaho wondering if the world’s collapsed around them. No, this is not the answer. To walk in faith is to arise. That’s why He says in Hebrew 12, “Run the race with endurance.” See, long-distance running requires endurance. It’s a powerful picture because this is a lifelong marathon. It requires steady, persistent faith, steady, steady, persistent faith. Sometimes, running is painful. Running the race well requires what the Bible calls long-suffering to walk steadfastly. James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.” That’s by faith, you’re persevering.
Now in a race, only one wins the prize, but in a marathon, it’s a victory just to have run it. Just to have run it, just to have finished it is an accomplishment itself. Very few people do it. It’s a very difficult thing. 26.2 miles, running the old way, without stopping, very few people do it. It’s a powerful illustration. Just to finish the thing is a victory. Very few people do it. In fact, show of hands, how many people have actually run a marathon? Very few people have done it. Interestingly, the eight o’clock service had more.
They get up early, they exercise, they’re like– Now, I only raised my hand just to show you how to raise your hand, I’ve never done it.
The longest race I ever ran, well, back in the days when I was in the restaurant business, we were sponsoring a race. Somebody suggested, “Hey, we’re sponsoring the race, somebody had to run in it. Why not you run it, Rich?” Of course, once I said that, “Oh sure.” I had never run that far in my life. We’re talking 15K, that’s 9.6 miles. I didn’t even prepare for it. About three days before I realized, “Whoa, this is coming up. I got to start getting ready.”
Three days before, I went out on this long run. I came to the race, I could barely walk, I’m so sore.
Let’s just say I didn’t finish first. There was a lot of old women passing me on the way.
It’s a powerful picture. One of my wife’s friends was running her first marathon. She’d never done it. It was one of her life goals. As you rounded the last corner, finish line in sight, her elderly father was in the crowd. When he saw her come around that last quarter, he’s like, “She’s doing it. She’s doing it. She’s going to do this.” He was so sturdy. Just something happened in him that he went through the crowd went under the tape, went out there in his dress shoes, and started running alongside of her to finish together. Of course, she’s like crying now. It’s such a beautiful thing.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25, “Run in such a way that you may obtain the prize.” This thing, this race that you’re running is worth the prize. Then he adds, “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.” To run well, you must exercise self-control. Now, they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we, imperishable. It’s so worth the race to run. It’s a great verse because it causes us to consider, what are you running for? What goal are you pursuing? What prize do you hope to obtain? Many people have their sights set on things that are perishable, the desires, the things they treasure, are of the earth.
I remember reading a quote from Calvin Miller in one of his books, where he said, “The world is poor because its fortune is buried in heaven but all its treasure maps are of the earth.” It’s such a great quote. Jesus said, Matthew 16:26, “What will it profit a man if he gain the whole world and forfeited his soul?” What would a man give in exchange for a soul? Do you not know the value of your soul? The most important aspect of a person is their soul. To have life in the soul requires something eternal, requires more than what this earth has to offer, requires more. I want that which God has for me. These old bodies of ours, they’re just temporary tents to dwell in. They’re not the most important part of us.
We’re leaving these old things behind. The older you get, and the more pains and groans you accumulate, the more you appreciate that fact. We’re leaving these old things behind. It’s just temporary. These are not the things of life. This is not the stuff of life, but so many people, that’s their pursuit. Now, the soul, that’s where life is found, the soul. Only things which are eternal are valuable to the soul. Matthew 6:19-20, “Do not lay for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal. Lay for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy, where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there, your heart is.”
B. Fixing your eyes on Jesus
Where’s your treasure? The earth is poor because its fortune is buried in heaven but its treasure maps are of your earth. Faith is to walk believing that it’s such a worthy prize. That’s why he says, “Run with your race with endurance, fixing your eyes on Jesus.” Fixing your eyes on Jesus, who said, God set the course accomplishing the purpose for which He was sent. There’s an interesting thing in verse 2, “Who, for the joy set before him endured the cross, despising the shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” He accomplished. He ran with endurance. He finished. It was done. It says, “For the joy set before him.” It’s a great phrase. What was that joy? [music plays]
So much joy that he was willing to endure hostility of sinners against him. What was that joy? It was that, “In knowing that in tasting death for everyone, that He would become the captain of our salvation, and lead many sons to glory.” That was the joy. God sent his son to go and seek sinners and to save sinners, bring them home. That’s the joy because he did it. He went and found sinners, and He’s still doing it today. Go find sinners, bring many sons to glory, bring many prodigals home. He’s the author and the finisher. In Him, faith is born, and in Him, it will be completed. It will be fulfilled.
I want to finish by reading the lyrics of a worship song that we have sung over the years, but it captures this truth so beautifully. It’s How Deep the Father’s Love for Us. “How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure that he should give his only son to make a wretch His treasure, how great the pain of searing loss, the father turns his face away, as wounds which mar the chosen ones, bring many sons to glory. Behold the man upon the cross, my sin upon his shoulders. Ashamed I hear my mocking voice, call out among the scoffers. It was my sin that held him there, until it was accomplished. His dying breath has brought me life, I know it is finished.
I will not boast in anything, no gifts, no power, no wisdom, but I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer, but this I know with all my heart, His wounds have paid my ransom.” Father, thank you for such words that encourage faith because we’ve come to understand that’s where life is found, to walk with you, to walk by faith to have the victory over the things that encumber, weigh us down. Church, how many would say to the Lord today, “I choose to walk by faith?”
God, I set aside every encumbrance, I set aside every burden. These things which have weighed me down for so long, I’ve been carrying these things for so long, God I lay them down. I want to walk with you. I want to walk free. I want to walk with these burdens at the foot of the cross, to walk in freedom. Lord, I pray that now, we would truly trust you in the course of this life. Church, how many would say that to the Lord today, “I choose you, I choose to walk by faith. I choose to walk into victory that comes through Jesus Christ. That’s what I want. That’s the greatest joy in my life. That’s the very desire that I have. God, I choose to walk by faith in you”?
Would you just declare that to the Lord by raising your hand to him? It’s a declaration of faith. It’s a declaration by which you say, “God, I just want to say it because it’s so precious to me.” Father, thank you for everyone who stirred of the Lord, moved of God, we honor you. Thank you so much for loving us so steadfastly that you never quit on us, that you pursue us relentlessly, and that you’ll call us to that which is greater and better in our lives. We love you for it. In Jesus’ powerful name and everyone said
How to Live by Faith
February 5-6, 2022
Today, I’d like you to open the Hebrews chapter 11. We’ll just take a very short break from our regular study. I really want us to look at Hebrews 11 for the importance and significance of what it says about walking in faith is so important in the times in which we now live. The title of our message is How to Live by Faith. Let’s pray. Lord, we come now with our hearts open to You, to Your Word, because we know that You use it in our lives. You send it with purpose. You anoint it by Your Spirit. You stir us up by it.
You draw us to Yourself and show us the way to walk. God, we open our heart to receive from You now? In Jesus’ name, amen. Many sports have what is called a hall of fame. These are the greats, the best of the best, who have accomplished great feats of courage or endurance or determination or sheer grit who have stood out above the others in the isles of sports history. Baseball, for example, you will recognize Babe Ruth or Dizzy Dean or Lou Gehrig, greats of baseball, but there are others who’ve accomplished wonderful, amazing things you’ve probably never heard of.
For example, Hans Kammerlander. Probably never heard of Hans, but he, as recorded, the fastest ascent of Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. 29,000 feet, which he scaled in 16 hours and 45 minutes all without extra oxygen. You’re supposed to go, “Whoa.”
Exactly. Then there’s Diana Nyad who swam 112 miles from Havana, Cuba to Key West Florida and did so at the age of 62 years old.
I know. Exactly. Then there’s Dennis Kipruto Kimetto. You’ve probably not heard of Dennis Kipruto Kimetto, but he is the world record holder for running the fastest marathon, 26.2 miles in just over two hours. That’s 13 miles an hour for 26 miles. That is running a mile in four and a half minutes for 26 miles straight.
That’s what I’m talking about. In the Bible, there’s also a hall of fame. We call it the hall of faith. Hebrews 11 is that place where the heroes of faith who accomplished great feats, but the significance of what they accomplished was eternal in nature. See, there were men and women who influenced the world and accomplished great things because of their faith, because they trusted God and God, therefore, did great things. In other words, they didn’t just believe, their faith became the driving force of their life.
They relied on God in what they accomplished. Now, they were ordinary people like you and me, not perfect for sure. In fact, some of their failures are epic, but they believed God and made all the in their lives and in the world around them. See, it’s interesting that while each of these were common ordinary sinners, there is no mention of their sin or of their failures in this chapter. It’s like God gave them a second opportunity, a second chance, and what He celebrates, what He highlights is the victory of their faith.
Now, that’s so encouraging because there, we can relate to our story. Hebrews 10:17 says, “Their sins and lawless deeds, I will remember no more.” That is such an encouraging word because your story isn’t over yet either. God is still writing your story and if you have sins or failures, it’s not done. The story’s not over. God can rebuild. God can use you to do great things and what He will celebrate is the victory of your faith when you stand up, when you arise in Him, and when you move forward because of your faith.
I. These are the Days of Noah
See, people who are strong in faith arise, they get up, they move, they’re men because of their faith. They are people who move upon they impact the world around them. See, instead of being drawn by the world, by the people around them, they are strong in their faith. They lead by example, they lead by influence. They make a difference in the world around them. It’s a great lesson. These heroes of faith inspire us. Let’s read it. We’re in Hebrews 11, we’ll begin reading in verse 6 and just read 10 verses.
I begin by reading perhaps one of the most famous verses having to do with faith in the entire Bible, Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.” Which is to say, it is impossible. Without faith, you can’t please Him. “for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Then he begins to speak of these heroes of faith. He’s mentioned some already, but now he begins to speak verse 7 of Noah.
“By faith, Noah being warned by God about things not yet seen,” which is to say, being warned about yet to come in the future, “in reverence or in respect of God prepared an Ark for the salvation of his household, by which God condemned the world and became an heir or an inheritor of the righteousness, which is according to faith.” Now there is a deep verse and tremendous implications for us. We are also inheritors of righteousness. Then it mentions Abraham verse 8, “By faith, Abraham, when he was called obeyed.”
By faith. “By going out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance.” We know it today is the nation of Israel, “and he went out not knowing where he was going.” He walked by faith. “By faith, he lived as an alien in the land of promise in a foreign land, dwelling, in tents with Isaac, his son, and Jacob, his grandson, fellow heirs of the same promise.” Now, this is a key verse, very interesting. “For he was looking for that city, which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Not an earthly city, but a heavenly one.
Verse 11, “By faith, even Sarah,” Abraham’s wife, “herself received the ability to conceive even beyond the proper time of life.” Yeah, she was 90 years old. You could call that, for sure, beyond the time people have a baby, “but by faith, she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore, also, there was born of one man,” Abraham,” and him as good as dead at that,” He was like 100, “as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.”
All these died in faith without receiving the promises, having seen them and welcomed them. In other words, they’ve tasted of them and then having confessed that they were strangers and exiles in this earth. For those who say such things, make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. Indeed, if they had been thinking of the country from which they had gone out, they could have returned. As it is, they desire something better, a better country. This is very important. That is to say a heavenly one.
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God. “For He has prepared a city for them.” Very important, these verses and how they are to be applied to our lives starting with this understanding. These are the days of Noah. We are living in days the Scripture describes as very similar to, and in fact, it says, these are the days of Noah in a very similar way. In those days of the days of Noah, people were eating and drinking and going about their business and their minds were turned towards evil continually. They were oblivious to these spiritual implications.
Noah, being warned in advance. See, this is so important. The name Noah has a meaning in Hebrew. It means rest. It tells us that his parents gave him that name saying, “This one shall give us rest from our work and the toil of our hands.” I think a lot of parents have named their kids with that thought in mind.
Now, interestingly, in the Scriptures, a lot of characters in the Old Testament uncommonly, we can see that there are a picture of Jesus Christ. Noah is not a picture of Jesus Christ. Rather, he’s a picture of a believer in Jesus Christ. He’s a picture of those who trust in. See, a rest in. His name actually has deep spiritual importance to rest in the work of salvation that God did. No man earns his way to salvation. You rest in the work that God did. See, Noah’s Ark is a symbol of Jesus Christ for He is a refuge from the gathering storm that will culminate in the judgment of the world.
He is that Ark which saves and only those who enter the Ark will be saved. I am the way I am the truth. I am the life Jesus said. No man comes to the Father, but by Me. Now notice this also, these are the days of Noah and we must recognize them. This truth similarly applies God warns in advance as he did in Noah’s day. By faith, Noah, being warned by God of things not yet seen, of things yet to come in the future. There will be a great outpouring of trouble upon the world. He was warned in advance and I suggest to you that we are living in times very similarly.
That God gives a warning in advance that you would watch for the signs of the times. That there will be great troubles that will be arising on the earth and many with spiritual discernment can sense it even now. There is a great arising of spiritual darkness in the world, but He warns in advance of the condition of things that will be. Notice Matthew 24:12 and 37. Jesus is teaching because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. He’s speaking here of a love of God. Lawlessness, unrighteousness, worldliness will increase in the latter days to such a point that many people will turn away from God.
A. God warns in advance
“For,” then He says, “the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. Noah was warned by God about things not yet seen. By faith then, he responded to it. There will be a cataclysmic destruction. He warns in events. Now, if the world does not end in a cataclysmic judgment event in your lifetime or mine, the moment that you die is the end of the world for you. The question is, are you ready to enter into eternity? God is speaking of a time yet to come. Every person He warns in advance that everyone will give an account of his life. In fact, He says this in acts 17:30-31.
I love these verses, but they are so powerful. God is now declaring that all people everywhere should repent because He has fixed a day. He’s speaking of a time to come. He’s fixed a day it’s fixed, in which He will judge the world in righteousness, through a man whom he has appointed, that’s Jesus Christ. Having furnished proof, having furnished evidence to all men by raising Jesus from the dead. God has made a way of salvation. You’re going to have a day. Someday everyone will stand and give an account of his life. We must then give an account of what did we do when God gave this Word.
B. Influence those around you – by faith
I give you this opportunity for salvation. I sent my son. He is the Ark by which when you enter in, you will become an heir and inheritor of righteousness, which is according to faith. Then we see this also in the life of Noah, a man who walked by faith. It’s this by faith, influence those around you by faith, be an influencer. In fact, that’s become a word today. There are influencers on social media, those people who’ve got a great following. Sometimes they have millions of followers and they’re now called influencers. It’s a new hip word. Is hip a word?
It was a word when I was growing up it, whatever fashion the word. An influencer is someone who influences. I tell you what, it’s an awesome responsibility to be an influencer. Noah was an influencer. He wasn’t a follower. He didn’t follow the crowd. He didn’t follow the direction because the world was going in the wrong direction. The mass of the crowd was going in the wrong direction and he did not follow. Which is interesting because it is the very nature of man to follow, to want to be part of the crowd. It’s part of human nature.
I remember when we used to do a lot of traveling to Russia back in the ’90s. We had all these events and things we would do, but we’d have breaks where I would try to find some shopping for the kids or trinkets or whatever. You go in these stores and whatever they had these glass displays and you have to just look through them because you have no idea what you might find, all assortment of things. It was very interesting what happened. I’d noticed this, you go through and peruse and if somebody finds something interesting, they’ll stand there and look at it through the glass a long time.
As they’re standing there looking at it, other people will notice that he’s looking. They’ll say, “Wonder what he’s looking at.” Then pretty soon you got three or four people gathered around all looking to see what he was looking at. Then other people in the store say, Look at those people, looking at that.” They all come over then pretty soon you got a whole crowd of 10 or 12 all looking to see what that guy was looking at. It’s part of the nature of man. I remember when I was a student at Oregon State University and a crisis came into my life.
Many I think can relate to this part of the story. Out of high school, went to college on my own, left my family all friends behind on my own and there is a longing to belong. I made a mistake. I joined a fraternity and I say that’s a mistake. Now today they have Christian fraternities and sororities that would’ve helped me tremendously. I joined this fraternity and it was a mistake because now we’re all ignorantly traveling a path of destruction together. Then I became the president of the fraternity.
I’m the influencer, but I’m influencing them and I’m leading this thing and it’s all going in the wrong direction. Then one day I couldn’t do it anymore. There’s a moment, there’s a time when your eyes open something you just see it, something happened. I couldn’t do this anymore. I remember waking up on a Sunday morning. It’s like my soul was so disturbed. We had a big party the night before and one of my friends was so bloom and drunk that he tried to ram his head into the wall. I ended up just holding him until he passed out and I went to bed just so disturbed.
What am I doing? Is this my life? Has my life come to this? I woke up the next morning and I walked out to the front porch. I remember this so distinctly it was a beautiful Sunday morning. I remember my shoes sticking to the floor as I walked through the beer. I stood up there and there was something in my heart that just said, God, I can’t do this anymore. I miss you. I miss the life that I had. I went back to my room, found my Bible, which I am ashamed to say, took me a little time, got in my car. I didn’t even know where a church was. I just started driving.
I found a church. I pulled in the parking lot and they were already worshiping. I came in, I sat down and I just sat there and I just started crying. Oh, it’s so beautiful to be home. It’s so beautiful to be back. I went alone that day, but then started inviting others. I’m going to be an influencer. I’m going to be an influencer for something right. Noah lived during a time of wickedness. The thoughts of their minds were always in evil intent. Though he was living in a time, he did not follow the crowd instead he spoke into the crowd.
He spoke into it. He became am an influencer. In fact, it says he became a preacher of righteousness. 2 Peter 2:5, God preserved Noah a preacher of righteousness with seven others, his family. When He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly. He continued, even though they did not listen. Only his family received the Word. Everyone rebuffed him. They rebuffed him. They rejected the idea, but he never stopped. He went on and on and on speaking into it. He spoke into it. Even if they wouldn’t listen, he spoke into it because you never know.
I mentioned this Wednesday and it bears repeating. We have a thing that we do here in our church called Welcome Weekend. We’re actually going to have one of these events coming up in early April. It’s an opportunity for the church to be inviters. You know anyone broken, you know anyone that’s hurting, you know anyone who needs an opportunity to respond to the gospel. Be inviters, invite the broken, invite hurting. We’re going to have an opportunity for the gospel to be declared. People are going to respond. People are going to come forward.
People are going to make declarations of faith in Jesus Christ to rededicate their lives, and it’s always wonderful to see the church doing it. They become inviters and they start sharing with the people around them. Here’s the thing I want you to know in advance. There are many people who will rebuff you. There are many people who say, “Well, that’s not for me. Thank you very much, not for me.” Fine, that’s true. Just like in Noah’s day there are many people rebuffed, but I’ll tell you there are always some who are just waiting for someone to care enough to invite them.
To have an opportunity to do something because there’s many people who are at the very same point that I was at, at that fraternity that day I can’t do this anymore. Is this my life? Is this what its come to? I can’t do this anymore. There’s many people like that. They just need to know that someone cares enough to give them an opportunity. You never know, be an influencer. You never know what it might impact, who it might impact. Even if it impacts one person is worth it. Most certainly impact your sphere. Everyone has a sphere of influence.
Make an impact on that sphere, your own children. Speak into their life, speak into them, fight for them. I’ll tell you why, this world will eat them up and chew them out. Speak into them, speak into them. Abraham Lincoln once credited his mother with instilling in him his character, his character is famous. My mother instilled that. Paul mentioned Timothy’s mother and grandmother by name because of their influence. 2 Timothy 1:5. Paul writes, “I am mindful of the sincere faith within you which first was in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and I’m sure that it is in you as well,” because they spoke it.
II. By Faith be Men of Action
They influenced him. Whatever your sphere of influence, God wants you to walk by faith to speak into it. See, so many people they go through their life oblivious but there’s so much hurt. There’s so much brokenness in this world. He wants to open our eyes to see. People just need to know that you care. Now back to our story in Hebrew 11 we also see this, that by faith be men of action. Men of faith are men and women of action. By faith Noah, taking God at his word, took action, built the Ark.
By faith, Abraham was called to leave the home, the land of his family and to go to a place he’d never seen. By faith he obeyed, he took action. Faith moves in other words, Faith takes action. Faith does things. Faith makes a difference in the way the life has lived. When Abraham was living in that land, God called him to show a place. He trusted God, he took action though he had never seen that land. He simply trusted God. In other words, let’s say it this way. Walk by faith and not by sight. Walk by faith, it’s a great way to live.
You’ll see the way God moves. The way God constructs. God moves in ways you cannot see but God moves. You walk by faith and not by sight. A lot of people want to walk by sight. “Give me a blueprint. Tell me what to do. Tell me how this thing’s going to end. Tell me the course. Tell me the whole plan. Give me the agenda. Give me a text message, God. Give me something. Tell me what this thing is going to be.” God doesn’t work that way. He doesn’t tell you in advance how everything’s going to work out.
He expects that you walk by faith trusting him every step of the way watching as he constructs. Even the things that you think are against you, God can use for his glory. Let me give you a tremendously important example. Many of you know that the church was born in Jerusalem, Pentecost. As the Holy Spirit was poured out, thousands came to faith in Jesus Christ in one day, and something beautiful happened. Beautiful. The church was born and they enjoyed the communion, the meals together, the fellowship, the worshiping, the praying. It was a beautiful time in Jerusalem.
Then another outpouring and thousands more came. It was a beautiful time in Jerusalem. Then tragedy struck. A great persecution arose against the believers there in Jerusalem. It was a very harsh persecution that scattered the believers, throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, and beyond. Now at first, no doubt that the church responded. This is a tragedy of epic proportions but God used it. For those who were scattered abroad, took with them the gospel wherever they went, began to speak into those cities, into those villages.
It began to move and bring a revival so that the whole world became impacted by the gospel that was set forth. Born out of that persecution. One of those that was scattered abroad was a man named Philip. As he was going from village to village preaching the gospel, an Angel of the Lord spoke to him told him to go out onto a desert road that leads from Gaza to Jerusalem. Didn’t tell him what to expect. Didn’t tell him what was going to happen. Just go to this desert road. He goes there and who should he run into on this desert road but a court official from Ethiopia who had come to Jerusalem to hear more about this God.
There he obtained a copy of the scrolls of the Old Testament. As he’s returning on his way back from Jerusalem, as he’s traveling in his chariot, he pauses and he’s opening a scroll. I can just imagine he’s like, “I just got to read this. I just got to read this. I got to scroll.” He is opening the scroll and it just so happens that he’s reading from the book of Isaiah. It just so happens that he is reading from chapter 53 of the book of Isaiah. It just so happens that at that very moment when he is reading Isaiah 53 from the book of Isaiah, that Philip should come by on the road.
Philip hearing him reading from Isaiah 53, says to him, “Do you know what you are reading?” The man says, “How can I unless someone explained it to me.” Philip explained to him. Do you know what’s interesting, there is no better chapter in the entire Old Testament that describes the ministry and work of Jesus Christ than Isaiah 53. There is no better chapter. It is the most detailed explicit clear detailed description of the fulfillment that God would bring of the Messiah through Jesus Christ. There is no better chapter.
It just so happened that he was reading Isaiah, and it just so happened he was reading Isaiah 53. The very moment that Philip was walking by who was told by the spirit to go onto this desert road. This is the moving of God. This is how God moves by his hand on your life. When you walk by faith, watch for it, see it. This is God moving, watch for it. Then after he explained to him what Isaiah 53 was about, and how it was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the man says to him, “Here is water, what prevents me from being baptized?”
He was baptized into the name of Jesus Christ. He went back to Ethiopia with the gospel. An amazing revival church was born in Ethiopia the greatest revival in the continent of Africa, all because of God moving. Men of faith are men of action. Men and women, but they are also men and women of faith. In other words, they are men and women of action because of their faith. They do what they do out of a desire to honor God in their lives. It’s not just what you believe, it’s what you do with that belief. Many people can describe what they believe but what do you do with that belief?
A. Walk by faith and not by sight
How does it impact your life? See, we walk by faith and not by sight means that as you walk by faith, your faith tells you how to walk. As you walk by faith, your faith tells you how to walk. In other words, when you walk by faith, it matters how you walk. Walk according to your faith. Walk according to the character of God, it’s a beautiful way to live. Let me give you a great verse Colossians 1:9-10, “We have not ceased to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
So that you will walk in a manner that is worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” What an amazing description of walking, according to your faith. I’m asking that you be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom, and that you would walk in a manner, in other words, how you walk, how you live, worthy of the Lord, honoring Him, pleasing Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God.
B. Faith looks to the reward
As you walk the course, you’re speaking, you’re blessing, doing good, edifying, encouraging. As you walk the course, that’s who you are. You bless, you edify, you do good. You’re always watching. God is always showing you how to bless, how to speak, how to speak a word of life, how to speak a word that edifies, how to do good, how to bless those around you. There’s a lot of hurting broken people, and God will show you who they are. Bless them. Edify them, speak into them, because I tell you, there are so many people that go through their whole lives looking to see who’s going to bless them.
“I need, I need, I need, who’s going to help me with my need.” Let God help you with your need. Let God strengthen the inner man within you. Let Him pour His Holy Spirit out and heal the hurts and wounds. He’s the one who will rebuild your soul. When He has rebuilt your soul, then you speak life. In the manner in which you walk, walk by doing every good work, pleasing Him in every respect. How you walk matters. Some people believe that the end justifies the means, you’ve heard this phrase. The end justifies the means.
In other words, long as you’re accomplishing something, it doesn’t matter how you do it. Not so. This is a journey of walking one step at a time, and each step along the way, walk in a manner that is worthy. Pleasing Him in every respect. You may have a worthy goal, but if you’re hurting people along the way, this is not God’s way. This is not God’s way to walk. Now, you bless people along the way, and how you walk matters. Trust God with the outcome. The object that you’re trying to accomplish is good. Well trust God, character matters, how you walk matters.
To quote from the famous Westley from the movie, Princess Bride, I love this quote, “We are men of action, lies do not become us.” I love that quote. We are men of action, lies do not become us. That’s not how you walk, lies, compromised character, lack of integrity, they do not become a son or daughter of the living God. Amen.
If you’re walking by faith, then you’re walking because of your faith, and you should walk inside your way that God’s heart and God’s character comes through how you walk. Then lastly, we’ll close with this, “Faith looks to the reward.” There’s an interesting and intriguing theme that runs through these Chapters. It’s an aspect of faith, or perhaps a part of the reason for faith is looking to the reward that God has in store for those who believe. Let me give you just a summary of some verses that speak to it.
Chapter 10:35, “Do not throw away your confidence which has a great reward.” Chapter 11:6 we read, “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Chapter 11:9-10, “Abraham lived as an alien in the land of promise dwelling in tents, looking for a city whose foundation, architect and builder is God.” Not an earthly city, a heavenly one. Chapter 11:13-14, “All these died in faith without receiving the promises, but having seen them in a distance, tasted them, and having confessed that they’re strangers, and exiles on this earth.
For those who say such things, make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own.” Not of the country from which they came, they could go back there, but something better, something greater. We’re all strangers here. We’re all exiles on this earth. This earth is not our home. We’re just a passing through. We have a home, and those who trust in God have their heart turned toward it. Don’t get too comfortable here. This earth is not your home, we’re strangers and aliens here. There’s nothing here on this earth that will satisfy your soul.
There is built into all of us, a great looking forward aspect to our nature. What is that? There’s always a looking forward. When you’re young, you’ll look forward to getting your driver’s license. “Oh, if I could just get my driver’s license, then I’ll be free. I can drive. The world will open up to me.” Then later, always looking forward, “If I could just graduate from high school, I’ll be free my parents. Then everything will be great in my life.” Then, “If I could just start my career, if I could just get my college done,” just always looking forward.
Then, “If I could just get married it would solve all of my problems.”
I few married among us, I see.
Then always longing, “Oh, they want to have a child.” If we could just have a child. Then later, if that child could just sleep through the night. There’s always a longing, always a looking forward. Then, “Geez, can’t wait to retire. If I could just retire.” Always looking forward. What is that? In fact, here’s an interesting thing, if you don’t have something to look forward to, many people find themselves in a crisis. They have nothing to look forward to, their world comes crumbling down. Why? Because there’s built into the human soul, a great looking forward.
Why? Because there’s a longing in the soul to be satisfied. The soul wants to be satisfied. It’s looking, always looking, but I suggest to you that there is nothing in this earth that can satisfy the soul. There’s a lot of things in this earth that will satisfy the flesh, or at least try. The flesh is never satisfied, but there’s nothing on the earth that can satisfy the longing, and desire of the soul for the soul long for something better. Something greater than this world. The soul is made to be satisfied in God, and God alone.
Let me give you an interesting analogy. In the year 410 AD, something happened that people thought would never happen. Rome, the city was sacked and pillaged brought to its knees, and defeated. Those in that time, in that time were shocked. Unfathomable, the great Rome, how is it even possible? It was called the Eternal City, and it sent such a shock wave that Augustine wrote a book in response to it called, The City of God.
The thesis of the book is you put your hope in the wrong city, that’s what. I suggest to you that there is a modern analogy, the sacking and defeat of Rome. Rome being brought to its knees 410 BC has a modern analogy. It would be as if the United States was brought to its knees, unfathomable, impossible. The great America, the greatest nation on the face of the world, the great power, the wealthiest, how is it possible. There is an interesting arising today of a change in the world order. There is an alignment now between Russia and China that I suggest has epic spiritual and prophetic implications.
For the Scripture describes that there will be a vast army that comes from the north of more than a million coming against Israel and they will be defeated. If it were not for the intervening hand of God when God sends his son the Messiah and redeemer of Israel to intervene, but how is it possible that such a vast power could arise? I suggest to you only because that which stands to check and contain it today, which is America and the West is one day brought to its knees. Unfathomable, but we are seeing before our eyes the weakening of this nation. Can we not see it?
Augustine wrote this book and I suggest to you that his thesis has every implication for the times in which we’re living. You put your hope in the wrong city. If you put your hope in America, you put your hope in the wrong city. He wrote then of two cities, the earthly city, and the city of God, that’s the name of the book, The City of God. The earthly city consists of those who have immersed themselves in the cares and pleasures of this present passing world. They find their greatest treasure is here, it’s here on earth that they look to fill the longing of their heart.
Those who are of the city of God have fixed their eyes toward heaven, their greatest treasure is there. They look for that reward. Their future and their hope is fixed on heaven. Settle this matter, for those who have their hearts fixed on heaven know that there’s something beyond this world, some great longing is satisfied only in God. They have turned their heart toward home. We have a home. This world is not it. We’re strangers and exiles here. We have a home, and we’ve turned our heart toward home, and now we’re walking home.
It’s a long walk, but God will walk with you on the way. When you fix your heart, you know the direction in which you are walking. It’s a beautiful way to live, not an easy way because the journey in the path is through a wicked and dark world, but I’ll walk with you. I will not leave you, I will not forsake you, I will walk with you on the path of this journey. When you get done walking, you will find yourself home in the presence of your Lord. That is where my heart is fixed. I know in whom I have believed and I have turned my heart toward heaven and there is no turning back.
Let’s pray. Father, we do thank You and honor You for how beautiful it is to walk by faith, not easy but beautiful, for You walk with us in it. Oh God, move upon us now, help us to settle this matter. Church how many today would say to the Lord, “I know where my hope is found, it’s not here, it’s not in this world. My hope is found in heaven. I’ve turned my heart toward home, and that’s where I’m walking.” Would you say that to the Lord? By just raising your hand, you’re just going to declare it.
I just want to say God, “I’ve settled this. I know where my home is. I’ve turned my heart toward home and I’m just going to keep on walking. Thank You for walking with me in it. Father, thank you for everyone who stirred of the Lord, who understands that You’re speaking life through Your Word, we honor You now in it in Jesus’ name and everyone said. Can we give the Lord, praise and glory and honor, Amen.