Possessing the Promises
February 2-3, 2019
Here we are Israel is now at Mount Sinai. They're receiving what is called the Law of Moses. We've been looking at the 10 commandments in great detail, but there were more laws, and rules, and principles given other than that. There were many more principles to guide them, and direct them, and teach them. God wanted justice, He wanted righteousness, He wanted respect for one another. There are rules about charity and generosity. There are rules about kind treatment of animals and animals get a day off too. God respects and honors, actually, the animals. There are rules about forgiveness of debt.
There are many instructions that He gives them to speak to them about the character and the heart of God for them. Actually, we're going to begin in verse 20 but one of the verses that you'll really see that is in chapter 23:4-5 where it says, “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering away," this is the enemy’s ox. You know how a lot of people would respond if they saw the ox or the donkey of their enemy out of the pen, you know how a lot of people would respond? They'd say, “There's the ox of so and so, you look at that, it's out of the pen. You know what? Let's chase it out to the desert, maybe the Lions will get it. That’ll serve him right, that little so and so.” That's the way people would act but not in the word.
It says, “If you meet your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering away, you go and get it and return it to him." If you see the donkey of the one who hates you lying helpless under load, don't refrain from leaving it there, you release it with him. What character we would have if we lived similar principles in our lives today. Interestingly, Jesus does give similar principles in the New Testament. Jesus said, "I say to you, love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you so that you will be sons of your Father.” In other words, you will be like your Father in heaven. That's his character, that's his heart. Now, there are other rules, of course, given some of them interesting.
Verse 19 has a rule that says, "You are not to boil a kid," which is to say, the kid of a goat, "You are not to boil a kid in the milk of its mother." Now, God gave this rule very likely because He wanted them to be distinct from the other nations, the pagan nations around them because this was something that they would do. They would do it as a way of believing that they were bringing fertility to the land but there's something cruel about the thought of boiling the kid of a goat in the milk of its own mother. Now, it's also very likely that God was concerned about the message of mixing life, milk of a mother, with death, the boiling of the kid.
It's very interesting, but this is one of those rules that has been taken to its extreme today. When you go to Israel, we're taking a group there this Fall, one of the things you pick up is that you cannot get any milk products at dinnertime. They have no milk products available at dinnertime. In the off chance that whatever meat you might choose might get mixed with the milk of its mother, you cannot even get chicken with any milk products. The last I checked, you can't get milk from a chicken. I'm thinking they’re taking that thing too far.
Now, but the verses I want us to look at here today, starting in verse 20, are filled with promises. Did you know that there are promises given in the Law of Moses?
I. God Will Be with You Along the Way
This is important for us to understand, “But these are promises that are conditional if you will truly obey my voice and do all that I say.” Now, there are principles in the New Testament, there are promises for us. Some of them are unconditional but some of them are conditional, and we understand. We need to see the principles, we need to see the character of God, and we need to see how these apply to a New Testament believer. Let's look at it starting in verse 20, “Behold, I'm going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way.” They're on their way to the promised land. “I'm going to send an angel and he's going to bring you into that place that I have prepared.”
He’s speaking of the Holy Land. “Now, be on your guard before him” the angel “And obey His voice. Do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not part in your transgressions since my name is in him.” Now, of course, the New Testament believer takes hold of a greater promise. For in the New Testament, we know that anyone who comes to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin is given to it based upon the work that God did for us through His Son. Verse 22, “If you will truly obey His voice, and do all that I say, then, I will be an enemy to your enemies, I will be an adversary to your adversaries.
For my angel will go before you and He will bring you into that land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, the Jebusites, and the electric lights.” I just added that part to make sure you're listening. “I will completely destroy them, you shall not worship their gods, you will not serve them, nor do according to their deeds. You shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces, but you shall serve Jehovah, the Lord your God and He will bless your bread and your water, and I will remove sickness from your midst. There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land.” Interesting.
“I will fulfill the number of your days. I will send my terror ahead of you. Yes, they would hear of the God of Israel well before they even arrived. I will throw into confusion, all the people among whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their back to you,” which is to say they're running. “I will send the Hornets ahead of you that they may drive out the Hivites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites before you. I will not drive them out before you in a single year so that the land may not become desolate, and the beasts of the field become too numerous. I will drive them out before you little by little until you become fruitful and can take possession of the land. I will fix your boundary.”
It's interesting because they never actually achieved these boundaries. Not in their heyday of David and Solomon did they achieve these. We believe, then, that when the Lord Himself rules and reigns, He will restore the full boundaries of Israel. He says, “I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea,” or the sea of Reeds “to the Sea of the Philistines,” which is the Mediterranean “and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates.” The river Euphrates "And I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand and you will drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. They shall not live on your land, lest they make you sin against me. For if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”
Now, these are great words, great principles. We'll look at the other verses around this on Wednesday, but I want us to start with this principle that God will be with you along the way. God told Israel He bore them on eagle's wings. “I brought you to myself,” He said, “For the principal, for the purpose of relationship. "You come to me, I bore you on eagle's wings.” Then, He adds this promise, "Now, I will be with you along the way." This is a great truth for the believer in Jesus Christ. It's a great principle. It's the staff of faith. We take hold of principles like these, Jesus said something similar. In fact, Jesus is called Emmanuel, which means God with us.
Jesus said something similar in Matthew 28:20, “I am with you always even to the end of the age.” Let me show you another verse so that you can see how it applies to faith. Notice Hebrews 13:5-6, “Be content with what you have,” here's why, “For he himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you so that we can confidently say,” we say it with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid, what will man do to me?”
A. God will bring you safely home
See how that faith comes out of that promise, “God's with me, He promises to be with me.” Then, He adds that He will bring a safely home, God will bring you safely home. God promised to send an angel.
Many believe this to be a pre-incarnate example of Christ of the angel of God, oftentimes, is a theophany, an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament. That promise that He would go before them to guard them along the way, that He would then bring them to the place that God has prepared for them. That's a great encouragement to the believer to know that there's something very similar. God knows what's ahead in the journey of life and He promises to bring us safely home. We're going to make it safely home. John 14:1-6, Jesus gives these famous words, "Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. For 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 if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again. I will receive you to myself that where I am, there you may be also." You will go safely home. When our daughter died some four years ago, this was a great promise to know that she was going to make it home, safely home. God never promised a life free of troubles. I see no promises in the scripture of that. In fact, Israel, He said He's going to guard you, He's going to guide you along the way, but they face troubles, many. God never said that you would be free from troubles, but He did promise that He would be with us along the way. He'll be with us in the storms and He promised to bring us safely home. I love Amazing Grace, that's hymn.
Some of the words so powerful, through many dangers, toils, snares, we have already come. It was grace that brought us safe thus far and grace will lead us home.
He promised safe passage. Jesus said, "Nothing can snatch you out of my Father's hands." We know that there will be troubles along the way, but He'll be with us in the troubles. In fact, it's oftentimes the troubles and the storms that teachers the greatest lessons. James 1:2-3, "Consider it all joy, my brother, when you encounter various trials, for you surely will. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance."
Someone, as well said, "If your faith cannot be tested, it cannot be trusted." God tests faith because that is what strengthens faith. That's how it grows and gets deeper. In fact, I tell you, you could do a study all the way through the Bible then you would see a great truth, that some of the greatest men of faith are those who suffered the most. In fact, I would even submit that it appears that those who had the greatest calling, the greatest purpose, the greatest mission that God put upon them, are those that endured the greatest storms. I think one of the greatest examples has to be that of Joseph. God gave him this vision of greatness and grandeur that he would use him.
Then, what happened after that? Trouble upon trouble upon trouble. God actually used those troubles to bring about His purpose, to bring about a great deliverance for Israel. David, David was anointed the future king of Israel and then, immediately, endured trouble upon trouble, but God used him. He was preparing him by those troubles. Then, you can speak of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, all of them. Each of them, stories of troubles and difficulties along the way, and the favor of God, and the favor of God. You can look at the New Testament, the disciples of Jesus. You can see example, He actually sent them in the storms. He sent them knowing a storm with would be encountered.
Remember the night or the day when Jesus did that great miracle of feeding the 5,000 with the five loaves and two fishes. That evening, as the day was coming to an end, He put them into a boat and said, "Go to the other side," which is to say it's going to be an all-night journey, and that was the night. The famous night where they encountered this battering storm. Says in Matthew 14:24-25, "The boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves, for the wind was contrary. In the fourth watch of the night, He came to them walking on the sea." This is that famous story, where Jesus comes to them at night, walking on the water, in the fourth watch of the night.
B. Listen to the voice of the Lord
They had been fighting those waves and that contrary wind all night long, and then Jesus comes. It's a great point of faith that He then establishes in them because here's the principle. These principles, they're promises, and you talk about possessing the promises. Here's one of the principles it's founded on. Listen to the voice of the Lord. God promised to send an angel to guard them along the way, but He says, "But you must listen to His voice." Now, this is very, very important because many people want to possess the promises of God, but they seem to miss the part about listening to the voice of the Lord. This is a great point for us.
There are promises in the New Testament that are conditional, if. Let me give you some examples. For example, Jesus gave this in Luke 6:47-48, great principle. He said," Everyone who comes to me, and hears my words, and acts on them". What does that mean? It means that they receive, they hear, and then, they do it, they listen. They listened to the voice of the Lord. "I will tell you, I will show you whom He is like. Here's like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock." Now, here comes the promises that follow. "Then, when a flood occurred, when the troubles, the storms came pounding down, and a torrent burst against that house, it could not shake it because it was well built."
That life is established on a rock and that rock is Christ. If you hear my words, and you take them to heart, and you live by them, all promises follow. Then, there's this promise in verse 22, great promise, "God would be an enemy to their enemies and an adversary to their adversaries." It's interesting because many who follow the modern history of Israel can see some revealing of similar things, even, since they became a nation in May 14, 1948. Upon that declaration, six Arab nations immediately attacked and no one thought they could survive, let alone be victorious, and even expand the borders. They say, "This is amazing."
Then, in the 50s, in the war with Egypt, and 67, and 72, it's amazing what people have been seeing. I want to submit something to you, I want us to admit that God is not blessing Israel today because they have truly listened to His voice. In fact, most of modern Israel today is secular. Therefore, you say, "Well, why do we see them? What is happening? Why is God blessing Israel?" I will give you several reasons. Number one, because God is not finished with Israel. Number two, because God is faithful to His promises. Number three, because God is setting the stage for the latter days. He is setting the stage for the revealing of the latter days.
We are seeing prophecy unfolding and God is preparing for the revealing of the Son of Man. Now, we look to the New Testament because there are similar promises to this in the life of the believer. For example, Romans 8, we love Romans 8, one of the greatest chapters in the Bible, right? Verse 31 is like one of those capstone verses. "What then shall we say to these things, if God is for us, who is against us, who can be against us?" This is a great point of faith. Do you believe this? If God is for you, who can be against you? See the fact that God is for you, has greater significance than anything being against you. That's a rock, the staff of faith right there.
Let me give you Psalm 27, I love Psalm 27. It is an amazing declaration of faith. Listen to some of these words. Just the first few verses. "The Lord is my light. The Lord is my salvation, whom shall I fear?" Hey, if the Lord of my light and the Lord is my salvation, then why should I be afraid? "The Lord is the defense of my life, well then, whom shall I dread?" Hey, if the Lord is the defense of my life, who should 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." Let me give you this verse, listen to this one. Psalm 71:5, memorize this verse because this is a great verse. "You are my hope O Lord God, you are my confidence from my youth." Listen to that. "You are my confidence.” You know today, there's the Mantra of the modern age is that of self-confidence. You know what self-confidence is? It’s confidence in self. I have a penchant for the obvious. It's confidence in self. David said, "No, My confidence, is what? “You. You are my confidence." That's a big difference. Isn't it? Would you rather have God-confidence or self-confidence? If you got self-confidence, your confidence is only going as far as you. If you got God-confidence, your confidence is going as far as God.
C. He promises His favor
I don't know about you, I'd rather have that one because this is what He says, He promises His favor. That's what He says, he promises His favor. Verse 25, God said that He would bless their bread and their water and remove sickness and miscarriage from the Land of Promise. Now, that's a blessing for Israel in the Promised Land, if they would sincerely listen to the voice of the Lord and those promises of Israel are tied to their being in the Promised Land. Yes. There is a similarity in the New Testament for the life of the believer. He desires to bless and heal. The favor of the Lord is on His people. Why? Because He's a Father and we have been received as adopted children, He says.
Therefore, as a father loves his children, every father wants to bless his children. Every father wants to pour his favor out on his children, any good father. We are loved and the favor of God is upon us. Psalm 1:1-3, listen to these great words that speaks of that favor, "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the path of sinners nor sit in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord.” The Word of God, we would say. "And in His Law He meditates day and night." Now, this is a principle, this is the principle. “Hey, if you would hear my words”, Jesus said. Very similar, isn’t it? The principle, it gives us the key now to spiritual growth and spiritual maturity.
"In His law, He meditates." Here's the result, here's the promise, here's the blessing. "He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither. And in whatever he does, he prospers." The favor of God. What a great promise. He promised also, He says to send Terror ahead of them. People would hear and know that God was with them and we know that is, in fact, what happened? He promised to send confusion against their enemies and cause that which was meant to harm them to be defeated.
Very interesting example of that, 1967, in the famous Six-Day War. In case you're wondering how long the Six-Day War was, it was six days. I have a gift, the obvious is before me. The armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria amassed on their borders with an explicit intent, annihilation of Israel, complete destruction. Israel did a preemptive strike. They did an Air Force attack against the Air Force of Egypt while they were still on the ground. Within two hours, the Air Force of Egypt was incapacitated. They defeated Egypt in two days. Then, Jordan. At this time, Jordan had Jerusalem and the entire West Bank. Israel, actually, contacted Jordan and said, "Don't do it. We give you advance warning, don't do it."
An Egyptian General called the king of Jordan and said, "We are exacting a great victory against Israel, quickly, quickly make your attack from the East." Misinformation and lies. They started the war and then, Israel ended it two days later. They took Jerusalem and the entire West Bank. Then, Syria, to the North, were hesitant, hesitant. Some Syrian jets invaded Israeli airspace and the Israeli jets pursued them. Pursued them all the way back even to Damascus, which is the capital of Syria and shot them down. The people in the capital saw the battle and saw the plane go down, and hear the weapons being fired. A rumor began to spread, quickly, that Israel had invaded Damascus itself. Confusion raining.
Radio Damascus put it out as a bulletin. "The fighting in the streets of Israel and the Syrian soldiers on the Golan Heights, we better retreat," and they just left the Golan Heights. Interesting. Here's an interesting side note factoid. I'm just making up words as I go. The intent of those Arab Nations was not to create a Palestinian state. The intent of those nations was to expand their own borders. Now, that's an important thing to remember in light of what's happening in today's world. Secondly, after the 1967 War, it should be well noted that the Israeli Knesset, the Parliament of Israel, voted unanimously, unanimously to return everything that they just had taken in the ‘67 War, everything.
Gaza, West Bank, Golan Heights, all of it in exchange for peace. The Arab Nations, flat out, rejected the offer. It's important to recognize for what's happening in the modern world.
II. Trust that God’s Timing is Perfect
Now, back to Exodus 23, here's a principle that we can see to apply to our lives. Trust that God's timing is perfect. God wanted Israel to possess the land and that land, He said, He would go before them and drive out their enemies. He even said He would use hornets to drive them out. Hornets would do it. Anyone here ever been stung by a hornet? You will know that being stung by a hornet is worse than being stung by a bee. They will surely chase them out.
I remember when I was young, and we were living out in the country and we had a farm and there was a hornet's nest in the woods next to the pasture. I decided to exercise dominion. I figured if I had a stick long enough and big enough so that I could destroy that hornet's nest from a distance, I would have dominion. Let me tell you how that ended. Not very well because they decided that they were going to exercise dominion over me and I got myself out of there. Hornets would do it, but this is what
A. Victory may come little by little
He says, "Victory may come little by little." Verse 29, God said that He would not drive out their enemies in a single year but drive them out little by little.
Now, there's a spiritual analogy, a spiritual principle, many see that this is a picture of spiritual victory. This is important because we live in a time and culture where many people want instant things, instant victories. We live in an instant world, instant messaging, everything's fast today. We want microwave popcorn, we want quick drive up menus, we want everything fast. The same is true spiritually. People want to achieve. I have immediate, but what does it mean to be a disciple? It means to learn, it means to grow.
Paul writes in Philippians 3:12-14, "I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which I also was laid hold of in 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 toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." That's growing step by step, little by little, increasing daily. That's why I'm so excited about what God is doing in the men of our church. There's real discipleship happening, mentors meaning with those wanting to be discipled. Gathering together, being serious about their faith. God is on the move. It's exciting to see men who are serious and wanting to grow in their faith. Amen. Little by little.
B. God waits until you’re ready
Notice this also, God waits until you're ready. There are things God waits to give you until you have more spiritual maturity. God gives them to you when you're ready. We need to grow in our spiritual walk so that we can grow into that which God has in store for us. It's like, for example, young people, oftentimes, they think about being married. "Oh, I want to be married." They know just the kind of person that they want to have for a spouse, forgetting that they aren't at that point of maturity themselves.
I remember having a conversation with our youngest son, who is in his teens and resisting a bit. I'm pressing him, I'm showing him, I'm trying to show him why I'm going to press him with character things, right? I said, "Let me give you a lesson why, let me tell you why I'm doing what I'm doing. Do you want to be married someday?" He said, "Well, yes." I said, "Do you want to have a good marriage?" "Yes." "What kind of wife do you want to have?" He gave me a great answer and he started to list out these qualities of character. Christian, responsible, love children. That's a good answer. Then, I said to him, "So, what kind of a man are you going to have to be to attract a woman like that?" Amen.
There's some growing and it's going to have to happen in your life. God knows we need to grow. I remember when the church first started, very first Sunday, 18 people were at service, 18 people. Then, sometime later, we doubled. The church doubled in size, I tell you. I was nervous and overwhelmed because we had 35 people show up. I was in the bathroom washing my hands thinking, "Oh, Lord, help me today." God knows we got to grow. There are challenges and problems you don't even yet know about. God is preparing you, God is preparing you for what's coming your way.
C. Make no covenants of compromise
Then lastly, we'll close with this. He says, "Make no covenants of compromise." "No covenants," He said. "With the inhabitants of the land or their gods, lest they make you sin. If you serve their gods, they will be a snare to you." This is an important point because we live in a time, in an age where the spirit of this age will be a snare. It will be a snare. Some people, "This thing is too difficult to defeat in my life, I guess I'll just have to live with it. I guess I'll just have to accommodate it, I guess I'll just have to make an agreement with it. Well, you can have this part and I'll give God that part. Let's just have a little agreement, shall we? With the world, with the times in which we live in"
"Okay, I can't defeat this thing. You can have that part, God can have that part." God says, "No, I want all parts." Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. That's the blessing of God on your life. He said, "You make that compromise, you make that agreement, don't you know it will be a snare to you, it will cost you? I want to help you, I want to be a blessing to you. I want to pour my favor out on you. Make no covenants of compromise, give me your heart."