The Lord is My Shepherd
All right, here we are with Israel, they are getting near to entering into the Promised Land and I want us to put it in our mind where they're located because it's very important to the story of where we're today. Imagine in your mind you know where Sea of Galilee is, and the Jordan river connects the Sea of Galilee down to the Dead Sea. Well, Israel is camped on the Eastern side of the Jordan but even a little bit further inland because there's a mountain range called the Abarim mountains, and on other side, they cannot see the land that God promised, that's very important.
When we look at these verses today, the focus is actually on the relationship between God and Moses. God tells Moses to go up to the mountains of the Abarim and to look out onto this land that He is giving sons of Israel because he's not going in. He's not going in himself, but he can see with his eyes. Now the reason he's not going on is because it says that Moses rebelled against God's command at Meribah near Kadesh. This is a very, very important part of the history of Israel and there are so many lessons that are for us to take hold of out of this story.
Moses at Meribah, he misrepresented God to congregation. It says that he did not treat God as holy before the eyes of the people because Moses was angry and his anger caused him to not put weight to the Words of God, he did not treat God as holy. What had happened because it's a very key part of the history of Israel, the sons of Israel are striving with Moses, they're complaining, they're bitter because they have no water, but God wanted to do something with this.
He wanted to demonstrate something amazing that's going to be a picture of the coming Messiah, His son whom He sends to be the Living Water. He tells Moses at Meribah to stand up in front of the people and, "I want you to just speak to the rock, just speak the Word and the rock is going to bring forth Living water." Well, this is all connected to what had happened sometime before this when Israel just had come out of Egypt and there they were again grumbling and complaining there's no water.
On this first occasion, God wants to again give a picture of Christ here so He says, "Now, stand in front of the people, take the staff on your hand and I want you to strike the rock. When you strike the rock, the water will burst forth from that rock and provide living freshwater, the people will be satisfied." Of course, it's a picture of Christ, it's a beautiful picture of Christ because Jesus became that provision of Living Water when He died on the cross.
The rock was struck you might say and because the rock was struck, because Christ was crucified, we received life, but having been struck once, He need never be struck again. He died once and He died once for all. Therefore, now on this second time at Meribah He's trying to do something very important, "Now you do not strike that rock, I want you to simply speak to the rock." It's a powerful picture for us because once Christ has been crucified on the cross becoming our Savior, becoming that which defeated death for us providing that Living Water of life, it need never be struck again.
You need life, Jesus says, "Let him who is thirsty come to me and drink." All you got to do is ask. You just speak to the rock and it will bring forth life for you. It's powerful. It's beautiful. When He told Moses to stand up and speak to the rock, He was doing something important but, hey, Moses was angry. He stood up in front of the people and this is what he said, "Listen up you rebels." Now I suggest when you start your speech with the words listen up you rebel is generally not going in the way that God wants it to go, but he's hot. He's angry, "Listen up you rebels, shall we bring water for you out of this rock?"
Then, no, he didn't speak to it, what did he do? He took his stuff and he struck it twice. That wasn't the message. He rebelled against God's command, which is to say he did not put weight to the Words of God. Therefore, He says he's not going to be allowed to enter the promised land but God is gracious and allows Moses to see with his own eyes the land of Israel.
I. Maturity in Also Seen What You Don’t do
There's a lot of lessons in the story because here when He tells him to go up to look out upon this land, you see spiritual maturity in Moses when he humbly accepts what God says.
There's just a spiritual maturity to accept what comes from the Hand of God. He does not argue, he accepts. There's a lot of lessons out of that. There's also a lesson then what he says when he's told that he's not going to lead his people, when he's told his not going to go into this land, he then asks, "In that case Lord, please give them a shepherd. Do not let them be like sheep without a shepherd." You got to love his heart. There's a lot of lessons.
Let's read it, Numbers 27, we'll begin in verse 12, So then the Lord Jehovah said to Moses, "Go up to the mountains of Abarim and see the land which I've given to the sons of Israel." By the way, we were just there in that area of Jordan and Mount Nebo was part of the Abarim mountains, and we could see it's beautiful. Although that day we were there it was hazy which is unfortunate because when it is a brilliantly clear day, oh my goodness, what you can see, it's absolutely marvelous.
He goes up to this mountain, "See that land which I've given to the Sons of Israel and when you've seen it, you too are going to be gathered to your people" which is to say you're going to die, "as Aaron your brother was gathered to his people". For in the wilderness of Zin during the strife of the congregation, you rebelled against my command to treat me as holy before the eyes of the people at the water. This are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin."
Moses spoke to the Lord and he said, "May the Lord the God of the spirits of all flesh," that is a really key phrase, "May He appoint a man over the congregation who will go out and come in before them, who will lead them out and bring them in that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd." The Lord said to Moses, "Take Joshua." His name in Hebrew Yehoshu'a. By the way, Jesus in His name in Hebrew is the same, Yeshua, we say, Yeshua ha-Mašīaḥ, The Messiah.
"Take Yehoshu'a, Joshua, the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit of God, lay your hand on him. Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation and commission him in their sight, and you shall put some of your authority on him in order that all the congregation of the sons of Israel may obey him. Moreover, he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the Lord. At his command, they shall go out, at his command, they shall come in both he and the sons of Israel with him even all the congregation.”
Moses did as the Lord commanded him. And he took Joshua and stand him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. And he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord had spoken through Moses. These are the verses I want us to see and apply. There's a lot for us to take hold of understanding that this is about spiritual maturity. One of the things that we've got to recognize here is that maturity is also seen in what you don't do. Yes, it's seen in what you do but it's also seen in what you don't do. He's bitterly disappointed, no doubt.
He had a very deep desire, he wanted very much to go over to that land. In fact we see that right in Deuteronomy 3:23, he said, "I pleaded with the Lord, I pleaded with Him saying, "Oh Lord God, you have shown your servant your greatness and your strong Hand. Let me I pray cross over and see this fair land that is beyond the Jordan that good hill country in Lebanon." The Lord was angry with me on your account and would not listen to me. The Lord said, "Enough, speak no more of this matter." When he hears this word, in spiritual maturity, he accepts what God says. He has learned to put weight on the Words of God.
A. Accept what comes from God’s hand
I tell you this a great lesson because we need to learn to put weight to the Words of God. To treat God as holy means that you put weight to His Words. Frankly, it's a very important thing because there's like a crisis in the church today. There's like a crisis because God needs to be more revered. There needs to be more weight put on the Words of God because the consequences are real. See he's giving as a picture of spiritual maturity. You cannot have spiritual maturity until you learn to put weight to the Words of God. His word is authority in your life. When He speaks there is that word that says, Lord, yes, your authority is that which directs my steps and I recognize that your Hand is the direction that I want to move in my life.
See, otherwise, what do you have? Otherwise, it's you. You're the authority and you're the master, you're the commander, you're the one who moves by your will. God says, "Yes, I'll tell you how that's going to end. It's not going to end well." He says, "You treat God as Holy, it's a part of spiritual maturity when you put weight to His Word when His Word has the authority in your life." Moses, he accepts what God says and there's a great lesson to accept what comes from God's hand.
He could've blamed the people. He could have blamed the people for provoking him into this angry response. You people, you did this, you made me angry, you made me frustrated, and now look what you've done, but you don't see that. By the way, I suggest that people have more control over their anger than they think. I'm convinced people have more control over their anger than they think. Here's an example, okay, there you are, you're hot, you're saying hot things, you're saying some words that are coming out of your mouth because you are hot and then all of a sudden the phone rings.
You're with me on this? And the phone rings and you pick up the phone. "Hello." My wife and I, we were just sitting here having a little chit chat, we're just all good, see, you have more control than you think. You can imagine how Moses could've been worn down leading these difficult people all these years. Maybe he could have appealed for mercy. God, you know yourself, how difficult these people are, but Moses does not argue with the Lord at all on this. He accepts God's decision and it's a picture of spiritual maturity. He didn't blame the people, he didn't become angry, he accepts what God gifts by His Word.
That is spiritual maturity for there are many people in their spiritual immaturity who blame God when things don't go as they think it ought to go, but there is a maturity that says God I accept what comes from your Hand. There are biblical examples about maturity. Job, it's got to be one of the examples. What difficulties, yet we know he was a righteous man. Joel 2:9-10 gives us this one particular moment where his wife said to Job, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die, man." But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks." But listen to what he says, "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?"
Now, this is a point of spiritual maturity. In all of this, it says, Job did not sin with his lips. Here's another example, David King of Israel, he wanted very much, he wanted to build the temple in Jerusalem. Wanted it to be the capstone of his life work as a picture of the relationship and his heart after God. I want to build the temple for you Oh God and the Lord says, "No, David, you are a man with blood on your hands. No, you will not build this temple. It will be left to the one who comes after you." His son will build it. Imagine the disappointment, but in spiritual maturity, he accepts what comes from God's Hand.
There are many things that happen in life that you may not understand, even may cause you to wonder what God is doing, but faith trusts. Part of maturity to trust that which comes from God's Hand.
Yesterday, we received the call that one of our brothers, Ron, who had a just a massive heart attack and I went to the hospital and his wife Linda was there. I don't know what's going to come of it. We were praying, she asked if we could pray for him. Of course, I prayed. Pastor Sean was there, he prayed and then his wife Linda prayed and I want to tell you one of the most amazing, beautiful prayers where she said, "Lord, I trust my husband to you. I entrust my husband into your Hands. Lord, I ask you if you can heal him, then heal him. But Lord, I trust you. I trust my husband to you."
I wish I could say it half as well as she said it because when she's praying, I started crying. It was so amazingly beautiful and when she finished, all I could say was, "Linda, that's beautiful". That's so beautiful. Things happen in life that are difficult. Faith trusts that God's Hand is over all things and that you can trust Him to order your steps. I love Psalms 37:23, I've quoted it often "The steps of a man are established by the Lord and He delights in his way." That's a great truth. The steps of a man are established of the Lord. See, by the way, question, did Moses ever get to enter into the promised land? Did it ever happen that Moses got to go in?
Yes, it did so happen. If you remember this story when Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration and who was it that came and appeared and talked with Him? Moses himself on the mountain there in Israel. This is actually Matthew 17:2-3. Jesus was transfigured before them. It's like the glory of God manifested, right? His face shone like the sun. His garments became white as light and behold, Moses and Elijah appeared talking with them. I would have loved to have heard that conversation, but there's Moses finally standing in that place.
B. God gives hope of what is to come
An here's an interesting thing also that we see out of numbers 27, God gives hope of what is to come.
He gives a glimpse of what is to come, and thereby He gives hope. God brought Moses to the mountains of Abarim to Mount Nebo of Pisgah and there he could see the land that God was giving to the nation of Israel. This is shown to us in Deuteronomy 34:1-4, Moses went up from the plains of Moab to mount Nebo to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And by the way, when you go there and stand on Mount Nebo, you see the Jordan river there, and you can see Jerusalem is right there. It's beautiful.
The dead seas right over here, it's a beautiful scene. There he stands, He goes to the top of Mount Nebo to Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho and it says, the Lord showed him all the land. I love to just imagine how scenes play out in the Scriptures, maybe I have too big of imagination, I don't know, but I love to just imagine how this might play and I imagine- because you know the Lord spoke to Moses as a man speaks to his friend. I just have this image in my mind that there's Moses looking out over the scene and it says, the Lord showed him and I just love this because I imagine the Lord saying, okay, now over here you see, this is where Dan is going to be and then there's going to be Naphtali and Ephraim.
It describes it, it says, "The Lord showed him the land, Gilead." He's like moving from the right over to the left, from the North to the South. Gilead as far as Dan, all of Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah now straight into before him all the way to this Western sea to Negev the plain in the valley of Jericho, the city of palms and Zocor. I just love this picture. He's giving him a glimpse. It's giving him this picture. There's hope when God gives a glimpse of what's to come, and there are many examples where God does that. It says that Paul was given a glimpse into heaven itself.
What a view, what a picture. It says 2 Corinthians 12:3-4 "and I know how such a man, whether in the body or apart from the body, I do not kow. God knows, he was caught up in the paradise and he heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. What a beautiful thing? He gives him a glimpse of heaven and he hears words that are inexpressible, what hope is built when He shows him this picture. When God told Moses then, that he would be gathered to his people. He's now showing him and giving them a glimpse of what's going to come after his death. That's a great encouragement because God gives a glimpse of that.
See, there were leaders back in Jesus's day, there were some Jewish leaders named Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection. Can you imagine this? They believed in God, but they didn't believe in the resurrection, and so they confront Jesus with this supposed conundrum, which he then refutes directly, but then this is what He says,-- First of all, what a sad thing to not believe in the resurrection?" To believe in God but to not believe in the resurrection is a very sad thing and maybe that's why they were called Sad-u-cee! But Matthew 22: 29, 30, 31, Jesus answers them and He says, "You are mistaken."
I love this Scripture. "You are greatly mistaken". Not understanding the Scriptures nor the Power of God. Now, regarding the resurrection, regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God? I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. He is not the God of the dead, He is the God of the living, for He yet is their God because they yet live in the presence of the Almighty. It's a beautiful picture. He gives these promises as a foundation of hope. There is so much more yet to come and He gives you a glimpse to build hope.
It's like 1st Corinthians 2:9, as it is written, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." Which is to say, you have no idea. God has so much in mind for you. God has so much ahead for you, you have no idea. God gives a glimpse, God gives a picture of that. It's like God gives you the Holy Spirit of the Living God as like a down payment, the Scripture says. Earn this money, because it's describing for us that when you get into the presence of the Almighty in heaven itself, you will be overflowing with the Holy Spirit. You will have the fullness of the living God in the overflowing of the Spirit but it gives you the same Holy Spirit right now like a Taste of heaven.
Have you ever experienced worship, where you are just moved by the Spirit so that you almost feel like you want to cry, because the Spirit is moving in this worship experience and you almost want to cry, ever experience this? Yes, that's the Holy Spirit. You've just got a little taste of heaven right there. Or maybe you've been in the Word and all of a sudden, you are impressed by the wisdom and the depth and the principles that apply and your mind is all of a sudden seeing what God is giving to you and you are amazed. Yes, the Holy Spirit is giving you a taste of the life that is to come because God will reveal Himself and all of His glory, He's giving you a taste. He gives you a glimpse and it's a beautiful thing because He gives you hope in it.
You see, the spiritual maturity by what he does not say when he doesn't argue, he accepts, but then you see it next by what He does say. "All right then Lord, if he cannot go, if he cannot enter, if he cannot leave these people," then he says, "oh Lord God, do not let them be as sheep without a shepherd. Give them a shepherd." He cares and it's a beautiful picture because here's what he knows, sheep need a shepherd.
You've got to love the heart of Moses here because the sons of Israel, they might have been complaining, difficult, cantankerous, challenging a lot of people, but Moses loves them to the end. He asks, oh, he wants to be sure that they have a shepherd, because here's what he knows and this is a great truth very much for all of us, you were meant to have a shepherd.
"Do not let them be like sheep without a shepherd." That phrase, by the way, is used several times in Scripture to describe a people that are lost without hope, without direction, without a shepherd. Jesus in Matthew 9:36 says, "Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd." Without a shepherd, they're distressed and dispirited. This is important because He's giving a picture that's very much true. God knows that we need that kind of relationship to the Lord where we have the closest and nearness. He loves like a shepherd loves his sheep and he says, "I know that this is the very thing that you need."
We need a shepherd and we need fellowship with one another. It's a beautiful picture of sheep together. We need a fellowship with one another because it's not good to be alone. It's not good to be alone or lonely. That's not in God's heart. To quote the famous American philosopher, Paul Simon, "I've built walls that none may penetrate. I have no need of friendship. Friendship causes pain. It's laughter and it's loving I disdain. I am a rock. I am an island, and a rock feels no pain and an island never cries. I'm a rock. I'm an island" That's just sad. That's just sad. That song was very popular in the, when was that popular?
-'60s, I think. I read about this in history books. I know.
That's just sad. A rock feels no pain? That's not true. That's not true. What happens is that people hide it. They mask it. Oh, an island never cries? That's not true. No, they mask it, they hide it. That's why He is speaking a great truth. I know the hurt. I know the brokenness. I know the lostness. I know the pain and I will be a shepherd to you. It's like what Jesus said in John 10:10-11. We love these verses, but see how they connect together? "I came that you may have life and have it abundantly," and then He says this, "I am the good shepherd and the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I love you so much. I lay down my life for you. I know the pain. I know the hurt. I know the lostness and the emptiness."
Moses was a shepherd for 40 years, you remember, before he led the people of Israel, he was a shepherd in the desert for 40 years. He knows something of which he speaks. He knows that if they have no shepherd, it will not be good. You were made for that. You were made for that kind of relationship. God knows the hurt, the pain, the wounds, the things that people hide. God says, "I am the shepherd who knows and who understands."
You are made for fellowship. There's something right and good about being also with other believers, being connected as a family together. There's something right and good about this picture and he knows that which he speaks. He's been a shepherd. He knows that sheep have no survival instincts. They seem unaware of danger and when they finally become aware of danger, all they know to do is run. Without a shepherd, it says, "The sheep scatter." If they scatter, they become easy prey.
By the way, the enemy would very much like to do that today. If he can get you isolated, if he can get you pulled away, if he can get you alone and isolated, then he can accomplish something to defeat. We need that relationship where God is near and speaking to life and in touching the hurt. Jesus said in Matthew 26:31, Jesus told them, "This very night, you will fall away on account of me for it is written, I'll strike the shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered because that's what they do."
II. Sheep Need a Shepherd
We need a shepherd. See, Moses knows that, what he is speaking, because he knows that sheep have no defenses. When attacked, the only thing sheep can do is run and frankly, they can't run very fast. They cannot outrun any of their predators, not one. They cannot outrun one of their predators, and anything can attack sheep. Even squirrels can attack and defeat sheep. I read it in the newspaper.
It was in the Russian newspaper Pravda, so therefore you know it has to be true.
Sheep don't have teeth that can defend. They're defenseless without a shepherd, and also he knows, he knows of which he is speaking. He knows that sheep have no homing instinct. In other words, they easily lose their way. They easily lose their way. Isaiah 1:3, "The ox knows its owner, and the donkey knows his master's crib but Israel does not know. My people do not consider. They easily lose their way." We know it's true. Many animals have tremendous homing instinct. There was an interesting story. Have you ever read stories of criminals that do dumb things? Well, criminals do dumb things has been going on a long time. There's a story of a man in Israel who robbed someone but left his donkey behind. the official simply untied the donkey followed Him to the Master's home where the thief was promptly arrested.
Certain animals have tremendous homing instincts. Dogs, you've heard of stories where they'll travel over mountains and streams and deserts that get hundreds of miles. Plenty of animals have homing instincts, but she, no. That's why He says, do not let them be like a sheep without a shepherd.
B. God wants shepherds after His own heart
Then He says, "Then take Joshua, a man in whom is the Spirit." Because this is a key thing, God uses leaders. God appoints leaders. He uses them as shepherds under Him, and this is the point that we really need to grasp. God wants shepherds after His own heart. If you are in leadership in any capacity, whether it's home or your family or whatever it may be, if you’re given leadership in any capacity, would you please take hold of this great truth to care, to lead with that kind of care is God's heart. It's always been God heart. Would you notice Ezekiel 34:15-16. This is the Lord speaking His heart. "I will feed my flock. I will leave them to rest," declares the Lord God.
"I will seek the lost. I'll bring back to scattered. I'll bind up the broken hearted and I'll strengthen the sick." That's the Lord's heart. If you have any leadership at all, take this heart because it's love that defines it. It's love that's seen in it. Whatever your responsibility is, whatever your leadership is, let it be that which God shows you in His heart. First Corinthians 13:1 says, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but do not have love.
I have become a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal," which is to say it's love that makes you something. It's a key to what he's showing us. Then lastly is giving us a picture of His heart. Moses knows of which He is speaking and He knows this is a great truth that can be summarized in Psalms 23, He restores your soul is the theme. That's what a shepherd is about. Psalms 23 was written by the best known of shepherds, David King of Israel.
The famous pastor Harry Ironside, once wrote, "Psalms 23 is probably the most beloved yet least believed of all the Psalm,". Most beloved, least believed because there are so many promises because it shows you the heart that God has. He the pain. A rock feels no pain. This is not true. They hide the pain. This word of a shepherd, the Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want my provision, my hope, my resource. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, sheep will not lie down unless they're free from fear, free from strife, free from hunger. In green pastures, He laid me down. It means in nourishes He feeds. He strengthens. He speaks life to the soul.
He leads me beside still waters, peace. "My peace", Jesus said, "My peace I give you." It does not lead them to turbulence or conflicts, peace. He restores my soul. That's the heart of the Lord. To restore, to rebuild, to speak life. He guides me in the paths of righteousness and then it finishes by saying, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord all that days of my life. I love those words because what is He saying? I want the relationship to you where you would draw near. Let me speak life, let me touch the pain, let me heal the hurt.
Many people, they carry deep, deep hurt and pain. They just hide it. No, let me speak to it. Let me touch your heart and I'll heal the hurt and the brokenness and the pain. I will restore your soul. I'll bring life to you. I'll cause your soul to be filled and overflowing with the joy of the Lord, but you've got to come near. You've got to draw near as a sheep will draw to the shepherd and then you will say with David, "I Will dwell in the house of the Lord all that days of my life."
Father, thank you so much for your heart after us, for showing us your desire to speak life, to heal the broken, the loss, the hurt. Church, would you draw near? Would you see that He is saying to us, it's in the nearness of God that He speaks to you life. He knows the hurt, the pain, the wound, and He wants to speak life. He wants to touch, wants to heal, but it's in the drawing near that you would then say, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord all that days of my life to behold the beauty of the Lord. It's a picture of invitation. Church, as we're praying to the Lord, would you say to the Lord, even now, it is my heart and my desire to dwell in the nearness of God.
In the nearness of God, I want it dwell. Would you say that to the Lord this morning? Would you open your heart to let Him speak life, whether it's pain or hurt or lostness, let Him speak to you, but you know that He's inviting you to talk near. In the shadow of The Almighty, you are safe. Would you say to the Lord today, I want the nearness of God. I want to draw near. Would you just raise your hand to the Lord and just say to the Lord today, "I want the nearness of God. I want to draw to you, Lord. I want you to have your Spirit fill me with life."
Father, thank you for everyone who is touched of the Lord, moved of God. We give you thanks, we give you glory. We give you honor for all that you're doing in us today in Jesus name and everyone say-
Can we give the Lord Praise and glory and honor today? Amen? Amen.