- Sermon Notes
Don’t Fall Short of God’s Promises
Israel was preparing to enter the land God promised them. At this point, they were camped on the east side of the Jordan River, just north of the Dead Sea.
The context of the verses is that while the sons of Israel were preparing to cross the Jordan, two of the tribes decided that it wasn’t so bad right where they were. They had much cattle and other livestock and could see that the land on the east of the Jordan was good for grazing, and that was enough for them. They didn’t want to cross the Jordan, they wanted to stay right where they were; outside the promises of God.
The problem was that God had not brought them through the wilderness for forty years to camp just outside of His promises. But how tempting to do the easy thing.
The land on the east side of the Jordan was already conquered. The Amorites and the people of Bashan came against Israel in unprovoked attacks and Israel defeated them. The Midianites had also been defeated.
The tribes of Reuben and Gad realized they could have this land without any further blood, sweat, or tears. In other words, life would be easier if they didn’t cross the Jordan to the land of promise.
There are important lessons from the story. Many people live just outside of the fullness of God’s promises because they want to do the easy thing. They don’t press into deeper things spiritually. They become spiritually content with less than God’s best. They become spiritually stagnant.
You can imagine Moses being astonished at this request. He would have given anything to cross the Jordan River, but he can’t. Here, these two tribes can, but they won’t.
I. You’re Called to Deeper Spiritual Things
- The tribes of Reuben and Gad made a logical business decision. They had lots of cattle and livestock and the east side of the Jordan was good for grazing. It seemed simple and straightforward.
- The problem was that it was less than what God intended. They weren’t just anybody, they were God’s people and He brought them out of Egypt for the purpose of giving them the fullness of His blessing and His promises.
- The same is true today in the sense that God brought you out of the world and gave you the hope of eternal life for the purpose of bringing you into spiritual maturity and to move you into deeper spiritual things.
A. There are no revivals on cruise ships
- The problem was that Reuben and Gad didn’t want the effort of crossing over and facing the giants they knew were there. They were content where they were, outside the promises of God.
- They didn’t want to clear the rocks from the fields, to clear the trees and the brush, to carve out the vineyards and orchards, to face the enemy; to experience the abundance of God’s best.
- The problem was that the land on the east side of the Jordan was cleared of enemies because the whole nation of Israel defeated the Midianites, the Amorites and the people of Bashan, but now Reuben and Gad wanted to let others do the work of the battle while they relaxed and put their cattle out to pasture.
Illus – For our 25th anniversary Jordi and I took a cruise to Alaska. I had never before been on a cruise; man, talk about indulgence; the food was over the top, our room was cleaned daily with little chocolate mints on the pillow, staff at the ready to serve our every whim. But then we came home, what a shock; who’s going to cater to us now?
- Some people develop a cruise ship Christianity. They want to be catered to; they’ll even change cruise ships according to who has the best accommodations, which one serves the best food; who has the best entertainment.
- The tribes of Reuben and Gad were done, they reached as far as they wanted to go. They didn’t want to press on any further; but there’s no revival there.
Illus – In the days of steam powered trains, if someone stopped throwing in coal, it wouldn’t be noticed right away. But power wouldn’t be there when it was needed most. There was no fire in the engine.
- Later, if Israel asked for their help, they could just say, “We’re busy raising our cattle, we don’t have time to help.”
Philippians 2:12-13, Work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
Proverbs 13:4, The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the soul of the diligent is satisfied.
- The scriptures encourage you to pursue deeper spiritual things.
Hebrews 5:14- 6:1, Solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore, leaving the elementary teachings about the Christ, let us press on to maturity…
B. Your faith will impact others
- Moses responded to the request of Reuben and Gad with a strong correction. “Shall your brothers go to war while you yourselves sit here? Why are you discouraging the sons of Israel?”
- Then he reminds them of what their fathers did when the 10 spies discouraged the faith of the whole nation. Imagine the discouragement if two entire tribes decide to not enter in?
Illus – Imagine what was going through the mind of Moses, I’m not spending another forty years in the wilderness with these people!
Caleb and Joshua followed the Lord fully!
App – If you become spiritually defeated, that will impact those around you the same way. However, if you become spiritually on fire, that will also impact those around you.
Illus – CH Spurgeon once was asked why so many people were coming to his church, “I am on fire for God. And when I preach, they come to watch me burn.”
Illus – Imagine spiritually what others have done before us to allow us to have the freedom we have in Christ today; those who suffered for Christ, those who translated God’s Word, who carried it throughout the world, and who died in the process.
May it be said of us that we didn’t drop the ball. This is our generation. What will we do for those who follow after us?
Illus – Ron and Linda Hewitt and their example of faith that impacts those around them.
2 Timothy 4:6-7, For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
Illus – Don’t wait for someone else to lead spiritually. Some say, “Let someone else lead, let someone else pray for revival, let someone else be on fire, I’m busy, I got cattle things going on…”
C. Cattle can turn into pigs
- After Moses’ strong challenge, the tribes of Reuben and Gad came back with a compromise. What if they would build fortified cities on the eastern side of the Jordan to keep their children safe and send the fighting men over to help in the battles to come?
- Moses permitted this compromise, but when you look far into the future you see how this compromise worked out.
- They wanted this area because it was good for livestock; and at first, they raised cattle and sheep. But many years later, when Jesus came to the area of the Gadarenes, the area of Gad, they were raising pigs, which is against the laws God had given to Israel.
- When Jesus came to the area, He was immediately met by a man with an unclean spirit who was dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him or was strong enough to subdue him. He was constantly, night and day, screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones.
- Seeing Jesus, he ran up and bowed down before Him and shouting with a loud voice, he said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore you not to torment me!”
- Jesus said to him, “What is your name?” And the demons answered, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” And the demons implored Jesus not to send them into the abyss. There was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain and the demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine.”
- Jesus gave permission and the unclean spirits entered the swine and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about 2000 of them, and they were drowned in the sea.
- This was reported in the city and the people came to see what had happened. When they came, they observed the man who had been demon possessed sitting down, clothed and in his right mind and they became frightened…
Mark 5: 17-18, And they began to implore Him to leave their region. As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him.
- Spiritual compromise will always be costly at some point. The fruit of it is seen when you come to the point of not wanting Jesus near. But what a contrast – the man who had been demon possessed wanted to be near, to go wherever Jesus would go.
- How much better the heart of the sons of Korah in Psalm 84.
Psalm 84: 1-5, How lovely are your dwelling places, O Lord of hosts! My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. The bird also has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even amongst your altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God. How blessed are those who dwell in your house! They are ever praising You. How blessed is the man whose strength is in You; in whose heart are the highways to Zion!
II. Sin Will Find You Out
- Moses wouldn’t be around to hold them to their promise, so gave them a solemn warning that has become wisdom for all ages.
- Verse 23 — Your sin will find you out. He even said, “Be sure of this” –be certain of this truth – “your sin will find you out.”
- They say that only two things in life are certain, death and taxes, but it seems there are other things that are certain as well.
Illus – Moses knew something of sin finding him out. When he saw the distress of his brothers in Egypt, he beat an Egyptian and killed him and then tried to hide him in the sand, but it was known the very next day.
A. There is a sin of doing nothing
- When Moses said that their sin would find them out, he was referring to the sin of doing nothing.
- Reuben and Gad committed to help their brothers even as their brothers had helped them; and Moses was holding them to their promise.
James 4:17, Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
- What does it take for evil to prevail? For good men to do nothing.
B. Sin will find you in your conscience
- First, there is no such thing as a secret sin. God always knows and if we could all live in the light of that knowledge, it would truly change us.
Hebrews 4:13, All things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.
- If you run from your sin, you can be sure that it will not stay silent; it runs after you, that’s true, but you also take it with you.
Illus – There’s a story of a man who sent the IRS a check for $1500 and a letter saying, “I didn’t pay all my taxes and can’t sleep…”
Illus – Joseph’s brothers thought immediately of what they had done to their brother 17 years earlier when things started going badly in their lives!
- David also knew something about having sin catch up to him.
Psalm 32:3-4, When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me.
- Sin will find a person because they are sowing to the flesh and from the flesh they also reap.
Galatians 6:7-8, Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
C. God is faithful and just to forgive
- The issue at hand is running from sin. Know for certain that it will run after you and will eventually catch up to you.
- But what if you do not run from it at all, what if you take hold of it and bring it to the foot of the cross and ask Jesus to wash it by the blood of Jesus Christ?
1 John 1:8-9, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- He is the one who restores the soul. He is also the one who makes all things new.
2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Illus – There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins; and sinners, plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains…
Numbers 32:1-25 NASB
1Now the sons of Reuben and the sons of Gad had an exceedingly large number of livestock. So when they saw the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead, that it was indeed a place suitable for livestock, 2the sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben came and spoke to Moses and to Eleazar the priest and to the leaders of the congregation, saying, 3“Ataroth, Dibon, Jazer, Nimrah, Heshbon, Elealeh, Sebam, Nebo and Beon, 4the land which the Lord conquered before the congregation of Israel, is a land for livestock, and your servants have livestock.” 5They said, “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants as a possession; do not take us across the Jordan.”
6But Moses said to the sons of Gad and to the sons of Reuben, “Shall your brothers go to war while you yourselves sit here? 7Now why are you discouraging the sons of Israel from crossing over into the land which the Lord has given them? 8This is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. 9For when they went up to the valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the sons of Israel so that they did not go into the land which the Lord had given them. 10So the Lord’s anger burned in that day, and He swore, saying, 11‘None of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob; for they did not follow Me fully, 12except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have followed the Lord fully.’ 13So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until the entire generation of those who had done evil in the sight of the Lord was destroyed. 14Now behold, you have risen up in your fathers’ place, a brood of sinful men, to add still more to the burning anger of the Lord against Israel. 15For if you turn away from following Him, He will once more abandon them in the wilderness, and you will destroy all these people.”
16Then they came near to him and said, “We will build here sheepfolds for our livestock and cities for our little ones; 17but we ourselves will be armed ready to go before the sons of Israel, until we have brought them to their place, while our little ones live in the fortified cities because of the inhabitants of the land. 18We will not return to our homes until every one of the sons of Israel has possessed his inheritance. 19For we will not have an inheritance with them on the other side of the Jordan and beyond, because our inheritance has fallen to us on this side of the Jordan toward the east.”
20So Moses said to them, “If you will do this, if you will arm yourselves before the Lord for the war, 21and all of you armed men cross over the Jordan before the Lord until He has driven His enemies out from before Him, 22and the land is subdued before the Lord, then afterward you shall return and be free of obligation toward the Lord and toward Israel, and this land shall be yours for a possession before the Lord. 23But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord, and be sure your sin will find you out. 24Build yourselves cities for your little ones, and sheepfolds for your sheep, and do what you have promised.”
25The sons of Gad and the sons of Reuben spoke to Moses, saying, “Your servants will do just as my lord commands.