Summary: In Deut. 8 Moses talks to Israel about what God was doing in their 40-year journey in the wilderness. This sermon applies those principles to the Christian's journey.
Have you ever gone through an experience and looked back thinking, “What was that all about?” Anybody here ever been thrown a curve by the way events occurred in your life? You expected one thing and that was not the way it happened at all.
I want to begin this morning in Deut. 8. In Deut. Moses is at the end of his life and he is reviewing with God’s people their journey with God. I don’t think it happened the way they expected it to happen. I think some explanation was in order. And Moses gives it to them by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
It was a glorious day when God parted the Red Sea and led His people out of Egyptian bondage. Exodus 15 records the Pentecostal praise service that followed. Miriam grabbed her tambourine and they praised God like never before. They danced all over the place. “I will sing unto the Lord, For He has triumphed gloriously! The Horse and it rider He has thrown into the sea!” In that one event they had gone from pending disaster to glorious victory. Trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army, it looked like there was no hope. Then God intervened, parted the Red Sea and destroyed the enemy.
Have you ever had an experience that left you thinking, “Happy times are here to stay; we’ve got this thing licked now; it’s gonna be smooth sailing from here on out.”? Have you ever had a Red Sea experience? a point in your personal history when breakthrough happened –and it happened at such a level that it felt like all your troubles were behind you. I need you to get a sense of the emotional state of Israel at the Red Sea so you can fully appreciate the text I’m about to read. Are you there?
Now jump forward with me 40 years to Deut. 8. Moses says, “Let’s look back over our lives and try to understand what God was doing during our journey.” I might take the liberty at this point to add—“because it didn’t happen exactly the way we thought it would; in fact, it was very different than what we thought as we stood on the shores of the Red Sea and watched the bodies of Pharaoh’s army wash up out of the sea.
Deut. 8:2 “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness….” Let’s stop right there for a moment. The Lord led them where? I thought we were going into a paradise? Later, in verse 15 that wilderness is described as a “…terrible wilderness in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water….” To be honest with you, that sounds more like a place the devil would lead us into than a place the Lord would lead us to. Since God is God and could do anything, could He not lead them on an easier journey? If He could create the Heavens and the Earth with His word, couldn’t He have transformed that wilderness into a paradise right before they got there? Why would a loving God deliver His people from Egypt, only to lead them into a terrible wilderness with fiery serpents, scorpions, and no water?
Let’s talk about your journey and my journey. We have people in this room who have had to overcome Leukemia, cancer, bankruptcy, divorce, just to name a few. They’ve been through hail and high water. I personally have walked through some wilderness ground and contended with some fiery serpents—and so have you. Why is David’s journey from the sheepfold to the throne filled with adversity? Why couldn’t God have just given him a favor with King Saul that ushered him to the throne nice and easy? Instead David had to dodge spears, run from Saul as a fugitive of justice, and contend with the Philistines while he was doing it. What’s going on here? Why does the Apostle Paul have to endure shipwreck, stoning, and imprisonment on his journey? He’s serving God with everything in him. If God is all-powerful, then these things don’t have to be. Maybe it’s not polite to ask these kind of questions in church, but you get in a wilderness full of trouble and unexplained difficulties--and these questions come to mind.
Someone might say, “Yes, but they didn’t have to spend 40 years in that wilderness. In eleven days they could have entered the Promise Land.” Yes, to do what? To fight with giants. When the second generation does enter the Promise Land, it’s a battle There’s Jericho, then the defeat at Ai, then more battles. That is what the first generation should have been doing. But it doesn’t change the fundamental question. “God, why don’t you make this journey easier?” Why not kill all the giants in the land with a plague, so that I don’t have to fight them? Why has God allowed adversity in your life? Why hasn’t God stepped in a made it easy for us? Why do I have to contend with the devil at all? Why didn’t He make it easy for Joseph and David and Paul? What in world is God doing in my life?