Summary: Will we plan on crossing the threshold as we move into 2019? Will we follow God's plan?
Crossing the Threshold
December 30, 2018
If we were all to be really honest, we all have fears and phobias. What one person fears, another may laugh at. For example, I have a fear of heights. And I’m not overly fond of snakes and spiders. Most people have something which gets them.
It may be something they don’t talk about. It could be something like a fear of failure. Or it could be a fear of public speaking. Maybe it’s a fear of needles or blood, or it could be water, or closed spaces.
As we come to the end of 2018, I’m sure we can look back and see areas where we were successful and areas where we missed the mark. Maybe we’ve also seen opportunities missed. We could have missed those opportunities and we regret it. We’ve learned that hindsight is always 20/20. We always see the past much more clearly.
With that in mind, on this last Sunday of the year, I want to talk about a missed opportunity for the people of Israel as they were preparing to enter into the promised land.
After the Exodus, the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. Until finally, they came to the threshold of entering this new land. They were promised it was a great place to live. Abraham had lived there and now his descendants were about to enter.
As Moses stood at the burning bush, before the people were freed from slavery, God told Moses ~
8 I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey. – Exodus 3:8
That was the promise from God. Now, the people are finally standing across the Jordan River, looking at the land. It was time to enter. I can only imagine the joy and hope the people felt about arriving to this new home. A land with great promises. Wouldn’t you be excited . . . maybe a little nervous about this land? I’m sure the people were.
For the first time in their lives, the people were free, they were moving into this new land and they allowed themselves to dream and have visions of this new future, a preferred future in this new wondrous land.
As the Israelites made their plans to move into this promised land, they were at the proverbial threshold.
As we end the year, and look forward to what 2019 brings, we also stand at a threshold. Before us are new possibilities and challenges. We can look at the possibilities as a gift from God, as challenges to our faith, as tests which propel us to trust God more than we’ve ever trusted Him. And in so doing, we’ll be ensuring that our witness to the world and that First Baptist Church will embark on a mission which glorifies God.
However, if we allow them, the obstacles can disappoint or even frighten us. When that happens we may turn and run for cover. We may return to that which we know, even if it’s not good for us, but, it’s familiar. When we look at the story of the Israelites, this happened to them as well.
God used Moses to lead His people out of their miserable past as slaves in Egypt to the threshold of their future in the Promised Land. There in the desert south of Israel, God showed them the land which He had promised to Abraham, hundreds of years earlier.
God told Moses to send out an advance team (a group of spies) in order to determine what the Israelites needed to do in order to take the land. Everything was set for them to cross the threshold to take what God had already given to them. I really believe this was God’s test for the people of Israel. Would they really trust God, or would they trust in themselves?
Some of the spies threw a wrench in the plan. Twelve men were sent out. Let’s look in at Numbers 13 and 14, and catch their report ~
25 At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land.
26 And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel.
They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.
27 And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us.
It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.
28 However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large.
31 Then the men ... said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” – Numbers 13