Summary: A sermon looking at the topic of having the courage to leave the wilderness and move into the promises of God. This message looks at the areas of compromise, contentment, and God's purpose verses His promise, and stepping out by faith and risking it all.
Desiring the Wilderness
This week I was looking at the topic of courage and I read God’s word to Joshua as the Israelites were preparing to cross over the Jordan River to enter and possess the Promised Land. When I think about this I see our own journey of faith, our journey to spiritual transformation, and the courage we need to possess the promises of God.
The Lord said to Joshua,
“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NKJV)
But as they were making preparations to cross over Joshua reiterated a promise Moses made to three of the tribes.
And what I saw from this exchange is how many believers have become content with the wilderness and fail to enjoy God’s promises.
Read Joshua 1:10-18
The story of this agreement is found in Numbers chapter 32. These tribes had a lot of livestock, and the land East of the Jordan River was well suited for their needs. It was fertile and perfect for grazing and pasturing their flocks, but technically it was still considered part of the wilderness and not a part of the Promised Land.
So they came to Moses and requested this land instead of the inheritance mapped out for them. Basically they said,
“We’d rather stay here. This has got everything we need, and we don’t want all the trouble it’s going to take to cross over and possess something we haven’t seen yet.”
Moses became angry and rebuked them believing that by their actions and request they would discourage the rest of the tribes, the same way the 10 spies did forty years earlier resulting in Israel wandering the wilderness for 40 years.
But a compromise was reached. They would build places for their families and livestock on the East side of the Jordan River, and then the men would cross over armed for battle thus helping the other tribes receive their inheritance.
These are the words they spoke to Moses at this compromise.
“We will cross over armed before the Lord into the land of Canaan, but the possession of our inheritance shall remain with us on this side of the Jordan.” (Numbers 32:32 NKJV)
Moses agreed with the compromise, maybe because he really couldn’t do anything else knowing that everyone has the right to choose the level of life they’re going to live in.
And so these tribes tied themselves to the wilderness, desiring the wilderness more than God’s promises, and therefore sealed their fate - they didn’t stand a chance!
How will we know if we’re following in their footsteps? This is important, because far too many Christians actually come up short of God’s promises by being content with the wilderness as well.
Here are some questions we need to ask to help us identify this possibility.
1. Have We Compromised?
To compromise is to make certain concessions in order to achieve a desired end. There are both good and bad compromises. What makes a bad compromise is when we enter into a situation we know is wrong.
The Apostle James says,
“To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17 NKJV)
The tribes of Ruben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, worked out such a compromise. They’d get what they wanted, the land East of the Jordan River, but a land never promised to them by God.
The height of their compromise was when they said they would obey what Joshua said, as long as it went along with their desire. (Joshua 1:16-18)
Isn’t it interesting how they were willing to obey Joshua, yet at the same time they were willing to disobeyed God?
We make such compromises when we start trying to make deals with God. But God wants us to enter into His promises, and that means obeying His commands.
When we make such compromises when we say things like, “Lord, I’ll give You the tithe when I get out of debt,” or “when I get a raise at work.” Or, “Lord, You know how hard it is for me to share my faith, so let my life be my witness.”
And then there are the “I wills.” “Lord, when my children grow up, then I will…” Or “Lord, once football season is over, then I will…”
These are nothing more than compromises, us trying to make a deal with God so that we don’t have to follow His commandments. And so instead of helping us enter into the promises of God, these compromises lead us back into the wilderness.
2. Has Contentment Set In?
Contentment is basically being satisfied with what we have and not wanting anything else.