Summary: Just when we think we know exactly what God is going to do next, He wants to do something new. Putting God in a box could prevent you from receiving great blessings.
October 5, 2003
Text: Numbers 20:1-13
Subject: Water from a rock
Title: Participate, Don’t Anticipate.
As members of the human race, there are things that we share in common. We like to remain comfortable. We are resistant to change. We like to have an indication of what the future will bring. When Charlotte and I used to help put on retreats for catholic youth, one of the things we used to tell them (the invariably wanted to know what was going to happen next) was, “Don’t anticipate! Participate, ”. For some reason we feel more at ease when we know what is going to happen next. It has been said that those who do not remember history are destined to repeat it. Those who do remember will find some other way to mess up.
Today we are going to look at the nation of Israel. For forty years now they had been wandering around in the wilderness because they were not willing to get out of their comfort zone. Now, God had brought them back to the same place that they were when the spies were sent out to investigate the land of promise. Now we have different players. Most of the old generation had died. Moses and Aaron remain as the spiritual leaders of Israel. A new generation has arrived at the place where their fathers had rejected God’s promises. The results? Let’s look at the story and see some of the spiritual principles that are available to us today. I believe that we are turning a corner in this church to be all that we can be in the name of Jesus. I want you to be aware that this is not just a history lesson today. God has a special message for you that will change your life if you let the words settle into your hearts.
I. The Same Test. (1-5)
A. The nation of Israel was in a time of distress. Actually, they found themselves in the same situation that their fathers were in a generation before. Only here we find their need for water compounded by the loss of one of their leaders. Miriam, the prophetess - the one who watched over Moses as he floated down the river; the one who approached Pharaoh’s daughter about a nursemaid for the baby; the one who had led them in worship for forty years – had died. Yet, apparently, rather than mourn for her and attempt to console Moses and Aaron, they gathered against them. I want you to take notice here that God’s word always prevails. God doesn’t make special exceptions for people of high rank. God said that only Joshua and Caleb would survive from the previous generation. Not Miriam, not Aaron, or even Moses. It is funny how some people think that they have things all worked out with God. Me and the “Man upstairs” have things worked out. If having it all worked out doesn’t include a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then it isn’t worked out. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of destruction.” (Proverbs 14:12)
B. People like to complain. Look at the words that are used here to describe discontent. “they gathered against Moses and Aaron” and “they contended with Moses and Aaron”. If you don’t think that children learn from their parents then think again. Turn over to Exodus 17:1-3. Same situation – same response. Different generation. Do you know what is happening here? God gives each generation the opportunity to overcome the mistakes of the previous one. What does that mean to you? For Americans we see that the previous generation allowed God to be taken out of our schools. You can put Him back. The previous generation has allowed immorality to be broadcast over the airwaves and projected on TV screens. You can put an end to it. The previous generation of fathers relegated themselves to being the breadwinner instead of the spiritual head of the household. You can take back your biblical position. The previous generation has allowed 30+ million children to be killed. We can bring and end to the carnage. God is the God of second chances. We don’t have to make the same mistakes that we made before or the ones the previous generation made. Paul wrote that the examples of the Old Testament of those who were judged for their complaining, idolatry, sexual immorality are “written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages has come”.
C. It is easier to blame others than take responsibility for yourself. “Why have you brought us up into this wilderness that we and our animals should die here?” Have you ever gone through a spiritual wilderness? I have. And I have spent a lot of time blaming other things for my lack. I’m too busy. I’m too tired. I just don’t feel like it. God seems so far away. I have been to the point where I just felt like I was dying a spiritual death. And I can blame things, or take responsibility for myself. If I am too busy to find time to pray and study, the problem isn’t the amount of work I have. The problem is where I have placed my priorities. Jesus gave a clear answer to the problem. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” even tough the Lord told them that He would lead their generation into the Promised Land; they never accepted responsibility for their own actions. “Why have you made us come up out of Egypt?”