Summary: It is time for God's people to declare that we are drawing a line in the sand. We will not choose to go back to Egypt. We will continue to advance to the Promised Land!
Drawing a Line in the Sand”
For most of us when we go on a trip we often purchase something, a souvenir that reminds us of that place. It’s not the cost of the item that really matters, it’s the memory behind it. Two years ago I went to a baseball game in Kansas City to see the Royals play. While there, I bought this bottle of water. It came right out of the fountain in their stadium. Holds about 12 ounces of water I suppose and paid $10 for it. Kind of an expensive bottle of water-I don’t intend to drink it. This is on the shelf in my study and when I see it, it reminds me of a great evening of baseball I enjoyed with my three sons and my son-in-law. We had a great time.
That picture I have on my wall, one of my favorites, it will be as meaningful to you but to me it speaks volumes. My family gave this to me about 25 years ago. It is titled my father’s business taken from the passage when at the age of 12, Jesus went missing for three days. When asked where he had been he simply replied, didn’t you know I must be about my father’s business? This picture makes me think about all of our years of ministry and getting ready for Sunday mornings, a pair of little boy’s shoes, a little girl’s shoes, polishing shoes and getting ready for Sunday morning. I can’t look at it without thinking of my family.
All of us have objects that trigger memories in our lives; memories of places, people. We have memories of God answering prayer. When God went out to face Goliath-he said, Lord I remember you defeated the lion and the bear--I now know you will help me defeat this Philistine. But sometimes when we are facing a fresh battle, and spiritually it is getting the best of us, we often forget. We tend to forget everything God has done for us in the past! In the Old Testament, Moses issued a final warning to Israel just before they entered the Promised Land... Here it is... “Be careful not to forget the Lord who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.”
Verses 2-5. Chapter 3 tells us that earlier 12 men were chosen to go back to where the priests were standing in the middle of the river, holding the Ark of the Covenant. Each man was to pick up a large stone from the dry riverbed and carry it to the other side of the river where Israel would camp in the Promised Land. God does not have to explain himself to us but I like it when he does. And in this passage he gives us three reasons he was telling them to do this.
First, (1) God wanted them to remember to focus on the rescue, not the slavery. They were slaves in Egypt, forced to work long hours, daily laboring, the Bible says the labor was harsh; they were constantly making brick and mortar, working on projects for someone else; things they would never be able to use or enjoy. There were forced to do all kinds of work in the fields. If the women were pregnant and had a child during this time; if the child was a boy; the child would be killed by throwing them into the Nile River. Life was more than difficult for all of them. Verse 7 says these stones shall be a memorial to the children of Israel forever. These stones were set into place to remind them of the great rescue that had taken place, not the slavery. Many of us have experienced what we would refer to as slavery in certain areas. There are many addictions that some have experienced. A recent report from the Florida Department of Law enforcement says that we had 197 deaths in just two counties in Florida in the past year all from the use of the drug oxycodone. Those two counties-were Pinellas and Pasco. We also led the state in deaths from methadone and also hydrocodone. These are not areas where we want to set records. We actually rank as one of the highest in the nation. Perhaps you or a family member of yours is a part of this statistic and God has freed you or them from this addiction. Keep this in mind. God does not want you to focus on the addiction so much as he wants to focus on the incredible rescue that has taken place in your life
Notice in verse six it says these stones shall be a memorial to the children of Israel forever. What if God had said go back into Egypt and get one of the bricks you made then take it with you the Promised Land and each time you see it I want you to be reminded of the terrible slavery you are in. Instead he said take a stone from the dry ground to remind you of the rescue I provided. That is what we will see happen in Celebrate Recovery. Listen, we do not need be beat up because we have hurts, habits or hang-ups. We need God’s grace to come to rescue us. God wants you to remember the rescue, not the slavery.