Summary: Are we prepared for the journey that awaits us?
In his book, Gentle Thunder, Max Lucado tells the story of Sir John Franklin. It was 1845 in England. In 1845, America was at the beginning of what was called “Manifest Destiny.” That was the idea that we were destined to explore and inhabit and eventually annex the west. While we were concerned with exploring our own continent, Britain was busy exploring uncharted areas of the world. And one of those uncharted areas was called the Northwest Passage. The Northwest Passage is a sea lane that goes around the Canadian Arctic to the Pacific Ocean. And that was Sir John Franklin’s mission. His mission was supposed to be the turning point in Arctic exploration. And it was. But not because of its success—because of its failure. Sir John Franklin’s two ships never returned home. Every single one of his crew members died. Because of Franklin’s failure, all future Arctic explorers learned one lesson. They learned that you need to prepare for the journey. See, the reason that Franklin’s journey failed was because of his complete and total lack of preparation. The Arctic exploration journey was supposed to last 2-3 years. He only carried a 12 day supply of coal for his engines. He forgot to take fuel, but he did remember to take stuff to make the crew happy and comfortable. He took a library for relaxation, an organ for entertainment, fine china place settings, cut-glass wine goblets, and the finest sterling silver silverware. While all of the sailors had their dress uniforms, most of them didn’t even have winter clothes or coats. They were more prepared for tea with the queen than they were for sailing in the Arctic. Of course, as they sailed north, the sea froze solid around the ship. When it did, all the men either froze to death or starved to death. Why did their mission fail? Was it because they didn’t know where they were going? No, they knew the conditions they were heading into. Was it because they were stupid or completely inept? No, Sir John Franklin and the 138 men who boarded those ships were known as some of Britain’s finest sailors—and at the time, Britain had one of the finest navies in the world. So, why did their mission fail? Because they weren’t prepared. Even though they were fine sailors. Even though they knew the conditions they were heading into. They failed to prepare. The question is, why? I don’t know—history doesn’t tell us. But maybe that’s the question we need to ask ourselves. This church is filled with fine Christian people. Many of us have been Christians for a long time. We have experience. We have eyes. We have brains. And with that experience and those eyes and those brains that God has given us, we can see the conditions we’re heading into. Not only that, we can see from the prophesies in Scripture the conditions we’re heading into. According to Romans 1, we know that when a nation stops recognizing and being thankful to God, certain things happen. They begin to worship created things instead of the creator. Created things like the economy and the military and the schools and the government. And when that happens then complete social collapse is not far away. Social collapse that is marked by things like rampant sexual promiscuity. Things like widespread and publicly accepted disobedience of children to parents. Things like publicly accepted homosexuality. The Bible has told us about the Arctic wasteland we’re headed into. Are we prepared? Or are we polishing our silver and tuning up our organ? I want us to begin to prepare tonight. This is the time and place where, in His sovereignty, God has placed us. And He’s placed us here for a reason. And that reason is the journey that He’s called us to travel. I want us to start preparing for that journey tonight. And we’re going to use Ezra as an example. Ezra and this second remnant was getting ready to take a journey. They were heading on a four month journey from Babylon to Jerusalem. They knew much of what awaited them. They knew it wasn’t pretty. The temple had been built, but it was in the middle of a city of rubble. They knew the wasteland that was ahead of them. So they knew they must prepare. First, they knew they must prepare spiritually. Look at verses 21-23: