Summary: This sermon looks out how Moses wanting the Isrealites to learn from thier past mistakes before they entered the Promised Land. I then led into a discussion about some of the mistakes our church had made, namely a lack of a sense of duty and an elitist a
This past week I got a phone call from a person from the Wayne County News about providing some information to them for an upcoming article in their paper about our little church here in Winchester. The article is to focus primarily upon the history of our church, from its beginnings all the way to the current day. Everything sounded great until she asked for me to submit a picture of myself along with the article, I said, “Mam’, We want people to come to this church, not scare them away.” But I guess gruesome pictures do sell papers, so we’ll see.
But the conversation got me thinking about the history of not only Winchester but also Clara as well and there is such an amazingly rich heritage at both churches. Both were founded by men and women who were simply put…people who were on fire for God. Christians who struggled against all odds to see these two churches come to life. And as I looked at the pictures from the past, and the history of each church, I realized how much God had blessed each church, but also how that in this day and time our church now stand at a crossroads. We are at a point where we have this rich wonderful heritage in our past but at the same time we have a somewhat uncertain future ahead. We can see where we’ve been and now we stand gazing forward to where we want to be, and by all accounts it will be an uphill battle. We stand at a crossroads needing to decide how to get to where we want to be.
In our text, Moses and the children of Israel were also standing at a crossroads. Moses, the spiritual leader of these people stands talking to a new generation of Israelites who are on the east bank of the Jordan anxiously awaiting to crossover into the promised land. It had been a long hard journey and God had saw them though it, but now there lay ahead many new and equally difficult challenges. Now the question on the mind of Moses is Are they prepared to go into the promised land? Have they learned anything from their forty years of wandering in the desert or did they forget every lesson from their wilderness 101?
It’s sad when a person repeats the same mistake over and over again. A while back I was sitting at my desk at the house and I heard a loud thumping noise…I looked around and couldn’t see anything. Then Thump! I realized it was coming from the window, so I looked out side and there was this bird, flying head first into the window. A third time, full steam. Thump. And you could tell that this time the bird was a little dazed, and I thought, Surely this time the bird would realize that there is a window there but Thump! And for the next 5 minutes that’s all I heard. Not the smartest thing in the world you know. A real bird brain (sorry! couldn’t resist.)
You see, it’s one thing not to know something because of ignorance, but it’s another think to have experienced something and still not learn from it. So as they stand on the banks of the promised land waiting to go in, Moses wants to ensure that they don’t repeat the same mistakes they had made before, so Moses tells them to remember their past and learn from it.
Mistakes are a part of life and when we make those mistakes we are called to learn from them. We call that experience. When I was in Navy boot camp in Great Lakes Michigan, there was a rule that when you folded your blanket, you had to place it where the very edge of the blanket was touching the end of the bed…it couldn’t hang over nor could it be short of the edge it had to touch perfectly the end of the bed. One day I was in a rush to make my bed, and my blanket was 1/8th of an inch away from the edge of the bed, 1/8th that’s it, and because of this I was sent to intensive training for 3 nights. As everybody else slept, I was running in circles dressed in full dungarees all because of a 1/8th of an inch mistake. That may sound harsh but you know what, it served it’s purpose and to this day my blanket is always touching the end of the bed. I made a mistake, and because my company commander cared about my survival, he disciplined me and it worked.
Well, Israel made their share of mistakes. When God tried to lead them into the promised land directly after their exodus from Egypt, they showed a lack of faith and refused to enter into it out of fear, so this led to their forty years of wandering in the desert. They were spiritually immature so God sent them on a 40 year spiritual boot camp in the wilderness. The conditions were tough, and even though God was disciplining them, He still blessed them by providing for their needs. Look at Deut 8:3-4: “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” God gave them manna, heavenly bread to satisfy their hunger and then He gave quail and water, even as they were being stiff-necked and stubborn, God still cared and provided for them. Vs 4, “Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.” Could you imagine a pair of clothes lasting that long…my wife would hate that, she’d never have to go shopping again. But God like a loving Father continued to care for His people.