Summary: This sermon urges God's people to trust the Lord as they face the hardships of life.
Overcoming Life’s Obstacles
“Hear, O Israel: you are to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, cities great and fortified up to heaven, a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’
Know therefore today that HE who goes over before you as a consuming fire is the Lord your God. He will destroy them and subdue them before you. So you shall drive them out and make them perish quickly, as the Lord has promised you.
“Do NOT say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of MY righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, AND that he may confirm the word that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
“Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people. REMEMBER AND DO NOT FORGET how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord.
Overcoming life’s obstacles... Let’s pray
When Debbie and I go to the mountains, one of our favorite things to do is HIKE.
I know you aren't surprised - I mean, since I have such a sporty physique and all.
But REALLY… we do - we love hiking.
There are hundreds of different trails in the Smokies – each of them listed on the hiking map provided by the National Park Service and ranked according to difficulty.
The most difficult hike we have yet to attempt is the 11 mile trip up Mt. Lacont. It takes the better part of a day, but the views are breath-taking.
The first time we tried it, I thought for sure we were nearing the end because it felt like we had been walking all day - but we came to a trail-marker that informed us ⇒ we were only halfway there.
Halfway?!?! Are you kidding me!!!!!
At that point, I was at a ‘cross-roads.’ Was I going to finish it or go back? To be perfectly honest, everything in me wanted to quit.
Which reminded me of life – how often we are struggling to move forward, sure that our hardships will soon be over, that it couldn’t possibly get any worse, only to hear - we are ‘halfway there.’
The Children of Israel were “halfway” there. Though they had seen the mighty hand of God FREE them from slavery in Egypt, though they had experienced countless trials while wandering in the desert, and witnessed the death of an entire generation waiting to enter the Promised Land, their battles were only half over.
What should have lasted 3 years tops, had turned into 4 decades of difficulty. It would be many more hard and contentious years before they would actually settle in the Promised Land – and they would have to do it WITHOUT their leader, Moses.
So here they are - at a cross-roads - how will they respond to the difficulties that lie ahead?
Some of YOU are there now – battle weary, not sure what tomorrow holds, and you don’t know how you will have the strength to move forward IF the difficult part is still ahead. This passage is for you. Though it is likely that you have many more battles ahead, I hope to encourage you to press on, trusting the Lord and relying on His strength.
There are three things I want you to notice:
1. First - The Giants we must face. The Promised Land was in their sites, they could see it with their own eyes. Just across the river laid that land they had heard flowed with milk and honey. But make no bones about it - there were giants in the land too – people held in reputation for their military prowess; armed fortresses that had withstood many a battle… and before the Jews could inherit the Promised Land, those folks had to be removed.
Moses knew that hearing about “the sons of Anak” would likely cause the people GREAT DISTRESS. They were giants - similar to Goliath. And when they learned of this upcoming opposition, many lost heart.