Summary: Taking steps of faith to follow the Lord’s promises will lead us to the abundant Christian life.
Possessing the Land
Many people believe that the wandering in the wilderness of the people of Israel is a type or picture of salvation. They believe that the bondage of the Israelites relates to lost condition, the wandering to this life, and the promised land to Heaven. I disagree with that picture. I believe that the promised land represents the victorious Christian life. The bondage represents the control of sin in our life before salvation. The wandering is unfortunately representative of our daily lives as we seek to set priorities and find success and joy in this world.
Someone said the reason the children of Israel wandered around in the wilderness for forty years was because Moses was a man and he refused to stop and ask directions.
The sad truth is the Promised Land was only about 200-250 miles from Egypt. Even if they would have averaged a mile a day, they should have made the trip in about 8 months.
What caused them to wander for forty years? What causes us to find the victorious and abundant life that Christ wants us to have, so elusive? I believe the reasons are the same for us as they were for the children of Israel.
It wasn’t an issue of whether the land belonged to them or not.
God had given it to Abraham and they dwelt there
The Israelites moved to Egypt during the famine while Joseph was alive.
The pagan nations took over the land.
God sent Moses to lead his people out of the foreign country where they had become slaves and back to the land that He had promised and given to their forefathers.
Three things that will keep us from experiencing abundant life:
I. LOOKING BACK.
A) Ex 13:3 there should be one kind of looking back. We should look back at the deliverance of God in our life and thank Him for it.
B) Ex 14:10-12 There is a false sense of safety in bondage. We have all heard of long-term prison inmates that were released only to be back in jail in a couple of weeks. It is said they become institutionalized. They do not feel safe outside the restrictions of that prison life.
C) When a person is in bondage there are no choices to make. There are no risks to take. The children of Israel were basically saying “when we were in Egypt we had three hots and a cot and no one was trying to kill us. Why didn’t you just leave us alone?”
II. LOOKING AT SELFISH DESIRES.
A) Selfishness leads to murmuring. The children of Israel murmured against Moses because:
--They thought they would die at the Red Sea.
--They were thirsty
--They were hungry
--The water was bitter
--They were tired of manna
--They had better food and more of it when they were in Egypt.
B) Ex 32:1-8
--They wanted a god they could see.
--Moses had been gone longer than they were willing to wait—impatient
--They wanted to celebrate—They were free
C) A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, 5, and Ryan, 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. “If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake; I can wait.”
Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, “Ryan, you be Jesus!” Source unknown
D) Focusing on our selfish desires and our rights will keep us from entering that promised land of God’s blessed peace and abundant life.
III. LOOKING AT THE WRONG NEVERTHELESS
A) Num 13:26-29 The ten spies said the land is beautiful. It is full of abundance. Nevertheless the giants are big and the land is hard.
B) Caleb and Joshua stood up and said “yes, your right. The giants are big but nevertheless, we can take it because God has given it.
C) Imagine a ship filled with people crossing the Atlantic. In the middle of the ocean there is an explosion. The ship is severely damaged and slowly sinking. Most are dead, and the rest are rushing for the lifeboats. Now suppose one man doesn’t know about the lifeboat, so he does not get aboard. He doesn’t have knowledge, so he is not saved. Suppose another man knows about the lifeboat and believes it will save his life, but he is grief-stricken over seeing his wife killed, so he chooses not to get aboard and dies with his wife. He has knowledge and mental assent, but he is not saved. Others believe the lifeboat will save them, and they get into the boat. They are saved by faith, that is they have knowledge, mental assent, and trust. However, it is not their faith that saves them—no matter how much they have. It is the boat. Saving faith trusts Christ, and Christ saves. Evangelism, A Biblical Approach, M. Cocoris, Moody, 1984, p. 77.