Contributed by Dean Rhine on May 13, 2008 (message contributor)
Summary: Lessons from the wilderness wanderings
Lessons from the Wilderness - 2/13/05 - Exodus 15+
Turn with me in your Bibles today to Exodus 13. As we have been looking at the Old Testament together, we are reminded that these lessons in these first books of the Bible are very relevant for us today. This was the Bible that Jesus knew and read; the Bible of the disciples; the Bible of the early church. The lessons we learn are not just about people of another century and another culture, but the life lessons we learn are lessons for us today, in Owosso, about what it means to follow God with our whole hearts, to be Fully Devoted Followers of Christ.
We saw in Genesis how God chose to enter into a close relationship with man. Those who followed Him saw him lead them, guide them, and deliver them. We came to Exodus, and saw how God brought deliverance to the people, and led them out of Egypt. We talked about the OT law, all the rules and regulations, and how the law saved no one -- Hebrews 10:4 tells us “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” -- rather the law teaches us that we are all sinners in need of a perfect sacrifice, a savior, Jesus Christ, the sinless, spotless lamb of God.
After coming out of Egypt, we see one of the most significant periods in the whole history of the Jews: 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. This wilderness wandering will be referred to again and again throughout the rest of the Bible. And it is during this time of wandering that the Jews learn some of their greatest lessons. God often uses times of being “in the wilderness” to teach us. Jesus - John the Baptist - Moses - David - Elijah - each of these men of God learned much through their time in the wilderness. And in just the same way, God wants to teach US when we go through times of testing, times of trial, times of wandering and uncertainty.
In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul writes about this time in the wilderness. He says, “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.” The cloud he refers to here is the pillar of cloud which was the visible presence of God with his people. Throughout the whole 40 years of wandering, God always had a visible presence with his people. The “sea” was the Red Sea, parted by the miraculous power of God. Paul writes that all 4 million of these Jews enjoyed the presence and power of God displayed in their lives. But as we know the end of the story, everyone over 20 years old died, with the exception of 2 men. Paul continues on, in verse 6
“Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did--and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test the Lord, as some of them did--and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did--and were killed by the destroying angel.
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
So, the lessons learned from the Jews wandering in the wilderness are lessons for us, today, that we are to learn. We want to take a look at just a few of them this morning.
I. The Lesson of Timing - The first lesson we can learn from times of wilderness wandering is this:
We need to follow God, even when His leading does not fit with our agenda.
As we look in Exodus 13:17-18 - When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led the people around by the desert road towards the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle.