~ This blog post is an adapted excerpt from a sermon by Renee Roeckelein. You can hear the whole sermon, Taking God at His Word (part 2), from Agathos Church – a non-denominational Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio by clicking here.
All these things happened to the Israelites as examples. They are examples for OUR admonition. We need to go back and learn from the Israelites! (1 Cor. 10:6, 11 )
“Remember His People Israel, that we Agathos are His People Israel now. It is the Promises – bind them around you neck, keep them before you, because there is no other way!”
Often our faith is circumstantial. But circumstantial faith is not faith – it is conditional (worldly) hope. This happened to the Israelites at the outset of their deliverance. When Aaron did signs in their site, they worshiped God, but when difficulties arose on account of the Word, they became discouraged and lost faith. (See Ex. 4 and 5 for the story, and Mark 4 for the interpretation). Here’s a principle: discouragement can keep you from hearing the promises of God. Discouragement is rooted in trusting in ourselves or man in general. We won’t see Good when it comes. (see Jer. 17:5-8) Often our faith is in fact tested. (see James 1) God caused Moses to re-direct his focus to God’s answer, which is the promise!
God’s answer is the promise.
When we come to God with concern, He lovingly shepherds our hearts back to His promise. His promise is His answer. We may think “surely this is not His answer to my issue . . . I can’t see it. I can’t feel it, taste it, or anything. It is not tangible to me.” Yet God’s promise is the answer. The difference between our perspective and His is He believes His Own Word. He is not a man that He should lie. His Word is His confidence. He believes His Word and we can too. God’s answer is His promise!
When God delivered Israel from Pharaoh and the Egyptians, they left the demonic land and were about to cross the Red Sea as Pharaoh changed his mind and chased them down. As Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes and saw him – and became afraid. What we focus our eyes on will determine the position of our heart. Circumstantial knowledge wants to supersede the promises of God in your heart and thereby steal your blessing. God’s blessings in your life are your birthright in Christ, but you can sell them over a circumstance if you choose. Like Esau, only later will you mourn your decision to sell your birthright for a bowl of stew meant to satisfy a circumstantial hunger.
Just as the people of Israel had lost their focus on God, and come under fear, Moses spoke: “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Ex 14:13-14) This reminds me of the scene in Braveheart when William Wallace has his men keep still until rising their spears at just the last second. HOLD YOUR PEACE! We often think we are going to die in the Wilderness, yet the path God makes for you will enclose on your enemies who pursue you.
Over and over again, the Israelites cried and wanted to go back to Egypt, yet God always supplied for them. He supplied food. He supplied water. God took them out of Egypt and He needed to get Egypt out of them! The Israelite’s time in the wilderness was meant to be about two years – and for this purpose – to strategically prepare them to possess His Promises in their promised land. As Kris Vallotton says, “If you put a pauper into a palace, they will reduce the palace to a prison. But if you put prince into a prison, they will transform the prison into a place (metaphorically speaking). (See the story of Joseph in Gen 39). You always create the environment around you, that you cultivate within you!” For this reason, God wanted to get Egypt out of the Israelites so that the promised land, under their rule, would like He would look like a palace and not another prison.
In Numbers 13, they are about to take the promised land, which God had been promising to them for centuries. God spoke to Moses and said to Moses “send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel.” God attached His promise to the directive. When they spies returned from their scouting of the promised land, they did testify of its abundance, but they said “nevertheless.” Their “nevertheless” sunk them. “BUT” The noted that the people were strong. They noted that their cities were strong.
We often look for confirmation for our unbelief! That is why the presence of true belief makes a skeptic uncomfortable; it shows us that the problem could be changed if we changed our mind – we are no longer able to blame circumstances for our failure.
Caleb responded differently than the rest of the spies. He quieted the people by saying “we are well able to overcome it!” The giants were actually stronger, yes. But God was on their side! Now, before you critique the other spies too strongly, remember, we are supposed to learn from them! Look at yourself; we are often times not that different form the Israelites – moved by what we see, instead of what God says. So, ask yourself this: Do you have a bad report? Do you have something in your life that is not right? Does your bank account statement produce anxiety? Does your doctor’s diagnosis produce fear? Now, ask yourself this: What is God’s report? What does God’s Word say about the matter? If you want to be as Caleb and actually get to enter your promised land, get in His Word – to get His take on your situation! His Word will affect your world!