The Invitation of the Wilderness
Israel as a story, can be a sort of allegory of 1 person’s bondage, struggle, and freedom with God.
Slavery in Egypt: Crying out from sin’s bondage, fighting in sins army, exodus from sin, sin holding on as even pursuing…
During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.”
1. God answers a sincere cry for help.
In a person’s life… alcoholism = slavery
Moses was the answer to their cry for help. (the burning bush incident)
The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey…”
Why is there a wilderness period between slavery and the promised land?
The wilderness last as long as it takes for unbelief to die off.
2. God’s deliverance starts with a wilderness period.
Why is that?
Maybe the wandering, the lack of water and food, the need for prayer, etc. served to establish deeper relationship with God, foster grateful hearts and weed out those who were rebellious.
10 out of 12 spies came back with a negative report..
They were NOT FIT to enter the Promised Land. And the group was NOT READY
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. So tell them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me.
Who wants a wilderness period? (geographical here, but spiritual for us)
3. The wilderness is an invitation to grow with God.
Is soft and easy better? soft serve cone
The Vanishing American Adult - Ben Sasse
What are we getting by avoiding “wilderness” (pain) at all cost?
Softer parenting, more medication, more screen time, more years under Mom’s roof, less marriage, less church, less pressure to really contribute something, more intellectually fragile…
and ultimately: “A Flatter World of Adult Children and Childish Adults”
In Hebrews there is a warning against unbelief for New Testament believers.
It quotes (Psalm 95:7-11)
7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested and tried me,
though for forty years they saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”
12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
4. The wilderness presents a continuous point of decision.
Kadesh Barnea. Keep going with God, grind it out, or go back.
Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
Not resting FROM work, but resting IN work.
Why is some activity exhausting while another is life-giving?
5. God’s rest (trusting) or sin’s work (trying).
What are signs of rebellion and unbelief?
Grumbling, complaining, stagnation, fatigue, fear of the future, envy of others’ situations, looking back on “the good times”, anger, resentment of people who seem to have it easier.
Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?"
For it is not wise to ask such questions.
Why would someone want to live in a state of self-sabotage?
“Better the devil you know.”
6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
6. God’s offer still stands.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Resting while bearing a yoke, not hanging in a hammock.
Resting in God is not resting from work, but resting in work.
7. To rest in God is to ‘take’ the Promised Land.
a. Believe God’s promises.
He will finish the work he started in you.
b. Be obedient.
…trust God with the outcome.
c. Do your work and let God do his.
ex: humble yourself and he will lift you up
d. “Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take the land one little victory at a time.
Let tomorrow to worry about itself.
e. Don’t align yourself with sin. Destroy it completely.
The church is trying ‘too hard’ to integrate itself with the state.
Thank God for your wilderness period and for that of others.
Idolatry and cowardice confront us on all sides, but the direst foe does not confront us, he is within us. ‘Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.”
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer