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Following God Fully

 

Are you a confident Christian? Are you confident in God and His ability to reflect Himself in your life? Do you have the faith to fully follow Christ’s example to the end, regardless of what others around us are doing?

 

Let's discuss these questions in light of the Israelites under Moses.

 

The Israelites in Egypt were enslaved with seemingly no outward sign of hope that they would ever escape their taskmasters. But God hadn't forgotten them. He came down to work through Moses and for the Israelites.

(Exo 3:7-8 NKJV) And the LORD said: "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. {8} "So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites [Ken-ah-an-ee’] and the Hittites [Khit-tee’] and the Amorites [Em-o-ree’] and the Perizzites [Per-iz-zee’] and the Hivites [Khiv-vee’] and the Jebusites [Yeb-oo-see’].

If you question the pronunciation of these names in Hebrew, I should add that I don’t know if these Hebrew names are any more difficult to pronounce than to what our bibles’ English translators named them.

(Verse10 NKJV) [The LORD is speaking to Moses] "Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt."

(Exo 6:1 NKJV) Then the LORD said to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh. For with a strong hand he will let them go, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land."

And God did bring them out of Egypt. But the Israelites did not do their part. They could have gone into the promised land within twelve months but they did not believe God and trust Him. They had to wait another 39 years.

(Exo 16:1-3 NKJV) And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt. {2} Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. {3} And the children of Israel said to them, "Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."

The Israelites had turned bitter toward Moses and God, not realizing they had brought this trouble on themselves by their attitudes toward God and Moses when the Egyptians pursued them before they crossed the Red Sea. Let's review their remarks at that time:

Exo 14:10-12 (NKJV) And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD. {11} Then they said to Moses, "Because <there were> no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? {12} "<Is> this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, 'Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?' For <it would have been> better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness."

Even after all the miracles of the Red Sea, they still did not trust either God or Moses to deliver them to the Promised Land. They had not learned to trust God. They could not follow God fully.

At the end of the forty years, Moses cautioned the Israelites to obey God to the full.

(Deu 29:1 NKJV) These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb [Sinai].

But it is to the Sinai covenant that we want to address:

(Mal 4:4 NKJV) "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb [Sinai] for all Israel, With the statutes and judgments.

(Deu 8:1-6 NKJV) "Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers. {2} "And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. {3} "So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. {4} "Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. {5} "You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you. {6} "Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.

(Exo 16:35 NKJV) And the children of Israel ate manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.

Now let's take a short side-trip at this point and consider why the date when they stopped eating manna and began eating the food from the land is significant. Let's turn first to Lev. 23 and read what God's Holyday commands have to say about it:

(Lev 23:9-11, 14-16 NKJV) And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {10} "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. {11} 'He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. ......{14} 'You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. {15} 'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. {16} 'Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD.

So God commanded that they would not eat any new growth from the ground, nor bread, nor roasted grain until after the waving of the offering of the first fruits of the harvest to God. That waving was to be done on the first day after the Sabbath - a Sunday. Now let's look at the observance of Passover by Joshua:

(Josh 5:10-12 NASB)While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal, they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. {11} And on the day after the Passover [the 15th of Abib], on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched <grain>. {12} And the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land [the 16th of Abib].....

Lev. 23:14 said that they could not eat roasted grain or new growth until it was offered. So it had to have been offered by the 15th of Abib if Joshua was to obey the law.

Joshua was zealous about keeping all God's laws including Passover. He knew he needed God in the great conquest ahead. The next day they ate grain. Could he have ignored the wave sheaf offering command to not eat grain or produce before the wave sheath offering, and thereby incurred sin? That seems very unlikely. The answer is that Passover fell on the weekly Sabbath that year.

 

Back to the main subject:

What was it like to be Moses? You can be sure Moses' faith was put to the test. Look at Moses' reaction to the people's complaints even before he led them out of Egypt.

(Exo 5:21-23 NKJV) And they said to them, "Let the LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us abhorrent in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us." {22} So Moses returned to the LORD and said, "Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? {23} "For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all."

Moses was defensive of the people and complained to God about not responding to their needs. Does it seem sometimes that God does not respond quickly enough to our requests and needs too?

But God promised to bring these people, who were still in bondage in Egypt, out of Egypt.

(Exo 6:6 NKJV) "Therefore say to the children of Israel: 'I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.

In the same way, God promises to bring His people, who are still in the world, out of the world.

How many times have you said, "World, I'm through with you."? At this point we are repentant - repentant of our participation with the world - resolved to leave the life the rest of the world lives and change to the way of life instructed by our Father; change our values to those of God. Notice the similarity of the next two verses:

(Acts 2:38 NKJV) Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

(Exo 6:7 NKJV) 'I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

In both verses God's people are taken out of a sinful life and into a God oriented life.

Yes, God promised to take Israel to Him for a people. But in the future God will give true Christians, Gentile and Israeli (both Jew and non-Jew), even greater changes.

(Ezek 36:26 NKJV) "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

God promised to give us a new heart and spirit. Again, notice the similarity (perhaps you could call it a parallel).

(Exo 6:8 NKJV) 'And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD.'"

God promised to give ancient Israel the land of promise just as He promises to give committed Christians a new heart and a new Spirit and take us to His Kingdom.

Exo 12:41 (NASB) And it came about at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.

God had an exact time schedule. He has an exact time table for His Kingdom too. Are we ready for the events of His time schedule?

Let's read now the song of Moses. As we read this, picture in your mind Christ's sacrifice. I think you will also be able to see the parallel of committed Christians putting the sin out of our lives even as Satan continues to pursue us as we progress toward qualifying for God's Kingdom:

(Exo 15:1-18 NKJV) Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying: "I will sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea! {2} The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father's God, and I will exalt Him. {3} The LORD is a man of war; The LORD is His name. {4} Pharaoh's chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. {5} The depths have covered them; They sank to the bottom like a stone. {6} "Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O LORD, has dashed the enemy in pieces. {7} And in the greatness of Your excellence You have overthrown those who rose against You; You sent forth Your wrath; It consumed them like stubble. {8} And with the blast of Your nostrils The waters were gathered together; The floods stood upright like a heap; The depths congealed in the heart of the sea. {9} The enemy said, 'I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; My desire shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, My hand shall destroy them.' {10} You blew with Your wind, The sea covered them; They sank like lead in the mighty waters. {11} "WHO IS LIKE YOU O LORD, AMONG THE GODS? WHO IS LIKE YOU, GLORIOUS IN HOLINESS, FEARFUL IN PRAISES, DOING WONDERS? {12} You stretched out Your right hand; The earth swallowed them. {13} You in Your mercy have led forth The people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength To Your holy habitation. {14} "The people will hear and be afraid; Sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia. {15} Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed; The mighty men of Moab, Trembling will take hold of them; All the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away. {16} Fear and dread will fall on them; By the greatness of Your arm They will be as still as a stone, Till Your people pass over, O LORD, Till the people pass over Whom You have purchased. {17} You will bring them in and plant them In the mountain of Your inheritance, In the place, O LORD, which You have made For Your own dwelling, The sanctuary, O LORD, which Your hands have established. {18} "The LORD shall reign forever and ever."

But this song is not forgotten on the ancient Israelites and Moses. Let's read about the saints in God's Kingdom:

(Rev 15:2-3 NKJV) And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. {3} They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: "Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints!

The Old Testament and Moses are not forgotten by God or His saints, even if today's churches teach that all this passed away with the crucifixion of Christ.

Num 32:11-12 (NASB) 'None of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob; for they did not follow Me fully, {12} except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have followed the LORD fully.'

How do these verses apply to us? Are some of us not going to be able to get into the Kingdom, into the promised land, because we have not followed the Lord fully? Do we still carry some secret and hidden leaven in our lives, though outwardly we removed it symbolically from our homes during the days of unleavened bread? Or have we even done that fully? How many of us follow the Lord only to the extent that it is comfortable and to the extent that we don't appear different to the world around us? How many of us have rationalized around some secret sin on the spiritual level, or leavening, on the physical level? How many of us will not make it into God's Kingdom? Only two over the age of twenty, from the millions of people who came out of Egypt, made it into the Promised Land.

Luke 14:27 (NASB) "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

What can you claim as your own cross? Is it a problem you have created for yourself or is it a result of following Christ?

Heb 11:6 (NASB) And without faith it is impossible to please <Him>, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and <that> He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

How much faith do we have that we are applying every effort to please God?

(Josh 14:6-13 NKJV) Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: "You know the word which the LORD said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. {7} "I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. {8} "Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God. {9} "So Moses swore on that day, saying, 'Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children's forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.' {10} "And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. {11} "As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. {12} "Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said." {13} And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance.

So Caleb was blessed materially and with a long, vibrant life because he followed God wholeheartedly. Do we? What will our rewards be - to die in the desert or to receive an inheritance?

(Deu 32:9-12 NKJV) For the Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance. {10} "He found him in a desert land And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. {11} As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, Spreading out its wings, taking them up, Carrying them on its wings, {12} So the LORD alone led him, And there was no foreign god with him.

We must follow God all the way to gain God's promises. We don't know what trials we'll meet.

 

In conclusion, let’s read from Rev 14:1-4.

(Rev 14:1-4 NKJV) Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. {2} And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. {3} They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. {4} These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

We must follow Christ wherever He leads if we are to be firstfruits as Christ was.

Do we have the faith to follow Christ to the end?

 

 

 

Sermon given by Philip Edwards
5 Nov 2016

for

Wayne Bedwell

  

Copyright 2013, Wayne Bedwell

 

 

 

 

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