Monday, January 4, 2016

Living the Christian Lifestyle

Editor's Note:  These are unedited teaching notes.  Please feel free to use them at will.  

We are on a journey from a sinful lifestyle to Heaven.  The story of Israel passing from Egypt and en route to the Promised Land can teach us about that journey and what we can expect from it.   This series is not exhaustive, but takes a look at Living the Christian lifestyle as a journey.

Lesson 1 - Deliverance
Today we’re going to begin a new Bible Study.  We’re going to begin to look at what it means to live like a Christian.  I know that some of you were looking for how to live day to day.  How do Christians behave, etc.  But let’s take a look at this and if you want to do the other things we’ll look at them as we finish this one.

The most important aspect of living like a Christian is to have a revelation of who Jesus is.  Learn about Him and pattern your life after His teaching.  If you do that then you will be living like a “follower of Christ” or a Christian.

So what we’re going to do is look at Israel as it is delivered from Egypt and travels to the Promised Land, because that’s really what our lives are like if you think about it.  Egypt is a place of bondage and oppression.  Israel was a nation of slaves while they were in Egypt.  They were under oppression.  They needed a deliverer.

The Bible tells us that we were also slaves of sin:

John 8:34 (NKJV) 
8:34 Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.

Before we came to Jesus and He delivered us we were under oppression and in bondage to sin.  That time of our lives was like being in a spiritual Egypt.  We couldn’t escape from Egypt on our own; we needed a deliverer.  Moses was that deliverer for the ancient Israelis.  Jesus is that deliverer for us. Here is the text for the Study:

Hebrews 4:11 (NKJV) 
4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

So let’s begin by examining Egypt, itself.  As I said before, Egypt is a picture of slavery (bondage) and oppression.  The people of God lived in Egypt as slaves.  They were under a heavy burden there:

Exodus 1:11-14 (NKJV) 
1:11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel13 So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. 14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage--in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.

Things were difficult.  The scripture says, “in bitter with hard bondage.”  The work was crushing.  Over time the work became more oppressive:

Exodus 5:6-8 (NKJV) 
5:6 So the same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their officers, saying, "You shall no longer give the people straw to make brick as before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves. And you shall lay on them the quota of bricks which they made before. You shall not reduce it. For they are idle; therefore they cry out, saying, 'Let us go and sacrifice to our God.'

So now the number of bricks to be made was increased and an extra burden was placed on them, now instead of being given the straw, they had to go find it themselves.  So think about what it was like.  They would work all day making the bricks, but after that work they had to go and find straw and grass to use to make the bricks. 

And God saw the oppression on their lives and sent a deliverer to them; Moses.

Exodus 3:9-10 (NKJV) 
3:9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of 
Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt."

So look at your life before you got saved.  How many of us were sinners?  All of us, right?  All of us were involved in sin.  But think about your sin, for a moment.  It started out feeling good, huh?  When I started drinking, it was fun.  It made me feel good, it made me forget about the problems I was having.  I liked it.  But as I continued to do it, it created other problems in my life.  It stopped being fun.

In fact after some number of years, I began to put it before everything else.  I stayed home alone, so I could get drunk.  I felt like I had to get drunk every day.  I isolated myself from other people.  I began to depend on drinking to keep from being lonely.  So I started having problems at work.  I began to have a bigger temper because I never felt good.  I started actively pushing people away from me, even the few friends I still had left.  It became a bigger and bigger bondage. 

It was just like Israel.  They went in to Egypt because of a drought.  They had struggles and at first it was good:

Genesis 47:11 (NKJV) 
47:11 And Joseph situated his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the 
land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.

They were given the best land.  They had the blessing of the king.  There was plenty of food and water for the herds.  The life was good.  But eventually that changed.  And the bondage began.  It was just like the way my life was.  It was fun to be involved in sin at first, but eventually it began to rule my life and became bondage.  I couldn’t stop and more and more of my time and energy went into that sin.
Just like the slavery of Egypt.  More and more was required of them.  And just like them I needed a deliverer.  Look at your life.  What sin were you given over to?  At first you did it because there was some reward to it, but eventually it became a form of bondage.  It began to make choices for you.  Am I right?  Maybe it wasn’t as severe as what I was doing.  Maybe you’re too young to have been as deeply bound as I was.    But sin is bondage for us just like Egypt was for the people of God:

John 8:34 (NKJV) 
8:34 Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.

The thing about slavery is that you cannot get yourself out of slavery.  You need a deliverer.  God used Moses to deliver Israel out of slavery of Egypt:

Exodus 7:1-6 (NKJV) 
7:1 So the Lord said to Moses: "See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall speak to Pharaoh to send the children of 
Israel out of his land. And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of EgyptBut Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them." Then Moses and Aaron did so; just as the Lord commanded them, so they did.

Moses acted as a stand-in for God.  “See I have made you as God to Pharoah.” He was a “type” of Jesus.  Do you know what that means?  A type is an example of Jesus.  he does things that remind us of Jesus:

  1. When Pharaoh saw Moses he saw God.  That’s what it means to say, “I made you as God to Pharaoh.” – Jesus is God!
  2. He did many “signs” as he prepared to deliver the people.  Jesus did a lot of miracles before His crucifixon.
  3. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened against them.  The people in power in Jesus’ time, the Pharisees, also hardened their hearts against Him.
  4. Moises succeeded in delivering the people of Israel and Jesus succeeded in delivering all of us from the devil.

Israel needed a deliverer to deliver them; they couldn’t deliver themselves.  Like I said before we were powerless to deliver ourselves.  I tried and tried to give up my sin, but I always picked it up again until I met Jesus.  God delivered us through Jesus:

Ephesians 2:4-10 (NKJV) 
2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Moses led them out of Egypt and eventually to the Promised Land.  Next week were going to look at the method of deliverance.  What did God do to deliver Israel and to deliver us.  But I want to get some discussion going so I have some questions.  I’m looking for answers, okay?

  1. If you look at your life before you got saved, can you see how the sin you were involved in became a bondage to you?  Did the feeling associated with it change over time?  Did there ever come a moment where you wished you hadn’t done those things?
We call this a testimony!  This is how I was before I found Jesus.  This is what happened after I got saved. 

  1. What sort of things happened that led you to decide to get saved?  What convinced you that you needed a change in your life?
Things happen in our lives.  People witness to us.  The problems caused by our sin overwhelm us.  It begins to destroy our lives.  We get weary when it stops being fun.  Maybe it becomes a trap.

  1. How easily did deliverance come for you?  Did you struggle after you got saved with the sin you were involved in before?  Did you struggle to change?  If so, what gave you the ability to OVERCOME that sin?  Prayer, Sermons, fellowship?
After you got saved you can experience a change in your life.  You aren’t enslaved anymore.  The things you did before go away.  We call that deliverance.  That word deliverance means that you were brought out of those thins that damaging to you.

  1. Has your way of thinking about life changed at all?  Are you still thinking about the things you did in the same way?  Do you wish that you were still involved in some of those things?
This is the real measure of deliverance.  How you think about sin.  If you’re still longing to do the things you used to do then you’re still in slavery to that thing.  We’ll talk more about this later in this study, because this is something that happens sometimes.    We miss certain aspects of our sin. For a time I wished I could still drink.  Things happened to me where I wanted to go back to that that was familiar.  I still needed that release that came from it.
This is important for us as NEW CHRISTIANS.  Israel was taken out of Egypt.  They had escaped but look what happened:

Exodus 14:5-9 (NKJV) 
14:5 Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, "Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?" So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of 
Egypt with captains over every one of them. And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness. So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon.

So, Pharaoh released the people of God.  He didn’t want them there because of the deaths of all the firstborn.  He sent them away. 

Exodus 12:30-31 (NKJV) 
12:30 So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead. 31 Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, "Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the Lord as you have said.

But what happened he went after them.  He pursued them.  He didn’t want them to escape.  He wanted to destroy them, so he sent his army after them.  He even led the charge.  

The devil will try this with you.  He won’t easily allow you to go.  That’s why there is so much temptation to stay away from church.  That’s why there is so much temptation to sin.  That’s why there are so many times when things go wrong, and problems crop up in your life.  It’s because the devil is pursuing you to try to bring you back into bondage.

And if we’re not careful the devil will come from behind and pick us off.    There is a passage in the Bible where the Israelites are still trying to get to the promised Land and the nation of Amalek begins to pursue them and attacks them from behind.  Look at this:

Deuteronomy 25:17-18 (NKJV) 
25:17 "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18 how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God.


The stragglers were attacked and killed; the ones in the back:  The ones that weren’t able to keep up.  Those were killed and missed the Promised Land.  In our Christian walk who are the stragglers.  They are the one who don’t make real effort to move forward in their Christian Walk.  They don’t make a real effort to stay with others who are moving forward with God.  Maybe you don’t pray or you frequently miss church.  The rest of us are moving forward but you’re following behind.  If you want to make it to the Promised Land you have to press yourself to move forward and keep up.  If you dawdle and get separated the devil will catch up to you and destroy you.  


Lesson 2 - The Passover Lamb
So, today we’re going to continue our study on “Living the Christian Lifestyle.”  Last week we studied deliverance.  We compared the slavery and bondage of Egypt to the slavery and bondage of sin.  We discussed Moses as a “type of Jesus Christ.  So, today we’re going to look at the method of deliverance.

First, let’s go back and look at our text for the overall study.  Remember, we’re talking about getting a revelation of who Jesus Christ is.  This is the very most important part of living the Christian Lifestyle; understanding jesus as our savior and our Lord.  There is a difference.  Jesus is Lord over the Christian’s life.  Today we’re going to see him as savior.  So our text for the study:

Hebrews 4:11 (NKJV) 
4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

Living the Christian lifestyle means “living for Jesus”:  Allowing him to be Lord over our lives.  Diligently living according to His teachings and will for our lives.  That word diligently means there must be effort made to be like Him, you live His commands and His teachings. 

So let’s look at how the deliverance takes place.  Israel’s deliverance from Egypt is a picture of our deliverance from sin.  This is the beginning of the journey to the Promised Land. 

Exodus 12:21-22 (NKJV) 
12:21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.

The lintel is the board over the top of the door and the doorposts are the side of the door.  So they would take the blood of the lamb and use the hyssop (which is a type of plant) and splatter the blood on those places. 

Exodus 12:23 (NKJV) 
23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.

Remember this is right before the final plague that God put on the Egyptians in order to get Pharaoh to release Israel from their bondage.  So, this is talking about what?  What is the final plague that caused Pharaoh to release Israel?  The death of the Firstborn.  This is what the Israelis had to do to keep the Lord from killing the firstborn in their house.  Then God gave Moses this command: 

Exodus 12:24-28 (NKJV) 
24 And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. 25 It will come to pass when you come to the land which the Lord will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. 26 And it shall be, when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?' 27 that you shall say, 'It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of 
Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.' " So the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 28 Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.

So they were to continue to do this.  They were told to keep doing this ritual even after they were delivered in this particular instance.  It was to be a remembrance for them.  It was supposed to be passed down from generation to generation.  In fact, I have a friend who is Jewish and he was sharing photos with me of the Passover feast that his family did just a few weeks ago.  They don’t put the lamb’s blood on their doorposts in the 21st century.  But they do eat a special meal called the Passover meal.

So, in addition to this being a method of the Israelis in Egypt’s deliverance, it was also a foreshadowing of what was to come.  It was almost like a wordless prophecy of the future.  It is something we can see when we read the Old Testament that points to something that takes place in the New Testament.

The blood is placed over the doorway and on the doorposts of the house.  It says in Exodus that the Lord will see the blood and pass over that house.   So this marking of the house is that saves you from the death of the firstborn in your home, and if the marking is made with blood then what is it that SAVED the people of Israel?  The Blood.  Death passed over the Houses that are marked with Blood.

Exodus 12:13 (NKJV) 
12:13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

So the BLOOD THAT WAS SPILLED, on the lintel and the doorpost, saved the people. 

The spilled Blood also saves us.  Only the blood that was spilled for us isn’t the blood of an earthly Lamb.  It is the blood that was spilled by the Lamb of God.  Who was the Lamb of God?  Jesus.

John 1:29 (NKJV) 
1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

So John calls Him the Lamb of God.  Why?  Why does John refer to Him that way?  John calls Him that because he is the Passover Lamb that saves us from death.

Why do you think JtheB refers to him as the lamb of God?  Why does he say behold the Lamb of God?  This is a reference to the sacrifices.  Lambs are sacrificed for the atonement of Israel.  But it’s also a reference to the Passover Lamb.  After the Blood was placed on the doorframe of the house.  The Lamb was cooked and eaten.  

John 6:53 (NKJV) 
6:53 Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.

So Jesus himself makes a reference to the eating of the flesh of the lamb.  Unless you eat…you have no life in you.  In the Passover the flesh of the lamb was to be eaten or the death would come to the people.

The blood was the sign that they were to be preserved.  If the blood was placed on the doorposts and the lintel (the overhead), the angel of death would pass over.  Look at this:

Hebrews 9:22 (NKJV) 
9:22 And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

This is why I say that Jesus’ blood paid the price for our sin.  Without the shedding of blood there is no remission.  That means our sin cannot be sent away.  Without this spilled blood what happens to us?

What are the wages of sin?  What do we deserve from our sin?  Death, right?  The wages of sin is death.  (Rom 6:23)  So we are dead in our sin, but the blood spilled on the cross causes that death to pass over us.  If we are under the blood we will have life.

The blood placed over the door and on the sides of the door is representative of a cross.  The blood on the cross is what keeps us from the death of sin. 
(Show the drawing on the Blood on the doorposts.)

The blood on the doorposts in the time of Exodus was from the sacrifice of a lamb.  A lamb was killed and it’s eaten and it’s blood was placed on the doorpost to represent the blood on the cross. 

Jesus was the Passover lamb for us. OUR deliverance is from the shedding of Hid blood on the cross.

1 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV) 
5:7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.


Questions: 

  1. The Blood on the doorpost was from a sacrifice of the lamb.  The Blood on the cross was from the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.  Have you ever taken time to think about the price of your salvation?  What kind of sacrifice was made for you?

God gave His Son to us for a sacrifice to cause death to pass over us.  A child is the most precious possession a person has.  Which one of you would give your child to save the lives of people who hated and rebelled from you?

  1. Crucifixion was the most gruesome death ever imagined by man.  Almost any other kind of death would be preferable to that.  Jesus suffered hugely on the cross.  Knowing that He has suffered like that for you how has your life been altered?   What changes are you willing to make in your life to make that suffering worthwhile? 

The blood that was spilled was precious.  It has great value. But when we continue in our sin, or when we have a relationship with God based only on what we want from God, we make that suffering and that sacrifice seem cheap or common.  It is good to remember that God Himself died in order that you could be free of the bondage and slavery of sin.

  1. Eating the lamb is like taking that lamb into yourself.  This is what Jesus means when he says, “unless you eat my body.”  We can allow Jesus to indwell in us.  We can take His Spirit into us, if you do that what kind of change will that make in your life?

Jesus transforms us.  His Spirit is what gives us the power to resist sin. 

This is important for NEW CHRISTIANS, because we must make an effort to resist sin.  Our nature is to be sinful so we have to make an effort to avoid sin.  Last week I talked about how Pharaoh pursued them and tried to bring them back.  After the Israelites left Egypt, while they were in the desert there were enemies who wanted to defeat them.  There were nations that wanted them destroyed.  They had to fight.  Well we face the enemy of our soul and his minions.  They want to destroy us as well and we have to be prepared to fight.  Look at this battle:

Exodus 17:8-11 (NKJV) 
17:8 Now Amalek came and fought with 
Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, "Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand." 10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

So here is Israel in a battle with the enemy.  That enemy wants to destroy them.  That enemy wants to keep them from the Promised Land.  This is not any different than the battles we face in keeping our salvation.  When Moses held up his hands Israel prevailed.  Burt when he let down his hands Amalek prevailed.  Holding up your hands is a sign of what?  What do we mean when we hold up our hands?  We surrender.  So Moses was symbolically surrendering his will to God.  God helped them to fight the battle.  God helped them to defeat the enemy. 

And if you surrender your life to God, then he will help you in the battles with Satan.  He’s the enemy you face.  So when you surrender you will to the will of God you are turning your life over to Him.  You are sacrificing your will for His will.  And a part of that surrender is to alter your lifestyle to fit His commandments.  Don’t make the blood of the lamb common in your life. Remember the sacrifice that was made for you.  sacrifice your sin:

Romans 12:1 (NKJV) 
12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Lesson 3 - Equipping
Tonight we’re going to continue our study, “Living the Christian Lifestyle.” Last week we looked at Jesus as the Passover Lamb.  The Passover lamb was killed and eaten and the blood was spread onto the lintel and the doorposts The Angel of Death saw the blood and passed over that house. 

Tonight we’re going to look at How God equipped them for the journey.  But first let’s look at our text for the overall study;

Hebrews 4:11 (NKJV) 
4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

Living the Christian lifestyle means “living for Jesus”:  Allowing him to be Lord over our lives.  Diligently living according to His teachings and will for our lives.  That word diligently means there must be effort made to be like Him, you live His commands and His teachings. 

So let’s look at how God prepared them for the journey to the Promised Land.  Here is our text for the study today:

Exodus 12:35-36 (NKJV) 
12:35 Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. 36 And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.


There are three things that are seen in the way Israel left Egypt that I want to look at:

  1. God blesses
  2. God has a plan for our lives when we get saved.
  3. God equips us for salvation (Our journey to His Promised Land)

First I want to look at plunder or spoil: That word, plunder means to take the goods of by force or wrongfully: PILLAGE

A victorious army will plunder the losers, in most cases that means to take those things of value; weapons, art, gold etc.  In this case, it means that they asked for things from the Egyptian women and they were given.  When Israel left Egypt they had the things of value with them. 

It is a symbol of triumph.  Ancient armies always did this.  Including Israel.  Israel left Egypt in plain view of the people.  They left as a victorious army with their plunder.

Paul talks about plunder in the book of Colossians.  He describes Jesus in His crucifixion as having disarmed the devil’s realms and making a public display over his triumph of Satan.

Colossians 2:15 (NKJV) 
2:15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

Disarmed means that they took military weapons and spoils.  The King James Version says it like this:

Colossians 2:15 (KJV) 
2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

So in the same way Israel left Egypt as a conquering Army, we leave sin in the same way.

Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV) 
8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Israel left Egypt in VICTORY… We have Victory in JESUS.

Next, let’s look at the plan God had to equip Israel for their journey.  God understood long before Israel was released from the bondage of Egypt that they would need certain things for the journey.  Before He even brought the plagues on Egypt He prepared them by telling them to gather things from their neighbors.

Exodus 3:21-22 (NKJV) 
3:21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, that you shall not go empty-handed. 22 But every woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her who dwells near her house, articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians."

So as he is informing Moses what he will do to free Israel from bondage, he tells him, “Every woman will ASK of neighbor…” But the word translated as ask is interesting because it carries the implication of a demand.  These women are in a way demanding that the neighbors give them what they ask.

Now this takes place before the final plague happens.  These people are not responding in their grief.  God says that He will cause the Egyptians to give them favor.  Favor in this case means friendly regard that results in gracious kindness.  God caused the Egyptian women to feel friendly toward the Israeli women and be inclined to do something nice for them.  So, when they asked the women gave them what they asked for.  They were plundered, willingly. 

Why would God do that?  I believe there are a couple of reasons.  The first is that Israel had been in bondage for 400 years.  It’s kind of like back pay for the work they’ve done for all those years.  It is a blessing for them.  God blesses.

And God does the same for us when we’re released from the devil’s bondage.  God brings us blessing.  God blesses:

John 10:10 (NKJV) 
10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

The devil comes to steal from us.  He comes to destroy us. But Jesus comes to GIVE life and life abundantly.  That is He comes to Bless.  Look at this:

Ephesians 1:3 (KJV) 
1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

When we’re released from Satan’s grasp, it is a blessing.  God has blessed us.  He has caused us to plunder Hell.  We sing that one song during worship:

Well, I went to the enemy’s camp
And I took back what he stole from me.
Took back what he stole from me
Well, I went to the Enemy’s camp
And I took back what he stole from me

This is similar to what God did with Israel as they were released from Egypt.  They took the back wages that had been stolen from them.

But this wasn’t a spur of the moment thing for God.  God knew that Abraham’s descendents would be captive in Egypt, before Abraham even had descendents.

Genesis 15:13-14 (NKJV) 
15:13 Then He said to Abram: "Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with

We’ve seen the long term thinking of God before.  Remember when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden?  God had met every need of mankind in the garden.

He gave them food and a place to live.
He gave them a task to give their lives meaning and purpose
He gave them each other for companionship and to work together
And He met their spiritual needs by communing with them in the “cool of the Garden.”

But God knew that they would sin.  God created them with a FREE WILL and also knew what the nature of mankind was.  So he had a plan for them.  He knew He would send a redeemer:

Genesis 3:15 (NKJV) 
3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel."

He’s talking to the devil here.  He’s judging him for tempting and deceiving Eve.  This is taking place right after they’ve sinned.  He already has a plan in place to redeem them.  That plan will come into play many centuries in the future.  God has a plan for you.

Think about your life.  Think about when you came into salvation.  What did God do to move you to salvation?  What events took place that caused you to come to Jesus?  In my life I think that Muscular Dystrophy was the thing that moved me to salvation.  It was a time of humbling.  It was a time of introspection.  I don’t believe that God inflicted me with Muscular Dystrophy, only good things come from God.  But God used that as a part of His overall plan. 


Finally, God equips us for the journey:

The people of Israel through the “plundering” of their neighbors were equipped for the journey.  God insured that they had the finances to do that.  God basically financed their trip to the Promised Land.  Israel left wealthy, they had the finances to do this thing.  We also have seen other journeys that God has financed because they are His will.

When Jesus was born, the magi began to travel to find Him.  Herod found out that the “king of the Jews had been born and in a Jealous rage tried to kill every child of Bethlehem under two.  But God spoke to Joseph in a dream and told him to flee to Egypt.  But before this look at what happened:

Matthew 2:7-9 (NKJV) 
2:7 Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to 
Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also." When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.

Matthew 2:10-12 (NKJV) 
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12 Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

The gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh were extremely valuable and could be used to finance the journey.

In salvation, God gives us the tools for equipping us.

2 Timothy 3:15-17 (NKJV) 
3:15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

So he has given us the Bible to equip us for our journey to the Promised Land.  What else equips us?

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NKJV) 
4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

Our Salvation is like a journey.  We are traveling from this place earth to the promised Land heaven.  We must be equipped This preparation of Israel to leave Egypt is a picture of God’s equipping us for the journey through which we pass.

Lesson 4 - The Holy Spirit
Tonight we’re continuing our study, “Living the Christian Lifestyle.”  Last week we focused on what?  Who can tell me?  We talked about the Equipping of the people of God.  How did God equip Israel as they came out of Egypt?  Through the plundering of Egypt, the People borrowed from their neighbors and left like a triumphant Army.  How does God equip us to live the Christian Lifestyle?  What does he give us to prepare for what we will face as Christians?  He gave some to be apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers and the scripture.

Tonight we’re going to look at how God led them to the Promised Land.  So, let’s start with the Study Text. This is the text for the overall study:

Hebrews 4:11 (NKJV) 
4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

When we live the Christian Lifestyle there is some effort required.  It isn’t something that we FALL into.  It isn’t something that JUST HAPPENS.  Energy and effort MUST be expended in order to change. Living the Christian lifestyle means “living for Jesus”:  Allowing him to be Lord over our lives.

So let’s begin tonight to look at How God leads us into the Promised Land:

Exodus 14:19-22 (NKJV) 
14:19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of 
Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

So, here we have two things:  the Angel of God and the Cloud.  So, here’s a question for you, who is the “Angel of God”?  We can answer that question by looking at other scriptures:

Exodus 3:2-4 (NKJV) 
3:2 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn." So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am."

So, it says that the Angel of the Lord appeared in a flamed of fire in the bush.  So, this is an Angel.  Who can tell me what Angel means?  The word translated as angel in that scripture comes from a root that means: To dispatch…to send like a messenger.  So the angel of God is a messenger sent by God.  So the Angel of the Lord is a messenger for the Father (Jehovah).  But this is interesting in verse 4 it says, “God called to him from the midst of the bush…” So it was the Angel of the Lord that was in the bush but iin verse 4 that angel is called God.  So who is the Angel of God?  Jesus is both messenger and God.

Look: 

John 12:44-48 (NKJV) 
12:44 Then Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

Here is Jesus talking to the Pharisees.  He’s summarizing His whole testimony.  He is the Light of the world.  If you believe in Me you believe in Him who sent me.  If you don’t believe Him you will be judged.  He’s saying this is who I am.  I’m the Son of God. But then look what else He says:

John 12:49-50 (NKJV) 
12:49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."

I’m not speaking my OWN things; I’m saying what God told me to say.  What is a person who gives us the words another has spoken?  A Messenger! Jesus is the Angel of God.

But now we can look at the other part – What about the Cloud? 

The cloud leads them by day and is a pillar of fire by night.  What does the cloud represent?  Let’s look at part of our text again:

Exodus 14:19-20 (NKJV) 
14:19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of 
Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.

This is an interesting passage, I think.  The cloud went between them; to the one it was darkness.  That is Egypt.  Egypt was in darkness because of the cloud.  But to Israel it gave light. 
The cloud led them.  The cloud gave them light.  The cloud was a sign to them.  The truth of God’s care for them was revealed as He led them through the Desert to the Promised Land.

John 14:17 (NKJV) 
14:17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

The world cannot receive it.  Egypt represents our lives prior to salvation.  Remember from the first lesson that Egypt represents the bondage and slavery of sin.  It is the darkness of sin.  There is no light in them.  It’s John 1:5:

John 1:4-5 (NKJV) 
1:4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There is no revelation in the darkness.  There’s confusion and blindness but no revelation.  This is the difference between the Christian Lifestyle and the sin lifestyle.  The Holy Spirit brings truth and revelation:

John 16:13 (NKJV) 
16:13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

So it is the Holy Spirit that guides us…into the truth.  The Holy Spirit guides us.  Look at Paul’s experience with the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts:

Acts 16:6-10 (NKJV) 
16:6 Now when they had gone through 
Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in AsiaAfter they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to TroasAnd a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

The Holy Spirit guided him away from Asia and into Macedonia.  God gave him direction.  God led him to that place.  And God guides us as well.  We need to prime ourselves to follow Him.  That’s one place where diligence comes in.  It takes effort to be obedient when we don’t know exactly where we’re being led.  Faith and obedience working hand in hand. 

 Questions:

  1. Is there a time where you felt yourself led to do a certain thing?  Or to go to a certain place?  Has God CALLED you to anything?

God called me to Taiwan, plain as day.  I was guided into this place.

  1. Now comes the honesty part:  Have you ever refused to respond to God’s call?  Have you ever FAILED to obey God?  Are you obedient in all the things God lays on us?

Tithing?

  1. When you have a decision to make or a difficult thing to do, do you pray for God’s wisdom?  Do you look for God’s guidance?  Give an example.

This is extremely important.  I came across something in my Bible reading this morning.  I want you to see what it says:

1 Chronicles 10:13-14 (NKJV) 
10:13 So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. 14 But he did not inquire of the Lord; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.

God killed Him because he didn’t INQUIRE of the Lord.  Ouch.  A lot of times the decisions we make that seem material are also spiritual.  During one service this week, Pastor Mark, gave an illustration of how he came to be in China.  It was because he made a decision that he paryed about and went to his pastor for advice.  If he made the wrong decision there is a STRONG probability that I would never have ended up here.  Because hos decision affected Scott’s life and Scott’s life affected mine.  Who knows where Mark’s salvation would have gone if he had taken himself out of that situation without asking God.  It may have even resulted in this church not being here, and YOU not being here.  In Saul’s case it led DIRECTLY to his death.

In our text, the Holy Spirit who is the cloud guided and revealed truth to Israel.  He does the same in our Christian life. 

There’s one last thing I want yopu to see here in verses 19 & 20:

Exodus 14:19-20 (NKJV) 
14:19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of 
Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.

This is important for NEW CONVERTS to understand.  The Cloud obscured and protected them.  They were able to rely on the Holy Spirit to protect them.  You also can rely on the Holy Spirit for protection.  But there are two necessary things in order to do that.  1st is faith.  You must trust in the Holy Spirit to keep you safe and the 2nd  thing is to follow it.  The cloud led them. 

Numbers 9:21-23 (NKJV) 
9:21 So it was, when the cloud remained only from evening until morning: when the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they would journey; whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud was taken up, they would journey. 22 Whether it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud remained above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would remain encamped and not journey; but when it was taken up, they would journey. 23 At the command of the Lord they remained encamped, and at the command of the Lord they journeyed; they kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by the hand of Moses.

When the cloud moved they moved.  When the cloud stopped, they stopped.  It’s simple obedience to the leading of God.  If you obey, God will take care of you.

I’d advise you to pray and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.  After you have a relationship with Him you will be able to hear and discern when it’s him that’s talking.

The second thing is that the Angel of God, whom we have seen was Jesus, took up a position between Israel and Egypt.  We need to keep Jesus between the world and us.  If we focus our minds on Him, he will keep us from being overtaken by the world. 

1 John 4:4 (NKJV) 
4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

Lesson 5 - Covenant
Tonight, we’re going to continue our study on Israel leaving Egypt for the Promised Land vs the Christian Lifestyle.  I appreciate Nelson stepping up to the plate and taking the class last week.  A difficult thing to do, but the word I got is that he was successful.  The only thing I’ll add to that study is that prayer should be a regular part of your Christian life.  I can always tell when people aren’t praying, when I ask for prayer requests at service and no one has any.  If it will help, I’m here most mornings at 7:30, so feel free to come and pray before work.  It will enhance your workday.  So let’s get back to our study.

We have studied the Deliverance from Egypt:  What God did to bring them out of Egypt.  Now we’ll look at the Road through the Wilderness.  In reality, they could have crossed the Wilderness in about 40 days -- but the Bible says they wandered in circles for 40 years! The people were disobedient, lacked faith, and in general had rebellious attitudes. In every way, the Wilderness describes the aimless life of a carnal Christian. It is a picture of “self-effort” vs. walking in the Spirit.

So, let’s start with the Study Text. This is the text for the overall study:

Hebrews 4:11 (NKJV) 
4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

When we live the Christian Lifestyle there is some effort required.  It isn’t something that we FALL into.  It isn’t something that JUST HAPPENS.  Energy and effort MUST be expended in order to change. Living the Christian lifestyle means “living for Jesus”:  Allowing him to be Lord over our lives.

The first aspect of this journey that I want to look at is the Covenant relationship.  So here is the text for tonight’s study:

Exodus 19:4-6 (NKJV) 
19:4 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of 
Israel."

Throughout, God’s relationship with man there has been a history of COVENANT between God and man: between Creator and created.

Adam and Eve had a covenant with God:

Genesis 2:15-17 (NKJV) 
2:15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
This is a picture of covenant.  God gave Adam and Eve the Garden and all their needs were met there, but God had a requirement for them.  You can eat of every tree in the Garden except the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.  So, God is saying for my part I will give you everything you need.  But for your part don’t eat of this certain tree, because that has been set aside.  A covenant is a type of contract:  A Formal Binding Agreement

Noah had a covenant with God:

Genesis 6:17-20 (NKJV) 
6:17 And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark--you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.

God for His part of the covenant says I will give you deliverance from the flood, and you will bring all of these animals and care for them.

He made a covenant with Abraham:

Genesis 15:17-18 (NKJV) 
15:17 And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. 18 On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates--

God has promised or made a contract with Abraham that He will give the “promised Land” to Abraham’s descendents, in exchange for Abraham’s faith.  Now we come to Exodus.  To the covenant that God is making with ALL of Israel:

Exodus 19:4-6 (NKJV) 
19:4 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of 
Israel."

So God tells Israel that He will regard them as a special treasure IF they will follow His commands.  This is something interesting for us.  God will make a commitment to us.  God will keep us as special to Him; “His own Special people.” 

This is a promise, it is part of a BINDING contract with us.  God is BOUND to His end of the agreement.  So it becomes a promise:  A promise that CANNOT be broken.

You will be:

        A special treasure to ME
        You will be above all people
        A kingdom of priests and a holy nation

This is God’s promise to Israel.  He is saying that they will be special to God:  That no other nation will have the closeness with God that Israel does.  Finally, He’s saying that Israel will be set aside for God’s use.  Consecrated, to God.  But there is a commitment that is required on Israel’s part.  What is that that is required?  Obedience to God’s commands!

See this is a COVENANT.  There are always two sides to a covenant.  Just like there are always two sides to any contract.  If either part fails to do their part to fulfill the contract…the contract becomes void. This is something that I think you need to really understand.  Our part of the covenant relationship is obedience if we fail to live up to our side of the covenant the covenant becomes void.

All of God’s promises to us are covenant relationships.  So this is what that means is that  ALL OF GOD’S PROMISES ARE CONDITIONAL.  IF you will do this, THEN I will do that.  That is a conditional promise.  The condition is that we must fulfill our end of the contract in order to see the reward of the contract.

Look at Adam and Eve’s covenant with God.  The contract is that God will meet every need they have IN the Garden of Eden.  They’ll be given a place to live, food, companionship, meaning and purpose for their lives, and a relationship with God.  But there is a condition to that promise.  What is it?  That they don’t eat the fruit of that one tree!  Look at what happened, though:

Genesis 3:6 (NKJV) 
3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

So they violated the covenant.  What did they do to violate the covenant?  They ate the fruit; they DISOBEYED God.  So what happened:

Genesis 3:22-24 (NKJV) 
3:22 Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"-- 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

He launched them out of the Garden.  They lost it all because they violated the covenant.  But there were curses that were placed on them individually, too.

When a covenant was agreed to they would walk between animal carcasses.  Look at God’s covenant with Abraham.    In Genesis 15, Abraham questions God.  How will I know that you’ll live up to your end?

Genesis 15:8-11 (NKJV) 
15:8 And he said, "Lord God, how shall I know that I will inherit it?" So He said to him, "Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon." 10 Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. 11 And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.


When a covenant was made between two men in those times they would kill an animal and walk through it’s blood.  The blood would get on the bottom of their robe.  It was a way of saying If I don’t live up to the agreement this is what you can do to me.  Conversely, if YOU don’t live up to the covenant then this is what I’m going to do to you.  That’s what God meant when He walked through the sacrificed animals.  There is a curse that comes with violation.  Look at back at Adam and Eve.  There were curses put on them for violating the covenant:

Adam would face thorns and thistles and have to labor to produce what God gave willingly.  Eve would have pain in childbirth and desire to rule over the man, but would be ruled over  (They weren’t equal partners anymore after that.)  Disobedience caused all of this.

But there is one more thing here.  Those curses on Adam and Eve also apply to us.  They weren’t the only ones cursed.  The curses extended beyond them.  Look at this in Israel:

Joshua 6:17-19 (NKJV) 
6:17 Now the city shall be doomed by the Lord to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things, lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord."

So God made a covenant with Israel.  I will give the city over to you.  I will cause it to be utterly destroyed.  But YOU will not touch any of the spoils for yourself, “they shall come into the treasury of the LORD.”  In other words God is saying that the treasure of Jericho is the tithe.  It belongs to God it’s consecrated for God’s use. 
So He says I will give You the Promised Land if you will give ME the Spoils:  If you will be obedient.  BUT look:

Joshua 7:1 (NKJV) 
7:1 But the children of 
Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel.

So Achan took of ACCURSED things.  He held back God’s tithe, by keeping some for himself.  He broke the co9venant.  HE broke the covenant but God’s anger burned against who?  All of Israel!


Look at what happened as a result:

Joshua 7:4-5 (NKJV) 
7:4 So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.

The curse extended to everybody.  The whole army was affected.  Obedience matters to God.  It is how the covenant we have with God works.  OBEDIENCE is the condition of the promise and the covenant.  If the condition is violated in just one provision, the contract is made void.

Questions:

  1. Think about your walk with God.  The condition of the covenant is that we will OBEY God’s command.  Where have you been STRONG in meeting the conditions.?  Faithfulness, evangelism, the 10 commandments.
  2. Where have you been WEAK in fulfilling the contract?

You might be thinking, well this is Old Testament.  This is the law.  But we are under Grace this is the New Testament.

Matthew 5:17 (NKJV) 
5:17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

The Law stands.  The Law still stands.  We live under grace.  Jesus came because we can’t live completely under the law.  WE will always fail.  But if there is true repentance; what is true repentance?  Repentance accompanied by change.  If there is true repentance we will be forgiven.  THAT is the covenant of Grace.  The law isn’t destroyed.

This is important for NEW CONVERTS.  Every promise of God that is on our lives is conditional.  The promises of God are conditional on OBEDIENCE

1 Samuel 15:22 (NKJV) 
15:22 So Samuel said: "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.


BUT if we don’t obey in every circumstance, we don’t have to be condemned.  There is no condemnation because we are able to repent and change and once more we are under the covenant of grace.  So if you’re not living up to the your side of the covenant, don’t despair.  Don’t get angry just repent and begin to live up to it.

There was a woman caught in adultery.  That’s a gross disobedience and violation of the covenant.  The Pharisees – the religious people – wanted to kill her.  But Jesus only said – Go and sin no more.  That’s repentance.  If you break the covenant there IS a curse, but if you go and sin no more the curse is lifted.  FIX IT.  Do the RIGHT THING.  It WILL be forgiven.

Homework – Jeremiah 31:31-34

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NKJV) 
31:31 "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah-- 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of 
Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

Lesson 6 - Sin Delays
Last Week, we looked at God’s desire for a covenant relationship:  That all promises of God are conditional.  What is the condition?  Obedience.  If we will be obedient to God’s commands He will pour out His promise on us. 

Today we’re going to continue with our study, on Israel leaving Egypt for the Promised Land VS The Christian Lifestyle.  But this week we’ll focus on how Israel was delayed due to sin. 

First our text for the overall study:

Hebrews 4:11 (NKJV) 
4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

When we live the Christian Lifestyle there is some effort required.  It isn’t something that we FALL into.  It isn’t something that JUST HAPPENS.  Energy and effort MUST be expended in order to change. Living the Christian lifestyle means “living for Jesus”:  Allowing him to be Lord over our lives.

Now let’s examine our text for this week’s study:

1 Corinthians 10:5-14 (NKJV) 
10:5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;

1 Corinthians 10:5-14 (NKJV) 
nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

There are three books that deal with Israel’s journey to and possession of the Promised Land.  Exodus, Numbers and Joshua.  And you notice that our text doesn’t come from any of those.  Our text is a New Testament text that deals with the issue for the night.  This is Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians.  He’s talking about the sins that delayed Israel.  Look at what those sins are:

  1. Idolatry
  2. Sexual Immorality
  3. Complaining (this is specific and we’ll get to that in a moment)
    1. Which leads to unbelief

Paul tells us that these things were preserved as a warning for us.  So that we can see them and see that they will impede our progress to our Promised Land.  What is the Promised Land for us?  Heaven

Let’s look at each individual event and discuss the significance of it:

Idolatry:

Exodus 32:1-3 (NKJV) 
32:1 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, "Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." And Aaron said to them, "Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me." So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron.

Moses has gone up the mountain to receive the commandments of God.  Remember what we said last week.  It was only a 40-day journey from Egypt to Canaan (The Promised Land).  So, Moses went up that mountain within a month from leaving Egypt.  Now remember what happened to get them out of Egypt:  The plagues, the Red Sea crossing all of what God did.  Moses was on the mountain for 40 days, so we can say that in less than 2 months of this demonstration of God’s power they’re building an idol. 

Exodus 32:4-6 (NKJV) 
And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the 
land of Egypt!" So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord." Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

How quickly they’ve forgotten.  How quickly they’ve turned to false gods.  Sometimes, that happens to us as well.  Maybe not in that kind of time frame, but I want you to think about THIS – How many people have come in here and prayed and then gone away.  We see them only once.  They disappear and go off to other things, like making money or giving every weekend to playing.  Let me ask a question – Can those things be idols?
Yes, they can.  An idol is anything or ANYONE that’s more important to you than God:  Anything that you put before God in your life.  Many people make money and even their children more important than God.

Sexual Immorality:
Numbers 25:1-3 (NKJV) 
25:1 Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of 
MoabThey invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel

This is an extremely interesting moment here.  Again this took place in that same journey to the Promised Land.  I want you to see the CONTEXT of this moment.  Balak was the King of Moab.  In Numbers 23 He called upon Balaam to curse Israel.  Balaam was a prophet. 

Numbers 22:4-6 (NKJV) 
22:4 So Moab said to the elders of Midian, "Now this company will lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field." And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time. Then he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the sons of his people, to call him, saying: "Look, a people has come from Egypt. See, they cover the face of the earth, and are settling next to me! Therefore please come at once, curse this people for me, for they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed."

So Balaam is the “goto” guy for blessing and cursing.  But the problem is that Balaam is also covetous (greedy).

Numbers 22:15-17 (NKJV) 
22:15 Then Balak again sent princes, more numerous and more honorable than they. 16 And they came to Balaam and said to him, "Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: 'Please let nothing hinder you from coming to me; 17 for I will certainly honor you greatly, and I will do whatever you say to me. Therefore please come, curse this people for me.' "

So the Bible says that Balaam went with him and tried to curse Israel.  But God wouldn’t let him.  God caused him to speak words of blessing rather than cursing.  But notice what Balak says to him, “Whatever you tell me that I will do.”  This incident of harlotry with the Moabite women takes place immediately after this.  Now look at this:

Revelation 2:14 (NKJV) 
2:14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.

The Book of Revelation is Jesus talking to the churches and telling them what to expect.  So this passage is Jesus talking to the church in Pergamos.  He’s telling them that some hold the doctrine of Balaam.  Balaam TAUGHT Balak how to “put a stumbling block” before Israel.  The things listed here are eating foods sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality.  Those things are part of the Moabite religious practices.  So once again, it is idolatry that is the downfall of Israel.
But I also want you to remember that anything you put before God is an idol.  God has commanded us not to fornicate. 

1 Corinthians 6:18 (NKJV) 
6:18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

Fornication is a sin.  God has commanded us not to do that.  Fornication is a type of greed.  You are taking something that doesn’t belong to you.  Marriage sex isn’t fornication.  We LUST and COVET that is the sin of Balaam.  When you put your carnal desires (fornication is fleshly) before God’s command you are making your carnal desire god in your life.  Flesh becomes god.  God brought about a plague as a result of this incident:

Numbers 25:9 (NKJV) 
And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.

I put that to show that it was the one Paul referenced in our text.

Complaining:

Numbers 21:4-6 (NKJV) 
21:4 Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: "Why have you brought us up out of 
Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread." So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.

So this is another interesting moment.  Again, this is within a few months after leaving Egypt.  They complained about not having food and now God has provided for their needs with Manna.  This is God’s provision for their lives.  This is God showing mercy and provision to his people.  They have complained; they’ve built idols and declared them to be god; They’ve practiced the immoral practices of the false religions, but God provided for them and BLESSED them anyway.  They didn’t deserve God’s blessing, but now they’re complaining about what God has given them. 

Here’s a question for you.  Have you ever complained about the blessings God has given you?

The Manna was given to them to keep them alive and they called it WORTHLESS.  How’s that for ingratitude.  Are you grateful for the blessings you’ve received.

These things delayed Israel from getting to the Promised Land.  Even though Paul doesn’t mention it, there is the biggest delayer of all – UNBELIEF.
Numbers 13:32-33 (NKJV) 
13:32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."

Numbers 14:1-4 (NKJV) 
14:1 So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of 
Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, "If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?" So they said to one another, "Let us select a leader and return to Egypt."

They are poised on the very edge of the Promised Land.  God has PROMISED them this land.  But they are afraid to cross over.  They’ve been told the people are too strong.  They’ve been told there are giants to fight.  They’ve been told that the cities are too fortified.  They were told they aren’t strong enough. “we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”  So they gave up.  They saw the whole thing in terms of their strength.  They left God out of it altogether.  They didn’t believe God or his promise to them. So look what happened:

Numbers 14:22-23 (NKJV) 
14:22 because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, 23 they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it.

The entire generation missed the Promised Land, because of Unbeilef.  The whole congregation had to wander the desert 40 years.  Even Joshua and Caleb, who believed God and wanted to go forward and grab the promise.

These things are important for the NEW CONVERT.  God is warning us of sins that will keep us out of the Promised Land. 

IDOLATRY:  Be careful of what comes first in your life.  You can make an idol out of anything if it becomes more important to you than worshipping God, or following His commands.
SEXUAL IMMORALITY:  Sexual immorality is a in against YOUR OWN body.  
COMPLAINING:  Complaining about the blessing of God results injudgement.
UNBELIEF:  Can you believe God for His promises?  The real question is do you trust God.

Lesson 7 - Miracle Provision

 Last week, we looked at how sin delays and derails us from entering the Promised Land.  A whole generation missed out on the Promised Land because of the sin of unbelief.  Today I want to look at an area that is a huge place of unbelief in our lives; Provision.

So, let’s start with our Study Text:

Hebrews 4:11 (NKJV) 
4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

When we live the Christian Lifestyle there is some effort required.  It isn’t something that we FALL into.  It isn’t something that JUST HAPPENS.  Energy and effort MUST be expended in order to change. Living the Christian lifestyle means “living for Jesus”:  Allowing him to be Lord over our lives.

Now let’s examine our text for this week’s study:

Exodus 16:11-15 (NKJV) 
16:11 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 12 "I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, 'At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the Lord your God.' " 13 So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. 14 And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.

Tonight, I want to talk about God’s miracle provision.  God provided for the Israelites as they traveled to the Promised Land.  This is important, because as we travel through life God will provide for us, as well.  Here’s the back-story:

Israel escaped from Egypt.  They went through the Red Sea.  Now remember, I told you it was about a 40-day journey to the Promised Land.  So this is taking place within a month of leaving the Promised Land.

Numbers 33:3 (NKJV) 
33:3 They departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover the children of 
Israel went out with boldness in the sight of all the Egyptians.

Exodus 16:1 (NKJV) 
16:1 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.

  1. We’re Grumblers: 

So this is exactly one month.  And in only that amount of time, they had begun to grumble against God and Moses.  They COMPLAINED that God had brought them out there to die.  One month.  God did a huge miracle to free them from the bondage of Egypt’s slavery and oppression.  And just one short month later they are complaining about God and what He has done for them.

Aren’t they just like US?  God does a powerful miracle in our lives.  For example, maybe we prayed for a job and God gave us one.  How long does it take for us to begin to complain about our boss or our co-workers…or the pay or the hours? 

Have you ever done that?  Have you ever received a miracle from God only to turn around and grumble?  I think it’s human nature.  This happens to Israel over and over.  In Genesis 15 they murmured that there was no water.

Exodus 15:22-24 (NKJV) 
15:22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. 24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?"

Three Days after they left Egypt they began to complain.  Three days after the Red Sea miracle, they began to complain.  Can anyone think of a time when this has happened to him or her?  When they began to immediately complain about what God had done for them? 

In our text God rains food on them.  God pours out a blessing on them.  Why did He do it?  He did it because they were complaining:  Because they complained they had no food.  So God blessed them with Manna.  God gave them this gift but look at what happens later:

Numbers 21:5 (NKJV) 
21:5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses: "Why have you brought us up out of 
Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread."

 So they’ve looked at what God has provided and called it worthless.  We DO that.  People do that all the time.  In what way?  Think about this for a moment.  We have been give a great gift:  Salvation.  Jesus came to earth and died for us so that we could be free of sin, once and for all.  How many continue to sin, though?  How many continue to do what they did before the gift.  Jesus gave His life for us.  He did it while were still sinners.

Romans 5:8 (NKJV) 
5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
You might be saying, “Okay, but what does that have to do with God’s miracle Provision?”  It has everything to do with it.  Jesus provided a way to escape the wrath of God, through His death.  He paid the price for the sins we committed.  He PROVIDED the payment for our sin.  We make His sacrifice WORTHLESS when we continue to do those same things.  So take a moment to think about the things that you have done that would be considered by God to be sin.  Those are the things Jesus died for, for you.  How many of them do you continue to do today? 

  1. God Provided

The second thing I want to look at is that God DID provide for their needs.  They were in the middle of the desert.  How many have seen a desert.  There is very little vegetation, and wildlife is hard to come by.  There’s lizards and snakes, some rodents, etc., but really nothing substantial and certainly not enough to feed 1.5 Million people.  Can you imagine how much food that would take?  It would seem impossible to think that there could be enough food for everyone, but God made it happen.

Exodus 16:13-15 (NKJV) 
16:13 So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. 14 And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, "This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.

God is a God who meets needs.  Do you realize that God meets your needs?  God is the one who provides for you.  Look at this:

1 Kings 17:9 (NKJV) 
17:9 "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to 
Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."

This takes place when Israel is in the midst of a great drought.  The drought lasted 3 and a half years.  God has provided for the prophet Elijah by having ravens bring food.

1 Kings 17:2-7 (NKJV) 
17:2 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, "Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the 
JordanThe ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.

But now the drought has caused the brook to dry up so God sends Elijah to the widow.  Look at what happens:
1 Kings 17:10-11 (NKJV) 
17:10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink." 11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand."

Elijah finds this widow, and asks for water and food.  But the widow is preparing her last meal:

1 Kings 17:12 (NKJV) 
17:12 So she said, "As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die."

But Elijah doesn’t stop there:

1 Kings 17:13-14 (NKJV) 
17:13 And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.' "

So Elijah tells her, basically, to have faith.  Do not fear, God says He will provide for you.  Elijah tells her that God says He will make sure that yopu have enough.  That’s what He did with Israel in the dewsert too.  He gave them only enough to meet the need for the day.

Exodus 16:16 (NKJV) 
16:16 This is the thing which the Lord has commanded: 'Let every man gather it according to each one's need, one omer for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent.' "


 God said, “take only enough for the day.  Don’t try to keep it overnight.  HAVE FAITH that there will be some tomorrow.”  Same thing for the widow:

1 Kings 17:15-16 (NKJV) 
17:15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.

Remember, I told you the promises of God are conditional on our obedience.  How was the Manna conditional?  What was the condition for the provision of Manna?  That they wouldn’t take more than one day’s worth. 

What was the condition of the Widow’s provision?  That she would give first to Elijah.
This is important for the NEW CONVERT because God places the condition of Obedience on provision.  God promises to provide for us but there’s a condition of obedience on that:

Malachi 3:10 (NKJV) 
3:10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the Lord of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.

 This is really important.  Notice that the scripture says “Bring.”  It doesn’t say Give Tithes it says to bring the tithes into the storehouse.  In other words, the tithe already belongs to God.  It isn’t something that’s our giving.  It belongs to God. 

Malachi 3:8 (NKJV) 
3:8 "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings.

God considers that ROBBING Him.  We ROB God when we don’t bring Him the tithe.  How?  Look at this example:  Say that while I’m gone I loan you my car.  And when I come back, “You come up to me and say, “I’ve thought about this pastor, and I want to GIVE you this car,” and then you hand me back my keys.  But it’s already MY car.  You can’t give it to me, it’s already mine.  This is the same thing as the tithes.  You’re not giving them to God; they already belong to Him.  Look at what He says:

Malachi 3:9 (NKJV) 
3:9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.

You are cursed with a curse.  The whole nation is cursed.  If we don’t tithe we bring a curse on ourselves and the WHOLE church, BUT, if we give then the promise is PROVISION.  That’s what the widow of Zarephath found out.  Elijah represents God in this passage.  He’s the man of God; he represents God.  He asks only for a small portion of what the widow has.  He asks that she first give it to him.  The tithe is the first fruits; they belong to God.

Exodus 23:19 (NKJV) 
23:19 The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk.

There’s that phrase again, “bring into the house of the Lord.” 

Now you’re probably thinking.  Man, this guy is hitting tithing hard lately.  Do you know why?  I want to see you blessed.  I want to see God provide for your needs.  I don’t want to see you cursed with a curse.  This is something new converts need to get, so that they can have a full experience of faith.  So they can see the promises of God play out in their lives.  GOD indeed provides.  It’s a promise, but like all God’s promises there is a condition of obedience.  I want to see all of us receive all that God has for each of us. 

Next week we begin Lessons of Faith – The Promised Land.

Lesson 8 - The Promised Land
Tonight, we’re going to continue with our study, “Living the Christian Lifestyle.”  The Children of Israel leaving Egypt VS the Christian Lifestyle.  Today, we’re going to talk about entering into the Promised Land.  What does it take to enter the Promised Land.

So, let’s start with our Study Text:

Hebrews 4:11 (NKJV) 
4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

When we live the Christian Lifestyle there is some effort required.  It isn’t something that we FALL into.  It isn’t something that JUST HAPPENS.  Energy and effort MUST be expended in order to change. Living the Christian lifestyle means “living for Jesus”:  Allowing him to be Lord over our lives.

Now let’s examine our text for this week’s study:

Hebrews 11:29-30 (NKJV) 
11:29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.

So according to this scripture, faith is the thing that got them into the Promised Land.  We’ve talked about a lot of things through thios study, haven’t we? 

We’ve talked about:

  1. Deliverance from Sin
  2. Jesus as The Passover Lamb
  3. How God Equips Us
  4. The Holy Spirit
  5. God’s Covenants with us
  6. How sin affected Them
  7. And God’s Miracle Provision in our lives

God did all these things for the Children of Israel and we can say that all of these things are matters of faith:

  1. It takes faith to believe that God can deliver us.  We often look at the things we’re going through and can’t see any way out.  We think I’ll always be this way.  But God can deliver us if we have the FAITH to trust Him and believe Him.
  2. Think about what we said about the Passover Lamb. The Passover Lamb was the instrument of Israel’s Salvation.  If they spilled the lamb’s blood and splattered it on their doorposts, the Angel of Death passed over them.  They were saved from physical death.  Jesus through His spilled blood saves us from spiritual death.  But our salvation comes by FAITH.
  3. God equips us, through His Word, through prayer and by the people he places over us, like Pastors, Evangelists, Preachers and Teachers.  But we have to have FAITH that Go has anointed them and is speaking through them.
  4. The Holy Spirit guides us into the truth.  The Holy Spirit gives direction and wisdom.  Do you believe that God can speak directly into your heart through the Holy Spirit?  It takes FAITH to believe it.
  5. God’s covenants are promises.  But all of His promises are conditional.  IF you do this THEN I will do that.  God’s condition is obedience.  But it takes FAITH in God to believe for the promises. 
  6. An entire generation missed out on the Promised Land, because of their lack of faith in God’s promise.  Our sin affects us in profound ways.  Unbelief is a great in.  It’s a lack of FAITH in God it will keep us out of the promise God has for us.
  7. God provides for us.  He has given us a method to ensure provision it is another conditional promise.  But it takes FAITH to believe that if we follow God’s method of giving that the remainder will be enough to provide for us.
So the Christian lifestyle is a lifestyle that’s built on faith.  The condition of entering into the Promised Land is faith.  Unbelief, or a lack of faith, kept an entire generation out of the Promised Land.  Remember this:

Numbers 14:22-23 (NKJV) 
14:22 because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, 23 they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it.

Only Joshua and Caleb entered in to the Promised Land from their generation.  Everyone else died in the wilderness. 

Interesting thing about the Promised Land as that God had given it to them but they had to fight to get it.  Once again, the fight for the Promised Land was fought on FAITH!  Let’s begin by looking at the first battle:

Joshua 6:1-2 (NKJV) 
6:1 Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of 
Israel; none went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua: "See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.

God has promised that Israel would defeat Jericho.  But Jericho was known for it’s walls.  It is interesting how they were built.  Jericho is built on a hill that was surrounded by a huge rampart (embankment)..  You had to ascend into the city.  At the base of the hill was a retaining wall.  That retaining wall was four meters high.  Just above that wall was another wall that was about two meters thick and about 8 meters high.  Then there was an embankment that ascended about 14 meters up and at the top another wall of 8 meters.  So from the bottom of the embankment you would be towered over by walls that rose to 30 meters above you.  Jericho must have seemed impenetrable.  But God had promised that He would deliver it into Joshua’s hand.  God then gave Joshua a plan for attacking Jericho.

Joshua 6:3-5 (NKJV) 
You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him."

So here’s God speaking to Joshua and He’s giving him the battle plan for Jericho.  Now if you’re a general does this sound like the kind of plan you would employ to defeat Jericho?  March around the city, blow horns and yell REAL loud.  It reminds me of an old comedian’s story God says to Noah, “I want you to build an ark.”  Noah says, “Riiight.  What’s an ark.”  God tells him what he’s going to do and Noah says, “Riiight.”  This is how most of us would react if this were the plan that God gave us.  Well, unless we had faith that God was going to act in a supernatural way.  Joshua had faith:

Joshua 6:6-7 (NKJV) 
6:6 Then Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, "Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams' horns before the ark of the Lord." And he said to the people, "Proceed, and march around the city, and let him who is armed advance before the ark of the Lord."

Joshua began to implement what God had told him.  It was an act of faith.  It was faith like this that caused them to take Jericho and in fact all of the Promised Land.  And they took the Promised Land by acting in Faith.

Faith is what will cause us to take the Promised Land, as well.  The Promised Land for us is what?  Heaven, eternal life, right?

Salvation comes through faith in Jesus.  Eternal life is by believing in Jesus.

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Now I want to show you something else.  Israel, under Joshua’s guidance fought for 7 years.  God promised them that land but they had to fight to take it.  That was the problem in the beginning wasn’t it?  They were afraid to face the Giants and the fortified cities:

Numbers 13:31-33 (NKJV) 
13:31 But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we." 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."

The problem here is that they weren’t willing to fight.  They weren’t acting in faith.  They were acting in fear.  Faith is a fight.  It’s not something that comes easily.  Paul says it’s a fight:

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NKJV) 
4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

I have fought the good FIGHT… I have kept the faith.  We face enemies in our run for the Promised Land.  In order to enter the Promised Land we will have to fight that same fight of faith.  Only those who fight will see it:

Matthew 11:12 (NKJV) 
11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.

Finally, Heaven is a partnership between God and us.  When Israel went to take the Promised Land, God instructed them in what to do.  God had the strategy, but Israel did the fighting.  God, through the Bible has given us the way of taking the Promised Land, but we have to fight that Good Fight of Faith.

Question 1:  Look at your own life.  In what areas do you need to fight to keep faith to enter heaven?  Where are you weak in following God’s plans?

Question 2:  What can you do to increase your faith? 

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