Remember what it was like to be sequestered at home with little freedom to connect with friends and family? The isolation didn't come naturally to us and yet the COVID lockdown taught us new lessons on the value of solitude and silence. Today on Insight for Living, we're featuring a message that Chuck Swindoll delivered at the tail end of the pandemic.
It's intentionally reflective because the disciplines we learned while in lockdown will prove invaluable as we enter the new year ahead. Chuck titled this message, Looking Back, Let's Remember the Journey. Please take your Bibles and turn to Deuteronomy chapter 8. Deuteronomy chapter 8. I want to read for you the first five verses from this eighth chapter, as today we spend our time looking back, remembering the journey.
Next Sunday we will be looking ahead, preparing for the race that is before us. I'll be reading from the New Living Translation. Deuteronomy 8 verse 1, be careful to obey all the commands I'm giving you today. Then you will live and multiply and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these 40 years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone. Rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
For all these 40 years, your clothes did not wear out and your feet didn't blister or swell. Think about it. Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you God disciplines you for your own good. You're listening to Insight for Living.
To study the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insight.org slash studies. And now the message from Chuck titled, Looking Back, Let's Remember the Journey. 40 years is a long, long time. It's longer than anyone ever stays in school. It's longer than most people live in the same house, or for that matter, reside in the same town or city. 40 years. That's longer than most people attend the same church, or truth be told, remain married to the same person. 40 years is a long, long time. Long, long time. It's especially true when you have no roof over your head to protect you from the elements.
You have no job to earn a living to provide food for your family. When you have no table to sit at to eat your meals, or chair to sit in and find comfort, or bed to rest in through the night. It's a long, long time. I draw this out because it is easy to read through words and to miss the significance of 14,600 and more days at the Hebrews spent in the wilderness, from the exodus in Egypt to settling in at Canaan. I should add, in the wilderness, without a compass, without a map, without a GPS, without any form of guidance except a cloud through the day, and a pillar of fire through the nights. And your leader, think about it, starts at age 80 and then until he's 120, is the one you listen to and follow. He better be right.
He better be listening to the right voice. You better trust him, for you're in a barren wilderness. If you ever travel to Egypt, I should say to Israel, and you are able to do so, have your guide take you into the Judean wilderness. You can just go that far, no need to go all the way to the Sinai, but find a place that they call the wilderness. Listen to this, you will not see one shoot of green coming out of the earth.
You will see rock and gravel and stone and sand. And if it's at the time of year, which is most often when there is no rain, the heat can be unbearable. These people walked for 40 years, having left their dwellings meager and difficult, though that was, as they were enslaved in Egypt. At least they had vegetables to eat and the Nile nearby, water to drink.
There were cattle that provided meat and other animals, a variety of diet. They were enslaved, to be sure, and there's nothing worse than that. But when you stop to think, when they left Egypt, there was no longer a roof ever over their head, not even in the tabernacle court that was built.
It was built without a top, without a roof. And they lived under the sun, under the skies, under the stars, for 40 years. And due to their disobedience, they wandered. They really walked in a circle, if you track the journey they made.
And they lived like homeless nomads. You may enjoy camping. I don't think anyone enjoys a 40-year camping experience.
No one. It's charming. It's fun. Usually it's got a few creatures. It's got a few creature comforts that can take away some of the raw conditions that would otherwise be there. And it's never in a barren wilderness.
Usually it's in a wooded area or a place you've chosen that has some beauty to it. Most of the journey they took, no beauty and no relief. 40 long years. When they finally did come to what was called the Plains of Moab, they stopped. Moses would not be able to lead them into Canaan, as you remember. And so he took the opportunity before bidding them farewell.
At the ripe age of 120, his eyes were clear and he still had a spring in his steps. But it was time for him to leave the earth. Before he left, he preached the longest sermon ever recorded in the Bible. In fact, quite likely the longest sermon ever preached. We know it today as the 34 chapter book of Deuteronomy.
You may not realize it, but it is a sermon in parts, but a sermon delivered by one man to the nomads who are now about to cross the Jordan, which is the border leading into the Promised Land known as Canaan. That would be under Joshua's leadership, Moses' right hand assistant for an extended period of time during the 40 years. Interestingly, as you who know your Bibles will remember, everyone in this congregation, this vast number of Hebrews, was younger, much younger. The older generation had died out. There had been one burial after another after another on the journey.
We forget that. Who knows how many funerals, memorials, Moses and Joshua must have preached. The only three who lived through it all were Moses, Joshua, and Caleb. All their parents were gone and the younger generation was now being readied for the new land. Now, what was in front of them, as is true of us today, what is in front of us in the new year, they didn't know. They only knew they had been promised God's protection and the fulfillment of his promise of a land that they could call their own. And finally, they would have a roof over their head, a table to sit at and eat their meals, and a bed to sleep in. They would live in houses they had not built. They would drink from sisters they had not dug. They would eat from trees and plants that they had not planted.
They would eat from trees and plants that they had not planted. And so part of the sermon included the warning that they not become proud as they moved into what we might call a neighborhood of model homes. Having driven out the Canaanites, they would now take over the homes that had been built.
They didn't completely drive them all out, as others of you will remember, and that's another story covered in the book of Judges. But here we are in Deuteronomy at the plains of Moab listening to a 120-year-old preacher who has a lot to say. Not surprisingly, the word he uses most often in his sermon is remember. Remember. Remember. Remember.
You'll see it woven all through the fabric of these 34 chapters. Now, what specifically were they to remember? They'd been through a lot.
In those 40 years, while they'd seen a Red Sea part, experienced walking across as if on dry land, they had drunk water from a rock that had been miraculously turned to a stream in the desert. They'd been provided an unusual food, which we will talk about in a few moments. They had had their needs met. They'd gone through poisonous snakes that killed a number of them. Their experiences had been... Were they to remember that? Was that what they were to pass on to their children and their grandchildren? Well, we have Deuteronomy 8, verses 1 and 2 to tell us what they were to remember. They had gone through unexpected rescues. They had faced death almost the edge of death. They had been miraculously protected and preserved. Were they to remember that and tell their children about that?
Look closely. He begins with a warning. Be careful, verse 1, chapter 8. Be careful to obey all the commands of the land, all the commands I'm giving you today. Meaning, when you get into that land and the fight is over, and the homes are yours, and the land as well as all the crops and all the cattle and all the prosperity that you will inherit not having worked for, be careful. You obeyed in the wilderness because the alternative was pretty bleak.
But you get where you get fat and sassy in a new land. You'll quickly forget me or the Lord's words, so be careful that you don't do that. Remember what I've written and obey what I've commanded, that you may multiply and prosper in that land.
Now the answer to the question, what are they to remember? Look at verse 2. You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God led you these 40 years in the wilderness.
Stop. You're to remember it was the Lord who led you all the way it was the Lord who led you all the way through the wilderness. That is what you pass on to your children. That is what your children and grandchildren must learn, that God is faithful and will meet your needs regardless of how demanding, difficult, how exposed you may be, how vulnerable you may be to danger. God faithfully remains your protector, your shield, your guide. The Lord God gave you the cloud all through the way and we never got lost. He gave you the fire to warm you through the cold nights.
You never had to suffer the serious cold weather, even in the desert that can get cold. Remember the Lord led you, note the word, through the wilderness. He knew where he was taking them. There were things for the slaves of the Egypt to learn before they became free people in Canaan and they could only learn them in the wilderness experience. Remember them, that the Lord is the one who led you.
Now let me pause here and reassure you. I'm not going to spend this message instructing you on the history of ancient Hebrews and going through all the details that may be fascinating to some, but that's not the purpose of this message. I'm using this as an analogy for the year we have just gone through. If I may paraphrase, you shall remember all the way your the Lord your God led you through these 12 months of the year that is just about over. All the way through, starting in January early on, all the way to the end of December, he never once abandoned, never once left you on your own, never once walked away, never once refused to hear your prayers, never once mistreated, abused you in any way.
He was there with us through it. Remember how the Lord our God has led us, looking back over these months. I have to count on you to do your own remembering, remembering because your mind will take you through the journey you have gone through these months. I'll go through my journey in my mind. What has happened if you're a family that's gone through it to your family has been different than what me and what I and my family have gone through. And so you must personalize this message.
You must build into it the information that comes from your memory. Look again at verse 2. Look at your Bible. Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness these 40 years, in our case, these 12 months, humbling you.
That's the place to stop. We were humbled during these 12 months. We weren't nearly as in charge or powerful as we thought we were. We were humbled.
We watched in humility. The harsh weather stunned us. We couldn't stop it. We couldn't change one degree.
All this health-threatening wilderness, all of the extreme cultural wilderness, the financial wilderness. God was faithful. He never left us, but we were humbled in it.
We watched as it seemed like everything was coming off its hinges. We'd never known a year like this ever in my almost 60 years of ministry in the church. I'd never seen a church I was serving go through what we went through.
Quite likely, you haven't either. The Lord our God faithfully was there. As you're listening to Chuck Swindoll teach today, you're probably reflecting on your church and the lessons you learned during the COVID pandemic.
Stay with us because there's much more that Chuck wants to show us. He's presenting a message called Looking Back, Let's Remember the Journey. This is Insight for Living. To dig deeper into this topic on your own, we've prepared helpful Searching the Scriptures study notes for you.
To access this free online resource, go to insightworld.org slash studies. Look for the brand new mini series from Chuck called Pressing on in Faith. Do you recall the first time you heard Insight for Living? Almost daily we hear from someone in our global audience who shares the very first time they tuned in. Let me give you an example. This note came from Sacramento, California and said, Chuck, I've been listening to you on the radio since 1979.
I started listening when I was 30 and with the blink of an eye, I'm over 70. If I were to share every time that Insight has seen me through difficult times, encourage me to go deeper in the scriptures and in my relationship with Christ, there would not be enough space. Thank you.
Wow, that is so powerful. You know, it really is a good idea to look back on our lives and see what God has done. And now here's Chuck. Okay, let's pause for a nostalgic moment. Think back to where you were in 1979. Can you recall the place you lived? How about the role you played back then?
Or the job you held? 1979. That's when Insight for Living aired its first radio program in the United States. A brief five years later, we established a presence in Canada as well.
And soon thereafter, we accepted multiple invitations to reach beyond our North American borders to many points on the globe. 40 years is a long time. And it's not uncommon for me to meet folks who tell me about listening to our program for 10, 20 years, sometime 30, and a few up to almost 40 years. Some measure their family in Insight for Living years, as they call it. In fact, young adults often tell stories about hearing my voice while they were captive in their parents' car on their way to grade school.
Well, with four decades behind us, I'm confident that our finest years lay ahead of us. My confidence is rooted in reality because God continues to use Insight for Living as a trusted source of Bible teaching. Matter of fact, thanks to new platforms for delivering our Bible teaching, such as the internet and mobile devices, our audience has grown many times over.
Today, we're hearing from businessmen who consider Insight for Living their companion on the road while commuting to and from their appointments. We also hear from single moms who rely on our program to give them a strong foundation when the fierce storms of life are weathered all alone. Students say they appreciate the free access to study notes. And pastors tell me how they prepare their sermons based on something they heard through this program. And so, as we come to the end of another ministry year, I'm asking you to give generously, to fuel whatever God wants to accomplish through our ministry. Today, you can likely give what you were unable to do 20, 30, or more years ago. In any case, I can assure you that your gift of any size is urgently needed, and that your donation will truly make a difference as we declare the name that is above all names.
Our goal is that every knee shall bow and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. You can respond to Chuck Swindoll right now by going to insight.org slash donate. Or if you're listening in the United States, give us a call. Our phone number is 800-772-8888.
That's 800-772-8888. I'm Bill Meyer. Tomorrow, Chuck Swindoll continues his new mini series called Pressing on in Faith. Be sure to join us Thursday here on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Looking Back, Let's Remember the Journey, was copyrighted in 2021 and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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