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General Principles - Life of Moses Part 23

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
July 10, 2024 7:00 am

General Principles - Life of Moses Part 23

So What? / Lon Solomon

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Well, you know, almost 150 years ago, Joseph Gilmore wrote these words, He leadeth me, O blessed thought, O words with heavenly comfort fraught, Whate'er I do, where'er I be, Still tis God's hand that leadeth me. Now, for the next several weeks, we're going to study this great biblical truth, namely that the living God of the universe is so concerned about our well-being as followers of Christ, that He offers to individually and personally lead us in every decision and in every choice that we make in life. What we want to do today is go back 3500 years and look and see how God led the Israelites in Egypt and draw some general principles from that, and then we're going to bring all that forward and talk about your life and my life today in the 21st century. So if you brought a Bible today, I want you to open it to Exodus chapter 13, and if you did not bring a Bible, reach under the armrest there next to you. There's a copy of the Bible, and we're going to be on page 49. Page 49 in our copy of the Bible, Exodus 13 in your copy.

And while you're turning, let me give you a little bit of background. Remember that Pharaoh had stubbornly refused to let the Israelites go in obedience to God, and so God sent a bunch of horrific plagues onto the land of Egypt, culminating with the tenth plague where God slew the firstborn son of every Egyptian. Now in response, Exodus 12 31, Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, up, leave Egypt, you and your people.

And the Egyptians urged the Israelites to hurry and leave the country, for otherwise they said, we will all die, not just our firstborn sons will all die. But suddenly, friends, into this wonderful situation of the Israelites being released, the Israelites are faced with a very important choice, because you see there were multiple ways out of Egypt going eastward towards the Promised Land. In fact, there were three primary ways out of Egypt going east towards Canaan.

I want to show them to you. The first one, the northernmost route that you see circled on the map on the screen, is called the Way of the Philistines. This was the shortest route. It was the most direct route to the Promised Land. We know from archaeology that this is the route the pharaohs took. When they went on military expeditions in Canaan, and as you can see, the Way of the Philistines ran right along the Mediterranean Sea, and then into the Promised Land through what we call today the Gaza Strip.

Now taking this road, the Israelites could have reached the Promised Land in somewhere between five and ten days. The middle route that we're now going to circle on the map was called the Way of Shor. This was the most heavily traveled of the three routes. It was the major caravan route running from the great oasis of Beersheba in southern Canaan into Egypt. This route was like the Interstate 95, if you would, of the Sinai. And finally, the third route going south, as you see circled on the screen, was called the Way of Zin because it went down into the wilderness of Zin. And this route headed straight south towards Mount Sinai.

It was a very lightly traveled route because it basically took people out into the middle of nowhere. This was the very road that you see circled that Moses had taken 40 years earlier when he fled Egypt and went down and lived in the vicinity of Mount Sinai for 40 years. So the Israelites had a choice. Which road do we take out of Egypt? And so God steps in and God shows them.

Watch. Exodus 13, verse 17. When Pharaoh let the Israelites go, the Bible says, God did not lead them by the way of the Philistines, though that way was shorter. For God said, if they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.

Now let's go back to their map. Notice the Way of the Philistines again circled. And the reason that this short route to the Promised Land was called the Way of the Philistines is because it ran through the area where the Philistines lived.

Duh. Okay, you got that right? Now, what do we know about the Philistines? You say, well, Lana, I know that Goliath was one of them. Well, good.

That's true. But let me tell you a little more about them. As best we can tell, the Philistines came from the area of what we know of today as Greece. And in about 1500 B.C. they attempted to invade by ships the delta of Egypt.

They were repulsed and so as a result they migrated up the Mediterranean coast and they settled in what we think of today as the Gaza Strip along the Mediterranean. We know three very important things about the Philistine that are germane for our discussion this morning. Number one, we know that they were an incredibly warlike people.

Every single male was militarily trained in the Philistine nation. Number two, we know that they had learned to use chariots most effectively. In fact, on the open terrain, on flat terrain, the Philistine chariots were virtually unstoppable. This is why David, four and a half centuries later from now, is going to always try to lure the Philistines in the battle in the mountains where they can't use their chariots. But friends, as the Israelites were traveling with Moses, they're not in the mountains. They're on the flat desert plains of the Sinai and up against the Philistine chariots. Well, let's just say they would have been dead matzah.

You understand what I'm saying? And finally, the third thing we know about the Philistines is they had an exclusive monopoly on the manufacture of iron weapons at this time in the ancient Near East. Everybody else was using bronze weapons. In fact, the Israelites did not get iron technology until the time of David, 450 years later. Now, folks, do you know what happens when you hit a bronze sword with an iron sword? Well, the answer is you end up with a bronze pocket knife.

That's what happens. And so as a result of all of this, the Philistines were a formidable opponent who were certainly not going to just let the Israelites waltz through their territory on the way to the Promised Land. They were going to come out and fight them.

And God knew that the Israelites were not ready for that yet. They were just a bunch of ragtag former slaves. They had no military training. They had no weapons. They had no chariots.

They had no discipline. You say, but Lon, couldn't God have given them victory over the Philistines anyway? Well, of course he could have.

Of course. If, listen, if the Israelites had been spiritually able to trust him for that victory. But spiritually, the Israelites were just not there. They didn't understand God well enough yet.

They didn't understand his character well enough yet. They didn't understand his power well enough yet to be able to rise up and trust God by faith for a victory over the Philistines. They were like baby Christians.

At best, not the kind of seasoned men and women of God it would take to trust God for this kind of victory. And so, God simply knew that the Israelites could not handle going by way of the Philistines to the Promised Land. And therefore, God purposely and deliberately did not lead them that way. Instead, God purposely and deliberately led them a different way, a way he knew they could handle. Now, does everybody see that?

Hello? Yes, you see that. Okay, God bless you. Now, so how did God take them? Well, let's show you a map. God took them south down by the Way of Zin through the most rugged part of the Sinai Desert. This was a route that nobody in their right mind would take with two million people. Moses had taken this route, as we said, 40 years earlier. He knew that there wasn't enough food, there wasn't enough water, and there wasn't enough shelter for all these people down that way.

He knew it was utterly illogical to take these people that way. You say, well, Lon, if that's true, then why in the world did Moses take them that way? Well, friend, the answer is because this is the way God was leading.

You say, all right, all right. How could Moses be that sure, so sure that God was specifically and precisely leading the Israelites this way? Well, that's a great question.

Here's the answer. Exodus 13, verse 21. By day the Lord went ahead of the Israelites in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light so that the Israelites could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

You say, Lon, wait a minute, wait a minute. You're telling me that God put these pillars in front of the Israelites and that they followed these pillars around through the wilderness step by step the way you and I would follow a friend's car turn by turn as it was leading us to some unknown destination. That's what you're telling me happened out here?

No, friend, that's not what I'm telling you happened. That's what the Bible is telling you happened. And the Bible repeats this over and over again. Listen, Deuteronomy chapter 1, speaking to the Israelites. Moses said God went ahead of you on your way in fire by night and in a cloud by day to show you the path in which you should go. Nehemiah in chapter 9 of his prayer, verse 12 said, By day, Lord, you led the Israelites with a pillar of cloud and by night with a pillar of fire to show them the way they should go. The same chapter, Nehemiah 9, verse 19, Because of your great compassion, you did not abandon the Israelites in the desert. By day, the pillar of cloud did not leave them, nor the pillar of fire by night to guide them and show them the way that they were to take. And these are just a few of the verses.

You say, well, okay, Lon. So how exactly did this system work, you know, with the cloud and the pillar and all that? Well, the Bible tells us Numbers chapter 9, verse 17 says, Whenever the pillar of cloud lifted and moved, the Israelites broke down their tents and they set out and they followed it wherever it went. And in the place where the clouds settled down, there the Israelites would pitch their tents again and they would camp. Folks, these pillars were like the very first GPS system in history. You understand? In a quarter mile, turn left. And that's how they did it.

Now, my point here is that God cared so much about the safety and the well-being of the Israelites that he led them step by step, day by day, personally and specifically by means of these two pillars that were constantly in front of them. Does everybody see that? Okay. Now, that's as far as we want to go in the passage for today, because we want to stop right now and ask our most important question. So we're ready, yes? We're ready. Here we go. Nice and loud. Make it worth it. One, two, three.

Yeah. You say Lon pillars, Schmiller. What difference does any of that make to me today in my life? Well, friends, I'm here to tell you that as followers of Jesus Christ, God still leads his people today, and that he leads us exactly the way he led these Israelites 3,500 years ago. There are four principles here in Exodus 13 about God's leading that I want us to see today, four principles that God uses to lead everyone he's ever led in all of history, four principles that when we understand them, they are designed by God to encourage our hearts and to uplift our spirits, so let me tell you what they are. Principle number one.

Here you go. Principle number one. We see from Exodus 13 that God wants to lead our lives individually and personally, that he is committed to doing this moment by moment, day by day, and step by step. Think about it now.

The Israelites, when they came out of Egypt, God didn't say to them, Okay, fellas, now you're free. So here's the deal. There's the Sinai in front of you, and on the other side of the Sinai is the Promised Land. I'll meet you there. You guys get there any way you want. Doesn't matter to me how you get there. You get there any way you want, and when you get there, I'll be there for you, and we'll go in and take the land to Canaan. God bless you.

See you. That isn't what God did, did he? No. God had a specific will for the specific route that he wanted the Israelites to take, and he led them, the Bible is very clear about this, and he guided them personally at every single step along that route. The point is that God cared about every detail in these Israelites' lives. He cared where they went. He cared what they did every day, just like he cares about every detail of your life and my life as followers of Christ today.

He cares where we go and what we do every single day. Now, there are people out there, Christian preachers and Christian book writers, who will try to convince you differently than this. They will try to convince you that no, God does not get involved in the everyday choices and the everyday decisions of our lives. And, friends, I'm here to simply tell you they're wrong.

They're just flat wrong. And next week, Lord willing, we're going to spend the entire message on that very issue. Does God have a perfect plan and will for my life that extends even to the smallest details of life? The answer is yes, and I'm going to show you that next week. God willing and anxious to lead me personally and individually in my life, not just in the big choices of life, but even in the smallest choices, if I'm willing to trust Him to do that, the answer is yes. And I'm going to convince you of that from the Bible next week. Principle number two that we see from Exodus 13 is that God never leads us by the way of the Philistines.

God never leads people by way of the Philistines. Remember, God didn't lead the Israelites this way because He knew their weaknesses. He knew their limits. He knew their limitations, and He knew they couldn't handle going that way. Well, as followers of Christ today, my friends, God knows our weaknesses. He knows our limits. He knows our limitations.

He knows exactly what you and I can handle individually, what we can't handle. He knows just how far we can be stretched before we break, and just like the Israelites, God never leads us into any situation that He knows we can't handle or where He knows we will break. 1 Corinthians 10, 13, God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear, but with every temptation He will provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it. Last week we spoke about God's promise to be faithful to us in every situation of life, and what this verse is telling us is that as part of that faithfulness, God promises to never allow more water in our boat than our bilge pumps can handle.

That's part of His faithfulness to us. You know, there's a wonderful place out west in Colorado, in Colorado Springs actually, called the Garden of the Gods. I don't know if you've ever been there, but it's this marvelous rock foundation, this beautiful natural wonder that has this little road going through it. You can drive through it. It's an amazing place, and when you're driving through this, all of a sudden the road disappears into a crack in one of these big rocks and it's so narrow that you are convinced a motorcycle would have trouble getting through that crack in the rock, and so as you start to slow down, right at that point, there's a big sign on the right-hand side, and here's what it says. It says, yes, you can. A million others have.

It's hysterical. Now friends, what I'm here to tell you is that as followers of Jesus Christ, Corinthians 10.13 is God's road sign for you and me, saying, yes, you can. No matter how rough it seems, no matter how demanding things get, no matter how much you and I are tempted to say, I just don't think I can do that, listen, God never leads us or allows us to be led into any situation that He has not already inspected and made sure you and I can handle it, and if He doesn't feel we can handle it, He doesn't let us go there. That's what was true of the Israelites. That's what is true of us today. So my friends, oh, yes, you can.

Oh, yes, you can. God may sometimes lead you and me right up to the edge, but God promises in His faithfulness He will never, ever take us past the edge. Principle number three. What you see from Exodus 13 is that God often leads us in ways that look humanly illogical to us at first. We said earlier that when they came out of Egypt, God led the Israelites in a way that looked humanly foolish. Humanly speaking, it made sense to take the fastest route to the Promised Land, the shortest route to the Promised Land, but God knew the Israelites couldn't survive going that way, so He led them to take a route that looked humanly illogical. He led them south. And I'm sure the Israelites wondered, Why in the world is God taking us down in this direction?

This is crazy. Why are we going this way? It makes no sense. Well, the answer to that question is very simple. The answer is because God knew more than they knew.

That's the answer. And God says He knows more than you and I know. Isaiah 55, verse 8, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, says the Lord. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so far are my thoughts above your thoughts, and my ways above your ways.

Folks, if it looks illogical, that's okay. God knows more than you and I know. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm always telling God in my life the way that I believe would be the most logical for Him to lead me.

Are you like that? I'm always informing Him of that. In fact, for example, every year, I decide that the most logical thing for God to do in leading my life would be to allow me to win the Publishers Clearing House Grand Prize. I decide that.

And I say, Here, God, listen. If I won that grand prize, think of what I could do. Lord, I could pay off the indebtedness on this building all by myself. Lord, I could forgo a salary for the rest of my career at McLean Bible Church and help out the ministry there. Lord, if I want all that money, I could go and visit missionaries around the world at my own expense.

I could go to Hawaii and Tahiti and Switzerland and Monte Carlo visiting missionaries. Lord, this would be a good idea for me. You know, I've never won the Publishers Clearing House. What's more, I don't think I'm ever going to win the Publishers Clearing House.

And I'll tell you why. Because God knows this would not be good for me. If I won it, I'd become greedy. I would become materialistic. I would become self-reliant, and God knows that.

And so I know I'm never winning it, although we discuss this on a yearly basis. My Christian friend, God knows more than you know, too, about what's best for you. And so he knows how to lead your life.

And what this means is that you need to expect that his leading in your life will often not make sense to you at first. And that's okay, because that leads us to principle number four, and that is, we saw it in Exodus 13, that God's leading is always perfect. Think about it now. Even though God's path going directly south didn't look logical to the Israelites at first, it turned out to be the exact right way, didn't it? Because they went south.

Think about it. They had time to develop an army, the Israelites did, so that they could invade and conquer the Promised Land. Because the Israelites went south, they had time to congeal into an organized nation that could actually rule the Promised Land once they took it. Because they went south, the Israelites had the chance to see God's power on display in the desert, so they could grow spiritually, and they could learn to trust God for the big victories they were going to need to trust him for.

Listen, by going south, the Israelites, that was the only way they could go where they could fulfill their destiny to invade and conquer the Promised Land. So in leading the Israelites south, did not God lead them exactly right? Well, yes he did.

Yes he did. And in the same way, my friends, as followers of Jesus Christ today, even though God's leading may look illogical in our lives sometimes, I'm here to tell you that the reality is that God's leading is always perfect for us in the same way that it was perfect for the Israelites. Or to put it another way, as followers of Christ, God is compassionate because he's compassionate, and he cares deeply about our welfare. Because he is omniscient, he always knows what's best for us. And because he is faithful, God always leads us in the way that he knows is best. And what that means is that we need to trust him whether you and I can understand how God's leading our life or whether we can't. Even if it makes no sense to us sometimes, we need to trust him. You say, well, Lon, this is wonderful.

This is wonderful. God bless you up there. But you know, how can I discern God's leading in my life so that I can follow him and trust him? I mean, how can I figure out which way God's taking me so that I can follow him and trust him?

I mean, how do I do that? Well, that's a great question. And that's what we're going to talk about in part three of this series. So let me just remind you, we're in a three-part series on the leading of God, part one, which we talked about today.

We looked at some general principles. Part two, which we're going to do next week, we're going to answer the question, does God have a perfect plan for my life and its smallest details? And finally, on the third week, we're going to answer the question, how can I discern God's leading in my life so that I can follow him and trust him? Now, let me conclude by saying that unless I miss my guess, I'll bet there's a bunch of us here today whom God has led into tough circumstances. There's a bunch of us here today that are facing some really tough situations in our life, situations that look illogical, utterly illogical to us, why God would have put us here, situations where we're honestly not sure we can survive and make it, and circumstances where we have already accused God of abandoning us and of making some kind of drastic mistake in how he's directing our lives.

Well, folks, I'm here to tell you, you got it all wrong. I'm here to tell you, based on these four principles of God's leading that we learned today, you got it all wrong. Principle number one assures us that God is committed to leading our life individually and personally, so I'm here to tell you God has not abandoned you or forgotten you. Principle number two, we learned that God never leads us into situations we can't handle, so, friends, whatever situation he's led you into, you can handle it by the grace and the strength of Almighty God in your life. We learned, number three, that God often leads us in a way that looks humanly illogical to us, so I'm here to tell you it's okay if you don't understand why God led you in the direction that he led you, that's fine. The reason he led you there is because he knows more than you do. And finally, we learned that God's leading is always perfect. He's made no mistake in your case, my friend. Just trust him. And when the dust clears, I promise you, you will be able to say with the apostle Paul, Romans 8.28, that God did work all things together for good in your case because he always does.

That's his promise. So I saw a Peanuts cartoon a couple of years ago, and it had Lucy and Linus in it, and Lucy comes running in, her hair on fire, she's all upset, it's been raining for days, and she says, Linus, Linus, she said, it's been raining for days now, and I'm afraid that soon the whole world is going to be destroyed by a flood as in the days of Noah. And Linus says, Lucy, Lucy, Lucy, don't you know that in the Bible God promised he would never destroy the world again with a flood? And Lucy says, really? She said, wow, I feel better already. And Linus looks at her and says, Lucy, good theology has a way of doing that. I thought that was brilliant. You say, so now you're taking theology from Peanuts?

No, no, but Linus is right. Good theology is the basis to helping us feel better in the struggles and the problems of life because good theology gives us a basis on which to interpret those situations in life, to interpret them biblically, and to interpret them in light of an ever faithful God who is walking step by step with you and me. And so we've given you some good theology today, my friends. And if you're facing some tough situations in your life, I hope that good theology will help you feel better today.

Let's pray. Lord Jesus, you know that sometimes it's easy for us to turn around and to really question your leading in our life and to impugn your leading in our life. But Father, I thank you for reminding us today of these four principles that are set in concrete when it comes to how you lead your people. Remind us, Lord Jesus, that your leading is always perfect, whether it makes sense to us or not. Remind us you never lead us into anything you know we can't handle by your grace and strength. And remind us that you are right there beside us, leading and guiding as followers of Christ, that we are never abandoned.

And, Lord, we are never subject to randomness or fate. And, Lord, based on this good theology, encourage our hearts today. Based on this good theology, uplift our spirits today and send us out to live another week for you, Lord, with joy in our heart. Even though we may have trouble in our life, give us joy in our heart because God is leading and we're going to trust Him. Lord, change the very way we live because we were here today and we learned from your Word. And we pray this in Jesus' name. And God's people said, Amen. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-07-10 09:03:35 / 2024-07-10 09:15:07 / 12

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