"GOD'S AMAZING GRACE."
And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When you come into the land of your habitations, which I give unto you...
I. ISRAEL HAS JUST BEEN SHUT OUT FROM THE PROMISED LAND.
A. The report of the ten renegade spies had inspired fear into the heart of people, and because of the fear and unbelief.
1. They accused God of bringing them here to die.
2. They said it would have been better to die in Egypt than here.
3. They said that their wives and little children would be taken captive and become slaves.
4. They decided to return to Egypt.
B. God has just closed the door on their entering the land. He has declared His sentence of judgment.
Say unto them, [As truly as] I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:
Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me,
Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, [concerning] which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.
But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
But [as for] you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.
And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.
C. The people responded by confessing their sin and saying that they would go and take the land. Though Moses warned them not to go up for the Lord would not be with them, they did not obey and went into battle against the inhabitants of the land.
1. They were soundly defeated by the defenders of the land.
2. They had failed the crucial test of faith, and are doomed to die in the wilderness.
II. IT IS HERE AT THIS POINT OF THEIR GREATEST FAILURE THAT THE LORD SAID TO THEM: "WHEN YOU COME INTOT HE LAND OF YOUR HABITATIONS THAT I HAVE GIVEN YOU."
A. The door into the land has just been slammed as a result of their failure to trust in God, yet God speaks of when they come into the land.
B. This teaches us an important lesson. We may fail, but the promises of God will not fail.
1. The purposes of God shall stand.
a. God said: "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.
b. Solomon said: "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand."
c. David said: "The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."
d. Isaiah said: "The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, [so] shall it stand:"
e. Again for the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul [it]?
2. God had promised to Abraham that He would give the land to his descendants.
a. The promises of God will not fail.
b. At the time of Esther, their was a plot to destroy all of the Jews in the Medo-Persian Empire.
c. Esther had become the queen of Persia and her cousin Mordicai was urging her to go to the king and plead for her people, the Jews.
d. Esther responded that if someone approached the king without being bidden, if the king did not raise his golden sceptre, that person would be immediately killed by the royal guard.
e. To this Mordecai responded:
Don't fool yourself into thinking that because you are in the king's house, that you will escape this decree against the Jews. If you hold back and do nothing at this time, then their help and deliverance will come another way, but you and your father's house will be destroyed. How do you know that maybe God has placed you where you are for just this purpose."
f. Basically he is saying that God is going to accomplish His purposes, but He is giving you an opportunity to be the instrument through which He will do it. If you fail, God will still accomplish His purpose, but you will be the loser.
g. I think that that is so remarkable that God allows us the privilege of being the instruments through which He accomplishes His eternal purposes. "But we never can prove, the delights of His love, Until all on the altar we lay, For the favor He shows, and the love He bestows, Are from them who will trust and obey."
C. I think that God's timing is quite remarkable. Right at the time they failed through their unbelief and are facing 40 years of uncertainty in the wilderness, God assures them that they will indeed enter into the land and gives them instructions as to what sacrifices they are to offer when they come into the land.
III. THIS IS A MARVELOUS DISPLAY OF THE MERCY AND GRACE OF GOD.
A. This same grace and mercy is shown to us by God.
1. Often, at the time of our greatest failure, Satan comes along and seeks to discourage us, telling us that we will never make it.
a. One of the rules of boxing is that you never hit a man when he is down. Satan does not follow that rule.
b. When you are down is when he begins to attack in earnest.
c. He loves to torment people by telling them that they have committed the unpardonable sin. You sinned deliberately after you came to the knowledge of truth, so there is no hope for you.
d. He would love for you to think that God has given up on you.
e. The Psalmist David said:
Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God.
2. It is interesting to me that this is the time that God comes to give to us the blessed assurance that we are going to make it.
a. It is as though you have just failed big time, and you are ready to give up, and God comes to you and you are expecting to hear him say, "Go to hell, sinner." But instead He says, "Now when you get to heaven, I want you to first meet Paul the Apostle. I know that you have loved his ministry."
b. My father's experience as a boy living in Philadelphia.
c. We so often are expecting the worse from God. We feel that this is the end. We wait for the hand of judgment to fall. We cringe and close our eyes as God raises His hand, expecting the worse, and we feel him patting us on the back and we hear Him say, "That was a good try, but you failed to hold on to My hand. Let's try it again and this time don't let go of My hand."
B. Paul wrote to the Romans, "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
1. Do you know who is against you?
a. The world is against you.
b. Satan is against you.
c. But God is for you, and greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.
d. As Martin Luther wrote, "The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not at him, one little world will fell him."
2. I'll never forget the day that the Spirit brought this truth to my heart. God is for me!
a. Somehow through the teaching of my early childhood, I got the impression that God was against me. I sort of thought that He was something like Santa Claus, making out a list and checking it twice going to find out whose naughty and nice.
1. I guess I was sort of hyperactive as a boy. I was very daring and always getting into mischief.
2. Fortunately for me, they did not know about hyperactivity. Fortunately for me, A.D.D. had not yet been invented by the psychologists or I would have probably been put on Ritalin and suffered the subsequent consequences.
3. Often my Sunday school teachers warned me about the wrath of God.
a. I thought that God was just waiting for me to make a mistake so He could bring His wrath down upon my head.
b. Because of my failings, I always seemed to feel at odds with God.
c. Then one glorious day I found out that God was for me. He loved me and wanted to show that love by blessing me.
d. I came into a whole new relationship with God.
1. No longer held by fear, but now held by love.
2. No longer a legal relationship based upon my faithfulness, and goodness but a love relationship based upon His faithfulness, and goodness.
IV. GOD SAID, "WHEN YOU COME INTO THE LAND..." HERE I SEE THE GRACE OF GOD MANIFESTED. JUSTICE WOULD HAVE BARRED THE DOOR FOREVER, BUT GRACE OPENED THE DOOR. SO WITH US.
A. Grace is God acting freely according to His own nature of love. No promises or obligations to fulfill.
B. Grace is uncaused in the recipient. Its cause is solely in God.
C. The discovery of God's grace through Jesus Christ caused Paul to cry out:
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable [are] his judgments, and his ways past finding out!