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To Whom Do You Listen?

Casket Empty   •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  28:19
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“No!”
“You can’t!”
“It won’t work!”
“There is no way.”
“We took a vote.”
How do you hear it? Do these words give you a sense of victory, or do they give you a sense of defeat?
It may depend on whether you’re the one hearing them or the one saying them.
Either way the source of these words can often be broadly categorized into two sources, Fear & Truth:

FEAR vs. TRUTH

Moses and the Israelites are finally on the cusp of entering the promised land. The Law has been stated and reissued, the people have been offering sacrifices. The promised land has been spied out and seen to be a land flowing with milk and honey. It was everything that was promised. Returning to the Israelite camp they bring in clusters of grapes so big they have to carry them on a pole. Still, of those sent into the land to spy it out - one from each of the twelve tribes, 10 said there was no way to take it. It was a land filled with giants, the cities are fortified, the people are too strong.
Two spies though, Caleb and Joshua give a good report, and Joshua tells the people, “
Numbers 14:8 ESV
If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey.
It is clear to Joshua that it is not about who or what is in the land, but that it is the fact that God promised the land to them.
That’s not good enough for the Israelites, they’d taken a vote. They are once again focused on themselves and the obstacles before them, forgetting that God is their deliverer. Moses tries to persuade them reminding them that God will fight for them as he did to bring them out of Egypt, but the people refuse to trust in God.
Once again, God wants to destroy his people, but Moses intercedes on their behalf, praying and appealing to God’s character as one who is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression.
God relents and has them wander in the desert for 40 years so that the unbelieving generation will die out.
This includes Moses who will not be permitted to enter the promised land. Joshua is named as his successor.
This is what God says to Joshua:
Joshua 1:6–9 ESV
Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
God said, this, so is this based in Fear or Truth?

FEAR vs. TRUTH

It’s truth.
But wait, its hard. They actually have to get up and move and to do so against what would seem impossible odds.
The promised land is already filled with people, lots of them, and they’re big! Their cities are fortified!
It’s so easy to say, “WE can’t....” but is that speaking out of FEAR or TRUTH?
Perhaps it’s a bit of both for the Israelites, but they’re forgetting the second part.
The first part, the fear - We Can’t, can be truth as well. They are out numbered, and small compared to the people God tells them to go into battle against. Seven nations - the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. One small nation against so many?
But the TRUTH that Israel is to remember the Lord is :
Deuteronomy 9:5 ESV
Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
God fulfills his promises. There is a renewing of the Abrahamic covenant and all the men of Israel are circumcised. This had not been done while they were in wandering in the wilderness. And Israel once again remembered God’s passover.
This reminds Israel of God being on their side and the fact that God is the one fighting for them.
This is illustrated so well in that famous battle of Jericho, that was more of a march than a battle.
Each day the Israelite army would march around the outer walls of Jericho blowing their horns, but the people were silent. They did this for 6 days.
Then on the 7th day they marched around the city 7 times and then Joshua gave the command for the people to shout, and they did, and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down and each man went straight into the city. This is how they conquered Jericho.
And yet, Israel continues to grumble and disobey. Though God remained faithful, they continued to worship other Gods.
So we hear the Law given in Scripture and say we understand it as truth, but do we? Or do we respond in fear.

FEAR vs. TRUTH

Often in our fears we are asking God to show himself, or make himself known.
Throughout the Scripture what we see is God is active. In the midst of our fear we should not ask God to make himself known that is us commanding God - it’s a part of our sinful heart that thinks we can control instead ask God to open our eyes to what he is doing.
God, let me see as you see.
God, open my eyes.
Give me a heart like yours.
God change me!

FEAR IS A LIAR!

Joshua 1:9 ESV
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
1 John 4:18 ESV
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

TRUTH

Truth is Triumphant! God’s truth is as true today as it was yesterday as it will be tomorrow.
What we learn from Moses, and Joshua is:
God is merciful.
God’s Word is true.
God’s promises hold fast.
Sometimes God says “NO!” We should heed that advise.
Sometimes the world says, “NO!” and we should consider carefully whether it is spoken in truth or in fear. We as Christians should not live life in fear.
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