A Battle of Wills
1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? 6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
We come to a hard time in our lives and we want to take the easy way through.
We want to handle it our own way
We want to handle it in our own time
One night four college kids stayed out late, partying and having a good time. They paid no mind to the final exam they had the next day for which they didn’t study. In the morning though panic took over and they hatched a plan to get out of taking the exam. They covered themselves with grease and dirt and went to the Dean’s office. Once there, they said they had been to a wedding the previous night and on the way back they got a flat tire and had to push the car back to campus so they couldn’t make it on time for the exam and they hoped they would get another chance at taking it some other day.
The Dean listened to their story without saying a word. When the students finished telling their story he offered them a chance to take the test three days later.
They thanked him and accepted his offer. And for the next three days, the four students studied without unnecessary breaks. They studied as hard as never before, only taking breaks to eat and sleep. Finally, after three days the four students were confident they knew everything and that nothing could surprise them. They walked into he Deans office confident and determined they would ace the exam.
The Dean welcomed them and told them they will have to take the exam in separate rooms and that they would have to leave all of their things in a special locker in his office since there are no professors to watch over them. They were fine with that since they had all studied hard. Finally, each one of them sat in his own classroom with a pen and exam waiting for them on the table. Everything was fine until they saw the exam which had only two question:
Question ONE: Your Name________________ (1 Point)
Question TWO: Which tire burst? (99 Points)
1. Front Left
2. Front Right
3. Back Left
4. Back Right
Numbers 13:1-3 “1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them. 3 And Moses by the commandment of the Lord sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel.”
It was the expressed will and commandment of God that these men be sent over to to search the land
What did God expect them to find over there?
Something impossible for them to accomplish
Numbers 13:21-25 “21 So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath. 22 And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs. 24 The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence. 25 And they returned from searching of the land after forty days.”
Numbers 13:26-30 “26 And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. 27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. 28 Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. 30 And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.”
Yeah, it’s everything God said it would be, but it’s out of our grasp
Their eyes, their focus, their faith, was in what they could accomplish
Because of their doubt, the people became discouraged
Caleb, with faith, proclaimed we are well able to take it. We can do this!
Numbers 13:31-33 “31 But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. 32 And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. 33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”
Numbers 14:1-4 “1 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! 3 And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? 4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.”
Just a little bit of doubt can spread like a wildfire, especially when the people are faithless
Everything they said was absolutely true. They were NOT able of themselves to take the land
They completely forgot God, and all His promises, and His faithfulness during their entire journey
God brought us here to kill us. We’re in this situation because God hates us and wants us to suffer
The promises of God most always come to us on the other side of a battle, or a test, or a trial
Number 14:5-9 “5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. 6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: 7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. 8 If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. 9 Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not.”
The Glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel
Number 14:11 “11 And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?”
God threatens to smite them, to disinherit them, and to create a mightier nation and a greater through Moses
Moses mightily intercedes for the children of Israel
Numbers 14:20-24 “20 And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word: 21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord. 22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; 23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: 24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.”
God changes His mind! Where before it was time to receive the promise, now that time has passed
They had disqualified themselves from the promise of God because of their faithlessness and because of their rebellion
If they would have simply trusted God, believed what God had told them and rested in those exceeding good and precious promises, all would have been well
But they never considered God. Only their own ability and their own desires
Numbers 14:26-35 “26 And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 27 How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. 28 Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the Lord, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: 29 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, 30 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. 31 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. 32 But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. 34 After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise. 35 I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.
They were forbidden from EVER entering into the promised land
God says that they despised this land. Despised the promise of God
God makes a distinction between those who were rebellious and those that were obedient
Numbers 14:36-39 “36 And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, 37 Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the Lord. 38 But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still. 39 And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.”
God concludes the whole thing by rendering judgment upon all those who caused Israel to disbelieve God
When Moses told them everything the Lord had spoken, they mourned greatly
They were sorry that they had disobeyed God
They recognized their error at this point and were ready to make amends
Numbers 14:40-45 “40 And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the Lord hath promised: for we have sinned. 41 And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the Lord? but it shall not prosper. 42 Go not up, for the Lord is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies. 43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the Lord, therefore the Lord will not be with you. 44 But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp. 45 Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.”
But it was too late!
Their sin was pardoned according to the intercession of Moses, but God’s time had passed now
Maybe they thought that God would repeal His command that they would never enter into the promised land if they were truly sorry
There are always consequences when we want to do things our way and fail to recognize the timing and the promise of God
They assembled themselves together and were ready and willing to fight.
Again, they didn’t take God into their considerations and went over, knowing full well that God was not with them
This was the great promise of God about to be fulfilled right there in front of them! It was time to possess the promised land!
It wouldn’t come to them as perhaps they imagined, but it would come through strife and conflict and battle
They couldn’t imagine a scenario where they would be able to defeat the inhabitants of the land
Even though they had seen all the miracles, and all the judgments, and all the provision of God
Even though God had, throughout their journey from Egypt, swore to them that He would fight for them, that He would protect them, that God would give them victory on every side
Even though God had demonstrated and fulfilled this promise to the children of Israel every day since leaving Egypt
The people wouldn’t do what God wanted, then they wanted to do what God didn’t.
Just couldn’t seem to get lined up with God’s timetable and way of doing things
Did things their own way and in their own time
James talks about this in our scripture text
All of this strife. All of this misery and disappointment is being caused because I cannot submit to God
We’re trying with all our might, with all our abilities, with all our intellect, to bring our wills to pass
God says that we ought to simply ask
We have to ask for the right things
Those things that please God
Those things that are in the will of God
If we’re asking for them because they please us, we have no promise for that
Friendship of the world is enmity with God
This is what those without God do to get their way
This is what Israel did in Numbers 13-14.
This is what we do when we forget God, or forget His will for our lives
We must learn to submit ourselves to God, including those things we really want to have, or to see, or to be
Friend of mine pushing to get a new home (Mauer)
People who do everything they can to marry that special someone, but are disappointed later because they did not seek God
If we push through in our own strength seeking our own agenda, we will be abased
If we crucify our own affections and lusts and submit ourselves to the expressed will of God, we will be exalted by Him