Based on a sermon from Sunday 13th March 2022
This is the second of our 5 part series in which we look at the journey that the Israelites took in the desert to the Promised Land. We feel that this journey is similar to the journey we are on as a church, except our “Promised Land” is revival. Some of the Israelites didn’t make it to the Promised Land because they were carrying baggage that they wanted to keep. Last week we talked about Grief. Many of the Israelites complained and wanted to go back to slavery in Egypt. They grieved the “so called riches” they had in Egypt, such as meat to eat. They wanted to go back to slavery, and they didn’t want or know how to enter freedom. They complained to Moses and blamed God for their misfortunes, even though they were free. They had just seen the 12 plagues, God had parted a huge sea and killed all their enemies in front of their eyes, but they still complained.
Yet, God was so good and he remained faithful to the Israelites. We hear in the scriptures that out of God’s goodness, God gave the Israelites what they wanted, (see Exodus 16:13-18). Moses asked them to take what they needed, not too much or too little, (see also 16:1-20). Moses gave them an instruction not to keep any of the bread for the morning, but they ignored Him, and the Israelites kept the bread anyway.
Why did they keep the bread when Moses told them not to? Because they didn’t trust Moses. Moses had led them out of Egypt and through the parted sea, surely with his track record and the relationship that Moses would have built up with the Israelites, you would have thought that they would and should have listened and trusted Moses?… but no, they didn’t. They didn’t trust Moses and so they therefore didn’t trust God.
Why this lack of trust? Because they didn’t trust that Moses and God would look after and provide for them. The Israelites took the bread and kept it so they could provide for themselves for the next day. They were scared, worried and fearful that the bread wouldn’t come and that God wouldn’t provide. They took control of the situation and they tried to provide for themselves. By keeping the bread for themselves it revealed two strongholds and sin patterns; fear and control. “I’ll do this myself, because I don’t think God will give me what I need” – that was control. Blaming Moses and trying to sort things out for themselves – is was result of their own fear.
I can imagine that these two sin patterns of fear and control were so normal and natural to the Israelites. Remember that these Israelites would have been born slaves. They would have been beaten, abused and at the mercy of the Egyptians. They were living in fear of what would happen next. Because of this, I can imagine that they did everything they could to survive. In Exodus 1 we read that the new Pharaoh betrayed the Israelites and made them all slaves. He put slave masters over them with forced labour. He oppressed them and worked them ruthlessly. He tried to kill all the boy babies so they wouldn’t multiply. The Egyptians were not kind. For years the Israelites were oppressed and under a heavy blanket of fear without any hope of freedom.
When the Israelites left Egypt, they had to re-learn how to follow a leader who was kind, loving, tolerant, forgiving and good. When Moses came, he spoke of God and God’s faithfulness to the Israelites. Moses had compassion on the people. During the 12 plagues of Egypt, God used this time to teach the Israelites about His faithfulness, love and goodness. God had not forgotten His people and God delivered them. God parted the Red Sea and now God was giving them the food and water that they needed in the desert daily. God was constantly miraculously providing for them.
Still they were unable to let go of the past and the pain of their deep betrayal and mistreatment by the Egyptians, and because they hadn’t dealt with their pain, they complained to Moses. They didn’t trust him. They grumbled. They talked about him behind his back. They were angry towards him. All the unresolved pain, unforgiveness and anger they had for the Egyptians, resulted in the Israelites putting this baggage on Moses. They couldn’t move forward away from the pain of their past and into the freedom of their future. We can be just like these Israelites.
God only wants good things for us. God is good. God can’t help himself. God cannot do anything but be good. Gods’ divine goodness is at the centre of God’s character. If God is not good, then God is not God.
In A.W. Tozer’s book The Knowledge of the Holy, he says “If God is not good, then there can be no distinction between kindness and cruelty. Therefore, heaven can be hell and hell, heaven. The goodness of God is the drive behind all blessing He daily bestows upon us.”
Goodness is the reason why God does everything He does. When God made the earth, His creation and Mankind, God said it was good. Genesis 1v31 “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
If God is the same yesterday, today and forever, then God still thinks Mankind is good today and He only has good things for us. God is unchanging and so therefore his goodness is unchanging also. If God is good, then everything He has for us is also good. Therefore, if everything He has for us is good, why do we doubt God? Why are we fearful? We cannot make anything more good than God, because God is the creator of good. He only has good things for us. That is God’s nature. He can’t help it.
God’s goodness is the ground of our expectation. If we do not know the goodness of God and His love for us, then we will have low expectations of God and therefore low expectations of God’s goodness. We will then have low expectations for our lives and the future that God has for us. We will have low levels of hope. God’s goodness and love is the foundation for our lives.
Again Tozer writes, “Sin has made us timid and self-conscious. Years of rebellion against God have bred in us a fear that cannot be overcome in a day”. This fear was the reason why the Israelites were unable to enter the Promised Land. They had lived in fear their whole lives. They didn’t know how to not be fearful. Their fear was not going to be overcome in a day, but even after all they went through, they continued to doubt Moses and therefore they doubted God.
If we want to know more of God and His goodness, we only need to look at Jesus. Jesus came to walk with men, so we would see for ourselves what God the Father was like. Jesus was consistently loving, kind, gentle, gracious and good. Jesus teaches us, how good God has been and forever will be.
“The greatness of God rouses fear within us, but God’s goodness encourages us not to be afraid of him.” (Tozer).
If like me, you struggle with God’s goodness, all we need to do is look at Jesus. We just need to look at how good Jesus was and how he died on the cross for you and me. If like me, you struggle with the goodness of God, just look at your past and how faithful God has been. Just look at the reason why you are here. It is because of God’s goodness that you are here in this room, saved and redeemed. It is because of God’s goodness that He blesses you daily.
Today, we are looking at fear. Just like the Israelites we have fear which can cause us to take control and not trust God. We can have; fear of change, fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear of the past, fear of the journey, fear of the Holy Spirit, fear of leaving your baggage behind, fear of leaving betrayal behind, fear of forgiveness. None of us fully understands the goodness of God, because God’s goodness is so big, full of mercy, grace and blessing. We will never deserve the goodness and blessing God wants to shower us with, but God is good. God’s goodness is faithful. His goodness is everlasting. His goodness is new every morning. His goodness gives us hope. God’s goodness and faithfulness gives us a future. God’s goodness gives us a hope for revival.
Digging into God’s Word
Please consider the following questions. As you ponder on them why not write down your thoughts and share your reflections with others.
Get your Bible down and read these verses…
- James 1v17
- Psalm 34v8
- Romans 8v28
- Psalm 107v1
- Psalm 145v9
Try and summarise the message from each verse in your notebook. Can you respond with thanksgiving to God for what they say to you?
Re-read these verses from our first reading above, Exodus 16:33-35.
Manna was placed (the daily miracle bread God showered them with), in a jar to remind them of God’s goodness and faithfulness, and to tell future generations of all that God has done. I am sure many of us have testimonies of God’s faithfulness and goodness. Ask God to remind you of them, write them down and put them in your own Omer Jar.
The Bible reveals God’s character, faithfulness and goodness. Below are some Bible passages that reflect these. As you read them list the good qualities of God.
- Colossians 1:17
- Malachi 3:6
- Romans 8:35-39
- John 5:26
- Psalm 33:6
- 2 Timothy 2:13
- Psalm 34:8
- Psalm 145:8
Digging Deeper into God’s Word
Dwell in these words from scripture, and ask God to show you His plans for you, and then ask Him to show you His peace and thus experience His peace of heart.
“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans for a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29v11
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14v27
Read The Knowledge of the Holy, by A.W. Tozer, which is all about the character of God.
If this subject has brought things up for you, please do get in touch if you would appreciate a listening ear, or someone to pray with.
Jesus, the hope of all who trust you; the power of all who serve you; the wisdom of all who follow you; the one who unites all who worship you, grant us your light as we enter into Lent.
Fill us with strength and boldness according to your promises, that we might reach our needy nation, with your love, as we prepare for Easter. We humbly acknowledge our weakness and failure, but our eyes are fixed on you. Fulfil your purposes and plans that your name may be honoured in our land. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Father, thank you that in a world of despair, you are our Hope. In a world of darkness, you are our Light. In a world of sorrow, you are our joy.
Help us to share the Hope of our hearts with one another. Enable us to give Hope to others through Your work amongst us. Use us to transform our nation and to spread Your Hope to everyone in this nation.
May our land flourish by the preaching of Your word and the praising of Your name. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Holy God, our only hope is in You. We thank you for the past, trust you for today and believe in you for the future; that all Your promises will come to pass so we can rest forever in Your love. Amen
Adapted from Jane Holloway, World Prayer Centre