This week, we continued our series, “Is This It?”. Now that we have left
we need to get to learning our wilderness lessons so that we will be ready to
enter the Promised Land. As we’ve
previously discussed, how long we live in the wilderness is entirely up to us.
The vast majority of Christians never go beyond the wilderness – even if they
think they did. Egypt
We looked first at attributes of wilderness dwellers:
1) Blames God for all their problems
2) Lacks resource to help others (not just finance, but love, health, joy, etc)
3) Live crisis to crisis
4) Continually switches focus
5) Judgment toward others
6) May understand purpose but lacks resource and focus to realize it
We know that the Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness. Is that how long it is going to take us? Actually the Israelites had an opportunity to cross over into the promised land after a few days less than 1 year and 3 months – or roughly 445 days. Unfortunately they were not ready and spent the next 38 plus years getting ready (by having the “unbelieving” generation pass).
There are six lessons or areas of growth that we must develop in during our wilderness time. This is not about making God happy so He’ll let us into the Promised Land. If we do not learn these lessons we will not succeed in the Promised Land. The first generation of Israelites who could not go in because of their unbelief had the same God and the same power available to them to overcome the giants in the Promised Land that Joshua’s generation did – they just simply did not believe.
The first lesson we must learn is the importance of the Word. This is illustrated in the Israelite’s story by the need for water (for the Word is a spring of living water). The first instance is in Exodus 15. Three days of travel and searching and they have not found any water. When they finally do, the water is bitter and undrinkable. The people grumble and complain, but God provides. He instructs Moses to throw a piece of wood (symbolic of the cross) into the bitter water (the world and our old ways). The water becomes sweet and drinkable. Ironically we see that they find 12 springs of water in a place called Elim just a short time later. This was only about seven miles from where they nearly gave up and chose to either die of thirst or go back to
Did God know water was only seven miles away? Of course He did. But He meets
the people where they are. They have been slaves for ten generations and know
nothing of trusting God. So, He provides (we’ll see that He begins to expect
more of them as they go). Egypt
The next time was in Horeb (which is also the place where God spoke to Moses in the burning bush). This time God tells Moses to strike a rock and water flowed from the rock. The rock is a picture of Jesus – THE rock. The water that flowed is a picture of the church. You see, water is good and there are a lot of places you can get water. But this truly vital water flows from the church.
In Genesis 2:21, we see that Adam’s bride was taken from his side. Jesus is the second Adam and when He was on the cross and His side was pierced, the blood and water flowed that was the birth of His bride, the church. Water flows from Him to His bride – us. But we need to be connected to His church to get this vital water. Again, there are a lot of great places to get good Word. You can watch a teacher on TV, read a book, read your Bible at home, etc… I see those things as “long distance relationship.” You can have a long distance relationship that is good and beneficial. Many military families will have a spouse away for months at a time and still manage a good relationship. However, it is impossible for that couple to “produce fruit” (if you know what I mean) unless they are together. Unless you come to His house it is hard to produce the kind of fruit He wants to produce in you.
You see, YOU are not His bride. The CHURCH is His bride. Unless you get connected to the church you will not be able to produce His fruit. I know you can argue with me that people do a lot of great things for God outside of church. But, until you get connected and produce fruit right from the source, you won’t know how much GREATER that fruit could have been. The church is not the SOURCE of the living water. It is, however, the distributor of the water. It is where it is flowing from. Get connected to it!