Learning from the children of Israel

 

You know it said that if you do not study history and learn from it you are doomed to repeat it and so this morning we are going to be examining several great lessons that we can learn from the children of Israel during the time of Moses. First of all we need to remember that it was by the providence of God through the life of Joseph that the children of Israel were saved from the great famine and made their home in Egypt. Unfortunately the children of Israel ended become slaves to the Egyptians. Now as time went on the children of Israel kept multiplying rabbits and this scared the Pharaoh so he ordered the death of every 1st born male child. Of course Moses is saved from this killing and is raised by the Pharaohís daughter and then by age 40 he kills a fellow Egyptian and flees for his life where he spends another 40 living as Sheppard. During this time the Pharaoh that was his adopted father had died and the children of Israel were sick and tired of being slaves as we read in,

 

Exodus 2:23 Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage.24 So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.

 

So first lesson we learn is that God is listening and He will acknowledge his people when they call out or pray to him. Now we need to realize that when we pray we might not get an immediate result which does not mean that the answer is no it simply means not yet. For example the children of Israel had probably been crying out to God for a long time to be freed from their bondage because it only natural for people to want to have freedom but we know that it took many years for their freedom to come about. Another we need to keep in mind is that we better make sure that when we pray for something that we really want it to happen. If you pray for more patience guess what going to happen. You will most likely end up having to deal with more and more situations that will causes you to work on your patience.

 

Now we learn from our story that God answers the prayer of the children of Israel and does so through Moses and his brother Aaron. We all know how the story goes. God speaks to Moses from the burning bush and tells him to go free his people. Moses tries to make up excuses of why he shouldnít do it but God doesnít allow his excuses from caring out his duty. As Christians today we must be careful that we donít pull a Moses and try and make all kinds of excuses of why we cannot serve God. Instead of making excuses we should draw strength from God and simply try to do those things we are trying to avoid.

 

As the story continues we know that Moses and Aaron talk the Pharaoh and show him miracles from God but because of his pride and hardened heart he will not let them go. Then after 10 plagues with the last one killing all the Egyptians first born male children the Pharaoh finally lets them go. But of course he tyranny wasnít over yet as he tried to chase them down and trap them at the Red Sea. Well we know that Moses parts red sea and when the children of Israel are safe on the other side Pharaohís men are in hot pursuit in the middle of the sea and Moses makes the river go back to normal which drowns the Egyptians. Now the children of Israel prayers have been answered as they are not free.

 

Just as the evil Pharaoh was continual after the Godís people in similar way evil is always after the Christian today.

 

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. ††

 

But just like in our story God always makes a way of escape from the evil that pursues on daily bases.

 

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

 

Now do remember how I said that you when you pray you better be sure that you really want what you ask for? Well, it doesnít take long at after the children of Israel see with their eyes the many miracles that God worked through Moses which led to their freedom from Egyptian bondage that they started complaining. If ask for something to happen and it does what gives the right to start complaining about it. This shows us that the children of Israel had not really thought about what it meant to free from their bondage. They did not consider that once they were free that they would have to find a way to have food and drink and so once they started getting thirsty for the first time they complained.

 

Exodus 15:22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.23 Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?"

 

Even though they had seen the great miracles of God they had very little faith or trust that God would provide for their needs.

 

Exodus 15:25 So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.

 

So, again God provides and the children of Israel are happy for now well at least until the next chapter.

 

Exodus 16:1 And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt. 2 Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.3 And the children of Israel said to them, "Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.

 

If there is one thing that we learn about the children of Israel they are really good at complaining and not being satisfied with what they have and this did not please God at all. In fact at one point when the children of Israel were complaining about not having meat because they were tired of having the manna notice what God does.

 

Numbers 11:19 'You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days,20 'but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the LORD who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, "Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?" ' "

Again this shows you should be careful what you ask for. But God didnít stop here because latter on in that chapter we learn that he caused a plague to come up on them because of the continual complaining. Even Moses was getting fed up with their complaining he asked God to kill so that he wouldnít have to listen to it anymore. This teaches us today that we should be very careful about complaining about what we have or donít have. As children of God we must learn to be content with what we have and rejoice in the blessing that we have received from the Lord.

 

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."6 So we may boldly say: "The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

 

We live in society where we think we have to have the best house, the best car, the best boat. We think we have to have every electronic gadget under the sun and many Christians will do whatever it takes to obtain these material possession even if it means being buried in debt. But this should not be the case. We should learn to be content and stop coveting things that we donít have and stop complaining about everything that we do have and be happy with our lives knowing that we have God in our lives. We need to realize as Christians we are richer than anyone of face of this earth because our treasure is in heaven.

 

2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

 

As Christians we should not be complainers instead we should be proclaimers of Godís Grace.

 

Philippians 2:14 Do all things without complaining and disputing,15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

 

Another think that we learn from the children of Israel is they kept have a desire to go back to old life style of bondage. In fact they even fantasized about in.

 

Numbers 11:4 Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: "Who will give us meat to eat?5 "We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic;6 "but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!"

 

I can just imagine how there mouths were watering as they thought about the meat and the fruit they had as slaves. Even though they had originally wanted to be free from their bondage they now want to go back to it. Of course this kind of thinking upset Moses and was not pleasing to God. However this has been a common occurrence among many people including the 1st century Christians and Christians today. The Christians at Galatia had this problem because they were trying to go back to the law of Moses. Simon the sorcery had this problem because shortly after he was saved and gave up his magic tricks he tried to buy the power of giving the Holy Spirit to others from the apostles so that he could return to his old way of doing things. The Apostle Peter also returned to his old way of thinking when he wouldnít eat with the Gentiles. You see there is real danger of people going back to the way they used to be and living their lives being in bondage of sin. As Christians we must watch out for this.

 

2 Peter 2: 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."

 

So no matter how much you think your old life style was so wonderful as you lived in sin we must keep ourselves from returning to it or we will be worse off than when we began.

 

Another lesson we learn from the children of Israel is found in,

 

Exodus 16:4 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.

 

Here we learn that God is testing them to see if they will obey his commands. Well, guess what some of them failed. Some didnít have enough trust in God that he would provide them with manna everyday so some of them tried to gather more than they were suppose to so they could keep some till the next day. Well when they did that the next day their Manna had worms all in it. God had also instructed them to gather twice as much on Friday because he would not provide on the Sabbath day or Saturday and again some didnít believe this word and they went out on Saturday trying to gather more Manna and it was not there. The children of Israel showed their lack of respect and trust in God many times over but the one that caused a major change in their lives was when they didnít have enough faith to go in and take the promise land. Remember out of the 12 spies only Caleb and Joshua were the only ones with enough faith and we all know that because of their lack of faith and trust in God they had to wonder in the wilderness for almost 40 years.

 

The teaches us that we need to learn to have a great respect for Godís Word and that we need learn to trust in God and that he will take care of us. We can get ourselves into a heap of trouble when we stop trusting in God or when we stop respecting his authority. I just wonder how many times we have failed to do things for God because we had a lack of faith in God to help us. Friends we need to understand that we have access to a power that far beyond our own abilities and that power comes from God. But we can only use that power if we have faith and trust in him.

 

2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

 

Now the way that we make sure that we have faith in trust in God is by making Godís Word a part of our every day life and making sure that the we respect what it says and do our best to live our lives accordingly. If we truly love God we will obey his commands.

 

1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments.3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.

 

Another lesson we learn from the children of Israel is when Moses goes up Mount Sinai and is gone for a while the children of Israel decide that Moses had been gone to long so they decide to make up their own Godís and they even get Aaron to participate as they make a golden calf.

 

From this we learn that if we allow ourselves to be separated from God guidance that is we stop reading the Bible, we stop praying and we stop going to church we will end like the children of Israel. We will make up our own way of doing things and it will cause us to be enemies of God. This story also teaches us the importance of good leadership because when Moses their leader was gone it was easy for them to transgress because he wasnít there to direct them. This is why it important that we have strong leadership within a congregation so that we can be guided in the way of God. Now I want to stress that everyone should be a leader one way or another. Here is what I mean. A person who has been a Christian for 1 year can help lead or guide a new Christian to the level that they are at. Every Christian can do this. This is also a principle that they teach Sarahís Karate class. When you learn how to become a yellow belt you should be able to teach or help a new Karate student how to get to your level. Again this same principle hold true with every Christian.

 

So to keep from falling in the trap of the children of Israel we need to make God a part of our lives every single day and we need to learn to lead others to our level of spirituality.

 

Now lets look at one more thing that we learn from the children of Israel.

 

Numbers 12:1 Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman.2 So they said, "Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?" And the LORD heard it.3 (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)4 Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, "Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!" So the three came out.5 Then the LORD came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward.6 Then He said, "Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream.7 Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house.8 I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?"9 So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed.10 And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper.11 So Aaron said to Moses, "Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned.12 "Please do not let her be as one dead, whose flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother's womb!"

 

Here we see an instance where Moses brother and sister decide judge Moses wife because of he skin color and nationality and God does put up with this. In fact we see that causes Miriam to turn leprous because of there judgment call.

 

Friends we have to be careful on how we judge people. Again we live in society that is very vain and some very prejudice but we must learn to overcome this way of thinking. We must not judge people and make rude comments about them simply because they are different. To many today try to compare others to themselves or how they think they should be and if they donít stand their test then they are quick to talk about them or to point out what they perceive as weaknesses.

 

Matthew 7:1"Judge not, that you be not judged.2 "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

 

You see we need to be careful that we are not judging people based up on our opinions. You know what God doesnít care if someone black, white, brown or yellow and he doesnít care if they tall or short pretty or ugly. He doesnít care if they are smart or dumb if they smell good or they stink. He doesnít care if there socks donít match or if there teeth or straight or crooked. He just cares about their heart and how pure it is and that is exactly what we must do. So instead of saying something rude or belittling about another person why not look at them as soul that is precious to God and treat that way.

 

The only type of judgment that we authorized to do is a righteous judgment and that judgment comes from the Word of God and will never find where this type of judgment judges people based on their appearance or simply being who they are.

 

We have learned a great deal from the children of Israel on how we can be better servants to God. We learned that God answer prayer in his own time and that we should be sure that we want we are praying for. We learned that we shouldnít try and makes excuses for serving God. We also learned that even though evil is always in hot pursuit of us God always makes away of escape from that evil. We learned that God does not like moaners and groaners but instead wants us to be content. We also learned that we should always be on guard so that we donít turn back to our old life style and that we should always have faith in trust and God and respect his authority. Finally we learned that we should not judge others based on appearance or for them simply being themselves. If we can simply apply what have learned today to our lives we will certainly be better servants of God.