We’ve been talking about building a revolutionary church and what that looks like. Last week authentic lives…after all revolutionary churches are filled with revolutionary people living revolutionary lives. Well today I want to focus on how to kill a revolution. In history there have been plenty of failed revolutionary attempts, but the ones that succeeded brought great changes, not the least of which was a little one called the American Revolution. Well as we continue to lead a revolutionary effort in the church, we need to look at what can derail or at least greatly delay the changes that need to happen in the overall American church and even within our own church.
Before I get to the passage today I want to throw some thoughts at you.
People fully committed to not only live authentic lives outside of church, but also be passionately committed to the specific mission of their local church. It must be more than the place you go on Sunday mornings…it must be your cause!
Revolutions are always grass roots
If there is only a passive connection where someone is saying “well I enjoy going there, but I’m one particular church or another. Whether the church fails or not won’t really affect me.”
Idea of community and relationship in general is risk, is vulnerability, service, sacrifice. It is also the tools through which God brings growth in our lives... but that’s another topic.
It will take a commitment to be there for one another through the hard times.
Not like our own personal challenges will go away.
Church not an “organization” it is a collection of people, each of them as important as the other.
Lack of Faith
Must fully believe that God is in the business of doing the “impossible.”
Nobody turns a church around. It’s impossible. If I had a nickel for every time some well meaning pastor, who apparently felt called to function in the role of Job’s friends, has told me the first couple of year here “sometimes it’s better to just let something die and start something new”
With God all things are possible. And He uses the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.
Just like when God used a bunch of slaves to bring Egypt, the mightiest nation of the time, to its knees.
Recently led out of Egypt. Dramatic Miracles.
Dealt with the discipline of the Lord due to complaints and pride.
God providing for several million people to eat each day. Bread from Heaven. God is trying to communicate something about Himself that will last through the generations and point to the first coming of Christ as the ultimate Bread from Heaven…and they are complaining.
Continued to be Spirit-led
God still with them though He is angry and frustrated with them.
Absolutely essential to be a Rev Church. If it is not Spirit-led and just human initiative or just good business sense, it will fail.
“The Lord said to Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites. From each ancestral tribe send one of its leaders.”(Numbers 13:1–2, TNIV)
The Lord’s idea. He had already promised the land. The spying was for their sake to see the truth of what God had promised Moses way back at the burning bush to lead the people to a land flowing with milk and honey.
40 days they spies covered some 220 miles
“… (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.) (Numbers 13:20, TNIV)
INTERESTING. 3500 years ago today the spies were finishing searching out the land and were about to bring a report back to the people.
“At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land. They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. (Numbers 13:25–27, TNIV)
The first part of the spies report is that God’s word was true. God said it would be flowing with milk and honey (signs of abundance and prosperity) and it was!
The second part of their report begins with a “however”
“But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”(Numbers 13:28–29, TNIV)
Sons of Anak…people very tall and fierce. God’s Word was true but He didn’t say anything about giants! He didn’t say how big the challenge was going to be!
Remember: this a people who just brought Egypt to its knees.
But Caleb, one of the spies, steps up and says “Let’s go right now. We can do this!”
A revolutionary. Man of a different spirit than everyone else.
Spies went on:
“But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”(Numbers 13:31–33, TNIV)
Caleb saw the same things that the others saw and yet had the confidence to go in and take the land.
No was Caleb just reckless? Was he just some berserker foaming at the mouth for a battle? Was he dumb? Remember these were leaders of huge amounts of millions of people.
His answer was grounded in God unlike the others whose answer was grounded in themselves. You see God had delivered them, God had spoken of His promise to give them this land, and God had led them day and night to this very spot. If anything Caleb’s faith-filled response was more rational than the others!
The key to understand what happened here is to look at their last response. “we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes.”
They were viewing the upcoming challenge based on their own strength.
They were still slaves in their hearts and had not yet embraced their identity as sons of Almighty God.
You have a choice when you face the impossible. You can look at yourself compared to the problem and start doing measurements. Or you can look at God and His might, His power, His infinite strength, His incomparable love for you, and then look at the problem and see that it is nothing compared to Him.
Your crossroads choice is simple: Magnify God in your moment, or magnify the problem.
I believe that Caleb was a man captured by the immensity of God through all he had seen and experienced until that moment. He stored those things in his heart so that in the moment of trial, the bigness of God is what flowed out of him.
And perhaps most importantly he was not a man of words alone, he was willing to lay down his life if necessary to see the cause of the Lord advanced. Taking the land would still mean battle, sacrifice and loss in some cases.
Caleb was a great example of what a revolutionary looks like. Passionate worshipper making Jesus bigger in his life, committed to the cause of God in a real, local and tangible way, ready to sacrifice for that cause and the people that he loved.
But as you know his revolutionary faith was shot down by the masses. I think there’s something for us to learn here. Revolution isn’t something that a few individuals like Moses, Joshua and Caleb accomplish. If the people don’t buy in wholeheartedly it will fail.
It got so bad that in ch 14 they were trying to throw the pastor out and elect a new one that would lead them back to the old ways.
“All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! (Numbers 14:2, TNIV)
“And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”(Numbers 14:4, TNIV)
They would rather embrace slavery than to tackle the challenge the Lord had led them to.
Can you imagine the insult that the Lord must have felt? He had just shown His power and love for this people to an extent never seen before in order to rescue them and they wanted to turn around and go back!
Don’t think it so impossible.
As people are confronted with change the old comfortable ways can seem very attractive even if it means slavery and death.
How to kill a revolution:
Rely on a few revolutionaries from a spectator’s position.
Run back to Egypt (old comfortable ways)
Abandon leaders at the moment of possessing the promise
Go along with the crowd
Magnify the challenge rather than God
Think globally, do nothing locally
Why sacrifice? Why put up with the discomfort of change?
“That guy acts like his church is the only thing going on!”
If you don’t believe in your church and are excited about its mission and future, then no one else will be either.
I stopped feeling bad about having people do things in the church. We all GET to do this.
Bless other churches. Not in competition, but that doesn’t mean that we embrace some false humility and never talk up our church. Our goals are to bring glory to the name of Jesus and we need to be excited about that!
Just like what we read today. The land was promised to them, but it was so much greater than just about them. God was in the process of revealing His salvation to the entire world, but it took the dedication of the people in the moment as a link in the chain.