Numbers 13:1-3, 26-31
I Like Sunday evenings because they are a little different: aren't they? They have a little bit more intimacy about them, a different feeling often about them.
I like Sunday evenings because it is a chance to dig a little deeper into a sermon- to re-enforce Sunday Mornings- perhaps even to begin something new.
Our Big Idea from this morning – does anyone remember?
“Why Fit in When You Can Stand Out”
We talked about three examples for us for standing out, First was Christ Jesus, Second, the disciples as they began the Church and the third was the Apostle Paul. So tonight I want to discuss with you 2 more people who stood out when the going got tough.
Tonight we will be in the book of Numbers, the 13th chapter, Numbers 13. The fourth book of the Old Testament, Numbers 13.
The book of Numbers is also called “In the Wilderness” which if you know the story of the Children of Israel you can understand the title and makes more sense.
Our truth tonight comes as Moses and the children of Israel are camped at the edge of the entrance of the Promised Land. And in verse 1 of chapter 13 we see
“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the people of Israel. From each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a chief among them.” 3 So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the people of Israel”.
Moses did as the Lord told him to do and the scripture indentifies the names and from what tribe they had come from. Moses sends them into the land to scout it out.
And we pick up this story as they come back after 40 days in verse 26:
And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.
27 And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.”
30 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.”
Over 3500 years ago, The nation of Israel — or “the children of Israel”, escaped from Egypt. In Egypt, we know that they were slaves to pharaoh. They were in hard and seemed to be in a destitute of times. Their job was to make bricks for Pharaoh’s construction projects. Not great work, by any estimation, and Pharaoh liked the idea of free labor, so there was no chance that he wanted to let the Israelites leave.
But God chose Moses to go back to Egypt and to confront Pharaoh, after Pharaoh and the whole country of Egypt suffered 10 plagues, the locusts, rivers turning to blood, frogs, and so on, Pharaoh finally gave up and let them go.
Moses leads them out of their captivity of Egypt- Just as the people had cried out to God to do. It is estimated that there were close to 2 million people. They made the journey to the edge of the land that God had promised them. That is why it is called the Promised Land.
You know that we have a promised land as well- Jesus promised to us- that he would come and take us where he was going- he said in my Fathers house there are many rooms if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2).
The Bible tells us in John 3:16, for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life
So we too have a promised land! – it is with Christ Jesus- we are promised eternity with God!
The Israelites camping close to the land of Canaan. But before they went into the land, God tells Moses to select one man from every tribe — there were 12 tribes — and send them on a recon mission to spy out the land.
Now these were young guys, strong men, who were fit and strong. We know that because they bring back some of the fruit of the land. One cluster of grapes is so large that it takes two guys to carry it back strung on a branch between them.
So, when they get back to camp, everybody is excited., the crowd of the 2 million people gathered. The 12 spies show everyone the grapes, the pomegranates, and other fruit they brought back. Then it happens, well you know how we are, the chairman of the committee of spies gives his report.
We don’t know who it is that really gives the report, but he says, “Moses, you’re exactly right. The land you sent us to is great! It is filled with milk and honey, Lots of produce, fertile land, great for growing crops and raising cattle and sheep. But there’s only one small problem. Other people already live there. And, they’re bigger than we are. They’re so big, we looked like grasshoppers compared to them. We can’t take the land because they’ll kill us.” Verse 32 says that “they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land, they said that the land devours its inhabitants”
Here we see that they lied in front of the people, because if the land devours its inhabitants them no one would be living there.
But Caleb and Joshua did not agree with their assessment of the situation. They said this is a great land. But they are wrong about going in. We can do it. God promised it to us, and God will give it to us. We ought to go ahead!” “Let’s go at once and occupy it”
Let me tell you this, when God tell us to take a portion of His land – to Go and do His work- something that he will bless us with – than we need to get up and Go. There may be someone complaining that the task is to large but if God has called you, then you have to do it.
And That night everyone in the camp begins to complain.
“We should have stayed in Egypt,” some said. Others said, “Moses has brought us out here in the desert to die. We ought to go back to Egypt.” They even talk about stoning Moses and his brother to death and picking a new leader to take them back to Egypt.
Now remember Egypt is where God delivered them from. Egypt is where they were slaves. Egypt is where Pharaoh declared that all their boy babies should be killed to keep the Hebrews from rising up and overthrowing Pharaoh. This is were they cried out to God, and God told Moses that he heard His peoples Cry.
God has about all he can take, and all of a sudden, the glory of God fills the place. God says to Moses, “I’m tired of this. Has everyone forgotten all the miracles I did in Egypt to get them out?”
God says, “I’m going to spare their lives, but none of them who did not believe are going to see the Promised Land.”
So, for the next 40-years, until that complaining, unbelieving generation died off and the nation of Israel wandered in the wilderness.
Could you imagine wandering in the wilderness for your whole life.
Many people do, they wonder from one thing to the next thinking that this one will make them happy or the next big thing will. And they live miserable lives.
Joshua and Caleb, the two original spies who believed God, finally led the people of Israel into the Promised Land and took it for their own.
The lesson here is that faith gives us the courage to STAND OUT from the crowd.
It gives us the courage to do right in a bad situation, faith gives us the courage to live better lives- Standing Out- it is the corner stone to changing the world.
Have you ever heard of The Monkey Experiment?
In 1967, an experiment was published called Progress in Primatology. In that experiment, researchers took 5 monkeys and placed them in a room with a banana hanging from the ceiling, and a ladder placed under the banana.
The first monkey attempted to climb the ladder to get the banana and eat it, when he did, he was sprayed with cold water. Not only was he sprayed, but the other 4 monkeys were sprayed with cold water as well.
Monkeys apparently dislike being sprayed with cold water more than they like bananas, and so when the monkeys stopped trying to retrieve the banana, the researchers replaced one of the monkeys with a new monkey.
Now this new monkey sees the banana, and guess what, he immediately starts to climb the ladder. Only before he can get past the first step, the other monkeys jump on him, and beat him up. Of course, the new monkey doesn’t know why he’s being beat up, because he’s never been sprayed, but he quickly learns not to go for the banana.
Once the new monkey has learned his lesson, the researchers replaced another one of the original monkeys with another new monkey. Guess what happens? The new monkey goes for the banana, and the other monkeys jump on him and beat him up. Only this time, the first new monkey also joins in beating up the second new monkey. He doesn’t know why, but he’s quick to do what all the other monkeys are doing.
Once the second monkey has learned his lesson, the researchers replace a third monkey, then the fourth, and finally all five monkeys and been replaced. None of the monkeys tried to get the banana anymore, but they didn’t know why. None of the new monkeys had been sprayed, so they didn’t know the history of why going for the banana was dangerous. All of them simply gave up, and they didn’t know why.
Here is the point in this: You can be like the other monkeys who kept the new ones from even trying to get the banana because you’re afraid of the consequences.
Listen to me- Fear of failure is a paralyzing fear that keeps many from even attempting to do something new.
And that is what we face in our churches today.
In other words, you can decide if you want to go back to Egypt, or if you want to enter the Promised Land.
But there are people around who will say that you never done it that way and it is doomed to fail- there will be people that will say you cannot make it. I’ve already heard one person tell you that you can’t make it-
You know there are many obstacles out there for all of us.
I was told that I could never make it as a preacher- I have things in my past that people think are obstacles.
But if we listen to God’s voice, that voice tells us-
“I haven’t brought you this far to fail. When God says I love you and have a great plan for your life,” then you’ll do what others said can’t be done. You’ll succeed where others see only failure. You will find God’s plan for your life, not for someone else’s, and you will do what God is calling you to do.
That is standing out-
I want you to know that you can find God’s plan for your life – for the Church. You can be what God is calling you to be in every aspect of your life. It won’t always be easy. Not everyone will support you. Some might even try to discourage you from following the dream that God gives to you. Like the other spies who never seen the promised land or the Monkey who never new why wouldn’t let others get to that banana.
In 2008 there were several accounts of Drunk drivers killing families. In Saint Louis Bush Stadium is where the Cardinals play- they built a new stadium and planned to build Ball park village in place of the old one. One night the news covered the story of a police officer arrested for drunk driving, who killed college students as she hit them head on. The next story was about this Ball park village- and how the Cardinals were planning to put more bars in this complex. A week later the new reported that a highway worker was killed by a drunk driver leaving the baseball game. I knew what God was calling me to do something. I strapped a sandwich board that said NO MORE BARS and prayer walked that circle 7 times every day. For 7 months I did this, in the cold, rain, and heat, I was on the radio, TV news, on the internet, in the papers, this is the pathway. People made fun of me, and others praised me. But my message was clear. It took them over 4 years before they could build on that site.
Listen Some people might even try to discourage you from following the dream that God gives to you and the church.
When that happens, just remember Caleb and Joshua. Their names are the only names we remember from that story. They believed God had something for them to do. They believed that they could stand out from the crowd. They were the ones one received God’s promise and walked into the Promised Land. You can, too.
You are called to stand out
That’s my prayer for you tonight X2..