Transcript of Joshua Message #11 Ed Miller Feb. 27, 2019

As we come again to look in the word of the Lord we remember that it is God’s book and that only the Lord can reveal Himself and He wants to do that every time we are ready to receive it. 

I want to share Psalm 119:18-19, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.  I’m a stranger in the earth.  Do not hide Thy commandments from me.”  Those who know me well know that I have a reputation of getting lost.  I go through a revolving door and I’m lost.  When I went to France recently I was having palpitations of the heart on the flight, hoping that my interpreter would meet me at the airport because if I was in France where I didn’t know the language and I didn’t know the culture and I didn’t know directions and didn’t know how to say that I’m hungry or that I need to go to the bathroom, I would be such a stranger in France.

David says that I’m a stranger on the earth and I’m just as lost here without the revelation of God on earth.  I don’t belong here and I’m not staying here.  You know exactly what I’m saying.  We’re strangers here and we need light and we need to learn His word and His culture and think as He thinks and see as He sees.  With that in mind, that we’re strangers here, let’s ask Him to open His word, that we might behold wonderful things.

Heavenly Father, we thank You that we’re not a stranger with You and that You are with us at all times.  In fact, You abide in us in our hearts.  How glad we are this morning to know that with You we are very familiar and even intimate.  We thank You, Lord, for Who you are and for Your indwelling and we pray that You would equip us as pilgrims and strangers on this earth and how to live and how to walk.  We know that You will answer our prayer because we ask it in the matchless name of Jesus.  Amen

We welcome you to our little look at a great Jesus in the Book of Joshua.  In our study we have crossed over the line.  In other words, historically they crossed the Jordan.  We’ve crossed over the line and we’re leaving the land of wilderness, the land of unbelief, the land of disobedience and we’re crossing over to the Promised Land, the inheritance, the land that pictures our Lord Jesus Christ; the land of milk and honey picturing Christ, the life of milk and honey.

The entire Book of Joshua is about crossing over to live in the Promised Land.  It tells us how to enter in and it tells us how to dispossess the enemy and it tells us how to settle down in the land and it tells us how to abide in the land and it tells us how to live in and off of the land.  It’s just a marvelous, historical picture of our redemption in Jesus Christ.  The Book of Joshua actually begins right at the beginning of this entering in.  As we study, it’s my prayer that we will walk with God’s people.  They are gone and that is history, redemptive history, but we need to walk with them, step by step, and walk as they walked because in their history God has fossilized all these redemptive truths and they never change from age to age.  We want to learn these life principles.  Their literal history is a mirror of our spiritual life with the Lord Jesus.  Spiritually we have left the land of disobedience, spiritually we have left the land of wandering and now we are crossing over into the land that pictures Jesus, so we can learn how to conquer, possess, abide and appropriate. 

This is lesson #11.  We can’t review everything but I’d like to go back to chapter 5 where we left off and sort of give an overview of that chapter.  Before they face one Canaanite, we’ve called these five chapters “the chapters of preparation”.  They need to be prepared.  Before we begin to enjoy our life in Christ we also need to be prepared.  These five chapters are all preparation chapters.

I don’t know if you saw the movie “Titanic”.  Lillian encouraged me to go see it.  I went to see it and honestly, at the first part of the movie I did not enjoy it.  In my heart I’m saying, “Sink the ship.  I came here to see the ship sink.”  The story line in the front, I wasn’t that interested in.  My natural heart came to the Book of Joshua the same way.  I’m saying, “Let’s get to Jericho.”  I thought we should begin with Jericho.  We’re in the land.  Let’s knock down the walls of Jericho.  But God has the story line and it’s, “You are not ready for chapter 6 until you go through chapters 1-5.  You need to be prepared. 

So, we’ve divided those chapters into three sections.  The first section we called “general preparation” and the next section we called “specific preparation” and now is chapter 5 we’re in “final preparation”.  There are three principles in our final preparation.  Pretty much that’s where we are in our study together.

Starting in chapter 6 they are about to take the land and enter into a seven year was.  By the way, I was recently asked this question, “Where do you get the idea that the war lasted seven years?”  It’s a technical thing and it’s not going to do much for your spiritual life but just in case somebody asks you.

We get it by subtraction, by mathematics.  I’m not good at math.  Lillian always checks my math and rechecks it, even addition and subtraction I get lost in.  Anyway Joshua 14:7, “I was forty years old,“ says Caleb, “when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as it was in my heart.”  We start with that number.  Caleb is forty years old and Kadesh-barnea.

What we know is that they have already been in the wilderness two years, because they were more than a year at Mt. Sinai in the will of God.  By the time he got to Kadesh-barnea, they were two years deep.  That means Caleb will wander for thirty eight years.  He’s forty years old when he starts wandering and then he wanders for thirty eight years.  If you do the math you’ll find he is seventy eight years old.  So, when he crosses Jordan, Caleb is seventy eight years old.

In chapter 14:10, Caleb is speaking and he says, “Now behold, the LORD has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today.”  So, now he’s eighty-five years old and the war is over and he’s going to get his inheritance.  If you subtract when he crossed Jordan, seventy-eight years old, from how old he is when the war is over, eight-five years old, you will find, if my math is correct, it is seven years.  That’s where you get it, just in case somebody asks you.  There is not verse that says, “They fought for seven years.”

Back to Joshua 5, we are calling this “final preparation”.  The three events in this chapter that carry the three principles; the first ten verses – the reinstitution of those two rites, circumcision and the celebration of Passover; the second is chapter 5:11-12 – the manna is discontinued; and then finally verses 13-15 – the unexpected appearance of the Angel of the Lord with the sword drawn in His hand.  Those are the three events.

Before I review the first event, circumcision and the celebration of Passover, I want to remind you of an observation that I made about these last final preparation principles.  That is that every one of them is a paradox.  There is an old spiritual and it says, “The only way up is down, the only way up is down.  You can climb up high and try and try but the only way up is down.”  That’s a paradox.  That’s what we mean by a paradox; a seeming contradiction.

Usually a paradox has to do with something someone says.  They will say something that is paradoxical, like our Lord Jesus said, “If you save your life, you will lose it.”  That is a paradox.  But Joshua didn’t say anything paradoxical here.  The paradox wasn’t heard.  The paradox appears in that which was expected.  When they arrived in the land, they expected something and they received the exact opposite which was more than they expected.  I’ll show you that as we go through.  But it is actually a paradox. 

Although, they did hear some paradoxical things.  For example, Joshua 1:3, “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I’ve given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.”  When they started in the land, God said, “This land is a gift and it’s a donation.  In My mind and purposes, the enemy is already defeated.  So, I’m giving you the land.  It’s done.”  That’s what they heard.  But for seven years they had to meet that conquered enemy in a bloody hand to hand combat.  “I’ve given it to you.  The enemy is conquered.  Now, go fight for seven years.”  That’s a paradox.

The point I made at the last session, we’ll follow through this morning and for both of the principles to come.  We’ll only look at one this morning.  They expected one thing and they got a different thing but it was more than they expected and in the direction that they originally expected it to be.  They expected it to be a certain way and God did it another way and they found that His way is better.  We’ll always find His way better.  They expected to advance one way and God said, “You are going to advance but not that way.  You are going to advance this way.”  And it was a paradox. 

Let me review what we did last week, just the big principle with the reinstitution of the rite of circumcision and then quickly followed up with the celebration of the Passover.  The principle of the circumcision that we say last week was “separation from the flesh”.  The people were not expecting that, to begin their possession of this rich land with the truth that “now you are going to have to live a holy life”.  They were excited that they had finally come to the land of promise and they were expecting what the Land of Promise visualized.  They were expecting peace and rest and relaxation and, “We’re going into the land after forty years of wandering, finally we enter into the land.”  They weren’t expecting chapter 5:2, “At that time the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.’”  That was the opposite of what they expected.   They needed that preparation and they needed to know that the land into which they were going is a land of holiness, separation from the flesh, separation from the heathens living in the land and separation from the big heathen living in your heart.  It’s a life of separation.

This great truth comes to a climax in Deut. 30:6, “Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live.”  It’s a great joy for the Christian who knows that he’s got to live a holy life and who has warn himself out trying to circumcise himself, to learn that the LORD your God will circumcise your heart, so you’ll learn to love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your soul and strength.

Joshua 5:10, “While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho.”  Right after the truth of circumcision, immediately they celebrated Passover.  In other words, thank God for the blood and thank God for the sacrificial Lamb!  I told you last time that every good thing that God has ever done for you is because of the love and the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus.

Let me take one moment to underscore that great truth of holiness before we move on.  This idea of no confidence in the flesh and separation from the flesh and not just as the picture has it.  The picture is just a little piece of foreskin separated; that little flesh separated from the body.  What we’re talking about is Colossians 2:11, “In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ.”  So, it’s not just a little foreskin which was a picture.  It’s the whole body of the flesh; separation from that. 

The truth of this is just as simple as many think it is complicated.  Every truth is simple.  Only error is complicated and the reason people get into complicated error is because they are running from the simple truth.  The simple truth is simple because it’s a Person; it’s the Lord Jesus.  He said, “I am the truth.”  Every time you relate the truth to a Person, you’ll see how simple it is.  Jesus lives in you.  You have no problem with that, right?  Here’s the question and it’s what makes it simple.  If Jesus lives in me, what kind of a life do I expect Him to live, since it’s Him that lives in me?  The answer is that I expect Him to live the kind of life that looks like Jesus because it is Jesus.  It’s Him that lives in me.  He can’t change.  He’s always got to be Himself.  He has a fixed character and it’s holy.  He’s holy.  Jesus lives in my heart and He’s holy.  I can’t cheat on my taxes because Jesus lives in my heart and He is holy.  I’ve exchanged my life for His life.  He becomes the standard, now, in your heart.  I have no option.  I can’t say, “Well, I can get away with this and get away with that.”  Jesus, the Holy One, lives in my heart.

I used to think “Holy” was the Spirit’s first name.  That’s not His first name.  That’s His character.  He’s the “holy” Spirit that lives in my heart.  Standards are fixed.  If I were a butcher and you came to buy some meat and you complained that the price was high, I’d say, “Well, you know, what you think is a pound, that’s different in my store.  I have a different kind of pound.”  Of course, you would argue that there is a standard.  A pound is 16 ounces and you can’t get away with a different standard.  You can’t determine what a pound is.

If I hire a contractor and he charges me so much for lumber and he says, “Well, I’m using a different ruler.  What you call twelve inches, that’s only seven inches for me.  So, you’ve got to pay more.”  You can’t do that.  There’s a standard.  A foot is a foot and you’ve got to go by the standard and everything must conform to that.  I used to think that Big Ben in London was a standard for my watch and that every time piece is based on that.  But all of the standards, whether it’s pounds or ounces or quarts, are based on science, every one.  My watch is not based on Big Ben.  Big Ben is pretty accurate but that’s not the standard.  The standard of our time is the rotation of the earth. 

They’ve invented recently what they call an “atomic clock” and since then they have improved the atomic clock.  I know nothing about atomic clocks.  Donald is our resident scientist in this Bible study.  But I read with the improvement of the atomic clock that this clock will not gain a second or lose a second in three hundred million years.  That’s how accurate this atomic clock is.  In three hundred million years it might lose a second.  That’s pretty accurate and I understand that they are trying to improve it. The point is that Jesus lives in my heart and He has become the standard and He’s holy and I’ve got to allow Him…  I can’t decide this, that and the other thing.  I submit to Him and His holiness will come through.  He is the standard.

I went to the doctor yesterday and I was weighed and I lost a pound.  He said, “Keep it up.”  I told Lillian, “That means the weight.”  But she denied it.  I felt like telling him, “According to my scale, I’m ten pounds lighter.”  But there’s a standard. 

Philippians 1:11, “Having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ.”  That’s what we’re filled with; the fruit of righteousness.  It comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.  That’s the truth of circumcision.  Romans 8:7, “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God.  It does not subject itself to the law of God.  It’s not even able to do so.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”   That’s why we need the circumcision which is made without hands.  It’s because it’s not even possible to live a holy life apart from Jesus.  If I fall short of the standard, I must call it sin and repent.  If you fall short of the standard, you must call it sin and confess your sin to the Lord and receive His grace and forgiveness.  Life in the land, they are learning, is a holy life, separated from the flesh.

When they get into the land, there’s going to be idolatry in the land and there is going to be lust arousing damsels in the land and there are not going to be any kind of standards in the land.  It’s going to be easy to sin when you get into the land.  So God, before they take a step in and before Jericho’s walls begin to tremble, He says, “You understand that you are going in and you are going to live a holy life.”  I wish they had embraced that message. 

I don’t know if you are familiar with what we had growing up; a “Child’s Garden of Verses”, that wonderful little book by Robert Lewis Stephenson.  In that book there is poem called “My Shadow”.  Often my shadow reminded me of my old sin nature.  It just stuck to me.  Here’s a couple of verses, “I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me and what can be the use of him is more than I can see.”  That’s how I feel about my old sin nature.  He just hangs on and he follows me everywhere I go.  “Sometimes he shoots up taller like an Indian rubber ball and sometimes it gets so little that there is none of him at all.”  My old self, even though I’m a Christian for sixty one years, I can’t cut off my shadow like Peter Pan.  I can’t cut it off.  Whether he puffs up tall with empty pride or whether he shrinks or pretends he’s invisible, he’s always there, either way, the same old wretched self.

Do you know what Jesus will say one day to the goats, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire?”  I deliberately said that one day to my old nature, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire.  I don’t want you.  I want the life of Jesus.  I want the life of Christ.  I don’t want to tolerate anything in my life that contradicts the holy life of my indwelling God.”  I hope that is your prayer, as well.  Happy, happy, happy is the one who can say, “What can be the use of him is more than I can see.”  The flesh profits nothing, nothing in me; I cannot improve.  I need His Life.  That’s the reason that we celebrate so quickly the Passover.  Praise God for the blood.  And we will overcome the flesh by the blood of the Lamb.  So, we thank the Lord.

They were expecting a life of peace.  They were not expecting a life of holiness.  God gave them a life of holiness which led to great peace.  Do you see the paradox?  Hebrews 7:2, talking about Melchisedek, “To whom Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.”  First is king of righteousness and then king of peace. 

Do you remember how God describes the wisdom from above?  James 3:17, “The wisdom from above is first pure and then peaceable.”  Life in Christ is indeed a life of peace but not first of all, not at the expense of holiness.  First it’s pure and then it’s peaceable, not peace at any cost.  That’s what our politicians are fighting for, peace at any cost, and they give the store away.

That brings us to the second principle of final preparation.  This is also a paradox.  In terms of their human wisdom and in terms of their worldly logic and in terms of their natural expectation and thinking, I don’t think they expected what they received.   Joshua 5:11-12, “On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.  The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.”  The manna that they fed on every day for forty years, now God says that it’s over and it’s suspended; no more manna.

I want you to try to think what that would mean to them, that the manna was suspended.  That was pretty much their entire diet for forty years and it was a perpetual miracle, every day it was a miracle.  I’m going to summarize what you already know.  Every morning manna would fall with the dew and they would have to gather it off the ground.  It looked sort of like snow.  The Bible said that it was like a white flake all over the ground.  They would gather it every morning.  Sunday morning they would gather it and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and on Friday they would gather twice as much.  The reason for that was that they weren’t allowed to gather on Saturday as that was the Sabbath.  So, God said, “I’ll give you twice as much on Friday.”  Every Friday for forty years they got a double portion.

They had to eat everything they gathered.  They couldn’t have left-overs.  If they kept it overnight it would breed worms.  God took care of that.  It was every night except Friday.  Every Friday it would not breed worms and so they would have some for the Sabbath Day.  That happened for forty years every day and every week and every day it would go bad if you tried to eat it and keep it overnight except for Friday.  That’s where they were.  They had been used to, their fathers and now them, every day gathering manna.  It was a perpetual miracle. God promised, Exodus 16:4, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.”  And He did for forty years.

I don’t know if you are familiar with the Bible commentator Arthur Pink.  He’s actually rather good; maybe a little allegorical and dispensational for my taste but he’s worth every penny.  Anyway, he did some calculations.  I didn’t do this math.  I’m quoting Pink.  If he’s wrong, then blame him.  Also, he used a conservative number.  We’ll imagine that there are only two million people.  My guess is that there were more than that, maybe closer to three million people, but he said two million people.  Everyone was to gather an omer a day.  That’s how much one person would have.  He said that was six pints.  Then he said, “That means that there would be twelve million pints of manna gathered every day, or nine million pounds of manna every day, or forty five hundred tons of manna every day.”  Remember that a ton is two thousand pounds. 

You know if he is even close, that’s quite a miracle.  That is a perpetual miracle.  Then he said, “That’s over a million tons of manna every year, for forty years.”  Forty million tons of manna God rained down from heaven.  I want you to get the idea that these people had been experiencing a tremendous miracle.  Now, what did that picture?  Of course, the big picture is our Lord Jesus, the Bread of Life.  That’s expounded in John 6.  But look at Deut. 8; 2-3, “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you keep His commandments or not.  He humbled you and let you be hungry and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers knows, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. 

He spells it out clearly that the manna was designed to humble them.  It was a test; hand to mouth provision with no reservoir and no bank account.  You couldn’t store it up.  It was enough for one day and that was it and then you had to trust God for tomorrow.  And then, you trusted Him for that day and that was it.  Last week was not going to help.  Last month was not going to help except that it gives you conviction that He is a faithful God.  The child of God had to trust Him every day, hand to mouth, that God would be faithful, that on Wednesday he would come through on Thursday and on Thursday he’d come through on Friday and on Friday double it so that they could have some for the Sabbath, for forty years. 

Once again the verse, Deut. 8:3, “He humbled you.  He let you be hungry and He fed you with the manna which you did not know nor did your fathers knows, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.  The Lord wanted them to understand that He could be trusted.  Day by day they saw God’s miracles and God’s provision and He proved it over and over again by that perpetual miracle.  Can God be trusted?  Indeed!  We’ve seen it every week and every month and every year.  God wanted them to learn that your survival is not bread.  Your survival is every word that comes out of the mouth of the Lord.

Now they’ve crossed over and they are on the resurrection side and they are in the land that pictures Jesus, an abundance in Christ.  They knew Him in the wilderness but now, how much better, they are in the land of milk and honey.  What do you think was going on through their mind?  I could be wrong but here’s what I’m thinking. “For forty years God worked miracles for us every day and every morning.  We have miraculously witnessed and can testify that He gave us forty million tons of manna.  It is a mighty miracle.  And that was when we were in the land of disobedience.  That’s when we were in the land of unbelief.  That’s when we were wandering around.  Great day, what can we expect now!  If He did that then, what an amazing thing now that we’ve crossed over the line.  We’re not in the wilderness and we’re not in the land of disobedience and we’re not in the land of unbelief.  Surely, if we saw miracles like that then, what can we expect now that we’re in the land?  I’ve chosen fullness and I’ve chosen abundance and I’ve chosen rest and I’ve chosen victory and I’ve chosen Christ.  What can I expect? 

I think their expectation was, “Now that we’re in Christ, what will we see?  What miracles will He perform?”  With that expectation – more miracles – they are not prepared to enter the land.  They are unprepared.  Joshua 5:12, “The manna ceased on that day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna but ate some of the yield Canaan that year.”  The manna ceased.  The manna stopped.  After forty years of a continuous miracle, the manna ceased.  I believe to them that was a surprise.  I think they thought, “Now that we’re in the land, we expect God to bring not only manna but, man, I bet He’s going to rain lobster on us and filet mignon and white truffles and caviar and, at least, chocolate cake.  It’s going to be a lot better.” 

We get closer to the final preparation, if you think in these terms, instead of saying, “The manna ceased,” say it this way, “The miracle ceased.”  That’s closer to the principle.  God told them far in advance, “When you get into the land it will seem like a miracle.”  Deut. 6:10, “It will come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you’ll eat and are satisfied…” 

At first, that’s how it was because one of the ways of God is transition.  Bless God for transition.  As you go forward in the Lord, you are going to notice that God doesn’t all of a sudden drop something new on you but He takes you slowly into something new.  There’s always transition.  At first it was houses that they didn’t build and cisterns they didn’t dig and vineyards and olive trees that they didn’t plant, but soon those olive trees are going to need tending and soon that barley is going to need to be replanted and so is the wheat and so on.  He takes you gradually to new truth.  I’m so thankful for that.

At first they went into the garden and they just had to go reap.  They went into the orchard and they just had to reap.  That’s how it was at first because the enemy had done all of that.  But that’s going to change.  When our Lord Jesus rose from the dead, it’s so precious to read that He didn’t go straight to heaven.  He hung around for forty days.  That’s transition.  Why did He do that?  He’s there.  He’s not there.  He’s there.  He’s not there.  He’s there.  Eleven times He appears and He disappears.  Why?  He’s getting them used to the fact that even though you don’t see Him, He’s there.  So, He prepares us and He goes to heaven and sends the Holy Spirit and now we know.  He always uses that transition.

Things are going to change now.   Deut. 8:7-8, “The Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks and water and fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey.”  But now you are going to have to prepare the ground and now you are going to have to pull some stumps and now you are going to have to plow the fields.  I don’t know if they had fertilizer back then but they were going to have to do whatever it took.  Somebody had to do it and someone had to plant it and someone had to water it or make sure it gets watered and someone has got to reap and someone has got to prepare it.  That’s God’s provision.  Don’t forget that.

Deut. 8:9, “A land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything’ a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper.”  God said that I’m going to provide you with iron and copper.  “Oh, good.  Put in in the garage.”  “On no, it’s in the ground.  You go dig it up.”  Do you see what I’m saying?  This is not what they expected.  They expected everything to be delivered to them, “Servants, hand it over.  I’m in Christ.  Everything is free and everything is rich.”  Joshua 5:12, “the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.”   They had to learn that God was the faithful provider and the deeper you get into the land which is Christ, the more you will experience God’s provision by providence, not by miracles.

 I hope God helps us understand that.  It’s still Him.  By our early life and by all the wonderful charismatic experiences, and I hope you’ve had them (I have), but that’s supposed to teach you that man doesn’t live by bread alone but everything that comes out, every word, that comes from the mouth of the Lord.  He wants to teach them to live by faith and not by sight and not by seeing miracles every day.  The more you grow in Christ, the less dramatic your life will be and the more human your life will be and everything will become supernaturally natural.  That’s a paradox!  It’s almost an oxymoron.  It’s supernaturally natural.

It’s often frustrating to those who long to be spiritual and want to walk with the Lord and have everything God has for them, when God begins to remove the supernatural.  The man and woman who live by faith are not the ones without a purse.  That’s easy.  If you don’t have a purse, God provides.  You know it’s the Lord.  But when God returned the purse to the disciples after they sent them out, the seventy, and then He returned the purse, they had to learn without a purse that God is my provider and without a sword that God is my defender, but then when He returned the purse and returned the sword, they were supposed to know that God provides.  It’s not my purse and God defended, it’s not my sword.  That’s why before Gethsemane Jesus said to Peter, this part is not in your Bible, “Do you have any swords?”  Peter said, “Oh, we’ve got two.”  Jesus said, “It’s enough.”  But here’s what my Bible says, “It’s enough.”  When Peter took out the sword, He said, “Put that thing away.  Those that take the sword will die by the sword.”

The whole point is that those who can work and sweat forty or fifty hours a week and work their heads off and then come back and bow their heads and say, “Thank You, Lord.  You provided.”  That’s the one that lives by faith.  Not the guy without a purse but the one who has understood this principle, that the manna ceases and now you are going to go out and you are going to dig and plant and water and reap and yet, that’s the Lord who is providing for them.  I used to think that I was losing ground and I was backsliding when the miracles began to stop in my life.  Actually He was bringing me forward and taking me away from sight and teaching me how to live by faith in the Lord.

Let me give an illustration and we’ll get ready to wrap it up.  The disciples were out on the stormy sea.  Jesus was asleep in the lower part of the ship.   The disciples did three things.  #1 They came to the end of themselves.  I don’t know what they were doing, trying to deal with the sails and bail water and all, but the ship was filling up with water.  It was pretty desperate.  So, they came to the end of themselves and they gave up.  The second thing they did was that they woke Jesus because when you come to the end of yourself, you can’t handle it and then you turn the thing over to Jesus.  It depends on how you read it, they may have awaken Him three times, not just once.  I incline to that because you’ll see the different gospel records that are slightly different.  The third thing they did was that they got out of the way and let Jesus do His thing.

Matthew 8:26b, “He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, oh men of little faith.’”  When they called on Him, He stood up and He put His hands out and the same things that He said to the demons when he cast out demons, He said to the sea, “Be still.”  Be muzzled is the Greek.  And the sea was immediately calmed.  Wouldn’t you expect, just take these principles, that you come to the end of yourself and you give it Jesus and you get out of the way and let Jesus work, wouldn’t you expect to get an “atta-boy”?   Wouldn’t you expect that God would say, “Wow, you finally learned how to trust the Lord!”  Instead, He says, “Why are you afraid, oh you of little faith?”  That sounded to me like mature faith, to come to the end of yourself and give it to Jesus, get out of the way.  That sounded pretty good.

Matthew 8:26, “’Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?’  He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea became perfectly calm.  Marks says the same thing in slightly different words, Mark 4:40, “He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid?  Do you still have no faith?’”  Luke says it a little differently.  Luke 8:25, “He said to them, ‘Where is your faith?’”  I thought coming to the end of myself and giving it to Jesus and getting out of the way and letting Him work was great.  Jesus said, “You have little faith.”  “You have no faith.”  “Your faith is misplaced.  It’s in another place.”  Why isn’t that faith?  What would faith have been in that story?  The answer is to let Jesus sleep.  That would have been faith.

Mark 4:35, “On that day when evening came, He said to them, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’”  He had given them a word, “We are going to the other side.”  Somehow with our reasoning that turned out, “We’re going to the bottom.”  That’s what they thought but He didn’t say that they were going to the bottom.  He said that we are going to the other side.  He can be trusted.  For them to perish He would have had to perish.  For Him to perish, the world’s hope of salvation would have gone to the bottom of the Sea of Galilee.  It was not possible.

Joshua doesn’t mention this and I’ll really close with this but it’s the same thing, but a different illustration.  It was not only the manna that ceased that day but something else also ceased and that is infallible guidance from the glory cloud.  They had been guided for forty years by the glory cloud; a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud by day.  They had been guided infallibly.  Now, all eyes are on the ark.  To take the place of manna was the riches of the land.  To take the place of the cloud was now the ark in the shape of an oriental throne.  The message is the invisible king.  God is King and Jesus is King. 

But now, watch the paradox.  You used to have infallible guidance.  “Now look to the ark, the Lordship of Christ which I’m going to place in the hands of fallible men and they are going to take the ark; leaders, elders, priests.  It sounds like they are going backwards from infallible guidance to guidance in the hands of fallible men.  Can I trust the priests to always carry the message of King Jesus the right way?  Not always.  Sometimes they are going to lead you like the priest did.  You have the record.  Follow the ark.  You have the record.  When you follow them you are going to be destroyed. 

One time they lost the ark.  It was in the woods for years.  They didn’t know where it was.  They had to go hunting for the ark.  A lot of Christians followed them there and they’ve been in the woods for years.  I’m serious.  It’s all graphic.  It’s such a picture.  One time they turned it over to the hands of the enemy and when they got it back they were so excited.  But they didn’t realize they had been inculturated with enemy mentality and so they looked in the ark.  What happened?  They got destroyed.   Another time the ones who were teaching the ark, “We’ve got to help God and we’ve got to defend God and we’ve got to protect Him.  It looks like He’s going to fall over.”  To move from an infallible guidance following the cloud for forty years to “keep your eye on the Lordship of Christ” and remember that you have a responsibility to know what that Lordship is.  Sometimes your leaders are not going to take it in the right direction.  It’s a call to faith.  It’s a call for you yourself to understand the Lordship of Christ and to live under the dominion of King Jesus.

It looks like we’re going backwards.  “No miracles.  Less miracles!”  No, that’s going forward.  He wants you to live by faith.  “It used to be infallible guidance.  Now I can get in trouble.”  Yes, that’s right.  You are going forward.  It’s a call to faith.  That’s the second paradox and preparation.  I need to know that going forward, God is going to remove all those things that we enjoy; feelings, emotions, miracles, dramatics, and it’s going to become very human and I’ll have to learn to walk with God and watch Him provide in a supernaturally natural way and guide me as I see what the Kingship of Christ really is.

Heavenly Father, how thankful we are for Your precious word.  We always have to qualify that and we admit that we are also fallible.  So, we just pray, Lord, that You would over-rule anything that I’ve said is not from Your heart.  You teach us Your ways and all that You inspired this record to mean.  You work that in our heart.  We give you thanks, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.