W52-26Dec14 - Bethesda Cathedral

Word Released: "And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor
me." Psalm 50:15
Word Edification – God at Work
Speaker: Rev Jack Theva
Reference Scripture: Deut 8:2-9
The journey of the children of Israel from Egypt through the desert and into the Promised Land is
analogous to our Christian journey of faith. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Saviour and are
baptized in His name, it is akin to the Israelites who were released from slavery in Egypt and
experienced the crossing of the Red Sea. Just as God had a plan for the good of the Israelites, so it is
for us (Jer 29:11). Each of us has our own personal desert experience in which God moulds us to
become who He wants us to be. Hence, the ways in which God dealt with the children of Israel hold
important lessons for us.
God’s purpose for their 40 years of wandering in the desert:
1. To humble the children of Israel (Deut 8:2)
They were not ready to enter the Promised Land because of their pride and rebelliousness.
Likewise, He is constantly at work in us because He wants to humble and transform us; prepare us
physically, mentally and spiritually to possess the Promised Land.
2. To bring them to the point of total dependence on God for provision (Deut 8:3-4)
The Israelites reached the point of near-starvation before they cried out to God for food. And God
provided manna, and subsequently even quail for the 3m population. He provided clothes and
cared for their well-being during their time in the desert. Similarly, we need to recognise that our
God is Jehovah Jireh, the one who provides; and Jehovah Rapha, the one who heals all diseases.
We may experience suffering and the testing of our faith because God wants to deepen our faith
and walk in Him, so that we grow and become mature and complete (Jas 1:3-4).
3. To prove their character and attitude (Deut 8:2)
Man’s heart is deceitful (Jer 17:9) but God wants to change our attitude and character because in
Christ, we are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). He requires us to have a tender heart that is yielded to
Him and that will allow the Word of God to transform us.
4. To discover if they would obey & keep His commands (Deut 8:2)
God wanted the Jewish people to obey His commands. He requires us to have an obedient heart.
In all things, we need to consult the Lord: partnerships, business ventures, marriage etc. When we
respond to God positively, He will do a wonderful work in our lives.
5. To discipline them for their own good (Deut 8:5)
Just as a parent disciplines a child, so does God discipline His children for their own good. In times
of discipline and suffering, we ought to persevere and run towards God.
6. To teach them the fear of the Lord (Deut 8:6)
God wanted the children of Israel to revere Him and hold Him in highest esteem for without the
fear of God, every man does his own thing. It took 40 years because of their stubbornness.
Thereafter, a new generation, trained to enter the Promised Land, was raised up. They had been
led out of the wilderness and were now camped beside River Jordan (Josh 3:1). To enter the
Promised Land, they needed to cross River Jordan when it was at flood stage.
River Jordan is a symbol of God’s presence, a place where the children of Israel can be cleansed and
refreshed. It is also a picture of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. God wants us to be renewed
and refreshed by the Holy Spirit. However, we need to patiently wait on the Lord. We need to have a
holy encounter with God by which He leads us across our spiritual River Jordan and enter the Promised
Land to become warriors for the Lord.
As spiritual leaders, the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant were the first ones to step into the
river. The water upstream stopped flowing and eventually the whole nation of Israel crossed River
Jordan on dry ground. This event was a turning point in Israel’s history. From that point, the Israelites
waged battle on war-like communities in rough terrain, e.g. conquering Jericho.
As believers, we need to walk in the fear of God, revere Him and seek to please Him in all things. We
need to be trained to do battle for God. Leaders are to be in the forefront of the battlefield. When
God calls us to step out in faith, our response has to be to trust and obey Him. We will then be able
to overcome obstacles and emerge victorious in spiritual battles. God will use us when we are
available, ready and willing.
1. Have you in the past been in a spiritual desert? Has God’s purpose for that experience been
revealed to you? Testify how the grace of God enabled you to overcome the situation and emerge
2. Are you in a spiritual desert? Or do you need to cross your personal River Jordan? Where possible,
share with the Oikos and pray for one another.