We've come to the conclusion of our series on the Israelites journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. The past few weeks we've seen that after God's powerful and miraculous rescue, the people were not magically transported to the Promised Land. Instead it took about two years for them to be prepared. During that time, God gave clear direction to the people through a pillar of cloud and fire and gave Moses the Law and they built the Tabernacle. Then finally, when they get to the edge of the Promised Land they send out 12 men to spy out the land. The inhabitants of the land are huge! Ten spies sway the people toward the path of fear. Only Joshua, Caleb, Moses and Aaron believe that God can give them victory. But fear wins out. And the consequences of their sin is that they are exiled into the wilderness.
After 40 years of wandering, they are again poised to take the land. The faithless generation has passed away. So now in Deuteronomy, Moses speaks to the current generation and recounts the history of what God has done for the people of Israel, reminds them of the Law and cautions them not to repeat the mistake of their parents.
Today we will look at three ways God is great (even when we aren't).
1) God is great even though the Israelites weren't. Even though God rescued the Israelites from slavery and Egypt in a mighty and powerful way, they complained incessantly and even kept accusing God of rescuing them in order to kill them in the wilderness!
In Deuteronomy 8:2-5, 15-18 Moses reminds the people that even though they had to wander in the wilderness for their sin of disobedience and unbelief, God never left their side. He fed them with manna and quail, provided them with water, their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell the whole time. He was faithful to bring them to the Promised Land (2 Timothy 2:13).
2) God is great even though Moses wasn't. In Deuteronomy 3:21-28 is an interesting conversation between God and Moses. It seems that Moses isn't going to set foot in the Promised Land. What happened?
In Numbers 20, Moses was tired and frustrated and instead of speaking to the rock for water, he struck the rock twice. What was so bad about this? In Numbers 20:10 Moses said, "Listen you rebels, must WE bring you water out of this rock?" Moses and Aaron took the glory for themselves that was meant for God alone. For this reason, Moses and Aaron were denied access to the Promised Land.
But even though Moses failed, Hebrews 11 tells us that Moses' hope was in another Mediator who would not fail. Mathew 17:1-3 shows us that God is great, even though Moses wasn't. God did allow Moses to enter the Promised Land along with Elijah and Jesus.
3) God is great, we are not. In Deuteronomy 9:1-6, Moses makes it a point to remind the Israelites that they will be conquering the Promised Land not because of their righteousness or goodness. In fact, Moses calls them out as a stiff-necked and stubborn people. It is not because of their greatness but because of the wickedness of the other nations that the Lord will drive them out.
In 2 Timothy 1:9, Paul reminds Timothy that in the same way Christ has saved us and called us to a holy life, not because of anything we have done but for His own purpose and grace.
The great comfort that we have from the end of the journey for Moses and the people of Israel is that God is great even though they weren't. It reminds us that after we received Christ, we weren't magically transported to heaven. In a similar fashion, we are on a journey to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God until Christ returns. It gives us hope that even when we falter and fail, God will never abandon us as long as we keep returning to Him!