This week we are in the book of Numbers as Pastor Gene takes us to the account of Israels wanderings in the wilderness.
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good morning if you are new here among us my name is gene i serve here at c3 church as your lead pastor and i wonder during the sermon on the mountain when jesus was preaching when they got to about matthew chapter 7 you think someone said are we like that today it's very funny as a pastor trying to meet people where they are i'm assuming that a lot of people are coming into the church who maybe they don't know jesus so we try to maintain cultural norms and one of them is ah you want to keep the sermon around an hour i think that's the cultural expectation but really mature christians are like no we want to worship for two hours and then have bible study so on wednesday nights that's kind of what we do we don't worship for that long but we have an extended time of worship i talk and talk and talk and talk about the bible for a long time that's what i like to do but we have to remember there are a lot of people who don't know jesus yet they don't know anything about the bible so we have to kind of like paul said in first corinthians 9. it can be all things for the sake of the gospel and so i just want to take a minute yeah the service might go like two minutes long today so if you're new don't worry it doesn't happen all the time that i just speak off the cuff but i want to take a minute because quite often used to say this in martial arts don't forget what it's like to be a white belt that's really important a lot of teachers forget what it's like to be a white belt a lot of pastors forget what it's like not to know jesus and so sometimes i'll make fun of stuff right like the coffee or different things like that but we have to remember there are a lot of people that just don't get it yet and so i just want to take a moment to thank those who serve who are participating here and welcome you all to join us in that so i don't know what happened with the coffee because i was upstairs praying and getting changed but i just want to thank the people who took the effort who get it who understand hey we really want there to be coffee because that's a cultural norm and it might be inviting to somebody who doesn't know jesus they come here and they say oh they were really nice people because we're all not going to get it just yet and there are a lot of belts to go through if we're being honest right so thank you for those who serve you guys are really really awesome we care about you and we feel loved and i hope you guys feel loved when you came in this morning so i'm excited to be continuing in this series the rest of the story what's kind of funny about it is we're finding ourselves arriving in the fourth book of the bible this morning but we've been at it for a while which should be telling you that this is a really long story but i like long stories we'll be breaking it up in a couple weeks we'll be doing some standalones here and there just to kind of break things up a little bit sometimes i like short stories and when i think of short stories i think of oh henry i like o henry now there are a lot of young people here who are like say what who's o henry because o'henry wrote his stories over a hundred years ago but back when i was in school a hundred years ago we read it feels like that we read o'henry's stories and i liked them because they were ironic and not ironic in an alanis morissette kind of way or absolutely nothing about how you get that about the song is ironic no oh henry was a master of irony one of my favorite o'henry stories is called the cup and the anthem i'm going to modify it slightly and i'm going to shorten the short story for you it has a lot of old words old language in it but i'm not going to change a few things like the guy's name soapy now if i get through this without mixing up sophie and soapy my daughter's name is sophie i should get a prize one small piece of candy standard prize here at c3 church anyway soapy has an ironic name because soapy is a person who is experiencing homelessness and he's not experiencing homelessness the way we would here in southwest florida it's in new york and i can relate to that because i have experienced homelessness in new york but i had it a lot better than soapy i had options i could sleep on a friend's couch maybe in a car but i can relate to this right around the winter time you start to get a little nervous because it's going to get cold and that's what's going on with soapy he calls home a park bench notices the leaves changing and falling and he knows that the newspapers that he calls blankets are not going to cut it for the winter months so he begins to devise a strategy he comes up with this i will do something just bad enough to get me thrown in jail for the winter months don't get any ideas guys okay i'm not it's not a suggestion we're going to talk phil right now got to pick on phil anyway not a suggestion but this is his strategy and i'm going to tell you why you should not take this strategy so he goes about doing things to get himself arrested he tries to go into a fancy restaurant they just kick him out he finally gets into a fancy restaurant he eats doesn't pay the bill they just throw him out so he flirts with a woman back then that would be a big no-no she likes it he steals an umbrella the guy lets him have it he pretends like he's intoxicated don't try that either he pretends like he's intoxicated it doesn't work the cop just thinks ah he's some frat kid or something like that celebrating a victory nothing works he can't get himself arrested well he finds himself walking along he passes by a church he hears the church music inspires him so he starts thinking you know maybe i'll try something different maybe i'll try to get a job clean up a little bit get back to work and change my life yeah you know what i think i'll do that tomorrow and as he's standing there on the outside looking in someone taps him on the shoulder sure enough it's a cop the cop asks him what are you doing nothing hmm you're doing something he says you're loitering so he arrests him and he takes him in the next day he gets sentenced to three months in prison that's ironic don't you think so soapy gets his three months of shelter today i'm going to be your tour guide as we wander with the israelites through the book of numbers i'm going to give you an overview stop being like a good tour guide at key points pointing certain things out in the rest of this story so i told you we've been jumping around quite a bit i'm doing things topically not straight through so that you guys can connect these things a little better it's all about connecting the dots so last week we were in the book of leviticus we picked up actually in exodus 35 finished it up the week before that we were dealing with what 10 commandments remember that so we're going to go back to exodus even though we find ourselves in numbers because we're dealing with the things as it pertains to israel's wanderings they're wandering around the wilderness but that begins right after the passover so if you remember they passed over on dry ground the red sea was parted for them and then the egyptians are in hot pursuit the sea closes in on them but they begin part they go across the red sea before the egyptians are defeated by the lord baptized so to speak in the water they immediately start complaining they're worried they say things like we want to go back to egypt immediately and so this is going to be a theme i want you to pay attention to after that we get to chapter 15. something interesting moses sings a song we're going to see that moses sometimes is a psalmist kind of interesting there's a psalm by him he sings a song of deliverance and at the end of that song somebody else joins him somebody else sings a song do you remember miriam back in exodus this is his older sister that observed him floating down as a baby down the river and she hatched a clever plan to get him back into the arms of his mother do you need a nursemaid i got one his mom remember pharaoh's daughter the princess and the servants find them well this is miriam and she's much older and she sings this exodus 15 verse 20 then miriam the prophet aaron's sister took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced and miriam sang this song sing to the lord for he has triumphed gloriously he has hurled both horse and ryder into the sea so she's singing about what just happened and one interesting thing to think about for a second this is the one of a few examples that we'll see in the rest of the story of a woman dictating scripture think about it most christians would say yes exodus 15 20 21 that's scripture yeah well miriam dictated it she sang it it's kind of interesting then we get the account of the bitter water mara that's a word you want to pay attention to as you're reading through the old testament kind of interesting it'll come up again today basically there's water but it's too bitter to drink so the lord points out a piece of wood moses throws it in the water and we have our first water filtration system in history they can then drink the water but this theme again picks up of complaining exodus 16. if the lord had only just killed us in egypt the complaining is that bad it's that off the hook despite the miracles almost immediately we're only talking about a couple of months later but here's what happens the lord says ah i'll feed you stop complaining so first we see quail in the evening he provides for them but then manna every morning so here's the basic concept it's that they're to rely on the lord's provision in the morning it shows up a flaky substance like coriander seed don't worry if you don't know what that is i didn't either i had to look it up a while back it's basically white it tastes like honeycomb and the idea here is that they are to pick up about two quarts they take it for that day and that's it if they take too much it rots has maggots in it and it smells the idea is that you have to trust that the lord will provide for you each morning except on the sixth day you take twice as much because on the seventh day they're not supposed to work again relying on the lord's provision but like many today they decide not to take the lord's gift for them they worked they went out and tried to get it but it wasn't there for them the lord says this exodus 16 28 the lord asked moses how long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions they must realize that the sabbath is the lord's gift to you that is why he gives you a two-day supply on the sixth day so there will be enough for two days on the sabbath day you must each stay in your place do not go out to pick up food on the seventh day exodus 17 more complaining constantly why did you bring us out of egypt we want to go back so they're thirsty now this is the complaint so the lord tells moses see that rock over there strike the rock with your staff and water will come out and it does again the lord provides but that place is called masaba test or meribah arguing has two names remember that name when we get to the end of exodus 17 we notice that there's a theme of moses needing help it's kind of interesting and most don't put the two stories together they're told separately but i think they're intentionally put together remember there are no chapter numbers in these original versions first we have the battle with the amalekites if you remember joshua moses assistant he can go up the mountain a little bit with moses to a certain degree well is leading the israelites in a battle against the amalekites and moses he's on a hill nearby and whenever moses raises his staff up they prevail they win he's old his arm he gets tired his arms come down they start losing so aaron and her remember them they get him a nice comfy rock to sit on and so he sits down and they're on either side of him helping him helping moses with his hands then we see another character we've talked about recently his father-in-law jethro shows up on the scene for a visit they catch up they worship together but jethro observes something moses you're doing everything yourself that's not good gives them a basic idea why don't you get other people to judge over the smaller matters and help you out basically you're going to burn out you learn this story in pastor school that's how they teach you to get help involve other people do discipleship let other people make the coffee not just you pastor so that's the idea there now we get to the 10 commandments 19 the initiation of it and chapter 20. so we did that part of exodus and i told you guys about the timeline if we're looking at exodus 12 the passover account and we go all the way through the book of exodus through leviticus into numbers to chapter nine one year but then it's going to slow down different timeline so here we are at the book of numbers and this is another book where a lot of people quit let's be honest how many of you have quit at numbers why because it's just a lot of names names and names and names that you can't pronounce you don't understand what's going on so i'll overview it for you or if you'd like i can just read you all the names you'll be here for a long time a lot of you know me are getting nervous my wife is like don't dare him anyway i'll overview it basically it's the registration of the people that's why it's called numbers and so chapter one registration of the troop troops chapter two division of the tribes uh then you get the levites three and four if you don't know what levites are they're kind of people who help in the worship service they're not all priests necessarily they don't all perform that function like aaron and his descendants some of them just help out with the worship some of them are singers so in a modern context levite would be anybody who helps out with the worship service so you're a levite robert david levite grace is a levi so anyone who's assisting in the worship that's a levite and so they're registered then i'm going to stop the tour bus at chapter five and point out something really funny that i think is funny that the women in here will not think is funny at all it's something i like to call the jealousy test first time i read this i had to laugh at the end so what happens is if a guy is jealous or he suspects his wife is cheating on him he could take her to the priest i'll make this short the priest makes her drink bitter water and if her thigh shrivels that sounds weird but this region they just refer to it as thigh sometimes so remember the servant of abraham he makes him put his hand under his thigh interesting it shrivels up and her abdomen swells she's guilty and so some versions say womb shrivels but if it doesn't she's all right here's the thing at the end of it it said well if the husband was wrong he's good he hasn't sinned aren't you glad we're not under the law ladies of moses there's no punishment for being wrong there and i always found that very curious so i know you're glad that doesn't exist and so am i because the last thing i need is all you guys bringing your women in saying all right get the bitter water pastor feeling a little jealous no give me her smartphone i'll tell you what she's doing then you get chapter six through eight we're getting there you get more laws things about the offerings numbers nine ah the second passover that is a yearly festival there are three mandatory festivals this is one of them this is how we know exodus 12 to number is nine is one year that's a lot of reading in one year isn't it now they'll begin to wander away from sinai numbers 9 starting at verse 15. on the day the tabernacle so that was that set up church this portable temple that they have now it was set up the cloud covered it but from the evening until morning the cloud over the tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire this was the regular pattern at night the cloud that covered the tabernacle had the appearance of fire whenever the cloud from over the sacred tent lifted from over the sacred tent the people of israel would break camp and follow it and whenever the cloud settled the people of israel would set up camp in this way they traveled and camped at the lord's command wherever he told them to go so now they leave sinai numbers 10 starting at verse 11. in the second year after israel's departure from egypt on the 20th day of the second month the cloud lifted from the tabernacle of the covenant so the israelites set out from the wilderness of sinai and traveled on from place to place until the cloud stopped in the wilderness of we get to numbers 11 and this is quite interesting to me there's more of the complaining that is not what is interesting but they're complaining about the manna we had meat to eat in egypt why did you bring us out here they're complaining so much that moses now wants to give up he actually says kill me lord so like this is like a pastor on his worst day like just take me home to be with you lord that's it so this is where moses is at right they're complaining you guys aren't that bad it's just the coffee not the meat anyway something very interesting happens again the theme of needing help remember the 70 elders they go up the mountain a little bit and having a covenant meal with the lord ah they appear again remember bezalel who is filled with the holy spirit so not like acts where there's this outpouring of the holy spirit no it's selective bezalel now the 70 elders are filled with the spirit they prophesy empowered to help moses out some of the spirit that is on moses is now on them theme of getting help something really interesting happens though there are two hell dad and me dad i believe and they are not with them necessarily but they're still filled with the spirit freaks some kids out including joshua joshua goes and tells moses about it moses is like i wish everybody could be filled with the spirit but now the complaint is answered god basically says you want me i'll give you meat you're gonna choke on it he's really upset so like you want coffee i'll give you coffee so the lord tells the people this says to moses and say to the people purify yourselves for tomorrow you will have meat to eat you were whining and the lord heard you when you cried oh for some meat we were better off in egypt now the lord will give you meat and you have to eat it and it won't just be for a day or two or for 5 or 10 or even 20 you will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it for you have rejected the lord who is here among you and you have whined to him saying why did we ever leave egypt but moses responded to the lord there are six hundred thousand foot soldiers here with me and yet you say i will give them meat tea for a whole month even if we butchered all our flocks and herds would that satisfy them even if we caught all the fish in the sea would that be enough then the lord said to moses has my arm lost its power now you will see whether or not my word comes true so they get the quail a wind comes in they're flying around about three feet off the ground they collect it they start eating it and while it's still in their mouths they get stricken with a plague complaining complaining complaining they're not satisfied not pleased with the lord's provision this is the theme even aaron and miriam complain moses marries somebody see like this is how families are that they don't like apparently she's a cushite woman not good enough for moses they complain about that he strikes miriam with a plague this is his sister and she has to stay outside the camp for seven days now we get to numbers 13 we're gonna hang here for just a little bit they finally get to the promised land here we are we've been taken out of egypt land flowing with milk and honey yay so they send out 12 scouts to spy out the land scout it out tell us about what you see there and so they do one from each one of the 12 tribes of israel a representative to go they scout it out they notice that indeed it is a beautiful land it has pomegranates and figs and big clusters of grapes so big that it takes two of them to carry them so the place is called eshkol which means cluster and so you bring everything back but here's the thing they also see giants descendants of anac and so they give a bad report ten of them anyway they say we're like grasshoppers to them and they thought the same thing we're going to get killed again not trusting in the lord's provision did they forget that the sea was parted for them god's going to take care of it but they don't believe it they give a really bad report except caleb and joshua we're going to read more about them but again we want to go back we need a new leader let's go back to egypt we're done haven't you seen what the lord has done for you so now the lord is really upset and he says everybody 20 years old and older will die in this wilderness i'm done it's a similar thing to the golden calf account do you remember that it's almost the same exact language they made the golden calf the lord now wants to destroy them completely and he tells moses i will make you a great nation we're going to wipe these people out basically and start over again moses intercedes in almost the same way he says basically the egyptians are going to make fun of you like you failed and your people have failed so the lord relents but he says this numbers 14 34 because your man explored the land for 40 days you must wander the wilderness for 40 years a year for each day suffering the consequences of your sins then you will discover what it is like to have me for an enemy consequences but now they change their mind apparently this upsets them a little bit they feel sorry and they go and try to go into the land but they get chased out by the amalekites and the canaanites it is too little too late to summarize we're going to hop over to numbers 20 but 15 through 19 talk about it a bible study if you like you get the story of korra's rebellion there's more rebellion that's a fairly popular story i want to hop to numbers 20 because here we see we're back at a familiar place it is said that now from the second passover to here is 37 to 40 years there's some debate about it but i think that's about it so it's a fairly long period of time that goes by miriam dies the theme we want to go back but they're already back at the rock remember meribah they find themselves back there and this is an account that took me a little while to understand if i'm being honest sometimes the bible stories can be hard to understand but here we come full circle all the way back at meribah they want water maybe moses forgot it's been 40 years or so but the lord says this moses speak to the rock he doesn't he strikes it twice water comes out but there's a little text in there that you should pay attention to remember the people are complaining complaining complaining moses is very frustrated and so when you read it appropriately he says something kind of interesting must we bring water from the rock so when you visualize it he's taking credit for it so it's probably like they're complaining they're complaining complaining must we bring you water from the rock like that two times though i did it three because i get really mad anyway he strikes it in anger he takes credit for it why well remember he said lord kill me i'm done with these people he doesn't want to deal with it anymore well now the lord says you moses will now not get into the land either you're going to die here too in the wilderness did you know that in the new testament people also have issues with meat kind of like the israelites did but different i'll explain it quickly you have to view christianity in the beginning in the gospels when you read the gospels they're mostly all jewish people that jesus is dealing with you have a few instances where it's not but for the most part they're all jewish in acts they're jewish takes until chapter 10 to figure out peter's vision that you can let the gentiles in now it takes them a while so it's a jewish religion a jewish faith so naturally they're going to ask the question do the gentiles need to become jewish like jesus like the apostles natural we get to acts chapter 15 we have one of the church first church councils and they decide no but they have to follow four simple rules one of them is not eating meat sacrifice to idols big one comes up a couple times in the new testament so they're arguing about it first corinthians basic context that's what it is first corinthians eight through ten everything set in there you gotta have in your mind this thing about meat sacrifice the idols they're squabbling over it they're fighting and arguing and paul's coming in to say oh it's not gospel yes i know it's a church rule but it's not gospel so if someone wants to do it great leave them alone don't argue about it but within that context paul talks about what we learned today first corinthians 10 starting at verse 1. i don't want you to forget dear brothers and sisters about your ancestors in the wilderness long ago all of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground in the cloud and in the sea all of them were baptized as followers of moses all of them ate the same spiritual food and all of them drake drank the same spiritual water for they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them and that rock was christ yet god was not pleased with most of them and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness these things happened as a warning to us so that we would not crave evil things as they did or worship idols as some of them did as the scriptures say the people celebrated with feasting and drinking and they indulged in pagan revelry so that's the golden catholic cup and we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did causing 23 000 of them to die in one day nor should we put christ to the test as some of them did and then they died from snake bites we'll see that next week don't grumble as some of them did and then were destroyed by the angel of death these things happened to them as examples for us they were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age if you think you are standing strong be careful not to fall the temptations in your life are no different from what others experience and god is faithful he will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand when you are tempted he will show you a way out so that you can endure christ is our spiritual rock we build our faith on his foundation christ is also our shelter three festivals passover pentecost and booths tabernacles or shelters succoth the jewish people still celebrate it today it's when they remember the lord's provision how he provided for them in the wilderness for forty years so they still sometimes go out and stay in tents as they celebrate this to remember what the lord did for them but now christ has fulfilled this he is our shelter he is our covering he is our protection he is our provision the israelites wanted to go back from where they came they weren't satisfied with the shelter or the provision of the lord instead they desired to go back to their imprisonment soapy wanted to seek shelter by getting himself put in prison through imprisonment but then he reached a point where he was provided an escape by the church he heard the provision he saw the provision calling to him from the church but he was on the outside looking in like soapy we can't get caught on the outside looking in it. isn't enough to be inspired for a moment by the music, inspired by the preaching, if we stay in the wrong spot. if it doesn't motivate us to participate in the provision. there is a time when it's too little too late, as paul wrote these things were written as examples for us, to warn us, they weren't pleased with the provision, well then they changed their mind only after being faced with a punishment, but it was too little too late, you see it's not enough to do nothing, it's not enough to simply contemplate, or put it off for another day, we sometimes become complacent, in our contemplations, perhaps the spot we're in hasn't affected us yet. you're eligible too, what seems convenient can enslave us sometimes, we can find ourselves caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, we can contemplate about perhaps going back the way we came,like the israelites wanted to, but you must remember that the grass was not greener in the past, like the israelites in the promised land, we shouldn't desire to go back perhaps out of fear, perhaps out of worldly desires, we must trust that christ is our provision. we must trust that god will provide those of us in ministry understand this in the beginning i didn't trust that he would provide i don't want to be a pastor are you kidding i see what they do doesn't look fun but i had to trust that he would provide and he has it's fine so that's my encouragement to you today as we come full circle in our application there's a place for you here we are the body of christ all of us we are all members of it you're all very very important here and so if you're not serving you haven't found your place reach out to me carolee i think you're doing the announcements today so you'll see her she's nicer than me go talk to her talk to one of us get in service sometimes that's the best way to get out of your own headservice you are all an important part of the body of christ in first corinthians as well paul talks about that you get to chapter 12. he does kind of as heather said the puppet show it's pc i said that wrong i'm sure i will hear about it later from my greek teacher anyway to make a face i know i got that part right it's a literary device something rhetorical that paul is doing so he's got different body parts talking to one another and they're saying wow i'm just a foot or i'm just a hand i'm not important yes you are opposable thumbs it's what makes us different from the animals try taping your thumb to the rest of your hand and doing life like that for a while looks insignificant but it's very important everything is important in the body of christ you matter let me pray for you lord forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead i pray we press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which god through christ jesus is calling us lord you are calling to each one of us and so i pray that everyone here answers that call surrenders what's weighing them down i pray that they look forward not back to the prize in jesus christ to their godly and heavenly calling may the lord bless you and protect you may the lord smile on you and be gracious to you may the lord show you his favor and give you peace amen