Date: January 14, 2018
Faith in Obedience: Three Miracles, displays of God’s power
Text: Psalm 105: 26, 37-45, Psalm 106: 1-12, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13,
Pastor Matthew Burt
SCRIPTURES: Psalm 105: 26, 37-45, Psalm 106: 1-12, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13,
By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
BIG IDEA: Faith in Obedience: Three Miracles, displays of God’s power
Why does God do what God does? The deist would say that whatever happens is because of God’s laws. The pantheist, who believes all is one, would say the purpose of deity is that it would be to bring all things into harmony and balance. We have seen the yin and the yang – bring all things into oneness. Most people are materialists or atheists who would say there is no God and all we know is what we can taste, feel, smell. So then the question becomes a nothing question. Then we find ourselves in the realm of the existentialist – there is no meaning to life- nothing has any purpose. The Bible declares and we believe that there is a God and that this God awareness in the heart of every human being compels us to ask Why does God do what God does? The three verses point us to the answer.This answer is the same answer to the question: what is the chief purpose of my own life.
Four weeks ago, we left Chapter 11 and Moses at the end of the Passover. After 10 plagues and some weeks, Pharaoh relents and says go. This happens only after the Passover. Over the last 2 weeks we emphasized and challenged each of us not to give in to this world, not to compromise. So we saw that there were 4 compromises that Pharaoh offered Moses.
In all of this we have been trying to understand what faith is. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and it is an eyewitness to us that what God has said is true. My faith is focused on the reality that God has said certain things in His word and I trust that what God has said is true and my life is then a life that lives according to the conviction of what God has said will happen. We looked at how faith was shown in the lives of us, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, parents of Moses, and Moses.
OUTLINE FOR TODAY:
- Biblical faith is an obedient faith that will result in a heart of worship.
- Biblical faith is an obedient faith that will
- Biblical faith is an obedient faith that brings salvation.
BIG IDEA: Biblical faith is far more about the eternal than the temporal; about the coming more than the now. Biblical faith is about God’s glory; not yours and mine.
Point 1:Biblical faith is an obedient faith that will result in a heart of worship
Read Exodus 13:17–22. The people have left Egypt. God has taken then by an indirect way. They are not yet in thepromised land. Pharaoh, true to form, hardened his heart and he pursued the people of Israel. Pharaoh’s horses and chariots overtook them. The next thing we read is the people cried out to God. As they look at the sea on one side and the rocks and hills on the other side and the Egyptian army barreling on them. They say some foolish thing like why did we ever leave? But Moses exercises faith and said to the people, fear not, stand firm. This is real faith that Moses is exhibiting here. It is not an empty, well-intentioned encouragement to people. He is not like some politician who makes self-centered empty promises. Moses is saying here’s what God has said: we are going to walk on dry land. Look what happens. God does indeed do what He says He is going to do. God brings a cloud so the Egyptians can’t see. He sends a wind so the waters will be directed to stand up. He gets the glory. That’s the answer to why God does what He does. Moses exercises obedience and the people were saved. God did something else that day. He destroyed His enemies.
We struggle with the idea that God says He will get glory. When we read that and we put it in human context, we withdraw from that because we know people who do things so they can get praise. Why would I want to worship a God like this? God is not some minor, humanly invented deity. We know that God is the absolute ultimate reality. We knowthat there is nothing in existence that He depends upon. He needs no help for strength or knowledge. He is eternally inerrant– never making a mistake. He is the fount of all mercy that He bestows on His people. It would be an unspeakable evil if He did not share the wonder of who He is with his people. If He held us back from knowing the wonder, not only would He be an idolater but would make us into idolaters. He is not an egotist. He is a loving God giving us the greatest gift – knowing who He is. Something else that bothers us is the destruction – wholesale death. How can this be? Perhaps it would be helpful if we understand it this way – everyone is destined to die a physical death. It is not if we will die but when. The issue is will we be prepared to meet the God who has called us to repentance to Him. The one who continues in disbelief will be destroyed and that is what is happening to these people who live with a hardened unbelieving heart.
After the people went forth, we read in v29 that the purpose of this particular miracle caused them to fear God and obey God and resulted in praise and worship.
Point 2: Biblical faith leads to victory in life and eternal rest.
Then our author in Hebrews goes from this event at the Red Sea and fast forwards 40 years. We need to move ahead to Joshua 5 and 6. Joshua was the man that God personally chose and presented to the people of Israel to be the only successor Moses to be the leader of the people. We first meet Joshua when the spies go into the land and reported backto Moses. They came back with this report –we dare not go in because we saw giants, strong cities. Ten of the men reported this. Two men gave a different report – Joshua and Caleb. They said no it’s not a bad place to go. They are saying the same God that has brought us this far, that God who has commanded us to go forth will give us success. And the people turn on them and sought to stone them. The end of the story comes in Numbers 14 – God says if you don’t want to go in then you will not go in. You will live in this land for 40 years. That’s where Joshua 6 begins – all those people have died. Joshua is to lead the people into the land. Jericho: This was a place where no one could pass if they were not welcome. The instructions given to Joshua are to march around the walls of the city. The walls of the city will fall down. This miracle is meant to show us that a Biblical faith leads to a victory in life and eternal rest. What do we see? Joshua doesn’t argue with God. Imagine! There were books written about the art of war and there was nothing written about marching around the walls of the city! Joshua obeyed God. Can you imagine? On the 7th day they walked around the 7th time and the priests took the rams horn and blew a blast and then the people shouted. Then the walls fell flat. This is the marvelous miracle of God’s deliverance on the 7th day.
The first miracle reminds us of the first day of creation.
The second miracle reminds us of the 7th day of creation when God rested. When we come to Hebrews 3 and 4, the author quotes Psalm 95 – because of their disobedience, they did not enter the land of rest. But on the 7th day going around the city, the walls fell flat, the people entered into rest. Obedient faith opens the door to our eternal rest
Point 3: Biblical faith is an obedient faith that brings salvation.
The third miracle is about Rehab the prostitute. What a painful burden for her to carry throughout history. Or is it? We first met this woman in Joshua chapter 2. Joshua sends two men to spy the land and they came to the house of Rehab. The spies of Israel to Jericho were helped by Rehab. They went to her house – a brothel. Our suspicion is why did they go to her house? We assume ill motives. We impute wickedness to them. But notice that the text gives us no indication that they went there for immoral purpose. She was probably the proprietress of an inn, a guesthouse. Various activities went on there beyond mere hospitality. They went to a place where there was a lot of coming and going and people not wanting to be found. How does she end up in Hebrews 11? Here is a woman who has heard about the works and wonders of God. She has rejected the worldview that she lives in. She lives in a world that depends on military strength and idols. She has heard of this God who has delivered His people out of slavery. She lived in faith. She acted in faith believing this God. When the book of James talks about faith at work, he talks about two people – Abraham and Rehab. This woman is lifted out of the dregs of history and put on a pedestal to be emulated. Rehab lets the spies down with a red rope. They say to her keep this rope hanging out of the window and they promised her that she would be saved. She goes to her family and gathers her family in this house. When the wall fell down, there was one house left standing: the one with the red rope. This red cord has the same significance of the red blood of the Passover lamb.
This miracle is even greater than the first two. What we see here is a miracle of a changed heart. She was saved; they were purified and brought into the covenant family. So much so that later we meet a Ruth married to Boaz who is the son of Solomon who is married to Rehab. Those people who God chose to be in the line to bear the Son of God. What we don’t find in Matthew 1 is Rehab the prostitute but just Rehab. She has been chosen, claimed and changed and this is a far greater miracle. This is the reality of the re-creation of a spiritually dead person. This is the miracle available to all who confess their sins. A soul is saved.
The first two miracles made way for the third miracle. In order that you might know that God has the authority to change the heart of a sinner, God parts the Red Sea and makes the walls come down. Rehab the harlotis no longer known as Rehab the harlot but as Rehab the progenitor of Christ. You may only be known now that you are a child of the most high because you have clung to the scarlet rope. Why does God do this? Because He gets the glory.