Text: Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25
Have you ever begun a prayer with the phrase "Lord, bring me out..."? Bring me out of this unhealthy relationship... addiction... problem... meaningless job... destructive habit... emotional pain... financial debt... spiritual confusion.
God brings us out to bring us into something greater. The great type of salvation is the exodus of Israel from Egypt, the wilderness years, and the possession of the Promised Land. After the forty years, Moses prepared the people to possess the land under Joshua. Deuteronomy is the collection of his messages. He repeats the Law for them to obey. He makes a statement that is vital for us to understand in our own salvation history: "God brought us out of Egypt to bring us in and give us the land he promised" (see 6:23). As we enter a new year, we need to reflect on our God who brings us out to bring us in.
The Christian life is not a negative, it's a positive... not subtraction, it's addition... not division, it's multiplication... not a diminishing of life, but an enhancement of life. Jesus said, "I came that you might have life to the full" (see John 10:10). When God takes something away He replaces it with something better. When there is an ending there is a new beginning, for He makes all things new (Rev. 21:5).
A high school teacher had just finished one of her most difficult times of teaching. During the Christmas break she was filling out some paperwork in preparation for a new year. The question was asked on the form: "Have you ever had a nervous breakdown?" She was so stressed out that she wrote, "No. But watch this space for further developments."
What do we learn for our lives from the experience of the Israelites as they entered the Land of Promise to possess their inheritance? Since God brings us out of negative situations in order to bring us into a new experience with Him, how do we possess the promises of God?
God has given us "exceeding great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4 KJV). Someone has identified 7,847 promises of God in Scripture. Paul says all of God's promises are "yes" to us, but adds to that the "amen," which means the word of agreement is spoken by us (2 Cor. 1:20). The word amen comes from the Hebrew word for "faithfulness," meaning that when we say "amen" we are first of all acknowledging that God's word is true and we agree with it, and second, that we pledge to be faithful to His word as we live obediently to Him.
God told the people of Israel to possess the land "little by little" or else the project would overtake them and they would fail (Deut. 7:22). Here are three lessons to reaching your goals:
Winston Churchill motivated the troops and people of England at the height of World War 11 when Nazi forces threatened to destroy England:
I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.... Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.... We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today (8:10-18).
In a Berlin art gallery is a painting by German painter Adolf Menzel (1815-1905) that is not quite finished. King Frederick the Great is artistically portrayed as talking to his generals. In the center of the painting is a section etched in charcoal outline indicating the artist's intention to paint a person. But the artist died before the painting was finished. He had painted the background and the generals first, but the king he left till last. He died before painting the king. Today his work of art is the contribution of a man who omitted the king.