10. Wilderness Manual– Coming up Short? (32)

Reuben and Gad were going to settle in before crossing the Jordan with all the rest, but they assured Moses and the people, “We will build sheepfolds for our livestock, and cities for our little ones, but we ourselves will be armed ready to go before the sons of Israel until we have brought them to their place.” (Numbers 32:16-17a) This was good in the sight of Israel.

Principle: So long as Jesus hasn’t returned, we are in a wilderness where once there was a garden. There is a tension of settling in here as a pilgrim does on his journey, but then he keeps moving. The Wilderness teaches a person that he must be whole-heartedly for God, and also teaches him that even when he gets out of the wilderness, he will need to keep moving. The battle wages ever onward until the Promise of God is fully taken possession of, and the church can walk unified in Jesus name, representing God rightly in the world. Reuben and Gad both settled in, and committed to the task. This is to be our heart as we leave the wilderness stage. While we are here on earth, the question remains in all that we do, “Are we coming up short of the fullness of God’s promise?”

Application: If you have gotten this far, you have what you need: God is Enough, and He will bear His fruit in your life, and though you fail, He will bring about the zeal of heart to accomplish His work in you. This exhortation I give you. Don’t stop short of the Kingdom in all the Lord gives you to accomplish. Let God be your companion, your value, your everything. Take care of your families and your possessions, and then go forth and lay hold of the Kingdom of God, which men of violence take by force. Only stay with Him. He brought you to the wilderness, and through the wilderness. Go and be with Him as he leads you out of it.

Warning: Do not settle for less than the Kingdom, or you will lose everything. “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Numbers 32:23 There is no room in the economy of God for a partial-hearted person. As the Lord Jesus said,

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me, for whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” ~Luke 9:23-24

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4. Noah: Obedience is a Two-Edged Sword

The gospel is a two-edged sword: - The two sides of the gospel
Photo credit: christiantruthcenter.com

Hebrews 11:7–By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

This hard lesson from Noah gets to the grittiness of a stark reality depicted in both Covenants: some will not be saved. Faith is more than a spiritual exercise: it is the vitality of obedience that prepares us for the day of God’s judgment.

The Warning

Who was Noah anyway? His name meant “rest” and he was named by his father with a hope that “This one will give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed.” (Genesis 5:29) So he was a child born with destiny, but this is not why God warned him. God warned him because “Noah walked with God.” (Genesis 6:9). God is a good friend. He doesn’t keep from sharing his secrets with those who walk with him. (See the previous post.)

God warned Noah by sharing with him what He saw (the corruption of the world) and what he was going to do about it. (flood the whole earth). He let Noah, who could only see with his two eyes, what God saw in the unseen. This warning is privileged to one who is seeking to know the Unseen God.

The Obedience

Noah’s internal response to God’s wrathful declaration, is not depicted as sarcasm, terror, doubt, or some vain imagination. Reverence is the word that Hebrews’ author uses. Reverence is submission of the heart to the obedience of God. Reverence is worship of God as the one who is worthy when your world is not yet but soon will be very literally falling apart around you. Obedience is the material offspring of a Reverent heart. As total as one is so total is the other. Obedience is only 100% if Reverence is 100%. And what are we told of Noah in Genesis 6:22: “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.”

The implications for the believer today are staggering. Anything that draws the heart away from total reverence of God is also drawing the person’s body away from total obedience to God.

This is the life of Faith: Walking with God doing what He gives you to do.

The Sword

“By which he condemned the world.” This is not vindictive as a way of saying, “Noah was looking down with grim satisfaction at all the sinners floating away.” No. This means Noah’s obedient actions were Noah’s proof that the world needed to be judged. Another way of saying it, because he did right, by the same rule everyone else had done wrong. Obedience is the sword that swings both saving those with faith, and condemning those without it.

This is the burden of Faith. Faith is 100% for God, and brings salvation, and is the just condemnation of the world who refuses to be whole-heartedly for One whom they cannot see. The tragedy was world-wide in Noah’s day, and one day again the tragedy will be world-wide once again.

Application:

  1. Cultivate healthy reverence for God by examining your thoughts and affections toward him, and let every thing that is important to you be laid down on the altar of faith.
  2. Walk with God. Let your relationship with God be the basis for all else in your life.
  3. Obey him 100% in whatever he calls you to do. It is your salvation.
  4. Be real with believers and unbelievers about God: there is no middle road: there is only fully obedient and saved, and not fully obedient and condemned.
  5. Pray for those who are weak or lacking in faith that they may have a heart to trust in Him who is unseen.
  6. Establish relationships of trust with others and let them see your own faith in action.

We will talk more about “the righteousness which is according to faith” as we talk about Abraham.