FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: Almost home
Welcome again, friends, to the “front porch.”
We’ve visited for a while now that generation of Israelites who would finally escape the bondage of a cruel Egypt. Under the leadership of Moses, they had taken their leave of their evil taskmasters and the profane Pharaoh, left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea, received God’s Law as well as His instructions on the building of that tabernacle they would need for their journey, and are now a step or two from going back home.
They are almost home. That was the title of one of our recent Lord’s Day discussions. The moment we wrote that title on the chalkboard, we knew that there was something ominous-sounding in the title.
I am not sure anything good ever comes from “almost.”
Oh, their journey gets off to an encouraging start, especially on the part of our Lord. God makes a great promise to His people that He would be with them. He has taken a keen interest in His people – though frail sometimes we are – and makes divine provisions for their well-being. God reminds them of the covenant He had made with them a long time ago, through Abraham. He shows them that He would be an ever-present God – going both before them and behind them with a pillar of cloud and of fire – and lead them across this Red Sea, even with the murderous Egyptian army chasing them relentlessly.
And when those fickle people begin to doubt, Moses stretches the rod over the waters of the Sea and shouts a resolute command to that entire generation gathered at the sea: “Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.”
Stand still, you doubting people! God has brought us this far. He will take us home.
Sure enough, the Lord does take them home. That entire generation of unbelievers – for unbelievers are what they are at the very core – watch a powerful east wind reach down to the depth of that crimson water, push it back as if it was nothing more than a puddle in the yard, and provide a path of dry ground a mile wide for the Israelites to walk over.
Isn’t it the way of the Lord for Him to pave the way for us and then say, “Now, just walk across!” We know, from this account and a hundred others, that when God makes a contract, He will keep His end of the bargain – every time! He has promised the Israelites a return to the land of promise, and He keeps His promises, always.
In only a matter of a few months, the Israelites come, finally, to the edge of Canaan, a stone’s throw away. Moses takes twelve men, one from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, and sends them over into Canaan to spy out the land. Can you imagine the send-off of these twelve discoverers as they head out? Can you imagine the celebration when someone sees the men coming home a few weeks later, with the evidence of the fruitfulness of that land over their shoulders? (Numbers 13:27).
If we had never read or heard this story, we would think that the people at that very moment would fortify their faith, rally around those dozen handpicked men, shout out their thanksgiving to the good God who had brought them thus far, gather their weapons of war, and, within a few days, head out to re-take their land.
We would think that – if not for the fact we know something ominous about people: People tend to do things the hard way more often than the easy. People are far more likely to choose dubious doubt over fortified faith. So, friends, meet this generation of Israelites who are not unlike most people.
Even before we note their faithless response, we remind ourselves this week not to carry their attitude and faithlessness out the door with us as we go about. Instead, let us take what God has promised, tuck it away safely down deep in our hearts, and set out to win whatever spiritual battles we encounter. Blessings to all of you this week in that endeavor.
Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text 972-824-5197.