Key Players – Dedication
In the last chapter, The Realities Of The Church, the fifth reality stated that we must choose to be part of the revival that God has ordained. It is an active choice, not a passive observance that makes the difference between someone useful and someone useless! And nearly everything that the flesh or our adversary might wish for us is contrary to this godly desire that we must maintain. We are obliged to stand on guard against any compromising influence that would steer us away from the prize of spiritual revival and harvest in the Church. A remarkable passage that points this out very clearly is found in 1 Corinthians 10:1-12. Paul starts this chapter with an exhortation to be mindful of what happened to the Israelites during their wilderness experience after escaping Egyptian bondage. It should have been a joyous time of regularly witnessing the goodness and grace of God in provision and protection. Instead, it devolved into disaster for them. At the close of the passage, Paul reminds them that all of this happened to Israel to serve as examples unto us; that they are written for our admonition; upon us who live shortly before the end of the world. And he sums it up in saying that we should take heed when we think we are standing strong, for we may in fact be near to collapse. We should, therefore, be willing to take a close look at these “examples” for us and apply them to our own experience.
First of all, in verses 1-4, Paul tells us that all of the people passed under the same cloud, passed through the same sea, were committed to following Moses, ate the same spiritual manna, and drank the same miraculously provided water. In other words, they had exactly the same opportunities for growth and development. Each one had been given what was needed to be a true follower of the Lord throughout this time in the wilderness. Each of them was being trained for something: crossing over into the Promised Land. But verse 5 tells us that God was not at all pleased with many of them. While He constantly by His grace imparted blessing and protection, many mistook what He gave and failed to understand their part in His plan. It finally became so bad through their unbelief that the Lord turned them back into the wilderness when they should have been crossing Jordan and rejoicing in the promise. A two-year trip through the wilderness that was a qualifying process (in the mind of God) then turned into a forty-year ordeal through the wasteland for the purpose of disqualifying the unbelievers.
Then, starting in verse 6, we find a list five things that we must avoid today. Again, Paul tells us that these unfortunate actions by the Israelites serve as examples (poor ones for sure) to us in the Church. We are, after all, on a similar mission: escaping the bondage of sin in the world and making the journey through life into a great Promised Land. During the trip we should be growing, healthy and fruitful, adding to the church daily such as should be saved. Let’s look at these five sins that Israel committed and see how we can avoid them:
- They lusted after evil things. First of all, they were not happy with what the Lord was providing. They lusted for more. They longed for the leeks and the garlic of Israel. They grew tired of the miracle manna and cried for meat. They simply could not agree with the Lord’s plan for their lives during this time of what should have been a deep reliance upon God. Today, we must be careful in realizing that what He gives is sufficient for us. And we must remind ourselves that what He chooses is always the best. Finally, we should be certain that what God has provided (and will continue to provide) is always for a divine purpose.
- They were idolaters. This means that they were not happy with God’s style of leadership, nor with the authorities He placed over them during the journey. They tried at one point to create their own god! Searching for another god simply means dissatisfaction with the present one. But our Lord Jesus has a definite mission that He is carrying out. It is a perfect one and has a clear vision. He knows where He’s going, and He certainly knows how to get there! Let’s not second-guess our Lord. Let’s submit to His plan.
- They committed fornication. This specifically refers to their mixing with and marrying into other tribes and faiths of the people around them in the wilderness. In Numbers 25 we read of 24,000 who died of a plague after Israel began to “commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.” The root of the problem, more than just a sexually illicit one, was that of their intended separation to the Lord God. He had called them to be a holy and separate people, unlike anyone else. Their attraction to the other tribes and their gods would only prove disastrous for Israel. Neither can we afford to compromise our stand of holiness in today’s revival movement. As the Apostle Peter said it in 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” We don’t need to be like anyone else; we need to be exactly the way He designed us, perfectly suited for the specific task He has placed before us.
- They tempted God. “Fiery serpents” killed many of the Israelites one day. They were destroyed because they had forgotten something very important. In Numbers 21:5, they spoke against Moses and against God and complained about why they had been brought “out of Egypt to die in the wilderness.” They cried that there was no bread, nor was there enough water. But the fact was that there was enough of everything really necessary for their survival and their successful entry into Canaan. What they had forgotten was crucial: they had forgotten the promise! God had not brought them out to die; He had brought them out to live! He had them there for a divine purpose, and all they had to do was continue with Him in order to one day enter into the promise. Is it any different for us today? Is there a revival? There most assuredly is, and the way to participate is to continue in God’s direction, doing what He asks us to do.
- They murmured. After Moses had sent the twelve spies to survey Canaan, they returned bringing two different kinds of reports. While Joshua and Caleb declared Israel’s ability with God to conquer and possess the promise, the other ten decried its impossibility. The reaction of the people was swift: in Numbers14:2 we read, “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would God we had died in the wilderness!” In other words, they were not at all happy with God’s will for their lives. How could they have known the future? How could they have supposed that they knew more than God? The Lord tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” And Paul wrote in Romans 11:33, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” They murmured, they doubted, they complained, and they figured out “better ways” of doing things. At least they thought they did. This last sin in the list must not be allowed to prevent us from entering into the revival that awaits. His will, after all, is good, and acceptable, and perfect. What is there to really murmur about?
This is the dedication that has to be shown in those that will be the key players in revival and harvest. Any compromise here means a downward spiral taking us further and further away from the Promised Land of significant church growth. There will always be key players on all levels of church authority. Concerning the international level, let us pray for those that are charged with overseeing this vast movement that crosses borders and spans continents. They have a heavy burden of providing a vision that blends together all the different aspects of leadership into an integral approach to reaching the world. At the top of every nation’s church organization stands a group of leaders that are carrying a similar responsibility. They must carefully oversee and assess whether or not we are successful in creating a climate of spiritual health in our respective nation’s churches. If it is not as it should be, they are the ones that must stand forth and make the changes necessary to correct it. And, of course, the pastor in each local church is just as important as those already mentioned. What more key player could there be in the spiritual growth of the Church? The local church shepherd is the one on the scene, caring for, equipping, and guiding the flock into greener pastures where the still waters lie. Finally, the Lord has called each and every saint to be a witness for Him. We are not idle spectators, watching others perform on the field of battle. We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. We can do all things. With God, it is possible to see the revival that we have talked about for so long. It’s high time to enter into the promise!
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