"For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?" (Exodus 33:16)
Think about this for a minute. Do you feel as if you are on a treadmill going nowhere? Do you continue to do the same things over and over again and expect different results but never get a different result? Or, maybe you are so content in your current lifestyle and circumstances that you don’t want to get out of your comfort zone. You may even see God doing great things in other people’s lives and wonder why He isn’t doing anything in yours but are not willing to seek Him out for the answer.
In the verse above we are given a great privilege to learn a valuable lesson but we need to stop long enough to truly allow the Holy Spirit to speak into our lives to hear it. Moses had been up on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights and the Lord was writing His commandments on the stone tablets for Moses to take down to the camp. But the people didn’t trust Moses. Moses was God’s representative and their distrust of Moses spoke loudly of their distrust of God. It wasn’t even that Moses had never gone up the mountain to be with the Lord before, he often did. So what was different this time? Why did it bother them so much that Moses was up on the mountain meeting with God?
When we depend on being fed the Lord’s Word by others and not seek out the Lord for ourselves, we are prey for Satan to lead us in paths of UNRIGHTEOUSNESS! It’s not an isolated incident, it’s not a coincidence that occurred, it is because we are out of alignment with the will of God.
I’d like to share with you what I see in the children of Israel that parallels to many people today. The Israelites found their satisfaction in earthly comforts such as housing, food, clothing, etc. even if the circumstances they were living in weren’t ideal. So things became their idols. When they cried out to the Lord for deliverance when their lives became uncomfortable, they wanted delivered from their hardships but not their physical comforts. Sound familiar? Can you relate? Their thought was “just deliver me from the problem and I can go on in my own power from here”. They were also very emotionally and spiritually unstable, so that when they lacked what they were used to they got very aggravated and angry and always looked to blame someone else for the problem. Hmmmm, sound a bit like circumstances today in the world? Unfortunately it does. What is so sad is that even though Jesus Christ’s death was to redeem us from sin and gave us a new covenant by which we can now enter into the Holy of Holies and have the Holy Spirit living in us to lead and guide us, many have chosen not to! Many are living just as the Israelites in the desert. They have rejected the invitation to enter into a personal relationship with the Lord.
So when Moses was gone for 40 days they were agitated and made a plan to get instant gratification. However, their plan could never give them gratification or a relationship with the Lord. But see, they really weren’t even spiritually alive enough to think through what they were doing by asking for a false god to worship. Ignorance doesn’t give us an excuse for sin. God showed His glory throughout the universe and made Himself known. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; it rejoices as a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of them; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” (Psalms 19:1-6) So either we seek the One True God or we seek a false god.
Remember how the Israelites were so afraid of the Lord when He appeared on the mountain to them? “All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.’ Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.’ So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.” (Exodus 20:18-21 emphasis mine)
There was no fear to approach this golden calf! Why? It had no power! It was a graven image. There was no life in it. So they were very comfortable with it. Think about that for a few minutes. Are you more comfortable with “things” than with approaching the throne of God? We are never to forget the Lord’s words, “--for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God--” (Exodus 34:14)
And what about Aaron? We really need to hear from the Holy Spirit here. God CALLED (anointed AND appointed) Moses but Moses actually argued with God because he stuttered and said he couldn’t speak publicly so God allowed him to have Aaron to speak (appointed) whatever God gave Moses. I find it interesting, however, in reading the Scriptures that it was still Moses who was usually doing the speaking!
So God also honored Aaron’s lineage of the Levi’s and they became the priests to the Lord. They offered the sacrifices for the people’s sins so they would be forgiven. There were very strict guidelines as to how they were to dress and how they were to perform the sacrifices and when they could even enter the Holy of Holies and who could even enter one time a year. But Aaron had a different anointing than Moses and when it became time in this situation for him to be the “leader” in Moses’ absence, he failed. He didn’t seek God, he listened to the people.
My dear friends, this is such a critical portion for us to truly understand and apply to our lives today. There are so many sitting in churches today being lead to slaughter by false leaders. If what they are teaching does not line up PERFECTLY with ALL of Scripture, you need to run to the nearest exit and never look back! "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'” (Matthew 7:13-23 emphasis mine)
There is no justification for sin. Unfortunately choosing to stay in a church that is not presenting the whole truth of the gospel is sin. I know it is hard to leave your friends but church is about God and His truth, not about your social network! “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15)
The leaders and teachers and pastors of those churches will answer to God one day, not only for the lies they taught but for leading so many astray. I can’t help but remember the words of Jesus. "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,” (John 10:9-14)
You may be thinking that your pastor hasn’t fled. He has fled from the Lord and run into the arms of Satan. Most likely that is because he has deceived not only the whole of leadership but the sheep that are in his flock. He has accepted the apostasy that Satan has fed him and is now feeding it to those who are sitting in his audience. Yes, audience. He is an actor, dressed as a shepherd. He is putting on a performance and feeding a “feel good” message. The “worship” music has a beat and rhythm that pulls you in. Surely this can’t be wrong if I feel so good, can it? My dear friend, the music and the message are not to make you feel good! When we read God’s Word we are to be convicted of our unrighteousness! Worship music is to elevate and glorify God, not make you feel good. And, it is not to unite all the different denominations because “we worship the same God”. WE DON’T WORSHIP THE SAME GOD!
Let’s really look at Jesus’ words for a moment. "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture…” When I hear these words I immediately hear the words of the psalmist as he poured out his heart in Psalm 23. “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.” (Psalms 23:1-3) David, the psalmist knew something that most people today do not know. When he said “The LORD is my shepherd,...” he knew that there was only one God and one way to enter the Kingdom of God. He understood that he was unrighteous in his own right. It was only through the grace of the Lord that he could enter eternity. He believed in the Messiah even though he had not seen Him.
The next portion of that first sentence reveals so much of David’s heart and where he received his sustenance. “I shall not want.” When I was young I thought those were very strange words but as I’ve grown in maturity and my walk with the Lord, I too, have found that “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) If you know anything about King David you know that he had a VERY difficult training ground to become the man of God that God wanted him to be before he could actually become king. Even his life after he became king was filled with trials and tribulation. But he knew that whatever situation he was in that God would take him through it. Whatever the final outcome, he trusted God with those results, no matter how difficult or painful. It is absolutely no different for us. In the MIDST of those tribulations, David allowed God to lead him AND sustain him, “He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.”
Moses reminds me of David. Moses didn’t ask God for this assignment to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. He didn’t want to be their leader. He was surrendered to God’s plan because he had learned that nothing he could do was worthwhile unless it was the Lord working through him! And when the children of Israel became difficult (which was often) Moses would remind God that if He destroyed them that those enemies who had witnessed God’s glory and the victories of the Israelites because of God’s presence, would no longer fear the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! Let me give you an example to demonstrate this life changing truth. Because of the unbelief of the elders of the Israelites, they all died in the desert and did not enter into the Promised Land. All except Joshua and Caleb, they believed God and worshipped Him. So after Moses died and God anointed Joshua to lead the children of the Israelites into the Promised Land, he sent some spies into Jericho. “Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, ‘Go, view the land, especially Jericho.’ So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there.” (Joshua 2:1) ”Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men, ‘I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” (Joshua 2:8-11 emphasis mine)
Unless the true disciples of Jesus Christ are willing to live by the WHOLE Word of God, God’s glory will completely diminish in this world. Let’s look at a few of the words of both encouragement and truth that the Apostle Paul taught to those who were disciples and living in very difficult circumstances, much as we are beginning to live today. "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20) “But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:7-14 emphasis mine)
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience,” (Colossians 3:1-6 emphasis mine) “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin;” (Romans 6:3-6 emphasis mine)
“that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:22-25 emphasis mine) “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 emphasis mine)
There are many more verses that I encourage you to do a study on. Cross reference each Scripture and really see what God desires, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;” (Ephesians 5:1) What does that look like? God is holy, He is righteous and has called to be “living stones” (1 Peter 2:4-5). Listen to the words written by the Apostle Peter, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." (1 Peter 1:13-16 emphasis mine)
Are you walking in the gifts of wisdom and discernment? We need to be. Remember the warning that the Apostle Peter gave us? “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Are you the one who is his target because you are following false prophets? Jesus spoke many words of warning to us regarding this. "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15) "Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.” (Matthew 24:11) "For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24) “for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect.” (Mark 13:22) Remember, "For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14) What this actually means is that God calls out to each and every one with the same calling, believe in His Son Jesus Christ who gave His life for us that we would have eternal life in the Kingdom of God. However, there will be few who choose to walk in the Words of Scripture which guides us on the path to that destination. There will be few who follow Jesus according to His Truth.
Many, false teachers and prophets, will turn His Words into a social justice and lead many astray. No matter how much we want to use the Scriptures to justify our actions, it will not qualify us for the Kingdom of Heaven. Only through His righteousness and truth can we walk the narrow way. All the "wisdom and knowledge" of those who think they are wise will not draw us near to the Lord. Jesus clearly taught, "...Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3) "but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong," (1 Corinthians 1:27) "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised." (1 Corinthians 2:14) "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, 'He is THE ONE WHO CATCHES THE WISE IN THEIR CRAFTINESS'"; (1 Corinthians 3:18-19)
I encourage you to take this next one into your prayer time. There are so many aspects of this warning that apply to the church today. Unfortunately the false prophets are not lone wolves acting randomly, they are a network, a powerful network that has seduced the masses. They now are also on the offensive proclaiming that to question a teacher is heresy! They are being exposed by righteous believers that God is calling to stand up and warn other believers. They are the watchmen on the wall who are sounding the alarm. Have you heard the trumpet call but have chosen to ignore it? Have you instead made excuses or called those who are speaking the truth “judgemental”? "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.” (Luke 6:26) My dear friends, we will all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Will you be found to be faithful to the Lord?
James, the Apostle and brother of our Lord Jesus Christ simply stated the situation and expectation from a true follower of Christ, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.” (James 1:21 emphasis mine) “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” (2 Timothy 3:16 emphasis mine) All Scripture needs to be taught in its pure context. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings;...” (Hebrews 13:8-9) There is no variation of God’s judgment or justice between the First Covenant and the New Covenant. If you allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in reading the Scriptures you will find that EVERYTHING that Jesus taught was also taught in the Old Testament Scriptures! Jesus Himself told us, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17 emphasis mine) "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:18)
My dear friends, as we close our time together today let us remember the words of Jesus, "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 emphasis mine)
Dear Lord, thank You for Your strong Word to us, words of righteousness and truth. Thank You that you are for us and not against us! You are the Holy One of Israel. You have numbered our days and You alone know the path which we are to take. You have called us to be faithful and true, to be watchmen on the walls, to sound the trumpet when there is danger. Danger surrounds us, the days are getting darker and darker. Evil is running rampant. Unrighteousness has become the new foundation for the masses. We truly are standing on sinking sand! Our hope is found in nothing less than righteousness and holiness! May we repent of our sins and go forth in the armor of Your Word which You have given us. Open the eyes of our hearts to recognize the deceit. I pray that each one reading this will trust You and have no fear as they not only walk away from the wickedness that is being taught in many of the churches today but that they will speak Your truth and expose the evil deeds. May we walk in holiness and be assured that You will know us by our fruits. All this we pray in the blessed name of the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.