God’s Boot Camp (Part One)
In Genesis we find God promised Abraham to give his descendants a land where they could live as free men and He would bless them and provide for them as long as they would stay committed to Him. God planned for Abraham’s descendants to be His light in the world to the people who lived around them, but first He had to get them out of Egypt before He could get them into their Promised Land where they would become the Light of God in this World. And in Exodus God institutes His three stage plan and called an Israelite named Moses, an eighty year old sheepherder who had lived on the back side of the desert for forty years to assist Him. In the first stage of God’s plan He would deliver the Israelite’s out of Egypt. In stage two; He would teach the Israelite’s how to trust and obey Him. And in stage three; He would lead them into the land He had promised to Abraham.
If we pay close attention to the story of the Israelite’s in their Exodus from Egypt, the modern day church could learn a thing or two about how God works in the life of His people, but the modern day church has never picked up on the importance of God’s plan for the Israelite’s. God’s plan was really pretty simple. We know in order for a person to get from where they are to where they want to go, there is a lot of ground in between that has to be covered. If we understand this simple principle, we will find this to be true in our own salvation experience. For God to save us and get us into heaven, there is a lot of life to be lived in between those two events. Here’s the kicker: It is the time between these two events that God has chosen to teach us how to trust Him and to live a life of obedience to Him just as He used the hot, dry, snake and scorpion infested desert that lay between the Red Sea and the Israelite’s Promised Land to teach the Israelite’s how to trust and obey Him.
We begin today’s message with the Israelite’s standing on the shores of the Red Sea. God had just delivered them from the power of the Pharaoh of Egypt and destroyed the Egyptian army in the Red Sea. The water that meant salvation for the Israelite’s spelled doom for the Egyptian Army. So what God uses to save His people spells disaster for their enemies. For example; we enter the kingdom of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The blood that allows us entrance into God’s kingdom… breaks the power or destroys the power of Satan should he try to cross that blood line.
The destination of the Israelite’s was the land of Canaan, the land God called the Israelite’s Promise Land, the land that flowed with milk and honey, but before the Israelite’s would come to the Jordan River that bordered their promise land; they would have to cross a giant wilderness filled with poisonous snakes, scorpions, nomads, no food and no water. Do you understand? God chose this place to train His children in right living. He did not train them in Egypt where they had been slaves, nor were they trained in the Promise Land which was to be their reward; they received their training in the land between the two that God Himself chose. Did you hear me? God does not train us in the land He delivered us from. That was our past life and it needs to stay in the past. Heaven is our reward for trusting God to supply all of our needs here on the earth and for being obedient to Him. Our training takes place during our lifetime here on the earth where we are pursued by the one we were delivered from and the attackers we must defeat to inherit our Promise Land. God chose the land between the two to turn these former Israelite slaves into a fighting force worthy of bearing His name. The land between their deliverance and their reward is where they would learn to trust and obey Him. Have you ever been in a place like this? If you say you haven’t; you need to ask God to save you because you are either in the desert of life where you learn to trust God or you are living in the promises of God. The Israelite’s were trapped in this hell hole, but according to Deuteronomy chapter 8 and verse 16 this is the exact spot God wanted them… because God wanted to see what was in the heart of His people so He could do them good in the end. God is our Father, just as He was the Father of the Israelite’s, and it is our Father who defines the difficulties of our test and chooses the place where His children are tested and tried until we are found faithful; it isn’t the devil as many would have you believe. What father turns his children over to his enemy to be trained? None! It is our Father who trains us in this manner and He does so to prepare us for the battles ahead and for no other reason.
The Israelite’s had been slaves in Egypt for so long they knew absolutely nothing about individual freedoms or how to work as a single unit, or to fight a war; much less believe God for a land where they would rule and reign in life as free men; where they would only be responsible to Him instead of a harsh Egyptian slave-master. They had to be trained how to think as a unit instead of individuals and that’s why the land between the Red Sea and the Jordan River became the Israelite’s proving ground. This was God’s boot camp, and their training proved to be no easy experience for Moses the camp commander; because the Israelite’s he was leading were a bunch of stiff-neck people who wanted to do things their way even though they didn’t have a clue as to why they were where they were, or what lay ahead of them; or why God wanted them in the Promise Land.
No sooner had God’s people left the Red Sea behind and they began to complain about the harshness of the land, the lack of food and water, who their leaders were, and God’s Laws. Some of them even wanted to return to Egypt because they were still slaves in their heart, but God had made sure that didn’t happen by destroying the Egyptians. In other words, He burned the bridge between their present freedom and their past life of slavery. They were His people now; they didn’t belong to Pharaoh anymore. And if they were going to inherit Abraham’s blessings, they would have to learn to shape up or die in that dry, desolate desert. The same hold true for the church today. We can shape up and follow God’s plan to become what He has called us to be, or we can refuse to move forward, and die right where we are in the desert wasteland of life. The sad truth is, most Christians today, just like the Israelite’s of that time, are no closer to the promise land than they were the day God delivered them from the power of Satan. DThrash
Be sure to read the conclusion to this message in Part Two of “God’s Boot Camp”.