INTRO: I can remember how a group of work buddies constantly harassed me to go camping with them over the weekend, to which I would often reply – I’m never going camping. That also changed. Shortly after I proposed to Alicia and picked who my best man was going to be, he asked me what would I like to do for the bachelor party. We were sort of having a hard time coming up with something to do. Finally I said, we should do something that I’ve never done before. We should go camping I said. So we did.
Something that I discovered while camping was how easy it is to get into a routine and become comfortable with your surroundings. I also discovered how wonderful a shower could be once I got back home. As each day went by it became harder and harder for me to leave, but I knew in the back of my mind that the time was coming when we would have to break camp.
Today, I want to talk to you about Breaking Camp with God. As we go through this message I would like you to think about a place in your life that God has been leading you to. Be specific. Think about how you have gotten comfortable in your current situation and how that has hindered you from possessing what God has for you.
PT #1-(Read Deut. 1:1-5)
If you have your Bibles turn to Deuteronomy chapter 1, we will read from verse 1-5. Deuteronomy opens with a reflection on a very important time in Israel’s history. The author introduces the main focus of this “second law” by telling a new group of Israelites about what their parents (the Israelites who died in the wilderness) suffered in the wilderness. We know from the opening that they are somewhere around the Jordan Valley, actually on the east side of the Jordan the Bible tells us; the wilderness is behind them and the Promised Land is ahead of them (Varughese 124).
As the Old Israelites left Egypt en route to their destination they were held up at Horeb (Mt. Sinai). If you remember, Mt. Sinai is the place where Moses had his burning bush experience. It is also where he received the Ten Commandments. When Old Israel left Egypt they arrived at Mt. Sinai in the third month of the year according to Exodus 3:1-3, 12. Usually it only took around eleven days to get from Mt. Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, but it took them nearly forty years. It is in this fortieth year that Moses is speaking to New Israel about what happened to their parents almost 38-39 years earlier. The Israelites ended up spending nearly an entire year at Mt. Sinai and this is the point of reflection. Moses is telling the new generation of Israelites of what took place at this point in their history.
Before we go on, let me bring you up to speed on the significance of Kadesh-barnea. Kadesh-barnea (the entry point to the Promised Land) is the place where the old generation of Israelites rebelled against God. Numbers chapter 13 and 14 tells the story of the twelve spies who were sent to Canaan to spy out the land that God would give them. They saw that the land was good, but they also saw that the inhabitants of the land were mighty and they viewed themselves as grasshoppers in comparison. In chapter 14 we see that Israel’s poor self-image causes them to resist the instruction of God. They “murmured against Moses and Aaron” saying that they wished God had let them die in Egypt or in the wilderness and not by the sword of these people. Joshua and Caleb, the only two of the old generation to enter the Promised Land, tried to comfort the Israelites but verse ten says that the Israelites picked up stones to stone them. The rebellion of Israel was great. Because of their rebellion; their murmuring, complaining and refusal to enter the land God promised them, God further promised that for each day that the spies went out to spy the land the Israelites would spend one year in the wilderness. That’s how we get the 40 years that Israel spent in the wilderness, one year for each day. Adam Clarke says that “The Israelites where eleven days in going from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea, where they were near the verge of the Promised Land…not being permitted, because of their rebellions, to enter into the promised rest, though they were the whole of that time within a few miles of the land of Canaan.” This all happened at Kadesh-barnea.
The author of Hebrews encourages us with these words, “Harden not your hearts as in the provocation in the day of temptation in the wilderness” (Heb. 3:8). Don’t resist the guidance and instruction of God like those Israelites who spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness. God was not pleased with them and He will not be pleased with us! Now, here is the commandment that God gave to the Childern of Israel (CoI).
PT #2-(Read Deut. 1:6-8)
Now, starting at verse 6, Moses tells this new group of Israelites what God commanded their parents to do 38-39 years earlier. Almost one year after arriving at Mt. Sinai God told the Israelites “you have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on” (Deut. 1:6-7, NLT). This is going to be the focus of our message tonight. As we get ourselves ready for Year 2010, some of us are going to have to “break camp” and move from whatever mountains we have been camped at in 2009. If we are going to possess what God has promised us we are going to have to step away from where we are and take our walk with God in the coming year. We have been at theses mountains long enough!
So, God’s instruction to Israel is to pack it up and leave the mountain that they have camped at for the last year. Leave the mountain He says and go to the land that I have promised to your fathers before you. Now, He doesn’t just want them to go and look at the land, He says go in and “possess it”, “occupy it” one translation says. The command to take the land that God had promised them was “irrevocable,” according to Earl Kalland, “but the fulfillment in time and personnel was contingent on the people’s obedience….” The longer it took them to agree with God and do things His way, the longer they would spend wandering in the wilderness. God wants them to leave their place of comfort and normalcy and go to a place that will change their personal perspectives, the way they see themselves and the way they see God. It’s going to be a new year for Israel!
The Apostle Paul tells us that Israel had it good considering they were in the wilderness for so long. Turn to 1 Corinthians 10:1-11. In verses 1-4 Paul says that every one of the Israelites were well taken care of while they were in the wilderness. They were all under the same cloud of protection from God. They all passed through the Red Sea supernaturally. They were all fed by God supernaturally and they all had their thirst quenched by God Himself. Even still, God was not pleased with many of them and they ending up dying in the wilderness – for our examples; to help us understand, to some degree, the futility of resisting God! To help us understand the destruction of self-reliance and the foolishness of disobedience and rebellion against God.
Many of us have experienced the supernatural power and ability of God to change a life; a situation or a habit, some of us for the first time and some for another time. Don’t take what God has given, what God has done in your life and trample on it. We have not arrived! There is still a journey ahead of us and we must break camp and leave the mountains of this year! Over the past year God has been calling us to go in and possess what He has promised to us, but because of our rebellion and refusal to obey some of us have been camped out at the mountain of our situations wandering in the wilderness of our jobs, our finances and our relationships, wondering about our destination – where I am headed? What is God’s will for my life? Until we can agree to follow God’s lead; unless we can trust God with our lives and obey Him we will continue to wander in the wilderness. The message today is that “you have stayed at this mountain long enough. It is time to break camp and move on.” It is time to break camp and leave these mountains of complacency. It is time to take our journey with God and possess what He has promised us!
Let me close by asking this question; are you ready to follow God to your destination? Are you ready to leave your mountain and take your journey with God? If not, then whatever you experienced and received in the past, you can expect more of the same in the future. You have been at this mountain long enough, it is time to break camp and move!