The Story, Week 6 “Wanderings”

February 19, 2017

The Story, Week 6 “Wanderings”

Deuteronomy 29:2-30:20

Moe’s Parting Words


Children’s Sermon

How many of you have been on a really long car trip?  Where did you go?  What are some of the things that you had to stop for along the way? (eat, potty, car trouble, sleep)

Did you ever get lost while you were going somewhere?


In Sunday School today you talked about the people of God going somewhere.  Where was that.  Did they go straight there?  What caused their detours?  Were they happy? Did they complain?  How did God take care of them?


I have a little video for us to watch that kind of shows what it was like for Moses trying to lead those people with all their complaints.  (Watch “So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt”)


Introduction:  What would you claim as your worst road trip ever?  Did it involve  your car breaking down, someone getting sick, horrible weather?  Barry and I are planning a cross-country trip for September to attend my cousin, Thom’s wedding in Colorado.  This is our first long road trip, with just the two of us, in 21 years without kids!  We were discussing the other day how it will be different this time.  How I will get to take more turns driving because I won’t have the responsibility of entertaining children.  Anyone know what that’s like on a multi-day trip?  


Moses had similar responsibilities leading Israel through the desert to the Promised Land.    Moses had over 3 million kids on a road trip who were complaining and asking “Are we there yet?” There was fussing, fighting and endless questioning. Sound familiar?


Another thing that can add challenge to a road trip is the dreaded taking a wrong turn and getting off the projected path to the destination. I love a good map and enjoy being the navigator on trips, but I am so thankful that we have GPS today to help us as we travel. 


Complaints and wrong turns make up the bulk of the Israelite’s journey to the Promised Land.  And Moses, assuming the role of parent and guardian - the driver - faces unique challenges. 


Bear in mind that God has made an incredible promise to his people.  The place they will end up inheriting and dwelling in is called “The Land of Milk and Honey”.  That is a great sounding destination!  But getting there was a challenge and due to decisions the people made, they made it even more difficult to get there.


Looking at this story from our perspective it might be easy to judge the Israelites.  But before we go there, let’s ask ourselves this question:  When have I been a rowdy, rebellious child on the road trip of life?  When has God been leading you down the road and you decided you just didn’t want to go that way?  When have you planted your feet and given God a defiant “No! I’m not gonna!”?


Let’s look at what the Children of Israel complained about in Numbers 11-12.  Although these were pretty well summed up in the video we watched with the kids.


I.    Israel’s Three Complaints to Moses. Numbers 11-12


    A.    Israel complains about general hardships of the trip.


    B.    Israel complains about the food (every day it’s “manna”).


    C.    Miriam and Aaron complain about Moses being the driver (leader).

There was a little sibling rivalry going on here.  A little breaking of the 10th commandment regarding coveting.  They had forgotten that Moses was chosen by God to lead the people and God reminded them with a sharp reprimand and a curse of temporary leprosy for Miriam.


And we have to add here that during this time Moses complained too.  He complained about the burden of caring for all of these people.  So God brought others alongside Moses to help him, other men who could hear God and so speak on HIs behalf.


So we conclude the first element of a road trip, we have complaining.  Next let’s look at the element of the wrong turn.  This happens at Kadesh-Barnea which you can find on the map just south of Jerusalem and north of the Red Sea.  You can read about it in Numbers 13-14, but I’ll recap it for you.


II.    Israel Takes a Dangerous Wrong Turn at Kadesh-Barnea: Numbers 13-14


    A.    Twelve spies (a man from each tribe) are sent to surveil the Promised             Land.

        1.    Ten spies report about the abundance of the land and also the

            giants who live there and conclude “We cannot take the land.”

        2.    Two spies report the same thing, but conclude, “Because God is

            with us, we can take the land.”


    B.    After Moses urges the people to trust God and take the land, the people             rebel and refuse to obey.  

As a result of their rebellion, none of the people over the age of 20 will see the Promised Land.  Their children will, but they have disobeyed so often that the final consequence of their sinning is not to receive the prize.  You can read about this in Numbers 14:28-38


        Israel’s lack of trust in and disobedience to God creates a 40 year detour.

        After 40 years of wandering, they end up where they began—at                 Kadesh-Barnea.  Can you imagine a 40 year detour?  Not able to get             where you’re going and not able to return home? 


Well now, time has passed since Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and Moses is drawing near the end of his life.  He has a few things to say as driver of the herd.  Let’s take a closer look at some of his final words.

Deuteronomy 29:2-6


Moses is reminding them that God has been gracious to them for 40 years but all they have been able to see is what they are lacking.  How many detours have we taken financially because we didn’t see what we had and only perceived what we wish we’d had?  How much energy has we expended on getting more when all of our needs have been met in Christ?  How many of us, even now, are forming sentences that begin with “Yeah, but . . . “?  God is always faithful to lead us where he wants us to be, even if they path does not look like we expected.  More than likely, the wrong turns happen when we take the wheel and land ourselves in the detours and ditches along the way.


Deuteronomy 30:11-20

Following God’s map for our lives is not rocket science.  The rules of the road, the map, all that we need has been given to us.  We just need to follow, and for some reason we make that so difficult for ourselves because we want to complicate it with putting our conditions and expectation on it.


Let me read to you the last bit of that again, verses 15-20

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

Those are simple directions!  And yet we, like the Israelites only follow for a little while and then we see a nice colorful billboard along the way and detour right off the way we should be going.


17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

Moses is pretty clear about what God has said regarding disobedience.  There are consequences.  God does not seem to act as severely or communally with the Body of Christ as he did with the nation of Israel.  Thanks be to God for this grace!  But God has said throughout Scripture that if we are really bent on pursuing our sin, he won't keep us from it nor will he shield us from the consequences.  So in each context, sin destroys.  


19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

This is one of Moses’ final pleas for the people to follow God. He says this, “Now choose life!”  What does that mean to you today?

Now choose life, 

  • so that you and your children may live 
  • and that you may love the Lord your God, 
  • listen to his voice, 
  • and hold fast to him. 
  • For the Lord is your life


I think that one of our greatest detours is forgetting this fact: “The Lord is my life”.  If you had a t-shirt made up yours might say something else.  “Soccer is my life”, “My family is my life”, “My kids are my life”, “My work is my life”.  All of those are blessings, but if they are your life, you are on a detour taking you away from your true destination.   So what course adjustments do you need to make?  Do you need to become better acquainted with the map?  Do you really have a good grasp on where you are going?

How is your road trip going?  Are you going along with where God wants to take you?


Think on your answers and talk them over with God before we join together in prayer.


Help us, Lord, to choose life.