Introduction Jabulani Dube
Last Sunday we prayed for rain in Romania and Germany. God heard our cry, stood up from His throne and listened to our need. After we had knelt and prayed, we heard that they had received rain. It is important to thank God for answering our prayers. When Jesus healed the lepers ten were healed but only one returned to thank Him. You can kneel with us in thankfulness to the Lord for the rain.
Another thing we ask the brethren to pray for, is that our government should allow the gospel to be preached in liberty in our country. We do not have liberty if we can only meet at funerals. Ask the Lord to make it possible for us to soon gather again. God should be given priority.
Albu van Eeden
We thank the Lord for this wonderful opportunity. The fellowship of the believers is so sweet, even if we pray over a distance.
Exodus 16:1-3, 7
16 They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” 8 And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”
Why was the sin of Israel so great in the eyes of God? They forgot how this journey from Egypt to Canaan fitted into God’s glorious plan for the nation. They had been promised through Abraham 400 years before that the day would come when they would be freed from their captivity. They had been hoping for 400 years for their deliverance from Egypt to Canaan, but in this text, they are caught up in their own personal needs. They get upset and grumble against God. They should have been blessed every step of the way to Canaan. They should have woken with a song in their hearts that they were, at last, free. At the end of every day they should have knelt and thanked God that they were a little closer to the Promised Land and to that which He had in store for them. They lost the perspective of how this journey fitted into the greater plan of the Almighty God for His nation. Their own needs were important – they wanted bread – not meat and they became upset. It is no wonder that in the end, God said that not one of them would cross into the Promised Land.
I have been thinking about this time which we are experiencing at present – where it fits into God’s greater plan? We are unable to meet and are dependent on the internet. What will happen if we no longer have internet. We are vulnerable. It is so easy to lose contact and fellowship with each other. We do not know how this time fits into God’s greater plan for the world. Friends, it is still day, but the Bible tells us that the night is coming. A well-known hymn says:
Work, for the night is coming,
Work thru the morning hours;
Work while the dew is sparkling,
Work ‘mid springing flow’rs.
Work when the day grows brighter,
Work in the glowing sun;
Work for the night is coming,
When Man’s work is done.
Work, for the night is coming,
Work thru the sunny noon;
Fill brightest hours with labour –
Rest comes sure and soon.
Give ev’ry flying minute
Something to keep in store;
Work, for the night is coming,
When man works no more.
Work, for the night is coming,
Under the sunset skies;
While their bright tints are glowing,
Work for the daylight flies.
Work till the last beam fadeth,
Fadeth to shine no more;
Work, while the night is dark’ning
When man’s work is o’er.
Mrs Harry Coghill
What are we busy with? Have we used every moment we have, to work and spread the gospel of Christ? The Son of God came into the world to save men from their sin. He came to grant forgiveness because He paid the price for their sins. Have we been busy with all kind of theories – conspiracy theories – on the Internet? “This is how we’ve come to where we are. Things are manipulated etc.” Have you forgotten to spread the gospel of Christ every minute of every day while you have breath in your body, because you do not know how long you will have it?
Friends, we do not know where this time fits in God’s greater calendar. We do not know what is waiting for us. Allow me to use an example from China, a country that has been very much in the news Here is an example from China: China Aid states in their publication that 2019 was the year of the worst persecution ever in China since the years of Mao Zedong. Pastor Wang Yi, the pastor of the most famous house church in China, was arrested and has been imprisoned for more than a year now. His lawyer was not allowed to defend him during his hearing. What was his sin? He was a Christian pastor, leader of the largest house church in China. He was stripped of his political right to vote and all such rights for four years. 7000 dollars of his personal possessions were confiscated. More than 100 of his church members were arrested with him. They were interrogated by the government and tortured. He lost his freedom and today we do not know what has happened to him. The Chinese government has now demanded that every church be registered. Once registered, services have to begin with patriotic songs praising the Communist Party and the motherland. They must bow to giant portraits of the president. Many Christians have been so offended that they have stopped attending church and serve God at home. In 2018 more than 10 000 Protestant churches in China were forced to close. Church properties were looted. Dozens of leaders were arrested. One church in Beijing rejected the government’s demands. The government demanded that cameras be placed in the churches in order to take pictures of each person, in order that they can be recognised wherever they move in China. We do not know, friends, what may be waiting for us. This is what is happening in China – what will happen in the world?
The president of Tanzania, President Magufuli, cancelled a $10 billion loan from China. His predecessor signed a contract with China: 10 billion dollars in exchange for one harbour in Tanzania for the next 99 years. A 99-year lease! The president, Magufuli, said that only a crazy person would sign such a contract where a harbour of one’s country is contracted to a foreign country to use for 99 years. He said that enough was enough and he cancelled the loan. I honour that man. He said that we cannot allow that part of our country be signed away.
What was the basic mistake that Israel made? Instead of sensing the time, they were busy with their own little things. Do you understand this, friends, when the devil tempts you to keep you busy with all kinds of dirt on the internet? Instead of working while it is day, the devil is pushing his filth down your throat. You are making the same mistake that these people made. You are busy with your own little things that make you happy. Chasing money in order to get rich, but this is not the time to be chasing money. You should realise that God is doing something with the world, and you must be part of His great plan. It is still day, but the night is coming. When you die and enter eternity this will be the worst curse for you in hell – the realisation that God wanted to use you to spread the gospel in your family, your town and community but you were busy with your own things.
Satan managed to get them into a state where they felt hopeless and thought that they were going to die. Their main problem was unbelief. They could not believe that God would take them to Canaan. If they really believed, these things would not have been such a problem. They began to doubt whether God was able to get them into Canaan one day. They doubted whether God would provide for them on the way there. What fed their unbelief? The difficulties they experienced in the desert. Has the devil managed to plant the seed of unbelief in your heart? You cannot believe that God will get you there. Heaven seems so far away. Purity seems so impossible. Wherever you look, wherever you go – there is sin.
Another cause of their problem was that they had forgotten that they were on the way to the Promised Land. They were pilgrims. Christian, do you realise that you are a pilgrim? This is not your home. Your comfort here on earth is not the most important thing. To satisfy your desires is not the most important thing. This is not where you belong. You are aiming to reach heaven just as Israel was travelling through the desert to reach Canaan. I am surprised at the number of Christians who have lost this perspective. They do not realise that they are pilgrims. If you want to find the real heroes, the real soldiers, go to those who are pilgrims. This is where you will find the brave ones of the Christian church. They realise that they are on the way, they are just pilgrims through this world. Spend time with them, not with those who have made this world their home. Such a person does not change from day to day. They are the same everyday – whether there is a cold wind blowing or whether it is raining. They are on the way to heaven. Friend, do not take your eyes off that. If you take your eyes off that you will fall into sin and do the wrong things. A true pilgrim is always in one place – on the road. Whenever you speak to them, they are on the road. They are unattached to this world. They are moving to the heavenly Jerusalem. This is his vow – the promise he made to God – that he will be a pilgrim for the rest of his life. Have you kept that promise or have you allowed what happened to the Israelites to happen to you? Everyone around them grumbled, so they also did. Everyone around them exposed their bodies and walked around half-naked, so they also did. A true pilgrim will not be discouraged. One of the main reasons people leave the road is because they become discouraged. Things become too difficult, too impossible; everything goes wrong. Remember what the Lord Jesus said in the parable, about the seed that was sown amongst the thorns. When he explained the parable he said that the thorns were the temptations and cares, the worries and troubles of this world. Do you realise how often we make that mistake? It was not the attraction of the pleasures of Egypt that made them want to return there. They wanted to return because of the difficulties they experienced in the desert. You would be surprised at the large number of people who go back into the world, not because the world is so attractive, but because they have experienced difficulties in their walk on the narrow road. A well-known Bible commentator said: prepare yourself that there will be challenges in the walk of faith and in the life of faith, that may be so difficult and testing, that one may consider rather going back to the old life in sin than carry on with the new life in faith.
What we did before this morning’s service, blessed me. We were experiencing difficulties, some of our brethren were experiencing drought. We could have returned to Egypt, but how encouraging that we can stand together and pray together and ask the Lord to help us. You will be surprised how many leave the walk of faith because it is hard and difficult. Paul says an amazing thing about such a person in Hebrews 10:38 …but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. My righteous one will live by faith. Do not think that you can live with sin in your life and live by faith. The righteous will live by faith. Are there sins in your life which you have not dealt with, that you have not received prayer for, that you have not sorted out and contacted the person with whom you sinned and made right? This verse is not for you. It is for the person who was not born righteous, but came with all his sins to Christ and was justified and forgiven. …and if he shrinks back my soul has no pleasure in him. “Paul, how can you say that? You have no love, no sympathy. Don’t you realise the difficulties, the hell so-and-so has gone through with his family? Paul, you have no love!” Do you know why Paul is so firm in this? He wants to shut that door that no one even considers shrinking back. Paul does not say if he turns back, he said … if he shrinks back… if he takes a step back, if he is afraid of going forward, Paul said, “My brother, sister, my soul has no pleasure in you doing this. Stop shrinking back! Stop doing this!” It is just like suicide. People say that you must have sympathy because you do not know what that person has been through. Suicide should be a closed door. It should not be an option to anyone. It is not because you feel no sympathy for them and what they have been through but because it is an evil sin before God. Make everyone realise that suicide is out, it is evil.
39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:39 This is what a pilgrim is like. He does not shrink back. He has set his faith on eternity and the heavenly Jerusalem. People may try and convince you to lose hope, but they will confuse themselves, not the true pilgrim. On the contrary, that pilgrim gains more strength. He will not fear lions. He will fight with the giants. He is bold and brave. He is a true pilgrim. Let the devil send his dirty demons to try and discourage the pilgrim but there is no demon in hell that will frighten him because he has committed himself to go forward. His goal is to reach Jerusalem. His aim is to spread the gospel with everyone he meets. How many opportunities have you had to spread the gospel to your neighbours? Have you used every opportunity? The true pilgrim will live, eat, dream about this goal – the heavenly city! Oh, for dreams of the heavenly city which will encourage us, instead of that which are we busy with? The devil terrifies us at night, and we wake up in fear.
All the little niceties of life and pleasure will fly away because you are on the way to the heavenly city. Girls can chase after young men; young men can chase after girls but those things fly away because your goal is Jerusalem. You will not be afraid of what man says. One of the strongest forces which drag people into sin is the opinion of people – which is important to them. I want to stand with God’s children, with our brother who prayed before we started and ignore what people say and not allow this to take us off the road. Keep your gaze heavenward. A pilgrim will labour night and day as he walks the narrow way.
If your children wake you up in the middle of the night after an exhausting, hard day and you respond to them, are you on the way? Do they find you on the way? If you are sick, are you found on the way? We dare not leave the way because broad is the way that goes to hell and narrow the way that goes to life. When you return home after a hard day’s work does your family find you on the way? When you are expected to make sacrifice after sacrifice, are you found on the way? To remain on this way continuously demands a broken heart. This is what went wrong with Israel. They lost their humility. Listen to how cheeky and rebellious they became: 3 “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. Exodus 16:3 In other words they wanted a quick death. They accused God and said He should have rather killed them in Egypt, implying that the Lord was killing them in the desert but if only He had done so in Egypt. Their arrogance and cheekiness came to the fore. May God be merciful to us.
14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?”[a] For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. Exodus 16:14,15
God will provide for His children but do not be surprised if the bread is not what you expected it to be and you do not see it as bread. Moses had to tell the Israelites that it was the bread that God provided. Moses told them how to collect it.
19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” Hebrews 16:19
Here is the secret. You and I must live in communion with God day by day. He will give us enough bread for today. Do worry about where you will get your bread from tomorrow and the next day. Do not think that you can spend time with God’s word once a week and that is enough. God provided but not in a way they expected. He provided daily. These verses give me comfort and peace. Although they murmured, God provided. God is faithful.
Let us keep our eyes on where we are going. Let us not get used to this world. Do not make this world your home. Remain a pilgrim day and night. May God find us all on the way and should we experience difficulties, let us stand together and pray together. Let us pray for one another and stay on the road, lest we lose courage and go backwards.