Dr. Ed Young - Mountain of Unfulfillment
Most of us have bucket lists, maybe not consciously written down, but subconsciously. You know, "I'd like to go there. I'd like to have that experience". And we have all these things that we dream about that we plan to do, or want to see take place in our life, bucket lists. In 1926, a most unusual auction took place in Washington, D.C. The patent office, the U.S. patent office, took over 150,000 patents, workable models of things people had invented, and they were auctioning them off.
In those days, if you gonna get a patent, you have to have an example, an illustration of that which you want to patent, and they accumulated so many of them, they had to sell them. It was quite an auction. I mean, a lot of people came, 150,000 different workable things. They had a cat that would be illuminated, would blink on and off, it would drive all the rats away. They had an automatic bedbug pincher. They had an apparatus there, you could put on your head with a little microphone type thing, and when you would snore, you'd wake yourself up. They had in there an adjustable pulpit. In those days the pastor would actually stand in the pulpit. You could adjust it for tall and short pastors. And the auctioneer said once a pastor was speaking on, "Where will you spend eternity"?
And he hit the wrong button and down he went. And so it was quite an auction. A lot of laughs, a lot of humor, people buying things, bidding on things. But one man was there, and he looked at all those different items and he wrote a book entitled, "Shattered Dreams Of A Century". Shattered dreams of century because he saw behind every little workable model, somebody who had been creative enough, and adventurism enough, and gave enough time to put that together, thinking that, "This would be my road to becoming a millionaire. This would be my road to fame, this particular thing would make a tremendous difference, and be, really, a popular thing on the market". "Shattered Dreams Of A Century". A bucket list, things we want to do, things we want to accomplish.
And I thought about that and I thought about our guy Moses. Now, if you name the three most important people in the Bible, of course, excluding the Son of God, it would probably be Abraham, Moses, and Paul. Now, you can debate that, honestly so, but that's the general feeling. Those are the big three. And so, it was Moses who had the dream, and God prepared him and built in him, "The purpose of your life is to take all these Jews out of slavery, they've been in Egypt for hundreds of years, and bring them into the Promised Land that God sent a deed to them to own and possess, the land flowing with milk and honey". That was his life purpose. And I've called Moses the 40/40/40 guy, 40 years.
You know the story if you've ever been to a Bible study class. First born, the Jewish males were being killed. They were thrown in the Nile, and Miriam, Moses's sister, took him and put him in a little cradle, a little ark, and float him down the Nile River. And the daughter of Pharaoh, who perhaps wanted children, couldn't have them, saw the little Jewish baby and took the baby out of the river and brought Moses up as her own son. Therefore, he was brought up as a prince of Egypt, a prince of Egypt. So, the first 40 years of his life, he got the best education anybody could have. He was trained in military understanding of the world. He had a fabulous...he was a somebody for 40 years.
Now, the second 40 years of his life, he was a nobody. You remember what happened. He watched his own people. He knew he had Jewish lineage. He watched an Egyptian exporting a Hebrew, and he interceded and killed the Egyptian, and he buried him in the sand, thought he'd got away with it, he buried him. But Young's translation says the wind was blowing, and the dead Egyptian's toes stuck up. So, they caught him and he became a fugitive so he could live. Now you see, he left Egypt and went out into Midian. And to get to Midian, by the way, you've got to go through Sinai. It adjoins Sinai there, and he's at the backside of nowhere.
Now he has 40 years. He's a nobody. He's a shepherd, sheep, goats, unknown, working in this desert wilderness type land, 40 years a nobody; 40 years a somebody, 40 years a nobody. And then you know about the burning bush. Man, God spoke to him through that burning bush and says, "Moses, I want you to go back to Egypt and lead my people into freedom and into the Promised Land". And M-M-M-Moses s-s-s-said, "I-I-I-I can't-can't-can't do it 'cause-'cause I-I can't... I stu-stu-stu-stu", said, "I stutter," remember? And God says, "I'm gonna work through that handicap. You got your brother Aaron, he'll take care of the big speeches. You're God's man to go back and lead your people who are slaves into freedom".
So, you know the story, the staff, the miracles, and he struck the sea and the people went over into the wilderness prepared, got the commandments, went over there and they were supposed to go in the land, but their lack of faith... They had the fact that God had given the land, they didn't have enough faith to follow through on the facts; so therefore, they never, at that moment, had the wonderful feeling of being in the will and the purpose of God. And so, Moses, for 40 years, lead over a million people in one of the toughest terrains you could ever imagine. I've been there. I mean, there are just miles of rock and nothingness, freezing at night, burning up during the day.
God used Moses, a wonderful, wonderful story, until finally, after a whole generation had died, generation who did not believe, who did not follow. There's a new generation, and Moses is ready to lead them across Jordan to have and claim the promise of God. Said, "Climb Mount Nebo," and boy, he climbed up that mountain, and perhaps he went to Pisgah, the highest peak. And what could he see there? Well, he could see the Dead Sea was right there. Jericho, it was right there. He could, perhaps on a clear day, see the Mediterranean. Perhaps he could even see the temple. He could maybe see the Sea of Galilee, Lake Hula, he could certainly see Mount Hermon. What a view. And what God was saying, "Moses, this is the land you're claiming it, you can see it". But he said, "P.S. Moses, you'll never enter that land. Climb Mount Nebo and die".
Phew, man, that was his life purpose. Man, that's what he was all about. He got on Nebo and, "You can't go in Moses, you can't go in". Ladies and gentlemen, Mount Nebos are a universal experience for all of us. It starts early in life. We have a dream, a desire, an expectation, and it simply doesn't work out. What happened? How did we lose that? How did we get in that mess? Well, I remember the first girl I ever kissed. Her name was Judy White and it was love at first sight. I was 15, slow developer. And it was wonderful. This is the girl I'll marry. She has everything. And oh, it was so great for a few months there. And I remember the day she said, "You know, I don't like you anymore. I like Kerry Howenstein". And I said, "All right," you know, I didn't debate, I didn't make a scene. I just turned and walked out of her house. She went back inside.
And I remember to this day, the steps, her little porch steps going down. It was about one more step in these steps, and I stood there and I said, "I'm gonna jump down and when I hit the ground, there's no more Judy in my life". And I got up and I jumped, and bam, didn't get hurt. Hit the ground and walked off. And, you know, I just jumped off Nebo. I didn't, you know, that was not the one for me. I didn't date for over two years, two-and-a-half years. Didn't care, I just wiped that girl right out of my hair. Anyway, but we, you know, we have disappointments, those first love, right? I mean, if nobody else is ever gonna be like this first love. And then this go up a little long. I go through my whole life and point out a lot of Nebos when the the dream didn't meet the reality.
I was a senior in high school, we had a average basketball team. We were playing in the state championship, the big A tournament. We led the defending state champions the whole game, the whole game. We got to the end, and they went one point ahead with about five or six seconds. And somehow, I got the ball in the corner, and so I did my little jab step, and I drove the baseline, and there's the basket. And you have a choice, you could either go through and hook back, or stop and jump back and make a little semi-layup. And boy, I'd stop and jump back and, boy, the ball was spinning on the rim. If it goes in, we win. And it spins out. Man, my team, my coach, the school, everybody, whoo, Mount Nebo. I mean, I didn't get to do it up there.
Mount Nebo, we've had those experiences. A dream, an idea, I'd worked so hard at basketball. I'd practiced. I had dribbled. I had everything, but athleticism. You might need that in sports. And so, this is what happens. All of us can tell these stories, unfulfilled dreams, ideas, expectations, where we thought we'd be in our vocation, where we thought we'd be in our marriage. And so many marriages today end in suicide. Have you noticed that? The marriage is a suicide when there's a divorce, and it happens because we make bad choices. I know that personally in my close family. And so, my bottom line is what we thought, what we envision. "Boy, by now in my profession, I should be here or over there. I should have that or I thought this would fulfill my dreams".
And we have all these expectations that may be fine and noble and beautiful, but somehow it doesn't all work out. Or sometimes we read those pinnacles we've been climbing a long time. When we get up there, it doesn't give us that, phew, wonderful feeling that, boy, I've really arrived. We seem never to arrive in this life, have you noticed that? We get on Mount Nebo, and the dream and the reality, different. Moses, of all people, that was his whole life, the 40/40/40 man.
God had prepared him to take those people out of slavery, but in the process, you know what he discovered, ladies and gentlemen? It's easy to take people out of slavery than to get slavery out of people. You get that slave mentality, someone who's been in prison, and all of a sudden there's the activity of prison, and someone can get out of prison, but still there is that, that weight, that habit. I can take any man here, and we could go to happy hour in a bar for three months. Three months, maybe we drink, maybe we don't drink, just be in the atmosphere, and then we come out, and after three months, you'll be amazed how our thinking, how our reaction, and what will be going on in your life and in my life.
You see, you can take somebody out of slavery, but it's hard to get the slavery out of that person. And here, these Jews had been taken out of slavery in Egypt, but now they were acting like slaves. But Moses was prepared, not only to lead them into freedom, but to take them in the Promised Land. What preparation, he was a man of prayer. I want you to see how he prayed. Man, if you have your Bibles, you can open there with me. It's just a beautiful, beautiful passage of prayer that he says.
In Exodus chapter number 33, "Then Moses said to the Lord, 'See, You say to me, "Bring up this people". But You have not let me know whom You will send with me.'" This is Moses praying. "Moreover, he said, I have known you by name, and have also found favor in your sight". Here's his prayer, "Now, therefore," Moses, praying, "I pray you, O Lord, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways". He's saying, "If you know what you want me to do, I'll obey you". And then he says, "And then I know you". We obey the Lord, then we know him, and then he knows us. "And then I might find favor in your sight". He's praying, he said, "Lord, I want to obey you, just tell me what I have to do, what I have to stop doing. And Lord, then I know when I obey you, I know you, and then I know I'll be on your team. I'll find favor in your sight, you'll give me your uniform, and man, I'll put the..."
You see, this was God preparing Moses a long, long time before he gets there into the wilderness with all these people. A million people he's trying to lead in the Promised Land. And then also we know, Moses was called a servant leader for the first time. You are a servant of the Lord. This first time, I think, in the Bible this phrase was used. What does it mean to be a servant of the Lord? I want you to look on your screen. His will, not our rights. His pleasure, not opposition. His glory, not our success. Some people say, "Well, up there at the Second Family, y'all have done this, y'all do that, you're running that thing like a corporation". Nonsense, this is the way we seek to operate, his will, not our right, his pleasure, not our position, his glory, and not what we decide.
You see, that's how the body of Christ works, ladies and gentlemen. Any other... so this is what Moses had, prayer, servant leader, and also how he was prepared. Who wrote the Pentateuch? What's the Pentateuch? Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Moses wrote it. How many people use this, 1,000 years ago, had the ability to write like this, inspired Word of God to be sure, but there was Moses prepared in the best educational system in the world when he was somebody in Pharaoh's palace. And now he is writing and recording all of this.
You see, that was preparation for writing the Word of God. And then what about the years when he was a nobody, way back up there in Midian? He was learning how to find bread and food and nourishment for flocks and flocks of animals and therefore, he had people in there. He had a preparation of living in that land, God, getting him ready to be his leader to lead these people out of slavery, and see, all of us in place. All of it was in place. He was prepared, but Moses, Moses did not go in the land of promise, why? I should read it, but I'm gonna tell you what happened. The people got in a situation in the wilderness when they were thirsty and hungry, and they started to complain. The Jews were a proud and stiff-necked people, Moses said in the book, and they complained, "We're thirsty, there's no pomegranates here. There's no grapes here. We're brought here to die". And they kept saying, "We want to go back to Egypt. It was better being a slave and dying and starving to death here in the wilderness with you".
You see how quickly they forget, how quickly we forget? And then God gave Moses specific instruction, and it's interesting that Moses fell on his face in the house of meeting and prayed for guidance from God that he would deliver them and then he goes right out and look what he does. Look what he does. This happened to us: well, I just what I just went to church this morning, and God spoke to me, and I was singing, now I'm crying, and look what I've done. How in the world can that happen? In the same person, your life and in my life. My word, my goodness, I was at church. I was with God, and he touched... see Moses felt his face and then God gave him very specific instructions. They exactly what God said? God said, "Moses, go and speak to the rock and water will come out, and all the people will drink".
Moses went out there and he complained. He said, "You are a bunch of bellyaching, rebellious, ungrateful, sorry, scum of people. You don't realize what's happened here". And he went out and he struck the rock twice, bang, bang. Water came out, and he did what a lot of us do: the right thing the wrong way. I don't want a show of hands. The right thing, the wrong way. And therefore, now he's on Mount Nebo. And God had already told him twice before, he tells him again, "You can't go in the Promised Land". Moses must have said, "This is the whole purpose of my life. I am prepared. I have prayed these 40/40 segments. I am ready to be a leader here at this time". He said, "No, you can't go in because," and he gives some reasons.
One reason we see was because his anger, right? He got angry, he killed the Egyptian. He got angry at the people. He was expressing anger when he struck that rock twice with that staff that God had told him to strike the lake, the river with when they crossed in the ocean, and now he struck it twice with the same staff. And the word "strike" there is the same word in Hebrew when he had anger, struck the Egyptian and killed him. What did God say? "Speak". What'd he do? He struck the rock. He was disobedient. And also we see he was arrogant because you read in the Bible closely, I'll not read it to you, he says to the people, "How long will we have to provide water and food? How long will we do this"? Who provided the water? God.
You see, Moses had a chance. Boy, what a moment to really lead the people to worship and to recognize of the very holiness of the Almighty. But Moses, in his arrogance, he says, "We provided the water for you. How long will you complain when we"? And God says, "I'm not gonna let you fulfill those dreams of your life, the dream of your life, because of your arrogance, because you did not teach the people my holiness". Let me tell you something, folks. When we take the name of the Lord in vain, when I hear our so-called elected political leaders and others in public forum take the Lord's name in vain, I'm telling you that has deadly seriousness to it, deadly seriousness to it. And we take, "Oh, Jesus Christ," and use that as a expression of profanity.
Listen, when you and I lose the fear of God, when you and I are no longer reverence the Lord God Almighty, don't expect any dreams, any expectation to take place. He just moves away from us, and we're thrown to the wind like anyone else who is capricious away from the Lord. "You can't do it, Moses, you can't go in. You had a chance to say, God has brought us to water, a moment of wholeness to bring the people to repentance, and back to follow me, but you didn't. You said, 'We, I, have provided the water. How long do I have to...' because it's arrogance, because it's irreverence, you can't go in the Promised Land".
But wait a minute, wait, just remember just for a minute, we were just on Mount Hermon, the Mount of Transfiguration, who was that up there with Elijah, Peter, James and John? Who was talking with Jesus thousands of years later? It was Moses. Moses now in the Promised Land, now on Mount Hermon, 10,000 feet above. What does this say to us? God doesn't leave any business unfinished. You lose a child, "Lord, what in the world, how?" you're unemployed, "What in the world? I tried my best". And we got so many, "What if, if only, I don't understand, that doesn't seem right, that's not just".
We can go through that over and over again, but there will come a day, ladies and gentlemen, as we're in Christ, when we'll discover that all things in this life work together for good to those who love the Lord, and those who are the called according to his purpose. And there will come a day in heaven which it'll all fit together, the broken pieces will come together, the confusion, the envy, the shame, the time we were on Nebo, and we didn't work out the way we thought it would, we'll look back and God will say, "I was in your life. I was doing a special work," and he would say to all of us, "Don't miss it. Don't miss it". And the glory of heaven will be wholeness, completeness, and joy that we can't even fathom. That's the message from Mount Nebo.