Dr. Ed Young - Surrender
Four hundred years, the Children of Israel. We have the Israelites right here together in this bunch, 400 years in slavery. God working through Moses brought them into freedom, but still they thought like a slave, acted like a slave, and they could not understand freedom even though they had been liberated. So Moses brought them across the sea, and it took them 11 days to lead 2 million-plus there to Sinai, and there they stayed for one year. Moses went up with the Commandments, came down, idolatry, broke the commandments, went back up, got a second copy, came down, and what did they do there for a year?
They learned about moral law, they'd forgotten; civil law, how to run a nation, a country, a family; and ceremonial law, reminding them of God working in the history of the Jewish people. Remember, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, they once had possessed the land, but they'd move back into Egypt, they'd become slaves, and now the land still belong to God's people, but God's people now had to go back and claim again the land that they owned and the land that God had given to them.
So they sent out those 12 spies, remember? And they traveled over 500 miles all over Israel, spying out the land to seeing about all those -ites that occupied the land: the Canaanites, the Moabites, and all the rest of the -ites. And they came back and gave a report, and 10 of the 12 tribes said, let me tell ya, the land is fabulous, it's plush. Man, there's there's fruit, there's produce, there's animals; it's got everything you want in land. Water, irrigation, it is a bountiful land. There's only one problem. The people who inhabit that land have fortified cities and a lot of 'em are giants, and they are militant, they are warriors.
And the 10 tribes' representatives reported back and said we can't take the land. We're not strong enough, we don't have enough courage, we're not militant people. We can't take the land. But Caleb and Joshua... by the way, can anybody here name any one of those 10 spies who gave the majority report? Anybody know have a name, without looking in your Bible? We can't remember them, but Caleb and Joshua we know. They said, look, everything they said about the land is true. And boy, they're a militant people that inhabit that land, but they said you know God has given us that land, and he'll give us the ability to take over that land. Let's go and claim that which belongs to us.
And they voted. The vote was 2 million and 10 to 2. That's how committees operate, isn't it? By the way, a camel is the only animal on the Earth that was put together by a committee. And I don't know about you, but I'm fed up with committees and study groups and everybody spend all their time studying and looking and examining. Enough, enough, is enough. Then and now! And so, they wandered around in the wilderness, desert place for 40 years, 40 years, until everybody died of that generation except Caleb and Joshua. All who were over 20 years of age died off in the wilderness wanderings, and there you have the largest funeral march in history.
Two things took place. Complaining and death. And all of that unbelieving generation died out, and now there was a new generation. And now they're ready to go and to take that land of promise. And if you follow along in your scripture reading, they had everything together as to how you relate, how you do business, how you live in those multiplicity of laws and rules and regulations. If you've read it, it is just overwhelming. And then finally, they cross over the Jordan, and they're in the promised land, and the manna does not come. Now they eat from the land. And they, all the males are circumcised as a sign, as a seal of the covenant they had with God. Then they participate in the Passover meal. Then they were praying, they were prepared to go in the land, and then we have an unusual experience takes place.
And we'll look at that because it's a pivotal moment in the history of God's people. Remember the purpose for all of this. It is God's people, the Jews, who are to become a holy worshiping people, understanding how to live life before the living God and to live life with one another. And their call by God was to take and to inform all the rest of the world. In the Bible, if you're not a Jew, you're a gentile. So this Jewish community wants to take and give God's word and God's truth to the rest of the world. Now, let's just pause here a moment and go to the Lord in prayer. Father, we are walking through years and years of biblical history. Give us insight, and not only the lessons we are to learn but the lifestyles we are to adopt, is our prayer in Jesus' name, amen.
A man named Wilbur Reese wrote this, and he said, "I want to buy $3 worth of God. Not enough to explode my soul or to disturb my peace, but just enough produce a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I wanna enough of him to make me love people. No, not make me love people of other races or to pick fruit with migrants. Oh no. I won't ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb and not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack to buy about $3 worth of God. I'll take the plastic Christ. No, no, no. Not the flesh and blood one. He will soil my linen and break my strand of matched pearls. I can't put up with pundits from Persia or sweaty shepherds trampling all over my nylon carpet with their muddy feet. You see, my name isn't Mary. I want no living, breathing Christ. I want one I can keep in his crib. A plastic one will do just fine. I want, you know, only $3 worth of God".
There's a time in my life that's really all I wanted of God, about $3 worth. I was brought up in a moderately Christian home. My dad was not a Christian, my mother was. And when my mother went to church, I begged her to let me stay at home with dad, because church was anything but fun or exciting. And so I was brought up in that kind of a home, but when I was about 11 years old I went to vacation Bible School, and there I heard about Jesus Christ in a clear way, and I made a decision. And I understood Christmas, understood the cross was Jesus died for my sins.
I thought that was a good thing, and I celebrated Easter and I was baptized and I believed, but you know the truth was I didn't want what about $3 worth God. I didn't want him messing around the way I talked, the way I lived, the way I handle myself on dates, my future. No, no, no. I just want enough of God just to, just to get me through in case something happened I would go zapped into heaven. I wanted just about, you know, $3 worth of God. That'd be enough for me. But as a freshman at University of Alabama, God dealt with me in a very profound and a personal way, which is a long, long story.
And finally, one night about 2:15 in the morning, AM, I was on an old stump in the middle of an athletic field praying, and I looked up to heaven, and I said, "Lord, I give you all that I am and all that I'll ever be". All of a sudden, I knew that $3 of God wasn't enough, I had to have all of him, and I understood that he demanded all of me. That's surrender. That's surrender. And that wasn't just a one shot deal. Whoa I've got... no, no, no! It's a constant, daily lifestyle. The first thing I do every morning, the first thing I do every night is fall on my knees, and I start off by saying, "I surrender". It's an ongoing lifestyle.
So we see, this was a call upon God's people. They were prepared to go in the promised land, and they said, "Lord, I want you to lead us in that promised land. I want to claim that which you're given". But what were they lacking? They were lacking then probably what they lacked when they didn't go in 40 years before then. And if you were in Bible study this morning, your teacher taught you Joshua chapter 1, and you find there four times, four times in the Bible it is said, talking about strength and courage in that first chapter.
By the way, how many of you were in Bible study this morning? Lift your hands, good. How many of you heard your teacher emphasize that four times here, in Joshua, they were asked for strength and for courage? How many of you heard that? The rest of the Bible teachers didn't read that chapter very carefully! Because when God says something one time... you know it, two times, three, four times in one chapter, I think he's trying to make a statement, right? And how you needed strength and courage. Where do you get strength and courage? We all need strength, we all need courage. Many times we don't have courage.
By the way, courage is a very important commodity to have. Read the Book of Revelation, toward the last chapter it talks about all of those who had thrown in the fiery pit, they're thrown in the fiery furnace, they're thrown into the fire of judgment, and it's a tough list. Adulterers, slanderers, liars, cheats, 40, I mean, it goes on and on. And on that list it says those who are cowards. I didn't know they're cowards was such a bad thing. But you see, we need courage and strength, and that's what these Israelites were lacking there. When they got right to the promised land, they didn't felt they didn't have enough strength to win the battle, they didn't have enough courage to believe God and his promises.
So, now Joshua says, "Man, we need strength, and we need courage". Then the question comes: how do you get strength? Well, you work out. How did you get courage? Oh, Lord, I'm gonna be strong this time, I'm going to be... How do you get that? We discover, in a fabulous little verse in the Bible. But before that, I want to set out just three principles for us to just sit down on before we get to our principal primary text.
Number one, people are people. Well, better write that down. You know, we look at the people in the Bible, we say, boy, here's a great Biblical character. Boy, I could never be like Esther. Man, to think I could be like Joshua. Man, that these are way beyond. And we look at people and we say they're so abnormally gifted. They're so privileged. They they talked with God. Listen, people are people. Doesn't matter if you drove up in a Porsche or 1983 Chevy, people are people. I've met President of the United States who could quote Bible, and they would tell you they're a Christian, and I've met someone who didn't have hardly the shirt on their back, and didn't know where their next meal would come, and they say they're a Christian.
People are people. There's not those who have and those who have not. There are not those who, well, they're real smart and those who are real, real dumb. No, no, no, people are people are people are people. And that's what we need to see, is read the Bible. People are people. We look at biblical personalities, we give them too high a position. And many times we give God such a low position. We see someone who is a celebrity, and we say, oh, there's somebody who is just super special. No, no, no, no, people are people. We have to understand that. God looks at you and looks at me, and at the foot of the cross it is just as level as it can be. It is level, level, level. God is no respecter of persons. We have to understand that people are people.
Now the second thing: God is God. Better write that down! Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever". What does that mean? It means God doesn't change. How God operated yesterday, he operates today. How he operates tomorrow is the way he operate today. There is a consistency about the unchanging God. God is God. We take people and make them too godly, and we take God and make God too much like people. A fourth grade class was asked if God understood nuclear energy? 62% of the class said no, nuclear energy has come about since God. People are people, God is God. How he operated in the Bible is how he operates today in his general principles in your life, and in my life, and all around this world.
And the third principle: Miracles are miracles. What is a miracle? A miracle is when something takes place that's outside the norm and it is of such a degree that there is no possible human explanation, and this that takes place gives glory to God. That's a miracle. Not normal, abnormal, supernatural, it gives glory to God. And miracles are miracles, and miracles still take place. Now, you don't have miracles under every bush. Some people say praise God, hallelujah every other breath. Some people never say praise God, Hallelujah every other breath. And so my point is but God is operating in this domain, and in his economy he performed miracles. In one sense they are rare, in one sense they're commonplace. In one sense they stand out, but in another sense they operate in a subtle way in life.
Last week 3:00 AM in the morning, about 3:05, I wake up, and a name comes to my mind. A man in our church. I hadn't thought of him, I'd had no reference to him in I don't know how long, but a name comes up, and I said, "Well, I'll pray for him". And I did. The next morning when I checked the hospital list, as I do virtually every morning, I looked and there was his name! He hadn't been in the hospital before. I said, "You know, that was God somehow, in the family of faith, touching my heart and life to pray for the..." That happens to all of us, right? Someone comes to your mind, and you call them, family, friend, or somebody out of the blue, and it's amazing when we follow up on that how they were prepared and how our call or our touch made a great difference to them in that particular moment. Is that a miracle? It's how God operates in the family of faith.
People are people, God is God, miracles are miracles. And we come here and we try to ask the question, well, do the Israelites need a miracle to go in? Well, first of all, they had to take down Jericho, a strong city with double walls. And now we read a little obscure passage of scripture that I think is ever so powerful. Look at the Book of Joshua chapter number 5 verse 13, following. It reads, "And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked". Now, when was the last time Joshua was in Jericho? Man, it's been, oh gosh, how many years ago? They wander around for 40 years, there. It's been 40 years. He's one of the spies, remember? And now he goes back to Jericho, and he's looking over the city they were going to have to capture.
"It stood right there before him, and he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to him and said, 'Are You for us or for our adversaries?'" Stay with me. Joshua goes over and looks at that vast city, and he says, "My, how are we gonna do this"? He's trying to find strength and courage. He was the Commander of the army of the Lord. He was the leader. And there standing before him was a man with a sword drawn! And he's standing there, and Joshua... notice Joshua went to him. Very important. And I think Joshua went to him, and he had his hand on his sword, and he went to the man with the sword drawn, he said, "Are you for us or for our adversary"? In other words, whose side are your on? Are you on my side? Are you on the other side? Are you for me, or are you against me?
Now, notice this answer. It is so strong yet so subtle but so informative. So words, "And he drew the sword. Are you for me or against me"? And verse 14, this is the man with the drawn sword, "Said 'No!'" How about that? "Are you for me or against me? No"! What does he say? He says I'm not for you, and I'm not against you. And then he goes, it said, "But as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come". You get that? He says as the Commander of the army of the Lord, I have now come. And next passage it says Joshua fell down and worshipped him. And worshiped him. What's it what's he saying here? He's saying that the Commander of the army of the Lord has now come, and Joshua, I'm not for you, I'm not against you. The Commander of the army of the Lord has now come, and all you have to do is enroll in my army!
And you see what happened? Joshua fell down and worshiped him. He says, "Oh, Lord what am I to do"? He said, "Just take off your shoes, because this is holy ground, and worship me". We need to understand something. Lord, are you for me or against me? The Lord saying, "I'm not for you, I'm not against you, you just worship me. The Lord God Almighty has come". Understand this, ladies and gentlemen, Jesus doesn't come to help you and help me fulfill our agenda, fulfill our program, that which I think is good, and that would say I think is right, that's which I think is beautiful, the Lord God doesn't come as Commander of the army to sign up as a lieutenant while you are still the general. God isn't a lieutenant, he is a general. And the verse is very clear, the Commander of the army of the Lord has come. Joshua, it's not that I'm for you, I'm against you, I'm here to take over the whole enterprise. You just sign up and get in line as a private.
Lot of us come to Christ, say, "Boy, what God can do for me, what Christ can help me. Boy, I need healing, I need life, I need a job, I need forgiveness". We come for all that Jesus can give us, and all that is part of it, but that's not the primary thing. We come primarily to say, "Lord, I want you to come and run my life". You lack courage or strength? That's when I'm running my life, you're running your life. I lack courage and strength and fear comes, and we fail over and over again, but when the Commander of the army of God comes and fills our life, then we don't have a problem with courage or strength, because we rely on his courage and his strength operating through you and operating through me. And that is what happened here to Joshua.
"What must I do Lord"? "Nothing, you just worship". Remember the purpose... what God wanted to build out of these Israelites, these Jews, to teach them that God was holy, that he wants them to be holy and different and separate and to be worshipers of him, and when that happened, the Children of Israel were absolutely bulletproof. When Jesus Christ becomes Commander-in-Chief of a life, of a family, of a nation, healing always takes place, every single time! So what are we to do? Take our shoes off. Let's take our shoes off, worship him. Say, "Lord, this is it. Not my agenda. I want your agenda. Not my goals, what I think. I want what you know and what you have planned, I surrender". And through surrender always comes victory.