Michael Youssef - Treasure That Lasts - Part 14
Every day, it seems, to me at least, we are viewing the destructive evidence of uncontrolled anger in our society. Well, let me hasten to say that the truth is anger is a natural and legitimate emotion. Every one of us get angry at some point, but the greatest blessings for us who know the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord is learning how to channel that anger. Now, if you analyze anger like I have through the years, you will discover that it begins with a frustration. That's how it begins. Frustration about all sorts of things in life. I mean, we face them every day, right? We face frustrations: whether a big traffic jam or dealing with difficult children or inability to deal with life's obligations, and all of these things that we face every single day. Every single day, we face frustrations.
Now, for you who are visiting with us, we're coming toward the end of the series of messages on the life of Moses. I'm calling it "Giving up Gold for Glory". That is, he gave up the palace of Egypt and the palace of Pharaoh in order to identify with the suffering of God's people so that he may deliver them from the slavery of Egypt into the freedom of the Promised Land. In the last message, we saw Moses reaching his highest height. It really is. In all of his career, in all of his ministry, in all of his life, he reached the highest height when he prayed for his slanderers, and he prayed that God would heal Miriam and Aaron and God answered his prayer.
You know, I am just so grateful to God the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity because, I don't know what you hear from other people and other preachers. I want to tell you that the Word of God from Genesis 1:1 to the maps in the back of the book authored by the Holy Spirit of God. It's not a book written by a bunch of men. No, no, no. It is authored by the Holy Spirit. He guided them, and that is why we call it the infallible Word of God. I am so grateful to God the Holy Spirit, that he did not take these men and women of faith and wash them out and bleach them and starch them and then wrap them in beautiful solar fan papers and then he put them on a display and says, "Now you be like this".
I am so grateful to the Lord. I am so grateful. He says, "Now you be like them". No, no, no. The opposite is true. God the Holy Spirit lets us see these great men and women of faith warts and all. Why? So that we may be able not only to identify with them, but also to be encouraged by them so we can say, "If they overcame, we can overcome too. If they pulled life out of the jaw of death, so can we. If they received victory out of defeat, so can we". And Moses too could not graduate with his diploma this side of heaven. He sought to overcome what we see in the Scripture as his Achilles' heel: anger and the expression of anger. But at the end, his earthly diploma, his earthly graduating certificate eluded him.
What was it? Entering into the land of promise and receiving that reward eluded him. Watching this very chapter in Moses's life, I pray to God, I pray to God that it's going to motivate each one of us. Your pastor ahead of you, all of us to ask, "God, please equip us to succeed, equip us to thrive. And yes, even if we go through the fiery furnace, we know you're going to go with us". Moses was described by God, not by man, but by God as the meekest man on the face of the earth and yet he had a ferocious temper. He had a ferocious temper, a temper that when it flared it controlled him, a temper that he could not get complete victory over; a temper that he could not take hold of it, but it took hold of him. Consequently, it kept him from the price: conquering and entering the Promised Land.
What about this anger of Moses? Did it just happen at the age of 120? No. It was there all through his life, and here he is at the age of 120 and still has not overcome and that is why Moses's anger cannot, cannot, cannot, cannot, cannot be explained away as just getting impatient at his old age. Moses's lingering anger began way, way, way back. Let me walk you through it very quickly. The first time that we see it, we know about it in the Scripture, at least, we don't know before that. But in Exodus chapter 2, Exodus chapter 2. Those of you who are here, you remember this. When an Egyptian slave driver was beating the Hebrews, Moses became angry. And the Bible said he looked to the right and then he looked to the left and he saw that nobody was watching, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand.
Now, those of you who have good memories or good note taking, either way is fine by me, maybe would say to me, "Michael, Michael, but didn't you say that Moses was educated at the highest level? Didn't you tell us back then that Moses graduated summa cum laude out of Heliopolis University"? There's no such university. I just made it up. "Didn't you say..." Yes, it's absolutely true. Listen to me. Don't ever forget, don't ever forget that 40% of Hitler's henchmen had PhDs. A secular-minded progressive elite refuses to understand that education alone does not civilize a man. Most of the ones, if not all of them, the terrorists who attacked us on September 11th, there were college graduates.
Hear me out, please. This misguided notions on the part of the elite which said that you throw some education and terrorists would be civilized and they will not be terrorists, that is a totally false notion. It's contrary to the truth. We are seeing and experiencing every single day through the Leading the Way ministry, terrorists, violent people when they hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and be converted to Christ by the power of the resurrected Jesus Christ and the cross of Jesus Christ, they are transformed from being terrorists to being missionaries for Jesus. We see it every day, every day. You see story after story. Only Jesus and the power of the cross and the resurrection can transform a person's life.
As long as we keep God out of our schools, as long as we keep God out of public life, as long as we keep God out, we are harming the next generation. Listen to me. I know and you know that I am educated at the highest level, but education alone will not solve the social ills of our society. Anger and rage cannot be changed or even controlled by education. It is only when our life is controlled by Jesus Christ and the Word of God that life can be totally transformed. Now back to Moses. Just in case some of you said, "Well, wait a minute. You said that he was highly-educated man. How come after all of that education, he killed an Egyptian and buried him in the sand"?
You see, after this first expression of anger and rage, Moses had to flee Egypt, end up in the land of Midian, but God had another plan for him. He brought him back to Egypt in order to deliver his people out of the slavery of Egypt. This time was going to be done God's way, not Moses's way. And then the second time you see Moses's anger flared, it's in Exodus chapter 11, verse 8. Between the ninth and the final, the tenth; between the ninth and the tenth, the Bible said in Exodus 11:8 Moses left Pharaoh in hot anger. Did you get that? Moses have seen with his own eyes those nine miracles, those nine judgments over the gods of Egypt. Moses knew in his heart that God... and God told him so, that he's giving Pharaoh what Pharaoh wanted, namely the hardness of the heart. Because don't ever forget when you hear the Bible say that God hardened Pharaoh's heart, it was only after Pharaoh hardened his own heart.
And God said, "I gave you more of what you want," and he hardened his heart and yet Moses was so consumed with rage. He was enraged at Pharaoh's stubbornness. Frederick Buechner wrote the following words. I want to read them to you. Please listen carefully. "Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun," F-U-N. "To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue over the prospect of bitter confrontation still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back, in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you". End of the quote.
And so we look at Moses. The third time... we saw it twice already. The third time we see that anger flares is when they were in the wilderness. They have gone into the wilderness, and God called Moses to go up to the mountain to meet with God. I can't imagine a greater prayer meeting. Can you? I mean, that is a prayer meeting of prayer meetings. He is there with God, fellowshipping with God, in prayer to God, and God gives Moses the two tablets of the Ten Commandments; the most precious document any man could hold in his hands, these Ten Commandments. But when Moses gets down into the valley and the tablets are in his hands and he sees God's people dancing at the Egyptian god, a bull god of Apis, he smashed them. In hot temper, he smashes those precious documents.
Some of you might be saying, "Well, Michael, are you saying to me that I should not get angry"? Read my lips. That is not what I'm saying. The question is not whether we get angry; the question is, what do we do with our anger? The Bible said be angry, but sin not. Be angry, but sin not. Can you say that with me? Be angry, but sin not. How do I express righteous anger? Listen carefully. By being constructive, not destructive. By being a blessing, not a stumbling block. By bringing joy to others, not sorrow; and trust me when I tell you I know the difference between the two.
Now fast forward by 38 years. From the breaking of the tablets of the Ten Commandments, fast forward and here you see the terrible rage in Moses at the age of 120. At this point of time, the people of God were literally at the edge of the land of promise that God promised Abraham 400 years earlier. They are at the edge of it. They have been wandering around for 38 years in the wilderness. The older unbelieving generation died off and they were buried in the wilderness, except for Caleb and Joshua who said, "We can take it. Yahweh is greater than these giants". But sadly, the older generation must have taught the new generation how to gripe and murmur and complain and whine and feel sorry for themselves 'cause that's what they've done here. So they took their bitter complains and turned on Moses about needing water. Once again, Moses cries to the Lord.
Now, I really hope everybody in this room, and even if you are watching around the world, turn your Bible to the book of Numbers chapter 20, verse 8. I want to show you what God said to Moses. He said, "Take your rod and your brother Aaron, and assemble the congregation and speak to the rock. And before your eyes, you're going to see that it's going to yield water". Don't miss this. Don't miss this, okay? What does Moses do? He does exactly what God said, right? God bless you. No. Verse 11. Moses lifted up his hand with the rod and he whacked that rock twice. Not just once, twice.
And don't miss this part. And the water gushed forth abundantly. I'm going to explain that in a minute. It will bless your socks even if you're not wearing one. "And the community drank, and their cattle also". Look at verse 10. Underline it in your Bible. It's very important. In fact, there's one word there, we. It's very important. Verse 10: "Listen, you rebellious people. Shall we..." Ooh, good Lord. What's that we? "We bring forth water to you out of the rock".
Now, if you're like me, who only conscious of my own weaknesses and my own failure, but I want to ask him, "Moses, when were you able to do anything without the power of Yahweh? Isn't God the one who'd bring water out of that rock"? But here's a fact. When you are giving to rage, it's because you feel victimized. Are you with me? Don't forget where I'm going, this is a freebie. This is on the house. Victimization is always at the heart of anger. Whichever way it expresses itself, victimization is at the heart of anger. You know, I always bring it all home to God 'cause that's really the focus. We know we can identified with other people's failure, we can sympathize. We can do all that, but then when you get back to God and you look at God, that's where the blessing is. Are you with me?
Moses whacked the rock twice, right? He didn't speak to it like God told him to. At that moment, God could have said, "Sorry, Moses, my buddy. There is no water. No water for you, Moses". But the God of grace, even though he was disobedient, gave them water. Beloved, why do you think it's called amazing grace? That's why it's called amazing grace. God in his goodness and in his grace he forgave Moses. Ah, but the bitter scar, the bitter scar of that lingering anger, it meant that he will not possess the Promised Land. Be very careful. Be very careful to miss out on the blessing. He stood there on Mount Nebo and he looked down and he saw, it's one of the most beautiful sites, the Promised Land.
And God said, "Sorry, Moses. You're not going to go in there. You're not going to possess it". All that he lived for all his life. All that he dreamed about. God said, "I'll forgive you, but the scars will linger". You know, I get goose bumps every time I... my memory goes back to the day... the first time my wife and I stood where Moses stood. We were visiting Jordan, our first visit to Jordan, and dear friends took us there. And we stood in Mount, there's a church built right nearby. And we stood in that hallowed ground. Every time I think about it, I get goose bumps although they are many years ago. Looked over the Promised Land.
Of course things did develop, but still with all the development, you can still, as far as the eye can see, it's the most magnificent site. This is your prize. It's an awesome feeling.
Beloved, I'll never miss the opportunity to testify to you about the power of God that has and is changing me, and I know that's a testament thousands of you. I know that. The question is, will you ask him to empower you to overcome and to break the chains, whatever they may be? And what they are to you are not the person next to you, are not to the other person, somebody else, even a member of your own family. And he will, he will. I know experientially, and many of you know too, that God will give you the power and the strength to overcome whatever it is you're struggling with. Amen? All he wants to hear from you are the words of the centurion when he said, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief".