Steven Furtick - A Lesson In Recognizing The Enemy
This is an excerpt from: The Devil In 3D
But in order to resist the Enemy we have to recognize him or we'll spend our whole life resisting all of the wrong things, resisting silence when sometimes that's where God speaks the loudest, resisting or trying to avoid awkward situations. God's middle name is "awkward". He'll run out of food on purpose to see what you're going to do in an awkward situation. He'll sit down next to a disreputable woman at a well and make it awkward so the disciples have to decide if they really believe that this message is for everyone. Let's take a look today at this idea of recognizing the Enemy so we can see how he's at work in our lives.
This may be a weird title, but I want to call this message The Devil in 3D. What does he look like in real life, not our cartoon image of him, our coloring book Devil? Once we get the cape off of him and try to understand how he really operates to try to master our minds and set up a seed of influence in our souls through controlling our emotions, we can start to do battle. Paul said one time, "We are not ignorant of Satan's devices". Satan's devices. Of course, I don't think this is the Devil, but I wanted to give you three things, just to make it memorable, that start with the letter D. Rather than continue on talking about Peter this week, I want to move into the Old Testament for a few moments and tell you a story about a Bible character I know you've heard of named Moses. I want to use this one example from his life.
It's probably not the one he would choose for us to evaluate, because he made a great mistake and it cost him dearly, but hopefully, like 1 Corinthians 10 says, we can use him as an example so the same thing doesn't happen to us. How many of you want your kids to learn some stuff from your experience that they don't have to learn through their own pain? Let's look at this. I'll read it to you. I'll be honest with you. I've never preached on this passage before because I was intimidated by it. It's a little confusing. You'll see that. It seems a little harsh what happens in this passage. Honestly, I knew if I ever preached it God would probably speak something to me that I wouldn't want to hear, because I relate to a little thing that happens in this Bible story, but I want to share it with you now as we lean into this message, The Devil in 3D.
Of course, Moses' devil was a little different than ours. He would have said Pharaoh, who was the ruler of Egypt, the one he had to demand emancipation for the people of God from. He never really asked for that assignment. He didn't seek that assignment. He wasn't looking for a life purpose. God just interrupted what he thought was his second half of life and gave him something different to do, and it wasn't terribly convenient. Now we're looking at Moses at the end of his life, and this is what the Bible says. Numbers, chapter 20, verse 1: "In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, 'If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring the Lord's community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates [Wi-Fi or Starbucks].'"
(Just trying to bring you into the text. I don't want you bored trying to listen to this Bible story.) "'And there is no water to drink!' Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them". That's when God's glory shows up: when you've run out of answers. That's when God's glory shows up: when you admit, "God, I'm powerless to do this on my own. I need you, God. I've tried everything, and still these people are driving me crazy, but I'm here at the entrance to the tent, and I need you to speak". For everybody who came into church with a cocky attitude today, talking about, "I wonder what this sermon is going to be about. He'd better hurry up and get to it, because I don't really even want to be here. Up here in that Karate Kid shirt looking like a Halloween costume. Say something, won't you?" you're not going to get it, but those of you who came in here humbled under the mighty hand of God, he might just speak because you're listening.
"The Lord said to Moses, 'Take the staff…'" "That same staff you raised over the Red Sea and it parted; that same staff you initially threw on the ground and I proved who I was to you because I turned the staff into a snake and you picked it back up and it became a staff again; that same staff that turned the Nile River into blood until your enemy had no choice but to release you from bondage; that same staff that when you raised it up the Amalekites were no match for the Israelites. That same staff. Take it now. I want you to get Aaron and get everybody together". "'Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.' So Moses took the staff from the Lord's presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, 'Listen, you rebels…'"
I'm going to start saying that around my house more to the kids. "…must we bring you water out of this rock"? "Isn't anything I do enough for you? I've been leading you through this wilderness for 38 years, and it's never enough. It never stops". I screamed that one day on vacation at the top of my lungs. I'd been such a good dad all day. I took my kids swimming. I went on a bike ride with the kids. We went and ate Japanese food, and we sat with people we didn't know, and I pretended to think it was funny when he flipped the bowl into his hat like I never saw it before. I was a good dad that day. I was a great dad that day. I read to them at bedtime, and still at the end of the day they were fighting. All of a sudden, I heard myself screaming at my kids.
Have you ever had an out-of-body experience screaming at your kids? You were surprised what you said next, and you were thinking, "I might have to bleep myself, edit myself. I don't know what's coming out next". The Holy Ghost just left, and something else took over. Now I'm watching myself, and I'm scared of myself. I shouted at the top of my lungs, "It never stops"! Now we can laugh about it. It wasn't funny at the time. "Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock"? "We already did this one time 38 years ago. This has happened before. God kept your shoes from wearing out". "Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock [which God did not instruct him to do] twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank".
On the surface what Moses did worked, but just because it worked on the surface doesn't mean it was wise and does not mean it will have a sustainable effect. This is why when you control people with your anger or your pouting or your manipulation you end up very lonely, because the cost of controlling people is to end up alone. I know I have you pinned up against your chair right now talking about this sermon, so look confused, and you'll get through this. Some of the stuff that works on the surface costs us in the end. That's why it's so important that we understand this. Everybody got water, but it cost Moses what God had promised.
If the passage ended at verse 11, you'd say, "Well, what's so hard about that Scripture"? Unfortunately, verse 12 tells that even though the water came out of the rock, what came out of Moses' heart in that moment prevented him from going farther into God's promise. Even though all of the people were happy and the people were impressed and the people might not have even known anything was wrong because they were all too busy drinking… The people got hydrated. The people got what they wanted, but Moses lost what God had promised. Verse 12: "But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.' These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he was proved holy among them".
It makes me wish I would have paid more attention in my Hebrew class, because if I knew that Meribah means quarreling I would understand that God does some great miracles in places of great conflict. It's funny all of the little things we miss if we read the Bible in English, because the interpretation sometimes… The writers will put little humorous things in there that I wouldn't know to look for. This particular wordplay, if you go back to verse 2… I told you I'm going to give you three Ds, and I am. The first one is deficit, because he is describing a deficit the people of God are in. It says in verse 2, "There was no water for the community, and the people gathered…"
The Hebrew word for gathered that he uses here is a word that means to come together for the purpose of conflict. See, I didn't even know Facebook was in the Bible. They call it a community, but the community came together to quarrel. Isn't that a nice word? To quarrel. Not to fight, not to argue, but to quarrel. They're fighting with each other, and they don't have patience, but they don't have patience because they don't have water. Before we're too hard on them, these complaining Israelites, we need to consider that this was a matter of life and death. This is not the barista messed up your order and forgot that you prefer almond milk.
This is something different. This is we can't live but a few days without water, so we're desperate. I've noticed that when people get desperate they start doing things they wouldn't normally do. Have you noticed this about yourself, that when you get desperate you get edgy, you get touchy, and sometimes you're lashing out at people? It's not about the people. I had to explain to the kids about my road rage. It's not really about the driving. It has nothing to do with the driving. It's just that Dad finds this a convenient place to be shielded and anonymous, where I can let some stuff fly that has been building up. It's a whole thing, because they came together to quarrel.
What they didn't know, couldn't know is that they were on the border of Canaan. The land God had promised them was just a few short months away. In a time when they should have been preparing to conquer, the Enemy had them in a state of conflict. Don't you understand that the reason you've been fighting like you've been fighting and even the reason sometimes that the Devil will get you focused on fighting against people is because God is trying to bring you into what he spoke over your life and the promise of his inheritance in the saints?
Now the closer you get to that promise, the greater the conflict is going to be. I think one of the reasons our church gets so divided is because the Enemy knows that if we would ever stop fighting and focus on the mission we were given by our Captain and the Savior of our souls we would be dangerous to the kingdom of darkness, but we can't come together because we quarrel too much. It never stops.
We never quit finding new things to fight about. It's not only that Christians fight against other religions. We can subdivide on a multiplicity of different levels of Christianity, and we can get into little groups so we no longer come together to lift up the name of the Lord and take this message to the ends of the earth, but now we're fighting over a translation of the Bible or we're fighting over what you wear to worship or we're fighting over what specific nuance you believe about the Holy Spirit. But I didn't come to quarrel, so I don't need to fight with you. I came to conquer, and I need you in my corner. I don't have the energy to spend fighting against the people God called me to fight with. So if you're black, fight with me! If you're Hispanic, fight with me! If you're a woman, fight with me! If you're young, fight with me! Let's get together. Old heads, young people, let's fight this fight together!