Summary of the Sermon by Pastor Chandra Wong, at Bethany International Service, on Sunday, 15 January 2017.
OUR JOURNEY TO THE PROMISED LAND – TRUST & OBEY
We give thanks for 2016 – The Year of Total Freedom. We look forward to 2017 – The Year of Miraculous Harvest. The history of Israel did not end in Egypt. After the death of Joseph, the Israelites lived under the oppression of the Egyptians. After 430 years of slavery, God raised Moses to fulfil the vision that God had for the Israelites. In Exodus 6:8, “‘I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord.’”
When we talk about the Promised Land, it brings us to God’s promise to the Israelites, which was first made to Abraham in Genesis 15:18, then to Isaac in Genesis 26:3 and then to Jacob in Genesis 28:13.
As we start the year 2017, do we still have the dreams and visions that God has given to us? Revive that dreams and visions again because He is the God who fulfils His plans and purposes. Start the new year 2017, holding on to God’s promises. In 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.” God has given us the same promise – that He is God of breakthrough in our lives.
Joshua was successful in leading the Israelites because He always listened, trusted and obeyed God’s Word. This was the key to successfully bringing the Israelites to the Promised Land.
The whole book of Joshua, consisting 24 chapters, talks about the journey of the Israelites out of Egypt. The Lord Himself appointed Joshua to carry out His plans and promises (Joshua 1:1-2). Joshua was a descendant of Ephraim, an army general and a faithful servant. Joshua was Moses’ servant since youth; he accompanied Moses to meet God in Mt Sinai and at the Tabernacle. Joshua was also one of the 12 spies to the Promised Land. It was written that he was filled with the Spirit of God (Numbers 27:18).
When Joshua took over the leadership from Moses, a census of the Israelites was taken. There were 600,000 men; including the women and the children, there were 2 million Israelites under Joshua’s leadership. Joshua had a heavy responsibility to bring them to the Promised Land.
Joshua always listened to God’s leading, trusting God and obeying His instructions without fail. He had a constant communication with God, and God answered Joshua’s prayers in a supernatural way. Joshua had an intimate relationship with God and many miracles happened during the journey to the Promised Land.
One extraordinary incident that took place during Joshua’s leadership (Joshua 10:11-12) -
As they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died from the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword. Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,“O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.” There was no day like that before it or after it, when the Lord listened to the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel. (Joshua 10:11-12)
Let us compare when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea under the leadership of Moses, which was mentioned in Exodus 14:21. God made the sea into dry land and the waters were divided. During Moses’ time, the Israelites stepped into the Red Sea on dry land which God has made for them to cross.
However, when we compare the Israelites’ crossing of the Jordan River, the water in Jordan River stopped near the city of Adam, next to the city of Zaretan, which was estimated around 19 km away from the Jordan River. In Joshua 3:16, we noticed that the first miracle that God performed for the Israelites was when the Israelites were crossing the Jordan River. God had stopped the water at the city of Adam because God wanted to lift our faith to the next level. As we walk in obedience, He will do His miracle so that we can continue to take another step of faith. In Joshua 3:15, Jordan River is a raging river 6m (estimated) in depth with strong currents. Likewise, it is not enough for us just to believe in God’s promises but we have to take a step of faith for miracles to take place. Keep obeying the promises of God in order for the Lord to intervene, for nothing is impossible for God. In Mark 11:24, whatever things we ask when we pray, believe that we have received it. After Joshua and the Israelites crossed the Jordan River, Joshua took over the city of Jericho. An impossible task for humans but we serve a God of Breakthrough. The Lord fights for His chosen people and Joshua defeated 31 kings and finally he took over the Promised Land (Joshua 12:7). Joshua was able to conquer the 31 kings because he always depended upon God’s strategies. Remember we have a God who fights our battle as we listen to His ways and instructions.
When on his deathbed, Joshua concluded his life journey (Joshua 23:14) -
“Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the Lord your God spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed.
The Lord worshipped by Joshua is the same God that we are worshipping today. God has always been fulfilling His promises and our part is to listen, believe, and obey His Word by faith. We shall experience the year of 2017 as the Year of Miraculous Harvest.