God Is In Charge!
Deuteronomy 1: 6: " The Lord our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying,
ye have dwelt long enough in this mountain."
The time the people of God spent at Mount Horeb had been an important time.
While they were there they had received the law.
A national constitution had been perfected, and they were a theocracy -- a people subject
to the rule of God.
They had been given a system of worship, a perpetual symbol of their distance from God
because of their sin and how they could approach God with their sacrifices.
Because all this had been accomplished, God who governed them said unto them,
" The Lord our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mountain."
They heard the message of God, and obeyed His divine command, and marched
through the terrible experience of the wilderness to come to the land of promise.
Our text was spoken after the experience of 40 years, and it should help us to understand
God's purpose in governing our lives.
We should be reminded that no one can escape from the government of God.
This is said for our comfort and our warning.
For our comfort we will remember that God has never vacated His throne.
He has never handed over the affairs of the universe, or the smaller matters of this world
in which we live to any other authority.
It is true that men and nations may condition their experience of the Divine government
by their attitude toward it, but they cannot escape it.
A person may fling himself against the laws of God and be broken by them or he may take
comfort beneath the care and grace of God, but he cannot escape God's divine government.
Nations may throw off restraint and laugh at God, but He will deal with them
when their day of calamity comes.
I believe that we, as Christians, need to be reminded often of the actuality of the governments of God.
We are in danger of treating God as though He were some infinite, marvelous abstractions;
or as though He were seated far way in some distant heaven and not aware
of the actual experiences of our human lives.
Many seemed to think that God has just wound up the world and left us to ourselves
and that one day He will call us to account for our lives.
None of these conceptions of God are Biblical.
The Bible does reveal the actual, immediate government by God in the lives of His own people.
We also need to remember that the government of God is autocratic.
The government of God is absolute.
He permits no compromise.
The government of God is inclusive; He exempts no one and no nation.
So, we must also remember that it is the government of God, and that God is love
and God is wisdom.
This is the government of God who knows my thoughts and understands my cries
and all my failures, and will be infinitely patient with me until He has perfected
that which has to do with me.
As you look at the text and the background of it there are several things that should
speak to us concerning the nature of that government.
First, the government of God is a disturbing element in human life.
Second, the government of God is a progressive element in human life.
Thirdly, the government of God is a methodical element in human life.
God is a disturbing element in human life and it is always so.
Take the story of our text in the beginning of history of that wonderful people.
How did the people who were that day disturbed come into being?
The nation came into being as the result of one human life being disturbed by God.
In Ur of the Chaldees a man saw a vision of God and a vision of the purpose of God,
and in some wonderful communion was brought into the place of familiarity with God.
He was a man of substance and position in Ur of the Chaldees.
God spoke to that man and said: " Get thee out of thy country, and from by kindred,
and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee."
" And he went out, not knowing whither he went."
He was disturbed by God.
The history of those people, from that first moment when the voice of God came to them,
was a history of perpetual, persistent disturbance.
Disturbed in Ur of the Chaldees, Abraham moved into the land.
Then there came the time when his grandson, Jacob, and his sons were driven out
of the land by God's divine command and sent down to Egypt.
Centuries passed and the seventy who went down to Egypt multiplied into a great host.
Again the divine disturbance came, and they were moved from Goshen and Egypt
and camped at Pihahiroth.
There they were hemmed in by enemies on one side and the sea on the other.
Then, they were led out of danger and across the dried sea into the wilderness.
They camped beneath Sinai.
They were a ransomed people who were freed from bondage, and who had escaped from slavery.
At last they were resting amid the quietness and peace of the solitudes of the mountain.
For a year and a month they were free from all oppression and realized the peace
and blessedness of God's divine government.
Then came the voice, " Ye have dwelt long enough in this mountain."
And immediately, all their plans had to be canceled, and every tent had to be taken down.
The next picture we have of them is that they are marching forward, leaving the place
of peace and moving into the desolate wilderness with faces set toward the goal
of God's divine purpose for them.
From beginning to end they were a disturbed people.
To be governed by God is to be constantly disturbed.
Our personal plans and goals will have to be set aside.
Here is a man whom God has called to a definite place of service.
He is aware of the divine presence of God and of God's divine blessing.
It may be that after a period of toil and travail everything is coming together
and the golden radiance of harvest is on all the field.
Then suddenly the soul of the man hears the voice of God:
" Ye have dwelt long enough in this mountain."
The work must be left, and the location must be changed, and all the experiences
of the past put aside.
God's divine government has disturbed this man.
There are many ways that God disturbs us.
Sometimes, the peace and quietness of the home is broken and we are no longer at peace
because God has disturbed our lives.
Some close, earthly friendship is suddenly broken up and friends are separated geographically
by many, many miles.
God is disturbing two lives.
Their hopes and aspirations are suddenly put out aside and all the years invested are ended.
These are common experiences of Christians.
Along our journey Satan will assault our faith and tell us that if God really loved us
that he would not allow us to be disturbed.
Satan would say that if God were really governing your life, then He would cause you to be successful.
There are times in our life when God says for us to pack our bags
for we " we have dwelt long enough in this mountain."
And God's divine government of human lives is also a progressive element.
Look again at the actual text and see why these people were disturbed.
" The Lord our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mountain:
turn you, and take your journey, and go to the hill country of the Amorites,
and unto all the places thereunto, in the Arabah, in the hill country and in the lowland,
and in the south, and by the sea shore, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon,
as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.
Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the Lord sware
unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give unto them their seed after them."
The reading of this text seems to defend the disturbing so far as this story is concerned.
We see that the purpose of the disturbance was the possession of the land.
The place of silent solitude is to be left, and the way of the wilderness is to be trodden; but why?
The purpose was that the land which lies beyond would be possessed.
Progress is not necessarily pleasant.
Later, when Moses described the journey, he speaks of it as,
went through all that great and terrible wilderness."
This should be teaching us that God is patient.
God's dealings with a person today are always in the interest of His perfecting tomorrow.
Gods disturbance of human life is always in order that the life may climb to a higher height
and come to a fuller realization.
Let us look at another discourse which is the great song Moses was commanded to write.
" The Lord's portion is His people;
Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.
He found him in a desert land,
And in the waste howling wilderness;
He compassed him about, He cared for him,
He kept him as the apple of His eye:
As an eagle that stirreth up her nest,
That fluttereth over her young,
He spread abroad His wings, He took them,
He bare them on His pinions."
In this we we see the merging of the elements of disturbance and progress.
Let us look at that eagle way up on a rocky ledge.
That is where she built her nest.
She's has brought her young eaglets to life, and she feeds them and guards them
and broods over them.
The eaglets are high in their nest on that rocky ledge to which no person can climb.
They are perfectly safe.
Then, the day comes when they are ready to leave the nest.
The mother bird is pushing those eaglets out of the nest.
We see the eaglets in the air, struggling, falling in the air which is strange to them.
All the peace and safety and the restless of the nest is gone.
" As an eagle stirreth up her nest."
Now watch what comes next.
The evil spreads her broad wings over the birds as they fall, and then suddenly,
with the swiftness of lightning, swoops beneath them and catches them on her strong, broad wings.
It seemed that they would be destroyed.
But they are not destroyed.
She bears them back on her wings to the ledge, and put the eaglets safely back into the nest.
They are so happy to be back in the nest.
But tomorrow she will do it again, and the next day she will do it again until that day
when their wings are strong enough for them to fly.
Now the purpose of the disturbance is seen.
The Lord disturbs us in order for us to have life in all its fullness.
" Ye have dwelt long enough in this mountain."
So, it may be that you have to leave the work that you love so very well.
It may be that you will have to leave your friends.
To pursue your career, you may have to leave your home.
What is God doing with you?
He is enabling you to do more with your life.
He is enabling you to discover His will and purpose for your life.
He is ready to teach you to use the wings that He has given you.
This is disturbing, but also a progressive element.
Then, the government of God is a methodical element in human life.
The provision has been made.
" Behold, I have set the land before you."
The way is already mapped.
Notice that the instructions are particular.
If you look at a map of Palestine, you will discover that these people never reached their destination.
God had a plan for them which he expressed in terms of geography.
But there is something else in this chapter we need to notice:
" Thy God bare thee, as a man does bare his son, on all the way that ye went,
until ye came unto this place.
Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God, who went before you in the way,
to seek you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to show you by what way
ye should go, and in the cloud by day."
Let us remember that the pitching of the tent at night is not accidental, for God has been before us.
Think of it!
Anywhere you go, God has been there before you.
Anywhere you arrive God has been ahead of you.
It may be that someone is listening to this sermon who has been broken, who is perplexed,
and almost mad with the agony of life.
They might be saying within themselves: " Just where are you, God?"
God was ahead of you.
Out of all the bad things that are happening in your life He is creating forces to triumph
for you that you would have missed had you not pitched your tent right in the place
where God has placed you.
God is not experimenting with your life.
In Samuel, and in the last psalm that David wrote before he died, we read:
" An everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure."
You might say that was very well for David.
But as you read more you will find that David was describing what God's king ought to be,
and he said:
" Verily my house is not so with God;
Yet He hath made with me an everlasting covenant,
Ordered in all things, and sure.
For it is all my salvation, and all my desire
Although He maketh it not to grow."
When David sang of the "covenant ordered in all things, and sure," he sang
out of his disappointment, and out of his sense that he had failed.
He saw that even his failure was within God's divine government.
In Ephesians Paul reminds us that " we are His workmanship."
Not merely that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God afore prepared that we should walk in them."
To the Christian who is truly God-governed when morning arrives there is in his heart
the consciousness that nothing just merely happens.
There are no accidents.
Yes, I may suffer, I may suffer some physical evil, some mental trouble, or some assault
on my soul, and I may pass through this great and terrible wilderness;
but the covenant is ordered in all things, and sure.
God cannot be surprised.
Good fortune, good luck or a coincidence maybe words that we use.
But God has no need for those words.
No emergency surprises God.
No coincidence baffles God.
He sees the end from the beginning, and all the affairs of the universe are under His control.
The Christian who is God-governed is a person who lives at the very heart of method and order.
So the question is what should our true relationship be to His government?
The answer is so simple.
At true relationship to the government of God is that of obedience, immediate and unconditional.
Think of the conditions of such obedience.
We have confidence in the method because it is the method of God.
Even when I cannot see its value or purpose, I must keep in view that the ultimate purpose is
for me to be forever ready to be disturbed.
The only person who is never disturbed is the person who is always ready to be disturbed.
" Let your loins be girded about, and your lamps burning," are ready to be disturbed.
Then, when the call comes, you will not be disturbed.
It is when I allow my life to be anchored to a friend, a home, a church,
that if God wants me to do without this friend, leave this home, leave this church,
I am disturbed.
When my life is anchored in God, then no disturbance can disturb.
And that is always the position of Christians who really live a God-governed life.
Look at the folly of doing what these people did in our text.
They started well, they took down their tents, they came to the borderland;
then they appointed a commission to find out about the land God told them to possess.
That commission published two reports: the majority and the minority reports.
And ever since, the minority was right as far as the people were concerned.
The people were filled with fear, so they stopped and went back.
Then, later, when they tried to go in without God to fight the Amalekites; they were defeated.
So 40 years of discipline followed.
" Forty years and was I grieved with this generation."
Here in the light of this history, we can see what God does with people who grieve Him.
He bears them as a man bears his son, with th infinite patience and tender compassion,
and waiting for them.
I believe that someone here has heard this disturbing call of God.
This sermon is for you.
What are you going to do?
Are you going to go forward without counting the cost of your obedience?
There are giants there.
They are for you to slay.
There are walled cities ahead for you to take.
There are rough days and rough roads ahead.
You must walk them for they lead to peace.
You might say that there will be terrible loneliness.
Then, welcome it for you will enjoy the very presence of God.
When God says that we have tarried long enough, we must not tarry.
Some of you have heard that Voice speak to you long ago, and you disobeyed,
and you have been walking through a weary wilderness; but today, you are on the edge
of the land God has promised.
Remember, that all of the wilderness has been in His government.
This is the way of our God.
He is always ready to give second chances.
The Word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time.
If the vessel be marred in the hand of the Potter He will make it again a second time.
And all the years that the cankerworm hath eaten, He will restore.
He is plenteous in mercy and compassion.
" For the love of God is broader,
Than the measures of man's mind,
And the heart of the Eternal
Is most wonderfully kind."
It could be that you have been listening reverently and saying that you don't understand all this.
You may say that you never have heard a voice that disturbs you.
No, then you are living in Egypt, in bondage, and slavery.
God-forsaken people are not disturbed.
God is calling even you, and at this moment some of you have heard God asking you
to change the way you're living and live in a right relationship with God.
You have stayed long enough in Egypt.
Obey God's call to you and follow Him and He will direct you in the way of peace, joy,
and sweet communion with him.