Exodus Teaching - 26 - Dead, Alive, Fruitful

Title: Exodus Teaching - 26 - Dead, Alive, Fruitful
Category: Bible Studies
Subject: Exodus Study

TEXT: Exodus - Joshua

DEDICATION: To COL. Thomas A. (Andy) Shoffner (See note at end)


The contrast between life in Egypt, life in the Wilderness, and life in Canaan is absolutely mind boggling, but that is exactly what I would like for us to look at in this Summary to the Exodus Experience. When I began this study I had no idea where it would eventually lead. After month of study, research, writing, and re-writing, I received some help from Dr. J. Mike Minnix, the creator and Editor of SermonCity.Com. He had asked me earlier if I wanted this series listed with my Commentaries or Sermons. I elected to have them listed under sermons, but that never seemed completely satisfactory for either of us. For one thing, each volume was three or four sermons long. For another, Dr. Minnix would have them posted, but they would show up out of order. Then one day I received a message from him that he had moved them to Articles and that he would try to get the people who handled that to make changes so that he could call attention to this series on the front page.

Dr.Minnix had read each installment as I sent them to him, and after Article # 25, he sent the following message:


“What an outstanding study it is! I mean, this is a major book! If this were printed into book form, it would be an extremely heavy volume. You have done an incredible service to men of God by providing this material. I appreciate you more than you know.”

This note was not only encouraging, coming from one who is much better qualified than most of us to express an opinion like this it is highly motivating. He has read more sermons than anyone else I know. Not only that, he has contributed more sermons to www.sermoncity.com than anyone else. He checks the credential of those who have submitted their sermons for his approval for posting on the site. Many of those who have sermons, articles, or commentaries posted on the site are well known pastors, and some are personal friends. Dr. Paul Brown and I attended Sledge High School, in Sledge, Mississippi. Dr. Leon Hyatt, is true biblical scholar, who has a mind for missions and ministry, research, and writing. I have known Dr. Hyatt since the late 1960s and we have been in touch with each other all through the years. Dr. Gene Jeffries is a theological educator who has a long history in missions, evangelism, writing, pastoral ministries, and Christian education. Dr. Jimmy Draper needs no introduction here, but he has been a blessing over the years, especially during the time I served on the Board of Trustees for LifeWay Christian Resources when he was President and CEO. Dr. Minnix has read their works, as well as that of many others whose names will be recognized by most pastors.

Throughout the months of study and writing, there has been something in the back of my mind that I have not fully covered. It was something written by the late Major Ian Thomas of England that kept playing around in my mind and I would like to deal with that in this final addition to the Exodus Series: Egypt, Sinai, the Wilderness, and Canaan. There are parallels here that we must not miss, and I am not sure that I have covered them all in such a way that we might remember those parallels.


A. Israel in a Place of Death and Slavery.

1. Egypt was a real place, at a real time in history.
2. The Israelites were real people at real place in a real time.
3. The Israelites of the Exodus did not choose to be in Egypt.
4. They did not choose the cruelty of their slavery in Egypt.
5. They were not living for the Lord.
6. They were, in many ways, living the life of the Egyptians.
7. They had not called on the Lord to deliver them until their plight became serious.
8. They could not deliver themselves.
9. They were helpless and hopeless.
10. No force on earth made any effort to deliver them.
11. No force on earth could have delivered them.
12. Theirs was an especially cruel form of slavery.
13. They remembered the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
14. They called on the Lord to deliver them.
15. Yahweh heard their prayers.
16. He miraculously delivered them.

B. The Lost Person Lives in the realm of Slavery and Death.

1. He is born into the realm of death. That does not mean that the new born baby is born to sin, any more than it implies a sinful conception. It does not mean that he or she is born committing sin. It means that the infant is born into a fallen world.

2. He does not choose to be born into the spiritual realm of death. If he dies in infancy he dies without having committed a sin and is therefore not held personally accountable for sin. However, if that individual lives very many years he will manifest his sinful nature by committing sins.

3. An infant is born into the realm of sin. David wrote, “Indeed, I was guilty ⌊when I⌋ was born; I was sinful when my mother conceived me.” (Psalms 51:5, HCSB) When I stood beside Timmy’s tiny little casket at the funeral home I had no problem assuring his parents that Timmy was with the Lord. How did I know this? I had read what David wrote three centuries ago. Timmy had been conceived in sin, but Timmy had not committed sin.

Timmy’s mother had been in church all her life. She was in Sunday School, Bible School, worship services, and she had played the piano for our church when she was younger. She moved her membership back to her home church and continued playing for them. Several years after Timmy’s death my resignation was announced in the local newspaper. I had been pastor there eight an one-half years and I was moving to a church in Texas. The next Sunday I was surprised when I looked out into the congregation and saw Timmy’s mother. At the close of the service she told me she needed to talk with me. We sat down and she said, “I am lost. When we stood by Timmy’s casket I wanted to tell you that but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.” She was concerned because she had been active in our church and then in her home church since she was very young. What would they think if they knew she was lost?! She had been burdened down with sin and the fear that people would think her a hypocrite. She said, “When I saw in the paper that you were leaving, I said to myself, ‘if I don’t tell him I won’t tell anyone.” Timmy’s mother confessed her sin and asked Jesus Christ to come into her heart right then. She will see Timmy again!

4. A tiny infant is not born sinning. If that baby dies in infancy he will go to heaven, just as David knew concerning his infant son who was hanging in the balances between life and death:

“The Lord struck the baby that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. (16) David pleaded with God for the boy. He fasted, went ⌊home⌋, and spent the night lying on the ground. (17) The elders of his house stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat anything with them.

(18) On the seventh day the baby died. But David’s servants were afraid to tell him the baby was dead. They said, “Look, while the baby was alive, we spoke to him, and he wouldn’t listen to us. So how can we tell him the baby is dead? He may do something desperate.”

(19) When David saw that his servants were whispering to each other, he guessed that the baby was dead. So he asked his servants, “Is the baby dead?”

“He is dead,” they replied.

(20) Then David got up from the ground. He washed, anointed himself, changed his clothes, went to the Lord’s house, and worshiped. Then he went home and requested ⌊something to eat⌋. So they served him food, and he ate.

(21) His servants asked him, “What did you just do? While the baby was alive, you fasted and wept, but when he died, you got up and ate food.”

(22) He answered, “While the baby was alive, I fasted and wept because I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let him live.’ (23) But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I’ll go to him, but he will never return to me.” (2 Sam 12:15-23, HCSB)

Believe me, very few people have ever known the Lord as did His servant David. Sadly, when we think about David’s life we usually recall the sin with Bathsheba and when the Lord calls him a man after his own heart someone may well ask, “Does the Lord not remember David’s sin with Bathsheba? Well, I have an answer for that question: No! He does not remember it. Oh, He remembers it historically and He remembers it mentally, but he does not remember it judicially. David repented (see Psalm 51), he was forgiven (see Psalm 32), and his sin forgotten (judicially).

4. A baby does not choose his or her parents. He does not choose the cultural, social, or economic circumstances that will be a part of his life for some time to come. At the same time, a child’s life is to a certain extent shaped by his early environment.

5. A baby does not choose the spiritual circumstances in which he will be reared. What an awesome responsibility this places on the parents! If a baby is reared in church, sees an example of faith in the Lord, witnesses godliness at home, and hears his or her parents talk often about Jesus, most will be open to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit in their heart and at some point confess their sin to the Lord and ask for His great salvation.

6. The new born baby is born in sin and as helpless as a baby born Egypt. When a baby is born he (or she) is no more aware of the circumstances in which he will live than a new born baby in Egypt was aware of the circumstances surrounding the Children of Israel whose parents were slaves in Egypt. For some time, the new born baby in Egypt could not make any distinction between the slaves and the slave owners. As the child grew he would begin to understand, both through observation and deductive reasoning, that there was a marked distinction between the way his parents lived and the way that Egyptians lived. He would also look into the eyes of an Egyptian child his own age and see that the Egyptian child “looked down on” him.

A man I have known well for many years grew up in the Mississippi Delta when a lot of people lived on small, medium, or large farms in those days. Many people worked on a large farm (some owners called it a plantation). This friend once commented, “If the slaves thought they had it bad they should have been sharecroppers.” It took some time for me to digest that, and I never really understood it until I remembered Slim. Slim came walking up to our home one day. I may have been home from Mississippi College. Slim had no car so he had to walk. He had walked from another town in the Mississippi Delta to Sledge, and then the seven miles to our home, stopping at farms to ask if they needed another hand. It was about time to start pickin’ cotton. The mechanical cotton pickers were new and not many farmers owned one at the time. Most of the cotton was picked by hand.

Slim had worked for a wealthy man, farming a few acres himself as a share cropper, but always available when the planter drove up and motioned him to get in the back of his truck. He had spent a lot of time helping the big farmer get his cotton gin ready to gin the cotton. One day, the owner paid Slim his salary for working at the gin and when he counted his money he discovered that his pay was fifty cents short. He showed the figures to the owner, who looked at the figures and asked, “Well, what do you want me to do about it?” Slim said, “I want my money. The arrogant owner said, “Son, I ‘spect you better move!” Slim would have to get out of the tenant house so he was desperate. Stories were told all over the area about how wealthy the planter was, and about how he “pinched pennies.” After talking with Slim, I knew “the rest of the story,” as the late Paul Harvey often said.

My father had no extra house but he told the man that he had a school building on the place, and he used one part for a shop. However, they could fix up the rest of it and provide a place for Slim and his family to live. They moved into the old school building and were treated as neighbors. They were soon attending our church. Like everyone else who lived on our farm, they were “better off” when they left than when they moved onto the place. For one thing, my father provided a tractor for the share croppers to use to make a crop. He never charged for the use of the tractor and he furnished the fuel without charge. Until they were able to buy a used car, someone would ride with a member of the family to town to buy groceries. If a child was sick, a member of our family would drive them to see the doctor, and if needed, pay the doctor and put it on their bill so they could pay it back at the end of the harvest. They always had a ride to church.

I knew children and young people who grew up under those circumstances, and while it was rare, I did hear the son of a “planter” make a distinction between his father, who was “a planter” and a classmate who was a “share cropper.” On some rare occasions, I heard the son of a share cropper speak as though he was inferior to the son whose father owned a plantation.

A man, who had grown up as an orphan, once told me that he was farming a little land and operating the gin for a big farmer, when the man came driving into his yard one day and announced, “someone left the gate open and my cows got out. Get your wife and kids to go over there and round them up and drive them back into the pasture.” The employee said, “Why don’t you get your wife and kids to round them up and get them back into the pasture?” The big shot farmer had probably never heard anything like that from an employee. The employee was hired to operate the man’s cotton gin, he was not his slave.

7. A new born baby does not commit sin. However, having been born into a sinful world, and having been conceived in sin, as David wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, if that baby lives long enough he or she will commit acts of sin. Paul was inspired to write, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23, HCSB)

8. The infant may be born into a Christian family who will teach him about Jesus. Their teaching does not make him or her a Christian, but in time the Lord will use those instructions to convict that person of his or her need for the salvation that only comes in Jesus.

9. The child needs to be taught about the birth of Jesus. Through Bible stories, daily Bible reading, Christmas pageants, and videos many children learn about the birth of Jesus. Parents, Sunday School teachers, and others may help the child learn the circumstances surrounding the birth of the baby Jesus, but at some point, as the child grows older, those same people will want to talk with him, or her, about the significance of the birth of the Savior, as well as His life, death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior. They must prayerfully teach the child that those who believe in Jesus will receive eternal life.

Just as the young child growing up in ancient Egypt might ask about the difference between the way their family lived and the way the Egyptian task masters lived, the young child growing up in a Christian home today will ask questions about Jesus which someone must answer. I was in church “every time the doors were opened”, but I had not been saved. We had Vacation Bible School in the afternoon and revival services at night after the cotton crop was “laid by” (the first two or three weeks of August we waited for the cotton to open so we could start picking it). After Bible School I walked home with a friend and he and I were throwing a base ball in the yard when his grown sister came out into the yard and walked up to me and asked me when I was going to ask Jesus to come into my heart. I was in church all the time and assumed that I was a Christians. That lady could not have shocked me more if she had dumped a barrel of ice water on me! I made my public profession of faith at revival service that night.

Can you imagine a child of slaves in the land of Goshen in Egypt when it became obvious that something monumental was happening. His parents had killed a lamb and they were spreading blood on the lintel and facing of the door where they lived. That was an opportunity for the parents to explain Passover to their children. Parents today have many opportunities to teach their children about Jesus Christ and the salvation He offers to all who believe.

10. A child needs to be surrounded by Christian people. We need to make a distinction between those who have a personal relationship with the Lord, who manifest the nature and character of God in their lives, and those who are only nominally Christian. There are people who profess: “I am a Baptist,” or “I am a Catholic,” or “I am a Pentecostal,” but live more like a pagan. There are professing Christians who refuse to live in the heart of the kingdom. They prefer to live on the border line. In fact, it is hard to tell them from the lost people just over the line. They talk like the people on the other side, they tell the same jokes, the commit the same sins, and in general behave like those on the other side. People like that are not a good influence on children, even if those people do profess to be Christians.

11. A child needs to see Christ in the lives of those around him. Children need to see the character and nature of Jesus Christ both in the profession and in the lives of those who claim to be children of God.

12. The witness of a child’s parents is crucial. Parents need to set a good example for their children. We can imagine what Joseph and Mary taught Jesus, as well as His half-brothers and sisters.

13. Many children whose parents are lost still come to know Jesus. I once baptized a teenaged girl who had slipped out of her home with a change of clothes and accompanied a friend to the service. I learned later that her parents did not know she was being baptized.

14. A young child must be protected from religious lies. Parents must study and teach their children the Word of God, and the children need to hear it taught in Sunday School. Jesus calls pastors to “feed” His sheep. I have never read anywhere in the Bible that He called pastors and evangelists to entertain His sheep, or, for that matter, to traumatize them or to psychoanalyze them. Parents need to inform themselves about false religions like Islam, cults like Scientology, and religious cults like Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Eastern Mysticism, with roots in ancient Gnosticism, made it’s way to America under the name “New Age” in the last half of the Twentieth Century, only to drop the label in the 1990s and hide its identity under a new umbrella called Post Modernism which was wide enough to accommodate almost anyone except Christians. The most dangerous false religion in the world today is Islam and we mut be sure to warn our children about the dangers of any religion that claims to be peaceful while spreading hate and slaughtering masses.

15. In a Christian Home the Holy Spirit will use the testimony of family members. My sister Linda was saved when she was five years old. My brother Mike was saved when he was seven years old and my brother James was saved when he was eight years old. I was saved when I was 12, but there had been no church in the community when I was younger. Our Director of Missions, M. C. Waldrup was a chaplain during World War II and we were left without a church or Christian minister, except for those who came in every cotton picking season and stayed until the money was gone and then left. We witnessed it, season after season.

16. The Holy Spirit will use the testimony of godly people to reach a child. Parents and siblings are not the only witnesses to a child. Relatives, neighbors, and Sunday School teachers are witnesses, and they need to guard their testimony around children. My son John sat down with his daughter Abigail when she was nine or ten years old and talked with her about trusting Jesus to save her. She asked when He would save her and when her father told her He was ready anytime, she said, “If He’s ready, I’m ready!” She had been listening to Bible stories since she was old enough to understand them.

17. The child can know he or she is dead in sin and not know how to escape. He can no more deliver himself from sin than the slaves in Egypt could have delivered themselves. He needs help and he may seek it in ways that have nothing to do with God’s provision for salvation. No child born into the realm of sin and death can save himself. He is as lost and helpless as an infant born into the land of Egypt. God sent Moses to deliver His Chosen People from the land of bondage and death, and He sent Jesus to deliver those who simply believe in Him - not believe He was an historical figure, but trust their all to Him.

18. Salvation is in Jesus and Jesus alone. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12, HCSB) Jesus said, “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, HCSB)

19. The child is saved from death, and saved to a newness of life. Paul called Timothy is son in the ministry. He wrote to the church at Corinth: “This is why I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you about my ways in Christ Jesus, just as I teach everywhere in every church.” (1 Cor 4:17, HCSB)

20. Everyone who is delivered from death to life should share that message with others. In fact, that is exactly what Jesus commands every believer to do:

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:19-20, HCSB)


A. Yahweh Revealed His Glory at Sinai.

“When Moses went up the mountain, the cloud covered it. (16) The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day He called to Moses from the cloud. (17) The appearance of the Lord’s glory to the Israelites was like a consuming fire on the mountaintop.” (Ex 24:15-17, HCSB)

The Holman Bible Dictionary defines glory as, “The weighty importance and shining majesty which accompany God’s presence... In the Psalms people give such glory to God, that is they recognize the essential nature of His Godness that gives Him importance and weight in relationship to the human worshiping community. (Compare Pss. 22:23; 86:12; Isa. 24:15.) [HBD]

B. He Entered a Covenant with His Chosen People at Sinai.

1. In Egypt, the Lord revealed His glory to Israel. Yahweh had appeared to Moses through a bush that was on fire but not being consumed, and told him He had heard the cries of the Children of Israel in Egypt. They were crying out to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to deliver them from the especially cruel form of slavery to which they were subjected in Egypt. The Lord sent Moses to the Pharaoh to demand that he let His people go.

The Lord, who was now identifying Himself as Yahweh (HCSB), used ten plagues to persuade Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. The Lord said to Moses, “Then I will receive glory by means of Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh.” (Ex 14:4, HCSB)

The number ten is significant be cause it denotes human completion. The Lord completely defeated Pharaoh and in doing so, made a statement that He is the One and only God. When His dealings with Pharaoh, through the ten plagues, were completed, Pharaoh gave his permission for the Israelites to leave Egypt, but by the time they reached the Red Sea he had changed his mind and sent his chariots after them. We know the story of how the Lord delivered the Israelites from Egypt when He parted the waters of Red Sea, allowing the Israelites to cross on dry ground. When the chariots pursued them Yahweh caused the water to collapse upon the Egyptian army. They were totally destroyed. The Lord said, “The Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh when I receive glory through Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” (Ex 14:18, HCSB)

2. At Sinai, God revealed His glory. At Sinai, as we have seen in this series of studies, the Lord revealed His glory as He entered a covenant relationship with the Children of Israel. “The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day He called to Moses from the cloud. (17) The appearance of the Lord’s glory to the Israelites was like a consuming fire on the mountaintop.” (Ex 24:16-17, HCSB)

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, all passed through the sea, (2) and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. (3) They all ate the same spiritual food, (4) and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ. (5) But God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert. 1 Cor 10:1-5 (HCSB)

C. The Mt. Sinai Covenant Focuses on Jesus Christ.

1. The Lord entered a covenant relationship with Israel at Mt. Sinai. That covenant was binding and it was in effect until Jesus gave all who believe in Him a new Covenant.

“But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree He is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been legally enacted on better promises. The Lord entered a covenant with His Chosen People at Sinai, but Jesus offers a Superior Covenant to all who believe in Him. (7) For if that first [covenant] had been faultless, no opportunity would have been sought for a second one. (8) But finding fault with His people, He says: “Look, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— (9) not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. Because they did not continue in My covenant, I disregarded them,” says the Lord.

(10) “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” says the Lord: “I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.

(11) And each person will not teach his fellow citizen, and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them. (12) For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing, and I will never again remember their sins.” (13) By saying, a new [covenant] , He has declared that the first is old. And what is old and aging is about to disappear.” (Heb 8:6-13, HCSB)

2. Jesus is our Passover. The blood of the lamb that was smeared on the lintel of the door the last night in Egypt was prophetic of the blood the Lamb of God would shed at Calvary. “Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch, since you are unleavened. For Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor 5:7, HCSB)

A good friend told me a number of years ago that the choir at the Christian college where he worked went on a tour to California and other places. A staff member of a mega-church in California called the school and asked for a list of the songs the choir would be singing. By way of an explanation, he said, “We don’t want anything about the blood, or anything else that is gory that might offend the people out here. The blood of Jesus Christ would offend those people out there?! We sing, “What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” I do not find that offensive, I find it amazing - as in “Amazing Grace”!

3. The office of High Priest is fulfilled in Jesus. The writer of Hebrews informs us that:

“We have this [hope] —like a sure and firm anchor of the soul—that enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. (20) Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because He has become a “high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb 6:19-20, HCSB)

Jesus is the High Priest of a superior covenant. We should make a distinction between Jesus and the high priest who were descendants of Aaron. The claim that Jesus is a “high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek does not mean that Melchizedek was sent from heaven, as was Jesus. It means that he was appointed to his priestly office, as was Jesus. Neither was qualified for the position by being a descendent of Aaron. Melchizedek was appointed, Jesus was appointed by the Father as our “high priest forever.”

The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews was inspired to write that Epistle to Jewish people, who had come to trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation. The writer could be more specific with them than with Gentiles who knew nothing about the Law. The Jews understood the law and the sacrifices. They understood that the earthly high priest entered the earthly holy of holies once a year to make atonement for his own sins and those of the people (Heb. 9:6ff). But,

(11) “Now the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation), (12) He entered the holy of holies once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. (13) For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, (14) how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:11-14)

4. Jesus is the rock from which the water flowed. As the Children of Israel traveled toward Mt. Sinai they continually complained (Ex. 17:1-7). Yahweh provided good water, quails, and manna for them, but they still complained. When the Israelites reached Rephidim the people became especially rebellious as they demanded water. Yahweh told Moses to take some elders with him and go on to a rock at Horeb, and with the same staff that he used to strike the Nile, strike the rock. He did as he was instructed and water gushed forth from the rock with enough volume to take care of all the needs of some two million people, as well as their cattle. The water that came gushing from that rock was enough for those people to drink, as well as for hygiene and their animals.

They could not have lived without that water. Their animals could not have lived without that water. They could not have honored all of the commands, rituals, and sacrifices without that water. The high priest, for example, had to wash his hands repeatedly. All of that water, possibly enough to fill a depression one-half mile wide and two miles long came from that one rock. Paul was inspired to write: “For they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.” (1 Cor 10:4, HCSB)


A. The Chosen People Chose to Rebel against Moses and the Lord.

1. They observed the second Passover (Num. 9:1ff). They had observed the first Passover the night before they left Egypt. Now, they observe the second Passover in the first month of the second year after arriving at Mt. Sinai. They are preparing for their march to Canaan.

2. They began their journey under the Lord’s directions. The Lord gave them orders to move out from Sinai. We are reading history here:

“During the second year, in the second month on the twentieth ⌊day⌋ of the month, the cloud was lifted up above the tabernacle of the testimony. (12) The Israelites traveled on from the Wilderness of Sinai, moving from one place to the next until the cloud stopped in the Wilderness of Paran.” Num 10:11-12 (HCSB)

They set out on the twentieth day of the fourteenth month after arriving at Mt. Sinai. They had the sacrificial system, the tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant and all the other furnishings of the tabernacle. The Lord had organized the people so they all knew where to camp, with reference to the tabernacle, and they knew how to march. They had received the Ten Commandments and the Mosaic Law. They were ready to go.

3. From the very start the people complained against the Lord ( Num. 11). Remember, these are the people who promised to obey Yahweh. Maybe you have heard the saying, “When the going gets rough the rough get going.” That was not the case with those ancient Israelites. When the going got rough the people began complaining.

(1) “Now the people began complaining openly before the Lord about hardship. When the Lord heard, His anger burned, and fire from the Lord blazed among them and consumed the outskirts of the camp. (2)_Then the people cried out to Moses, and he prayed to the Lord, and the fire died down.” (Num 11:1-2, HCSB)

4. The Lord told Moses to send out spies to scout out the land of Canaan (Num. 13:1ff). The spies scouted out the land and returned to give their report. Ten spies reported that the land really was a land flowing with milk and honey, but they insisted that they could never conquer the land. Only Joshua and Caleb stated that God would give them the land. Because the people listened to the ten unfaithful spies the Lord told them they would waste away in the wilderness for forty years, until all those twenty years of age and older were dead. What a price to pay for their disobedience!

5. The people griped and complained, and they Lord sent His judgment upon them.

(4) Then they set out from Mount Hor by way of the Red Sea to bypass the land of Edom, but the people became impatient because of the journey. (5) The people spoke against God and Moses: “Why have you led us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread or water, and we detest this wretched food!” (6) Then the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and they bit them so that many Israelites died.

(7) The people then came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you. Intercede with the Lord so that He will take the snakes away from us.” And Moses interceded for the people.

(8) Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake ⌊image⌋ and mount it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will recover.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and mounted it on a pole. Whenever someone was bitten, and he looked at the bronze snake, he recovered.” (Num 21:1-9, HCSB)

Jesus mentioned this incident when Nicodemus came to see Him:

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, (15) so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life.

16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-16)


A. There Is the Entrance in to Canaan.

1. Joshua has replaced Moses as their leader.
2. Yahweh affirmed Joshua as His leader.
3. The Lord gave Joshua His marching orders.
4. He brought them from the wilderness into Canaan by His mighty hand.
5. They observed Passover.
6. They began eating the fruit of Canaan
7. The Lord cut off the Manna.

B. There Is the Conquest.

1. The battle of Jericho proved he Lord’s power to give them the land.
2. They tried it their way at Ai and failed.
3. Their strategy was “divide and conquer.”
4. The tactics were given by Yahweh as they were needed.

C. The people did not conquer the land of Canaan, God gave it to them.

1. God gave them a mighty victory at Jericho.
2. He made the sun stand still in order to give them a victory over five kings ( Josh. 10:1-15). The Lord alerted Joshua and he marched all night and caught these Canaanite Kings by surprise and defeated them. He cried out to the Lord for help and He helped them.

“On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the Lord in the presence of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” (13) And the sun stood still and the moon stopped until the nation took vengeance on its enemies. Isn’t this written in the Book of Jashar? So the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed its setting almost a full day.” (Josh 10:12-13, HCSB)

Look around you, day or night, and think what kind of force it would take to stop the sun, freeze the earth in it’s orbit, and stop everything in our solar system for “almost a full day.” This had never happened before in their lifetime, and there was every reason to believe it had never happened before. And it has never happened since then.

When the twelve spies gave their report after they had scouted out the land of Canaan, ten of the spies declared that they could not defeat the Canaanites. On their own, they could not have done it. But the were not on their own. The Lord gave them the victory. Joshua and Caleb were obviously convinced that He would do what He had promised. They just didn’t know how, but they believed Him.

D. Joshua Gave Israel His Farewell Address, Joshua 23.

(6) “Be very strong and continue obeying all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you do not turn from it to the right or left 7 and so that you do not associate with these nations remaining among you. Do not call on the names of their gods or make an oath to them; do not worship them or bow down to them. 8 Instead, remain faithful to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.” (Josh 23:6-8)

(14) “I am now going the way of all the earth, and you know with all your heart and all your soul that none of the good promises the Lord your God made to you has failed. Everything was fulfilled for you; not one promise has failed. 15 Since every good thing the Lord your God promised you has come about, so He will bring on you every bad thing until He has annihilated you from this good land the Lord your God has given you. 16 If you break the covenant of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, and go and worship other gods, and bow down to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly disappear from this good land He has given you.” (Josh 23:16, HCSB)


Around 2000 B. C., The Lord called Abraham and told him to leave his home in Ur of the Chaldees and go to a far country, which He would give to him (or, to his descendants), but only after they had lived in a foreign country for 400 years. They lived in Egypt, in the fertile Land of Goshen, which Joseph arranged. For a long time they flourished, increasing greatly in number and prospering in all they did. Then a new Pharaoh came to power who did not know of the covenant that earlier Pharaoh had made with Joseph, which allowed his people to live peacefully in the land of Goshen.

This new Pharaoh who came to power did not recognize the commitment that earlier Pharaoh had made to Joseph, so he set out to radically diminish their numbers. He enslaved the Israelites, imposing an extreme form of slavery on them that was designed to eliminate a large number of the male population who had the potential of becomeing warriors who might join some invading army and defeat Egypt. It was during this time that the people cried out to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for deliverance. He sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt, but He gave them the victory over their enemy.

Please consider the complete Exodus story: (1) out of Egypt, (2) through the wilderness, and (3) into Canaan. Remember that when they cried out to the Lord to deliver them, they had no idea what was about to happen. They were totally helpless, but Yahweh was not

1. OUT OF EGYPT. The Lord delivered them from Egypt to place them in Canaan, the land He had promised Abraham He would give to his descendants, but only after they had lived in a foreign land for 400 years. They had been in Egypt 430 years.

Egypt, in their experience, represents slavery and death. The slavery was designed to get all the work possible out of these slaves, and to radically reduce the number of male slaves. The Lord miraculously delivered the Israelites from Egypt so that He could take them to Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey.

2. THROUGH THE WILDERNESS. After the miraculous deliverance from Egypt, the Lord took them to Sinai where He entered a covenant relationship with them. He told them what He expected of them and they said, “We will do and obey everything that the Lord has commanded.” (Ex 24:7, (HCSB) They were at Sinai one year and would have been established in Canaan within another year, if they had trusted the Lord and obeyed Him. They rebelled against Him and He caused them to remain in the wilderness for forty years, or until all those twenty years of age and older were dead.

Yahweh never planned for them to spend forty years in the wilderness. They brought that on themselves. In the same way, a lot of people who have been delivered from death and slavery to sin will spend most of their life floundering around in the wilderness the Bible calls the flesh, and they will wonder why God does not answer their prayers, or why He doesn’t bless their business or bless them with good health. They get drunk, use drugs, use God’s name in vain, lie, cheat, steal, and spread gossip about fellow church members and still wonder why God does not answer their prayers. They are stuck in the wilderness and do not understand why the Lord does not answer their prayers and bless them in whatever they do.

Some people who have been delivered from Egypt do not realize they are living out their lives in the wilderness and not in Canaan. They not only live in the wilderness, they live on the border line between the wilderness and Egypt. They claim to be living in the heart of the kingdom, when in reality they have lived on the border line between the wilderness and Egypt that they talk like the people on the other side, think like them, value the same things, and love telling stories about experiences they recall, and invariably, they are stories about lying, cheating, immorality, and violent acts they committed when they were lost. Some not only sound like the people on the other side of the border, they even smell like them. However, from time to time they will say, “I am a Christian!”
Or, they may say, “I am a Christian, but...”

One man told me about a member of his church whom many thought would be a good candidate for the office of deacon, and my friend agreed with them. Then, there came a time when he was near where the man was working when the man began using some strong profanity. My friend said, “I could possibly overlook what I heard if it sounded like someone might have used profanity years ago, but had given it up until something happened to him on the job and he slipped up and used some language he had used when he was still lost. It didn’t sound like that at all. He sounded like someone who was perfectly comfortable with that language.” He said he had to tell the other deacons what he had heard and assured them he would not have mentioned it if he had not been convinced that he was in the habit of using that kind of language. I knew this man well enough to know it hurt him to tell the other deacons what he had witnessed. I also knew him well enough to know he did not want to elect a deacon who would go out and use language which the Lord condemns.

3. INTO CANAAN. Yahweh brought His Chosen People out of Egypt, not to flounder in the wilderness for fort years, but to enter a covenant with Him and then march into Canaan and conquer the Promised Land. A number of ears ago, the late Dr. Jan Mercer gave me a book by Major Ian Thomas and when I began reading it I found that the author had done an amazing job of portraying Egypt, the Wilderness, and Canaan. God miraculously delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, He miraculously led them to Sinai where He entered a covenant relationship with them, thus fulfilling the promise He had made to Abraham 430 years earlier. I make a point of giving the Lord and His servant, Major Ian Thomas, credit for helping me to see the whole experience as the work of an all wise and almighty God.

Now, let us look at something about each place: (1) Egypt, (2) the wilderness, and (3) Canaan.

(1) EGYPT represents slavery and death. Literally, that is exactly what it meant for so many. That experience also gives us a picture of the soul enslaved by Satan. The lost person is dead in sin and a slave to Satan. The lost person cannot deliver himself, but if he trusts the Lord, He will deliver him, protect him, and bless him.

(2) THE WILDERNESS represents that which lies between Egypt and the Promised Land. The wilderness was never supposed to have been a home to the Israelites for forty years. It was a real place with real people, at a real time in history. They were at Sinai a little over a year and if they had obeyed the Lord they would have been in Canaan within another year.

(3) CANAAN was also a real place for real people at a real time in history. It does not refer to the “Sweet bye and bye.” It represents for us the Spirit filled life, the life lived in obedience to the Lord and in fellowship with Him. Canaan was “a land flowing with milk and honey,” meaning that it was a land where those living there would be blessed with natural resources as well as productive soil for farming and for gardens.

Dead in Egypt

1. In Egypt, the Israelites were dead to their ultimate purpose.
2. They were dead to a covenant relationship with the Lord.
3. They were dead to the Land of Promise.
4. They were dead to joy and happiness.
5. They were dead to freedom.

6. In Egypt, they were slaves.
7. As slaves they served cruel task masters.
8. As slaves they were owned by ungodly pagans.
9. As slaves, their children belonged to pagans.
10. As slaves, they had no choice about how they lived.

11. As slaves, they had no control over their future.
12. As slaves, they knew only misery, there was no joy for them.
13. They were trained for work in the school of artisans in the Valley of Kings.
14. They did some amazing work, all for someone else.
15. If they could only escape, but there was no way.

As a matter of fact, their only hope rested in a prayer to a God they had neglected for a long time. They called out to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Delivered from Death and Slavery

1. They called on the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel).
2. From a burning bush, God spoke to 80 year old Moses and sent him to deliver His people.
3. Yahweh sent ten plagues against Pharaoh, the Egyptian gods, and the people.
4. Those ten plagues declared the supremacy of Yahweh over all gods and all people.
5. God parted the waters of the Red Sea and let the Israelites cross on dry land.

6. The Lord caused the walls of water to fall upon the Egyptians soldiers.
7. The Lord provided water and food on their journey to Sinai.
8. He revealed His glory at Sinai.
9. He provided for all their needs at Sinai.
10. He entered a covenant with them at Sinai.

11. The Lord gave them the Ten Commandments
12. He gave them plans for the Tabernacle and all the furnishings.
13. He gave them plans for the Ark of the Covenant.
14. He gave the high priest instructions for the Day of Atonement.
15. He gave them rules to govern relationships and worship.

16. Yahweh had them to send twelve spies to scout out Canaan.
17. Only Joshua and Caleb said they could conquer the Land of Canaan.
18. The people followed the ten spies who did not believe they could conquer the land.
19. They were condemned to waste away in the wilderness for40 years.
20. Wilderness followers griped, complained, rebelled and walked in the flesh.

21. They would rebel in the wilderness and the Lord would judge them.
22. They would complain against Moses and Aaron, and then repent.
23. Even Aaron an Miriam rebelled against Moses.
24. Moses disobeyed the Lord and was not permitted to enter the Promised Land.
25. Joshua was chosen to lead in the Conquest of Canaan.

Canaan, Land of Promise

1. It took the mighty hand of God to bring them out of Egypt.
2. It took the mighty hand of God to take them into Canaan.
3. Stone memorials were set up to remind future generations of what God had done.
3. Yahweh gave them a mighty victory at Jericho and other places.
4. He established Joshua as their leader and affirmed him before Israel.
5. He caused the sun to stand still for about one whole day to permit a victory.

6. Joshua did whatever Moses wrote in “the book.”
7. Land was divided according to the tribes.
8. They defeated most of the nations and forced others out of the land.
9. They left some of the pagan people in the land with their false gods.
10. They followed the Lord as long as Joshua lived (setting a pattern for the period of the Judges).


1. In Egypt, the Israelites were dead to the purpose of the Lord.
2. They were dead to the promises of God.
3. They were slaves to the Egyptians.
4. There was no escape for them.
5. They were dead to the covenant God had made with Abraham.

6. Spiritually, the unsaved person is lost to the purpose of the Lord.
7. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).
8. The lost person is spiritually dead (Eze. 18:20; Jer. 17:9).
9. The lost person cannot save himself (1 John 1:8-9) .
10. Only Jesus can give life to those who are dead in sin (Acts 4:12).

11. God did not deliver the slaves for them to spend 40 years in he wilderness.
12. He brought them out of Egypt to take them into Canaan.
13. Only He could take them into Canaan, they failed.
14. By His mighty hand He took them into Canaan.
15. By His mighty hand He defeated the Canaanites.


1. Canaan was a land flowing with milk and honey (Ex. 3:8; 13:5).
2. As soon as they moved into Canaan, the manna ceased (Josh. 5:12).
3. They began to eat the fruit of the land (Josh. 51:2).
4. They could not move from the wilderness to Canaan themselves.
5. Christians may slip from Canaan back into the wilderness.
6. Only the Lord can restore them to the Spirit-filled life.


1. Slaves in Egypt could not escape, but they could be delivered. The Lord, by His mighty hand, delivered the Israelites, and He is delivering people from spiritual slavery and death by His mighty hand today. In other words, He is saving those who are lost in sin and delivering them into the realm of life and light. We call it salvation, the new life in Christ. Those who are delivered by His grace do not have to spend time in the wilderness, they are placed in Canaan, which we will call the spirit-filled life.

2. Those who do not grow in the image and character of Jesus Christ will find themselves in the wilderness - walking in the flesh. Those who are genuinely redeemed by grace, through faith, often find themselves in the wilderness, wondering what went wrong. They may be the most miserable people in the world. They know they have been saved from death, but they are not walking in obedience to the Lord. They are walking in the flesh. They look, act, and talk like the unsaved person. Some times they wonder themselves whether or not they have ever been saved. They want someone else to give them assurance of salvation, but they are never satisfied.

Those who are walking in the flesh are not sent back to Egypt, but they can no more move from the life in the flesh back into the spirit-filled life than the ancient Israelites could move from the wilderness into Canaan. That takes a mighty act of God. There were obstacles before them. Today, there are many obstacles, but the biggest one is Satan, and if he did not hesitate to try to tempt Jesus he is not afraid of you and me.

Those who are in the wilderness, even when they rebel, do not have to return to Egypt. Those believers who sin, and we all sin, are not thrown back into Egypt. They do not lose their salvation, but if they do not find forgiveness they will be walking in the flesh rather than walking in the spirit. What difference does that make? It makes a lot of difference. Sadly, so many professing Christians are walking in the flesh that they are not aware of the difference between the life in the wilderness (the flesh) and life in Canaan (the Spirit-filled life).

If we are walking in the Spirit, in fellowship with the Lord, the Holy Spirit will convict us when we sin. What do we do then? Let’s look at the Scripture and see what we learn. Paul wrote, “ For all have sinned (past tense) and fall short (present tense) of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23, HCSB)
When we sin we must confess or sin and ask for forgiveness:

“If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)

When we confess our sins and receive forgiveness and restoration we continue to walk in the spirit, in Christlikeness. If we refuse to confess our sins and receive forgiveness and restoration we will find ourselves in the wilderness - waking in the flesh. Not only do we need to distinguish between the wilderness and Canaan, we need to distinguish between the wilderness and Egypt (slavery and death) Jess promised, “I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). Peter wrote,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, (5) who are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5, HCSB)

(The entire series is dedicated)

COL. Andy Shoffner has been deployed to Iraq three times and to Afghanistan one time. His father, the late Lt. General Dutch Shoffner, who fought through Viet Nam and commanded the Third Infantry Division during the Cold War, kept me updated on COL. Andy Shoffner and his brother, BG Allen (Al) Shoffner for years. I treasure the flag that “flew in the face of the enemy in Iraq” on a certain date, as well as the Certificate of Authenticity and a personal letter in which then Major Shoffner stated that he had survived because of the prayers of Christian people. He stated that he knows what it is like to have bombs go off under his vehicle and bullets flying by his head. When I read that I immediately thought of his family and the price they have paid for his service to his country.

More recently, COL Shoffner sent to our church a Flag that flew in honor of Providence Baptist Church on 07 February 2014 (which just happens to be the birthday of my mother and my grandson Jacob Sanders). We have both the flag and the Letter of Authenticity signed by COL Shoffner on display in our foyer.

Whenever I think about the sacrifices made by COL Shoffner for the United States of America (and for me), I remember that Andy’s wife (Mrs. Kim Shoffner), their daughter (Lauren), and son (Austin) have paid a price for our freedom and I am indebted to all of them.

Johnny L. Sanders
Romans 8:28