What Would've Happened?

What Would've Happened?
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
March 25th, 2018
Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash

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What would’ve happened?
The question I am really asking here is, what would’ve happened if the Children of Israel would’ve had great faith 40 years before they entered the promised land, when God first took them to it?  But before we can answer that, we should probably look at what did happen.

What did happen?
The first time God took them to the promised land they sent spies in first and the spies came back and reported that the people of the land were strong and that the city was heavily fortified.  So, they said “We can’t attack the people because they are stronger than we are!” Numbers 13:31

In other words, they saw the potential for a great battle with lots of death that probably would result in them dying and not going into the promised land… They were of course looking at this from a human point of view and only considered how this would play out under their own strength and did not consider that God would be making things happen for them. 

And when you look at doing life under your own strength without remembering God’s strength is behind you…Then yeah… life is difficult and hard and big and bad and ugly. And this is all they saw, so they said “No…” to God.   

And God said…
"Tell them: As surely as I live—this is the Lord’s declaration—I will do to you exactly as I heard you say. 29 Your corpses will fall in this wilderness—all of you who were registered in the census, the entire number of you twenty years old or more—because you have complained about me. 30 I swear that none of you will enter the land I promised[c] to settle you in, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun." Numbers 14:28-30

The result of focusing on just the hard part of what God was asking them to do, resulted in a 40 year delay in the Children of Israel reaching the promised land.  And worse yet, the people who were old enough to know better, would see the blessing that was about to be given to them, be given to their children instead and they would to live in great hardship for the next 40 years and die in the dessert, while their kids would enter the promise land. 

What would’ve happened?
Now, let’s look at what would’ve happened, if they had had faith.

Dt. 9:1-“Listen, Israel: Today you are about to cross the Jordan to enter and drive out nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities fortified to the heavens. 2 The people are strong and tall, the descendants of the Anakim. You know about them and you have heard it said about them, ‘Who can stand up to the sons of Anak?’ 3 But understand that today the Lord your God will cross over ahead of you as a consuming fire; he will devastate and subdue them before you. You will drive them out and destroy them swiftly, as the Lord has told you.

IF they would have had faith in God then instead of focusing on the perceived Hard Part of what God was asking them to do, they would have focused on the result while placing the difficult parts in God’s hands.  They would have focused on entering a promised land and this would have resulted in them immediately going into the promised land.

Next week is Easter and this makes me wonder… What would’ve happened if Jesus had just focused on the difficulty of the cross and not the reward of the cross? 

What would’ve happened if Jesus just focused on what would happen in Matthew 26:26-31?
“Then he released Barabbas to them and, after having Jesus flogged, handed him over to be crucified.
27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the governor’s residence and gathered the whole company[g] around him. 28 They stripped him and dressed him in a scarlet robe. 29 They twisted together a crown of thorns, put it on his head, and placed a staff in his right hand. And they knelt down before him and mocked him: “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 Then they spat on him, took the staff, and kept hitting him on the head. 31 After they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, put his own clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him.

Or what if Jesus had just focused on what would happen in Luke 23:44-46
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three, 45 because the sun’s light failed. The curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle. 46 And Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.” Saying this, he breathed his last.

I believe what would have happened is that instead of Jesus saying in Matthew 26:42 - “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”  He would have said… “Father, I can’t do this.” and He would have called the angels to His assistance and they would have come.

And if this had been Jesus’ response… there would be no salvation.  We would have no hope.  We would see our promised blessing disappear and go to a new creation.  Jesus, would have to destroy this world and everything in it because of Sin, and start over with a new creation.

But thankfully, this is not what happened.  Jesus DID NOT focus on just the difficult task God put before Him, but He focused on the long-term outcome, which is our salvation. 

What could happen?
What could happen, if we focus on the short term difficult thing or what could happen if we focus on the long-term benefit? 

If we are children of God, then we are going to face difficulty.  And sometimes this difficulty is something that God Himself leads us to. But why would He do this?

Why would God free the children of Israel from Egypt, and then lead them to a place with no water or no food?  This question has always bothered me.  I’ve always wondered “why…?”  And in all honesty I could understand why the Children of Israel were grumbling in the desert… they were hungry and they were thirsty and there was NO food or water.  But I always dismissed my questions and though “I don’t know God would do this, but I’m sure God has a reason.” 

I’m not sure I was always convinced of that justification, until our reading this week.  In the first two chapters of our reading this week, God explains EXACTLY why He did it.  He did it for the long-term goals of the suffering.

Dt. 8:3He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat.

Humbleness was one of the long-term goals…

Dt. 8:5-6Keep in mind that the Lord your God has been disciplining you, just as a man disciplines his son.  So keep the commands of the Lord your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him.

So, teaching the Discipline was one of the long-term goals…

Dt. 8:15-18He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water.  He brought water out of the flint-like rock for you.  He fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end He might cause you to prosper.  You may say to  yourself, “My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth , in order to confirm His covenant He swore to your fathers, as it is today.

Prosperity thru humbleness was one of the long-term goals of God making them face difficulty in the dessert.  

And if the Children of Israel would have focused on God being a good good father and had not focused on the difficult task in front of them, then they would have learned humbleness, they would have become disciplined, they would have prospered much more quickly and would not have had to spend 40 days in the dessert and then watch their blessing be passed on to their kids. 

And the same is true for us.  When we face difficulty that God has led us to in our lives (and remember we are talking about when difficulty comes from being obedient, not when it is out of our own mistakes) we have two choices….

We can focus on the difficulty set before us and respond by saying “Lord, I can’t do this, this is too hard.”  Which will result in either our blessing being greatly delayed, or even given to someone else….

Or we can focus on the promises of our good Father and enter into a promised land.  We will learn humbleness and discipline and will spiritually prosper.

So, as we face hunger, as we face a call that seems hard and difficult, what should we do? Say yes. And He will give us manna in a dessert.  He will give us water from rocks.  He will lead us through the snakes and scorpions and we will not be touched.  And we will enter a promised land, humbled, disciplined and prosperous.

The question is, when you face something difficult, what will you do?

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