Monday, June 24, 2019

“He’s got the whole wide world in His hands”

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Seeing with God’s Eyes
Sermon from Jan Fluit about Exodus 14:31
 
 
 
I would like to read Exodus 14:31 with you. This is the last verse in the chapter where the Israelites traveled through the Red Sea, with their enemy behind them. This is also where it says that the waters came down over the Egyptians when the Israelites were safe on the other side.
This is what it says in verse 31, “And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in Him and in Moses his servant.”
Yes, I can imagine that, because not so long before that, their enemies had been close behind them. The Sea, which they had just crossed, had been in front of them, with no way to cross. They couldn’t go on and they couldn’t go back. There was no escape, they were going to be destroyed. And then that amazing journey followed, on dry land, through the Sea, and now they were safely on the other side. Just imagine! Things had been troubling them and the people that had been chasing after them were gone! Disappeared, just like that.  
Translate it immediately into spiritual equivalents. Because let’s be honest, in theory these stories are wonderful, but in reality a lot of people died. So much murder and killing.
I am so happy that Paul said that we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). So if you see it spiritually then you can see that your pursuant, whoever or whatever it was that was chasing after you, was well and truly crushed. You definitely won’t have any trouble with THAT anymore.
 
So the Israelites are exceptionally thrilled. They believe in God. They believe in Moses. And I notice that those two go hand in hand. If you believe in God, or rather: if you believe God—you will also believe in people. If you start to lose faith in God and the faith of God, sooner or later you will start to lose faith in people, too. That is what happened here. After this comes Moses’song. Then with a tambourine in her hand, Miriam leads the people in a dance, because they have a lot to celebrate don’t they?
 
Once again, I can quite understand that. And still, I find something there that is really sad. They are already on the other side. It is faith after they saw the miracle. What I need, and I think what we all need, is faith before the miracle. Not necessarily with the tambourines and dancing, though. But before the miracle, without exaggerated happiness, but dealing with things well, is that possible? Yes, it is. Moses said before, “The enemies you see now, you will never see again.” He said this before they crossed the sea! It is amazing, that he is able to say that. Not to calm all those people down, because that didn’t work. Those people were not calmed by his words. We notice that too sometimes, don’t we? Sometimes we speak the right words to somebody, but it doesn’t help. That person just doesn’t believe what you say. They say, “Well, that’s easy for you to say.” But that’s not true, because you are in the same situation, only the other person doesn’t see things in the same way as you do.
 
Well, Moses didn’t keep calling, “You won’t see them again, you won’t see them again!”. He took hold of his staff. The staff is an image of the Word of God. That is what he took hold of. That is when the sea separated and they were able to go through. Now I think: What was Moses’ secret? What extra insight did he have? What kind of magic words did he know with which he just divided that worthless sea? Yes, what kind of a secret did he have? He had faith. He knew God. They were friends. Those two, they knew each other face to face (Ex. 33:11). I heard once that love looks the other in the face. It sees the other, it keeps an eye out for the other.  If you look at the other out of love then that’s where your heart is. It goes further than just looking at the other. Moses learned to agree with God, he learned how God thought. He noticed how God trusted him, exchanged thoughts with him, and it grew into a great faith in his God.
The people looked at what happened, they looked at the visible things. That is why Moses couldn’t convey his faith to them. Faith is a matter of the heart. When you have a relationship with God, you can say to the other, “You must have faith.” But it doesn’t work, because faith does not come from obligation, but from a relationship. Why doesn’t that person believe? Well, because he is hungry or thirsty and he doesn’t have anything to eat or drink. And you can come with a text, a verse, but these are just words and the person still doesn’t have any food or drink.
The Israelites stayed on that level, every single time. Sometimes they are greatly excited, then they believe God again, then they believe Moses again. And sometimes they are angry, too, because things don’t go the way they expect. When they feel that God is gone, Moses gets the blame. At one point they want to kill him, because he is just a worthless prophet. One example: In chapter 16 verse 2, it says, “In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into the desert to starve this assembly to death.” Strange, isn’t it? “Oh, that we would have died in Egypt.” Then I think, what kind of thought pattern is that? Why do you constantly think back to Egypt painting a very unrealistic picture of what it had been like, making it sound much more positive than it had been. They had been slaves. They had had to suffer under the yoke of people who had kept haunting them. And still they wanted to go back. Someone once said, “Israel was out of Egypt, but Egypt was not out of Israel.” That is a very clear picture. Somewhere you are stuck in your old ways, your old systems. It almost seems like a reasonable alternative, while you know that it is not true.
I have been under the yoke of thinking wrong things about God. I am so happy that I got rid of that and at the same time I notice that sometimes there are still some things left that I need to get rid of. It messed up my thinking so many times. It left so much mess in people. It is really difficult to get rid of that completely. How do you get rid of that strange way of thinking?
How many people still believe that God punishes. How miserable it is, that ‘sin’ seems to be so important to Christians, and that they keep confessing that. Somebody asked me, “Now I really want to know for once and for all how you can believe that you are not a sinner and you won’t stay a sinner?” I replied with, “It is accepting something from Someone, something that He has already done for me. If I have a debt that I can’t pay back, and someone offers to pay the debt for me, am I being obstinate if I accept the offer, or am I being obstinate if I refuse? If I accept, it is not being obstinate, it is a great solution to my problem. Someone else fought in order to give me life.” What a relief to be able to accept that.
 
Now back to our story. Let’s look at ourselves, here we can say, we are just like Moses, because we speak with God face to face. Other people don’t see that. But I think that now and again we also think that we are at the end of our tether. That we only have faith after the miracle instead of before. This defines you. How can this go differently? I will not give a definite answer to this today, but I want to find a way with you.
 
In all those stories there is a story about Amalek in chapter 17:8. Then, the Amalekites comes on top of all the trouble they already had. They had to fight them every time. So then it is already difficult. Well, ok, God supplied manna and water from a rock. So, little by little, you crawl out of the pit. Then there is the enemy that wants to destroy you. And these are difficult circumstances. They were in the desert, they didn’t have decent armoury and they were not properly trained. An easy target for the enemy. What I noticed now is: When you look at the word ‘Amalek’ it means ‘Burden’. Are you ever burdened by something? There are many things that can burden you. You want to feel alive, but there are so many things that burden you. It plays a role in your life every time. You don’t ask for a burden, but it just comes. Maybe you had a meeting or Bible study that really encouraged you, or in your own relationship with God great things happened. And then just a bit later those burdens just cross your path again. You don’t want them, but they come anyway. And it just breaks in on your existence.
 
The Amalekites want to fight. And Moses begins with the job assignments. He tells Joshua, “You have to send out men to fight Amalek, and I will go and stand on that hill top with God’s rod in my hand.” So that is what Joshua does (verse 10). He battles against the Amalekites.
“Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on the one side, one on the other side—so that his hands remained steady until sunset. That is the way  Joshua overcame the Amelekite army with the sword.”
 
I find this a remarkable story. And immediately I think, there is a great secret in that. What did Moses do? Well, he focused on God, with his whole heart and soul, he focused on what God said. He didn’t focus on what the Amalekites said, but on what God said. That is what he wanted to know. That was Moses’ ‘brand’, his characteristic feature. He knew how it worked in Egypt, for example. He grew up at Pharaoh’s court. He knew everything that went on there. But his know-how didn’t come from the Egyptian court,  but from God’s court, so to speak. He knew God’s thoughts. That did him take his position in front of the Israelites as well as the Amalekites.
Characteristic for a life together with God and having victory is knowing lots about who God is, what God says, how God Himself takes position and what He says about you. He believes in you. But Moses lifted up his hands. When you do this for too long, you won’t hold them up anymore, because your hands will become too heavy. Even spiritually, you will want to go that way, but there are so many things against you, that you just can’t handle things anymore. How amazing it is then—actually I think that Aaron and Hur represent us as a church—that they say, “We will do it together, we will hold up your hands together.”
 
When things are difficult for you, and you are part of the church, then people in the church will support you instead of blaming you for your difficult circumstances. That is how it should work. Your hands in His hands. His rod is your rod. When you embrace that, something completely different emerges. When you hold on to what God says, then the enemy will have to flee. God says, “This is a very important event. You have to write this down.” “You have to imprint this on Joshua’s life; that the memory of the Amalekites will be completely destroyed under the heaven.” I will destroy the burden and erase it completely. It is so much more than just lightening the burden a little.
 
 Have you ever noticed that at the beautiful things the reaction is almost automatic?For instance: some amazing story is told and the first reaction is, “But that is really difficult! That is really hard.” That is what gives the story credit. Now I think, when something is really a present for me, then it is not difficult, because it has been given to me as a present. It has been given to me by someone else. Then you can say, “Yes, that is more difficult for that other person.” Yes, if he can give it, it isn’t. See, we grew up with that, that things have to be difficult and complicated. God was far away and you had to prove it. It is almost evil that you always have to work, work, work. I noticed that recently again. They say to Jesus, “What kind of work do we have to do?” He says, “Just believe in me.” Well that is amazing! It is not like: “try this and try that”. First you have to believe what Jesus believes.
Moses builds an altar and says, “The Lord is my banner, I will hold Him high.” And then he says, “My hand is on the throne of God.”
 
It says, the Lord has a battle against Amalek from generation to generation. Lay your hand on the throne of God. That is what you can put your hand on. Then you say, “I make this my own.” My hand on God’s kingship, on that what He believes. That is what He has spoken, that is what He said. It goes above what Amalek is and what they say. They say, “When you conquer the whole burden, when you do your best, when you overcome that, then,  maybe, you will get your life back.”
Well, that is kind of a tower of Babel. By the building of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9, the people decided to build a tower from earth all the way to heaven. This is an example of building by a completely wrong way, and a wrong way of thinking. It is a problem of the world, the perseverance and effort to reach heaven. The consequence is that their languages gets confused; an example of not understanding each other anymore, maybe not with language, but with feeling what the other person means.
Jesus doesn’t want us to reach heaven from the bottom up. He places us in heaven, in His presence to think and believe from that position and to live in His love. He said to the Pharisees, “I come from above, you are down here; you are of this world, I am not of this world.” Don’t try to reach heaven from down here. People wasted their whole lives trying to do this. That really hurts me. When you see people struggle, and struggle, and struggle some more to make something out of their lives. That is not living. What does Amalek do? It says in Deuteronomy 25:17, “Remember what the Amalekites did to you on the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. When the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget.”
He says, “How do the Amalekites work?” He attacks the weak from the back. Those people that walk and can’t keep up, he isolates them and destroys them. It’s like, “Ah, what a shame that you can’t keep up with them. How long do you know the Lord? Well, what is going to become of you? Are you really doing your best? Do you really have enough faith?” That sort of things. Well, this crushes those people. God says, “I want the memory of the Amalekites to disappear.”
Practically, at one point some people really tried to do something about this. Saul for example, in I Samuel 15. Saul went to attack the Amalekites. But he was going to save the best of Amalek. Saul lost his kingship through that action. Because of that fact he says, “Well, I am going to save the best of the Amalekites.” It is just like saying, the best of Egypt, the best of the Amalekites. “Some things of the enemy do have something good in it.” Well, there is nothing good in it, nothing at all. That what does not come from God, that is no good, it is absolutely no good. I am extremely happy with the fact that God is all good, totally good. Not some parts good, and some parts not. Not even secret motives that give all kinds of trouble. People were ruined through blaming all good and bad things on God. God said this, and God said that. Well, you can’t live like that, because then in your eyes God becomes untrustworthy. I need a God who is trustworthy and who can help me to erase that memory. And we have found that God!
 
Together with Him, in this unseen world, where you may exist, you can make things disappear that are not of God. I bind the things that God says about me on my heart. And how can I do that? By whom? Well, He says that to you and sometimes by other people. Via an Aaron and a Hur in this church and other churches. It is great to experience that with each other. Look, visible things happen, yes, you can name all of them. You can also call that insight, but I think sometimes, “Things are called insights and they don’t have anything to do with insight.” You just saw things go wrong in the visible world and together with that you thought, “Well, that is because of this or that spirit.” That is not insight, that is manipulating the facts. But insight, that is what God is going to speak about when you bring your problems to Him. Do you know what I hear most often about what comes from God to people? People, who we know, how does God take care of them? People bring their problems to God, and they want those problems to be solved. The first thing the Father says is, “I love you”, that is what is heard  mostly.” I love you”. Yes, but you wanted to talk about your problems and God wants to talk about you and His love for you. Then you say, “My burden is far too heavy.” Then He says, “I think so too.” And you say: “I don’t know how to carry it.” Often God says, “Who says you have to carry it? Who made you think that you must carry  all that?” God says are you a spiritual being by carrying those burdens?. There are spiritual people who are very broken, they don’t know where they have to find a solution, but you will find the compassion from God. What I think is amazing, that is that God can be really, really close to you with His whole being.
I noticed once a certain thought, started to become very popular. People said that it was okay  to be angry towards God. Then I think, “Why should I be angry to God?” It is not that when I  am angry to God that He will blame me about it, not at all. I do notice that it is good, that where a lot of anger is, that I can come with that to God. That I can showit to God and that I can tell Him about it. I know God will be crying with you. That He says to you, “Hey, that pain, I have seen it in you for so long. It is fantastic that you did come to tell me about that. It is a matter of trust. We trust each other. You dared to open yourself, your inner being, up to Me.”
 
I find this a miracle  People, as hurt as they may be, that they dare to show themselves. With God you can always do this. There you can always show yourself. Because in His wisdom He comes to meet you in marvellous way. I read the apocrative book “Wisdom”. I would like to tell you something from this book. It is all about wisdom, and I think that is amazing if the Word is becoming  a person. Only when the word has become a person, it really works. Like truth gets a face. If truth becomes a person, then there is real life!
 
Now, God is wisdom, and we are on the way  becoming that too. It says in Wisdom 8, “In her is a spirit that is responsible, holy, unique, it has many sides, subtle, lively, penetrating, blameless, clear, sensitive, always thinking about the good. Discerning, unresistable, doing right, people-loving, unchanging, unable to be moved, not worried, omnipotent, omnipresent, able to penetrate all spirits. How responsible, pure, and subtle it is, because the wisdom is more moving than any other movement. It penetrates and spreads itself in everything through the power of its purity, because it is the breath of God’s power and the pure radiance of the majesty of the Almighty. That is why it is not touched by anything that is unpure.” Isn’t it amazing?
I think that it is amazing  that God comes to you in such a way. More moving than any other movement. The movement of God supercedes them all. He thinks differently and He believes differently. He doesn’t deny difficulties. Moses didn’t win because he said, “What? There are no Egyptians, I don’t see anything.” He had his eyes wide open, but he saw a different reality. He saw a God  who was leading them to freedom. A God that really showed the way where your enemy cant come. We may discover together the widom towards other people, and how to  speak like God: starting to  talk with compassion and filled with love..
In the past, you learned that you were not worth anything and couldn’t do anything. At that moment, that was a huge affirmation of the everyday reality, because you believed that it was true. Then there were the stories about a God who gave you everything. Rain and drought, sickness and health and all that trouble.  All from God’s good Fatherhand, is it really?.
Oh, goodness, people are so manipulated, they were held to lower standards. And now you can see God in all His splendour. Now He speaks about beauty, and about your beauty and He is telling that you are valuable. About the intense respect that He’s got for you, and about His compassion. It is marvellous, even in my own church, to see how God works. What I see, is that God speaks through people and to people because they understand God, and that feels really good. That same thing is what I see here. One doesn’t have to prove himself, but there is Someone with a heart of gold that takes care for you.
It is inside you. You know that God shows that He knows you. In the past I always thought, “When someone knows me, well then, he’ll reject me anyway.” But the one who really knows me, doesn’t reject me, he hugs me, and that does me really good. He knows everything about compassion and encouragement. He isn’t going to deny your problems. He is solving them in his own way so that you learn  to ask Him questions before anything happens so that you will look at things in a different manner. And that you will be able to see wich way things are going and you will become more aware about what is going on. When we follow Jesus’ example, when there were a legion of angels ready for Him, how many angels will be available for us? Think about the story about Daniel in the lion’s hole. He says in Daniel 6:22, “My God sent His angel, and he shut the mouth of the lions. They have not hurt me.” When you become aware of this, we will become aware of how it all works. When you are having problems, a legion of angels can become active around your existence, because you believe in God, because they are at home there. They are being taught by you. What a privilege. How amazing it is that you are so cared for and that God goes with you this way. It is beautiful that He really does. I just wanted to say a few more words.
TheGods way of working is unique. I don’t have to think, “I have experienced this and I’ve experienced that.” Because you look back oftento see if something is appropriate and you think, “Yes, but I don’t have any examples of that.” Also Moses had no examples of how he had to lead Israel through the Sea. But he kept looking ahead together with His God. Wisdom is also, and I find this a beautiful word, “subtle”. I think we often need that. The subtle nature of the Spirit of God , the subtle words He speaks. You must learn that as well. You must learn to treat people with respect. I think it is amazing that the Lord teaches you, when someone doesn’t treat you with respect, that it doesn’t ruin you because you know who you are in Christ. It does touch you when the Father speaks. We must focus on that kind oflife and that righteousness. And so we get rid of the Amalekites, those burdens, by walking close to the One that takes away all the sin and burden for us. We have accepted that He took our sins away, now we must also accept that He took our burdens away. That we will live and exist  in a completely different way. We will be witnesses of the God’s healing power in ourselves and also in others. The Lord has guaranteed us that He would do that for us, and we have acceptedthis promise of healing. Have a good image of yourself, because God also has a good image of you. Amen.
 
Prayer
Lord, thank You that you have given us so many things. Help us to continue to live with each other and with you, because that is what we want. Thank You that we can have a relationship with You and that we know what our future is. Help us to develop in the areas we spoke about this morning. I pray we can grow together with You, so that we can left our past behind us. When we are going through difficult times, please remind us that you want to help us. Please help us to stand around each other as Your people, Your church.
Amen.