A Life That Goes Forth
Matthew 8:18-22; Joshua 3:1-13
The old year of 1991 has forever passed into the hands of God and the new year of 1992 has begun with the imperishable, unfaltering, and unfailing hope in the everlasting kingdom of heaven. At this time, on this first day of the first month, let us believe that Jesus who is the sun of righteousness rises and shines upon us (Mal 4:2; Luke 1:78-79).
The title of today’s message is”A Life That Goes Forth” This life does not go halfway nor give up in despair. We received this year of 1992 (365 days, 8,760) but it is still an unknown, uncharted world. However, we can proceed because God has commanded, “Go forth!”
In Matthew 8:18 of today’s Scripture reading, Jesus instructed His disciples to cross to the other side. Then a scribe came and said to Jesus, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus responded, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” He was explaining, “I have this mission, will you follow me? Everywhere you go, you will be despised, scorned, rejected, and misunderstood as a heretic. Even after hearing such words, will you still follow me?” Another of his disciples said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” It would be fitting for the God of love, mercy, and compassion to say, “Yes, go and return.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”
From the standpoint of last year (1991), this new year of 1992 is on the other side. God commanding us to “go forth” means that He will take charge. While the entire city of Nain was mourning the loss of the widow’s only son, Jesus saw the widow and said to her, “Stop weeping.” Jesus said this to her because He, the Creator of all, will also bear all the responsibility. He stopped the pallbearers and said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” And the dead son sat up, and news concerning Him went out all over Judea and in all the surrounding district (Luke 7:11-17).
No one knows what the year of 1992, akin to the sweeping waters of the sea of distress, will hold for individuals, families, jobs, and businesses. We’re aboard the ship called “Year 1992” above the surging waters of the high seas. According to Matthew 8:23-24, those on the boat were consumed with fear while Jesus slept peacefully. There were no shadows of despair or worries in Him. Even in a world that cries out that living is futile, let us gaze upon the face of Jesus, our captain of our boat, who says to us, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Let us believe that this year will be our year, a year of victory and not defeat, when all is fulfilled with only progress.
Matthew 8:23-27 When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, a violent storm developed on the sea, so that the boat was being covered by the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
When the disciples shook Jesus to wake Him up in the midst of an uncontrollable storm, Jesus said, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” and then calmed the wind and the sea by rebuking it. Hence they were able to arrive at their destination. When we face difficulties in our lives of faith, may we remember these words, “What kind of man is this?” Do not sway back and forth, seeking men’s help after dumping Jesus.
In Joshua 3 of today’s Scripture reading, God commanded the Israelites to go across the Jordan River before entering Canaan. The people of Israel experienced the work of the Passover in Egypt, where cries and tremors shook that land of death during the three-day plague of darkness, where light shone only in the land of Goshen. Moreover, while trembling and complaining before the Red Sea with the Egyptian army pursuing them from behind, Moses held out his staff and they received the blessing of the water splitting and forming a wall. God’s presence and guidance was with them through manna, quail, living water pouring out of the rock, and the pillars of fire and cloud.
God speaks of the congregation in the wilderness (Acts 7:38) as follows: “I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself”(Exod 19:4). Indeed, just like the meaning of Ebenezer, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (1 Sam 7:12), God has led the people of Israel thus far.
Now, before the land of Canaan that the Israelites had been waiting for, Joshua took the lead instead of the great spiritual leader Moses, and the journey to cross the Jordan River began.
At this time, as we think about the Israelites who crossed the Jordan River in obedience to God’s command, I hope that we too will have the great work of moving forward in faith through the Word of God.
We must move forward with only the ark of the covenant before us
Today’s Scripture reading of Joshua 3:3 states, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.” During the Israelites’ journey in the wilderness, the ark was in the center of the camp. However, when they were crossing the Jordan River, the ark was placed ahead of them.
The ark of the covenant is a symbol of God’s presence and a manifestation of Jesus Christ. It contains the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, which Moses received on Mount Sinai, Aaron’s budded staff, and a jar of manna (Heb 9:4). The stone tablets in the ark of the covenant signifies God’s covenant. Therefore, moving forward with the ark of the covenant represents a faith that holds fast to God’s covenant. The Word of God will take responsibility for the people of Israel (Exod 13:21, Josh 1:5-9).
Joshua 3:4 states, “You may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” This means the Israelites, who are going on an unknown path, will eventually know the way to go when they follow the ark of the covenant. In the face of an uncertain future, we need a guide to make our path a joyful and safe journey. That guide is our Lord, the true Shepherd (Psa 23:1-2; 37:5; 119:105). When we entrust everything to God, who is the Arbiter of all life and the one “who knows the way we take” (Job 23:10), we will know the way to go even in an unknown world. Just as the people of Israel moved forward looking only at God’s ark of the covenant, we must also move forward as we meditate deeply about “Jesus, who is the originator and perfecter of the faith” (Heb 3:1; 12:1-2).
Abraham entrusted everything to God’s word and followed Him (Gen 12:4). We must depart from our present dwelling place in order to have a fresh start. It all starts with faith alone. Faith is not about parading our past achievements or becoming complacent. It is about determination and adventure, and throwing ourselves before God. We may not know where we are headed, but we depart in obedience and faith, entrusting ourselves in the Word that commands us to go. The Word will take care of all our problems and will guide us to the good path (Prov 16:20; Rom 8:28). We are safely protected when we are captured in the Word of grace that endures forever and ever (Acts 20:32; 1 Pet 1:25). Only those who experience the Word of God as our strength, hope, comfort, and refuge (Psa 46:1-3) will inherit the kingdom of heaven.
The two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments represent Jesus who came to this world as the Word made flesh (John 1:1, 14). The jar of manna represents Jesus who came as the bread of life and sacrificed Himself for our sins (John 6:48-58). Aaron’s staff that budded represents Jesus who died on the cross and resurrected as the eternal high priest (Heb 4:14). Today, we too must move forward only with the ark of the covenant, Jesus, ahead of us.
But there are things we must be careful about when following the ark of the covenant. Today’s Scripture reading of Joshua 3:4 states, “There shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure.” This is an amazing law regarding the procession. In the Old Testament times, if those not permitted by God touched the ark of the covenant, they were struck with instant death (Num 4:15). In the time of David, the ark was loaded on a cart to be taken to Jerusalem. However, when the oxen stumbled, Uzzah touched the ark to take hold of it and he was struck down with instant death (2 Sam 6:6-7). God’s word must not be taken lightly. We must truly revere and regard it as the blessed Word. May we all become saints who will follow only the Word, here in the main church as well as all of our branch churches around the world, and I pray for this and bless you in the name of the Lord.
We must first be consecrated
Today’s Scripture reading of Joshua 3:5 states, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” God will do great wonders, but under conditions. First of all, we must consecrate ourselves. To consecrate means to be holy and pure.
In 1992, God will grant us many blessings. You may get promoted to higher positions that are respected by many. He will pour down blessings, as much as your heart desires, and the blessings of your going out and your coming in will be granted, just as it is recorded in Psalm 121:8. However, the condition is “consecration.” God will work wonders when we live purely, as clean and crystal clear as water, without corruption or odor in our minds and physical lives. He will part the Red Sea and the Jordan River and bring down the city of Jericho for us.
If you suddenly get stuck with a problem at work, and no amount of effort brings any solution, don’t you ask around like, “Is there any way out of this mess? Can somebody help me out?”
When things are going well but you are suddenly stuck, when things don’t go well despite all your efforts, you say, “Is there any way to break through? Is there anyone who can help me in this situation?” You may utter to yourself in such a way. Consecration is the condition. Without consecration, we can never move forward.
Verse 5 of today’s Scripture reading states, “the Lord will do wonders among you.” Verse 10 says, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite.” God will drive out the seven Canaanite tribes when we first consecrate ourselves and follow after the ark of the covenant. How many are the entangling thorns in our families, jobs, and businesses that are like the seven Canaanite tribes! It can take years to find justice in the courthouse when we’re swindled. One thing we must know is “the living God is among you.” Believe that He is among us! When we undergo a significant event, our faces turn deathly pale and we refuse to go to church, saying, “Leave me alone.” We get tested and act in ways we shouldn’t. When you encounter hardships, remember that “the living God is among you.” Believe that God will certainly! Absolutely! Surely! Cast out all of our adversaries that are like the seven Canaanite tribes blocking our way.
There must be solidarity between the leaders and the people.
Today’s Scripture reading of Joshua 3:6 says, “And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, ‘Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people.’ So they took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people.” Joshua 3:8 says, “You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’”
Beloved saints, “God is not a God of confusion but He is a God of order (1 Cor 14:33, 40). The crossing of the Jordan River with Joshua at the lead was an elaborate process. The uncharted year of 1992 has been entrusted to us. But do not worry. Aren’t the priests carrying the ark of the covenant going ahead of us? Stop when the priests stop. Ministers who have an impeccable sense of their calling from God have nothing to fear no matter what anyone says. According to Joshua 3:13, the waters of the Jordan River were cut off when the priests carrying the ark of the covenant set foot in the waters. The waters were cut off and rose up in a heap (Josh 3:16). I hope that this precious and powerful work will arise as faith in your hearts.
We can only bow our heads before Joshua chapter 3. How were the elders and officers so united as they were? See how the people obeyed. How many people cooperated? There would have been great troubles had they gone their own way. We must not believe and do as we please instead of coming out to church and hearing the Word through the preacher. He said to follow the Word; He did not say to go ahead of it. The saints who were prepared first through consecration and trained in faith all crossed to the other side and, likewise, I pray in the name of the Lord that we will all become those who race toward the port of hope in safety in the year 1992.
Remember the history of the church in the wilderness. Filled with doubt and gossip, they heeded the words of others so that 603,548 out of 603,550 died. Joshua and Caleb listened to no one including their parents and relatives and believed that Moses was indeed a man sent by God. Even when everyone else lost faith and urged a return to Egypt, they were the only two whose faith were unchanged.
However, the Israelites provoked Moses to anger so that he spoke rashly and sinned. Though God commanded Moses to bring forth water from the rock by speaking to it, Moses struck the rock twice with his staff. Consequently God said, “You will die. You will not enter the land of Canaan!”
Numbers 20:10-12 and Moses and Aaron summoned the assembly in front of the rock. And he said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Since you did not trust in Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, for that reason you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”
Psalm 106:32-33 They also provoked Him to wrath at the waters of Meribah, So that it went badly for Moses on their account. Because they were rebellious against His Spirit, He spoke rashly with his lips.
It is written, “for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (Jas 1:20). When family members fight, even after leaving the house they can’t get anything done because they feel uneasy. This year, may we have a heart of true gentleness so there will only be works of prosperity where all matters are resolved with ease. Losing one’s temper is a sin that conceals God’s glory. When an anger-inducing event occurs, think to yourself, “Ah, I’m being shaken to see whether I have faith or not” and remember Moses. For Moses it was once but how many times have we lost faith? In our life of faith, if we’ve maligned the church, cursed the pastors, or doubted the Word rather than following it, we are no different from the Israelites. Moses prayed to be granted entry into Canaan but God told him never to pray concerning that again. Moses only saw the land flowing with milk and honey from Mount Nebo but could not go into it. When Moses laid his hands on Joshua, the power and blessings God had given Moses were transferred to Joshua (Deut 34:9). This year, may all be blessed to turn away from anger in their families, workplaces, and church.
God parted the Red Sea into walls of water in the sight of the Israelites. Not only must the waters be divided but they must also become walls. The walls of water collapsed, drowning Pharaoh and the entire Egyptian army (Exod 14:22, 28-29). May we all receive the “blessing of walls” in the year of 1992.
Water from the rock at Rephidim (Exod 17:6) also speaks of life’s abundance. When the water was struck with the staff, living water came forth. I pray in the name of the Lord that the blessing of Rephidim will be upon all families and businesses. One is always parched when there is a lack, despite working day and night; but there is vigor for life when there is a surplus. People cannot want for more when they have on clean clothes no matter how threadbare they may be.
Against the blazing sun in the wilderness, God made an enormous parasol with the cloud for the people to take cover under. At night, He made the pillar of fire shine so brightly that even the ants crawling on the ground could be seen, so that the people wouldn’t stub their toes on rocks. Such guidance will be present for us in 1992. I’m a believer. Even if someone comes to investigate or even to kill, I believe that the angels commissioned by God will confuse them and protect us.
Exodus 14:24 But at the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion.
There is no such clothing that does not wear out after 40 years, but the clothing and shoes of the Israelites never wore out during their 40-year wilderness journey. This is God’s amazing work of grace that carries His people to the end. The Bible says that God is faithful (1 Thess 5:24; 2 Thess 3:3; Heb 10:23); this means that He is reliable, definite, truthful, unfailing. When we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, casting aside all our worries of “what to eat and what to wear,” please believe that God will take full charge of us (Matt 6:31-33). For this new year of 1992, I pray that we will move forward without a frown and without any shadow of worry.
God doesn’t want you to struggle in poverty. Please believe in His word in Deuteronomy 8:18, “It is He who is giving you power to make wealth.” Manna still fell from heaven until the Israelites entered the land of Canaan and ate the first produce. God only ceased manna after they had eaten the produce of the land.
Joshua 5:11-12 Then on the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and roasted grain. And the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.
God is very meticulous. This is the God in whom we believe. When you are on the verge of facing a financial crisis, please believe in the words of Joshua 5.
Beloved saints, history continues to move forward. Today’s Scripture reading shows that God commands us to “cross over.” Please place the ark of the covenant ahead of you and push on forward. Those who live with Jesus at the forefront will never perish. I want to encourage all the saints to: first, renew your hearts; second, find your resolution; third, have a confident “I can do it” attitude, that all things are possible. Believe that God is in our midst and pursue your hopes and dreams.
There is a reason why the Israelites suffered under Babylonian captivity for 70 years. It was because of the sin of not keeping the Sabbath and the sabbatical year. There are 52 Sundays in the 365-day year. We must never make up excuses to skip a Lord’s Day. The Lord’s day is a holy and consecrated day. It is a day that we are blessed by God. In 1992, I hope that all of you will receive the blessings of the Sabbath and the blessing of the Lord’s Day, so that your descendants may become prosperous from generation to generation. Just like a sown seed that sprouts, blooms, and bears fruit, please believe that when you sow in faith, your children will likewise blossom and become successful, and great figures like presidents, prime ministers, and CEO’s will arise like swarms of bees from among your sons and daughters.
Rev. Abraham Park
Jan 01, 1992 (Wednesday Service)
*This post can also be read in 'Champyungan'. (http://champyungan.com/en/)