By Faith Israel Enters Into The Promised Land Part 1 - Hebrews 11:30
Our text is found in Hebrews 11:29-30, “By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.”
Hebrews 11:29 refers to the faith of the Israelite’s who crossed the Red Sea. Hebrews 11:30 considers the faith of their children when they entered into the Promised Land.
After crossing the Red Sea, their parents spent the next forty years wandering in the wilderness because they were faithlessness. This faithlessness was seen in the sin, idolatry, grumbling and complaining.
In contrast, the faith of their children remained strong until the day that they died. Joshua 24:31says, Israel served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the work that the LORD did for Israel.
Today we will consider their parents who wandered in the wilderness. I think that this will help us appreciate the sincere, bold, and courageous faith that we see in their children as they enter the Promised Land and faithfully lived by faith until their deaths.
Survey Of The Forty Years In The Wilderness – Deuteronomy 1
In Deuteronomy 1:19 Moses says, “Then we set out from Horeb and went through all that great and terrifying wilderness that you saw, on the way to the hill country of the Amorites…”.
If you are not familiar with the details surrounding these events you might read these words in this way, ‘Then we set out from Horeb, that wonderful place where we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and wished we could have stayed forever, and after that we left and went through the great and terrifying wilderness’.
However, Horeb was a pretty terrifying place too. Mt. Horeb is where Moses was given the Law. Mt. Horeb is where the people rebelled against the Lord and provoked His wrath and were almost destroyed (Dt. 9:8). Mt. Horeb is where the people cried out, “Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.” (Dt. 18:16)
Hebrews 12:21 speaks of this place in this way, “For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”
I want to point out that Deuteronomy 1:19 is not emphasizing that Horeb was terrifying but that the wilderness was terrifying, “Then we set out from Horeb and went through allthat great and terrifying wilderness that you saw…”. These words, ‘great and terrifying wilderness’, is meant to remind us that this wilderness was never intend to be Israel’s home. No, they were to enter by faith into the Promised Land whichwas ‘flowing with milk and honey’ (Joshua 5:6).
However, there is a problem with the faith of this people and it is not simply seen when they get to the border of the Promised Land. No, whether they were at Horeb receiving the Law, or whether they were journeying through the wilderness to the Promised Land, they were a faithless and a fearful people.
Because of their faithlessness this ‘great and terrifying wilderness’ would become the land of their sojourning. They would have to raise their kids in this terrifying place. It would become the land in which that generation would die and be buried never having obtained rest in the Promised Land.
It did not have to be this way. If they had faith they would have said with the psalmist at Mt. Horeb, ‘Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me...How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.’ (Ps. 119:97-98, 102-104) If they had faith they would have walked through the wilderness to the Promised Land saying, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow off death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies...” (Psalm 23:4-5a)
Yet, because they had no faith they never understood the reality that Moses spoke of when he said in Deuteronomy 1:31, “...in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.”
There were a couple people other than Moses and Aaron who had faith. They are revealed when Moses sent out twelve spies to survey the land (Dt. 1:23-25). When they returned ten faithless men gave a report that provoked fear. However, Joshua and Caleb who had faith gave a good report about the Promised Land, Moses summarizes this good testimony in verse 25 saying, “It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us”.
This presents a dilemma. Who is to be believed? Do you believe the opinion of the faithless majority or do you believe the testimony of two faithful people?
Moses does not seem to have any trouble discerning who ought to be believed. He believes the report that Joshua and Caleb had given because their words are in line with the Word of God. Moses is not confused by these things because he has faith and he is drawn to the faithful report. By faith he discerns the testimony of the minority to be the right, true, accurate and legitimate testimony which is to be believed and acted upon (25).
We must seek wisdom with faith or we will be unable to discern such things (James 1:5-7). Without faith we will continually be drawn to false truth claims and be tossed about by every wind of doctrine. We will be ever learning but never able to discern the truth.We see this in 2 Timothy 3:7-8, “...always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.”
Because the Israelite’s are faithless, when they heard the reports from the 12 spies, their hearts responded to the faithless words of the ten men with fear and unbelief. They said to Moses, “Because the LORD hated us He has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Where are we going up? Our brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, ‘The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.’” (Dt. 1:27-28)
Do you remember what Moses did the last week when the people experience a crisis of faith?
He preached to them saying, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:10-14). When they heard these words they crossed the Red Sea in faith (Hebrews 11:29).
Once again Moses again finds himself in a similar situation. The people are afraid because of the testimony of the ten faithless spies because they have heard that the people in the Promised Land are big and powerful and their cities are fortified up to heaven.
Once again Moses does the appropriate thing and preaches the Word of God to produce faith (Romans 10:17). We read what he says in Deuteronomy 1:29-31, “Do not be afraid or in dread of them. The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight for you, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.”
Sadly, the people did not respond in repentance and faith to this sermon. We read in Deuteronomy 1:32-33, “Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the LORD your God, who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go.” It is sobering to consider that so few if any at all responded to this sermon with faith.1 And yet, it is not the Word of God has not failed.
Then in Deuteronomy 1:34 we read, “And the LORD heard your words and was angered, and He swore…”. Let me point out four observations about these words.
First, Moses reminds the people that the LORD has heard their faithless grumblings, their complaints, their criticisms, their objections, and their protests. How easily we forget that our faithless words may have long lasting ramifications for us.
Second, we might ask, “What did the people say that angered God so much?”
We get an idea of what they said in Deuteronomy 1:39 when we read, ‘And as for your little ones, who you said would become prey...’.The LORD who had ‘carried Israel in the wilderness like a father carries a son’ is being accused of allowing their children to become the prey of their enemies (1:31). You can see why these faithless words would provoke God’s anger.
Third, God’s anger is discerning between those who had faith and those who did not have faith. We read in Deuteronomy 1:35-38, “‘Not one of these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I swore to give to your fathers, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the Lord!’ Even with me the Lord was angry on your account and said, ‘You also shall not go in there. Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.”
Not one person who is faithless will enter into the land. Not one person can enter the Promised Land through their own effort or by any other means than faith. Not one person will be able to enter into the Promised Land by any other way (41-44). Only Joshua and Caleb will be allowed to enter into the Promised Land because they had faith.
Fourth, In God’s anger He is very clear about the two judgments that the LORD is making in this situation. In Deuteronomy 1:39-40 we read, “And as for your little ones, who you said would become a prey, and your children, who today have no knowledge of good or evil, they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.But as for you, turn, and journey into the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea.’”
God promises that they would not enter into the Promised Land, but their children, who had no knowledge of good or evil would go into the Promised Land. Their children would enter by faith through grace. Their children were elected and chosen by God to go into the land. What a promise that their kids just received even though they did not yet have any knowledge of good or evil! Would God stay up late at night worrying if this would come to pass? No, God has made this promise and He will ensure that this promise is fulfilled.
When God’s people heard these judgments they reveal their faithless hearts by rebelling against the Word of the LORD. Faithless people do not have hearts that will receive the gospel and they will receive the LORD’s correction like Moses does (Dt. 3:23-28).
Therefore, Faithless people will attempt to enter the Promised Land on their own without faith and without God’s grace (1:41-46). When asked for proof of their salvation faithless people will say that they pray, they read their bible, they go to church, they are a good person. However, a person with a sincere saving faith will say that they are saved by by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.
This faithless generation has heard several sermons at this point. They heard the testimony of Caleb and Joshua, but they did not respond in faith (1:23-25). They heard the exhortation of Moses, but they did not respond with faith (29-31). Now they have heard the judgment of the LORD Himself, but they do not receive this judgment by faith (37-46).
As sad as this fact is, there is encouragement to be found in these things. So often we may wonder if God can get his gospel out into the world. Yes, we may be surprised at just how many times a person has been exposed to the gospel. Therefore, the author of Hebrews encouraged us in Hebrews 3 & 4 to not harden our hearts if we hear the Gospel today. Many sinners on the day of judgment may be surprised to discover they had ignored the gospel call on many occasions.
Sadly, after all of these sermons the people did not respond in faith and obedience. Instead, they attempted to go into the Promised Land apart from God and they were defeated. Then Deuteronomy 1:46-47 says, “And you returned and wept before the LORD, but the LORD did not listen to your voice or give ear to you. So you remained at Kadesh many days...Then we turned and journeyed into the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea...” (45-46a, 2:1)
Preparing The Next Generation To Inherit The Blessing By Faith
In the next two weeks we will see that their children were nothing like their parents. Their parents were faithless; but they were faithful, their parents were weak; but they were strong, their parents were fearful; but they were bold and very courageous.
All of this makes me ask, What made this second generation so different from their fathers who had come before?
Their fathers were not great examples to them of faith. Logically, you would not think that these faithless parents could produce a generation of faithful kids. God’s saving grace, however, can overcome anything and bring us to salvation.
Let me give you three reasons why these kids did better than their parents. First, their parents were an example of how not to live. Their parents faithlessness did not produce any benefits that were worth imitating. Their lives became a living testimony of how not to live to be blessed by God. When their children would ask why they were wandering in the desert their parents would have to say, “Because we have been faithless”.2
Secondly, these children were different because they had received a promise. God had promised that they would enter into the Promised Land. God had chosen and elected that generation to enter into the Promised Land and to have the reproach of the previous generation removed from them (Joshua 5:9).
Thirdly, Moses invested 40 years of his life into producing a generation who would be faithful to the LORD. This became his calling from God to fulfill while he was in the wilderness.
Let me explain. Initially, even Moses struggled when told he could not enter the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 3:23-25says, “And I (Moses) pleaded with the LORD at the time, saying, ‘O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as yours? Please let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.’”
Then Moses says, “But the LORD was angry with me because of you and would not listen to me. And the LORD said to me, ‘Enough from you; do not speak to me of this matter again. Go up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward and northward and southward and eastward, and look at it with your eyes, for you shall not go over this Jordan.’” (Dt, 3:26-27)
Since Moses was not allowed to go into the Promised Land what was his new calling?
We read in Deuteronomy 3:28, “But charge Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he shall go over at the head of this people, and he shall put them in possession of the land that you shall see.” We also saw this in Deuteronomy 1: 38when the LORD says, “Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.”
We might ask, ‘How often did Moses have to encourage Joshua? How often did Moses have to encourage Caleb and all of the children who would enter into the Promised Land?’
Hebrews 3:13 says, “Encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.”
We might ask, ‘How did Moses have the strength to fulfill this calling’
One way to answer this is to look at Deuteronomy 34:7where we read these words, “Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated.” (34:7).
Moses was given a call and was given this mission by God to encourage the faith of others. Then God gave him the strength and the ability to do it (34:10-12). God equipped him to fulfill his call with zeal right up to the day of his death. God had used Mosesin important ways to prepare this next generation to fulfill the promise He had made in Deuteronomy 1:39, “And as for your little ones...they shall go in there. And to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.”
Since Moses’ death the Law of Moses has been the schoolmaster and the guardian who has brought every generation to the edge of the Promised Land and then exhorted them to enter into it by faith in Jesus Christ. The Law can bring us to Christ and to His promises but it cannot give us these gifts. These things are by faith in Jesus Christ alone.
As I think of Moses during these 40 years in the wilderness I think that he would have been a lot like the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 3:2-10as he daily prayed and ministered to them. Moses would have said, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers...For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you...but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
Let me ask you, “What type of faith do you have? Is it a saving faith that enters into the Promised Land and finds rest? Or is your faith like those who never were not allowed to cross the Jordan?Are you receiving encouragement from godly men and women around you? And are you taking an opportunity to living to teach and strengthen the faith of those that God has called you to minister too? Do you have the faith to believe that if you will be faithful to fulfill your call this next generation will be the better for it?
1 I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”
2Hebrews 3:16-19, “For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter into His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-5, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.”