Psalm 78:12-20 (NKJV)
12 Marvelous things He did in the sight of their fathers,
In the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13 He divided the sea and caused them to pass through;
And He made the waters stand up like a heap.
14 In the daytime also He led them with the cloud,
And all the night with a light of fire.
15 He split the rocks in the wilderness,
And gave them drink in abundance like the depths.
16 He also brought streams out of the rock,
And caused waters to run down like rivers.
17 But they sinned even more against Him
By rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness.
18 And they tested God in their heart
By asking for the food of their fancy.
19 Yes, they spoke against God:
They said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
20 Behold, He struck the rock,
So that the waters gushed out,
And the streams overflowed.
Can He give bread also?
Can He provide meat for His people?”
“A man named Jack was walking along a steep cliff one day when he accidentally got too close to the edge and fell. On the way down he grabbed a branch, which temporarily stopped his fall. He looked down and to his horror saw that the canyon fell straight down for more than a thousand feet. He couldn’t hang onto the branch forever, and there was no way for him to climb up the steep wall of the cliff.
“So Jack began yelling for help, hoping that somebody passing by would hear him and lower a rope or something. “HELP! HELP! Is anyone up there? Help!” He yelled for hours, but no one heard him. He was about to give up when he heard a voice.
“`Jack. Jack. Can you hear me?’
“`Yes, yes, I can hear you. I’m down here!’
“`I can see you, Jack. Are you all right?’
“`Yes, but…who are you, and where are you?’
“`I am the Lord, Jack. I’m everywhere.’
“`The Lord? You mean GOD?’
“`God, please help me! I promise–If You’ll get me down from here, I’ll stop sinning. I’ll be a really good person. I’ll serve You for the rest of my life.’
“`Easy on the promises, Jack. Let’s just get you down from there, and then we can talk. Now, here’s what I want you to do. Listen carefully.’
“`I’ll do anything You say, Lord. Just tell me what to do.’
“`Okay. Let go of the branch.’
“`I said to let go of the branch. Just trust Me and let go.’
“There was a long silence. Finally, Jack yelled, `HELP! HELP! Is there anyone else up there?’
Sounds like us sometimes, doesn’t it? We say we want to serve the Lord and know His will, then when He tells us what He wants us to do, we often balk at what the Lord is doing.
This was Israel’s problem. They were called out of Egypt to follow the Lord by faith. However, they seemed to constantly doubt the power, the promises and the presence of God as they traveled through the wilderness to the Promise Land. The entire attitude of their hearts is summed up in the 2 word question they voices, “Can God?”. When they asked this question, they were doubting everything about the Lord. They needed a lesson in trust.
This morning, I realize that we are a lot like Israel. We often ask the question “Can God?” Today, I would like to tell you, and show you from the Scriptures that “God Can!” The God we serve is still the Lord of glory. He is still the King of kings and He is still able to do all the things He has ever been able to do. You may be asking today, “Can God?” I want to show you today that “God Can!” Notice this great truth from this passage.
I. THE CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE
A. They Were Faithless – (v. 20, 41) Here was a people who called themselves by God’s name. Here was a people who should have trusted the Lord without reservation. Yet, they seemed oblivious to the power of God in their midst.
(Ill. Isn’t that a lot like the people of the Lord today? Instead of trusting God and living by faith, we worry and we fret. Folks, it doesn’t have to be that way! I want to tell you now, that we have a God in Whom we can trust, without reservation and without fear. Let us resolve to be like Jesus challenged Thomas to be, “Not faithless, but believing.” (John 20:27)
B. They Were Forgetful – (v. 7-16; 20-29; 42-55; 65-72) The nation of Israel seemed to be unable to remember all the great miracles that God had performed on their behalf. How He had delivered them from Egypt by the plagues. How He had parted the Red Sea. How He made the waters of Mara pure. How He had put their enemies on the run. How He had proven Himself to be God and to be all powerful time and time again. They were forgetful of the mighty power of God they had witnessed in their lives.
(Ill. Again, this describes us, doesn’t it? How many times has God come through for you? How many times has He moved mountains, parted the waters in your life? How many times has He lifted the veil of affliction and suffering in your life and allowed the light of His glory to brighten the day for you? How many times has He spoken peace to your storm? How many times has He met the need, done the impossible, and proven Himself to be God for you? And, how many times have we forgotten all about what He did yesterday when the trial of today pops up? My friends, we need to take a look back this morning and remember all the things God has done for you and me. If God did it then, we can be sure that He will do it now! We need to take inventory and remember the Lord’s power when the next storm begins to blow in our lives.)
C. They Were Foolish – By asking “Can God?” they proved their ignorance of His power and of His Person. This same scene was played out many times during the course of Israel’s wilderness wanderings, and after they arrived in Canaan. One time that comes to mind is when the 12 spies were sent into Canaan. While there, they encountered a race of people known as the Anakim. They were giants. When the 10 faithless spies saw the giants, they looked at them and then they looked at themselves and compared themselves to grasshoppers, Num. 13:33.
(Ill. This same foolishness has followed the church to this very day. We are guilty of the same foolish comparison. Some problem will arise in our lives, in the church, wherever it may be, and the first thing we say is “Can God?” It may take other forms, but it is still the same. Our doubts say “Can God?”, when He already has many times before.)
(Ill. This was the condition of the people, and I am afraid, we often mirror this same kind of attitude in our lives today. I want you to know that it does not have to be like that in our lives! We can trust the Lord, and we can know that He will demonstrate His power in our lives. One way we can know this is by having a better understanding of the Character Of God.)
I. The Condition Of The People
II. THE CHARACTER OF THEIR GOD
A. V. 5-7 His Promises – Israel had seen God keep His Word time and time again. He was always faithful to do what He promised to do for them.
(Ill. God hasn’t changed! He is still a God who keeps His Word! Everything God has promised, He will do! There are some verses in the Bible that bear this out – Rom. 4:21; Heb. 6:18; Num. 23:19; Titus 1:2)
B. V. 4, 12 His Performance – Throughout their history, Israel had enjoyed the presence and the power of Almighty God. Time and again God had demonstrated His power in the midst of His people. Imagine seeing Him part the Red Sea, drop manna from the heavens every day for 40 years. Imagine seeing God defeat all your enemies. Imagine the thrill of seeing His glory as He came down upon the Tabernacle. Imagine the pillar of cloud and of fire. God had proven Himself time and again to His people.
(Ill. May I say that the Lord has not changed in this area either! He is still coming through for His people. Look back over the years and remember the times the Lord has displayed His great power in your life. Hasn’t He parted the waters for you? Hasn’t He opened the heavens and dropped the manna of His glory on your life over and over. Hasn’t He moved in response to your cries of faith? He has proven Himself to you and me repeatedly!)
C. V. 4 His Power – Throughout their history, God had proven that He was stronger than every obstacle they faced. He was more powerful than Egypt, and the Amalekites. He proved Himself to be greater than their thirst and their hunger. He was able to overcome all they faced by His great power.
(Ill. My friends, God is still all powerful. The omniscient power of God has not, nor shall it ever diminish. He is all-powerful and He shall remain so until the end of an unending eternity. I just want to remind you this morning that God possesses all power in Heaven and in earth, Matt. 28:18. (Ill. The power of God – Luke 1:37; Job 42:2 (Ill. Gen 18:14 is God’s own testimony to His power!) Ill. Jer. 32:27. My duty this morning is to remind you that our God, Whom we serve, is able! Eph. 3:20)
D. V. 38 His Patience – While God continued to show Himself strong on behalf of His people, Israel continually lacked the faith to trust the Lord as they should. However, the Bible tells us that “many a time” He turned His anger away from them. He was patient with them and lead them along in love and in grace.
(Ill. Thank God we serve a patient God! How many times has He demonstrated that to you and me? There have been many times when we have failed to walk in faith in the Lord, but instead of throwing us away and taking a new people unto Himself, He continues to love us and work in our lives. We have a patient, loving Lord.)
(Ill. All I am saying is that we can trust the Lord for everything in our lives. We have a God who has demonstrated His power, His grace, His love and His character many times over.)
I. The Condition Of The People
II. The Character Of Their God
III. V. 6-8 THE CHALLENGE FOR TODAY
(Ill. When we look at Israel’s history and the way God proved Himself to them. Then, when we consider how He has proven himself in our own lives and when we look at His power and His ability, what are we to do with that information? These verses tell us in no uncertain terms what the Lord expects from us in relation to these truths. Allow me to share three challenges that face us this morning.
A. Have Confidence In God (Trust) – Ill. Mark 11:22; Psa. 62:8; John 14:1. These verses teach us that we are to trust Him for all our needs and in every situation. When the world wrings its hands in despair and doubt and asks the question “Can God?” We, who believe the Bible should stand forth and cry out, “God Can!” When the world looks at declining morality, escalating violence, economic trouble, decrease in the popularity of the church, increasing evil and ask the question, “Can God!” We must be ready with the answer, “God Can!” This has always been the way it was throughout the Bible and it still is today!
1. Daniel in the lion’s den. (Darius spends the night in the palace wondering if God can, Daniel enjoys the Lord’s peace and rests well knowing that God can!
2. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Nebuchadnezzar stood with a smirk on his face as he sentenced the 3 Hebrews boys and asked, “Can God!?” Those boys came out of the furnace shouting loudly, “God Can!”
3. The Widow of Zarephath – She stood watching as the prophet ate the last of the meal and wondered, “Can God!” Three years later she was still eating while all around people starved and when she finished her meal, she could whisper, with all the assurance of her soul, “God Can!”
4. The Disciples on the Ship – They were in the midst of the storm and thought that they were finished and their hearts were filled with this question, “Can God?” But, in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came walking on the waves, displaying all the power of the Godhead reminding the disciples, “God Can!, God Can!”
5. I remember a day when I stood condemned to die, under conviction of sin and lost without God. I remember feeling like I was the most awful and sinful person who ever lived. All I know was that my heart was filled with the question, “Can God?” But, when I bowed at the feet of Jesus and placed my faith in Him for salvation, I heard Him shout in the depths of my soul, “God Can, God Can!” I am here to tell you this morning that He still can! He is still God and He Can, Yes, He Can! (By the way, He can do it for you too, if you are lost!)
B. Call To Mind His Past Works (Remember) – Think of the times He has delivered you, when He saved you and the times He moved mountains in your life. Remember His power and all that He has done. Let His past works remind you that He is able, no matter what you face in life. God is able and He will come through for you, every time. Let the past be your reminder and learn to trust Him no matter what!
(Ill. Old Uncle Oscar took his first airplane ride. Knowing that he had been somewhat apprehensive about it, his friends were eager to hear how it went. At the first opportunity, they asked him if he enjoyed the flight. “Well,” commented Uncle Oscar, “it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. But I’ll tell you this. I never did put all my weight down!”
That’s how some Christians take the promises of the Bible. They have no trouble believing what it says about the Lord Jesus Christ saving all who place their trust in Him. They know their sins have been forgiven and that heaven is their eternal home. But they fail to take the Lord at His word when it applies to other areas of their lives. They’ve never “put all their weight down.” As a result they are plagued by doubts, fears, and uncertainties.)
C. Carry Out His Commandments (Obey) – Genuine faith in the Lord always manifests itself in obedience to the Lord and His Word. Remember, Faith come by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. When we get into His Word and allow it to lodge in our hearts, changing us, then we will learn to trust Him more and more.
Once I flew from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia to Beijing China. As I walked from the airport buildings to the jet I was subject to the law of gravity. When I came to the steps leading up to the plane entrance door, I had to climb up the steps using my power to raise my body up each step. On entering the plane, I sat in the comfortable seat and just relaxed.
“When all was ready, the jet taxied to the runway, and after a while began to move down the long stretch ahead. The speed increased second by second until, when it was moving about 150 miles per hour, it left the earth and rose up into the sky above the city.
“The force of gravity against which I had climbed into the plane was still seeking to pull the plane down to earth–the whole 200 tons of it, but there was another law in operation now against the law of gravity, a new law, the law of aerodynamics.
“I knew nothing of the law of aerodynamics. I did not need to. Because I was committed to the plane, and, because I was relaxing, I rose in triumph with the plane. The triumph of the jet was my triumph, its fantastic speed was my speed, all its possibilities were mine–because I was inside.
“Thus it is with the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. I do not need to understand the theology to benefit–all I need to do is commit myself spiritually to Jesus Christ as I did physically to the jet.
Notice that it wasn’t the quality of my faith that took me to Beijing in six and one-half hours. However, there was a frightened Chinese lady on board who spent the entire flight in anxious fear, but she got there just the same as I did. I am as strong as that in which I put my faith. If my faith is resting in Christ, then I am as strong as He is.
Notice, too, that I did not have to help the plane to fly to my destination. It did not require any urging or pushing from me–the power was in the plane.
Similarly, Jesus Christ can triumph in my life without help from me. The major difference between me and that frightened lady was that I enjoyed the flight and she didn’t. So it is with us! There are many who fail to trust the Lord and fail to remember that God can.
As a result, they live their lives defeated and discouraged. Folks, it doesn’t have to be that way! I want to invite you to come to the Lord this morning and find out for yourself that God can! Will you bring you doubts, your fears and your questions and lay them to rest at the feet of Jesus? As I close, let me leave this thought in your minds, GOD CAN!!
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!