SanLo Community, an update for the week of September 8, 2019…
Deuteronomy 3:23-28 – “When God Says No” – Pastor Brian
It’s not easy when our prayers seem rejected but it is necessary in cultivating our faith towards a deeper and trusting relationship with God. Drawing nearer to Father God challenges our desire to get what we want rather than to submit to what He desires for us. When we rely upon ourselves and our own plans rather than His, it’s natural that distance between God and us occurs.
When God says no to your prayer what is your reaction? Are you frustrated when the answer is not what you wanted? Do you get angry? Do you question God’s power? Do you wonder if God is truly the authority over all things? When things are chaotic and not going as you would like, have you wondered how God shows He is in control? How is God’s sovereignty revealed when He says no?
God’s sovereignty is revealed through His GREATNESS. (vv.23-24) Moses acknowledged that he was only beginning to understand God’s power and recognize God’s supremacy over all other gods. There is no other god like our God who could accomplish what He did, does and will do.
After being led by Moses through the desert for 40 years, the Israelites have finally arrived just outside the land God had promised them. God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt. He provided food, water, shelter, and clothing during their years in the desert, and conquered intimidating enemies to get them to this place where they are about to enter the Promised Land. Israel experienced God’s greatness first hand. Though time and again the Israelites complained and moaned and even requested to be taken back to Egypt, God said no. They had to learn that even in the denial of their requests God was still in control. Romans 13:1 says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” God is ultimately in charge and sovereignly in control. Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” When we make the shift from pleasing others, including ourselves, to pleasing God, then we begin to appreciate God’s greatness and understand that when God says no, He is still in control.
God’s sovereignty is revealed when He extends GRACE rather than His wrath. (vv.25-27) Grace is best defined by Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing it is a gift from God, not a result of your works so that no one may boast.” There is nothing we can do to earn grace. When we make wrong decisions, choices, or act inappropriately and should be punished, we don’t deserve it but God offers it anyway.
God’s response to Moses’ request was an emphatic, “Enough from you; do not speak to me again of the matter.” The way the Hebrew sentence is structured implies that Moses had kept on asking God for permission, until God became “furious.” Moses relationship with God was close enough to have that type of conversation.
Another context for God’s emphatic no is found in Numbers 20:10-12. It is an incident at the waters of Meribah (Meri-vah). Within a few years of ending forty years of wandering, the Israelites came to the Desert of Zin. There was no water, and Israel complained to Moses and Aaron. Moses and Aaron went before God to seek His help. God told them to gather the people and speak to the rock then water would be provided. Moses, in frustration and anger caused by the accusations and complaints against him, took his staff and gathered the people said to them, “Hear now, you rebels, shall we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses struck the rock twice with his staff and implied that he and Aaron provided the water. Water came from the rock as God had said but immediately God told Moses, because they failed to trust Him, and attempted to take credit for providing water instead of God, Moses would not bring the children of Israel into the Promised Land.
Now that we have an understanding of God’s strong “No!” to Moses we read that God told Moses to go to the top of Mt. Pisgah (Peace-gah) to view the Promised Land. God did not have to show Moses the beauty of the land. God could’ve let Moses die in the wilderness as the first generation did. It was God’s grace to bring Moses to Mt. Pisgah so he could see that the people of Israel would be well taken care of.
There is another aspect of the relationship between God and Moses in this passage. Despite God clearly telling Moses at the waters of Meribah (Meri-vah) that he would not enter the Promised Land, Moses was close enough to God to approach Him. Moses knew he deserved God’s judgment but was secure enough to stand before Him without fear. Though we deserve judgment for our sins we too can confidently stand before God because of Jesus as Hebrews 10:19 states, “We have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus.”
God does not change. He is the same God in the Old and New Testaments. He is a gracious God who extends His grace to us through His Son Jesus. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24
God’s sovereignty is revealed when He KEEPS His promises. (v.28) God is dependable and trustworthy, His Word is solid. He does what He says what He will do 100% of the time. He keeps His promises. After taking Moses to the top of Mt Pisgah (Peace-gah) to view the Promised Land, God instructs Moses to install Joshua as his successor. He tells Moses to encourage and strengthen Joshua in leading Israel into the Promised Land. Joshua replaces Moses in conquering and possessing the sacred land. God did not allow Moses to enter the land but provided a faithful leader in Joshua. God came through and His Word came true under Joshua’s charge despite the detours.
When God says no He is saying, rest in my control, I’ll care of it, remember how I’ve come through in the past and all will be well. Father, help us, your children, to understand that when things aren’t going as planned and you seem to be saying no to our desires, that you are still in control. Build in us a faith that can withstand the storms of life. Build in us a faith that fully trusts in your control that others will see Jesus. Build in us a faith that fully trusts in you when you say no to our desires in order to accomplish yours.
Praise Songs: Holy, Holy, Holy; Our God; Good, Good Father; Doxology
Geneva Lum shared in detail about her summer mission with AACF to Hokkaido, Japan this past July 7 through 24. Please follow this link to open a full copy of her reflection letter: https://tinyurl.com/y3hsko54 You can also watch a video version following this link to YouTube: https://tinyurl.com/y49a5mwj She is very grateful for the support and prayers for her to go on this trip and asks for prayer that the Lord would use the seeds of the gospel that were planted to bear much fruit.