Thank you, Brother Matthew and Brother Joshua, for sharing. It is good to always be in the house of the Lord. God is always good all the time. It’s one of those weeks where it was just busy, and then you look back on your week and you wonder, “What did I do? Why was it so busy?” And I was up till five this morning, and I’m still struggling a bit, so if you could just pray for me. Let’s pray all together.
Father, we just surrender this time to you. I give you my mouth. I pray that you would speak. I’m just a vessel. Holy Spirit, I pray that you bring things to remembrance, that you highlight what you want to highlight. Jesus, you’re the good shepherd. You’re the good teacher.
We all want to hear from you as sheep. We want to learn from you. Thank you that you are gentle and humble in heart, lowly in heart. We want to be like you.
Help us today. We bring our hearts before you. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
What’s in your heart these days? What’s in your heart these days?
I shared last Sunday what was in my heart, and I did not expect to ball at the end of the service, but the Lord, He touched me, and God is still working through the things that are in my heart. So just pause for a moment and just answer to yourself, “What’s in my heart these days?” Maybe everything’s going well, but also that will also reveal a certain kind of a heart. Maybe nothing is going well. It will reveal likewise a heart condition. Maybe you’re super busy and a certain heart emerges. Maybe you’re so bored and a different heart emerges, but it’s the same you.
It’s like I always think, “Well, if I just had this one thing, everything will be solved,” and then God gives it to me and then I realize, “Well, that didn’t solve anything. I’m still the same me.” And so the main thing I think the Lord wants us to deal with this afternoon is our heart. Like where are we with the Lord? What is our heart condition? If we had a physical heart problem, it would be a major emergency. All of us would be training, running, eating better because when it comes to physical things, we put such a premium on it that we will do whatever it takes to get our physical heart, our physical body well.
But if our heart, which is the most important spiritual organ in your life, if our spiritual heart is not well, do we take it seriously? Do we just ignore? Do we just stuff it and not pay attention to it? I think that different circumstances that we’re in reveal the condition of our heart. There are big movements in scripture that I see because I’ve been reading the Old Testament, read through the Exodus, I’m now then Numbers, Leviticus, and now I’m starting to move into Joshua and I just see big historical movements in Israel’s history. I see seasons that would relate to me as a believer and maybe all of us as believers, we have different seasons and I think all of this is a template for the Christian life. You have slavery in Egypt, that was BC, that was before Christ.
We had certain desires, certain agendas, certain goals, certain idols, and we pursued those things and then suddenly in the midst of pursuing it, we met Jesus and then everything changed and that was symbolized by Moses being sent to Pharaoh, parting of the Red Sea, that was symbolic of baptism, and then we would assume that from there everything is smooth sailing, but as you’ve been a Christian for a while, you realize it doesn’t just automatically take care of everything because we met Jesus and we find ourselves in a different season. It’s a wilderness season and this could be quite long in a believer’s life. This is wandering, directionless, restless, a lot of testing and there’s this internal battle that is being waged. Then there’s the next season that was all under Moses’s leadership and now under Joshua’s leadership and Joshua is a type for Jesus and I think it points to the filling of the Holy Spirit. So we got a deposit at salvation, there’s an additional filling of the Spirit that’s symbolized by a different parting of a Jordan River and walking through that. There are external foes, there are territories that we claim, there is conquering, overcoming, and that’s a different kind of a season. Then you enter the promised land and there is victory and there’s finally there’s rest, but there’s other dangers there that it didn’t show in the wilderness.
It didn’t show as you’re going through the Jordan River, but as you settle in the promised land, there’s a different kind of a heart and dangers that are revealed. Last week I mentioned Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16 and the Lord keeps bringing this to me because he challenged the authority of Moses and Aaron and Moses and Aaron were priests in the line of the Levitical priests and specifically Aaron was given the priestly duty to be in charge of all the other Levitical clans. So there are three major clans. There’s Levi and he’s the father of Kohath and there’s Kohath the father of Izar and Izar is the father of Korah.That’s one of the clans among the Levites. I just assumed, like all the Levites, aren’t they all the same? Don’t they all do the same thing? But it turns out, as I read more carefully Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, that they have distinct roles and responsibilities.
Aaron is in charge; he’s in front; he has that kind of a high priestly duty, you could say. Then Korah, who’s from the clan of Kohath, he has a specific role and responsibility to care for the elements in the sanctuary, like the table of showbread and the Holy of Holies, all the Ark of the Covenant, everything there. So this is not just the setup of it, but the teardown and the transport of these furnishings. If you remember, there was Uzzah, who is one of them. He was carrying the Ark of the Covenant on a pole on the shoulders, and this is the line of Korah that was judged. The oxen stumbled, and the Ark was about to fall. He reaches out, touches it, and God strikes him dead.
This was to show the holiness of the Lord and the disobedience or the negligence of this priest who thought he was worthy enough to touch that, and that’s revealed in 2nd Samuel chapter 6. So Moses, Aaron, Miriam, their father was a Levite, Amram. Then in Exodus 13, that is the account of God striking all the firstborn in Egypt. So he set aside the firstborn, he sanctified them, he consecrated them, all the firstborn males and animals. Then in Numbers three, we read that the Levites replaced the firstborn. To me, this was so strange when I was reading about this, like what is this substitution that’s happening? In Numbers three and four, there is Kohath and all of his lineage, the children including Korah.
They are responsible for the sacred objects in the sanctuary. There are 22,000 Levites, and then the census was taken, and they counted all of the firstborn males in the whole nation of Israel, and there were 22,273. So it’s 273 off, and God says, “Well, you need to account for those extra that need to be ransom, and there’s a ransom price that you need to pay, and it’s five shekels per head.” So total, five times 273 is 1,365 shekels. So the Levites became a substitute for all the firstborn that God had claimed for himself. Prior to that, fathers who had firstborn sons, like I have Timothy, it would cross my mind if I was an Israelite in that day, like if I’m going to the temple, what does it mean that Timothy belongs to the Lord? Am I supposed to dedicate him like Hannah and Elkanah dedicated Samuel to serve in the temple under Eli’s leadership?
Am I supposed to assume Timothy will be a pastor? He is a firstborn. So that’s kind of the mindset of these fathers who are going to the temple, and God claims the firstborn, but then God replaces it with the whole Levitical line and says, “These are mine. They will serve in the tabernacle.” This was a sign, this substitution of the Levites and this ransom price of 273 extra males compared to the Levitical priests. This was all a sign, a way of God communicating to the next generation. This Exodus event is a big deal.
The fact that you were saved, and it was a mighty hand of the Lord that brought you out, is a big deal. I want you to explain to the next generation how great of a salvation this is. You need to communicate to your child, even your firstborn child, that originally maybe you had to dedicate, but now you’re going to offer a price so that you can, in a sense, buy back your son’s freedom. He doesn’t have to work in the temple because now the Levites are there. So all of this, obviously, is communicating Jesus. He is our ransom; he paid the ransom with his life. He is our substitute; we should have died, but he died on a cross for us.
All of this is in this whole firstborn son substitution of the Levites. It begs the question, why were the Levites chosen? It’s not clear in scripture, but there is the golden calf incident in Exodus 32, and Aaron was complicit in this. So Aaron wasn’t chosen to be in the front of the Levitical priests because he’s so holy, he’s so righteous. No, he fell like we all do. But when Moses comes and he says, “Who will stand with me on God’s side?” the Levites stand up.
So maybe they are the one tribe that did not participate in this golden calf incident. Maybe that’s why they were not corrupted; that’s why God chose them. Just a speculation. So Korah, had he not rebelled, had he remained humble, had he trusted in the Lord and been faithful to just doing his duties and accepting his lot in life, did you know that he would be the one marching alongside Joshua in the front, carrying the Ark of the Covenant, and as the priest dipped the soles of their feet into the Jordan River? Korah, would have been the first to experience the miracle of the Jordan River stopping, similar to the Red Sea miracle.
However, he didn’t because he couldn’t deal with the rebellion. He didn’t accept his lot in life. Despite being elevated among all the Israelites, serving in the tabernacle of God, and carrying the sanctuary objects, the holy things, it was too small a thing for them. They rebelled and forfeited this amazing privilege that was maybe just around the corner: to experience God in this kind of miraculous way with the Jordan River. And it’s not just Korah. We read, right after Korah’s rebellion, on the very next day in Numbers 16:41, all the congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the Lord. You killed Korah.
You killed 250 others who were rebelling against Moses and Aaron.” So, this rebellion runs deep. This is God showing us the heart of man. What comes out when you’re in a wilderness? What comes out when it seems like nothing is happening, when it seems like you’re just kicking sand, when it’s like dead ends everywhere? It’s just boring. It’s just the same manna coming down from heaven.
Nothing is happening. It’s so boring. You’re losing motivation. What happens in a season like that? As we see in Korah’s case, as we see in all of the nation of Israel, there is rebellion and complaint. Do you see that in your heart if you’re in a similar season? What did God do to Korah and to many who rebelled?
They were judged. God is inviting us this afternoon to deal with the rebellion and the complaining in our hearts. Fast-forward to another passage, Deuteronomy chapter 8. There are two parts here. There is the wilderness, the first part, and the promised land, the second part. The first part, the wilderness under Moses’s leadership, clearly states the purpose of the 40 years was to humble us, to test us, and to know what is in our hearts. So, if you’re going through a season where it’s just frustrating, I think in America we’re in a season where just something is not right.
2 And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. (Deuteronomy 8:2, ESV)
It’s frustrating. It’s like, “How come criminals are not in jail? How come the evil is just parading itself and mocking every day on the news?” It’s like we’re in this season where our reaction, if we’re not careful, can be a lot of complaining and a lot of rebellion. It happened to the Israelites. They saw what was in our heart.
In times of similar wilderness, you see what’s in your heart. Instead of seeing what God did, how he brought me out of Egypt, how he saved me, how he delivered me, instead of giving thanks, instead of giving thanks for how he brought water out of a rock, and we know that 1 Corinthians 10 says the rock is Christ. Christ was there, pre-incarnate. Christ was there in the wilderness. Instead of seeing the faithfulness of the Lord and the provision of the Lord, not just water, he fed me.
As far as I can tell, none of us here are starving. We’re provided for. He’s been so good to us. But instead of gratitude, instead of contentment, instead of accepting our lot, we grumble because there is rebellion. The second part of Deuteronomy chapter 8 is under the leadership of Joshua. Now, as you’re entering the promised land, there is victory and there is conquest. It’s a lot more exciting. Things are moving. You’re overcoming things, conquering things, taking territory.
It seems like, “Okay, this is what I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been waiting for this. Finally, the wilderness is behind me. Now, I’m marching to victory.” But oddly, it warns that when they entered the promised land, instead of praising God, what happened is this: it says their hearts were lifted up, their hearts were exalted, they became proud, and worst of all, they forgot about the Lord. They started taking credit for all the blessing in their lives and they said, “The fact that we are enjoying all this, I did it. I conquered them.
I fought them. It’s because I’m so strong. It’s because I’m so gifted. It’s because I’m so great. Look at what, look at how God has blessed me. I did it. I’m on God’s side and I’m finally being used of the Lord.
Look at all the prosperity.” We don’t do well in a wilderness. We also don’t do well in prosperity. It’s like you think, “Okay, finally, just rest around the corner. I just need to get there.” You get there, God blesses you, and then God reveals what’s in your heart. There’s a lot of pride there.
A lot of pride. So, my conclusion is, what do I really want? Am I so eager to end the wilderness, to get past the Jordan River, to get to the other side and for God to start getting things moving? Is that what I’m really after? Because if I don’t deal with my heart, my own heart is following me into this promised land. And then what comes out? It may look different, but it’s the same root issue of self-centeredness.
Before, it was complaining and rebellion. Now, it’s pride. “I’m taking credit. I think I’m so great. I forget the Lord. I become proud. I exalt myself.
Is it any better across the Jordan River if my heart doesn’t change? No, it’s in some ways, it’s worse. That God blesses me even more and I don’t even pause and thank Him, and give Him all the glory and credit, and I steal His glory. Isn’t that worse? Some perished in the wilderness. They got judged in the wilderness. Others perished and got judged in the promised land.
And it’s always about the heart. God is interested in your heart. If you’re in a season of wilderness wandering, kicking sand, you’re waiting. God wants to deal with your heart. If things are moving and there’s some victory, you’re claiming territory, you’re conquering and overcoming, God also wants your heart. What’s coming out? Is it complaining, rebellion?
Is it pride and relaxation? Look at what I’ve done and kick up your heels and enjoy the spoils of war. Look at how great I am. In either case, you’re in trouble if you don’t deal with your heart. So, what is in your heart? May the Lord reveal it to you in this time so that you and I can repent. Okay, let’s pray.
Father, starting with me, we are so sorry. We’re so sorry. On some days, we’re rebels and we complain. Other days, we’re proud. We forget you and we exalt ourselves. This heart is so deceitful. We can live out years and decades and not even know where we stand before you.
We repent of all rebellion, all complaining, all self-exaltation, all pride. We repent for forgetting you, for taking credit for all that you’ve blessed us with, for stealing your glory, not glorifying you enough, not thanking you enough. Forgive us, Lord. Forgive us, Lord. We deserve wrath. We deserve, like Korah, to be swallowed up by the earth and the other rebels, fire from heaven. And yet, you’ve shown us grace.
You’ve given us another day to live that we may repent and beg for forgiveness. Forgive us, Lord. Forgive us, Lord. Whatever season we’re in, our heart, if it stays the same, we’re in trouble. Seasons can change, but our heart needs to change first and foremost. Lord Jesus, we come to you. We bring whatever state our heart is in.
We bring it to you, Lord Jesus. We bring you our rebellion. We bring you our pride. We bring you our frustration. We bring whatever complaining that’s in our heart, our lack of gratitude, our self-glory seeking, the praise of man. We bring our heart before you. We want to learn from you, Lord Jesus.
You have a lowly heart. Please exchange our heart with yours. We want your heart, Lord Jesus. We want to learn from you in this time. Thank you that you are the firstborn son. You’re the sinless son. You’re the obedient son, and you ransomed our lives with your life.
You paid the price by dying on a cross, by allowing your body to be broken, your blood shed. Thank you that you redeemed us. You paid the price in full. And for all those among us who place our absolute faith in Jesus, we’re called children of God, co-heirs with Christ. Thank you, Lord Jesus. We pray that you minister to us as we partake in the Lord’s Supper. Thank you, Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.