• Joe Strange

Content Is Not Always a Good Thing

We did not have a guess speaker on the 15th of September. I gave the lesson that week. Here is what I had typed up for our lesson. Once again I would like to invite you to stop in and say hi to everybody. Especially me.

23 My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. 24 Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces. 25 Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, 26 and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.

27 “I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. 28 I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.

31 “I will establish your borders from the Red Sea[a] to the Mediterranean Sea,[b] and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you. 32 Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.”

When I was chosen to give a sermon here, I was told the toughest part would be to give Ellen a title and a scripture to go with it. I have found this to be true. As I got into the lesson, I was preparing I decided there was a better title. But that comes later in my lesson. For now, let us stick with Contentment: Not Always A Good Thing.

The ancient Israelites became Content and it hurt them. The Bible gives us so many lessons. The ones I like are from the ancient Israelites.

There are several thoughts about the Promise Land. Was it fully ever occupied by the Israelites? Even in Solomon’s time when the Kingdom was at its greatest the land was not occupied. There might be some confusion here because there is a difference in occupation and possession. When Joshua completed his military campaign what he had done was destroy all the standing armies.

The people were still there the Canaanites still occupied and lived in the cities. As the book of Joshua ends, we find a period of rest for the Israelites. They are resting.

1 After a long time had passed and the LORD had given Israel rest from all their enemies around them, Joshua, by then a very old man,

They are resting. Does not say they are done. Remember they are not

33 Do not let them live in your land or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.”

They are to drive them out. They have been given their inheritance, are now living in nice homes they did not build. Raising crops, they did not plant and livestock they did not have buy.

As the book of Judges picks up the story after Joshua has died we find the tribe of Judah with the aid of Simeon are completely driving out the Canaanites. Or are they?

And the descendants of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law, went up with the people of Judah from the city of palms into the wilderness of Judah, which lies in the Negeb near Arad, and they went and settled with the people. And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they defeated the Canaanites who inhabited Zephath and devoted it to destruction. So the name of the city was called Hormah. Judah also captured Gaza with its territory, and Ashkelon with its territory, and Ekron with its territory. And the Lord was with Judah, and he took possession of the hill country, but he could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had chariots of iron.

What happened? Joshua 23:

9 “The LORD has driven out before you great and powerful nations; to this day no one has been able to withstand you.

10 One of you routs a thousand, because the LORD your God fights for you, just as he promised.

It is easy to read right over that and except it. Oh, chariots of iron, to tough for the Israelites to do this. What is not written in that narrative is that Judah tried. It reads to me a statement of “can’t beat those guys, why try?” If they had tried would it not say so. What happened. Could contentment have sent in. Fear could have done it sure. But after all those other military victories how could their confidence be low. Don’t they remember Jericho. Just march around those chariots. I’m not going there now but later in Israel’s history God has it rain so much that they defeat chariots because they get bogged down in rain. Why then did they stop?

Joshua 17

17 Then Joshua said to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, "You are a numerous people and have great power. You shall not have one allotment only, 18 but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders. For you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots and though they are strong

Wait there is more.

We read in verse Judges 1:8 that "the men of Judah fought against Jerusalem and captured it and struck it with the edge of the sword and set the city on fire."

Yet we read in verse 21: In verse 21, we read "But the people of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites who lived in Jerusalem, so the Jebusites have lived with the people of Benjamin in Jerusalem to this day."

What happened? I go back too; one army defeats the standing army of a territory. Maybe they surrender, I don’t believe that because apparently there is no Geneva convention in those day. The people living in Jerusalem were not driven out. I believe what this means is Jerusalem is in Benjamin’s territory but no Benjamite goes in there to drive out the inhabitants. I have a difficult time understanding what was happening in this period of history because I look at it from my present perspective. I think of borders between countries but there weren’t none. I’m going to use Greenfield as an example so apologies to Greenfield fans. We live here in Indianapolis of Indiana but say that in this ancient history all of Greenfield is occupied by Kentuckians. It is Greenfield Kentucky in the state of Indiana. What Israel’s failure, this this case Benjamin, it was Jerusalem Canaan in Benjamín. Or Jebusites I guess. Why? Can’t be because they couldn’t we have seen they could. I’m back to they just got comfortable with what they had done so far, contentment set in and they stopped. The rest of the story is that the Israelites got them selves into trouble again and again because they did not drive out the inhabitants that God told them too. The book of Judges tells the story of Israel becoming oppressed by the very people they did not drive out. Each time a Judge was called upon by God to save the Israelites.

What lesson then do we learn from the Israelites. Have we become content with where we are and our current situation?

I want to look at us individually first then the church. You remember Moses, right?

3 Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3 So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”

The other title for this lesson was “We don’t Get a Burning Bush, or do We? What if Moses had said to himself the shade is good, and the drink is cold, why should I go look at the Burning Bush. I’ve thought about Aaron who was coming to see Moses. How did that happen? It doesn’t say. There is no mention in the previous chapters that Aaron even knew where Moses was even. Somehow Aaron got the message that it was time to get up and go see Moses. I also wondered how Aaron survived the killing of the babies. Aaron was the older brother. One that the midwives said were born before we got there.

If you think of the burning bush as Gods way of saying “come here I have need of you.” Has God sent you, or placed a Burning Bush in your way and you ignored it? You were to blind to see it? I don’t know. I read a book on creativity and it said ideas are floating around all the time. The Universe has ways of supplying ideas. Course I thought to myself it is God who supplies ideas. I think it is a sign of the time. If I read a book written in the 60’s or 70’s it is God. If you read a book more recent it will say Universe. Another book titled “Punch you Inner Hippie in the Nose” was about the 60’s hippie era has made us lazy and unwilling to do the work. Each of you must answer the question for yourself, has God been telling me to do some work for him but I’m not doing it because I’m content with my situation like the Israelites were. Are you saying they have Iron Chariots that I cannot not defeat?

Let’s move on to the Church. There is a question making its way around this church. Where are we going to be in 5-10 years? Anybody been to Park Avenue Church of Christ lately? 20 years ago, would they have been surprise to hear there building won’t even exist anymore. I know of two Church of Christ that another faith occupies the building now. There I see is a Burning Bush. One week someone told me that a study says Inner City Churches are disappearing. Two weeks later someone else tells me the same thing. A Burning Bush! A message from God? I have been told about my previous Church of Christ cars parked up and down the street because the parking lot was full. I’ve then heard the same thing about this place. Are we being told that it is time to find a way to grow our family or we are done? Are we ok with that or do we find a way to change that? I have titled this lesson Contentment: Not always a good thing. We as Christians are taught to be content with what we have. Which is a good thing. In this case being content and not doing the work of God is not a good thing.

Last week it was suggested that if you have an idea to put it in writing and hand it to an Elder. If you see a Burning Bush act on it don’t ignore it. Moses kept coming up with excuses of why he couldn’t do it. That is when Aaron his brother showed up. There are plenty of Brothers and Sister here to help each other. I know what our Iron Chariot is because I’ve been told it and then I’ve told it. Our Iron Chariot is we are all old. Did you know that Moses was 80 years old when he saw that Burning Bush? Here is where I’ve asked myself if we have become content on not growing our church size. I think we were but now we are beginning to plan, think, have a goal of grow. We have seen our Burning Bush.

Another contentment I’ve wondered about. Have we become content with having a guest speaker come in every week? Nobody was available this week giving me the opportunity. What can we do about having a full-time minister in this church? We can’t because of the Iron Chariots. I have asked ______ to add these two things to the closing prayer. How to stop being content. We start by going to God in Prayer. I believe that our Elders have been praying for this and probably some of you too. It is time we ask God as a body.

Contentment is not a good thing when it keeps us from doing the work of God.

Have you become content in not declaring Jesus as the Son of God? Content in your sins? Come forward now and confess to witnesses that Jesus is the Son of God and be baptized for the remission of your sins.

Likewise, have you need of the church for prayer in your life. Then come forward and we shall pray for you as we stand and sing.


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