Wednesday, March 6, 2013
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It was right at the beginning of the first Gulf War when I got an unusual and an unexpected insight from one of the soldiers who had been shipped out for that very dangerous mission. Thousands and thousands of our military were sent out to the desert to try to liberate the nation of Iraq. And they were hit with such intense desert heat that it could require six gallons of water a day to keep from dehydrating. And they faced the very real fear of chemical warfare. They had to be prepared to resist that. Not just guns and tanks, but deadly gas.
What struck me was the comment of one female soldier who had just spent her first few days on that front. She said, "You know, they tried to tell us about chemical warfare and masks and all that stuff in training, and nobody listened. We dozed off." She said, "You know what? They're teaching us again. We're listening now!"
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Suddenly Interested."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Numbers 32. Now, it's interesting how combat situations change our attitude toward what we're learning. In fact, remember this principle: An awareness of war gives you an appetite for training. Numbers 32 talks about the tribes of Israel that had the opportunity to settle on the quiet side of the Jordan River. They weren't going to cross over the Jordan River into Canaan; their land, the Reubenites and the Gadites, happened to be on the side of the Jordan where they didn't have to fight for it. They didn't have to go against all those big, bad Canaanites.
So in chapter 32, verse 4, they say, "The land the Lord subdued before the people of Israel, and this land is suitable for our livestock, and your servants have livestock. If we have found favor in your eyes," they said to Moses, "let this land be given to your servants as possessions. Do not make us cross the Jordan. (That's the front lines.) Moses said to the Gadites and the Reubenites, 'Shall your countrymen go to war while you sit here?'"
In verse 16 it says, "They came up to him and said, 'We would like to build pens here for our livestock and cities for our women and children. But we're ready to arm ourselves and go ahead and fight.' And so, fully armed they crossed the Jordan River." Here they are living on the quiet side of the Jordan. They weren't thinking about fighting; they were ready to relax, settle down, and in essence Moses says, "Hey, guys, this is not a picnic. This is a war! Get your weapons." You know, there is a war raging fiercely all around us in our generation. Two kingdoms are fighting it out, and these may be the last great battles before Jesus Christ comes back.
If you live in one of the heavily persecuted parts of the world where Christians pay a high and often deadly price for their allegiance to Christ, you know we're in a war. You can see the battle. But see, you and I live kind of on the quiet side of the river, but there's no less of a battle. Lives all around you are prisoners of Satan and prospects for hell. There are Christians compromising all around you, embarrassing their Lord, betraying their Lord. Lives are being lost to loneliness and emptiness because they're living without knowing God. How can you sit here when there's a war going on?
We tend to get bored reading our Bible, and going to church, and hearing the same old story. Like that soldier who didn't listen to all the training until she realized she needed it, because she was about to be involved in a war. You want to wake up people who are dozing off on God's Word? Give them a mission to do. Give them responsibility. Preach about the war. Tell them they're responsible for a lost friend. They're not listening because they're not fighting.
Our job isn't to entertain or babysit, or even to inform. It's to prepare people for battle. So, do whatever you do under this banner. This is war! I think you'll find sleeping soldiers suddenly interested.