The Promised Land

Numbers

The Promised Land

September 9th, 1956 @ 10:50 AM

Numbers 13

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them. And Moses by the commandment of the LORD sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel. And these were their names: of the tribe of Reuben, Shammua the son of Zaccur. Of the tribe of Simeon, Shaphat the son of Hori. Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh. Of the tribe of Issachar, Igal the son of Joseph. Of the tribe of Ephraim, Oshea the son of Nun. Of the tribe of Benjamin, Palti the son of Raphu. Of the tribe of Zebulun, Gaddiel the son of Sodi. Of the tribe of Joseph, namely, of the tribe of Manasseh, Gaddi the son of Susi. Of the tribe of Dan, Ammiel the son of Gemalli. Of the tribe of Asher, Sethur the son of Michael. Of the tribe of Naphtali, Nahbi the son of Vophsi. Of the tribe of Gad, Geuel the son of Machi. These are the names of the men which Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Oshea the son of Nun Jehoshua. And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain: And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes. So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath. And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs. The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence. And they returned from searching of the land after forty days. And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
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THE PROMISED LAND

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Numbers 13

9-9-56     10:50 a.m.

 

 

You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, and this is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled Our Promised Land.

It is a rare, rare thing that I ever spiritualize a text.  That is, to take a text, a story in the Bible, and spiritualize it, make it mean something else, apply it to things other than what you read in the Book.  Almost always, almost always, when I prepare a message, it will be an exposition of a text or a passage; it will be a reading out of the Book, and then an exposition, an exposing of what God meant when He said that in His Book.  I have been preaching through the Bible now about eleven years, and I start again tonight.  We are in the third chapter of the Book of Galatians.  But this hour, the first Sunday morning after the summer, coming back, I thought I would preach a sermon about our ministry, our common ministry, the ministry of this church: our work as a communion and a fellowship and a people of the Lord.

In my studying for the services at eight-fifteen o’clock – and by the way, at 8:15 this morning we had a tremendous audience; and practically all of them will be listening over the radio or over television at this hour – as I was preparing during my vacation for those messages of the eight-fifteen o’clock service, this is a story familiar to all of us, that came under my review.  So I’ll take it as a basis, and then spiritualize upon it.

 

The Lord said unto Moses, Now send men, that they may search out the land of Canaan. . .of every tribe of the fathers choose one.  So Moses by the commandment of the Lord did just that; and he chose these twelve men. . .And so Moses said to them, Now you see the land, how it is, its contour, its typography, its inhabitants, its cities whether they be open or walled, and its people whether they be many or few, weak or strong. So they went up, and they searched the land from the wilderness of Zin, down there in the south, unto Hamath, way up there in the north.

[Numbers 13:1-3, 17-21]

 

This is the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Numbers.

 

Now when they came back, they brought some of the fruit of the land.  For one thing, from Eshcol, a cluster of grapes so big that two men had to carry it, put it over a pole, put it on their shoulders.  And they returned from searching the land after those forty days.  And they went up and came to Moses and Aaron, to all the congregation of the children of Israel.  And they told them, and said, We have looked at the land, and it is just like God said, a wonderful place.  Nevertheless, the people be strong that dwell in that land, and the cities have great walls around them.  And, moreover, we saw the children of Anak there.  The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: the Hittites, the Jebusites, the Amorites dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites are down there by the sea and over there by Jordan.  And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and take it, possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.  But the men that went up with him said, We are not able; we cannot go up against that people, for they are stronger than we.  And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched out, saying, The land which we saw is a land that eateth up the inhabitants therof –

 

like falling into a sausage grinder –

All the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.  And we saw giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our sight like grasshoppers.  And being in our sight like grasshoppers, we were in their sight as grasshoppers.

[Numbers 13:23-33]

 

However you think of yourself, that’s the way other people get the idea of you too.  You can’t? then you can’t.

 

So all the congregation lifted up their voice; and the people wept.  And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb, said, If the Lord delight in us, if God is with us, He will bring us into this land, and give it to us.  But the ten said, But there are giants there, and walled cities.

[Numbers 14:1, 6, 8; 13:28-33]

 

Then you know the rest of the story: they refused.  "And God said, "Not any of this generation, not any will enter My Promised Land, not any.  Only two: Joshua and Caleb, men of faith, they shall enter in.  But all this generation shall die, because they said, We cannot.  And their little ones they said should be a prey to the giants, they shall enter in under Joshua and under Caleb" [Numbers 14:23-31].   You could spiritualize a lot about that.

Our promised land is a baby land: we have an illimitable opportunity.  Never, since God made this world, are there so many babies being born in it, never.  And every child is an incomparable opportunity, an opportunity for us and for God, an opportunity for the devil and his angels.  Our promised land is baby land.

When Miss Bertha Mills says to me, "Oh, pastor, would to God we had more nurseries," then I think about that: our land of conquest is a baby’s land.  Our promised land is children’s land.  Wish I had time this morning to describe a television show that I watched about three or four weeks ago.  Unusual thing to see a show like that on television, but the substance of it was a poor mother, young woman, had a little girl about five years old; her husband killed in Korea, unable to meet the tragedy that had overwhelmed her, falling into awful despair and the ways of the world.  The mother, grandmother of the little child, the mother of this girl, despairing of helping and not succeeding at all, wondering how she had failed, and a kindly Christian neighbor who loved her, told her where: "You’re respectable, you’re nice, you’re moral, you’re fine, you’re wonderful, but you never brought your girl up in the church; and she doesn’t know God.  And now she’s not prepared for the great overwhelming disaster that has come into her life."  And the mother said, "Where shall I begin?"  And the kindly neighbor answered, "Why don’t you begin at church?  Why don’t you go to church, start at church?"  Well, to conclude the thing, the mother started going to church.  And when she went, she took that little five-year-old girl with her.  And through the little five-year-old child, she won the little girl’s mother, the grandmother’s daughter; she got the whole family through the little child.  That’s so human.  That’s so natural.  That’s so true.  There’s not a parent, not a one, but that has an infinite investment of love and heart and soul in that little fellow, that little lassie.  And we have an incomparable opportunity, we do, we do.

Our promised land for conquest is young people’s land.  More than half of all of the young people that live out in the country, that live out in rural areas, more than half of them move to the city.  I grew up in a rural area, little town about three hundred people.  It was the dream of my life, going to the big city.  If you don’t believe that, you come down to Dallas and just stand on any one of these great street corners about four to five o’clock in the afternoon, and see these young people pour out of these great, tall skyscrapers and out of these houses of business.

The criminal army of America looks to those young people for their recruits!  Where do you think the liquor dealer, and the dope peddler, and the pimp, and the procurer, and the peddler, and the gambler, where is he going to make his living in the coming years?  He makes it off of the young people!  If he didn’t recruit them, he’d die; he’d go out of business.  Our promised land is a young people’s land.

I read last week a tract.  And the tract was this: "How to Help a Delinquent," then it had a whole bunch of reasons, ways, how to help a delinquent.  When I looked at the tract, and when I read it, I closed the tract and set it down, and I said, "Seems to me the best way to help a delinquent is before he’s delinquent."  Why wait till he gets in a circle out of which he can’t extricate himself?  Why wait until he’s a dope addict?  Why wait until the judge sentences him to the penitentiary?  Why wait then to help out?  Why?  Why?  I don’t see why.  Seems to me the way to help is before the dope peddler gets a hold of him; help him before the pimp and the procurer turns the girl into white slavery. Reach them now for God, that’s the best way.

I say it gives me pause – for one of my young leaders will say to me, "Pastor, if you’ll give us that activities building, the whole building, we’ll fill it up with young people.  We’ll do it."  I had one of our staff members point to a building here and say, "Pastor, if you’ll give me that building, I’ll fill the entire building with Juniors."  Makes you pause.  Makes you think.  Just what are we about?  Just what is our task and our ministry?  Just how much are we to expect of God?  Just to what extent has God laid an opportunity before us, an open door?

Our land of conquest is an adult land.  I don’t know why, but oh! we have such a mistaken idea of our world.  I’ve tried to find out why.  Is it that our press doesn’t tell us the truth?  Is it because the political complexion of our country tries to keep us in a rosy aurora?  I don’t know why.  But I know this: we do not realize the truth of our world!

For example, for example, did you know that the graph of the proportion of the Christians in this world goes down and down and steadily and tragically, but always down?  This year there are comparatively fewer Christians in the world than there was the year before; and that year fewer than the year before.  The proportion between the world’s population and the Christian population, the proportion goes down and down and down and down and down.  Did you know another thing: the per capita standard of living of the world is less now than it was twenty-five years ago?  It’s less now than it was nineteen hundred years ago?

"Oh, preacher, we’re on this boom, we’re riding the crest!"  But the people who ride the boom and who are blessed by the crest are increasingly fewer and fewer and fewer and fewer in number, compared to the great masses of the world.  Conquest, our promised land is an adult land.

Oh, I wish I had time – you can’t say all these things – to capture the minds of people, to capture the imaginations of men and women, and most of all to capture their activity life.  What are you doing?  I wish we were like Nehemiah, O God how I do!  "Nehemiah," said Sanballat, "Nehemiah," said Tobiah, "Nehemiah, come down over here; we’ve got something there and there and there.  Come down here."  And Nehemiah replied, "I am doing a great work.  Why should I stop it to come down to be with you?" [Nehemiah 6:3].  I wish our people were like that: "I’m so busy about the Lord’s work, I’m so busy with God’s task, I’m so engrossed in the ministry of Christ, I haven’t got time for a thousand things by which we flit away our lives, our day, and our opportunity."  It’s an adult land.

As we face our vast opportunity, is there anybody here that would like to stand up and say, "Preacher, I want you to know that I have done my utmost and my best; I cannot do more?  I just can’t."  Would you like to do that?  Just stand up and say, "Preacher, this last year, and the year before that, I went all out for God.  I did my utmost, my best.  I cannot do better."  No, we are not like that before God, not before Him that searcheth the hearts [1 Chronicles 28:9; Romans 8:27].  "Lord, we’ll be honest.  This is the open and naked fact: I haven’t done my best.  I haven’t gone all out.  Lord, I can do better."  Then if we can, by God’s grace and with His help, we must, and we will!  And that’s our proposal for these coming days.

Basil Manley, who long time ago was one of the professors who founded the Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, Basil Manley one time told this story.  He lived in the stormy days of the War Between the States.  And he said, "There was a little hill, a little knoll, and on that hill stood a handful of Confederate soldiers, standing among the slain and the dead, as the battle had swept past them.  There came riding up a Confederate officer, and he said to the little handful of soldiers, ‘Sir, where’s your general?’  And one of the men pointed to a prostrate form lying among the slain, and said, ‘There he is.’  And the Confederate officer said, ‘Then where is your captain?’  And the soldier pointed to another prostrate form and said, ‘There he lies.’  Then the officer said, ‘Then what are you doing here?’  And the soldier pointing to his dead general replied, ‘He said that this was a vantage point, and we were to hold it or die!  And sir, we are doing just that.’" 

That’s the spirit of conquest and of victory!  God says, "This is a vantage point, this is a strategic place, this is My anchor in the earth: hold it, or die."  We’re not in this battle for just the moment or the hour: God is in it for the ages, and we’re in it for the life.

May I say a word of our ultimate victory?  Our conquest is as certain as the living presence of the Lord and as the coming of Jesus Christ.  It is He, our Lord, that gives us the hidden manna, it is He that gives to us the white stone with the new name thereon [Romans 2:17].  Our hope is not in self; it is in Christ.  Our victory is not in circumstances, it is in Him.  Our reward is not with human organization; it is with Christ [1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10].  Our gospel is not sociology; it is Jesus the Lord.  And our victory, our conquest, is in His gracious hands.

 

Upon a blue, star-spangled midnight, I fell into a deep and earnest thought.  And passing beyond the gate of dreams, I saw an angel in the air, above this weary world; and his wings overshadowed the land and the sea.  Around him were gathered vast multitudes that no man could number, of every race and kindred and tribe in the earth.  The sound of their voices was as the sound of many waters, and I listened to see if I could hear the burden of their speech.  And they conversed of what was, and what is, and what is to be.  I saw lightning, and I heard thunders; but the face of the angel was above the brightness of the lightning, and the majesty of his words above the noise of the thunders.

I looked, and behold, there came forward before the angel three spirits, dressed in garments white as the light: their faces I saw not, but I heard the ten thousand times ten thousand call them by names known on earth: Charles Martel, the Iron Duke of Wellington, General George Washington, and behind them I saw Pershing and William Tell, and Miltiades, and Leonidas, and a multitude who had scars and crowns.  And they spake unto the angel, saying, ‘We will go upon the earth, and do battle for freedom and liberty and equality.  We will heal the hurt of the world by democracy.’  And the angel said, ‘Go.’

Meanwhile, under emigrant wharves, and under crowded factories, and under hovels of a perishing poor, and under poisonous alleys of suffocating cities, I heard the black angels laugh.

I looked, and behold, three other spirits came before the angel of the Lord; they were dressed in garments white as the light: their faces I saw not; but the ten thousand times ten thousand call them by names known on earth: Robert Rakes, Benjamin Franklin, Horace Greeley; and beyond them I saw Dostoevsky, and Shakespeare, and Milton, and Dante, and Aristotle, and a multitude who had scrolls and crowns.  And they said unto the angel, ‘We will go upon the earth, and we will heal the hurt of humanity by education, by instruction, by learning, by knowledge; we will scatter literacy abroad.’  And the angel said, ‘Go.’

Meanwhile, under emigrant wharves, and under cesspools of iniquity, and under darkness of superstition and ignorance, and under the conclaves of unscrupulous and educated men, and under yellow newspaper presses, and under poisonous alleys of suffocating cities, I heard the black angels laugh.

I looked, and behold, three other spirits came before the great angel, dressed in garments white as the light; their faces I saw not, but the ten thousand times ten thousand heard I called them by names known on earth: George Adams Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Disraeli.  And beyond them stood Chatham and Wilberforce and Howard and the Roman Gracchi and a multitude who had keys and crowns.  And they said unto the angel, ‘We will go upon the earth and heal the hurt of humanity by economic adjustment.  We will teach the rights of property and the dignities of possession.’  And the angel said, ‘Go.’

Meanwhile, under perishing hovels of the poor, and under Wall Street, and under the Royal Stock Exchange, and under the Kremlin, and under poisonous alleys of suffocating cities, I heard the black angels laugh.

Last of all, I saw three spirits come before the Lord, dressed in garments white as the light; their faces I saw not, but I heard the ten thousand times ten thousand call them by names known on earth: Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Timothy Dwight.  And beyond them stood Chrysostom, and Savonarola, and Luther, and Wesley, and Knox, and Spurgeon, and Truett, and a multitude who had harps and crowns.  And they said unto the angel, ‘We will go upon the earth and preach the gospel of the everlasting Son of God.  We will heal the world with balm of Gilead, with the touch of the hand of the great Physician.’  And the angel said, ‘Go.’

And I listened, and from the subterranean depths of hell itself, under the Mamertine prison, beyond St. Stephen’s Gate, under Golgotha’s hill, beneath the gallows of Swiftfield, and beneath the prison of Bedford, I yet heard the black angels laugh.  But while they laughed, I saw the great angel lift his hand toward heaven, and sware by Him that liveth forever and ever, that time shall be no more, that the great judgment day of the Lord has come.

And I looked, and behold, he had in his hand great chains that clanked, and he bound the black angels into outer darkness forever and forever.

And I beheld, and the firmament was ablaze with the shekinah light of the glory of God.  And the raptured church, the redeemed of the Lord, lifted up their faces and beheld their own Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  And I saw the ten thousand times ten thousand fall down and worship Him that liveth forever and forever.  And behold, the heavens were opened like a scroll, and there came riding forth on a white horse, conquering and to conquering, one who is True and Faithful.  His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns.  He was dressed in a vesture dipped in blood; and His name is called the King of kings and the Lord of lords, The Word of God [Revelation 19:11-16].

And I heard the great angel say with the voice of a trumpet, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ.  And He shall reign forever and ever, world without end’ [Revelation 11:15].  And I heard the redeemed of the Lord, with the ten thousand times ten thousand, sing a song that I had heard on earth:

 

All hail the power of Jesus’ name, let angels prostrate fall

Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all!

Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all!

 

[excerpts from "Ultimate America"; Joseph Cook]

[Scripture references from Revelation 19]

["All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name"; Edward Perronet]

 

Could you sing it with the ten thousand times ten thousand?  Could you sing it with the angels of heaven?  Could you sing it with the redeemed of the Lord?  Could you sing it with the saints of all time?  Could you sing it with victory and conquest in your heart?  Can you sing it? Then let’s do:

 

All hail the power of Jesus’ name, let angels prostrate fall

Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all!

Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all!

 

In my reading, sometimes I think, "Surely the communist shall overwhelm this world."  In my reading, sometimes I think, "The darkness of ignorance, and superstition, and poverty, and despair shall overwhelm this world."  Sometimes in my reading, I think, "Surely the devil and his angels shall ultimately win the issues of our destiny and the hope of this world."  Then I open that Book once again: our victory is promised of God. Caleb said, "If the Lord be with us, if the Lord delight in us, let us arise and go out, and take this place; God hath given it into our hands" [Numbers 14:6-9].  Then I lift up my shadowed heart, and I raise my fallen spirits: the victory will not lie with the Kremlin, nor will it lie with the darkness of Satan, nor will it lie with the black angels of hell; but our victory lies in the gracious hands of "Him who loved us and gave Himself for us" [Galatians 2:20].

Our task is to be in that great army that follow Him who are true and faithful unto death [Revelation 2:10].    That’s our invitation to your hearts this morning.  This first beginning Lord’s Day of the greatest church year we have ever known, whose vistas are bright as God’s promises, as the presence and leadership of the Lord, while we sing it, while we sing it, somebody you place your life and your soul in the hands of Jesus, would you come today?  Somebody you put your life in the fellowship of our church by baptism, or by letter, or by statement, as God shall say the word and open the door, while we sing the song, would you come?  If for any reason, in that topmost balcony to the last row, somebody wants to come, while our people sing the song, while we make invitation, would you come?

THE PROMISED LAND

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Numbers 13, 14

9-9-56

 

I.              Our promised land

1.    It is a baby land with limitless opportunity

2.    It is children’s land

3.    It is young people’s land

4.    It is an adult land

II.            Spirit of conquest

1.    With God’s help, we can do our best for Him

2.    In Christ, our conquest is certain

3.    The victory is Christ’s