Well, good evening everyone! It's good to be here, I hope you agree. It has certainly been good for me to be here with you all week, it has been a real blessing to fellowship with you all and, most importantly, to know the Lord's presence and His blessing. We have enjoyed good times of that. God has been speaking and doing stuff in our midst - we don't know all that is going on, obviously, but we know some of the things, and we are encouraged; but we are looking for more, there is always more, isn't there? We're looking for that tonight.
I want you to turn with me to Exodus again, chapter 15, Exodus chapter 15. Now we have been led by the Lord - I definitely wouldn't have chosen what we've been doing these nights - but we have been led by God to look at the whole exodus, the whole beginning of the book of Exodus, but the story of the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. We have entitled this series: 'Let My People Go', that they may serve Me. We have really been preaching, I suppose, primarily to the church, but also to those who are in the bondage of sin and need to be set free from the world, the flesh, and the devil - that the Lord wants you to be liberated and emancipated; He wants you to go from slavery to freedom; He wants you to go from death unto life; from the kingdom of darkness, which is bondage, into the kingdom of His Dear Son, which is true liberty in the Gospel. But this Gospel is not just for unbelievers, it's for all of us, Christians included - because we continue to work out what God has put into us.
Tonight we're going to look at - and if you want a heading it will be 'Wholeness In Christ', and I'll explain what that is as we go through. But we're going to read from verse 20 down to the end of the chapter of chapter 15. The context is that the Israelites have now come over the Red Sea, and there is the Song of Moses, and Miriam is now taking up a tambourine - verse 20: "Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them: 'Sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!'. So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, 'What shall we drink?'. So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them. And there He tested them, and said, 'If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you'. Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters".
We've been looking at the exodus, and of course the theme is that Pharaoh has God's people in his grip. We saw that Pharaoh is a very graphic picture of the devil, and there is still a spirit of Pharaoh at work in our particular day and generation. But we have seen the power of the blood of Jesus - Exodus 12 - to release, to break the power of the enemy. Jesus is stronger than Satan, and Satan to Jesus must bow. Amen? If you're a Christian tonight, you can say: 'Greater is He that is in me, that he that is in the world'. I know the devil is very powerful, and we ought not to underestimate the potency of the network of influence that he has in this world - but God is greater, Jesus Christ is higher, He is Lord of all! So the Israelites are delivered, there is a wonderful verse in chapter 19 and verse 4, if you look at it. God speaks to them of what He has done - delivering them from slavery, through the Red Sea, and on their way to the promised land - and He says: 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself'. Isn't that beautiful? That's what the Lord has done for you if you're saved tonight: He has borne you, picture it, borne you on eagles' wings and brought you to Himself.
But do you know something? A mistake we often make in evangelical Christianity is: we fail to realise that conversion, the new birth, the moment of justification is only the beginning. You know that, don't you? Yet so many of us, even in our preaching and in the emphasis of our churches is: 'We need to get people saved', and that's correct, but that's often where we stop. According to the story here in Exodus, Deuteronomy 6:23 says: 'Then He brought us out from there', that's Egypt, bondage, 'Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers'. So there is this concept: He brought us out to take us in. You see, conversion is only a threshold experience - do you understand what I mean? You're only going through the door of the house, and there is the whole house of salvation that God wants you to explore, and the resources of which to expend. If you know the Old Testament, you will know that God led the children of Israel out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, through the wilderness to get to the promised land - that was God's goal.
Now, we have been affected, for good, by many hymns that we have in our hymnals - we've also been affected adversely in our theology and our teaching by some hymns. Often 'Canaan land' is identified as being heaven. Now, I understand the reason for that, but that is wrong. Canaan land, the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey that was promised to the Israelites is not heaven when you die, it's actually heaven when you live. It's the victorious Christian life now. One of the reasons I know that is: they had to fight to possess the promised land - we're not going to have to fight to get into heaven, at least I hope you don't have to! You shouldn't have to, because we get there through the finished work of Jesus! We're not going to spend our time in glory fighting - I know we spend our time down here fighting in churches, but that's not what heaven is going to be like!
So the promised land is the victorious, overcoming Christian life, where we defeat our enemies and we effectively live a life in the power of the Spirit. Now, if you're a Christian any length on the road you will know that's something you have to fight for, that's not easy. I quoted the other evening Matthew 11:12: 'From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force'. They seize it as a prize! You see, you've got to be determined. There can be no passivity, no lacklustre attitude if you're a Christian - and that's often the laissez-faire attitude that prevails today in the church, and that's why we're not getting anywhere. We've got to fight to possess our possessions, we've got to put our foot on the land that God has promised us and claim it by faith. There will be enemies that will seek to thwart us, but we must fight on - forward still is Jehovah's will.
So we see here at the exodus, passing through the Red Sea, that ground had to be gained, regained for God. There had to be a recovery of what was God's. I want to ask you tonight, believer: are you saved and stuck? Our land is full of people like that. Now I do need to ask folk here: are you saved at all? You need Christ, you need to repent of your sins and believe in Jesus Christ - that is vitally important. But many people have taken that step, and that's where they have stayed, they haven't moved on any further. Then I ask another question of you: if you are saved and stuck, why is that? Do you know why it is? Some people don't. They want to move forward, they want to go on, but there is something holding them back, and they don't really perceive what that is.
When we look at the exodus we see that it only took one night to get the Israelites out of Egypt, but as we go on to read the narrative we find out it took 40 years to get Egypt out of the Israelites. Interesting, isn't it? One of the best illustrations I've ever heard of conversion as opposed to sanctification - you know what that means: coming to Christ, as opposed to actually a work being done in your life where you are matured and you grow as a Christian, and sin falls off, and selfishness, and the flesh, and the world don't be as big an encroachment upon you. It's of a bird that is caught in an oil slick, some of you may have heard me using this before. You imagine a bird out there in the ocean, and a big oil tanker bursts and the slick is everywhere, and the wildlife is caught up in it. Some wildlife welfare people will probably get a speedboat, and take it out into the middle of the oil slick, and they will take the birds out of the oil, put them in the boat, and then they will probably take them to the shore where they have some resources. They will begin the painstaking exercise of taking the oil out of the bird. They have taken the bird out of the oil, but the oil still has to be taken out of the bird - because if that bird tries to fly it will break its wings, bones, it will pull muscles, and it certainly won't take off. That's why a lot of Christians come to Christ, but they never make anything of it, they never fly. They have been taken out of the kingdom of darkness and have been planted, positionally, into the kingdom of light - but there is so much darkness still in them, that's what we see with these Israelites.
We ask the question: how long should it have taken them to get Egypt out of their system? Or, to put it another way: how long should it have taken them to get from Egypt to Canaan land? Do you know how long it should have took them? Ten or eleven days! The distance was only about 200 miles, 250 miles or thereabouts - it should have taken them ten or eleven days, and it took them 40 years! Now, figure that - how does that work out? Some of us might say: 'Well, God is slow'. Now, be honest, do you ever feel that about God? 'Boy, I wish He would hurry up!'. You've been praying for something for years, or you've been waiting on a particular breakthrough, and you might think: 'Is God wasting time?'. Now, I know you wouldn't articulate that, you're all good, clean Christians, and we don't say things like that - but you know the Lord reads your heart anyway, so you might as well say it. But you see, the fact of the matter is: God - He's not wasting time and He's not slow, because God is never late. Now, understand that: God is never late, that's why He's never in a hurry, because He's never late! He is always on time! He doesn't waste even a millisecond more than we need! The only reason why we mightn't be experiencing breakthrough right now in our own lives is - wait for it: because you're not ready.
Now, I know that's hard to take, I don't like it either. You see, we all want shortcuts to blessing. Of course, we live in a very instant formula orientated world. You know: 'Just tell me what to do, and I'll do it, and everything will come together'. But God's concept of time is very different than ours - you do know that? One day with the Lord is a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. So He is not fazed, He is not panicked, He can wait! The blessing will be as quick in your life as you get with God's programme - do you understand? If you want to be quick, you get with it - but the reason why it often is so slow is because we really need more time, we need it, not God!
If any of you have a dog from a puppy, have you ever tried to train it or take it a walk when it's just that wee tiny pup? I saw a man out the other morning when I was taking the children to school, and he had one of those wee Maltese fluffy white balls of a dog - and he couldn't get out of our park with it. It just put the backside down on the pavement, and wouldn't move, and he had to drag it! I put the window down, and I said: 'You may take that dog home, it's not going anywhere today!' - and he did, he turned round on his heels and walked home! Have you ever done that? Have you ever taken a pup for a walk, and sometimes what will happen is: you put the lead on the dog, and you will stand there, and the dog will play with the lead, and go around and play with the lead - and what do you do? Well, if you're patient, you'll just stand there and wait until the dog realises it's going a walk, and you're in charge.
Now, that's exactly what God did with the children of Israel. They got in their hissy fits, they started murmuring, they were unbelieving in heart, they got mixed up in a whole lot of sins of the Canaanite people that they were meant to put out of the land, but they ended up partaking of their wickedness. So God is so patient, He just stands there and watches and waits, till they get with the program and walk in time with God. You see, all of us want Canaan, but we want it on our terms - isn't that right? Can I say something to you tonight: I want blessing with all my heart, but the worst thing that can happen is for a man or a woman to succeed before they are ready, because it will be a premature birth, it will be a miscarriage, it will be something that will not last. If we're going to have something that is genuine, and something that blesses to the thousandth generation - which is what God wants - we need to be in God's timetable.
I have realised that I have the capacity - and so have you - to make the journey that you're on longer than it should be; but do you know what you can't do? You can't make it shorter. I want you to hear that, because that's a revelation to some of you. You can make the journey longer, like the pup, by the way you're getting on; but you cannot shorten the journey, it's got to be in His time on His terms. Now, you can quicken it up for yourself by getting with the program, but we all need work, all of us - and that often takes time.
The first thing I want to share with you tonight is: a work of healing needs to be done in our lives. If we're going to get to the place of promised blessing, the Canaan land in our lives, knowing that heavenly life - Ephesians says: 'We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus'. So that means that while I'm on earth, it's like I'm in two places at once: I can be in heavenly blessings, I can have my head in heavenly blessings - Paul says, 'Set your affections, your minds, on things which are above' - so I'm down here below in this rotten world of sin, and yet I can still experience a heavenly life now. But, for some of you, you're not experiencing that because there is healing that needs to be done.
Look at verse 22 of Exodus 15: 'Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water' - three days, OK? Now on the first day, oh, they are singing and dancing. Miriam has got the tambourine out, right? First day: 'God has delivered us from Pharaoh. He has drowned and all his armies in the Red Sea, and look, we're on the other side! Our enemies are all behind us, not one of them is left!'. That's day one. Day two: the heat of the wilderness sets in. Day three: you know, don't you, that you can only go three days without water? You know that? Then you're dead. So it's three days they are in the heat the wilderness, no water, no food, and they start moaning, grumbling, murmuring - you would do the same. They are at the point of death.
Now, God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform. I'm not being irreverent, but He's hard to understand at times. Look at verse 23: 'Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah'. So you imagine them three days in the wilderness, now they are at the point of total exhaustion, and they see on the horizon - maybe it's a mirage, you know the way the mind plays tricks in the desert with no water, maybe it's a mirage - but it is water! It's an expanse of water, and they run to it! They fill their hands with it, and they put it in their mouths - and it's bitter! Now, what do you start thinking? 'God, are You sadistic or what?'. I'm being serious: 'Are You having a laugh?'. Have you ever felt like that? 'You know what I need, and You know when I need it', and all of a sudden this comes along and appears to be the answer to my problem, but it's not!
I think there are probably people here tonight, and you're frustrated not because of what God has done, but because of what He's not doing. He's not coming through for you at the time that you need Him. He's not doing something that you have asked Him to do. Here, do you know what 'Marah' means? They called this place 'Marah' because of the bitterness of the water, that's exactly what 'Marah' means, 'bitterness'. Maybe you're here tonight, and like the Israelites, you're remembering the bitterness of the past: slavery in Egypt. I mean, they had a lot of stuff they had to work through. They experienced, was it 430 years in Egyptian bondage, there was generational slavery going on here that we can't even enter into in our psyche in our modern era. They had to work through this generational inheritance of persecution, and yet now they're having this present current trauma of nearly dying of thirst, and now coming to this brick wall of frustration of these waters.
Now listen, here's a principle you will need to learn as a Christian: at times the Lord forces us to confront the hurts of our past that are hindering us. At times He does frustrate us, because it's the only way we'll face those painful things. Are you hearing what I'm saying? Sometimes it has to happen, because we will ignore them, we will push them into a dark place that we think doesn't exist. We will suppress them, deny them, but eventually they will come to visit us. So the Lord is actually being gracious when, at times, He frustrates our way - because He knows that we need healing. Now I know that I'm speaking to folk here tonight, there are folk in this place and you need the healing touch of the Lord Jesus Christ on your life. I've got good news for you, because He said: 'The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, for He has anointed Me to preach glad tidings to the poor; to heal the brokenhearted, to set at liberty to the captives, to give recovery of sight to the blind; to preach the acceptable year of the LORD'. The acceptable year of the Lord is the year when land is returned, so what has been taken off you by the enemy is given back, the years that the locusts have eaten. The debts are cancelled, that means you are cleansed of all your sin, no condemnation in Christ Jesus; and the slaves are released in the year of Jubilee, Jesus came to bring the spiritual year of Jubilee.
Psalm 147 verse 3 says: 'He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds'. Isn't He a wonderful Saviour? 'A bruised reed shall He not break, a smoking flax shall He not quench' - that means, if you're just hung over like a bruised bulrush, by the last sinew you're hanging on to your life, Jesus is not the type of person to come along and break you in two. He wants to restore you, He wants to heal you. 'A smoking flax He will not quench', blowing out a candle - the last dying embers of your life may be just about to be puffed out, but He won't come along and lick His thumb and His finger and put out your last breath. He will fan you to flame, in fact He will give you true life - but you need the hurts healed.
Wholeness is God's goal for you, do you know that? Just like Canaan, the promised land was God's goal for Israel, wholeness is God's goal for you. That's more than just getting your sins forgiven, although that is a part of it. Now, when I talk about 'a holistic Gospel' people start panicking: 'Oh, here he is, he's away with the band again, and it's New Age this time, holistic medicine'. That's immediately - and it's unfortunate that the New Age and Eastern mysticism use this term, holistic therapies and so on - I think we ought to take it back, because we actually own it. The only holistic, true good news and effective healing method is the Gospel of Jesus, because it fixes mind, body, soul, and spirit - it fixes the whole person.
Would you turn with me to 1 Thessalonians 5, please, 1 Thessalonians 5 - keep a marker in Exodus 15 there. First Thessalonians 5, I love these verses, verses 23 and 24: 'Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you', make you holy, 'completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it'. This is God's objective in your life, The Message puts it like this: 'May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together - spirit, soul, and body - and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If He said it, He'll do it!'. Amen! He wants you to be put together, to be fixed, to be mended, spirit, soul and body. So often when we think of healing we just reserve it to the body, to physical disease, illness, and ailments; or we reserve it just to the area of sins forgiven, and having the slate wiped clean - but let me tell you tonight: God is interested in the whole person. He's interested in everything about you: your mind, your mental health; your heart, your emotional well-being; and your spirituality; and your physicality.
If you go to the New Age to get their holistic stuff, you'll get a demon - I'll tell you that for nothing, they'll not do it for nothing, mind you - but if you come to God, you will get His Shalom peace. The God of peace wants to fix you, put you together. Do you know what 'Shalom' means? Maybe you've been to Israel and you hear them saying 'Shalom' the way we say 'Hello'? So often people think the word that means 'peace' in Hebrew, 'Shalom', means the absence of war. That is part of what 'peace' means, isn't it, that's why we shake hands in our society - did you know that? It signifies putting down arms, putting down the sword, and making peace with one another. But God's 'Shalom' peace is not the absence of war only, it is actually the presence of health, wholeness, life, and vitality. In the New Testament there is a word, 'Zoe', and it's the word for 'life'. It speaks of superabundant, absolute fullness of life. Jesus said in John 10:10: 'The thief comes', the devil, 'to steal, kill, and destroy. I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full, life that is overflowing'. Maybe some of you in Sunday School used to sing that: 'My cup's full and running over'. We should start singing that again to get our cups full and running over with the 'Zoe' life of the Lord Jesus Christ - that abundant life that rises up as a well within us, a spring, a fountain that flows out of us as rivers of living water to touch others.
You see, this is the Gospel! Now, how can this happen? How can this happen? How can God take broken people like us, broken in our minds, broken in our hearts, even broken in our bodies, broken through sin, broken through guilt, broken through what the devil has done to us - how can He get us and make us holy and whole, and put us together, spirit, soul, and body, so that we are acceptable in His sight? Here's your answer, Colossians chapter 1 verse 12: 'He has made peace by the blood of His cross' - it's the cross! That's the answer! Look at verse 25, for here is the cross: 'So Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree'.
Can I tell you where this life, this peace is found? It's found at the cross, it's found at the tree, where Peter says: 'Jesus bore our sins in His own body on the tree'. God said to Moses: 'Take that tree', I don't know why it was the particular tree that it was, but he took the tree and he threw it into the Marah waters and the bitterness was taken away. Do you know that Jesus on the cross took your bitterness, took your brokenness, took your fallenness? You know, I talked about the Passover the other night when we were preaching on Exodus 12, and we spoke about how part of what the Passover is is not just a roasted lamb and unleavened bread and salty water for their tears that they had in Egypt, but there is the bitter herbs. The bitter herbs speak of the suffering, the bitterness that they experienced in the slavery of Egypt. Jesus said that He took the wormwood and the gall, that's the bitterness of our sins, the poison of it all - He took it so that we could be healed and released!
God's word to you tonight, whether you're a Christian or not, the message is the same for us all: you need to lay down your bitterness. We talk about repenting of sin, that's very general, isn't it? But, you see, Jesus is very hard on this, He says: 'Your Father in heaven won't forgive you if you won't forgive your brother'. You can try and explain that one away how you like, but that's what it says, and it means what it says. You'll not enjoy the forgiveness of God, if you won't forgive your brother or sister. Some of you are not breaking through into the promised land of the Spirit-filled life, and a heavenly life down here on earth, because you've got bitterness in your heart. Maybe you've got bitterness because of things that happened in the past, like the Israelites. Maybe your bitterness is not even to another in the flesh, but you're actually bitter toward God because of how He didn't come through for you, or how you feel He allowed certain things to happen to you, or He let you down in some way. That bitterness has caused now a root of bitterness to go deep down, spreading its roots right throughout your whole being.
What you need to do tonight is realise that if you come to the foot of the cross, where Jesus took all the bitterness that you have ever shown and that has ever been foisted upon you, if you come to the foot of the cross He will heal your bitter waters. You will need to forgive, though. You need to forgive, as Christ has forgiven you. You will need to follow His example as He hung on the cross and said: 'Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing'. That wasn't meaning that all these soldiers were going to heaven - some of them were converted eventually - but it wasn't talking about salvation, it was talking about Jesus as a human being. I know He was the Son of God, but as a human being He was offering up the wrongs that were being done to Him to His Father in heaven, who judges righteously, because He didn't want any bitterness in His heart. He knew how to do things right, so He offered all the bitterness up to God. He's being nailed to the cross, and not only that: He's bearing the sins of the men that are in front of him, and indeed the sins of the world, your sins and mine - and He says, 'Father, forgive them'.
You need to lay down your bitterness, you need to forgive as He has forgiven you. There is something else you need to do - and I'm actually telling you practically what you need to do, right even at this moment you can do this - you need to ask Him to take the hurt of that incident, or whatever that person did to you, or put it in your own terms. You need to say: 'Lord Jesus, I believe You died on the cross to heal me and to save me, and I ask You now to take that hurt' - whatever it is, you name it - 'out of my soul'. You can do it now. 'Take it out of my soul', and then the next thing to ask Him to do when He does that - and you can even picture that scene, where you were at that time, that place, that event, go there right now and ask Jesus to take it out of your soul. Watch what He does, He often shows up, watch what He does, look for Him, and then ask Him to replace that hurt with some of His good virtues: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.
You see, you've got to come to the cross. It says in verse 25: 'He cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet' - that is sweet, isn't it? I think there's somebody in this place tonight, and you think your bitterness cannot be solved - but I want to tell you tonight: it can, if you come to the foot of the cross. If you come to Jesus, the Great Physician, He will make - that's amazing - a bitter thing sweet. He's not making it palatable, He's not helping you to swallow it, He's going to make it sweet.
Now, some theologians have some ideas about this water. Some of them are strange, I don't know how much we can put by them. There's a man by the name of Buckingham, and he speculates that even though the waters were now drinkable (when the tree was thrown in it, and they were made bitter to sweet), there was still a significant amount of magnesium and calcium content in the water. I don't know how he knows this, but he says that that magnesium and calcium will have a significant laxative effect. He is serious. He goes on to say that he believes that part of what God was doing, was to clean out the digestive system of the Israelites, cleansing them of many common Egyptian ailments such as dysentery, and another particular weakening disease common among Egyptian peasants and slaves. So God was possibly cleansing the water and making it sweet, but also cleansing their system. In addition, this man says, there would also have been high degrees of calcium and magnesium together in the water that actually formed the basis of a drug called 'dolomite', which is today used by athletes - do you know what for? As a performance enhancer in hot weather conditions.
Here are these children of God, and they are going to walk through a wilderness, and God is providing the right medicine - possibly - to clean out their system and to prepare them for a long, hard, hot march to Sinai. I can't prove that, I don't know if he can either, but I'll tell you this much: what is true is that God wants to clean you out too. It's good for you, you know. My great grandad lived until he was 100, he did! I knew him well, he only died 16 years ago. He was born in 1900 and he died in the year 2000. He got the telegram from the Queen and everything. He was like a miracle himself, do you know what he swore by? Andrews Liver Salts, once a week - that's right! He says it worked wonders. He went to the doctor one time, and he was asked why he was so healthy, he says: 'I take a tonic every night'. The doctor said: 'What's the tonic?'. He said: 'A glass of milk with a teaspoon of whiskey in it' - and the doctor nearly fell off the seat laughing, 'A teaspoon of whiskey, as if that's going to do you any good. It'll do you no harm, but probably do you no good, that'. His hair was grey and it started to go back to black again - so I'm hoping I've got his genes!
But listen, tonight: we need a spiritual detox. We need completely cleansed of all the influences of Egypt in our lives, if we are wanting to be healed. You see, people come: 'Pray over me, I've got this problem, that problem, the other problem, I want God to fix me!' - but they're not willing to meet God on His terms. It's not easy, it's hard, and it can be painful. There are a lot of those hurts and bitternesses that you've had, you've pushed them down, you don't hardly know they're there, because they're difficult to face - but God needs you to face them in His presence. It's not an easy thing to forgive - if it's easy, it's not forgiveness. Did you hear me? If it's easy, it's not forgiveness.
God was not only interested in getting Israel out of Egypt, He wanted Egypt out of Israel spiritually and physically. But it was conditional, look at verse 26, the Lord said to the people: 'If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you'. That is Jehovah-Rapha, 'The LORD Our Healer' - we saw it last Sunday night, didn't we? One of the compound names of Jehovah: 'The LORD Who Heals' - but this is conditional, 'If you heed My voice, do what's right in My sight, give ear to My commandments'; if you agree with God, obey what He says. Are you obeying God? God has told you to do something, you haven't done it, and you're wondering why you're still standing there on the leash, and you're not allowed to move any further, and you haven't gone on into your promised land, and you're not knowing the blessings of abundant life - because you haven't done what He's told you to do! He is not in a hurry, He'll wait.
You know, God was going to give the law at Mount Sinai, and a lot of the laws - many scholars believe that God's laws would have a direct impact on the hygiene and health of the Israelites as they went through the wilderness. For instance, circumcision, quarantine, washing themselves in running water, kosher food laws - that it would keep disease far from them. I believe that, but I'll tell you something else: there was a supernatural dimension to this, that God was putting a hedge around them so that the enemy's diseases would not touch them. Now I know God can use sickness in people's lives, but never ever say God sends sickness, never ever say that unless you know that. He can send it, we've seen it in the Bible, for various reasons against His enemies, but be very careful - a lot of people are bandying things around, and attributing to God things He never did. We live in a fallen world, and that wasn't His fault. We live in a fallen world, there is sickness, there is disease - but it's not His fault.
Look at chapter 23 and verse 25, this is supernatural - it can't be anything else: 'So you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water. And I will take sickness away from the midst of you'. Isn't that wonderful? Now, we are so often obsessed with physical healing - and don't misunderstand me, I believe in it. But a lot of physical diseases, sicknesses, and ailments come from mental, emotional, and spiritual causes. The enemy loves brokenness, he loves bitterness, and if he can manipulate that in our spirit he will make the bones ache, literally. So you can have all the prayer lines - and I'm not despising prayer lines now - you can have all the prayer lines you like, but if you don't get at the root of the bitterness or the true hurt, you're not going to see healing. I believe that's why we don't see more healing.
Look at verse 27 of chapter 15. Jehovah-Rapha leads them, and they come out of the wilderness of Shur and they come to Elim - that wasn't the church or denomination, but this place. 'Elim' means 'trees': 'Where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters'. Now listen carefully to what I'm saying: a work of healing needs to be done - OK - to know wholeness in Christ, a work of healing needs to be done. It's found at the cross. But after the test of the cross, after the brokenness, after the repentance, after the difficulty of facing your particular bitterness, then there will come times of refreshing - that's good, by the way. Times of refreshing.
Now, as Canaan is not heaven - right - but it is heaven on earth, it's the heavenly life here and now; I believe Elim here is a bit of a foretaste of Canaan land. So God, I believe, right now, even in the midst of all the fallen mess that many of us are experiencing day by day - we can't be exempt or immune from hardship, it is part of this life, 'In the world you shall know tribulation', 'The suffering of this life is not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed' - there is suffering in this life, but there is a foretaste of glory in the victorious life. There is a deposit, Paul says, of the heavenly things that are to come. We can actually taste of the heavenly gift, the age to come. We can taste of it now in resurrection life!
But I have to say this to you: whilst that is true, God didn't reveal Himself as Jehovah-Rapha at Elim, He revealed Himself as Jehovah-Rapha at Marah. God can't reveal Himself as a healer if there is no sickness. We don't appreciate His deliverance, His salvation, if there is no bondage. That's a deep one, and you need to think about that. But, you see, for you that means there is a reason for the season that you're going through right now. The reason is: God doesn't want you to stay there, but there is a process going on. We are going at breakneck speed to get to the destination, to get to the conclusion, to get to Canaan, when there is a process of learning. He wants you actually to enjoy the journey, to the extent that you don't lose what He's teaching you there.
Elim really is the rest of faith. Some of you have been striving, some of you have been struggling. Maybe you're a non-Christian and you've been trying to earn your salvation, you've been trying to buy favour with God. You're a good person, and you go to church, and you give to charity, and you try your best to help people, and you say prayers, and you go through rites and rituals - I don't know what it is - but God wants you to know tonight: that's not the way to find Him. There is a rest of faith, where you lay it all down at the cross, and the result is: the heavenly atmosphere of refreshment and rest now. That's what we need, wait till I tell you: that's what we need in the church, we need times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, we need Elim. Not the denomination, we need God's Elim, God's Elim. The Elim need Elim!
Look at Elim quickly, I'm bringing everything to a close, look at Elim. Verse 27: 'There were twelve wells of water' - now that is very significant, not least because these folk hadn't got any water, only bitter stuff that have been made sweet - but now there are twelve wells of water. Now the number 12 in the Bible speaks of totality, and there is a sense in which it is speaking of the totality of God's provision in His government. Now, I know that sounds complicated, but stay with me. The totality of God's provision in His government - in other words, when God is in charge, when God is given His rightful place in our lives and in His people, there will be absolute, perfect, total provision. We will not want for anything.
When you look at times we find 12: there were 12 tribes of Israel; there were 12 apostles; there are 12 foundations in the book of Revelation future, there are 12 foundations in the New Jerusalem; the woman with the issue of blood was ill 12 years, and Jairus' daughter, the miracle that overlaps with that miracle, she was 12 years of age when she took sick and was raised back to life. Twelve is right throughout, Jesus had 12 disciples, He even said as He was going to the cross that He could call 12 legions of angels - all of this is speaking of God's government and His absolute provision in it. When you go - this is wonderful - when you go to the New Jerusalem in the book of the Revelation, and there is there the Tree of Life growing on either side of the River of Life flowing from the Throne of God, and do you know what Revelation says? 'There are twelve fruit on the Tree of Life for the healing of the nations'.
Here you have twelve wells, and what it's speaking of, I believe, is anointing for God's purposes to obedient people. Water often speaks of the Holy Spirit, this is anointing, this is provision - what you need, if you're obedient to God, God will give you everything you need of the Holy Spirit. Do you understand that? He's not going to leave you short. Do you remember the disciples were out on the mountain with the people, the great multitude, and they were there a whole day, and the people were hungry? The disciples come to Jesus and say: 'These people are starving, what are we going to feed them with?'. Jesus says: 'You feed them' - funny, isn't it? 'You feed them', how are they going to feed them? All the shops are closed, they're not even near - how are they going to do it? Jesus wanted them to have faith. Anyway, that's another story, Jesus then performs this wonderful miracle of the feeding of the 5000. They partake in that miracle - we saw that last night - and they distribute all the loaves and the fish from the wee lad's lunchbox. Now, what a lot of people don't know about is the feeding of the 4000. Do you know about that one? That's another miracle - you see, there is a difference between 4000 and 5000, it's a second miracle. The disciples, this is the point of it, still haven't got the point - they still haven't got the point. What's the point? That the Jesus in their midst is sufficient for every need, whatever resources are at your disposal - whether the shops are closed or not, or your faith isn't great enough - Jesus is in your midst, and He is enough. Here's how I know, Mark 8:19, listen, Jesus says to them: ''Why do you not understand yet? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?'. They said to Him, 'Twelve''. That's how much was left over, twelve - that's the feeding of the 5000. Do you know how many were left over at the feeding of the 4000? Seven, that's another number of perfection and completeness. What is Jesus trying to say? 'Look guys, I'm all that you need, if you'll just trust Me, if you'll just come in your emptiness; but you have to come under My government, you have to come under My Lordship, you have to obey Me, you have to abide in Me - and then you will have', listen to this, 'the Spirit without measure' - that means 'the Spirit without limit'. That wasn't just reserved for Jesus, because Jesus says: 'If you believe in Me, those who believe in Me shall do greater works'. Wow.
Then there are 70 palm trees, 12 wells of water and 70 palm trees. Now what does 70 mean? Well, 70 is made up of two perfect numbers: seven and ten. Seven is the number of completeness and perfection in the Bible, and ten is often the number of the law - the Ten Commandments. You put them together and you get the same meaning in a sense: the completeness of God and God's law, it's symbolic of the perfect spiritual order that is carried out with all power when God is in charge. Are you getting it?
'Elim' means 'trees' - and, ladies and gentlemen, that's what you're meant to be tonight: you're meant to be trees. Did you know that? Turn with me, and I'm bringing everything to a close right now, turn with me to Psalm 104 and verse 16, it says: 'The trees of the LORD are full of sap' - do you know what that means? Life! Vitality! Zip! Is that what you're full of tonight? I would go as far as to say that some of you are full of bitterness tonight, is that true? Or some are full of disappointment, despondency, hopelessness. God wants you to be full of life. Turn with me to Psalm 92, God wants you to be like the trees of Elim, refreshed by those wells, Psalm 92 verse 12: 'The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree'. I know nothing about farming, very little about animals, and nothing about horticulture whatsoever - but I'm led to believe that palm trees go down as far as they go up. I hope that's true or I'm telling you lies! But that's why they survive in the storms, they can bend right over - because under the ground is as deep as up on the top of the surface. That's the way God wants you to be, not standing tall, cocky in the church, but deep in Him, deep in Him.
Look at it, verse 12: 'The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon' - strong, tall trees - 'Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shalll flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age' - do I hear an 'Amen'? Some of you think your day is over, you do - and for some of you it is over, because you've given up and you think there's nothing more that God can do for you or with you. Listen: Moses was 80 when he got out of Midian and started to really serve God. You can bear fruit in your old age. Look at the end of verse 14: 'They shall be fresh and flourishing', 'green' literally is the word - that's what God wants for you! He wants you to come into your spiritual Elim, but it will cost you. If you want wholeness in Christ, if you want that healing, you need to come to the foot of the cross, you need to face your brokenness, the bitterness, you need to forgive other people - and then you will move into the times of refreshing, outpoured from heavenly Elim. Then you shall drink at the well that shall never run dry, the well of sufficiency and unction for God's purposes. Then you will stand tall, like those trees, and you will eat of the fruit of the Tree of Life for your healing and even the healing of the nations.
I wonder - we haven't even got to the wilderness journey, but I wonder when Moses said to Pharaoh: 'Let My people go that they may serve Me', did he have a notion what was going to go on, what was going to happen, and what God was going to do? You've no idea, my friend, what God will do with your life if you give it over to Him, if you come to Calvary He will turn your bitter to sweet, He will turn your darkness to light, He will turn your death to life, He will turn your hell to heaven. Will you come? Let's pray.
Let's just take a moment in these closing seconds of our meeting in the presence of God. I just want to ask is there anyone here who is not a Christian, you have never come to the cross to receive forgiveness of your sins, you've never been born again, you've never become a child of God? But you want to take that step tonight, you realise there is brokenness, you realise there is sin and bitterness there and you need to let go of it. You realise what Satan has done to you, and you need to be set free. You've been a slave for too long. While heads are bowed and eyes are closed right now, is there anyone just would raise their hand to say: 'I need Christ tonight, I need to become a Christian'? Would you just raise your hand where you are and put it down again, till I see it, is there anyone? You've never taken that step, and God has spoken to you tonight. You know the answer now, you know the answer, don't let the devil hold you back, don't get those lies that he is speaking to you hold you still a slave. Is there anyone, would you just raise your hand where you are?
Is there a backslider, and you once professed faith in Christ, but you've lost your way, lost your way into sin? You're thirsty, you're drinking at wells and cisterns that can't hold any water. Will you come to the Fountain of Life tonight? Will you come back home? Is there any backslider? Would you just raise your hand, just where you are? Would you raise your hand, and I will see it and acknowledge it, and we will lead you in a prayer - anyone?
Are there any Christians here tonight and you have had bitterness in your heart? Nobody is judging you tonight, nobody is condemning you, because bitterness often comes from hurts that aren't usually our fault. But bitterness and unforgiveness is a bit like pouring out a glass of poison for an enemy, and then drinking it yourself - it only hurts you. You know it's destroying you from the inside out, it maybe even is making you physically and mentally ill. Christian, would you be willing to say tonight: 'I'm going to lay the bitterness down at the foot of the cross, I'm going to let the Lord make my bitterness sweet and heal my heartbreak'. Maybe you're angry at God, and you need to bring that to Him tonight. Is there anyone tonight, any Christian, and you would raise your hand to say: 'That's me, and I need to deal with that' - just where you are, we're not going to embarrass you or anything like that, but just to acknowledge your need. There are people acknowledging, God is going to bless them - is there anybody else in this moment? Maybe there has been a deep hurt in your life, maybe it's a father that has not allowed you to see Father God in them, and so you can't see the goodness of the Heavenly Abba on high because of the example that your earthly father or your mother gave you. Maybe it's a lack of trust because people have betrayed your trust, and you can't trust God. You need healed, that's why you can't trust Him, you need healed of that. Is there anybody else before I close up? I believe God wants to heal hearts tonight, there are more people - is there anyone else? Just acknowledge it, God bless you.
Let me pray for you. Let me lead anyone who wants to become a Christian tonight and hadn't the guts to put their hand up, but you want to take that step - let me lead you in a prayer. Pray this after me, believe it, believe God will hear you, and just say it from your heart: 'O God, I come to You in the name of Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I confess I am a sinner, I turn, I repent from my sins and turn to You for forgiveness - believing that Jesus died for me. I ask You to save me, wash me, cleanse me, and forgive me. Make me Your child as I confess Jesus Christ as Lord. I renounce Satan and all his works. I ask You to fill me full of the power of the Holy Spirit, that I might live a life to glorify You'.
If there is a backslider, you just confess your sin and pray a similar prayer. He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you. If you're someone with bitterness in your heart tonight, you need to forgive that person or people. You might say something like this: 'Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive me for bitterness. I choose to forgive', so and so, 'for', whatever they did to you, how they made you feel. Do it now. Say to the Lord: 'I release all bitterness and resentment to You, and I ask You to heal my damaged emotions and set me free'. Whatever else it is, tell God that you're sorry for any resentment you've had toward Him. Confess that you've believed the lies of the devil about Him, that others have told you. Confess to Him Jeremiah 29:11, that He has only good plans and thoughts for you, to prosper you, and to give you a hope and a future - that His heart for you. Don't blame Him for the things the devil has done, or that you have done yourself, or others have done!
Father, I pray for this company of people that You will break the bondage of bitterness tonight in the mighty name of Jesus. I pray now, Lord, that You will replace the hurt with healing. I pray that You will come now and flow the balm of Gilead, the medicine of heaven, Jesus' precious healing, restoring, recovering, redeeming blood into the deep wounds of people's hearts tonight - that You will recover those broken pieces, those fragments of spirits and souls that are scattered all over their history, or attached to other people who have harmed them. Lord, that You will bring them all together, and that You will unite people's hearts to fear Your name. Bring healing and wholeness. You have said You want to make us holy and whole, fix us together, spirit, soul, and body - do that tonight, Lord, in the mighty name of Jesus. Oh, and I pray now Lord that You will open the floodgates of heaven, and that You will pour out those twelve wells, that the seven spirits of Almighty God, the sevenfold Spirit, may flow into every heart. Oh, that people would be baptised in the Holy Ghost tonight; that people will be released from demonic oppression, delivered; that people will be restored; that the gifts of the Spirit would be released, that the fruit of the Spirit will blossom; bodies will be healed, minds will be calmed, emotions will be tranquil in the presence of Almighty God - and that every believing Christian in this place tonight will stand tall like the trees of Lebanon and the palms of the desert, deep rooted in Christ, drawing of His life. Thank You, Father, in Jesus' mighty name, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Brookeborough Elim Church in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the sixth recording in his 'Let My People Go' series, entitled "Wholeness In Christ" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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