In this message, we’ll focus on the problems of “spectatorism” and how we as members of the church body can overcome congregational apathy. The ancient Hebrews were forced to work together and get involved in taking the land of Canaan. In their example, we find some practical direction for our own lives.
Sufficiently prepared by Moses before his death, the people committed themselves to the tough task of conquering Canaan, which they accomplished with the sovereign assistance of Jehovah. Divided, they could never have done it. Unified, they were strong. The same is true for churches today.
After the Hebrews’ exodus from Egyptian slavery, they crossed the Red Sea and began the journey to Canaan. But in Numbers 11:1-6, we find the Hebrews growing increasingly discontent and determined to go back to the familiarity, security, and safety of Egypt—even if it meant personal slavery and direct disobedience to God.
Under Moses’s leadership, the Israelites left the painful but familiar setting of Egypt. With the yoke of slavery broken from their necks, God’s people followed Him into an uncharted, unpredictable, unexpected wilderness. Their destination? Canaan. They had struck out on a journey none of them had ever dreamed possible…and right away they faced trials that tested their faith.
When Moses died, the Israelites were disillusioned and afraid. When Joshua took over as their leader, God reminded him that God knew exactly where His people were and where He wanted them to go—to the land of promise. All they had to do was trust in the Lord and step out in faith.
Many fall prey to the temptation of attending church only on those high Christian holidays such as Christmas and, of course, Easter. Sitting in the congregation only once or twice a year, a visitor might wonder just what all the hubbub is about. An hour-long meeting with a little singing and a little preaching is nice but certainly not life-changing!
Of all of God’s creation, human beings are the most unique and frustrated. Made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), we have the capacity to think, create, and question. Curious, we stretch to grasp things we can never understand with our finite minds and we grow frustrated. However, Daniel, who was just as curious as we, believed and trusted God to reveal the truth about the end of time at the appropriate time—whether he could understand it or not.
“The living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten” (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 9:5). Anyone with such a philosophy would come to the same conclusion Solomon did: life under the sun is empty. But is this really true of God’s servants? Daniel, as he comes to the close of his book, received a vision of four groups of people who will have significant lives in the future and on into eternity—not forgotten by God.
Brought to the very edge of prophecy, the angel showed Daniel the cruelty of war between the successors of Alexander the Great on into the demonic warfare of the Antichrist. For us, what we see in history shows us the grim picture of what is to come for those who will enter the tribulation—inescapable worldwide war—without Christ.
The ancients were comfortable with the truth that reality exists in two worlds—the physical and the spiritual. Yet we moderns sneer at such ancient mythology, while our hobgoblins whisper, “The ancients were right.” Daniel understood that two realities exist. And with another angelic visitation he would come to know how real the unseen world really is.