The bones for this article came to me as a result of having attended God’s "Boot Camp" for about four years now. A "boot camp" is where one receives training for a particular purpose and plan of the one who initiates the training.
I learned, directly from God, that He issues a particular PROMISE, and greatly wants to give us PLENTY, but He always presents us with a PROGRAM before He makes good on His promise.
So, a good sub-title would be the three Ps……
PROMISE + PROGRAM = PLENTY
Let’s first visit two (of many) stories in the Bible where God made a PROMISE….then He presented a PROGRAM (a to-do list) but the recipients of the PROMISES failed to obtain the PLENTY. If we can figure out why God withholds his BLESSINGS, then we can go from the BRINK OF BLESSINGS directly into the BLESSING itself.
Saul was a mighty king over all of Israel…their first king.
God told the prophet Samuel that a young man from the tribe of Benjamin would come before him. Saul went looking for livestock that wandered off his father’s property, so Saul wanted to seek out the local prophet, who was Samuel. In 1 Samuel 10:6, we discover that Samuel told Saul that God had made a PROMISE – that Saul would become captain or king over all of Israel. With that came a PROGRAM. With the PROGRAM, we find that God anointed Saul with His Holy Spirit so that he would have the power to do all that would be required of him to be king. “And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.”
I will cover the second story about Israel in a few moments, but in a nutshell, here is the quick version. Israel was in bondage in Egypt before this time. God used Moses to lead them out of Egypt and into a PROMISED land…..a Land flowing with milk and honey….a BLESSING. The first generation of Israel did not trust God, so they died in the wilderness of Paran.
The second generation also decided that, although God brought them out of bondage in Egypt, they still decided to reject God as their leader, and wanted to have a man…a “king” who would lead them.
We pick up on that truth in 1 Samuel 10:19 – Samuel told the congregation of Israel, “And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes, and by your thousands.”
Samuel then anointed Saul as the first king over all of Israel. He was head and shoulders taller than most of the Israelites, and a handsome, strong man, so Israel was happy having a man as their king…instead of having God lead them.
I’ve always thought to myself how much this must have made God feel their rejection…yet; He still loved them – enough to give them their desire to have a man king.
Later, the enemy of Israel – the Philistines, were arrayed against Israel – ready to kill them. Samuel told Saul to wait for seven days, and he would come to the encampment of Saul and his army, and he would make a sacrifice to God, and God would take care of the enemy.
Saul waited for seven days, but early on the 7th day, he decided to make the sacrifice to God, rather than wait for God to have Samuel arrive.
Saul thought that He could circumvent God’s plan…God’s PROGRAM.
I will state this – from experience in the Word of God, and from my personal relationship with God, that with every PROMISE comes a PROGRAM, and the PLENTY that God wants to give us will fail to materialize if we cannot make it through the PROGRAM.
When I say PROGRAM, I intend to state that with every PROMISE, God will create a tailor-made trial or test or PROGRAM for us to go through in order that God can demonstrate two things: He wants us to know WHO we are (which should be a person who can do nothing without God) and who He is….the one who wants us to TRUST HIM implicitly, and never waiver from that total TRUST in Him….or forfeit the PLENTY…the BLESSING.
Saul was now on the BRINK OF BLESSING when he decided to do things his way. When we do things OUR WAY, we are telling God that we do NOT trust Him or His judgment. When we tell God that, we FAIL THE TEST, and lose the BLESSING.
When Saul took God’s PROGRAM, and decided to change it and do things himself, God had to remove the BLESSING…and He did.
1 Samuel 13-14 - “And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.”
Long story short- King Saul would forfeit two things: God’s spirit would leave him, and he would eventually die by falling on his sword in a battle…and David would become his replacement.
STORY NUMBER TWO – ISRAEL
Now, I can go back to when Israel had no king and God was their leader. God made Israel a PROMISE. He would get them out of their bondage to Egypt where they were slaves under tough task-masters….a place where the Egyptians treated them like dogs. The rulers over them would take their women and do with them as they pleased, or they would take their children from them and sacrifice them to their gods. All sorts of evil was upon Israel when they were in bondage to Egypt.
This reflects what God is trying to tell us. The bondage that we are enslaved in is sin. The taskmaster over sin is Satan, and he is a harsh ruler who brings all sorts of evil upon us. He cannot take our life, however. Only God can take a life.
Jesus came to set us free from sin…and all He asks is that we believe that He is the son of God, that He died on the cross to pay for our sins, and that He asks us to call upon Him to save us….save us from eternal torment in a place called hell.
Moses was the leader that God chose to get Israel out of Egypt, and God PROMISED them something. Let’s see what that PROMISE was. By the way, this is the same concept that I want to get across to you – God has made many PROMISES in His word. With each PROMISE comes a PROGRAM (test). To get to the PLENTY or “blessing”, you must pass the test.
Exodus 13:5 demonstrates God’s PROMISE. Moses has led the people from Egypt, and they have miraculously passed through the Red Sea.
“And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month.”
God said, “I WILL BRING YOU INTO THE LAND OF PLENTY.”
As Moses led the Israelites through the Wilderness of Paran – on a journey to the PROMISED LAND that would take only about two weeks, we see other miracles unfold…miracles that should have built up the confidence of the Israelites in their leader God. He created a pillar of cloud that they could follow during the daytime, and God created a pillar of fire to lead them during any night travels. He wanted them to know that He would always be there for them – and WITH THEM. They saw these phenomenons – yet, somehow, they would not TRUST God.
As soon as the Israelites saw God drown Pharaoh’s armies in the Red Sea, and they were safely out of harm’s way….they praised God and sang songs about their victory over their adversary.
In fact, in Exodus 15:18, when all the singing was done, and the praises finished, Israel said, “The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.”
To me, this would indicate that Israel was grateful to the mighty God who loved them and freed them, and they pledged to love God forever and ever. Not so!
A few Bible verses later, we discover an attitude change! Verse 22 - 24: - “So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? “ Three days into their journey from Egypt toward a “land flowing with milk and honey”…and Israel began to complain!
God showed Moses a tree and told him to cast that tree into the waters. Moses obeyed the PLAN, and the waters were turned into sweet tasting water.
God wanted to demonstrate to Moses that, as long as Moses would listen to God…and follow His PROGRAM, God would PROMISE more BLESSINGS. “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.”
This is a PROMISE made to us today by God.
God tells us that He is our leader. In Him we must place our full TRUST and confidence…and we must TRUST Him throughout our “time of testing” or trial…or PROGRAM. If we TRUST GOD all the way to the end of His PROGRAM, He will show us the BLESSING…the PLENTY…that He always wants to bless us with.
Because Israel murmured and complained right off the bat, God would test them longer. So they would spend another two months wandering in this wilderness while God watched them – to see if their hearts would change, and to see if they would finally TRUST HIM. They did not.
By this time, Israel was running out of provisions….food, so do you think they would look to God as their miracle source? Nope!
Exodus 16:2-3 - “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
They murmured again…and complained again…and told Moses (and God) that they were far better off in Egypt…where life was so miserable that they begged God to free them from it. They actually told God that they wished now that God had killed them all in Egypt. They would make a statement closely related to that one a little later, and this time – God will honor their own death sentence.
God instantly provided them with another miracle….”manna” or a bread like substance fell from heaven each day. This is where we get, from the Lord’s prayer, “Give us THIS DAY our Daily Bread”. Jesus wanted us to also understand that he is the provider of all of our needs…our Daily Bread…..our monthly budget items if you will, so I will digress for a moment here to establish another PROMISE that God makes to US.
Matthew 6:33 – “Seek God FIRST in your daily life wherein He gives you one more day to breathe…..and if we seek God first thing each day, He PROMISES to take care of our ‘Daily Bread Items’….our monthly obligations.”
He also tells us in many other places, that we can gain access to His vast wealth…His PLENTY…if we follow His PROGRAM. In Deuteronomy 8:18, God reminds us that it is “He who gives US the power to GET WEALTH.” And in Haggai 2:8, God specifies that “He owns all of the silver and all of the gold.” But, I have reserved how to tap into that resource for another time, and all of that is found in Bible lessons given on my website found at the bottom of this article.
God demonstrated to Moses that He intended to PROVE Israel – to see if they could pass the test – His PROGRAM. We find that proof in Exodus 16:4 –“ Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.”
May I tell you a fact of life concerning God’s PROMISES? If you cannot pass His PROGRAM….you will continue to extend His PROGRAM for weeks,. Months or years…..until you either succumb to your mistrust, in which case you will never see the BLESSING…the “Promised Land”….the “land of PLENTY”….or, you will finally TRUST God, and He will then quickly walk you into the PLENTY that He has PROMISED. I am living proof of this.
Later, God poured out a few more miracles upon Israel…like delivering quail…meat to go along with their bread and water, and He would do it miraculously. One would think that if God caused live quail and bread (manna) to fall from the sky – every day…in a desert, and make it so their clothing and shoes never wore out, that they would see that this God loved them enough to want to guide them to their destination. No, they continued to complain and not trust God. What stupid people.
In spite of Israel’s defiance and continuous murmuring against God and His leader, Moses, God still made more PROMISES to Israel….maybe to “sweeten the pot” and appeal to their desire to obtain a better life for themselves.
In Exodus 19, God tells Moses to say to Israel, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”
God was clear to Israel….and now to US. “If you obey my voice (my Word), and keep the covenant (now, the New Covenant, or New Testament that Jesus delivered to the Gentiles), then, I will deliver you into the PROMISED LAND of heaven, but I will also BLESS YOU with my ABUNDANCE…as I have PROMISED to do throughout my Word…the Bible.”
Basically, God is telling US (and before us, Israel), “I have made PROMISES, but to get you from the BRINK OF BLESSING into the actual BLESSING (PLENTY – or ABUNDANCE), I will always set out a PROGRAM, and that PROGRAM is that you listen to my voice, hear my words, keep my commandments (in other words DO what I have written in my Bible), THEN, and only THEN, will I take you directly into that PLENTY that I have PROMISED.”
Why then, do we fail the PROGRAM…the TESTS, that God always places in front of the PLENTY? This is a mystery to me now….but prior to December of 2007, I always did things my way because of my lack of TRUST and lack of patience and lack of knowledge of how God really WANTS TO BLESS US.
In December of 2011, having been “born again” since 1954 at age 11, I asked God to show me His PLAN and His PURPOSE for my life. I was at the very top of my game. I had tons of money, three houses, new cars….life was good, and I did most of it myself…without God’s help (although I naively thought that I was prospering myself, while all the while God was quietly working behind the scenes so I could finally understand that He owns all the silver and gold, and it is He who gives us the power to get wealth.
I had to know what His PLAN and PURPOSE was for me because I knew, in my heart and soul, that His plan would far exceed anything that I could ever come up with….So far, He has trained me, loved me, and taught me all of the things I needed to know to have a close relationship with Him, and that’s really all God wants from us. He is not willing that ANY of us should perish into an eternity of torment and punishment for our sins, but He has established that ALL should come to repentance and inherit eternal life with Him in heaven.
He gives us CHOICES to make. It is US that choose to accept His son, Jesus…or reject what He did on the cross to pay for our sins. In that case, we willingly choose the punishment, and God cannot and will not force us to do anything against our will.
I can tell you from experience, however, that God really wants to BLESS US on this side of heaven, too, and ALL OF US stand on the BRINK OF BLESSING, but very few of us can get through the PROGRAM stage …the TESTING stage, so we fail to TRUST God, and forfeit His BLESSING.
Here comes God’s ultimate test for all of the Israelites:
God felt that He had to give Israel a set of GUIDELINES….RULES, so they could either live by them, or discover that they could not live by them. Each time they would break the Commandments (ten of them), then high priests would have to sacrifice a bird or animal to “cover over” or atone for the sins of the individual, and annually for all of Israel.
By the time Moses came down from the mountains, after being there in God’s presence for 40 days (remember the forty), he discovered that all of Israel had failed to wait for him (kind of like Saul failed to wait for Samuel…or wait for God’s PROGRAM to complete itself), so Israel had fashioned a golden calf to worship instead of God…another slap in the face of God.
God essentially said to Moses, “Get out of the way and let me strike all of these people dead.” Moses intervened and reasoned with God. God treated Moses as a “friend”, and respected what he had to say, and allowed Israel to continue living, although thousands would die from a plague that God sent to the idol worshippers.
In Numbers 13, God instructs Moses to tell Israel, “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.”
God wanted to set the record straight. He was about to GIVE the children of Israel that land flowing with milk and honey. Moses sent twelve spies into the land to check it out. They would be gone for 40 days. FORTY DAYS.
Follow me in Numbers 13: 26-27 - to see what they reported back to Moses….”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.” - “Yes, Moses…it’s just like God said it would be.”
“BUT” – Here’s where the BUTT buts in, and they fail to TRUST GOD, therefore they FAILED THE TEST. Remember, if God PROMISES PLENTY, He will also have a PROGRAM or test that we need to go through to see what we are made of and if we will finally TRUST Him.
Joshua and Caleb TRUSTED GOD. They said, “It’s exactly as God has said it would be, and God said we are to go into that land and take cities that we have not built, lands that we did not cultivate, food that we did not grow…and we should TRUST GOD and just go in and get it done.”
I must interject my personal testimony here. When God makes a PROMISE in the Bible, I take Him at His word. I TRUST HIM. I know that before He delivers the PLENTY, I must pass His PROGRAM – His TEST. Therefore, I ALWAYS look at trials – no matter what they are, as a TEST that God is going to use to test my mettle…to see if I have the stuff necessary to go directly into the PLENTY. It is a gift…these TESTS. James tells us to count it all a BLESSING when God gives us a test because it proves that God is desiring to bring us to the PLENTY, and God will get us through the TEST and on to the BLESSING…if we simply TRUST HIM. - James 1:2-4.
The other TEN tribe leaders came back with this: Numbers 14: 31-33 –“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.”
Translation – “Sure, God SAID that He would give us all of this, but our eyes say that God is lying to us. We cannot possibly go up against the inhabitants of this land. We do not TRUST GOD.”
This, my friend, is where 99% of you will fail. You must have FAITH, which means you absolutely believe that God will honor His PROMISE - regardless of what obstacles you physically see in front of you. Our lack of COMPLETE TRUST will ALWAYS prevent us from going from the BRINK OF BLESSING into the BLESSING itself. It is an immutable principle of God.
Israel failed the PROPGRAM. This would be the LAST TIME they would fail to TRUST GOD. Here is what they concluded: “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!”
They just pronounced their own DEATH SENTENCE. Every Israelite would die in the wilderness of Paran and NEVER SEE THE PROMISED LAND…the PLENTY – the BLESSING. They never made it past the BRINK OF THE BLESSING. Instead, they would wallow in their mistrust and misery until the last of the adults died off….including Moses, who for a violation of God’s PROGRAM, got to see the Promised Land from the top of a mountain, but never possessed it. Instead, God anointed Joshua and Caleb to lead Israel’s children into the Promised Land, and they possessed it easily. God maintained His commitment to those who finally trusted Him.
He delivered all of the inhabitants of the land, and all their possessions into the hands of Joshua and his armies. God caused walls of great cities to collapse into the ground (Jericho) when Joshua did all that God told him to do…part of God’s PROGRAM. Israel finally got to see that God is faithful to His PROMISES…if they complete His PROGRAM. They inherited the PLENTY. They crossed that bridge from the BRINK of BLESSING to the BLESSING itself…by simply TRUSTING God, and obeying His words found in The Book.
Rather than going two short weeks from PROMISE to PLENTY, Isreal failed the PROGRAM, and spent FORTY YEARS wandering in the wilderness because they failed to TRUST GOD.
In December of 2007, I decided that I did not want to wander in the wilderness anymore. I wanted to know what God's PLAN and PURPOSE is for my life, and He showed it to me. Sure, before I would experience witnessing His PROMISES, I had to go through His PROGRAM, but boy, did I learn an awful lot, including that God would open my spiritual eyes and shine the light on His words so that I could finally understand what His intents and purposes are for me. His Word is spiritually clear and concise now, and I have read the Bible many times in my lifetime., I taught Sunday School for kids and adults. I wrote books about spiritual things, and now, thanks to e-books, I have been able to bring them up to date and in accordance with God's principles. I "get it" now.
John Tyler, Author of nine books.
FIVE of my books are bible-bases, so those are FREE!