“GodWill Go Before You”


3Weeks ago, the YOUTH GROUP went on a “Destination Unknown.” If you’ve never been on a DU, or heard of one, it’s afun activity for the youth group, except for the fact that the groupdoes not know where they are going until they get there. When I wasa youth pastor, we used to tape the bus windows with newspaper so theteens couldn’t see where we were going. The most recent DU forour Faith Bible Teens ended up being a destination to a Navy Footballgame at Annapolis! It was really exciting for them because as usual,the bus broke down on the way!

Doesyour life feel like you’re on a Destination Unknown? Perhapsyou have just lost your job, or you are going through the sorrow of abroken relationship. Maybe there is a young man or woman here who isbeginning theif college education. We heard 2 weeks ago from JohnFogle, just recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Can you relateto that? Or perhaps your Destination Unknown is the beginning ofretirement and you’re not sure how it is all going to work out.

Ourpatriarch Jacob is on a 1,000 mile Destination Unknown!

Hisstory is told in Genesis 29:1-14

ThenJacob continued on his journey and came to the land of the easternpeoples. There he saw a well in the field, with three flocks of sheeplying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. Thestone over the mouth of the well was large. When all the flocks weregathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from thewell’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return thestone to its place over the mouth of the well. Jacob asked theshepherds, “My brothers, where are you from?” “We’refrom Haran,” they replied. He said to them, “Do you knowLaban, Nahor’s grandson?” “Yes, we know him,”they answered. Then Jacob asked them, “Is he well?” “Yes,he is,” they said, “and here comes his daughter Rachelwith the sheep.” “Look,” he said, “the sun isstill high; it is not time for the flocks to be gathered. Water thesheep and take them back to pasture.” “We can’t,”they replied, “until all the flocks are gathered and the stonehas been rolled away from the mouth of the well. Then we will waterthe sheep.” While he was still talking with them, Rachel camewith her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. When Jacobsaw Rachel daughter of Laban, his mother’s brother, and Laban’ssheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of thewell and watered his uncle’s sheep. Then Jacob kissed Racheland began to weep aloud. He had told Rachel that he was a relative ofher father and a son of Rebekah. So she ran and told her father. Assoon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister’s son, hehurried to meet him. He embraced him and kissed him and brought himto his home, and there Jacob told him all these things. Then Labansaid to him, “You are my own flesh and blood.” AfterJacob had stayed with him for a whole month,”(Genesis 29:1–14, NIV84)

FOLLOWJacob with me………

youare alone on your camel

Dayafter day

Nightafter night

Yourfirst stop is BETHEL, where you have a personal encounter with Godwho reveals that he is going to bless you just like he promised.

Then,you continue on your journey and CROSS the JORDAN river, and begin totravel north via the KINGS HIGHWAY.

Youpass around the base of MT HERMON. It’s beautiful and cappedwith snow, even in the early summer.

Theweather grew hotter with each step down from the slopes of HERMON.

Withina few weeks, you are in the Syrian Dessert. It’s hotter, butit reminds you a little bit of Beersheba, the home you left severalweeks ago.

Yournext stop is DAMASCUS, then ALEPPO. This is the same city wheremodern day Syrian army forces bombed and killed dozens of civiliansin the current civil war. On Wednesday October 24, 2012, 20civilians were killed waiting for bread at a bakery. These placesare of great historic significance.

YourFEAR has turned to EXCITEMENT and ANTICIPATION. We learn this fromGenesis 29:1. The NIV text says “Jacob continuedon his journey.” Literally,he “lifted up his feet.” HE “PICKED up the PACE.”He is now moving with intent, knowing that God was with him!

Finally,more vegetation and greenery as he grew closer to the FertileCrescent and the town of HARAN.

Fortwomonths,Jacob has traveled in the sun and heat.

This“man of the tents” has long forgotten the comforts home.

Heis tired.

Heis sunburned

Andfor the past two months, his closest friend was his camel!

He’shad plenty of time to THINK, and now he is at his destination withanticipation, questions, excitement, and perhaps a little fear.

Whatdid God do for Jacob, and what does that teach us about theDestination Unknowns in our life?

WhenJacob Arrived, he Discovered that God was There Ahead of Him!

1. GodWent Before Jacob to Prepare the Way.

Heis in a DIFFERENT PLACE. Genesis 29:1 describes this as “Theland of the Eastern Peoples”




IRemember our move from Pennsylvania to Vineland. I had ministeredthere for five years and knew the congregation, the deacons, thepastors, the people, businesses, the undertaker, banker. Thoserelationships take years to foster. Moving meant that I had to startall over again. It was a little intimidating, and a certainlyunknown territory.

Godbrought Jacob to the RIGHT PLACE.

Hearrives just outside Haran

Hecomes to “A well in the field” (29:2). Jacob knew aboutwells. Jacob knew about sheep. He’s feeling more comfortablealready.

Godbrought him at the RIGHT TIME. Genesis 29:4. Literally, at theright time of the day to meet the shepherds who knew Laban, Rachel,and who create the perfect opportunity for Jacob to impress hisfuture wife.

Godbrought him to the RIGHT PEOPLE

Hemeets Three shepherds. He starts up a conversation with them anddiscovers that they know Laban, and in fact, Laban’s daughterwas walking toward them!

Butthere’s something more about the opportunity that theseshepherds create for Jacob. You see, these are Mesopotamianshepherds. They seem a little on the lazy side, since they remark toJacob that they cannot move the stone from the well until othersarrive. Jacob was a little surprised at their lack of energy, so hemoves the stone all by himself. Jacob becomes that talk of the town,having impressed Rachel and Laban with his drive and ingenuity!

Thereis another side note to this well experience that might haveencouraged Jacob. Remember that his grandfather Abraham send aservant to find a wife for Jacob’s father Isaac and the searchended at a well just like this one. Jacob finds Rachel and I’msure that she reminded him of all of the wonderful things that heremembered about Rebekah.

Godalso provided the RIGHT OPPORTUNITY.

Thestone was too heavy for 3 Mesopotamian shepherds. It was no strugglefor ONE Hebrew shepherd! Jacob impresses RACHEL and uncle LABAN

Jacobseems to be a new man after his encounter with the LORD at Bethel. His CONFIDENCE came from the STONE PILLOW that he made an ALTAR. Now, he moves a stone to establish himself as someone to be takenseriously. God is on his side.

JACOB’sExperience is not unique in the Bible

2. GodGoes Before His People to Prepare the Way

    1. Abraham’s Servant when searching for bride for Issac …. Genesis 24:27 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.””

    1. Exodus from Egypt.

      1. Exodus 13:21 “By day the Lordwent ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.”

      2. Exodus 23:20–26 ““See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. ” “Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. ” “If you listen carefully to what he says and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. ” “My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. “

      3. Who was that angel???? Exodus 14:19–20 “Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, ” “coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.”

    2. Before sending out the spies from Kadesh Barnea……… Deuteronomy 1:29–30 “Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. ” “The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes,”

    3. To the Jews returning from cpativity…. Isaiah 45:2 “I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.”

    4. Isaiah 52:12 “But you will not leave in haste or go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.”

Ofthis passage, Warren Wiersbe writes, “When God’s peopleobey God’s will, they can always count on God’s leadingand protection.” WarrenW. Wiersbe, Be Comforted, “Be” Commentary Series(Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 130.

TheseOT promises are an assurance for US TODAY

3. Thingsto Remember when you are on a Destination Unknown

Godis on Your side!

Romans8:31–32 “What,then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can beagainst us? ” “He who did not spare his own Son, but gavehim up for us all—how will he not also, along with him,graciously give us all things?”

Philippians4:19 “Andmy God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches inChrist Jesus.”

Godhas promised to Go Before Us

Stepout in Faith in order to experience God’s Blessings

Disobediencewill Keep you from Experiencing His Blessings. Exodus 33:3(aftertheir sin of the Golden Calf…..) “Goup to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go withyou, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you onthe way.”

Thereis Joy in the Journey when you are Walking with the Lord!

I’veknown Paul and Shirley Bubar since I was a teenager. They are godlyChristians who have been on a Destination Unknown for all of theirlives. One of the painful chapters in that journey happened in 1996when their son Dan was killed in a car crash in Hungary.

Igrew up with Dan. We attended youth group together. We sang inyouth choir together. Dan attended Grace Bible Church in Barringtonwhen I was a youth pastor there. We re-established our relationship. He even visited us in the hospital when our daughter Brittany was inthe neonatal unit at her birth.

Wewere so sad when we heard of his death. We can only imagine thesorrow that Paul and Shirley experienced through those days, monthsand years since then.

Fastforward to October 2011 (last year)

Paulis in Florida, visiting churches to promote WOL camps and theupcoming Christmas Musical.

Thefollowing is an e-mail from From Paul.

Itwas my last visit of the day at the FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH of MT. DORA,Florida. I had misplaced the street address and couldn’t enterit into my GPS, and almost quit for the day…then I found thechurch..a large church. I entered the church office greeting thereceptionist as usual. She was the church secretary (they are theones who “run the church” anyway). Seated in thereception area was a40plus man in dungarees and sweat shirt, whom I assumed was one of thechurch workers. I didn’t realize he was the Senior Pastor onhis day off and who had returned to the church office to pick up hismail. I ignored him and greeted the secretary…she recognizedme from previous years…and I discovered that the pastoralstaff was off that day (Friday).

Icontinued with, “…as in previous years, I am bringingsome promotional materials for our Christmas Musical and the Word ofLife Camping program…we had nearly 3,000 campers this summerwith around 520 kids making salvation decisions!” At that pointthe man spoke up and said “I’m not too familiar with Wordof Life Camps…I am a little familiar with Word of Lifeoverseas, however.” I inquired where overseas? He said, “…inHUNGARY.” I asked, “What do you know about Word of Lifein Hungary?”

Hepaused and said “I knew a man on your staff back in the 90s. Itwas a very sad thing…he and his girl friend took me to theBudapest airport and then within a half hour he died in a horribleaccident. I think his name was Dan. He was one of the sharpest youngmissionaries I had ever met. I was sent to Hungary by the SouthernBaptists. I can’t remember his last name.” I said, “Wouldhis name have been BUBAR?”Hepaused and said, “Bubar…Bubar…yes, that was hisname…did you know him?” I said, “yes, I knew himvery well. He was our son.” He stood to his feet and gasped,“Oh my, Oh my, I am so sorry! You will never know how thatimpacted my life, truly. I was raised in a very protected life andhad never known anyone close to me who had died. It was the firsttime I was confronted with the fragility of life! When I received theword that he had died within only a few minutes after leaving me, Iwas broken and came to grips with mortality. It was after that I toldthe Lord he could have my life and I would serve him. It was afterthat I enrolled at the SOUTHWEST BAPTIST SEMINARY in Ft. Worth. ThereI met my wife and went on to get my Ph.D at Southwestern. I am in theministry today because of your son’s sudden death!”

Godwent before Paul.

Puthim in the right church, at the right time, to meet the right person,just so that Paul would know another way that God had used thepainful experience of his son’s death.

Godis at work, in your life.

Ifyou are on a Destination Unknown, there is someone who DOES KNOW thedestination, and he has already gone before you to make sure thateverything is ready when you get there.

GIVEyour burden to the Lord

Committo walk with him in faith