Last evening at dusk, Sister Margaret was out picking tomatoes, where she was wildly assailed by the mosquitoes. It was obviously their dinner time. Coming into the house she watched carefully to avoid letting any of the hungry little creatures in, although that is almost impossible to be sure of.
We sat down to our dinner, and soon a mosquito came whirring by. I made a pass at him, but he was much too lively to be caught. Soon, though, he slowed down enough to light for a moment. I gave a good SWAT, and exclaimed, “I almost got him!” Sister Margaret came back immediately with: “Almost is not enough!”
Isn’t that true of just about any “almost” we can think of? Nothing is useful until the almost is removed.
A house almost built. A bridge almost complete. A car that almost runs. Who wants it!
A child almost rescued is still lost. Food that is almost pure. A program almost complete. A pandemic almost conquered.
No, we want to get rid of the ALMOST! It just isn’t enough
And so on and on it goes.
Almost is a word of disappointment. It falls short of whatever is expected, needed or planned.
There are “Almosts” in Scripture too.
Think about Lot’s wife. Few warnings are more solemn than the words of our Lord,
Luke 17:32 32Remember Lot’s wife.
She had left the doomed city with the rest. She had heard the command of the angel. What did she do?
Genesis 19:15–16 15When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” 16And while he lingered, the men [the angels] took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.
The angels took them by the hand!
Genesis 19:17 17So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.”
Do NOT look behind you…
She was almost out and safe. But Lot’s wife looked back, and lost her life.
Can’t we hear the appeal in Jesus’ words:
Luke 17:32 32Remember Lot’s wife.
ALMOST saved, but LOST.
There is another ALMOST lesson from Jesus in His parable of the ten bridesmaids. Their test: to take ENOUGH oil. Because they had to be ready whenever the bridegroom might come. Almost would not be good.
No one knew when that would be.
Being ready meant having your lamps trimmed and burning. Let’s read the parable:
But the bridegroom tarried…
Matthew 25:5 5While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
Then a wake-up call: The Bridegroom is coming! Get ready to meet him!
Matthew 25:7 7Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
Now the oil crisis!
Matthew 25:8–9 8And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
One lamp went out. Then another. And another. Did they have ALMOST enough? Maybe, but ALMOST was not enough!
9But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
What about the rich young ruler, who asked Jesus, what must I do to be saved?
Mark 10:17 17And when [Jesus] was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
What did Jesus answer?
Mark 10:18-19 18And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. 19Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
The young man answered with confidence. He was proud of his good record!
Mark 10:20 20And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
He felt that he had done pretty well, and should be commended. But in Jesus view, it was ALMOST, and ALMOST was not enough.
Mark 10:2121Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”
Jesus was not satisfied? Even when the young man had done so well?
See him go away, broken, dejected, down hearted. His pride was his treasure and here it was, a barrier to the eternal riches!
Moses had his own ALMOST situation. A personal one, one he couldn’t leave behind.
The Israelites were complaining. Of course. Same old problem: no water.
Would they ever learn to trust God to supply their needs? Apparently not.
As always, they brought their grievances to Moses and Aaron. The record even says it stronger: they “contended” with Moses and Aaron.
Numbers 20:2–5 2Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. 3And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: “If only we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!
Can you imagine? They even wished they had died! Were they thinking of the most recent event, when the earth opened and swallowed up Dathan and Abiram and all they had? Or the fire that consumed the 250 censors?
4Why have you brought up the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here? 5And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink.”
They surely were unhappy! No one had said the wilderness was Canaan!
So what did Moses and Aaron do? They took it to the Lord.
Numbers 20:6 6So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and they fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them.
As always, the Lord had a solution.
Numbers 20:7–8 7Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 8“Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.”
What did Moses do?
Numbers 20:9–10 9So Moses took the rod from before the Lord as He commanded him. 10And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?”
Can’t we hear the exasperation in Moses’ words—even through the translation from Hebrew to English? And truly, I’m afraid most of us would likely have been just as near our wits end—many times over!—with that rebellious host of Israelites!
Numbers 20:1111Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.
God did not hold back on providing, but neither did He overlook Moses’ lack of complete obedience. His ALMOST obedience.
Numbers 20:12 12Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”
It was a serious matter. As always, God means what He says. To do anything less was to dishonor Him. God wanted His instructions followed not ALMOST but EXACTLY.
Speak to the rock was not strike it. Moses almost carried out God’s instruction, but for not obeying precisely, God told him he could not enter the land of promise.
A severe penalty? God does not honor ALMOST obedience.
Now, where are we with our obedience, you and I? Are we ALMOST there, but still holding back something? It is a serious matter, because we are dealing with the same God. And the same standards for compliance.
Let’s think about it today. Now, while the gate is still open. We don’t want to get to the eternal City and be ALMOST able to enter. We want an ABUNDANT ENTRANCE.
2 Peter 1:11 11for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.