"God in the Movies: Evan Almighty" part 2:
How to Change the World
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
July 1, 2007
Joshua 6:1-20 (NLT)
Last week, we began our
new message series inspired by the movie, Evan Almighty. We looked at
the journey that Evan goes through in the movie and some of the values
he learns along the way. We saw that God was teaching him to have good
priorities, to act selflessly instead of selfishly, to see people the
way God sees them.
And we saw how the values that Evan came to embrace were the same
values that Moses in the Old Testament came to embrace.
Now, most of us are familiar with how God used Moses to lead the
Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. We know how God divided the Red Sea
for them to cross over it and how He then led them to Mount Sinai where
He gave them the Ten Commandments. And we know how after they left
Mount Sinai, the Israelites set out for the Promised Land that God was
leading them to.
And as they approached this land, Moses appointed 12 people to go and
scout out the land, reporting back what kind of people were living
there, how many of them there were, how strong they were, what kinds of
crops grew there, what the soil was like and how many trees there were.
So the scouts went to scope out this entire area (PowerPoint – Desert
of Zin in south all the way up to city of Rehob). And then they
returned to the Israelite encampment with samples of the food that grew
there and reports about a great land ahead of them. (PowerPoint) As you
can see, the region produces some pretty enticing crops. In fact, it’s
believed that wheat and barley were both domesticated there by the
people of Jericho. So the scouts were able to come back with reports of
a very productive land.
But they also reported that the people who were living there were
strong and their cities were well fortified.
Two of the scouts, Caleb and Joshua, were ready to storm into the land
right then because they believe God when He told them He would give
them this land. So they tried to motivate the people. But the rest of
the scouts kept going on and on about how strong the people were and
how they could never stand a chance against them, saying things like
Numbers 13:31-33 (NLT)
“We can’t go up against them! They are
stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land
among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will
devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge.
We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt
like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”
And so they convinced the rest of the Israelites that there was no way
they could defeat the people in the land, despite the fact that God had
promised it to them. As a result, God punished them for their lack of
faith by declaring that they would wander the desert for 40 years until
that entire generation had died with the exception of Caleb and Joshua.
And that’s what happened. (PowerPoint) They wandered this area for the
next 40 years.
But those 40 years passed and it was finally time for them to enter
into what was called the Promised Land. By this time, Moses is dead and
Joshua who was one of the two scouts who believed God is in command of
And there they were at the border once again. But this time, they’ve
had enough of the desert, they don’t want to go back for seconds, and
this time they’re ready to enter the land. Their first opposition?
(PowerPoint – to east of Red Sea) The fortified city of Jericho.
(Images in PowerPoint - Jericho)
And that’s the encounter that Karen read about earlier. Let’s take
another look at God’s plan for how the Israelites were to overcome this
strong city of Jericho.
Joshua 6:2-5 (NLT)
But the Lord said to Joshua, “I have given
you Jericho, its king, and all its strong warriors. You and your
fighting men should march around the town once a day for six days.
Seven priests will walk ahead of the Ark, each carrying a ram’s horn.
On the seventh day you are to march around the town seven times, with
the priests blowing the horns. When you hear the priests give one long
blast on the rams’ horns, have all the people shout as loud as they
can. Then the walls of the town will collapse, and the people can
charge straight into the town.”
Now that’s a pretty strange plan, if you ask me. But Joshua did what he
was told, and the Israelites experienced a tremendous victory because
And so this morning, we’re going to compare some of the things that
Joshua learned with some of the things that Evan learned in the movie.
And what I want to do specifically is focus in on Evan’s goal in life.
Evan had been a news anchorman, but had left that for the world of
politics. He was elected as a congressman, and as the movie begins,
he’s just starting into his first term. And his family is moving to
Washington, DC, so he can assume his responsibilities there.
So what is his goal in all this? Why did he enter politics in the first
place? Well, his campaign slogan was “Change the World.” That’s what he
wanted to do. That was his goal. And he thought that by getting
involved in politics, he’d be able to accomplish that. He’d be able to
change the world.
In fact, he even prayed that he’d be able to change the world. He knelt
beside his bed one night and prayed that God would help him change the
world. And that’s when things began to happen in the movie. And God
appeared to Evan, and told him He wanted him to build an Ark. Here…
take a look at this.
VIDEO: EVAN ALMIGHTY Change the World scene
Do you want to change the world, but don’t know where to begin? I’ll
tell you where to begin… Begin by realizing that God’s plan is better
than your plan. I mean, we can scheme and we can come up with all these
plans to change the world. But ultimately, it’s God’s plan that really
matters. So figure out what He’s doing and join in.
That’s the first thing in your notes…
If I Want to Change the World I Must…
1. Figure out
what God is doing and join in.
It took a while for Evan
to learn this one. I mean, he saw signs all around him of what God was
trying to do… and he even had God tell him directly to build an Ark.
But Evan still fought it for a while. He tried to ignore the things
that were happening, and when he couldn’t ignore them any longer, he
tried to rationalize them. He tried to go along with what God was doing
only on the weekends. His original intention was to keep on doing what
he was doing, and push God’s plan to the sidelines as far as possible.
But when he finally realized that it was futile to fight against God’s
plan, he joined in wholeheartedly.
Joshua had a bit of an advantage over Evan in this area. He had seen
God perform some incredible miracles during his lifetime. God had
rescued the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt through a series of
plagues. He had divided the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross to
the other side. God had guided the Israelites through the wilderness
using a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. God had
delivered the Ten Commandments to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. God
had helped their army conquer armies that were far superior to theirs.
Joshua had witnessed all this and more. He had assisted Moses and saw
God’s hand at work in his life. And so Joshua had a pretty good idea of
what God’s plan was. He knew that God was leading the Israelites to
what they knew as the Promised Land. And so Joshua knew what God’s plan
was… his only decision was, would he join in or wouldn’t he?
Thankfully, he decided to sign up on God’s plan.
And Joshua reaffirmed this commitment just as they approached Jericho.
Take a look at this…
Joshua 5:13-14 (NLT)
When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he
looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand.
Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”
“Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the Lord’s army.”
At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at
your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?”
So here you have Joshua, in charge of around three million people. He’s
the head honcho. But when he encounters a messenger from God, he
immediately and reverently bows down in worship and obedience. He
wanted to know God’s plan. He wanted to know how God was working, and
he wanted to join in.
Where do you see God working? Think about your own life. Where do you
see Him working in you? God is working in each of us in different ways…
how is He working in you now? The transformation He wants to work in
your life will take a lifetime, and so He focuses on a little bit at a
time. Take a look at these verses… in fact, read them aloud with me…
Philippians 2:13 (NLT)
For God is working in you, giving you the
desire and the power to do what pleases him.
2 Corinthians 3:18 (NLT)
And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more
and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
So how is He working in you today? And how can you work with Him? How
can you partner with what He’s doing?
And what’s He doing around you? At your work or in your home or in your
community? How can you see God’s hand at work there? And what will it
take for you to join in? Don’t try to do your own thing and then seek
God’s blessing on that; figure out what God’s already doing and join in
Jesus was the ultimate example of this for us. He wanted to do what His
Father was doing…
John 4:34 (NIV)
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of
him who sent me and to finish his work.”
What do you see God doing, and how can you join in? If you really want
to change the world, you need to figure out what God is already doing
and join in.
Second, if you want to change the world, you need to…
2. Realize that
God’s plan trumps my plan
What was Evan’s plan?
His plan was to make speeches and co-sponsor bills and do what he could
to impact public policy. And perhaps someday even to become President.
But God’s plan was for him to build an Ark. Of course, Evan didn’t like
that plan very much. And so he tried to ignore God’s plan and continued
to pursue his own plan. Which, of course, was necessary or else it’d be
a pretty short movie.
In fact, in that clip we saw earlier, you saw how God, played by Morgan
Freeman, actually started to laugh when Evan started talking about his
own plans. Evan was focused on his tiny little plan, while God had a
much grander plan in mind.
But eventually, Evan came around and learned that God’s plan needs to
come first. And Evan became so convinced of that, that he willingly
participated in God’s plan even though it looked at the time like it
would be the end of his political career.
Let’s go back to Joshua. What kinds of plans could he have had? Well,
let’s take another look at the map here.
The Israelites under the leadership of Moses and then Joshua had spent
40 years roaming through this terrain. And all that time, they were
dreaming of the day they could settle down in their own land. Which, of
course, God planned to be up in this area. But what do we know about
the people that lived there? They were strong, they were powerful, and
they weren’t going to go down without a fight. In fact, the odds looked
pretty stacked against the Israelites.
So what options did Joshua have? Well, they were already pretty
familiar with this land in the Sinai peninsula. Why not just settle
down there? Granted, the land wasn’t the best. But they could have
tried to make a go of it. Or why not go back to Egypt? They had
decimated the army there; why not go back and finish the job? Why not
make the Egyptians their slaves? Or how about heading over into the
area of Saudi Arabia? I don’t know what peoples may have already been
settled there, but they certainly couldn’t have been more formidable
than the Canaanites who were living in the Promised Land.
All of those options may have been more viable… except for one thing.
God had other plans. And Joshua knew that God’s plan would always trump
whatever other plans he could devise.
In the book of Isaiah, God says…
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)
“My thoughts are nothing like your
thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you
could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my
ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your
His plans always trump my plans.
Eighteen years ago, I was studying Science at the University of New
Brunswick. My plan at the time was to become an optometrist. I was
going to pursue a science degree at UNB and then head off to the
University of Waterloo.
But then God stepped in. And I understood His plan for me to become a
pastor. And so in January of 1990, I transferred to Bethany Bible
College in Sussex, NB… the dairy capital of the Maritimes… and I
pursued God’s plan for me. And I’ve never looked back. Today, I
couldn’t imagine devoting my life to anything else. God’s plan will
always trump whatever other plans I might have.
As Abraham Lincoln said…
“My great concern is not whether God is on our side; my great concern
is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
~ Abraham Lincoln
And number three.. if you want to change the world…
3. Follow God’s
directions even when I don’t understand.
…Even when His plan
seems crazy to you.
Seriously. Build an Ark? What was God thinking? It was strange enough
the first time around with Noah. But Evan? Why would he build an Ark?
And Evan wondered that all the while he built it. I mean, he looked
absolutely crazy. Most people thought he was having a breakdown or
going insane or something. His own family had their doubts. It just
didn’t make sense. Plus, the fact that he was wearing a robe and
carrying around a wooden staff didn’t help matters.
But without giving the story away, by the end of the movie God’s
purpose became clear. It all made sense then. But along the way, it
just looked like Evan had lost it. Poor Evan.
And Poor Joshua. Joshua had just finished wandering the wilderness for
40 years. And remember, he was one of the original scouts that had gone
into the Promised Land. I doubt he ever forgot that experience. And so
he had probably spent those 40 years figuring out a battle plan. So
maybe he had figured out a strategy to defeat Jericho. Or maybe his
strategy was to avoid Jericho altogether.
But then God delivered new instructions for him. March around the city
once a day for six days, and then seven times on the seventh day. Then
blow some trumpets, and you’ll conquer the city. That was God’s plan,
and so Joshua’s own plans went out the window. (Or the flap on the
tent, or whatever he had.)
So they arrive at Jericho, and Joshua puts God’s plan into action.
Think about the ridicule he would have received during those seven days
they marched around the walls. “Joshua, do you seriously believe that
you can march around the walls and blow a few horns and the walls will
come tumbling down? That kind of thing just doesn’t happen, Joshua.
What are you thinking? Are you nuts?”
What if you were Joshua? Imagine the people on top of the walls
ridiculing you and hurling insults at you and dumping their garbage on
you. For seven days! I can’t imagine I’d be that encouraged going back
to the camp every night for six nights after marching around the walls
but seeing nothing happen. Imagine if nothing ever did happen. How
stupid would Joshua have looked?
• But imagine how stupid Noah would have looked if all the ark turned
out to be good for was a lawn ornament.
• Or imagine Moses at the Red Sea if he stretched his arms out and held
his staff over the sea and the only thing that split was the crowd of
people following him.
• Or imagine how David would have looked if he hurled a rock and
Goliath. . . and missed!
• Or imagine Peter stepping out of the boat expecting to walk on the
water only to take a trip down under.
Sometimes you’ve just got to risk looking stupid. Because it’s at those
times that God comes through the biggest.
On the seventh day outside the city of Jericho, the Israelites were
instructed to march around the city seven times and then shout. I would
say most of us would prefer to whisper. I know I would. We prefer to
keep our faith hidden, just in case God fails. We don’t want to look
Think about it. If the walls hadn’t come down on day seven, I’m sure
there would have been a vote of non-confidence on day eight. Joshua was
risking everything by doing what God told him to do. And if God hadn’t
come through, Joshua would have been completely humiliated, he would
have been exiled from the Israelite community, and chances are he would
have died at the hands of the people of Jericho.
Joshua had no idea how God was going to defeat Jericho by having the
Israelites march around the city and blow some trumpets. And if God
failed, it would mean his demise. But he still obeyed.
You know what? You won’t always understand how God works. What’s that
saying… “God works in mysterious ways.” Well, that’s often true. We
can’t always understand what He’s doing, but we can always trust Him.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do
not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and
he will show you which path to take.
There are plenty of things in life that we don’t understand fully: the
nature of light, what causes cancer, and women. Along with why I even
bothered to roll up the rim. (I just won’t let it go, will I?)
There are lots of things we don’t understand. Including, sometimes,
God’s plan. Sometimes it just seems ridiculous from our perspective.
But we need to realize that God created everything that exists, He’s
got it all under control, and He sees the big picture. So even when we
don’t understand, he does and we can trust Him. And what’s more, we can
act on that trust and obey Him.
You’ve heard this quote before, but I think it’s powerful…
“God is too good to be unkind, He’s too wise to be confused, and if I
cannot trace His hand I can always trust His heart.”
~ C.H. Spurgeon
Discovering God’s plan
and following it takes some risk. You have to step out in faith if
you’re going to go along with it. But even when it doesn’t seem
practical, even when it doesn’t seem affordable, even when it doesn’t
seem logical, you can trust God’s leading—whatever it is. It’s better
than any plan you could ever come up with. And if you really want to
change the world in any significant way, the way for you to do it is to
partner with God’s plan.