It’s Time to Possess the Land…
They made us many promises, more than I can remember. But they kept but one—They promised to take our land…and they took it. Chief Red Cloud – Sioux
The history of the United States treatment of the Plains Indians from the 1860’s through the 1890’s represents one of the darkest stains on its national character. Unfulfilled promises along with many violations of bonafide treaties led to a series of Indian wars which ultimately had a genocidal impact on native Americans. The issue was land! Western expansion, the discovery of gold and the development of multiple continental railroads provided the immoral impetus for systematically realigning tribal boundaries, destroying hunting grounds and confining the Indians to nearly uninhabitable reservations representing a pittance of their original lands. “They promised to take our land…and they took it.”
The Old Testament history of Israel’s spiritual journey is overwhelmingly centered on their inheritance of a land. The books of Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua and Judges all basically treat the history of Israel’s trek from Egyptian slavery to the conquering of Canaan. The Apostle Paul told us that everything that happened to the Israelites were examples or types and were written for our admonition.
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” 1 Cor 10:11 (KJV)
Understanding the spiritual significance of taking the land is absolutely paramount in our daily walk and obedience before God. It helps to think in terms of the Kingdom of God and anticipating the second coming of Christ. This is particularly germane today with the over-hyped Coronavirus, the systematic destruction of our Constitution and the intentional fear mongering of the main stream media. Remember, Satan is determined to prevent God’s Kingdom from coming on earth as it is in heaven and his greatest strategy for attacking faith is the creation of abject fear in the hearts of believers. We are called to live by faith which begins by replacing the lies we have believed with the truth and then acting upon that truth.
Taking the land has everything to do with pressing into the Kingdom of God for all we’re worth. It is inviting the rule and reign of Jesus into our hearts and having the willingness to divest ourselves of everything of this world that has a place in our hearts. Wherever we are embracing in our hearts the systems of this world, the love of the Father has been effectively displaced. Remember, as God’s Kingdom is coming everything that can be shaken will be shaken. That means everything that is not founded in Christ and his truth. The entire mainstream media is a world system. The whole political realm is a system of this present world. Our economic, educational and governmental systems are of this world. These are the things God is shaking. As with the US government’s treatment of the Plains Indians, Satan offers many promises but he’ll only attempt to keep one—he promises to take your land and for many he has already succeeded in doing so.
Returning to the types and shadows of the Old Testament, we need to affirm a powerful truth related to Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. God’s action on behalf of Israel carried a very distinct intent. Their deliverance was only the first part of God’s intention and purpose for Israel. Taking them into the Promised Land was his ultimate objective.
“Because he loved your ancestors, he chose to bless their descendants, and he personally brought you out of Egypt with a great display of power. He drove out nations far greater than you, so he could bring you in and give you their land as your special possession, as it is today.” (emphasis mine) Deut 4:37, 38 (NLT)
He brought them out so that he could bring them in! I can’t stress this point enough. The justification for their deliverance was their entering Canaan, their taking the land. Not to put too fine a point on it, but without the entering in there was no reason for the bringing out. The inheriting of the land of Canaan was God’s fulfillment of his promise to Abraham. Without a land, Israel was just a loose confederation of nomadic tribes. In the land they became a mighty nation. God’s purpose in creating this nation was to give himself a habitation with man through whom he would show himself to the rest of mankind and therein draw all peoples to himself. Israel was to be God’s vehicle for showing a lost world the majesty of God. The fulfillment of this purpose could only be realized through Israel’s possession of the land. You might say that Israel’s deliverance from Egypt was their salvation but the possession of the land represented the fullness of their inheritance from God.
As we continue this narrative we have to deal with one of the bleakest events in Israel’s history. After two years in the wilderness the children of Israel arrived at the border of Canaan wherein the Lord had them send out the twelve spies to in essence prove that the land was everything the Lord told them it was. Most of us are familiar with this sad account wherein ten of the scouts brought back a pejorative report causing the hearts of the people to lose faith and embrace fear. The seriousness of the people’s response cannot be overstated. Keep in mind that taking possession of the land was critical to fulfilling God’s purpose in making himself known throughout the earth.
But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people reject me? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them? I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!” Num 14:10-12 (NLT)
The Hebrew word for “reject” in this passage literally means: to deride (insult contemptuously), to despise, to reject with contempt and derision (ridicule or scorn), to speak evil. Because of the spiritual implications in this passage it is for me one of the most horrific narratives in the Old Testament. Rather than couching their present challenge in terms of all God had miraculously done for them beginning with the Red Sea passage, they wanted to stone Moses and Aaron, they wished that they had died in Egypt and they accused God of bringing them all the way to Canaan just to let them die in battle. Their solution for this predicament was to choose a new leader and head back to Egypt. Reading this account with hind sight we may very well find their responses to be most incredible. Few of us would want to admit that we would be in that crowd; we would like to believe that our faith would put us right there with Caleb and Joshua. Now let’s bring this narrative into the spiritual reality of our lives in Christ.
Most all agree that Israel’s deliverance from Egypt was a type of salvation. Paul referred to their Red Sea experience as their baptism. In considering the significance of what it means to take the land, it is imperative that we have a theologically sound understanding of salvation. If one’s concept of salvation is the man-centered view of simply escaping hell or even gaining heaven, then that person’s spiritual journey is basically over. However, if we choose to see salvation from God’s point of view and ask ourselves what it is that he wants for himself, we will discover that the deliverance from Egypt was crossing the threshold on our way to the full stature life in Christ. God’s desire is for many sons and daughters just like Jesus. This is why Jesus was not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters and why he wants to share the fullness of his inheritance from the Father with us.
The taking of the land for Israel is a type of pressing into the Kingdom of God, a type of growing up into the full stature life in Christ, a type of being conformed to the image of Christ. This is why Paul told the believers at Philippi that “I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be.” This is what it means to take up our cross daily and follow Christ. If we accept the deliverance without a mind to “possess the land,” we are aligning ourselves with those rebellious Israelites who “rejected” God and wanted to go back to Egypt. Without doubt there are giants in the land. However, God has promised to go before us and fight for us and ensure our overcoming. Jesus made it very plain:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matt 7:13, 14 (NKJV)
Brothers and sisters, we are living in dire times. God is truly shaking all that can be shaken. We cannot afford to put our confidence and trust in worldly systems. We have only one hope, and that is fully investing our lives, radically so, in Jesus Christ. If we fail to cross over and fully embrace the Kingdom life, we are going to suffer the consequences. I believe God is calling us into the miraculous with Him. The only way we can experience this is through ever increasing intimacy in Christ. It is time to reevaluate our devotional life and our walk before God. Don’t forfeit your land, your inheritance in Christ to the enemy. Establish spiritual disciplines in your life and then build on them. Fellowship with those who make it a practice to build one another up in Christ. Make pursuing God the number one priority of your life.
Remember, the father of lies is committed to keeping one promise…he promised to steal your land!