Posts Tagged ‘promised land’

But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead… Philippians 3:13

In chapter 13 of the Book of Numbers, twelve spies were sent to spy-out the Promised Land and were ordered to bring back a report. Two men brought back a favorable report and ten men turned in a negative one. Now as quick as you can (and without looking in your Bible), name the ten men who brought back a negative report.

You Can’t

You can’t do it, can you. Nobody I know can, but rest assured they’re all recorded in the Bible. Funny how the only names we remember are Joshua and Caleb.  The fact that we know theirs and not the others is in itself a witness to what Paul is declaring here in his letter to the Philippians: focus on the positive and forget the negative.

Even Jesus reminds us in Luke 9:62:

“No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Jesus isn’t saying that those who dwell in the past or focus on the negative will not enter the kingdom of God, but is saying that we’re not fit. In other words, we are out of shape, and not in the best spiritual condition that we could be if we were looking and moving forward. This Spiritual weakness is the byproduct of dwelling upon the negative, while spiritual muscle is promoted as we move forward in Christ. Of course this verse also speaks to those who yearn for the sinful things they’ve left behind to follow Jesus. These folks are a selfish lot, double-minded and unstable in all their ways.

Where is Your Focus?

There is one good thing we can glean from the ten spies — they serve as an example of what not to do. Rather than moving in faith, they succumb to fear and the report they turned-in reflected their spiritual condition: they lost touch with their God of provision and promise. We can all relate to this condition, can’t we. The solution is found in confession and repentance: admitting to Jesus our failure(s) and turning again to Him and away from our offenses.  It’s not necessarily a matter of starting from scratch, but getting up where you have fallen and moving forward in the will of Christ Jesus.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

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And it came to pass, when Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and the king’s house, and all Solomon’s desire which he wanted to do, that the Lord appeared to Solomon the second time, as He had appeared to him at Gibeon. 1 Kings 9:1-2

This is incredible, isn’t it? God appears to Solomon yet again! Man oh man, he is so blessed; it’s no wonder that Solomon in these early days was so amazingly dedicated to the Lord. But wait; do the math—it’s been twenty years since the last time Solomon and the Lord had such an encounter. It’s our tendency occasionally to lose track of the biblical time line, inclined to read the Bible with a consecutive mindset; that events occur one right after the other. Well that isn’t always the case.

I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. Psalms 40:1

The reality is that the Bible is abounding with instances of godly men and women waiting on the Lord. Abraham waited, Noah waited, Joseph waited; the list goes on and on. In these occurrences we take notice of how these people abided in their faith and glean from their example. But more importantly we should observe that their confidence in the Lord was not dependant upon regular miraculous incidents. We’re reminded that Promise-Land-bound Israel witnessed more signs and wonders then any other people group on the planet, but yet in one generation’s time, only two men came to believe. The lesson: miracles don’t draw people to faith, God does and people who come to rely upon miracles to walk-in-their-faith are characteristically found dead-in-their-tracks.

There are those who rebel against the light; They do not know its ways Nor abide in its paths. Job 24:13

What do I do? In spiritually dry periods, do I go to His well; in darkness do I seek His illumination; in loneliness do I yearn for His touch, or is it the miraculous signs I crave? The fact of the matter is that God is satisfied when we walk by faith abiding in the shadow of His wings. It was Jesus who said, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29b). The implication is that those who walk by faith alone are more blessed than those who require persistent confirmation and miraculous coddling. Walk by faith and be abundantly blessed!

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These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson

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And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for calamity, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed. Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Judges 2:14-15

But Didn’t God Just Say to Israel….

“I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you.’” Judges 2:1b

God has not, nor will He ever rescind His promise to Israel and I firmly denounce anyone, Christian or otherwise, who suggests God is somehow through with the Jew. The Lord has unmistakably declared here, and many other places in the Bible, that He will never go back on His word. However, God is also clearly asserting that there are severe consequences for those who choose to sin. That Godly principle applies to both the Jew and the born-again Christian.

As a dog returns to his own vomit, So a fool repeats his folly. Proverbs 26:11

As an illustration we find a faithless Israel (in the first Book of Judges) disobeying the Lord. God told them to drive-out the Canaanites, but instead (on several occasions) allowed them to remain in the land as long as they paid taxes. In other words, rather than obey God, they saw an opportunity to profit from their circumstances; “Why fight, when we can make money,” they probably thought. As a result [God said] that these enemies would be a perpetual thorn in their side. Look around Israel today and we see just how true God’s word is.

The application for the Christian is exactly the same. We are saved—that is God’s promise to us, but in our disobedience; i.e., our choosing to sin, we heap consequences upon ourselves. Unless we repent, these consequences will plague us until the day we die. Yes, by the righteous blood of Christ our sin has been washed cleaned and we are forgiven, but our consequences will linger.

Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Judges 2:16

Sin angers God; not because the activity is bad [necessarily], but because sin is bad for us. Our Father loves us and wants us not to suffer needlessly. However, having said that, God allows the consequences of sin to fester in that in them we might be brought to a place of humility; a place where we might say, “Enough is enough,” and return fully to the Lord of mercy and Grace.

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Ever Heard This Lie?

“God will never give you anything you can’t handle”

Many read the 1 Corinthians verse and erroneously come up with that unfortunate paraphrase. That is not what the passage implies—God does not ever put us in a position where we must rely on our own strength. A more accurate summary of the verse would be that, “God will never give us anything that He can’t handle.” In other words, we find our way into a mess, a trial, or a temptation, and it is God who will always make the way of escape. If the Christian chooses not to escape (like we see Israel doing in the second Book of Judges), then we wallow in our despair not being of much good to the Lord or anyone else.

I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the Lord, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not. Judges 2:21-22

As far as Israel is concerned, the Promised Land will always be theirs—nothing they do or don’t do can revoke God’s directive. The same can be said for a Christian’s salvation—short of one hundred percent rejection of Jesus Christ on every level (blasphemy of the Holy Spirit), our salvation is intact. If however we opt to sin in our salvation, we can know with certainty (as Israel is our witness) that our sin will find us out and we will be perpetually plagued with the consequences of those sins—God will use the enemy to bring us to a place of repentance. It almost goes without saying that if we don’t want these kinds of trials in our lives, then we should not sin.

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The second lot came out for Simeon, for the tribe of the children of Simeon according to their families. And their inheritance was within the inheritance of the children of Judah…Then the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites came near to Eleazar the priest, to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the heads of the fathers’ houses of the tribes of the children of Israel. And they spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, “The Lord commanded through Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with their common-lands for our livestock.” Joshua 19:1 ~and~ Joshua 21:1-2

A Wonderful Illustration

Joshua had led the nation of Israel across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. For believers today, the Promised Land is a depiction of the Spirit-filled life in Jesus Christ in addition to the historical event that it was. The battles had been fought and the victory contained, and all that remained were the mopping-up activities; skirmishes that continue to this very day. It was now time to divvy up the inheritance according to the guidelines the Lord established through Jacob back in Genesis.

Simeon and Levi were two of the twelve tribes of Israel and above we read about their portions. Simeon’s share of the inheritance was, as the passage cites, was within that of Judah’s and in time, Simeon was surrounded and swallowed up by the tribe of Judah. While there are most certainly descendants of the tribe of Simeon around today, for the most part they have been absorbed into Judah and we do not hear a lot about them from this point forward—a very sad indictment on that tribe.

The Levites on the other hand made out very well. While it is absolutely true they received no inheritance, they ultimately were given forty-eight cities in which to perpetually reside—unlike Simeon they were blessed on a very large scale. So what was the difference between these two tribes? We first need to go back to Genesis.

“Simeon and Levi are brothers; Instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their council; Let not my honor be united to their assembly; For in their anger they slew a man, And in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; And their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob And scatter them in Israel.” Genesis 49:5-7

Simeon and Levi were in effect cursed because of their behavior in the Dinah incident. We would recall that their sister (Dinah) was raped by a guy named Shechem (who lived in Shechem). In retaliation, they duped the Shechemites into being circumcised and when they were recovering they went through that city and killed them all. This enraged Jacob and later on, as he handed out the blessing to his sons, he opts to lay a curse on Simeon and Levi.

The Levites are Redeemed

Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the Lord’s side–come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.’ ” So the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Exodus 32:25-28

The sons of Levi answered Moses’ call-to-arms; all the tribes were asked and only Levi responded. For this reason Levi was given a much larger and more generous portion of forty-eight cities. They still received no inheritance, but they were rewarded in their repentance—they took the correct stand when the godly call was put forth. Simeon could have responded similarly, but history records they remained silent. As a result Simeon’s portion was absorbed by Judah.

The Application for Us

As far as Simeon and Levi go, we’re in the same boat. Their disobedient act is merely a representation of the types of things we did before coming to Christ. What they did afterwards is where we get an application we can use: Levi got back on the horse and Simeon did not. Simeon lived in a curse and Levi lived in their blessings. From a practical stand point, both were saved, but one wasted away in someone else’s brilliance and the other rose above the hand they dealt themselves. Yes, there were still consequences for Levi, but the Lord in His grace and mercy made away to bless them in a different way.

As a Christian, we have the same choices. If we want, in our saved-state, we can elect to do nothing. Oh, we’re still going to Heaven, but what a waste of a Christian we are on earth. Great is the reward in Heaven for those who willingly and cheerfully serve while stationed on earth.

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Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them–the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.” Joshua 1:2-3

It’s a Done-Deal

The Promised Land that God is referring to is approximately three hundred thousand square miles—a region about the size of Texas. God had effectively said this was a done-deal–it’s yours, just enter in and possess it. However, the most Israel has ever taken possession of was thirty-thousand square miles and that was during King Solomon’s reign. That’s about one tenth of what God desired to give them. The other ninety percent is still available.

What Does That Mean to Me?

The focus of today’s blog is not going to revolve around the territory modern-day Israel is due, but rather on how this passage is applicable to every Christian today. In other words, ‘What has God promised me and what, if anything, have I taken possession of?”

First Things First

We need to know that these Old Testament stories are much more then records of ancient history. They are in fact prophetic illustrations of that which would ultimately come in and through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Every single New Testament principle has an Old Testament picture that exemplifies it. So while the Book of Joshua is a precise account of Joshua taking Israel into the Promised Land, it most accurately depicts the born-again believer crossing over and taking possession of the Spirit-filled life. How do we know this to be true? Consider this passage from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples… 1 Corinthians 10:1-7a

The word example in the text is ‘tupos’ in the Greek which is where we get our word type. Here Paul uses it to mean a person or thing prefiguring a future person or thing.

“Don’t be ignorant of these things,” Paul is saying, “these Old Testament stories are types of things which have come to be in Christ Jesus.

So it is true Israel was held captive in Egypt, but Egypt is a picture of our bondage to sin. Its true God raised-up Moses as a deliverer, but he was a picture (or type) of our Deliverer Jesus. Its true Israel crossed through the Red Sea, but it was an illustration of the outward sign of water baptism. And its true Israel received water from a rock in the desert, but that Rock is a picture of Jesus Christ and the living water only He can provide.

The Second Baptism

The Promised Land spoken of in the Old Testament is not a picture of Heaven, but the spirit-filled life available to every believer here on earth. Therefore, the crossing of the Jordan River into the Promised Land is a picture of becoming baptized in the Holy Spirit and receiving the Spirit-filled life that God has promised us. By His Spirit and for His pleasure, God has much for us. The question that remains is whether or not we have taken possession of these things for His honor, glory, and praise.

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly John 10:10b

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Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6


So frequently we find ourselves in God’s word, but lament that nothing much of spiritual significance is going on. Maybe we’re mired in fear, far too anxious to be of much good to anyone or anything, complaining about most of what we experience. Faced with tribulation our tendency is too often to crabbily recoil, belligerently spoil, or inefficiently toil, turning out results seldom worthwhile.

In order to overcome the first thing we need to recognize is that fear is pleasing to satan. Why is the devil pleased? He is pleased because in our fear we are not drawing on faith; in other words, we are not relying on Jesus Christ. It’s not necessarily that fear is faith in the devil, but rather a faith in nothingness—that somehow, in our anxiety, in our complaining, in our dread, something positive will be the result. That’s just utter nonsense.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

An Important Principle

The Deuteronomy passage plots a critical, spiritual principle in regard to our faith that you might not have caught. God essentially tells Israel to first be not afraid, for He will be with them on the other side of the Jordan River. In other words, it is a conditional agreement—God tends to reveal His self after we act faithfully. So, if it is our testimony that God seems distant, the cause might very well be that we walk in fear.

And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:26-27

We see the very same thing illustrated in this account from Matthew’s Gospel. There is a horrific storm and the disciples fear for their lives. Suddenly Jesus appears to them walking upon the turbulent sea, but they do not recognize Him. Why? Because they were filled with fear and fear nudges out faith.

Take note of what happens next because it is important. Jesus tells them to first be of good cheer, then He announces, “It is I.” Then and only then do they recognize Jesus for who He truly is. And that is the true essence of our faith. Christians should never be caught saying, “Seeing is believing, ” because that is in direct contrast to what faith is! It is when we believe; when we speak and act faithfully, we see.

Furthermore, We Know…

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God Romans 10:17

Faith is worked-in as we absorb God’s word and faith is worked-out when we speak or act out faithfully. If faith comes in and does not go out, we are quenching His Spirit and the work He desires to do. It’s the very reason the Dead Sea is dead—the Jordan flows in, but nothing whatsoever flows out. However, when we act faithfully (fearlessly), we experience the abundant life in Christ Jesus as He reveals more and more of Himself.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him… Hebrews 11:6a

When we more fully understand this principle, in the face of our tribulations we will choose to be of good cheer and thus an awesome, pleasing witness for Him. Inevitably we discover it works, or more accurately, God works. As God breathes forth His word and we eagerly take it in, our faith matures. As we faithfully speak out and act out the word that we heard, God is pleased, He is honored, He is glorified, and He is revealed.

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5b-6

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Yet, for all that, you did not believe the Lord your God, who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in the fire by night and in the cloud by day. Deuteronomy 1:32-33About Deuteronomy

If you have been following these devotions, you know that we have completed the first four books of the Pentateuch and are today beginning the Book of Deuteronomy. The word Deuteronomy means ‘the second giving of the Law’ and the book is essentially Moses’ final sermon to the nation of Israel before they cross-over into the Promised Land. In this God-inspired, farewell address Moses revisits most of what occurred (and what was recorded) in the previous four Old Testament books, which leaves us to consider the notion of skipping over it, after all, we just read all this stuff.

Without illuminating every doctrinal point, we should be mindful of at least two significant truths: it was God’s directive to Israel that this entire book was to be read to the congregation once a year during the feast of Tabernacles and that of all the Old Testament books, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy more than any other. So if we are tempted (and I was) to skip-over the book, those facts should give us pause.

If God Goes Before Us…

If God does in fact go before us, then it stands to spiritual reason there is no rationale for spying out the land. Despite the fact that Moses agreed to it, there is recorded nowhere in the Bible that he sought God’s will on the matter. The opening passage of today’s devotion should clearly illustrate that if God checked-out the region beforehand, there is no cause for man to go in and make sure God got it right. The fact that God allowed it to happen does not mean He condoned it, but serves to illustrate that He allows free will and that He can pull goodness out of the messes we tend to leave behind when we choose unwisely.

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

In formulating a modern-day application, we should consider what it really means to spy-out the land, first putting aside secular wisdom. It means we don’t trust God. It means we have abandoned the measure of faith that He has provided. It means we want proof, visual or otherwise. It means that we will not move obediently forward until we make sure God got it right. It means we miss out on the blessings. It means we could wander around the wilderness for a very long time. It means we might very well die in the wilderness.

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:11

In his final instructions, Moses is warning Israel to not repeat the errors of their fathers. The Apostle Paul would remind us that these words were written for our admonition as well. Our Father would have us know that sight is subject to interpretation, while faith is absolute and without question. It is a true testimony that If God leads us to it, He will most certainly lead us through it.

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