Saturday, September 03, 2005

Seize the Land

Disclaimer:Nothing in this post can be assumed to support any physical invasion of anyplace by anyone at anytime for any reason. However, I do not want you to think that any invasion of anyone at anytime for any reason would be wrong in God's eyes. Further, this has nothing to do with any blessing, or lack thereof, visited (or not) on anybody by God -- but He does give and take away.
My church's teaching pastor, Carl Palmer, last week started the first of a three week series. The first two are the theological underpinnings of the third. The third will be a strategic vision of our churches spiritual and practical direction as we "ask God to do a new work in our church". I am excited to see what this direction will be - Carl has been "fired up" for about a year and a half; and the elders and pastors have been struggling with how to turn up "the spiritual fire" in our church a few notches for Christ.

That really wasn't last weeks impact on me though. Ten years ago I was a "baby Christian" at my first men's retreat. The speaker was
H.B. London Jr.. I had come to Christ in April of 1995; and in October 1995 London gave a talk on Joshua and Caleb from Numbers 13-14. Israel had been freed from captivity in Egypt with "great signs and wonders"; and after crossing the Sinai had arrived at the edge of Canaan - the land promised to them by God. The crossing of the Sinai had been marked by amazing provision by God; and whining and rebellion of Biblical proportion by Israel. Now as any wise military commander does Israel sent twelve (12) spies into the Promised Land to assess its riches and its defenders.

Numbers 13: 27 Thus they told him, and said, "We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 "Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified {and} very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 "Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan."
That was what all twelve agreed on:
30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, "We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it."
Which started an argument from 10 of the 12 in Numbers 13:31-33; and another world class whine and rebellion from the Israel masses in Numbers 14:1-4. Caleb and Joshua, in the face of this rebellion, make the point (the only point):
14: 6 Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; 7 and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, " The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. 8 "If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us-- a land which flows with milk and honey. 9 "Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them."
Read on about God's reaction to this rebellion, and Moses defense of the rebellious.

H.B. London's point is that we, as Christians, come up on the edge of the God's promises to us and that we fail to trust Him and His promises and "seize the land". We stand, right on the edge of the good life (this has nothing to do with material goods and wealth) God intends for us, and through fear and disbelief we simply allow the enemies of our faith, and relationship with God, to stand in our way. In Israel's case, God turned them away from His promises for 40 years until the whole generation of rebels was dead - and then brought them back to the edge of the Jordan, and the Promised Land, once more.

Which brings us to last Sunday and Carl's message from
Deuteronomy 6. Israel is back at the edge of the Promised Land, and Moses is telling them how they need to Live in the Promised Land. The conclusions of the sermon:
  1. We will know the good life -- only by fearing God and obeying His ways. (6:1-3)
  2. We are called into a total love relationship with God.
  3. We must never forget His ways -- and always impress them on our children. (6:4-9)
  4. In our prosperity, we must always remember God has given us all we have. (6:10-12)
  5. We must never let anything take His place in our lives. (6:13-19)
  6. Doing what He says is "right and good" brings His blessing.
  7. We must never forget what we were rescued from -- and continuously tell the story of what He has done for us. (6:20-25)
  8. He has "brought us out" in order to "bring us in" to the good life He has designed for us.
I realize that for the last 10 years I too have wandered in the wilderness; and have not crossed into the Promised Land, defeated the enemies of my righteousness with God's help, and taken God's promises to myself. It is my prayer that I do not hear a similiar message in another 10 years with a similiar reaction.

2 comments:

  1. Great thoughts, John. Thanks for the e-mail invitation. I needed to hear this tonight. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the e-invite. This is a great post. For the sake of discussion, I think "claiming" scripture as God's promise is dangerous. That's not what you said, but I just point out it's fairly common. Many believers do an unjustice to themselves and to God by picking and choosing scripture as a promise to meet a particular need. I don't know of many actual promises to us, except maybe that He would never leave or forsake us. And I agree with all your bullet points, except for "doing right and good brings His blessing." In my experience, there is often no correlation. (And I think of Job.) We do right and good because we love Him, trust Him and want to be like Him. Which from reading your post I'm sure you also believe..I may just be shuffling words. :-)

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How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly