When Moses led God’s people out of Egypt toward the Promised Land, they didn’t exactly feel like champions. Their survival mode existence was a long way short of the identity God desired for them, victorious conquerors who would take possession of their destiny. The Lord saw them as Israel, ‘Prince of God’, but they saw themselves as slaves. Even when they were set free, they were longing for their familiar old life rather than embracing their destiny by faith. The critical journey toward their inheritance took forty years of wilderness wanderings, when it should have been a mere two week rite of passage. Sadly, too many people will live short of God’s intention for their lives when their own land of promise gives way to frustrating desert dwelling. There are several essential experiences the original story gives us to ensuring a better result.
- Envisioning. What you are beholding is what you are becoming. A godly vision, though, is seeded with the power of promise. When the spies were sent into Canaan, which later became the nation of Israel, only two were positive enough to believe they could take possession of it, but their faith was fuelled by hope in God’s promise to their forefather, Abraham, that this land was rightly theirs. If faith is the substance of what we hope for and it is grounded in God’s promises to us, then it gives a certainty to what we see with the eyes of faith. A compelling godly vision is often missing in the lives of desert dwellers who get stuck in their place of testing and sometimes that vision is supplanted by a shadow mission that links to self-deception. Interestingly, the ten spies who couldn’t see with faith were a part of the generation that had to die off in the wilderness; we, too, must die to our old life and embrace our new creation identity as children of God in order to live with purpose.
- Emptying. Jacob was the original Israel; his descendants took possession of the land that bore his name. But when returning home and facing opposition and an uncertain future, Jacob didn’t feel like God’s ‘prince’ and still bore the name of shame that linked him to his past: ‘deceiver’. At the ford of Jabbok, he sent his family, his servants and his possessions ahead while he remained alone. Jabbok means ‘emptying’. Jacob removed every accomplishment and distraction and he emptied himself before God; it was then that the Lord met with him. Sometimes, when life just gets in the way, we are not called to escape it, but just to empty ourselves for a while, to get into the presence of God and ‘wrestle’ in prayer as we allow God to speak to us, to remind us of our call and our inheritance, and that we are spiritual inheritors of that same destiny. We lose ourselves to find ourselves, but we empty ourselves of ourselves to get filled with God. We are called to enjoy a godly identity, to be God’s ‘princes’, but sometimes, we need a little emptying of the competing noise of much in our life to get a fresh vision from God, or maybe just to recapture a vision that has been lost.
- Entering. There comes a time for action, without which faith is dead. The key for the Israelites was to cross the Jordan River, not to acclimatise to the desert. Given that the whole Exodus story is symbolic and the Red Sea crossing is picture of the water baptism that separates God’s people from the old life of their ‘Egypt’, this second crossing is a second baptism, connected to the purpose of the whole journey. In short, full entry to the Promised Land of a blessed life in God’s Kingdom is the earthly destination of a redeemed life and this happens through the fullness of the Spirit. He helps us deny the lingering effects of our old nature and live an empowered life. Bad habits, addictions and negative thoughts patterns are all subject to change when the Spirit-filled life helps us to live in the freedom God wants. The Promised Land still has its battles and conquests, but the Spirit enables us to win them and live victoriously. It is the Spirit who wields the attacking weapon of Scriptural truth in our spiritual battles, the ‘Sword of the Spirit.’ With Him, we enter into the life God has always wanted us to have as we engage the Spirit-filled life with intentionality.
These are not just three simplistic attitude adjustments. Instead, they are experiences with God for excellence. They are about discovering what He has called us to be and what He has saved and empowered us for. They are about living the life God freely makes available to all who will receive Him and embrace it. To all who call on Him as Saviour and then live for Him as Lord, there is the gift of eternal life and that begins here on this Earth!