This post is addressed to all the Christian readers out there. As you read, I encourage you to take the time to go through the scripture links provided. It’s a good thing to always rely directly on the Word of God (Proverbs 4:20-22, Romans 15:4) and see that it is so as you’ve been told (Acts 17:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:21), especially because the topic is so profound. If you are not a Christian, the following allegory may not speak to you. Yet again, if you think you’re a Christian and don’t seem to click with the topic or choose to neglect it, then you might want to reconsider your status as a true follower of Christ.
Let’s cut to the chase.
The wilderness walk
As Christians we’ve left the slavery of Egypt behind and are headed to the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey (Numbers 14:8). In order to get there our journey takes us through the harsh wilderness. It is the Old Testament type and shadow of the spiritual transfiguration OUT OF the bondage of sin (serving the devil) INTO the restoration of the fellowship with God i.e. returning home (1John 3:8, Acts 10:38). We’re not at home here, merely passing by in the temporal and heading toward the eternal (Hebrews 11:13-16). God Himself has called us onto this journey (John 6:44, 15:16). While in this world we’re continually striving to attain the prize set before us. We’re not there yet! And not all who have started the journey will make it to the destination (Matthew 22:14, Philippians 3:10-14). In the process, as we grow more and more mature in the Lord, we’re completely and explicitly to say no to sin to the best of our ability and in full obedience trust our lives into the hands of our Lord (Psalms 37:3-5, Matthew 10:39). The Exodus people didn’t. Remember the Exodus people.
Do you find the walk too tough, the regulations too strict, the hardships too inconvenient, the trials too many, the lusts too appealing? Welcome to the Wilderness of Sin (Exodus 16:1). What a great pun our Lord has designed in naming that remote desert somewhere in the Middle-East thousands of years ago exactly what it spells in today’s English and denoting exactly what the place was designed for. The Wilderness of Sin is the place where sin becomes exposed and will be overcome through following God’s lead in faith. Or … it will not. It depends on our daily choices and what we choose to cling to. None of us is a stranger to that wilderness, we each have our own. What was the one place Jesus was sent to by the Spirit right after He was baptized and before stepping into His public ministry? The Wilderness (Matthew 4:1). To be tempted by the devil. In everything He has set us an example we should follow (1 Peter 2:21). The pattern keeps repeating itself. As it was with the chosen people of God with their hearts still not renewed under the Old Covenant and they utterly failed (Acts 7:39, 13:18, 1 Corinthians 10:5, Hebrews 3:10), then fulfilled by Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:17), the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29), and now for us to follow in His footsteps under the New Covenant sealed with the blood of Christ. Remember the Exodus people.
A stiff necked people
In that Old Testament Wilderness of Sin, as a type, the Israelites, although God’s presence was physically among them and led them every step of the way (Exodus 13:21) to get them through the desert onto the other side having been purified from the old ways of Egypt in the process and being made ready to finally enter the Promised Land, a catastrophe happened. It quickly turned out their patience was too thin to endure the adversities; their discontentment was too quick to arise against the Lord. Lust was their companion they couldn’t resist (Psalm 78:17-18, James 1:15, Numbers 11:34). By their deliberate choice they kept murmuring and complaining throughout the entire journey (Numbers 14:27, 1 Corinthians 10:10). They kept longing for their old way of life back in Egypt (Numbers 11:4-6, Acts 7:39). Remember the Exodus people.
And finally, at the very end of their wilderness journey, when God told them to go and conquer the Promised Land, the cities across the Jordan river seemed too well fortified in their sight and the inhabitants a people of giants way too powerful (Numbers 13:27-33, 14:1-10). So they gave an evil report of the land. This was rebellion against the direct order of God (Numbers 14:9). Remember the Exodus people.
None of them ever made it to the Promised Land because they had been rejected by the Lord for their unbelief (Hebrews 4:6). In the following forty years their bodies fell in the wilderness, except for the two faithful (Numbers 14:21-30). Now, please note that FIRST the called of God had been SAVED out of the bondage of Egypt and THEN they got DESTROYED because of unbelief which resulted in being buried in their Sin (the desert). Let me rephrase that. The people of God whom God had called, THE SAVED WERE DESTROYED! And who do you think destroyed them that continued in sin?
“I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.” Jude 1:5
“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Mt 22:14
Remember the Exodus people.
Now, some might argue that it was the story of the Old Testament and should have no relevance to us whatsoever as we are under the New Testament and the grace of God. Nothing could be further from the truth, though. The grace of God was never, is never, and will never be a license to deliberately continue in sin. The truth is that it all happened to the Israelites as an example for us not to be disobedient and full of unbelief as they proved themselves to be (must read 1 Corinthians 10:1-13). As the New Testament abundantly makes clear to take heed and not to follow their example, we shouldn’t be ignorant concerning our Christian walk, lest we be destroyed in the same way by the lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6a). Should we respond in a similar way regarding our own lives as Christians, or act out a similar pattern of mentality in our own walk, regardless of the excuses, a permanent stay in the wilderness for the rest of our days will be our lot (must read Hebrews 3:7-4:11). It’s just pure unbelief. Remember the Exodus people.
What is sin? Is it not what caused the fall of man in the first place? If not believing and not obeying God was the prime reason for being cast out of the Garden of Eden, do you think anyone deliberately double-crossing God would ever be welcomed in His kingdom? (1 John 3:4-10) But here’s a lesson to be learned from the natural world. You don’t forsake your little children for not knowing how to behave, for not being skilled at handling everything, for not wanting what you want, but you correct them and you discipline them, sometimes you set up the circumstances to allow the intended lesson and then reward them as they take their first shaky steps on their way of learning and becoming a responsible grown-up. Sometimes the young choose to disobey you and that’s when there’s punishment at hand. But you still love them all the way, and they love you (Hebrews 12:5-11). If we sin by accident, out of ignorance being little children, we will be forgiven (1 John 2:1-5). This is the grace of God. As we make progress spiritually, there will be times when we come to a realization of our (past) faults or flawed ways of thinking. It is God who gradually introduces us the new horizons on our spiritual journey of faith, not beyond what we can bear. Although these can be quite sorrowful times (Hebrews 12:11, 2 Corinthians 7:10), they form a necessary part in the process of advancing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God (Philippians 3:14). It takes repentance and humbling ourselves under the grace of God and then we’re able to receive the cleansing of our conscience through faith because the price for our sin is paid through the sacrifice of Jesus. After all, we do not belong to ourselves but have been bought at the price of the blood of the Lamb (Hebrews 9:14, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). And now, having been redeemed, we are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 2:13). The inevitable happens; little children grow up and become mature and responsible adults, fully accountable for their sins (Numbers 14:29).
“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” 1 Corinthians 3:17
Remember the Exodus people.
Do not sin!
If we sin knowingly, then that’s a sign of disobedience from the wickedness of the heart that becomes evident through the intentional transgression. Such provocation is what the 1st generation Exodus people did in the wilderness and they didn’t survive (Psalms 95:8-11). Their entrance to the Promised Land was forever closed. Those sinning became rejected by God Himself. Yes, God was still with them and kept leading them from one place to another in the wilderness even after they’d been rejected from entering the Promised Land, but only for the 1st generation of unbelievers to be all dead and for the next one to be brought up. If we sin willfully, there will be no sacrifice left for us (Hebrews 10:26-29). Do you now see what is meant by the phrase ‘fear of God’ used extensively throughout the Testaments, both Old and New? It’s what keeps you from sinning once you understand the consequences (Exodus 20:20, Romans 3:18, Hebrews 10:30-31). Remember the Exodus people.
You want to know the true colors of a person? Take them on a trip to wilderness and put them into hardships. It won’t be long until the hidden reality of the most inner secrets of the heart start exposing themselves loud and clear. Talking about entering into God’s rest the Bible says the Word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:11-13). How do you discern what’s hidden in the deepest chambers of the heart? (Jeremiah 17:9, Proverbs 4:23) God will prove you to know your heart, nothing in it remains hidden from His sight (Exodus 20:20, Psalms 17:3, 26:2, 44:21, John 6:5-6). God will let us also know and the wilderness is just the place for the thoughts and intents of the heart to become exposed (Deuteronomy 8:2) and dealt with (2 Corinthians 10:5). So, the next time you feel a little intimidated or out of place (1 Peter 4:12) do not start murmuring as usual but be happy (the next verse 1 Peter 4:13) for you have received sonship with God and now He is working in you to make you holy (Hebrews 12:7). Don’t feel sorry over your wilderness experience, don’t pity yourself, but rather rejoice over every new possibility to subject the sinful way of the flesh to the will of the Spirit. Are you experiencing another spiritual crisis in your life, are there temptations, tribulations and great sorrow? Good for you! “Count it all joy …” (James 1:2) … not in spite of the temptations but because of them, knowing that they work patience in you. “But let patience have her perfect work” (James 1:3-4). “Huge waves that would frighten an ordinary swimmer produce a tremendous thrill for the surfer who has ridden them” (O. Chambers). Be thankful, pray and seek the Lord because this is your chance to carefully “weed the daily garden of life from all the ungodly seeds that fall into the soil of your day” (Kyle Ponsford). Are you merry? That’s even better (James 5:13). Remember, camping is good and necessary for some rest and recreation while on a trip but expect to have a change in it because standing still isn’t going to get you anywhere. After all, it’s wilderness for crying out loud and there’s the Promised Land to be conquered with God Himself leading the way. Remember the Exodus people.
Keep the faith
Our walk, tough as it may sometimes seem, is where God meets us this day. His commandments are life unto those that find them. Yes, there will be hardships to be dealt with, but not beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). It’s all in God’s master plan for us to overcome and eventually conquer the land. There will be divers temptations to work patience in our faith (James 1:2-3). God is not there to tempt us (James 1:13-14) but to see us through the process of abandoning the ways of the flesh for good. It’s the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17), the cosmic battle of good and evil that is going to take diligence and patience to win. Through faith in God and patience is how we enter into His promised rest and receive His exceeding great and precious promises (Hebrews 6:11-12, 11:6, 3:19). How do you get such faith? Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). By studying the Word of God and earnestly seeking Him is how we get to know God. To really know somebody involves intimate relationship. The scripture repeatedly uses the word ‘to know’ in the most intimate sense there is (Genesis 4:1,17,25). So, to know God means to become one with Him (John 17:11, John 17:3). We’re called to have our most intimate relationship with our Creator restored. Now, while we have already received sonship in God’s family through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:4-5, 1 John 3:1), it is through faith that we hold fast to it (Galatians 3:26) until the children of God will be made manifest on the Day of the Lord (Colossians 3:4, 1 John 3:2). Until that day we should be very diligent to walk worthy of the calling of God (Philippians 1:27-29, Colossians 1:10-13) and not to fall short from entering into His eternal rest (Hebrews 4:1) but to remain faithful unto the end (Colossians 1:23) crucifying the will of the flesh and purifying ourselves as the bride of Christ until He returns (Colossians 1:22, 1 John 3:3) to finally take us home (Hebrews 11:13, John 17:14, 14:2).
For the love of God
All the Law is comprehended in the commandment of love (Matthew 22:37-40, Romans 13:9)
Let the following passages speak for themselves, the key word is LOVE:
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12
“Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” James 2:5
“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matthew 24:12-13
Fight the good fight unto the END:
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called …” 1 Tim 6:12
“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end“ Hebrews 3:14
“… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12
“If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:11-14
“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Dear Christian! For the love of God, do not sin!
Remember the Exodus people
Now remember, Jesus said on the commandment of love hang all the law and the prophets. The problem with the Exodus people was that they simply didn’t love the Lord enough; with all their heart, and with all their soul, and with all their mind (Matthew 22:36-40). Consequently, they failed to withstand temptation and sin. A lot of Christians perform nicely for a short while and boost up their faith for portrayal but only those who truly love the Lord will be able to remain faithful unto the end (Matthew 10:22, 24:13, Hebrews 3:14, 6:11-12) even through afflictions. They bring forth fruit with patience (Luke 8:4-15) and do not become weary. And even if they do become weary, the Lord can keep them from falling (Jude 1:24, Romans 14:4) if they trust their lives fully unto His grace. When the Lord Jesus returns as promised, their lamps are full. There’ll be a glorious wedding held in heaven (Matthew 25:1-10).
“The lover of God learns to enjoy the walk, not endure. Run to God in every thought, cling to Him as you breathe air.” – Kyle Ponsford
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A thing about fear as opposed to faith is that across Jordan there’s no justification for fear as revealed in Numbers 13:33. “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.“ The moment you start fearing/believing you’re a tiny grasshopper unable to accomplish anything, prepare to be stepped on; you’re going to be an easy prey for the devil. What you need in order to be able to conquer the land is strength and courage (Joshua 1:6), more strength and courage (Joshua 1:7), and then finally … strength and courage (Joshua 1:9, John 14:27, 16:33, Ephesians 6:10). But make no mistake, it is not the Book, nor the letter of the Law in your mouth, nor even the many heroic acts you may have done in the name of the Lord (Matthew 7:22-23) that are going to grant you free entrance to the Heavenly Kingdom of God, but the Spirit of the Law and the love of God in your heart that enable you to remain faithful also in the evil day (Ephesians 6:13, John 6:63) until our Lord returns.
“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” John 17:3
Do you know Him? Do you love?