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The Calling and the Journey

By David A. DePra


In a very real sense of the word, the Christian calling and the Christian journey are ONE thing -- because we are not simply called to Christ and left there.  Rather, we are called to experience Him; to walk with Him; to journey with Him.  We are called into a purpose of God that begins HERE -- but is to extend on out throughout the eternal ages.


The Calling


When you and I are called to God -- and we answer that call and put our faith in Jesus Christ -- He joins us to Himself and we are made one with Him in spirit.  (I Cor. 6:17)  But note:  We are made one with Christ in spirit -- but not in our bodies and not in our soul man.  No, we are made one with Him in SPIRIT in this age.  When the second coming of Christ occurs, only then we will have resurrected bodies and not be limited to oneness with Him in spirit alone -- as we are in this age.


The Journey


So, we are made one with Jesus Christ in spirit.  That is the point at which we are saved – we are joined to Life Himself and are therefore alive with His life.  But that is only the beginning – it is all unto a great JOURNEY in Christ for this age.  And that journey in Christ – that purpose to which we are called – is that God would reveal Christ in His people.


The core definition of Christianity is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  (Col. 1:27)  But the reality of Christ in a believer has a purpose and has a great impact.  Once Christ is in us God wants to reveal Him to us; to bring us into an experiencing of the Christ with Whom we are joined in spirit.    Galatians 4:19, says that God desires to, “form Christ,” in us.


My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.  (Gal. 4:19)


That Greek word translated, “formed,” means, “to inwardly realize and express.”  So, once Christ is in us through our being joined to Him in spirit, God wants to bring us into an inward realization of His Son -- into an inward knowing, experiencing, and expression of Christ. 


This is the same Truth as written by Paul in Romans 8:29:


For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  (Rom. 8:29)


Again, a look into the Greek helps here – the phrase, “conformed to the image of His Son,” would be better stated as, “formed together with His Son.”  Thus, the Christian life is not a matter of God making us to, “look like Jesus.”  It is not a matter of God acting upon us and doing stuff to us by His spirit, so that we might look like Jesus and become a xerox copy of Him.  That is not Christianity.  Rather, the purpose of God is to reveal Christ in us – to bring us into an inward realization of Him that will, if we will embrace God’s revelation of Christ -- renew our minds.  We will decrease that He might increase.  The result, rather than make us, “look like Jesus,” will be that the Jesus Christ who is in us will have the freedom to live and move both in us and through us.


It is vital to see the difference between merely, “looking like Jesus,” and Jesus Christ actually living through us.  Religion can make us, “look like Jesus.”  Law and principles might be able to achieve some of that.  But for Jesus to be able to live through us – that requires a work of the Cross in us; it requires that we are crucified with Christ – so that His life might grow to manifest through our crucified flesh.


Jesus Christ cannot be manifested through UNCRUCIFIED flesh.  The only way in which the Christ who is within a believer can be manifested is if we bear about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus.  (see II Cor. 4:10-11)  Then His life within can come out THROUGH us.  But then the source of life will be Christ Himself with Whom the believer is united.  But uncrucified flesh – especially uncrucified religious flesh – will take aspects of religion and try to use them to mold religious flesh into the image of Christ.  The source of such a, “life,” will not be Christ, but the natural, soul man.  The person may seem to, “look like Jesus,” by practicing a form of Christianized religion.  But it is not Christ.  It is not life. 


Here we see the essential of being crucified WITH Christ.  Paul knew that Jesus Christ died FOR him.  Yet He wrote we must be crucified WITH Christ:


I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  (Gal. 2:20)


But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.  [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;  Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.  For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.  (II Cor. 4:8-11)


Being united with Jesus Christ in spirit not only saves us, but it puts us on a journey – a journey of experiencing all that Christ is and all that Christ has done.  Indeed, if we are united with Christ in spirit we are united with Him in both His death and His resurrection.  Thus, to experience Him, the power of both His death and resurrection must be at work in us – which is exactly how Christ is able to come to live through us. 


Jesus Himself said, “If anyone would come after Me…..”  His words clearly mean our Christian journey is one that will follow after Christ.  And He described that journey:


If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.  (Matt. 16:24-25)


So we see that our calling is unto the Person of Jesus Christ.  Our journey is to come into an inward realization of Him; into an experiencing of Him – so that He might be manifested through His people.


There is, of course, a further purpose for all of this – a reason why God desires that Christ live through His people.  To begin with, in this age, by virtue of our oneness with Christ, God wants us to grow to be extensions of Christ -- to bring God glory.  He wants us to live as extensions of Christ -- to be His witnesses in this world.  But when the end of the age arrives, and we are raised physically with glorified bodies, then all of this becomes eternally much more revealed.  We are to be extensions of Jesus Christ throughout the eternal ages -- and used of Him in authority and in power.  An extension of Christ – which is another way to say we are members of Christ – is always directed by the Head.  We will not be, “independent contractors.”  We will forever be those who are in Christ and live from out of Him to do His will. 


God Calls to Christ


If you look up the Greek word in the New Testament, which is most often translated, “calling, called, or called out,” you will find that in that word there is the idea of, “invitation.”  There is no sense in which this word can mean, “unconditional election,” in the way that is defined by the heresy of Calvinism.  Calvinism states that God has already chosen who will be saved and who will not – and that a person’s response is based on whether God has chosen them to be saved.  Indeed, Calvinism actually teaches that, “regeneration precedes faith” – that is, people believe ONLY because God has already saved them by election, and people don’t believe because God has chosen NOT to save them by election.  Such nonsense would do away with all sense of God truly CALLING someone to Christ.  Any CALLING, in that case, would be a façade – just a matter of going through the motions of what God has already decided.


No.  When God calls someone, He does so by revealing light and Truth in Christ -- and the person SEES.  They see at least enough to turn to Christ.  They see that their very salvation is involved -- but it is an invitation -- in the sense that they can either embrace it or refuse it.  There is nothing unconditional about it. 


A calling to Christ is an invitation to Christ.  Just as Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me except the Father who sent me draw him.”  He did not say, “All must come to Me whom the Father has already regenerated, and no one else can come to Me because the Father has not already regenerated them.”  No, for in that case the person is not coming to Christ for salvation – they are coming to Christ because they are already saved by election – and therefore coming to Christ does not save them!  Thus, we see that the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election – the Calvinistic doctrine of, “regeneration before faith,” is a denial of Jesus Christ as the Savior.  A person comes to Christ because they are first elected and regenerated.  One wonders why they would need to come at all?


It is true that Jesus clearly stated that the ability of a person to come to Him is dependent upon the Father drawing them.  But the person must nevertheless still COME TO CHRIST.  Can we see that?  God brings light – God draws them to Christ.  But this is so that they can COME – and they must respond to the drawing of them to Christ by COMING to Him by faith.  In short, God does the drawing.  The believer does the coming by faith – enabled by God’s drawing.


That word, “invitation,” carries an eternal seriousness and significance.   Sometimes, when you read a word like, “invitation,” it almost sounds like it is ok if you do accept, and ok if you don’t.  But we need to realize that an invitation to Christ carries eternal consequences  It cannot be revoked.  Once you see the light and the Truth that Jesus Christ is your salvation, and that He alone is Savior -- and once you have been convicted of your sin -- you can’t go back and say that you have NOT seen.  No, you HAVE seen – indeed, your eyes have been opened by God Himself.  Thus, you must choose ultimately one or the other -- light or darkness; Christ or yourself -- and your eternal destiny depends on which choice you make.


Called into a Person

Paul, called [to be] an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes [our] brother,  Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called [to be] saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:  (I Cor. 1:1-2)


The Truth of the Christian calling is continually on the mind of Paul.  That is because he knows that the CALLING is not merely an event that happens and is over with.  Rather, He knows that we are called into a JOURNEY – which means that the journey is the outworking of the calling.


Paul brings this fact home again and again to the Corinthian church.  The Corinthian church was a church that had all kinds of horrible problems.  The main problem was their bypassing of Christ crucified and risen – in favor of living a Christianity in the soul realm.  If you read this epistle, you will see all through it that this rears its ugly head in one form or another.  It certainly reared its ugly head in the form of open immorality – an immorality which they celebrated.  They celebrated it, I am sure, because they thought that tolerating immorality was being forgiving and loving.  This is how it registered in their emotions and soul life – howbeit completely contrary to Jesus Christ.  Likewise, in this epistle, you will see that instead of going to God with their problems, they sued each other.  You will likewise find that they abused spiritual gifts -- and turned them into a circus.  They exalted the gifts as things unto themselves.  You will find that they had issues and misunderstandings about marriage.  They were confused about whether a wife could go directly to God for herself instead of needing to walk with Christ through her husband.  You will also find that they were in the soul realm with regard to participation with each other in Christian communion.  All of these things were evidence that they had been deceived into abandoning Jesus Christ in favor of a Christianity that was lived from out of themselves -- based on the soul realm and natural, religious man. 


The further away you get from the Person of Jesus Christ as our life, the further you’re going to get into the soul realm and into deception.  This is exactly why there is so much deception in the church today.  You have entire movements that are based on the soul realm -- millions of people who are otherwise sincere accepting psychic and emotional experiences as being of God.  Why?  Because they have been taught that they are of God – and because those counterfeits are able to find a home IN THEM.


Living from out of the soul realm – and accepting it as the spirit of God – can lead people into some very dark places.  For example, there are people claiming to have had all manner of incredible experiences.  Some of them say that they died, went to heaven, saw Jesus, and came back.  Others claim they have seen Jesus face to face – claim He has personally appeared to them and talked with them.  All of it is a bunch of baloney and scripture says so.  We need to come to terms with that.


I recognize that there are people who would swear up and down on a stack of Bibles that they had those experiences and that they were real.  The real question is:  At what point are we going to believe scripture and put away our experiences -- no matter how real they may seem?  How many understand that ALL deception seems real?  That ALL deception is presented as TRUTH?  That is why deception is able to deceive – it seems REAL!  It seems TRUE.  It will FEEL that way to the natural man.  How many understand that the most powerful deceptions ever devised by Satan are going to seem true to those who are deceived?  How could it be otherwise?


The deceptions of Satan are constituted in such a way as to appeal to, match, feed, and use our natural, psychic man.  As such, those tactics of Satan are going to seem right.  They are going to seem true.  There will be a sense of correctness present in them -- in a disguised psychic manner – because the deception corresponds to something in our natural man.  If you add in a Christian environment, you can have incredible deception, all in the name of Jesus Christ.  But what is behind it all is of Satan.


There are people who have spent their entire lives claiming to be born again believers -- and yet what they believe is absolutely contrary to the Truth.  It is possible to see visions, have psychic experiences, feelings, and even seem to be manifesting spiritual gifts – but for ALL of it to be in the soul or psychic realm.  Much of it can be emotionalism that is passed off as spiritual.   You can also have a Christian life based on intellectualism -- which is of no more value than one based on emotionalism. The terrible possibilities of deception are endless once a person is living out from the psychic realm – for it is the point of access for Satan.


What is the solution?  What is the protection?  We might say to adhere to scripture.  But while that would be right, anyone who is deceived and living in these errors is going to read into the Bible their experiences, and are going to claim they already follow scripture.  For the problem is not that they merely have wrong theology.  No.  The problem is that they are governed by a lying spirit.  And worse, there is something IN THEM that has given place to it.


The solution is to repent, and to begin allowing God to take us on the journey that He desires – that we might come into an inward realization and experiencing of Christ.  If we know Christ we will repent and be set free from those dimensions in our own heart that could give place to error, and we will know error when we encounter it.  Knowing the Truth in Christ is the only way to know and oppose the error.


This is all very much part of our calling.  We are called to a Person -- and our journey is to be in, and with, and out from, that Person.  The journey is not a bunch of experiences apart from Him.  The journey is to be in Him.  Everything that God is doing, in the Christian life and journey, is all geared into bringing us into an inward realization and revelation of Jesus Christ.  It is all geared to that because that is God’s purpose. 


Paul, Called to be an Apostle


Let’s get back to 1 Corinthians 1:1-2.  As we saw above, Paul says of himself, “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ.”


That alone tells us plenty.  Paul did not decide one day to appoint himself to be an apostle. There are a lot of people out there today who have done that.  There are people who have appointed themselves to be a pastor. They say they, “felt God’s calling to the ministry,” or that, “God spoke to them,” etc.  But you never once find in scripture that this is how God calls anyone into ministry. In scripture, the person is called to CHRIST.  Then as they experience Him and walk with Him – as they are crucified with Him -- it becomes apparent that they have a particular spiritual gift.  They don’t try to be a pastor.  It is simply who they are in Christ.  This is not, “official,” or the product of getting a degree.  It is not because other people have input.  Indeed, the person themselves has no input.  The gift is there through the new birth – and it emerges as Christ emerges. 


Now, of course, even all of that can be mimicked by religious flesh.  There are people who have always wanted to be looked to by others in the church.  They lust after that.  And because they are not crucified with Christ they continue to live from out of themselves and what they want.  Therefore, it is only natural that they say God has called them.  But it is really their own natural inclinations, or ambitions, or pride that is calling them.


The true spiritual gifts are given.  They are built into the new creation that a believer becomes through the new birth.  They are not dragged down from heaven because it is what we would like to be.  They are not found in the natural birth as the source.  That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.  Callings and the gifts are included.


The Saints and Sanctification


Paul said that he was called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the WILL OF GOD – there it is – the will of God -- and he includes Sosthenes as being one with him.  He said he was writing these things unto the brethren at the church of Corinth -- to them which are sanctified by Jesus Christ -- called to be saints.  Herein we see both the calling and the journey.  Believers are called to Christ – called to be saints. This is an important term.


The word translated, “saint,” in the Greek is the same word that is translated, “sanctified.”  Both are found in this verse.  They both come from exactly the same root Greek word, “hagios.”


“Hagios,” is the term God uses the most in scripture to refer to Christians.  “Hagios,” is translated SAINT, or SAINTS – and therefore the English term used the most in the Bible to refer to believers is SAINT.  And, “hagios,” or SAINT, means, “to belong to God.”  Thus, a saint is one who belongs to Jesus Christ.


You will note that Paul says, “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified (root hagios) in Christ Jesus, called [to be] saints (hagios).”


Here we see both the calling and the journey.  Believers are called to BE SAINTS – but the journey of a SAINT into Christ is sanctification -- a saint is one who is continually being sanctified in Jesus Christ.  In other words, a saint is one who is called to belong to Christ, and the journey is one wherein that reality is worked out, experienced, and lived. 


The word commonly translated HOLY in scripture is likewise HAGIOS.  Thus, the saints are, “holy ones.”  Sanctification is a matter of be made more and more holy – of coming to more and more belong to God.  Paul states this directly to the church at Ephesis.


Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ:  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.  (Eph. 1:3-4)


It is here that we must refer back to the earlier discussion – we are not made, “to look like Jesus.”  Rather, we are brought to the place where Christ can live through us.  This is true sanctification.  Sanctification is not ME being made holy – as a condition unto myself.  No. Sanctification is Christ – it is me belonging to Christ to the point where He can live through me.  Christ is the personification of sanctification in the believer.


That no flesh should glory in his presence.  But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:  That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in the Lord.  (I Cor. 1:29-31)


Have we realized that what we might call, “Christian character” – if it is real – is Christ?  Christian character is sanctification – and to the extent that Christ is seen in a believer that believer has been sanctified in Christ.  The same Truth applies to RIGHTEOUSNESS.  Paul does not say in this verse that God imputes to us righteousness because of Christ.  No.  Rather, He says that Christ IS our righteousness.  In short, God has not given us THINGS because of Christ.  Rather, God has given us Christ Himself who IS all things in the believer.  Sanctification is Christ.  And if we manifest Him we are sanctified.


Most of us try to visualize Christ living through us, or we try to make it happen.  But we cannot know much of that until we get there – until God brings us to that point in our realization of Christ.  Indeed, all of those efforts must be put aside by the work of the Cross.  The work of the Cross will make us less and less preoccupied with ourselves, and more and more preoccupied with Christ.  This is an essential if Christ is to live through us.  But can we see that this is not merely a doctrine?  It is an experiencing of Christ – there is simply no other way to be set free from our continual preoccupation with ourselves into the freedom of Christ as our life.  God must bring us to the place where we abandon ourselves to Christ – lose ourselves to Him by faith.  We can know the teaching – but that will not get us far until we know Christ.


Someone once said that those who manifest Christ the most are the ones who are least aware of it.  That is the Truth.  Why?  Because as stated, in order to manifest Christ we must be set free from preoccupation with SELF.  We won’t be continually monitoring ourselves to see whether Christ is there – to see whether we are manifesting Him.  No.  We will be preoccupied with Him.  And as we leave ourselves alone into His hands, and live by faith from out of Him, He will be seen.  We won’t have to try to manifest Him; we won’t have to try to look like Jesus, or do as Jesus would do – in the sense of keeping laws or in the sense of walking in a religious system.  No.  As Christ is revealed IN US – we will abandon ourselves – and He will be manifested through us.  He is the Vine and we are the branches.  How much effort does a branch put forth in order to bear the fruit of the Vine?  None.  The branch simply abides – lives in and out from – the Vine.


None of this is the result of walking in a religion.  None of it can become real by following some creed or statement of faith.  No.  All of it is possible only by coming into a realization of Jesus Christ – by experiencing Him and the reality of His death and resurrection.  It is really what the JOURNEY in this age is all about.  It is the JOURNEY that begins with the new birth – the birth that is from above.


A saint does not belong to themselves – the very term; the very definition of the word SAINT means that. We are not our own, we are bought with a price, and that being the case, there is a process of sanctification which is undertaken -- which we call, “the journey.”  That journey is intended to make our relationship with Christ something we actually experience. That journey, in the end, will result in the believer magnifying and manifesting Christ from the inside out unto God’s glory.  So, we are called to be saints and are on a journey of sanctification whereby Christ is to be revealed in and through us. 


Grace and Truth


Paul is addressing those who are sanctified in Jesus Christ, called to be saints – and then adds:


Who in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord…peace be unto you and grace from God the Father and from the Lord, Jesus Christ.  (I Cor. 1:2-3)


You will find that almost every salutation of the epistles of Paul carry this same greeting from God the Father, and from Jesus Christ -- those two are always mentioned – the Father and The Son.  Paul then adds here, “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given to you by Jesus Christ.”  That is quite a generous statement, given the irreverence and sin at Corinth.  But God always does extend grace.  God is a redemptive God.


John the apostle says, “Grace and Truth came in Jesus Christ.”  (John 1:17)  How many understand that there is NO grace that God has to give except it be in His Son?  Jesus, in fact, is the very personification of the grace of God given to us.  No wonder this Truth is included in so many of those salutations to the churches.


The Testimony or Evidence Which is Jesus Christ


Paul continues:


I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;  That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and [in] all knowledge;  Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you.  (I Cor. 1:4-6)


“The testimony of Christ in you,” is, “Christ Himself in you.”  His presence in the believer is THE testimony or evidence of God in Christ.  John the apostle writes:


If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.   He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  (I John 5:9-11)


The words translated, “witness,” and, “record,” in this passage are exactly the same word often translated, “testimony.”  It could also be translated EVIDENCE.  Jesus Christ in the believer is the evidence of God Himself.  Paul is reminding the Corinthians that Christ is in them – that they are one with Christ in spirit.  He is reminding them that they are called to be SAINTS – called to belong to Christ.  And He is reminding them that this means a journey in Christ for the purposes of God.  He begins this letter with those statements because Christ in them is the basis for everything he wants to reestablish as their foundation – a foundation they had forsaken.  He wants them to return to Christ by faith.


Jesus Christ dwells in the believer.  It is to Him that we are called.  And it is IN HIM that we journey.  This is the basis for all – and He is the evidence for all -- that is called Christianity.


Expecting the Revelation of Christ


So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, [that ye may be] blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God [is] faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  (I Cor. 1:7-9)


Paul has just told them that, “the testimony,” of Jesus was confirmed in them, meaning that the PRESENCE of Jesus was confirmed in them.  Again – this is quite an encouragement for a wayward church.  But now he goes on to say that Jesus Christ will continue to confirm them unto the end – blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.


This passage is easily misunderstood as referring to the Second Coming of Christ.  It speaks of WAITING for, “the coming of the Lord.” But here the Greek once again helps.  The word, “waiting,” ought to be translated, “expecting.”  And the word, “coming,” ought to be translated, “revelation.”  So, this is not a matter of waiting for the second coming.  Rather, it is an exhortation to expect an inward realization of Jesus Christ.


That interpretation harmonizes completely with the context.  He has told them that the presence of Jesus Christ in them was confirmed – and that it shall continue to be confirmed.  How?  By a continual inward realization of Christ IN THEM.  That is the revelation that they are told to expect.  We are to expect that this ongoing journey in Christ is going to result in a continual revelation of Christ in the believer.  This will happen unto the end of this age, and indeed, into the next age.


Paul wraps up his greeting in verse nine by saying:


God is faithful, by Whom you were called unto the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.  (I Cor. 1:9)


So there you have again, a tremendous overall summary as to the journey.  You are called to Christ, but you are called into fellowship with Christ.  That is simply another way of the Christian journey. 


Types of the Journey in the OT


Now, I could read through the New Testament and obviously give many other scriptures that talk at length about the Christian calling.  There are certainly plenty of them in 1 Corinthians.  This Book has one of the highest occurrences of the word, “calling,” as in, “Christian calling,” among the books of the Bible.  But what I want to do is turn to an Old Testament account which illustrates both the CALLING and the JOURNEY.  The story of which I am speaking is the one about Israel’s deliverance from Egypt -- and their journey, after they were called of God, through the Red Sea, through the wilderness, and into the Promised Land.


How many understand that this account of Israel’s calling and journey is a type and shadow of the Christian journey? 


This account contains Truth intended to give us some understanding as to why God does what He does in our lives -- why this or that has to happen – why it may be His will for us.  Accounts like this are given to us, according to the apostle Paul, as examples – examples we can read in the Bible – that are similar to the perplexing experiences we go through as believers.  It is always encouraging, is it not, if we are in an experience we do not understand – perhaps a difficult thing where we can’t seem to get an answer from God -- maybe even for a long time – it is always encouraging to be able to go into the Bible and discover that that kind of experience is normal for one walking with God.  It provides much encouragement to know that David, or Moses, or Abraham, went through years where they had to walk with God without answers.  How about Job?  He went through a horrible trial – and yet all within the purpose of God for him.  It is encouraging to see that these others had the same difficult journey because it tells us that we are not deceived or off the track simply because we are suffering – and God is silent.  No, this is the JOURNEY.  It is NORMAL for one who is on that journey in Christ.


So, let’s turn to Exodus 12. Let’s begin with the first Passover.  Israel, as we know, was in captivity to Egypt.  They were slaves.  Indeed, there was no one in Israel, at this point in Exodus 12, who knew anything BUT slavery.  They were all BORN into captivity – indeed, slavery was NORMAL for them.  Yet, God had given them a promise – He had promised them that there would come a deliverer.  They would be set free.  And now that time had come.


The Calling of Israel From Out of Bondage


In Exodus 12, the Lord speaks to Moses when Israel was still in slavery in Egypt. God says:


Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth [day] of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of [their] fathers, a lamb for an house…Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take [it] out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike [it] on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.  And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; [and] with bitter [herbs] they shall eat it.  (Ex. 12:3, 5-8)


In summary, God is commanding Israel to have each household kill a lamb, and smear the blood of that lamb on the door posts and on the upper part of the doorway.  Each household was to follow these instructions.  That lamb was the Passover lamb, and this was the first Passover. 


These instructions were a matter of life and death, as God makes clear as He continues speaking to Israel through Moses:


For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I [am] the LORD.4  13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye [are]: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy [you], when I smite the land of Egypt.  (Ex. 12:12-13)


God says that He will pass through the land of Egypt that night and smite all of the first born of the land of Egypt.  Note that God says that He will smite ALL the first born – not just the Egyptian first born – but ALL the first born, including the first born of Israel.  But the Lord assures Israel that the blood of the Lamb will protect them – indeed, ONLY the blood of the Lamb will keep back the destroyer.


This promise is repeated later in the chapter:


For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he sees the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite [you].  (Ex. 12:23)


The essential point to see is that death was a certainty upon every house in that land -- whether you were an Egyptian or an Israelite.  The destroyer was coming through the land to slay all the firstborn -- and it did not matter if you  were an Egyptian or an Israelite.  What DID matter was whether or not you were under the blood.  God states that very clearly.  If He saw the blood, He would not let the destroyer come into your house to smite you.  But if He doesn’t see the blood, you are going to be under that destruction.  It is the blood that makes the difference between life and death.


What we see here is a foundational Christian Truth:  The shed Blood of Christ – who is the true Passover Lamb – His shed Blood, the finality of His Cross – it is upon His finished Redemption that deliverance from death, and thus, eternal life is based.


As Paul makes it so clear in the New Testament, there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free.  As it pertains to the Exodus account, there is neither Egyptian nor Israelite.  Race does not matter; standing in society does not matter.  In fact, nothing about YOU matters except that you put your faith in the Lamb – because HE is what matters.  What you and I are by nature is out of the picture.  This is the principle of the Cross.  It is not about who WE are, but about who HE IS – and what He has done as the Lamb Who was slain. 


The Truth of the Cross


From the beginning of I Corinthians 1, this was the Truth – the Truth of the Cross – that Paul was trying to get across to the Corinthians.  It is the Truth that believers are supposed to see and believe when we are called to Christ.  And it is the Truth that we are to live in and experience throughout our journey in Christ.


Unfortunately, some of us never see the Truth of the Cross.  Satan has succeeded in blinding many believers to this Truth, and in introducing much false doctrine.  The Truth that all that we are in ourselves died in Christ has been replaced with the false gospel of self-esteem, and with a growing preoccupation with natural man.


The Truth of the Cross is this:  When you and I come to Jesus Christ we are joined to Him in spirit – we become one in spirit with Him.  (I Cor. 6:17)  We no longer belong to ourselves.  The old man in Adam is buried with Christ in His death.  But we are likewise joined to Him in His resurrection life.  Paul summarizes this Truth by saying:


Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away (passed over – NT Greek); behold, all things are become new.   And all things [are] of God.  (II Cor. 5:17-18)


From the day you are saved, the old man in Adam is reckoned dead.  A large part of our journey is to continually reckon the old man dead -- by picking up our cross daily -- and seeing the working out of that death.  The old man is buried with Christ in His death.  That is the Truth of the Cross – the Truth of Jesus Christ crucified.  Now, the power of the Cross must be brought to bear upon the old man; natural man; psychic man.  That is how we experience the Truth of the Jesus Christ crucified.


We find this Truth pictured through that first Passover in Egypt.  All that was of the natural birth – human and beast -- had death pronounced upon it by God.  The death of the firstborn symbolized the death that was to be upon the entire old creation.


The Blood of the Passover Lamb was smeared on the doorposts of the dwelling places.  Then the people who had smeared the Blood of the Lamb on the doorposts of their dwelling would ENTER INTO that dwelling place.  Note that a person would only do that if they had FAITH in the Passover Lamb – faith in the Blood of the Lamb.  And only the first born of those people who had come under the protection of the Blood of the Lamb would be saved that night.


Death came to each and every household in Egypt that night.  There were no exceptions.  But if a person came under the Blood of the Lamb His death would be their death. 


This is a type and shadow of the Truth in Christ.  The entire Adam race is under the sentence of death.  This includes everyone who ever lived and will ever live in Adam.  That is an absolute certainty.  But there is deliverance.  Those who take their place in the death of Christ do die – but because they die in Christ they are likewise raised with Christ – as a new creation.  In Christ, God is not doing a repair job, or a fixer upper, on the old man in Adam.  No.  God has put an end to the Adam race and has raised up a NEW creation in Christ.


What this means is that Jesus Christ did not come to bring out your greatness, to enhance you, to tap into what you are in Adam, and salvage out of that the supposed, “good stuff.”  No, Jesus Christ came to put the old Adam to death by bearing the entire Adam race on the cross.  God’s purpose in Adam is over; ended by the death of Christ.


This Truth is going to be worked out in each one of us.  It is why Jesus said:


If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.  (Matt. 16:24-25)


Jesus is saying, “Give all of yourself -- your natural Adam man, to Christ -- for whatever it takes to work out the reality of the Cross. If you do, you will find real life in Christ.”  In other words, if we die in Him, we will be raised in Him.  This is a done deal pertaining to salvation itself -- but it must be worked out in the Christian life as part of this journey. 


The Cross of Jesus Christ and all that He accomplished by it drew an eternal dividing line – it is a line of death and life – a line that separates the old creation from the new; that separates the Adam race from the new creation.  Another way to state this is to say that the Cross has separated Jesus Christ from all else. God has given IN His Son everything that He has to give -- and has nothing left to give other than that.  All else is under the Cross.  In Christ alone there is life.


Jesus Christ is God’s Word


Jesus Christ is the living word of God; Jesus Christ is THE LOGOS -- HE is what God is speaking to believers in these last days.  (Hebrews 1:1)  God is speaking, “Son-wise,” as the Greek reveals.  In other words, God is speaking Christ -- through an ongoing and inward revelation in His people.  This is the JOURNEY.


How many understand that Jesus Christ is not only God’s word, but He is God’s full word and His last word?  Jesus Christ crucified is the Lamb Who was slain – and He is God’s final word upon all that we are in Adam.  Yet He is God’s full Word embodied in a new creation.


The Impossible Situation


Israel was delivered from out of Egypt through the Blood of the Lamb.  God next brought them to the Red Sea.  Of course, by that time, Pharaoh has changed his mind about letting the people go.  He pursued them with the intent of destroying them.


God had brought Israel to this massive body of water called the Red Sea.  There was no possibility that they could cross it and escape the Egyptians on their own.  It was impossible.


And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.  (Ex. 14:10)


The Egyptians marched after Israel and they were sore afraid.  Well, wouldn’t you be?  The children of Israel cried out unto the Lord:


Because [there were] no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?  [Is] not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For [it had been] better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.  (Ex. 14:11-12)


Now, here are a bunch of newly-delivered slaves.  Remember all of the miracles God did in delivering them from Egypt?  Yet here they were at the Red Sea, yes trapped, but nevertheless accusing God of betraying them.  This is just another proof that miracles and outward demonstrations of power do not change anyone’s heart.  They do not really, in the long run, give anybody faith. 


God, when we are very young in Christ, may do some things that are miraculous in order to encourage us.  But little by little those things dissipate, and eventually He does not often do those things.  It isn’t that God isn’t at work.  But it is just that He usually doesn’t work in a way that a believer can see.  We do not grow in faith by outward proofs of God.  We grow in faith by an inward realization of Jesus Christ.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  He is the Word that we need to hear.  We have to realize Jesus.  That is how faith truly comes.


Israel’s accusation of God may seem like a horrible accusation -- and it is -- but at some point of our Christian walk most of us usually do the same.  We do the same because it is in us to do it – we might be delivered from out of our Egypt, but there is always a lot of Egypt that remains in us.  And God will bring us into situations that will expose that – for the purpose of bringing us to repentance.


Many believers, once they turn to Christ – and are perhaps delivered from some terrible bondage – make the mistake of thinking life in Christ will be problem free moving forward.  They claim that suffering or trouble cannot be the will of God – if we truly believe and obey Him.  They may use different terms and examples, but in the end, their denial of the possibility of a God-ordained time of trouble echoes the spirit of Israel:  “You delivered us only to bring us into worse trouble.  You have brought us into a situation from which we have no escape.”


God has recorded these events as examples for us – as lessons for us to apply to life in Christ.  Many believers come to Christ, not because we know we need Him, but because we don’t need we need Him.  Many come to Christ for what we think we will get from Him.  Therefore, God has to expose this motive – for the purpose of bringing us into a relationship with Him based upon the Truth. 


If there is one thing that is guaranteed in scripture, it is that God is faithful through Christ – every time and all the time.  But this must be proven, not only TO us, but IN us.  Therefore, God will allow trouble and suffering to come upon us.  And God will not explain it to us.  He may be silent for a long, long time.  Our trial may be nothing more than boredom, inactivity, and a life that seems to be without purpose. We may then begin to despair, and even wonder, if we have made a mistake -- or if God is truly faithful to us.  So, we may begin to have his kind of an accusation.


God wants to bring us to the place where we will believe Him to the complete disregard of the circumstances we are in – in fact, He wants us to believe Him to the disregard of ourselves.  In other words, He wants us to be able to put aside our fear, and our emotions, our desires, and our purpose for life – He wants us to lose all of that into His hands – and to believe Him.  He wants us to do this even if we have no clue what will happen if we do trust Him.  He wants us to do this even if we have no evidence at all that He is even there for us.  He wants us to say, in faith, “No matter what it takes, I want God.  I want to know Him.  I want to experience Christ.  I open myself for whatever it takes for God to accomplish this in me.”


And what WILL it take?  Often it will take an impossible situation.  But it is exactly in an impossible situation, if we will abandon ourselves to God, that we will find Him, and be brought into a greater realization of Jesus Christ.


When we are brought into an impossible situation, one of the most common fears that arise is that we have made a terrible mistake – a mistake in believing God, or a mistake in some choice we have made that we thought was obedience.  This goes back to the assumption that obedience to God always results in blessing, and disobedience always results in trouble.  Despite the fact that the Bible says otherwise, the mentality of most believers is exactly along that line – and thus – if we find ourselves in great trouble, or great despair, or in a great wilderness of no purpose, we easily assume that we got there through some fault of our own.


But if there is one thing that we need to see about this impossible situation in Exodus 14, it is this:  Israel did not get into this impossible situation through disobedience.  They did not get into this by unbelief.  No, Israel got into this impossible situation by obeying God and believing Him.


Read Exodus 14:2.  God gave Israel specific instructions as to where to camp.  And they obeyed. Obedience to God had brought them into this impossible situation. They found themselves in a situation where they did not have what they needed -- and of their own resources had no way to get it. All by God’s hand.


Now, that ought to be encouraging.  It sounds funny to say, “encouraging,” because it is not a nice situation to be in.  But it is encouraging because it means that what seems to be evidence that we have made a mistake, or that  God is indifferent, may actually be fully within the will and purpose of God.


We can hear the enemy speaking in the words of Israel against the Lord – this is the way in which the enemy will often speak to us in a horrible situation: “You did this…you disobeyed God…you are unbelieving.  You are getting what you deserve.  You got yourself into this and you must get yourself out.  God is not going to help you.”  The enemy may infer such lies if you are suffering, or even if you find yourself in despair due to purposeless in life.  And since God is usually silent during times like that, it may seem to us that these terrible lies may be the truth.


When such a condition arises for a believer, the situations that bring about our trouble are one thing.  Circumstances in life can bring trouble.  But isn’t the REAL trouble, and the REAL suffering, rooted in something else?  Sure.  For a believer, the real difficulty is that we cannot seem to find God.  We cannot seem to break through to God in the situation.

God’s Redemptive Purposes


So let’s map this out:  We obeyed God.  We believed God.  But it has resulted, not in blessing, but in a catastrophe.  And worse, God seems indifferent.  He is silent.  We cannot sense any help from Him.  Worse, we may be bombarded with condemnation and fear, thinking that surely this is all of our fault.  This may go on and on and on.  It is what Israel faced at the Red Sea.  And if we want to go on with Christ it is an absolute guarantee that we are going to face it as well.


Now, I certainly don’t believe that we are ever blameless or sin free.  Israel here had some unbelief and accusations toward God.  So, I am not saying that we are ever going to have a situation where we can’t look at ourselves and say, “Well, I could have done better, or I didn’t believe God as I should have.”  Of course, there are always going to be those possibilities. But what I am saying is that it is possible that as far as you know, you have obeyed God, and confessed to Him any disobedience, and as far as you know, you have believed God and cried out to Him, “Help my unbelief.”  As far as you know, you have walked with God. Yet, it may result in a catastrophe.  How many know that this is a pattern in the Bible?  Practically every major Biblical figure whom God ever used for anything was led according to this pattern? 


The point is, if despite all of our faults and mistakes, we continue to seek God no matter what the cost, God will redeem our mistakes and our sins.  And if that is the case, then it will not matter HOW or WHY we are in our impossible situation – it will become HIS.


This was God’s pattern with Moses.  Remember when Moses, way back before he led Israel out of captivity, killed that Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave?  There is every reason to think that Moses had a sense of God’s purpose of calling him to be the deliverer of God’s people.  But, he wasn’t ready – but he tried to take that matter into his own hands.  That was a mistake.  God never willed that Moses kill that Egyptian.  Yet did God abandon Moses, or his purpose for him?  No.  Rather, God sent him out into the wilderness for forty years – this was all before Moses ever heard the call of God as deliverer of Israel.  Why?  To reduce Moses -- and to show him how weak and empty he really was. In other words, rather than abandon Moses, God did what was necessary to bring Moses into the relationship with Himself that would make it possible for him to be used of God.


Did Moses spend that forty years practicing miracles?  Did he train how to turn his rod into a snake?  Did he practice parting the Red Sea?  Of course not.  God spent that forty years doing a work IN Moses so that Moses could be rightly related to God.  Everything else depended upon that.  Moses had to be set free of his own inward Egypt before he would be faithful to God in setting Israel free from their Egypt.


Everything that God causes or allows in the life of a believer is unto the purpose that we come to realize Christ – and by faith come to live in Him and out from Him.  If we really want to know Jesus Christ, this is what has to happen.  That will require the work of the Cross – it will require that we come to the end of being governed by our natural man.  Again, the work of the cross is part of this journey - a walk and a journey with Jesus Christ always goes through the valley before the person is brought up to the mountain top. 


Then, guess what?  There will be another valley and another mountain top -- and so on.  The point is this:  God has to set us free and deliver us personally from our old man; from our unbelief; from our self will; and personal agenda.  He has to do that in order that we can walk with Christ in His will. And what He often uses is an impossible situation.


Can we see that an impossible situation is NOT a punishment?  Even if we got into our situation through our own sin, once we turn to God we are on redemptive ground.  We see this in this situation at the Red Sea  Nothing God was doing with Israel, not only at the Red Sea, but throughout the wilderness, was a punishment.  Instead, it was a matter of God making it possible for them to enter the Promised Land -- and to be in fellowship with Him in the inheritance He had for them.  All of it was redemptive.


This is God’s pattern for the saints.  Look at Abraham.  God told him he was going to have a son.  Look what happened to him.  He waited twenty six years.  But during that time, God let him birth a son on his own.  That was brought to nothing.  And yet, despite that mistake, God did not abandon Abraham.  Look at Jacob -- who was promised an inheritance.  God let him try to get that in his own strength.  But God had to cripple those efforts.  Finally Jacob saw, “Oh I see Lord.  This is about you -- and not me.” 


The Christian journey will lead each believer into one impossible situation after another – and often the impossible situation will be our own nature.  We will be exposed as those who can do NOTHING about ourselves – so that we will agree that it is true that we can do NOTHING -- and abandon ourselves to the One Who has already done everything.  God wants to bring us to where we declare by faith, and with joy, as Paul did, “Yet not I but Christ.”


You cannot merely read that in a book and declare it.  It doesn’t even come by studying God’s Word -- although we need to do that.  It comes only by experiencing Jesus Christ Himself. And God will bring us into a discovery and experience of Christ Himself through an impossible situation.  The impossible situation is the work of the Cross. But it is redemptive – it is all unto an inward realization of Christ.


Finding God in the Impossible


Well, Israel was trapped at the Red Sea because they obeyed God.  They were in a God-ordained impossible situation.  But God then declared something to them which we could call a fourfold answer to finding God in the impossible. 


Now, again, how many see that God had brought them, and brings us, into such impossible situations for the very purpose of revealing Himself?  He is not playing games.  He is using these things to do a work in US.  WE are the impossible situation.  And it is by faith – it is by this fourfold proclamation by God -- that we find Him in the impossible.


I don’t like to break things down into steps because people tend to grab them and make a list – and then check off boxes – and then when all the boxes are checked they think they have it.  No. These are spiritual principles that will result in an experiencing of Jesus Christ.  They are direction for the Christian journey in Christ, and as such, can be applied to many aspects of that journey over and over again.


So, what do you do when you find yourself in an impossible situation?  What do you do – whether you are there through faith and obedience, or whether you are there through unbelief but have turned and given yourself to God?  What do you do if your impossible situation is outward, inward, or both? 


God told Israel what to do.  He said:


Fear not

Stand Still

See Salvation

Move Forward


FEAR NOT -- and if you really look into that, it means believe.  In other words, “Fear not what your eyes see – i.e., the enemy - Pharaoh - the Red Sea.  Do not believe the fear your emotions feel.  Do not believe what your thinking demands.  Instead, keep your eyes upon Jesus Christ.  Believe Him to the disregard of all else.”


Then, STAND STILL.  In other words, having believed, STAND immovable in your faith.  REST in Jesus Christ.  Do not panic.  Do not run to and fro in your heart and emotions.  Be not moved by your natural man.  Be not moved by any situation from out of faith in Christ.  Stand still because Jesus Christ is THE ROCK.


Then, SEE the SALVATION of the Lord.  This may, or may not, involve your outward circumstances – depending on what is the purpose of God.  But to SEE the SALVATION of the Lord means to see Jesus Christ.  The LORD is our salvation.


It may not please the flesh very much, but it is a fact that to see Jesus Christ and be brought into an inward realization of Him is the only true deliverance and way of escape that there is.  Of what value would there be in being delivered from difficult outward circumstances, but to have no inward revelation of Jesus Christ?  No value at all.  But if we are brought into an inward realization of Jesus Christ, then at the very least, we will be able to have ascendency IN HIM over that which would govern us.  To believe God and walk in Christ – even if there is no change in the situation that is impossible – is true victory.  In that case, the impossible situation that is US has been conquered in Christ.  God will then be free to deal with outward circumstances.


Lastly, there is MOVE FORWARD.  In other words, continue the journey in Christ on the basis of seeing Jesus Christ – on the basis of what God has done in you through the impossible.


How many see that Israel was not able to, “move forward,” until they, “feared not,” and, “stood still?”  You have to believe.  You have to say to God, “Lord, I believe You, I am going to refuse the lie of fear and I am going to believe You.”  And you have to stand still in that faith against all that would contradict faith.  You may need to stand by faith for a time before you see salvation – but you will eventually see Jesus Christ. Only then can you, “move forward.”  Otherwise, it would not be a journey in faith.


Earlier we read from Matthew 16 the necessity of losing ourselves to Jesus Christ in order to find Him as our life.  Well, by faith we must lose ourselves to Him in any situation or we cannot move forward.  How could we?  We would not be moving forward in His life.  It would be a dead journey.


It is significant that Israel was told to move forward BEFORE God parted the Red Sea. How many see significance of that as to spiritual principle?  Move forward to where?  They had the Red Sea in front of them.  They had Pharaoh behind them.  And they were hemmed in by the land otherwise.


Here we see that despite NOT seeing where we are going, or how we are to get there, God wants us to trust Him to know.  Of course, for Israel this was physical and outward.  But for us, it is primarily an inward journey.  We cannot know what is on the other side of resurrection.  We cannot see what we do not yet see.  We have little idea of what it means to know and experience Jesus Christ until we do.  But God knows.  So He says, “Move forward.”


God opens the way, not before we believe, but AS we believe, doesn’t He?  Sure.  Every step in the journey must be by faith -- even if it means that you have to fear not and stand still for twenty years.  Do that and you will see Jesus Christ and move forward in God’s will.


Jesus Christ, the Promised Land


Israel went through the Red Sea -- and everything that Egypt represented was dead and buried.  As I stated earlier, this is a type and shadow of the old man in Adam being buried with Christ in His death.  It doesn’t mean that the old man in Adam ceases to exist in us.  No.  But in Christ – through faith – we can come to be governed by Christ, rather than this old man. 


God then brought Israel to the border of the Promised Land.  Israel refused to enter and take possession.  Why?  Because there were insurmountable enemies in the land -- despite the promise of God that the land was theirs.  How many see another impossible situation?


Israel had not grasped the Truth at this point – despite the miracle at the Red Sea.  Yet again, God would not abandon them, or His purpose for them.  He would do another redemptive work.  That redemptive work – again a type of the work of the Cross – would be a forty year journey through the wilderness. 


The wilderness was not a punishment.  It was, and is for us, a place where God exposes all of our unbelief, all of our faith in our natural man; in ourselves.  It is where God exposes what we really are.  He exposes us as being utterly weak and without resources.  But God does all of this in order to bring us to where our faith will be in Him – making it possible for us to enter into fullness in Christ – making it possible to live in Christ, who IS our Promised Land.


The wilderness is a place where there is no life and no resources.  That is what WE are in ourselves.  So, God brings us out into many experiences where we are shown to be a wilderness without Him. As was the case with Israel, so it is with us – the wilderness is all unto the end, not as a , but to expose us in the light of Christ so that we may be set free and have our faith solely in Jesus Christ.  Then we will be able by faith to take possession of the inheritance, as Israel did in type and shadow. 


Israel refused to enter the land and take possession by faith in the Lord.  Therefore, God had to judge them by sending them into the wilderness for forty years.  But He brought them back – He redeemed His purpose for them – and forty years later they were brought back to the border of the Promised Land.  Now note:  Those very same insurmountable enemies were in the land.  The same walled cities stood in the land.  And physically, as an army, Israel had no more ability to overcome those enemies and take possession then they had forty years prior.  But what DID change during those forty years in the wilderness?  What changed was Israel – unbelief had become FAITH in God. 


Now, how many see the purpose of the wilderness? Israel’s journey through the wilderness had brought them to the end of all fake faith – to the end of all confidence in themselves. How many realize that to lament over their weakness and inability to overcome the enemy was nothing more than faith in themselves? – it was a frustrated faith in themselves, but nevertheless faith in themselves.  So it is with God’s purpose in sending the believer into a wilderness.  It is to show us the Truth – that there is nothing in ourselves to trust, and therefore, there is no point in being frustrated over our weakness.  We are weak.  We are empty.  There is no point arguing about it – for it is the Truth.  God uses the wilderness to expose this Truth so that we will joyfully confess it and put our faith solely in Christ.


There are many of us who realize that it is folly to rely upon our own strength before God.  We know we cannot appeal to our own strength before the Lord as the basis for relationship with Him.  But we also need to realize that it is folly to rely upon our weakness as the basis of relationship with God.  Why?  Because whether we try to base relationship with God upon our strength or weakness, we are still basing our relationship with God upon ourselves.  Both are faith in self.  We have to come to the place where, yes, we allow God to break the delusion of our own strength, and to expose our weakness, but this is all until the end that we are out of the picture completely – and that our faith is solely in Jesus Christ.  Again, our faith must proclaim, “Yet not I, but Christ!”   


God uses the wilderness to accomplish this miracle in the believer.  We read, in Deuteronomy 8, a description given by God after Israel’s forty year journey through the wilderness, as to the purpose given for that wilderness.  It is a type and shadow for the believer.  He says:


All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers.  (Deut. 8:1)


Note that this is all positive.  God says that all that He was doing, including sending them into the wilderness for forty years, was so that they would be able – through a relationship with Himself – to LIVE, and POSSESS the land that God gave to them.  So again, we see that God was always working a redemptive purpose.


Verse two says:


And you shall remember all the ways which the Lord has led you these forty years in the wilderness.  (Deut. 8:2)


Rather than restrict the word, “remember,” to the meaning of MEMORY – God is referring to the fact that a revelation of Himself had been etched on their hearts.  They carried with them all of their past experiences with God -- and it changed them to where He could work with them.  As stated earlier, to an acceptable degree, unbelief had become faith. 


Now, more specifically, what change in Israel did come about?  God states what the journey through the wilderness had accomplished:


To humble thee, [and] to prove thee, to know what [was] in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.  And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every [word] that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.  (Deut. 8:2-3)


In type and shadow, God is saying that the wilderness gets us to the place where we no longer live from out of natural man -- but from out of the Living Word of God, who is a Person – from out of Jesus Christ, who dwells in the believer.


This is what the wilderness does.  Lots of people pray that God would give them strength.  The wilderness is the place where God shows you that you will never be strong; that you were never intended to be strong in yourself.  This is why when we cry out to God to deliver us from our wilderness or from our impossible situation there is silence.  He doesn’t want us out.  He wants us IN – so that we might come to experience Him.


We have to get these things straight because so often, we think contrary to what God is doing.  Remember Job’s experience?  I am sure Job had days when he cried out to God for strength.  God wanted to show Job that there was no strength other than God Himself.  In other words, God is not going to make us strong.  He is going to expose us as weak so that Christ might be our strength.  That is not just a little cliché. It is reality and truth and is what He is doing.


How many see that many of the principles of Truth that God reveals through the impossible situation at the Red Sea, are also worked out through the wilderness experience?  All of it is to deliver the believer from themselves into freedom in Christ Jesus.


God’s entire dealing with Israel, and His entire purpose for their journey, was to bring them into the Promised Land -- where He would be their God and they would be His people.  The Promised Land is a type and a shadow of fullness in Jesus Christ; of inheritance in Jesus Christ.  Thus, it is a type and shadow of God’s purpose in His NT saints.  God has apprehended us, called us, and taken us on this journey -- that we may fully experience His Son, and be used of Him in Christ -- not only in this age, but throughout the eternal ages. 





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