Taking Possession of the Inherit

Taking Possession of the Inheritance

 by David A. DePra

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Just as the Promised Land was a type and shadow of Jesus Christ and all that God has given in Him, so is Jericho.  As the first place God told Israel to conquer, Jericho represents the whole of the Promised Land.  This account carries many, “seed truths,” that apply to the Christian life.  In this story we find HOW a Christian must overcome and take possession of all that God has in Jesus Christ.


God sent Israel into the wilderness for forty years.  This was His judgment upon them because they would not enter into the land and take possession of it by faith.  But after those forty years in the wilderness Israel did enter the land under Joshua.  And the first place God told them to conquer was Jericho.

A Finished Work


It is important to recall the history leading up to the conquering of Jericho.  God had told Israel right from the start that He had given them all of the land – this was never in dispute.  It was finished, solely by the grace of God.  And Jericho, as the first place Israel encountered, was certainly included:


And the Lord said unto Joshua, “See, I have given into your hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor.”  (Josh. 6:2)


Here we see the type and shadow of God’s finished work in Jesus Christ.  ALL that God has for humanity is given – solely by grace – in the Person of Jesus Christ.  Thus, when we receive Christ at salvation, we have, at that point, received ALL that God has to give.  (see Rom. 8:32)  But then we must discover and experience – we must come into a realization – of the Christ whom we have already received.  This progressive revelation of Christ is the Christian life.  The OT type and shadow is this Promised Land that is already given – but must then be experienced and possessed for God.


The land IS given.  But the land must be taken and possessed.  The land would do Israel no good if they merely acknowledged that God had given it to them -- but had then settled elsewhere.  No.  They had to actually enter into the land, experience it, and live in it.


You will also note that this was NOT optional if Israel wanted to walk with God.  God has specifically called them to live in this land unto HIS GLORY.  There was no other purpose.


So it is with God’s people in Christ.  God has called us unto salvation in Christ – but unto the greater purpose that we might fully experience Christ and live to His glory.  There is no other purpose and no other calling.  It is the only purpose into which God will lead. 


The problem that Israel faced, and that we face, is that there are the enemies of God that are occupying that land.  For Israel, it was the heathen tribes who occupied this land in walled cities.  For us, it is the old nature – it is natural man.  The enemies of God consist of all that is contrary to God – and the flesh is always contrary to the spirit of God in Christ Jesus.


If, when we are saved, the old nature were eradicated, this would not be the case.  But the old nature is NOT eradicated – rather, Christ is brought in.  We are united with Him in spirit.  And the Christian life is a matter of the believer decreasing in that old nature so that Christ might increase.  This is another way of describing sanctification or overcoming.


Jesus Christ, by His spirit, is INVADING humanity as a race.  This begins when a person receives Christ.  But as that person walks with Christ, the Cross must be carried – and the Cross is essential to overcoming the flesh.  Only if we are crucified with Christ can He live in us, and we in Him.  This is the inheritance.  In short, all the God gives in Christ is experienced only as Christ Himself is experienced.  Jesus Christ, and all that is in Him, is the inheritance of the saints.


The Initial Refusal to Enter


When God brought Israel through the Red Sea and on to the Promised Land the first time, they refused to enter.  The reason was unbelief.


So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.  (Heb. 3:19)


God had delivered Israel from Egypt for the stated purpose of giving them this land and had brought them there through great miracles, signs, and wonders.  So why did Israel NOT believe God? 


The root cause was a hardness of heart.  A hardness of heart is simply a matter of demanding my own way -- really a matter of wanting my own LIFE.  Israel certainly DID want the Promised Land.  But they wanted it THEIR WAY on THEIR OWN TERMS.  So when the spies returned from the land and reported that there were, “giants in the land,” Israel would not accept this.  They concluded that they were insufficient to overcome such people.


Israel’s unbelief revealed their heart.  Because they were not wholly surrendered to God they did not believe Him.  Rather, they looked at themselves over and against the giants in the land and concluded that they were not able to overcome.  They concluded that God had betrayed them – that God had brought them all the way to this point only to expect from them the impossible.


Just as Israel wanted the promise – wanted the inheritance – so do most of God’s people want the inheritance.  But so many want the inheritance that is found only IN Christ – we want it as a THING to possess apart from Christ.  Or, to put it another way, we want to possess Christ but don’t want Christ to possess us.


Jesus tells us in Matthew 16 that in order to find life in Him, we must lose OUR life.  But so many of us want to find life in Christ WITHOUT losing our own life – in other words, we want a Christianity without the personal Cross.  This was the unbelief of Israel.  They wanted the land but not the God who gave it to them.


The Bible warns Christians NOT to err through an evil heart of unbelief – “as did Israel.”  What is the greatest hindrance to Christian people?  It is exactly the same unbelief.  And once we refuse to believe God we resort to looking at ourselves.  We read all of the promises of God and yet we weigh these over and against the insufficiencies of our flesh, our sin, and our weakness.  We refuse to enter and take possession of our inheritance in Christ. 


The necessary judgment upon Israel for their refusal to enter the land by faith was forty years in the wilderness.  Upon hearing this judgment, Israel recanted and said, “We will enter.”  But this was NOT faith – it was simply a matter of trying to escape judgment.


In this we see a number of principles.  First, we see that we cannot take possession of what God has given by grace under any other relationship with Him except faith.  We cannot take possession by law, by duty, or by fear.  Secondly, we cannot take possession of what God has given in Christ unless we are first living IN, and from OUT OF, Christ – which again demands faith. 


For the last two-thousand years, Christian people have tried to obtain the things of God through every imaginable religious gimmick – from paying indulgences to positively confessing – and none of that works.  The reason is that, “All the promises of God are IN HIM yes, and IN HIM amen, unto the glory of God by us.”  (II Cor. 1:20)  In other words, ALL that God has given are found ONLY in the Person of Jesus Christ.  It is only through knowing and experiencing Jesus Christ that what God has given can be experienced.  In the final analysis, HE is our inheritance.  We must abide in HIM.


So God sent Israel into the wilderness – but not to punitively punish them – but to bring them to the  place where they could enter the land by faith.  It was in the wilderness that Israel was made – not strong enough to enter – but was exposed as utterly weak.  Only then would they enter by faith in God.


This is ironic.  It might seem as if Israel already  thought they were too weak to enter – they said so when they initially refused to enter the land.  But this cry of weakness was nothing more than a frustrated desire to live from out of their own strength.  Self-righteousness can be manifested through the spiritual pride of a Pharisee.  But it can also be manifested through continual failures to be righteous.  This is self-righteousness as well, howbeit a frustrated one.


The only solution is the wilderness.  It is in the wilderness that, “the generation,” of unbelief dies out.  Once we are brought to the complete end of our own desire to strong, we are then able to enter the land solely on the basis of faith in Jesus Christ.


Enter In Despite Failures


It is eye opening to compare the facts between the first time Israel arrived at the Promised Land and refused to enter, and the second time when they DID enter.  First of all, the purpose of God had not changed in those forty years.  Secondly, the land had not changed – it was exactly the same inheritance.  Thirdly, the enemies in the land had not changed.  They were the same – just as strong and insurmountable.  Fourthly, Israel was just as weak, if not weaker, after forty years in the wilderness as they were forty years prior.  So what was the difference?  It was FAITH.  Despite being just as weak as always, Israel now believed God.


Now, of course, during those forty years in the wilderness, all of that generation of unbelief had died out.  Sure.  And this is the goal of God when He puts us into a wilderness.  His goal is that our natural life; our Adam life, might come under the work of the Cross and that we might take our place in the death of Christ – that we might unconditionally abandon ourselves to Him.  Then, you see, it will no longer be about whether WE are strong enough, or good enough, to enter in and take possession of what God has given in Christ.  Rather, it will be, “Yet NOT I, but Christ.”


Don’t think of this as merely resignation.  It is not a matter of my saying, “Oh well, I guess I have no choice but to trust God.”  No.  That is not faith.  It is still unbelief.  The wilderness is not only where all of my weakness and unbelief is exposed – but it is where I begin to discover Jesus Christ.  Thus, by faith I enter into Christ – not in a spirit of resignation, but in a spirit of faith, hope, and love.


Nothing God has given in Christ was ever dependent upon anything about US.  Indeed, He has told us the opposite:  He has stated that ALL is IN Christ, and ALL depends upon Christ.  We simply need to believe and receive – we begin by doing this in an inward way by faith.  In other words, we need to take possession of Jesus Christ DESPITE OURSELVES – solely on the basis of HIM, and not based on anything about US.


This is, of course, nothing more than the gospel of grace – but now manifested through more than just salvation.  We are not merely saved by grace.  Rather, we must live in, and by, the grace of God.  Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ and in order to walk with Him, we must walk in the light of grace and Truth.


Someone is liable to say, “Well, if we can simply take possession of Christ, and all that is in Him – to the disregard of our sins and failures – then this is license.”  No.  For if we are trying to take possession of Christ for the purpose of license then we are NOT entering by faith.  We will meet immediate defeat at the hands of the enemy.  Israel needed to wander forty years in the wilderness so that they could know what it was to trust God – and if any of us try to enter into the things of God on any other basis we will be walking in deception and not life.


It is a giant step for a believer to finally put themselves aside under the Cross and embrace Christ solely by grace through faith.  We might do this doctrinally, or emotionally, or intellectually – probably all of us go through those phases – but it is usually only through a wilderness that we actually come to see the Truth on this matter.  Only then is our faith REAL because only then is Jesus Christ revealed in us.


So God says, “I know all about your unworthiness for Christ.  I have always known you were unworthy – but you did not know it – which is why you continually tried to make yourself worthy.  Indeed, I have allowed you to wander in a wilderness to show YOU your unworthiness.  But this was all unto the end that you might confess it – and then put your faith on Jesus Christ.  There was never any other way to enter into the things of God.”


A History With God


All of this is background to the taking of Jericho.  Without the forty years in the wilderness there would be no taking possession of Jericho or the Promised Land.  God had to break the hardness of heart and unbelief that was in Israel.  They had to LOSE their lives in the wilderness -- God had to built at least a foundation of faith.


Isn’t it a fact that so much of the purpose of God in the life of the believer has a great deal of hidden background?  We spend years, indeed, decades, in the wilderness.  And we might even despair that it was all a waste.  But it is NOT a waste if we turn to God.  God will use even those barren years as a tool to crucify our own merits and righteousness – and these MUST be crucified if we are going on with God.


There is this false idea among believers that if we do all the right things, according to the right Bible principles, with all of the human faith possible, that we will spare ourselves the Cross and be able to live in complete victory.  Sure, we might spare ourselves some unnecessary consequences if we do the right things.  But who among us is NOT born in Adam?  Who among us knows Jesus Christ – at least in the beginning?  The fact is, the most mature saints in the history of the church, such as the apostle Paul, were not spared suffering, trials, or the Cross.  They were not spared having to face the ugliness of their own nature.  Indeed, their devotion to Christ insured these all the more.  We are all made of the same flesh.  And thus, no matter what we do or how we do it, in the end that flesh must be crucified if we are to live in Christ.


All of the saints of God that He used spent YEARS in preparation.  That preparation was to establish them in a relationship with God that would enable them to fulfill the purpose for which He called them.  God must have a people who are safe for His inheritance and blessing.  That is accomplished only through much history and preparation WITH GOD.


God’s Instructions


In Joshua 6, God gives instructions to Israel as to how they are to take possession of Jericho:


And the Lord said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor.   And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days.   And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets.  And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him.  (Josh. 6:2-5)


What God promised DID happen – the walls of Jericho DID fall.  But if you read these instructions, there is one point that is absolutely vital to see:  God did NOT command Israel to ATTACK Jericho.  All God required of Israel was that they BELIEVE that the victory was certain, and in that faith, compass the city – following the ARK.


Now, if we consider Jericho to be a type and shadow of any sin, bondage, or darkness in the believer – if we realize that Jericho represents anything that stands between us and the inheritance in Christ – we will have to come to terms with a great Truth:  This is a picture HOW God’s sets people free in Christ Jesus.  We are never set free from anything by attacking it.  Rather, we are set free by abiding and living from out of Christ.


Why is this the Truth?  Because the victory is ALREADY FINISHED IN CHRIST.  Thus, we need not, indeed, we must not, try to win that victory all over again.  Rather, we must live in the VICTOR.  And if we do, the walls will eventually fall.


Does this mean we have no choices?  Not at all.  There will be many choices of faith and obedience.  But we are here at this point talking about the breaking of the power of the enemy.  We are talking about walls falling down.  We cannot, need not, and must not, try to accomplish that by DOING.  Rather, we have to walk believing.


If you had a lamp that was not plugged into the power socket, would you solve that problem by attacking the lamp?  No.  You would solve it by plugging into the power.  There it is.  The victory is already in Christ.  Leaven the lamp alone –leave yourself alone – and, “plug into,” Him and that victory will be manifested.


True Victory


Now, before we continue, we must understand something about freedom IN Christ.  Yes, it is freedom FROM sins, unbelief, ignorance, bondage, bad habits, or FROM anything that is IN US that stands between us and our inheritance in Christ.  But that is not all.  True freedom in Christ is freedom UNTO God’s purpose in Christ.  In other words, when God gets HIS WILL -- we have the victory.  God is setting us free for a reason, and that reason is fullness in Christ.


All of those tribes in the Promised Land represent aspects of our natural man; our Adam man.  This is what governs us even after we are born from above – and it must be dealt with through the work of the Cross.  In Christ, we are already crucified in Christ.  But now, under the work of the Cross, this must be worked out in experience.  The result is freedom FROM the control of the flesh, but more importantly, it is freedom to be governed by Jesus Christ.


So often we focus on what we need to get free FROM.  But true victory is found in the ONE we are set free TO.  The old man in Adam is dead.  But we are a new creation in Christ Jesus.


Not an Attack, but Faith


So Israel was NOT to attack Jericho.  Can we see the clear revelation?  We are being told that we will never overcome sin in the Christian life by attacking sin.  But then how can we overcome?  By abiding in Christ


Again – this is because all victory and all power is found only in Christ.  We are united with Him in spirit – united with Him in His death and resurrection.  What else do we need other than faith?


The reason we fail is that we will not lose our lives to Christ – we continue to try to possess our lives for ourselves.  But this spells certain defeat.  We cannot overcome sin as long as we cling to self-possession – for self-possession is the power that feeds sin.  We cannot overcome sin as long as we cling to the life in which all sin is rooted.  We must bring not only our sin, but ourselves, to the Cross.


God wanted Israel to take possession of Jericho for HIS glory and purpose.  This is why He wanted them to DRIVE OUT the tribes in the Promised Land.  Every time Israel did not drive out the tribes, but settled down beside them, they become corrupt.  This would be equal to believers today refusing the Cross and trying to live in Christ on the basis of natural man.   


So failure is never because we do not attack sin.  Rather, it is because we do not surrender ourselves to God – for whatever it takes – and put all of our faith in Christ.


The Ark


God told Israel that the victory over Jericho was certain – it was finished – but not yet experienced.  He told them to compass the city following the ARK.  The ARK represents the presence of God in His people – the ARK carried by the priests represents, “Christ in us.”  Israel was to compass the city following the priests who were carrying the ARK.  This represents a walk in the Truth – a walk in Christ.  It represents a walk in faith.


God’s instructions to Israel carry great New Testament Truth.  He told them to encircle the city one time for each of six days.  Six is the number of MAN.  Those first six days must have seemed so futile!  They were walking around in circles and NOTHING was happening.  Is this not a picture of humanity coming to the end of itself in an attempt to overcome and purge sin?  Sure.  That is what God wanted to illustrate.  They circled the city in faith for six days – but NOTHING happened.


This ought to be encouraging to us.  There are going to be times in the Christian life when we obey God and believe Him and expect victory – but nothing seems to be happening.  It will seem like we really are walking in circles.  There will be times when we compass, “our Jericho,” in real FAITH -- but it all seems to avail nothing.  And yet it is not futile.  It is all unto LIFE.  We are decreasing and He is increasing – in us and through us.  We are carrying a Cross around Jericho – just as the priests carried the ARK -- but this death will eventually result in resurrection.


In type and shadow, Israel was picturing what Paul taught in the NT.  He wrote to the Corinthians:


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. 4:10-11)


Those six days represent those seasons in which we, “bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.”  Nothing is happening – but everything is happening that is essential for victory. “Our Jericho,” will only fall if the natural man and flesh is crucified.  And once that is sufficiently accomplished – then comes the SEVENTH DAY – the day on which HIS LIFE is made manifest.  And His life IS victory.


This is not about getting THINGS from God, or about God changing our situation.  Those issues are secondary.  Rather, this is about God getting His purpose IN US so that we can take possession of what He has for us in Christ.


When the seventh day arrived, Israel compass Jericho seven times.  Seven is always the number of God -- the number of spiritual perfection.  Six falls short of seven, as does man fall short of God's glory.  But that seventh day represented the result of faith in a God who is, "other than," ourselves -- and it brought victory.


Warfare did not conquer the city.  In fact, the only warfare that was necessary was the warfare to BELIEVE.  Again, we are never called upon to win a victory.  Rather, we are called upon to rest in Christ, who is the victory.  Once our faith is mature -- once we arrive at our seventh day -- the battle is over.  The walls will come down.


The Aftermath of Victory


Once the walls of Jericho fell, Israel had to go up and take possession of the city – and in doing so – they had to live in that city to God’s glory.  When we are set free through Christ, that area of our life that had been governed by the flesh must now be governed by Christ.  This is where most of our choices of obedience come in -- it is only AFTER the walls fall down and we are free that we are able to obey God.  This is Christian living and it is victory experienced.


You will note that Israel destroyed everything in Jericho.  This is God's way of illustrating that NOTHING of the old man is carried into the new creation.  "Old things are passed over, behold, all things have become new."  (II Cor. 5:17)  The soul and body will remain as vessels through which Christ can be manifested.  But they are not OF the new creation in this age.


Along that same line, Israel was forbidden to take for themselves any accursed thing -- i.e., things that had been dedicated to false gods.  And they were forbidden to take for themselves any of the wealth of Jericho.  From these instructions we can see that in the aftermath of victory the people of God are to be all the more separated unto God from the ways of this world.  The six days, let alone the time in the wilderness, was to make them safe for the seventh day victory.


Jericho is the template for victory in Jesus Christ.  Every time that Israel compromised with God and did not drive out the inhabitants of the land, they met with disaster.  Every time they compromised and did not believe God they were defeated by the enemy.  These things are written as examples for us as we walk with Christ.

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