Deuteronomy 8:7-10 – “For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9 a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.” NASU
I would like to begin considering the Place of Promise and the Wilderness Experience and fully investigate what Canaan represents for the believer.
THE PLACE OF PROMISE – Is a real Condition that every believer can enjoy and achieve. If that is not true then God did not tell the truth and the Bible is a lie. If I believed that then I would walk away from Christianity and place the Bible in the trash bin, but I believe the Bible is TRUE. The Process of Israel’s movement from Egypt to Canaan (The Place of Promise) is incredibly interesting, often frustrating, and informative.
THE WILDERNESS EXPERIENCE – Came before their entrance into the Land of Canaan or the Place of Promise. In the Wilderness, they learned dependence upon God and the value of obedience and the power of trust. The Wilderness in Life is the School of the Holy Spirit where we are exposed to problems, allowed to try it on our own, and then rescued as we cry out in repentance and faith. We learn how to Live, Give, and Receive. We learn how to do Warfare and Occupy. In the Wilderness, if it is successful the believer learns to FORSAKE the World, the Flesh, and the Devil and learns how to truly FOLLOW Christ.
Some believers seem to have the concept that the Christian life is all BLISS and Problems are indications of God’s disfavor. We wrongly tell new converts or potential converts that if they accept Jesus their life will be continuously filled with JOY, the presence of God will always be sensed and felt, the will of God will always be clear, there will be easy daily fellowship with Jesus, the presence of the Holy Spirit will always be felt, and there will be a sense of endless peace. I don’t know about you, but that is not descriptive of my Christian Walk. Not because God abandoned me but because I am flesh.
Over time, most experience a change in the situation and there are times when God gives NO EXPLANATION. Our Joy is taxed to the point that it abates and God seems a million miles away and His will impossible to discover. Instead of Peace, there is Anxiety, confusion, uncertainty, and even fear. Doing what is right seems a drudgery and difficult. Life becomes HARD and you want to sit down under the Juniper tree and GIVE UP. (I’m being more honest than some will). This condition can last hours, days, weeks, months, and for some years. If we fail to comprehend the Purpose of the Wilderness we will be exhausted, frustrated, and an easy target for the devil. We WILL NOT press into the Abundant Life Jesus Promised and not occupy the Place of Promise that is our inheritance.
To make matters worse, there are times, when it is clear that God is aware of your situation or condition, but seems to be doing nothing. He answers occasional prayers, gives occasional insight, and momentary times of blessing and refreshing BUT the day to day struggles and the BIG THINGS only grow bigger and more pronounced. Where you find yourself is anywhere but a PROMISED LAND. [I Peter 1:6-7; 4:12-13; II Corinthians 1:8-9]
IN THE WILDERNESS we are prepared to POSSESS THE PROMISE and enter the PROMISED LAND. If this is talking about getting to heaven I have some questions to ask. In CANAAN (The Place of Promise) there were Enemies occupying that Place and willing to resist to the death to keep you from occupying it. IS THAT HEAVEN? Are there enemies we will have to fight to enter heaven? Are their enemies now occupying heaven? CANAAN is the Land of Promise and it contains all we need and more to have Abundant Life. In a way that truly sounds like heaven but the fact of Enemies removes that distinction. We will not have to dispossess any enemies when we enter those Pearly Gates. We will not have to resist the devil when we are walking the Streets of Gold. We will have entered into TOTAL VICTORY when we enter heaven so Canaan is both a Learning Place and a Place of Victory in the here and now.
I will pause here before we more fully discuss the idea of Victorious Christian Living in the here and now and how that contrasts to Heaven.
May the Lord richly bless you, guard and guide you on this wonderful day we have been given.