"One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever." The casual observer sees nothing but history repeating itself. But the man of vision sees Truth being re-enacted in ever abounding fulness. The generations come and go, so that the world continues as from the beginning. But just as in the natural generation of Adam there has been a continual and ever increasing manifestation of the law of sin and death and the curse--from the very fall of Adam unto this present time--so also in the spiritual generation of the Last Adam there has been, and there will continue to be, an ever increasing and continual unfolding of the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, Who will deny that the law of sin and death holds and exercises a far greater dominion and rulership over the bodies and souls of men than it ever has from the foundation of the world until this day? The fact that science has succeeded in lengthening the life span of man by a few years is quite incidental and not too significant in view of the fact that the life span of man has broken down from well over 900 years as in the beginning to something considerably less than 100 years today. And man's achievement in lengthening our days by a few years is almost meaningless when one considers that man has also achieved such scientific knowledge that he even fears for the survival of the human race! And why is this? Because of the law of sin and death which came to the throne when Adam walked in the pathway of disobedience and fell off from his Creator. So far-reaching and devastating has been the sway and lordship of the kingdom of death, that today humanity stands on the brink of extinction!
But there is another generation in the world today that co-exists with the generation of Adam, and it is the generation of the Last Adam. This generation likewise has been in a continual process of development and ever abounding fulness, because of the functioning of the law by which it lives. This law is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. As the law of sin and death has just about reached its climax in the old generation of Adam, so the Law of the Spirit of Life hastens on to its glorious fulness in the generation of Christ. Seemingly there have been great setbacks along the way. Dark ages... heresies... church divisions... great conflicts that have raged through the centuries against the saints of the Most High. But this has all been a necessary part of the eternal purpose, and now the great conflict of the centuries hastens on to its final and glorious conclusion. God by His grace reaches back into the chaos of the past, picks up the tangled strands of seeming failure and mistake, transforms them by His grace and power, and weaves them into a pattern of glory and beauty. All this He does in preparation for the great unveiling, the great manifestation of His sons. Now the message is one of FORGET and GO FORWARD. God would comfort His people in the midst of desolation and failure. "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her WARFARE IS ACCOMPLISHED, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins" (Isa. 40:1, 2).
The Fulness Of Sin And Of Grace
Basically sinful man is just the same as Adam was when he first fell from his Creator. But that sin and that corruption that now prevails in humanity because of man's original disobedience has come to horrible fulness. The grapes of wrath are not only ripe, but they are over-ripe, as the original implies in Revelation 14:15. The fulness of sin and death is such that no flesh could survive the desolation that lies ahead unless the Lord Himself were to cut the days short. We recognize this fact. Men in all walks of life recognize it. Men in high places recognize it. The hearts of men who know what the score really is are failing them for fear, as they contemplate the things that are about to come upon the world.
Basically the generation of Christ is also the same as it was in the beginning. We are born again by the same Spirit, washed in the same blood, partakers of the same gifts and the same promises. But what about the full and complete expression of the law by which we live? What about the full and complete expression of the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus? Are we going to credit Adam with having more power and authority than Christ? Are we going to infer that the law of sin and death has an even greater potential than the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus? Are we going to believe that the law of sin and death has the power and ability to stretch forth its poisonous tentacles into every area of humankind, to the complete perversion of body, soul, and spirit? And then at the same time draw back in unbelief at the revelation of the Word concerning the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus? Five times in Romans 5 does the apostle Paul use the expression "much more" relative to the power of the grace of God, in contrast to the sin of Adam. Shall we not believe that there is a much greater and a "much more" potential in the Law of the Spirit of Life, than there is in the law of sin and death? Is there not to be a "much more" effectual working of the grace of God in the Last Adam, than there ever was in the disobedience of the first Adam? In other words, are we going to honor the power of Adam and Satan above the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit? We realize that the theologians will allow for the working out of the plan of God in the Last Adam somewhere in a certain kingdom, or perhaps after a certain rapture; but the plain teaching of the Scripture is that as we are born into the family of Adam, so are we born into the family of Christ; that we inherit the power of grace from the Lord Jesus, as we inherit the curse of sin from Adam; that we have God's righteousness in Christ by imputation, just as we have Adam's sin and death by imputation; and that as we grow up into Adam's sin unto its horrible climax by reason of natural generation, by the same token WE GROW UP UNTO CHRIST IN ALL THINGS by reason of spiritual generation.
Our problem seems to be simply this. We believe in the horrible manifestation of sin and death in Adam because it is a matter of history in the past, and of fact in the present. Whereas we reject the glorious manifestation of the Law of Life in Christ because it is not too manifest in history, nor scarcely visible in present day fact. Men will not believe until they see. But the generation of Christ, though scarcely visible as yet, is even now believing what they cannot see; so that in the day of their manifestation they will be seen of those who cannot now believe.
Who Shall Declare His Generation
We speak of the progeny of Christ. He was cut off from the land of the living, leaving no one to declare "his generation." But God nevertheless made room for a generation. As others have already pointed out, God even left a blank space for the generation of Christ in the genealogy of Matthew. There are exactly 41 generations from Abraham to Jesus, and not 42 as Matthew would seem to indicate. However, Matthew did not compute the generations unto Jesus, but "unto Christ" (Matt. 1:17). This makes all the difference. There are but 13 generations from the carrying away unto Babylon unto Jesus. But Matthew said "unto Christ," because "Christ" includes the Body which would declare His generation. "For as the body is one... SO ALSO IS CHRIST" (1 Cor. 12:12). Not "so also is the body of Christ," but "so also is Christ." "Christ" includes the body, because "Christ" means "Anointed One" and we share the "same anointing" (1 Jn. 2:27), are partakers of the same Spirit, and therefore become "of his flesh, and of his bones" (Eph. 5:30). How we appreciate the accuracy of Holy Scriptures and we must honor the honesty of the translators, who might very easily have changed the figure to read 41 generations to make it conform to reason. But the original said "42 generations" and that is how they translated it, regardless of the seeming discrepancy.
When this amazing fact was first pointed out to the writer, I was casually thumbing through my Bible and came across the account of the various encampments of the children of Israel from the time they left Egypt, until they arrived on the plains of Moab. And right there in my Bible I had already numbered the various encampments for a study I had given several months previously, and there were exactly 41 encampments! The 41st encampment of the children of Israel was in the plains of Moab; the 42nd encampment was under new leadership, even Joshua, as they moved forward to the Jordan to take the land of their heritage.
41 Encampments Under Moses
The first encampment after leaving home base in Rameses of Egypt was Succoth; the second, Etham; the third, Pihahiroth; the fourth, Marah; and so forth till they finally pitched their 41st encampment in the "plains of Moab" (Num. 33:1-48). This seemed to have been the largest encampment of all. It extended from Bethjesimoth even unto Abelshittim in the plains of Moab, right by the Jordan river, opposite Jericho. Long and weary and discouraging had been her wanderings in the wilderness. Israel had travelled a long, long way from the time they left Rameses in Egypt. They had known much travail and sorrow. It was a waste and howling wilderness... a land of drought, of barrenness, of scorpions, and fiery serpents. Many a time had their soul become discouraged because of the weariness of the way. Many a time they had turned back in their hearts unto Egypt, and desired to return. But God had closed the Red Sea behind them, deliberately barring their return. Where there is no vision, the people perish. That is to say, the people who lack vision perish because of their own lack of vision. Moses endured as "seeing Him who is invisible." The backward look to the good old days is the most damaging vision that people in the Church can have. It hinders progress, because God is moving His people upward and forward to new realms in Himself, and He positively refuses to restore to our midst the old time religion or the revival of yesterday. Men who are looking for such a restoration are in constant frustration and anxiety, as they vainly attempt to restore the structure of the kingdom of God as they have known it in the past. God's restorations are always in the realm of progress and development and unfolding revelation. Man is prone to fear the unknown way. We admire the pioneer--their bravery, their initiative, their boldness in stepping forth into the unknown. But few desire to be pioneers. We gladly accept the heritage they leave to us, and boast about the pioneer spirit of our fathers, but it seems we have no desire to make further conquests even if we do see unknown realms to be conquered. Very few there are who are prepared to travel the unknown way with the Lord of glory.
The New Generation
A new generation had arisen in Israel. The old had perished in the wilderness--until there was but a handful left. Israel had made a long, circuitous journey from the time they left Egypt, till they arrived at the plains of Moab opposite Jericho. The cycle of their wilderness wanderings had just about been completed. Israel had returned almost to the place from whence they had started some 40 years before. In all their journeys, their wanderings, their blessings, their Divine provision along the way, their guidance by the presence of God in the pillar of cloud and in the pillar of fire--ISRAEL HAD NOT GONE ANYWHERE. They were no further along in the conquest of their heritage than they were 40 years before. This is exactly how it seemed. So the Church of Jesus Christ from its inception in the beginning until this day has not really gone anywhere. We may talk as we will about our warfare, our conquests, our victories, our blessing--let us face the facts. We, as a Church, have not made any real progress in the conquest of the world, and factual statistics make it very clear that the Church is on the road to extinction at the rate she is progressing--or should we say, retrogressing. This is most alarming to Church leaders, but most encouraging to men of vision. True, we may not have gone anywhere, and we seem to be back where we started--at least the circle is about to be completed--but there is one big difference. This time we go forward to take the whole land! This time we shall not fail! Because this time we are under new leadership. This time the Son of God goes forth to war, riding upon a white horse, and with a sharp two-edged sword proceeding out of His mouth. And the armies of heaven which follow Him likewise are riding upon white horses, with the same two-edged sword as their offensive weapon. This time we go forth together, conquering the enemy, and completely subduing the territory that Christ purchased for us some 2000 years ago, but which we have never really appropriated. It is the realm of the "heavenlies," our heritage in Christ Jesus, which we have long talked about, admired, and claimed to possess, but never really appropriated.
Here we stand like Israel on the plains of Moab, having known the direct leading of the Lord throughout these 41 encampments, but not having gone anywhere. But the 42nd generation is about to maker her 42nd encampment--under the leadership of our Joshua! This is the generation that was "to come," the people that were created to "praise the LORD," even to show forth and manifest His excellencies in the earth (Psa. 102:18). The Last Adam left no seed in Adam's line to declare his generation; but he himself became the "corn of wheat" that fell into the ground and died that there might come forth a harvest in his image and likeness. This is the "seed" that shall "serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation" (Psa. 22:30). This is the focal hour of all history. This is the culmination of our long period of wanderings, of barrenness, of fruitlessness. This is the purpose for which we have come to this hour. Here we must pause but a short time to hear the words of Deuteronomy--the second giving of the law--wherein Moses would remind us of all the ways and the blessings and the goodness of the Lord, and then pass off the scene to make way for new leadership under Joshua.
There is something especially blessed about the completion of the circle, the return of the seasons, the changing of the north wind to the south wind, the banishment of darkness in the light of the dawn. How we must stress the fact over and over that restoration is not merely the repetition of history. As the strong north wind blew upon the early church it gradually drove them further and further away from the Truth. Israel wandered further and further to the south, away from the land of their heritage. But then the south wind began to blow, and Israel started back towards the north. The south wind of Reformation began to blow on the Church, and she too has been coming back, slowly and gradually, back to the place from which she started. But still we have accomplished little, and have really gone nowhere. Here we stand, ready to make that final and great conquest for which we have waited all these centuries.
Deuteronomy... Then Joshua
Deuteronomy is a necessary preliminary to Joshua. We may talk about being in Canaan all we will, it doesn't place us there. We may boast about our heritage but that doesn't make it ours by way of experience and possession. It is ours, and we must recognize that it is ours, otherwise we will have no faith or courage to undertake its conquest. But let us not sit back with the dying generation in the wilderness while they try to reassure themselves: "Certainly Canaan is mine... God gave it to father Abraham hundreds of years ago... in fact I have even eaten of the grapes of Eschol and some of the pomegranates... nothing to get excited about..." But there they are, dying in the wilderness, having no thought whatever of possessing what God had given them!
Deuteronomy means the second giving of the law, But in the second giving of the law there was something vastly different than in the first giving of the law. In both cases we have conditions laid before us whereby we are to enter into the land of promise, live therein, and subdue it. But in the second giving of the law we have a history of their failures and their rebellion and their disobedience and hardness of heart--and how God was nevertheless going to bring them into their heritage for His righteousness' sake. He tells us, moreover, how He Himself actually used the howling wilderness, and the drought, and the barrenness, and the manna--to humble them, and to prove them, and to prepare them for their new heritage. The inheritance is through promise, and not through the law; but the law is our "schoolmaster" to bring us unto Christ. The discipline of the law seems to have been necessary to bring us unto the realization of our weakness, to manifest our failures and shortcomings, that in the full realization of our own futility and nothingness, God might be truly glorified. Deuteronomy brings us into this realization by reminding us of our failures and mistakes, and showing us how--through it all--God was working a needful discipline and preparation in our hearts for the day when He would bring to pass what He had promised, for His own name's sake. May we be quick to learn this lesson, because the hour is at hand when the new generation must arise and go forward. So much of the old way, the old forms, the old traditional glory of men and ministry still remain throughout the Church. We boast we are not under law, but under Grace. Yet grace is lacking, and the love of God is lacking, and the Spirit does not dominate our lives. All this testifies strongly that we are under law. Only the Son makes one free. If He has not come into the house to abide, the servant abides, and the servant speaks of law. Let us pause here in the plains of Moab, here in the 41st encampment, and hear the words of Deuteronomy.
First, God would remind us that it is not really a great distance into the land of our heritage. Really it was only "eleven days' journey" from Horeb (Ch. 1:2). God can, and will do a quick work on the earth, and cut it short in righteousness. It is the chastening and the discipline that takes so much time. It is our own rebellion and disobedience. Once we have learned the lesson of obedience, the problem is solved.
Then God would remind us of His own goodness and the manner in which He hath blessed us (Ch. 1:10). The Church seems to imagine that the blessing of God is a sure sign of His approval of our ways. God's blessing in no way indicates His approval; rather it betokens His love and mercy. Through all this blessing, Israel was a rebellious people (Ch. 1:26). But God was faithful. His glory cloud never left them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night (Ch. 1:33). We have known of several instances where the fire of God had appeared over a church, or over a minister. Israel had the fire of God over their tabernacle for forty years, every night of the year. Still they were a stiff-necked people, rebellious and disobedient. Again, the Lord would remind us why He brought us out of Egyptian bondage. The very purpose of it was to bring us into Canaan fruitfulness. Anything less than that is not God's second best--it is disobedience. "He brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in..." (Ch. 6:23). It is a realm of total victory and fruitfulness. A land where the Lord removes ALL SICKNESS from His People. A land where ALL THE ENEMIES of God's people are completely destroyed. "Little by little" is God's ordained way; but that in no way minimizes the extent of the victory. The process goes on "until they be destroyed." No enemy shall be able to "stand before thee" (Ch. 7:13-26). "A good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it..." (Ch. 8:7-9). It is the heritage of PERFECT LOVE; that realm in God where love is not only used occasionally as God supplies the grace--but where LOVE DOMINATES; where the thoughts and intents of the heart are motivated by Love, and all action proceed from Love, even as in the ministry of Jesus Himself, In that realm there is no failure, because "Love never faileth." The fruit of the Spirit abides perpetually, bringing life and blessing and sustenance to all in need. In this realm even the gifts of the Spirit lose their significance, just as the moon loses its brightness in the dawning of the morn. The part gives way to the whole, the seed breaks forth into the blade, the ear, and the full corn. Faith proceeds unto hope, and hope buds forth in Love. Without faith it is impossible to please God, but God is Love; and when Love is formed in His people God walks in them, thinking His thoughts, leading His way, doing His will, and manifesting His wisdom and knowledge and purity and righteousness in this world of sin and darkness.
We are called upon to "remember all the way" which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness (Ch. 8:2). That may come as a surprise to us. Was God really leading? Was it not in disobedience that Israel wandered about these many years? Yes, it was in disobedience. But God was using the wilderness experience to chasten them, to humble them, and to prove them, that He might have a prepared people to enter into a prepared place. God wants us to know two things: that we have failed, and that He is faithful. That we have wandered about in frustration because of our own disobedience and rebellion, but that through it all He has been chastening, proving, humbling, and preparing for the day of victory and triumph. "He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna."
The Purpose Of The Manna
This unrest, this dissatisfaction, this hunger that persists among many of God's people is ordained of the Lord to prepare us for Canaan fruitfulness. That manna in the wilderness causes us to hunger. It was designed for that purpose. It was never intended to satisfy our appetites, but it does meet our present need. God has been faithful in giving us all we need in the wilderness. But it has left us in a state of hunger, and with Divine intent and purpose. And what was that purpose? "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" (Ch. 8:3). In other words, the manna was intended to meet our need, but to leave us in a state of hunger--that we might feast upon the Word of God. God is faithful to supply that measure of sustenance we need for our present need. There is manna from heaven daily; there is water out of the rock; there is healing along the way when we need it; there is the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. But without that spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him... without that feasting upon the Word with eyes and minds illumined, and ears quickened to hear what the Spirit is saying to us today... without that vision of Canaan fruitfulness and victory... there can be nothing more than frustration and defeat, and a looking back for a restoration of the good old days of a past revival. Perhaps the Protestant Reformation was the greatest thing since the dark ages. Perhaps the Wesleyan revival was greater than anything the world had seen up to that time. Perhaps Pentecost as we have known it was the greatest revival since the days of the early Church. Perhaps the revival of spiritual gifts and ministries was the greatest thing that has happened in our generation. Perhaps it was refreshing to rest under the palm trees and drink of the water and eat of the figs in the little oasis of Elim. But God would lead His people into realms in Himself, such as the church has never known, and He refuses to take us back to any place of blessing that He brought us through in the past. The manna does not speak of a carnal ministration. It speaks of "spiritual meat" (1 Cor. 10:3). When God prepared this spiritual meat in heaven, He called it "angel's food" or the "bread of the mighty" (Psa. 78:25). Then he sends it forth by His Spirit to sustain us and to strengthen us, but to leave us in a state of hunger, that in our great hunger and unrest and dissatisfaction with the "status quo" we might feast upon the living Word--which is only LIVING and vital as it illuminates, and enlightens, and gives us a vision of the heritage that lies before us.
Balaam Declares God's Purposes
Here on the plains of Moab, in the 41st encampment, we have seen an awful lot of carnality and disobedience--insomuch that we might wonder how God could ever bring forth a triumphant people. Balaam, who could not curse the people of God, resorted to false teaching--and actually encouraged the people to sacrifice to the gods of Moab. The inroads that worldliness has made into the Church, and the idolatry that seems to prevail everywhere, are almost unbelievable. Great was the anger of the Lord that was kindled against the people because of their folly, but God's purpose was not to be altered because of the failure even of the majority. In the prophecies of Balaam we have many significant things that were spoken of natural Israel, and therefore they speak to us. For in all God's dealings with natural Israel, they have become "ensamples" or "types," and "they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (1 Cor. 10:11).
First, "The people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations" (Num. 23:9). They are a peculiar people, zealous of good works. They are not a part of this world system. They are in the world, but are not of the world. They are of God, but are sent into the world as ambassadors for Him. like Israel, we have become corrupted with the gods of the heathen amongst whom we dwell. God will yet have a people who shall be true to their calling as ambassadors, who are not citizens of this world order. How He will do it is beyond our imagination. We have become so intermingled with the world order that few Christians even consider that we are supposed to be separate from it. Put God took His people out of the midst of another people before, and He can do it again. And once again He is well able to furnish a table in the wilderness.
Secondly, God has a purpose which shall not miscarry. "God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it, or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it" (Num. 23:19-20). We are constantly meeting opposition to these great end-time truths with suggestions like this: Who do you think you are, that you should come into a realm in God that great men in Church history, or the original apostles, never entered into? That really has nothing to do with it. God's purpose demands a triumphant Church in the last day. God's purpose demands that there shall be a "glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27). (And this, remember, is "with the washing of water by the Word.") God's purpose demands that there shall be a harvest of the grain, in exact likeness to the seed that was planted. God's purpose demands that the building rises up unto glorious completion. God's purpose demands that the holy Temple of God comes into glorious perfection. It is not a case of our worthiness. It is God's Name that is at stake! It shall yet be said amongst the heathen, "What hath God wrought" (Num. 23:23). "Then said they among the heathen, the Lord hath done great things for them" (Psa. 126:2). There is a promise of total victory. "He shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain" (vs. 24). All enemies must be placed under the feet of Christ, and as members of His body, we are "the feet" of Him who reigns in the heavens; for heaven is His throne, and earth is His footstool.
Thirdly, "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side..." (Num. 24:5, 6).
Man's first home was in a garden, and his final home is in a garden, even the garden of the Lord. He is the vine, and we are the branches. We are the "planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified." The river of life flows forth from the throne of God, to water that garden, and the trees that grow on the banks of that river shall flourish and be fruitful. The nations of the earth shall eat of the fruit of those trees, and the leaves thereof shall be for their healing. That is why the Lord is concerned about the bringing forth of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. We might be satisfied with the gifts and blessing of God. But God knows that real deliverance and blessing shall only come to mankind as the fruit of the Spirit comes to maturity in those who have been so blessed with His gifts. Then the prophet goes on to say, "His Kingdom shall be exalted... he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows" (Num. 24:7, 8). They shall take the kingdom, for theirs is a "royal priesthood," and they are "kings and priests unto God."
Anything less than total conquest... anything less than a complete and final possession of the heavenly realm (that realm in the Spirit unto which we are called, and in which we wage our warfare)... anything less than complete conquest spells defeat. Right here on the plains of Moab the Lord warns His people that a falling short of the Divine command will bring ultimate defeat. "If ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell" (Num. 33:55). Jesus was able to say, "the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me" (Jn. 14:30). Because there was no place for a Satanic foothold in His being, there was no ground for defeating Him. The warfare in the "heavenlies" has for its battleground the body, soul, and spirit of man. As we grow up "unto Him" in all things, we must also come to that place where there is no standing-room for Satan, no ground on which he can take his position.
These are the ones who have the seal of the living God in their foreheads. They are the ones who have the mind of Christ. The spirit or mind of man was first to become darkened and lost by the fall, and it is the first to become enlightened and restored. This is the realm of this great spiritual warfare, the warfare of "the heavenlies." As victory is attained here, that will bring ultimate victory to soul, and body. This is God's order: "your whole spirit and soul and body..." (1 Thess. 5:23).
We have no argument with those who feel they have already entered into their Canaan inheritance. But we do want to encourage those whose hearts are crying out to God for the more abundant life in the Spirit. We recognize that in the various "times and seasons" of restoration there have been certain areas of limited conquest in the Canaan realm. We read away back in the book of Joshua, that God gave them rest from all their enemies. "And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. There failed not aught of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass" (Josh. 2 1:44, 45). This should settle the fact, that as far as the natural promises to Israel were concerned, God did fulfill them completely. Yet David as a prophet, who spoke prophetically of the day of Christ, mentioned another day of rest; and that day is briefly described as, "To-day if ye will hear his voice" (Ps. 95:7; Heb. 4:7). Paul uses this passage in the Psalms to show that God had a greater fulness of REST for His people, beyond what He had given them through Joshua. This, he declares, proves that Joshua really never did bring them into rest, otherwise God would not have spoken of another day. He concludes, "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God" (Heb. 4:9). It is the rest of a finished redemption; a sabbath rest, of which the seventh day in creation, and the conquest of Canaan, were but types and shadows.
Now Paul declares that the day of rest is "TODAY if ye will hear his voice." It is still TODAY; and the heritage remains unconquered, and yet to be possessed. Both Paul and Peter were quite aware of a greater fulness to come in the last time. "The night is far spent, the day is at hand..." (Rom. 13:12). "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly..." (Rom. 16:20). Peter speaks of "times of refreshing" that shall precede the coming of the Lord (Acts 3:19). He speaks of the present world as a "dark place," but he likewise speaks of darkness and light, and in that order "a dark place... until the DAY dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts" (2 Pet. 1:19). This REST still remains unfulfilled, but available. And "Some must enter therein." In what day? In this day, this TODAY of God's promise, if ye can hear His voice. It is the day when God's people hear His voice, and, follow on in the pathway of perfect obedience. We know this is that day because many are hearing what the Spirit is saying in this great hour of impending victory.
The true test of victory is the ability and power to bring others into it. And the fact that throughout the Church of Jesus Christ, not merely the nominal Church but in true believers, there is so much bondage and frustration--this is sufficient proof that the true heritage of the saints has not been appropriated. Nor will God be satisfied till Christ is formed in His people, and we can truthfully say, "I live... yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." It is time we got honest with ourselves; for certainly nobody else is being deceived but ourselves. How men will maintain their own righteousness in a vain attempt to convince themselves that all is well. We have so many excuses. "That was really a mistake, not a sin..." Or, "That was just the Irish in me..." Or, "After all, I'm only human..." Call it what we will: a mistake, or Irish, or human, it is not Christ; and God cannot be satisfied with anything less than the living Christ abiding within your life and mine, in all His glorious fulness.
Partial Victory Spells Defeat
Subjugation is not victory, as Israel soon discovered and as honest Christians are beginning to confess. Judah could not drive the inhabitants out of the valley, because they had chariots of iron. Perhaps a good enough reason; but God promised total conquest, and they fell short of it. Benjamin could not drive out the Jebusites--so they dwelt together in beautiful co-existence. We are warned not to get too spiritual, lest we be no earthly good. We feel a little bit of the old nature is almost necessary in the business world, in this world of selfishness, where every man has to fight for survival. Manasseh could not drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and other towns. But they did put the Canaanites to tribute. After all, why should we get so excited about subduing all those "good" traits of our personalities? Why not so subjugate them unto the Lord, that God may use them for His glory? The big "I" that is so manifest among God's people, and especially in the ministry, is perhaps one of the greatest stumblingblocks to the work of the Lord in this hour. All bad habits are to be completely erased and banished from the life: outward sins, immorality, smoking, drinking, revelling, and the like. But learn to co-exist with jealousy, wrath, strife, pride, division, envy, conceit, and so forth. Oftentimes what we call a "strong personality" is nothing less than SELF that is bolstered by these and other traits of human nature.
Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites... neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron... And so the story goes on, from one tribe to another, and the best that can be said is that the enemy, though co-existing rather peacefully, has been placed under tribute. It has become the acknowledged way of life in the Church, and considered to be the ultimate in Christian victory. For a while this policy might seem to succeed, and all seems to go fairly well, as it did with Israel. But God warned that anything short of complete conquest would mean ultimate defeat. Sooner or later "the prince of this world" cometh, and because there is standing room in our nature, his horrible works are manifest and we are brought into bondage. That is why it is so important that we follow the Lord all the way into complete victory, and the complete destruction of every hidden enemy lurking in secret corners of our nature. Have we not all shuddered at the revelation of the great potential for evil that has arisen in our own nature? Have we not lamented over the fall of some great man, and wondered how one so mightily used of God could have been so completely overtaken? "The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen, for the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil... how are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!" (2 Sam. 1:19, 22, 25). We wonder at it, because we fail to realize the potential that lies dormant in the old nature, a potential which is bolstered and energized by compatible spirits in the world of darkness. Then an unholy conception takes place, and the Serpent brings forth after his kind. "When the lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren" (Jas. 1:15, 16).
Nor is there any place for boasting of our own security, or standing in judgment of others. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." Saul was mighty in the anointing, mighty in prophecy, mighty in battle, and mighty in God. But because he "spared Agag, and the best of the sheep..." it brought him to ruin. The fact that he would dedicate these to the Lord makes no difference. Obedience always remains God's ultimate desire for His own, and is better than sacrifice. We hear a lot of appeals these days for "sacrifice," on the basis that God needs what you have, and if you will give Him what you have and what He needs then the work of the Lord can go forward in victory. We may very easily quiet that inner voice by giving of our substance, or giving of our time, or doubling our efforts for the work of the Lord. Yet through it all there is the persistent demand of the Spirit: "My son, give me thine heart." Giving Him yourself, you give your all; but giving Him your all, and withholding your SELF, you give Him nothing. For the cattle on a thousand hills belong to Him, as well as the gold and the silver and the treasures of this world. Nor does He really need a house to dwell in. "But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my Word" (Isa. 66:2).