Friday, September 17, 2010

Eating the Enemy's Food . . .

A short time after the Israelites crossed the Jordan and built the memorial God commanded them to with stones from the bottom of the Jordan (from where they had crossed in dry land), but before they went against Jericho, Joshua 5:10-12 tells us:
While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.

There are some key things here, I believe:

1) After the Jordan, and before the verses above, they circumcised the males at God's command. This was an act of the covenant with Abraham—whom the promise for the land before them originated in. We, too, are in a covenant with God (a better covenant, one brought about by Christ's blood), and we are strengthened by reminding ourselves of that covenant of grace, of Christ's FULL payment, of our new relationship with God and our complete acceptance through Christ.

2) They kept the Passover, the reminder of God's protection of them because of the lamb's blood on their doors. We do well to keep present in our mind the blood of the Lamb, Jesus, that died for us (on the Passover). Because of His blood, His full payment for OUR sins, we do not die, but sleep, we close our eyes here and open them in the welcoming presence of the Lord. We can say to death, "Where is your sting?" and we can live with confidence here.

3) The Israelites were on the "right" side of the Jordan because they chose faith, and they chose to trust God and His promises. It required great faith and trust to succeed where their fathers had failed because of fear and unbelief. They had the command from God, and the promise from God to give them the land, and they needed to cross the Jordan and go against a formidable mass of enemies in faith that:

a) God was big enough to back up His Word.
b) God was trustworthy.
c) God was with them and would not leave them.
d) God would direct them each step of the way as they walked in faith, obedient, not knowing HOW He would bring His Word to pass, simply trusting that He would.

Then, and only then, did they get to eat what was theirs and that which the enemy had wrongly possessed. They got to take back what they should have already had. The manna ceased (God had still taken care of them, they were just in the desert wilderness), and they finally ate of the land that was once the food of their enemy.

What has been stolen in your life that God has said should be yours? Jesus says that the thief, Satan, comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus comes with restoration, healing, joy, and peace. Is it a relationship? Is it joy? Is it the freedom of grace? Is it the rest of trust and surrender? Is it your belief? Is it the spark in your eye? Is it your courage? Is it health? Is it victory in your family? Is it peace? Is it the realization of who you are in Christ? Is it the expectancy you once had? Is it . . .?

Remind yourself of your covenant with God—one you never could earn, so one you can't lose by messing up. Remind yourself of the precious blood of Jesus that saves you from death. Remind yourself of God's promises to you. Remind yourself of the complete work Jesus did on the cross, and the complete joy and freedom and rest that allows us when we understand it. Take captive your fears, negative expectancy, hopelessness, and unbelief to the truths and promises and testimony of God. Step out in faith. Be obedient. Trust. Surrender your plans and ways and the world's advice and wisdom to a life of trust and faith, and stand in confidence. You are God's child, adopted and joined to Him by His very self in the presence of the Holy Spirit. He will not leave you. Go forth boldly. Courageously. Resting from your own work, yielded to His work in and through you.

It is God's plan. Years later we see how the Philistines tormented Israel with fear and intimidation. Then one man, David, stood in faith, reminded of God's testimony and faithfulness in the past, and—against all the common sense of the world—defeated an armored giant with a sling and a stone. His faith, and the courage of faith, inspired an army of God's people who drove the enemy from the land and came back and PLUNDERED the enemy's camp . . . they took what used to be the enemy's, and made it theirs! To use an analogy Jesus would use later, they bound the strongman and then plundered his goods.

The strongman needs binding, the giant needs defeating, the river needs crossing everywhere we look—and God is waiting for us to ask so He can show us where He is at work and where He is ready to partner with us. All around us people are bound with fear, hopelessness, addiction, depression, loneliness, suicidal thoughts, sickness, broken marriages . . . it is time to rise up. It is time to surrender ourselves to God, hear His voice, and let Him live through us. It is time to drive out the enemy, and plunder his goods. It is time to take back what has been stolen.

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