FIRST POSTED ON 1 JULY 2019.
Shalom Aleichem and welcome to my Shabbat blog!
In today’s session, we will cover the period from the time the Israelites left Mt Sinai until the next generation stood by the banks of the Jordan river forty years later, and the prophetic lessons we can learn from their wilderness journey.
First, when Israel set out to conquer the Promised Land, the nation was effectively entering into warfare as they would need to defeat the pagan peoples occupying the land then. Similarly, the Church is called into warfare and we must expect and be prepared for spiritual opposition as we rescue and take possession of lost souls for God’s Kingdom.
Next, the way the Israelites were encamped around the Tabernacle of God as they proceeded on their journey reflected how the life and community of the Israelites then, just as the life and community of the Church today, must revolve around worship of God as a witness to the surrounding nations. This is our primary weapon to win others to Christ - by reflecting God’s glory as His lesser light and so draw people to Him. Worship is also important in warfare as the devil will try to derail us through earthly distractions and temptations or by using fear and intimidation. We can only stand firm and overcome when we keep our focus on God alone. When we worship God in this way and have no other idols in our hearts - even things that are seemingly good such as health and family - then we won’t give a foothold for the enemy to use these against us.
As we all know, a journey that should have only lasted eleven days (Deut 1:2) ended up taking forty long years (Num 33). This wilderness period is prophetic of the forty jubilees from the time the Church - filled with the Holy Spirit - moved out of the upper room on the Day of Pentecost almost two thousand years ago until now, as this generation - like the one led by Joshua - await Jesus’ return to lead us into the Promised Land of the Millennial Kingdom and ultimately into eternity with God.
The number forty in the Bible is often associated with testing and trials, patient obedience and judgment. Like Moses who was up on the mountain forty days (Ex 24:18, 32:1), Jesus is “up on the mountain” of God’s heavenly throne these forty jubilees, a trial period to test whether we will remain faithful to Him while we wait for His return. We can either be like the rebellious three thousand who died at Mt Sinai during the first Pentecost, or the believing three thousand who were saved on the Day of Pentecost (Ex 32:28, Acts 2:41).
Ultimately, at the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. Kingdom life is about God’s Kingship over Israel and the Church and the lives of each and every citizen of the kingdom. It was, is, and will always be about Love and Obedience. As Jesus Himself put it, “If you love me, keep my commands” (Jn 14:15). Obedience should not be out of habit or even duty, which can only fulfill the letter but not the spirit of the Law. It must ultimately stem from love for God.
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