Only the Rebellious Dwell in a Parched Land
This is a fourth installment on the series of studies about the blessings of God. Here is the order of studies: (1) So what's the deal on first fruits? (2) First fruits is not a cure all. (3) The land of sanctified faith.
This is Bible Study DU018 - Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
In our last study I made a distinction between the wilderness-follower and the Canaan-life believer. These two distinctions carry themselves throughout the Bible.
One thing I pointed out is that the wilderness experience was designed to prepare Israel for her Canaan-life experience. So it is with us.
In the wilderness we are taught the ways of the Lord. How long we remain in the wilderness is up to us. Some followers actually die in the wilderness state.
I need to further qualify some of what I shared in the land of sanctified faith so that we can get a solid fix on these two levels of life.
First, keep in mind that everyone who entered the wilderness out of Egypt had had the blood applied to their homes, and had been baptized in the Red Sea into the authority of Moses. So the wilderness is not about the atonement blood or about baptism.
So, what is the Canaan-life level of life? For the new covenant believer it is learning to live a full faith in Jesus Christ. It is about having made the passage through the wilderness, and now we are by and in the promises of God.
It is about 'not looking back.' It is about getting beyond our religious hang- ups and traditions, and on into a true Abrahamic-type walk with the Lord.
The Canaan-life is where we are experiencing a full measure of the Lordship of Jesus, and because of this, we are enjoying the blessings that come to that 'full' measure. We are now full believers.
Always keep in mind that our wilderness journey is supposed to be rather short lived. Much depends on our attitude. It is like the song which says, 'He brought us out, to bring us in.'
The point is that until we learn the spiritual disciplines of a faith walk, we are unable to live in the Canaan-life experience. Our limping faith will not allow it.
It is like James said, "[The double-minded man] ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord ... [He is] unstable in all his ways." (Cf. James 1:5-8 nasb.)
James had just said that our trials are designed to produce in us a perfect result, that is, the result of our completeness in Christ, where we are lacking nothing.
Are there Scriptures that set forth the wilderness and the Canaan-life experience? Glad you asked. Listen carefully:
"God makes a home for the lonely; He leads out the prisoners into prosperity, only the rebellious dwell in a parched land." (Psalm 68:6 nasb.)
"A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children, and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous." (Proverbs 13:22 nasb.)
And again, "For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, while the sinner He has given the task of gathering and collecting so that he may give to the one who is good in God's sight..." (Ecclesiastes 2:26 nasb.)
Again, "'If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.' Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken." (Isaiah 1:19,20 nasb.)
Are you getting the picture? A believer who is following after the Lord with a heart of true faith, is unble to outrun the blessings of God. David said that the blessings would follow us all the days of our lives.
Ask yourself these questions: "Am I living in the sure blessings of the Lord?" "Do I have more than enough to meet my needs and to be a blessing to others?" Or, "Am I fooling myself? Am I really living in a parched land? It seems like everything bad happens to me. I can't get ahead with anything I try."
These are not loaded questions. They are questions about where we truly live. God's Word is true.
So, are we in the wilderness or are we enjoying Canaan-life living?
I did not say anything about super-abundant wealth. I'm talking about a life that is filled with the blessings of God, a life where we can truly say, 'He is more than enough.'
Now I need to take you into the heart of the wilderness life. Keep in mind that Israel's wilderness experience was never intended to be stretched out for forty years. Its sole purpose was to teach the people to trust in the Lord, to teach them to walk in His ways.
Did they ever learn this lesson? Only two of the men who came out of Egypt actually entered into Canaan. A whole new generation has to be raised up in wilderness life. But one day this new geneation did enter the land.
Have you ever thought what the great sin of the wilderness really was? It was far more than their yearnings for Egypt. It wasn't necessarily about the golden calf or even about their flesh-driven ways. These kinds of things can eventually be worked through.
What then was their great sin? This may surprise you. It was the sin of unbelief. The entire book of Hebrews has this sin in the background. The Bible puts the sin of unbelief on a level by itself. Listen to these Scriptures:
"Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God." (Hebrews 3:12 nasb.)
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." (Hebrews 12:1 nasb.)
Some believers wonder about which sin in their life would cause them to stumble. The apostolic writer is talking about one sin alone, the sin of unbelief.
This same writer then explains the purpose of our wilderness disciplines. He says, "'For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.'"
Then he adds, "It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as sons ... All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness."
I've gotten a number of emails over the months where followers bewail their lot in life. Nothing goes right. The more I read these emails, the easier it is for me to see their real problem. They are full of unbelief, of doubt, of uncertainty, and of confusion.
Here is the sad part in all this. Some of these kinds of followers never seem to get their act together. The reason is because you cannot minister to unbelief. For them it is not simply a matter of correct knowledge. They absolutely wear you out with their constant warbling. They won't listen to anything you offer. Their minds are constantly in disarray.
I need to say this without sounding cruel. In my over 40 years in the ministry I have found that these wilderness-emotional-unbelieving followers are like spiritual vampires. If you let them they will suck the life out of you. Again I am not talking about someone is spiritual bondage who simply needs to learn about their victory in Christ. This folk can be helped.
I train our disciples to avoid these kinds of people. You can't help them. Jesus simply rebuked them and went on His way. Sometimes a good solid rebuke will do more good for us than all the lessons we can hear about the faith walk. Believe me, I know.
But we have an added problem. These wilderness people have had the atonement blood applied and they've been through the waters of baptism. This is why we cannot classify them as pure unbelievers. In fact most of them will tell you how much they love Jesus.
Is there an answer for this? My answer is to leave them be. Unless the Lord gives you something specific to say to them by way of ministry, just leave them alone. Jesus alone can bring them to the place of proper faith. We cannot be the Holy Spirit for another person.
Here is where a summary can be made. In the judgment seat of Christ, everyone who has named the name of Jesus will have to appear. This is not a Christ-rejecters judgment. This is a judgment over how we lived our lives before the Lord. It is a judgment that sets forth our future placement in the kingdom of God. (My understanding.)
Nor is it a judgment upon any of our sins. According to the Scripture there is no record of our sins. It is not a judgment of salvation. It comes back to how our entire life unfolded before God. So, if it is not about sin, it can only be about our faith in the Lordship of Jesus, that is, if we lived a life that continually stumbled over His Lordship. Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments."
Paul talks about this judgment: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat [bema] of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10 nasb.)
Would it not be a shame to have to face the Lord with a sense of uncertainty? Is it possible that even though we are saved because of the finished work of the cross, yet we lived our lives with little regard for the Lordship of Jesus? Not only is it possible, it happens all the time.
Listen to this Scripture: "Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming." (1 John 2:28 nasb.)
Yes, I believe a lot more people are saved than we give credit for. I also believe there will be shrinkers before the throne of God's beloved Son. But when all things are done, chances are we will all throw any crowns we have to the feet of Jesus.
Does any of this give us bragging rights? A thousand times, no. The one place we must come to is that we are all sinners saved by grace. Another place we must come to is the place of the compassionate heart. We must learn to love the wilderness-wandering followers. Just don't try to take the place of Jesus in their lives.
Would it not be much better to hear, "Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master." (Matthew 25:21 nasb.)
Notice the Lord said that the slave had been faithful with a few things. The Lord is not looking for perfection in any of His children. He just wants us to learn the lessons of being faithful in the little things. Over time the little things become bigger things.
And finally, this is not a matter of doing works to achieve righteousness. It is a matter of understanding that the Lord has a special plan for each one of His children. This plan was laid out in eternity. All He wants us to do is yield our hearts to the place where the Lord Himself can supervise His plan for us. (Some of his plans are general for all believers. Other plans are specific to the believer.)
Here is my final Scripture -
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10 nasb.)
There it is. Are you still in the wilderness or are you living in Canaan-life land?
Make no mistake, even Canaan-life land has its struggles and battles, but the issue is very different.
Where do I go from here? Perhaps we need to begin by asking the Lord to forgive us for any unbeliefs or doubts that we have been harboring in our lives. I've had to do that many times.
Just something to think about.
"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."
This study was originally shared on January 14, 2007. It was written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added January 15, 2007
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