At the beginning of Exodus, we see a group of Israelites departing out of Egypt, leaving their slavery, and heading toward the Promised Land. But those of us who know the story are fully aware that what happened between these two points is highly significant. We know that the Wilderness was a long journey filled with “life lessons”! We also know that the journey could have taken only a matter of weeks, but God had a different plan. It took forty long years to cleanse these Israelites of their old identity, the identity of sin, slavery, and death. Because His purpose was not to simply take them from point A to point B. Instead, His purpose was to eradicate their association with “Egypt’s identity” and replace it with His own. Ever since God had made a covenant with their father Abraham many years before it was God’s intention to express His name, or “glory/greatness” through Abraham’s descendants. And this wilderness journey was necessary for the “fleshing out” of that process. It was necessary in order for them to reflect, or “image” their new identity. Just think what the Promised Land would have become if “Egyptians” (Israelites who carried Egypt’s identity with them) had entered “God’s Land” (the Promised Land). It would soon only resemble Egypt and Her gods instead of God’s glory. And so, God had to remove Egypt from within them before they could enter His land. And that was no quick and effortless process!
This journey that God took Israel on reminds me of the way a Wine Press works. The grapes begin as all grapes do, round, squishy inside, with a thin layer of skin on the outside. Then they are suddenly tossed into the press, squeezed, and crushed until they bleed, ending with no resemblance to how they began. But they were not sent to the Wine Press to die, but in order that they would fulfill their purpose. For in the Promised Land, it was the wine that was valuable, not the grapes.
As I stated above that journey was not for the purpose of destroying them, though some thought it was! The purpose was to “refine and purify.” And if you remember, as the book of Jude mentions, though God delivered many out of their slavery in Egypt, not all made it to the Promised Land. But why? Well, Jude, Hebrews, and Romans explain that it was because they did not pursue the Promised Land “by faith.” Let me put it this way: After leaving Egypt they went to the mountain God had said that He would meet them at. And some of those at the bottom of Mt. Sinai, waiting for Moses, while he was meeting with God and receiving the Ten Commandments at the top, did not “expect him” to return, but instead, grew impatient and created their own god to worship. In other words, they lacked faith, since “…faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). They did not have faith that what they “could not see” would eventually return (meaning God’s servant Moses). Also, there were those along the journey who began to grumble and complain regarding God’s “provision.” They began to “demand” things from God instead of continuing in “thankfulness” at His daily supply of bread and water. And there were those who began to challenge Moses’ authority, which meant they were challenging God’s authority since He was the one who placed Moses over them. As explained here, “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer” (1 Cor 10:9-10). These examples that Paul is talking about were all the result of a “lack of faith” on the part of these individuals. They all ended up taking “control” of situations based on their own understanding instead of by faith and trusting God’s servant Moses (who is a picture of Christ by the way) and patiently trusting God to lead them faithfully into the Promised Land. Now, I am not here to write on the topic of Typology in the Bible. I have blog posts focused on that already. But real quick, if you did not know, the New Testament explains that Moses ascending Mt. Sanai in the Old Testament is a picture of Christ ascending to Heaven in the New Testament. And what those who “lacked faith” did back then, with Moses, some will do now, while waiting for Christ to return. And some will grumble and complain, growing weary of waiting for Christ’s return, ending up taking things into their own hands, and ultimately creating their own gods to worship. Also, please note that Paul makes it clear that Christ was “with them” during those forty years in the wilderness. It was Christ who gave the Manna from heaven and the water from the rock, and Christ was the shekinah glory in a cloud by day and in fire by night. It was Christ who was with Moses and who had put him in authority over the people. And therefore, we must be warned too. We must humbly submit to those who God has put in authority over us. And “if” we choose to challenge them, we had better make sure we don’t have a plank sticking out of our own eye first!
Okay, now it is time to focus on how this impacts us. We know the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians that these things that happened to Israel in the Wilderness “were written down as examples, they were written for us who are living in the last days.” They were written down so that we could “examine ourselves” in light of them. They were written to “warn” us. So, we see two distinct groups along this journey. There is no group “in-between,” in the grey areas. There is no grey area at all. There is only light or darkness. There is only truth or error, good or evil, faith or works. Therefore, we too, New Testament Christians, are either “living by” faith or we are “living by” works. Are we journeying through the Wilderness with Christ by faith or by works? Here is a perfect place for me to explain, or give an example, of what journeying by faith looks like: “Count it all joy, my brothers (and sisters), when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4). Did you realize that James was drawing on this wilderness journey that Israel went through? James is saying that “our faith must be proven, refined, and purified through testing.” And though it is true that ALL of those who left Egypt were truly delivered from their slavery, not all of them had “proven their faith” through testing.
We Christians are “saved” from sin and death (being delivered out of Egypt, out of slavery) and are “saved” into (meaning transferred into life, new creations, and the Promised Land) by FAITH, and faith must be tested. And our testing, or “proving ground,” is our wilderness journey here and now. Now let me ask you: was God (meaning Christ) “with” ALL of those traveling in the wilderness with Moses, or was He just with some, and just giving Manna, water, protection, and His guidance to “some” of them? I assure you that “EVERY ONE” of those individuals had the opportunity to trust Christ by “faith” and to enter the Promised Land. For “God desires none to perish, but all to come to repentance.” And “He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but instead that they might repent and be saved.” And as Hebrews Chapter eleven explains, it has always been the “same” faith that saved individuals whether in the Old Testament or the New. And because God is perfectly just and perfectly merciful, He will never condemn anyone to hell apart from offering them the opportunity for faith first. So, though I went on a small tangent there, you see my point.
Now I want to offer some perspective regarding our journey of faith. And the key word there is “perspective.” Tell me, does it make your day more enjoyable and tolerable if you can discern God’s gracious hand over your activities, feeling He’s smiling on you? Like, are you more joyful if you sense God’s love filling your heart vs not sensing it? Of course, it affects your day! We all are happier, more joyful, and even respond much better to people and to circumstances when we feel we are being seen, heard, known, and loved on by Christ. But in “reality” God’s gracious hand is continually with us, and He is supporting and supplying what’s needed continually, and He is “for us” continually, and His power is always available. But we only “notice” or experience this when we gain “perspective” through some reminder, don’t we? Maybe it’s during prayer or a Bible study. And I am convinced a successful journey must include perspective. For instance, if you were one of the Israelites with Moses, during those forty years, do you think it would have been more tolerable and even enjoyable if you had been sitting next to God in heaven, looking down through His “lens” (perspective) seeing everything through His eyes throughout the entire journey? Of course! You would have had foresight and insight. You would have had an “ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE” instead of a temporal one. And you would have had a “spiritual” one instead of a “physical” one. So now, what is “faith”? Faith is having an eternal perspective. Regarding this, Pastor Paul Washer pointed out that many of us do not truly realize just how weak we are. Now, we will “say” we are, but our actions prove otherwise. We still live life like it is “our” responsibility. We still try to “control” people, circumstances, and outcomes. We still don’t truly rely on Christ daily, and moment by moment. Why? Because we have not yet fully reconciled with our weakness. I want to insist on something here. Go with me now, would you? I am convinced that “faith is birthed in weakness, and weakness must be dependent, and dependence equals faith, and faith leads to vision, and vision equals perspective.” Did you follow me there? I want to insist that THIS is what our wilderness journey is all about. It is all about getting “Egypt’s identity” out of us and claiming “Christ’s identity” within us. And when we get vision to see this reality, we also gain perspective! And faith is “seeing” that which is “invisible” (Hebrews 11:1). BUT we must first come to terms with our weakness. We must surrender the need to “control” our lives, others’ lives, and outcomes. In other words, we must lie down on the altar. So again, “faith is birthed in weakness.” And it was faith that was “lacking” in those who fell in the wilderness with Moses. And it was faith that “endured” in those who entered the Promised Land.
So then, how does this happen? As Paul Washer recently said, “we don’t need revival, we need to recognize our weakness.” This is where it begins. And once we reconcile with this reality it will force us to come to the altar and lay it ALL down at Christ’s feet. Which then, naturally, will force us to “depend” on Him. And this, being expressed through “intimate, raw, total, authentic, honest, and bold” fellowship in prayer. And here is that perspective: Meaning in the “very same” way that an infant must depend on their mother’s milk to survive. And this dependence must constantly desire and live for the “voice” of the Father, coming through the Son, and experienced by the Spirit, in the Word of God. For I know no child who does not rejoice at hearing the voice of the parent who cherishes them! The scriptures say in the fourth chapter of Ephesians that we “must” grow to maturity through “knowledge,” growing up to maturity through “knowledge of God.” So then, we WILL hunger and thirst for the “bread from heaven” and for the “water from the rock” to satisfy us WHEN we come to terms with our weakness. And THEN we will “live by” faith. And “this kind” of faith is full of confidence and hope to enter the Promised Land because it “lives by” faith, being expressed through an eternal perspective.
So remember, “faith is birthed in weakness, and weakness must be dependent, and dependence equals faith, and faith leads to vision, and vision equals perspective.”
1 thought on “What We Need Is God’s Perspective”
Well written with a lot to think about. Thanks and may God bless you and your ministry ❤️
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