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Prelude – Selah

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So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth.  And after the whole nation had been circumcised, they remained where they were in camp until they were healed.

So they rested before they carried on, to contemplate that which lay ahead of them and to remember and consider what they had spent most of their lives experiencing… tramping around in the desert.  What lay ahead for this second generation of Israelites was something they had never experienced before… and if they were successful, they would begin to live a life they had never lived before.

Instead of tents they would have houses.  Instead of attending to the flocks, they would be growing and cultivating.  They would not be encamped as tribes, but live in houses in villages and towns.  Life was about to become very different for them and their descendants, nothing like that which their parents had known; slavery and wandering from campsite to campsite in the desert.  As they healed, they had time to think, reflect and perhaps even plan… but by and large, they had very little inkling of what lay ahead for them.

And so it is for you… you have known your former lives of slavery unto sin, and after your salvation, a life of Christianity, of going to church, of morality… but of nothing of what the promised land truly offered.  Like the generation with Joshua, so now the church is about to experience a time that no one has ever experienced.  Yes, it will be a time of great distress unequalled since the creation of the world, and many in the church quake fearfully because of it or live in denial of it.  Like the first generation of Israelites, they would rather die than face what is to come.

If the land of Canaan was fortified when the first generation first spied on it, you can be assured 40 years later it would be even more.  For Rahab’s words to the two spies sent in by Joshua was this:  “We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed.  When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in Heaven above and on the Earth below.”  See that the story of the crossing of the Red Sea 40 years later was what the citizens of Jericho remembered, as well as the recent developments of the defeat of Sihon and Og that caused their courage to melt.

Likewise, all who oppose the arrival of Jesus Christ and the establishment of His kingdom on Earth remember His ministry and when He came out of Hades with the keys of Hades and death in His hands.

The utter defeat of the demoniacs and Satan at the hands of Jesus remains fresh in the minds of demons and Satan.  The loss of the keys of death and Hades is to them the defeat of Sihon and Og on the east side of the Jordan for the Jerichoans.  It was on the other side of the river, when they were about to cross over into their side.

Likewise, Christ having died in the flesh and made alive in the spirit through the Spirit through whom He went and preached to the spirits held in prison, the loss of those keys of Hades and death by Satan and Death stands for the conquest of the spiritual enemies of God, but that warfare had yet to cross over from the spiritual to the physical.  The original plan for the church in Jerusalem to attain full power for the eleven to scatter and go to the Decapolis of Israel, the ten cities, so that Christ could return then with that first persecution, never happened.  And when the miraculous was lost, we have spent two millenniums wandering in the desert of religion.  The world has never seen and the church has never experienced what God had in mind for His saints through the Holy Spirit in the Name of Jesus.  Whatever the history of the church is, it is not what was meant to happen.  Now, like men awaking from a dream, the Lord is unveiling, no, resurrecting that which He had in mind originally, and the rebels know it.

What is important for you to realise is that, just like Rahab reported to the spies, so now you must understand the enemies of Christ remember, and their courage is melting away.  Melting away at the sight of a hint of what the church with power can do… every man and woman capable of doing what Jesus has been doing and greater things than these because they have been practising, not believing, the words of Jesus they have heard.

No doubt the thoughts of those Israelites as they sat in pain waiting for their circumcision wounds to heal would have turned to all sorts of things… and their exploits are written in detail for our encouragement and for our learning… to see where they succeeded and to avoid their downfall.  Likewise, the seven letters of the seven churches show where they succeeded and where they failed, so that we may keep what is good and throw out what is evil.  However, as much as the Israelites could try to remember what they had fear of, they were facing a land and a way of life that their fathers had never known.  For 400 years they were slaves, for 40 years they were wanderers in the desert… but not one of their forefathers had ever lived the life of a successful warrior, conquering nations before them.

Likewise, elect, no one has ever lived the life in the Holy Spirit.  All who have gone before you have lived the life in Christ with the Holy Spirit at best, as the eleven lived with Christ and then with the Holy Spirit.  But with the loss of absolute holiness unto the words of Jesus, many more have only lived the life of faith in Christ, not even the life of being in Christ with the Holy Spirit.  Only in the last 100 years has the church experienced a restoration of what it is like to live with the Holy Spirit in them, that is, like the Israelites moving from campsite to campsite with the column of fire in their midst and the cloud over them by day.  Within that first group, they carried the meaning and story of their deliverance from Egypt, as well as their first civil war when the Levites killed 3000 men when they made that golden calf… and they were to experience more internal rebellion in the time to come.  They would tell their children the story of Exodus and perhaps their defeat at the edge of Canaan and the threat of the giants of the land.  Just like their children grew up hearing stories of God’s feats of deliverance and of their own failures, so likewise, the present church is filled with children of God fed on the stories of old and also the history of defeats, without anyone being able to show them what living in the promised land is really like.

No one has ever entered in the life in the Holy Spirit to experience the fullness of power, power sufficient to fulfill not only John 14.12, but to testify to the truth of John 11.26.  Few in fact have ever dared, and if they spoke of it in the past, they would have been like Joshua and Caleb, the two who were convinced Canaan could be taken.

So a time of rest has been appointed… just like the Israelites rested and remained in camp until they were healed.  The rest is needed so that you may think of what is to come and prepare yourself for a life that no one before you has ever lived before… to be part of the church that no one, not even the Jerusalem church of Acts 5, has ever seen before.

Apostles like Paul saw a glimpse of what is to come and what should have been, but like Moses, he was not allowed to enter the promised land of our generation, that is, of our race.  For as the descendants came out of Egypt and became a nation, a new race of people, so likewise, all who are permitted to believe in Jesus and are baptised by Him to be born again are members of a new nation, a new race.  A race of people whose spirits are born again, who speak a different language, whose thinking is not the same and whose means of accomplishing things are different.  A nation whose very economy must be different.  Paul received a foretaste of it, yet was not permitted to fulfill John 11.26 that he might be standing with us to welcome Jesus back, but he will arrive back with Jesus.

And these days of distress that are coming upon us are like the days of distress that came upon the Jerichoans, the Ai-ans, and all the citizens of the kingdoms of Canaan.  Distress, yes, but not for Israel, for they were receiving their promised land.  Days of distress, yes, but not for those who are living in the Holy Spirit.  When you read Mark 13.18, you may have seen the wrong thing.  For like many, you may have seen it with a fearful mind. 

“Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.  If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive.  But for the sake of the elect, whom He has chosen, He has shortened them.”

At first glance, it seems they are cut short that we might survive them.  But if you consider that the elect will have full power, then the cutting short of those days are not for their survival, but for their enjoyment and their reward.  For just as fighting in Canaan was unpleasant for the men of Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, so these days of distress are unpleasant for us.  Just as they only had to serve five years before they crossed back to the east of the Jordan again to be with their families, so likewise, these days are shortened so that the elect will not have to endure another century or millennium without Jesus enthroned in Jerusalem.  Shortened so that two thirds of the world might survive… but shortened so that the elect can start their lives in the promised land of absolute peace sooner.

Yes, there is a change coming, and it is a time that no one has ever lived before.  But remember, it is because of you that this time is coming, for finally, the Lord has a church that hears what the Spirit says and obeys it.  Amen.

 

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