Only the Dead can Possess the Land

by The Mad Preacher

I’ve often pictured the Israelites wandering aimlessly around the wilderness for 40 years. promised-land-closedThen, I think, “I wonder how many times they went past the Jordan River in all of those years.” Moses left Egypt with an estimated two and a half million people or more. It was only about a three-day journey on foot from the Red Sea to Canaan. So, with that many people they must have passed the Jordan often, maybe hundreds of times. So close to the Promised Land that they could have spit and hit a Canaanite in the eye.

Then I think of the old song that goes, “One more lap around Mount Sinai ‘til you’ve learned your lesson.”[1] I think of the times in my own life when God kept me in the wilderness until I learned my lesson―until I learned to trust Him in some area of my life, or until I learned to repent of bitterness, anger or some other sin.

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. (Deuteronomy 8:2)

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t like the wilderness! There’s pain and death in the wilderness! However, I wouldn’t take all the gold in California for what I’ve learned there. The wilderness is a place for purging, reflection and… death. It’s a place where God puts you in a holding pattern until you either learn how to fly or run out of gas―whichever comes first. It’s a place that separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls, but those who survive its intense testing will go in to possess the land.

God parts rivers and pulls down strongholds for those who willingly put to death the sinful flesh while they’re in the wilderness. You see, pride and willfulness will never possess the promises of God. Bitterness and unforgiveness will never let us possess the land.

In fact, only dead people walk out of the wilderness. For one must be dead before one can be resurrected! Therefore, it’s only those who have submitted their lives completely to God, laying aside personal agendas and counting all things as loss will experience the surpassing excellence of intimately knowing Christ, that will march triumphantly into the Promised Land and possess it.

I look for you in the middle of the night
Savior and guardian of my soul
From highest heaven You hear my call
And in my trouble You comfort and hold me
I long for You when I cannot hear Your voice
And my heart is dry as the dust
Oh Lord, be near me if I should fall
And show me how to believe and to trust
You alone

There is no one else beside you
In the darkest night
In the wilderness
There is no one else beside you
At Your feet I cry
In Your arms I rest [2]

[1] Words and music by Thomas Steven “Moose” Smith copyright unknown

[2] No One Else words and music by Fernando Ortega and John Andrew Schreiner from Fernando Ortega’ album, Home  © 2000 Word Music, Inc.

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