From Israelís Quest For The Promised Land
By Eli Hofer,
minister, North Harlem Hutterian Brethren
Publication in March 14, 2001 issue of The Journal, a Montana newspaper
The Bible is truly an unusual book.
Not only can we focus in on a particular event or person and learn a
lesson for our lives, but we can also get an overall view of the Christian life,
laid out for us from beginning to end.
We can learn a valuable lesson in Godís dealing with the Israelites and
apply it to ourselves.
The Lord led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, through the Red Sea,
into the Wilderness of Sinai and then on into the promised land.
As believers, we too have been led out of Egypt (the world), through the
Red Sea, (type of baptism) and into the Wilderness.
The Wilderness experience
was to teach the Israelites dependence on Jehovah. He led them by a pillar of
cloud and a pillar of fire daily, providing shade by day from the hot desert sun
and warmth and light during the cold desert nights. Not only did their clothes and sandals not get old and worn,
but God also provided both water and food for them through out their desert
wanderings. Yet most of them never
learned the lesson of dependency on the Lord, or moved on to conquer the
Promised Land. They choose instead to see everything in a negative way,
grumbling and complaining, until they finally died in the desert, never
realizing the great plan God had in mind for them.
We too can be led and directed by God in our lives.
God has given us his Word, the Bible.
He has given us his Holy Spirit, plus a great cloud of witnesses that
have gone on before us; yet many of us never really learn the lesson.
We would rather wander around in the wilderness pining for Egypt, being
slaves to our passions, than go on to a greater, deeper and more meaningful
relationship with the Lord. The
next step for the Israelites was to learn to conquer Canaan, the Promised Land.
We too must learn to conquer our Canaan; we must learn to conquer ourselves.
Iíve recently been studying the Book of Judges (the seventh book in
the Bible). It opens with the death
of Joshua, and continues with the struggle of the children of Israel in their
quest to take hold of the land that Jehovah had promised Abraham and his
descendants. Chapter 2 continues
with warnings to Israel that they should not become involved with pagan methods
of worship, to lust after the ways of the nations around them.
In a casual reading of
this book, it would simply be a series of wars and counter wars, one nation
having preeminence until another finds ways and methods to gain the upper hand.
But for the serious Christian, to whom the whole counsel of God has a
message and meaning, this book is a valid textbook of instructions, teaching us
how to do spiritual warfare. It
makes us aware of the strongholds of Satan around us.
It teaches us to make war against the works of the flesh in our lives.
Chapter 3 opens with a
description of the nations, which the Lord left around them, that He might test
Israel. (This was only so that the
generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least
those who had not formerly known it. (Judges 3: 2)
ďAnd the Children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord.
So the Lord strengthened Eglon, king of Moab, against Israel,Ö..who
then gathered to himself the people of Ammon and Amalek, went and defeated
Israel, and took possession of the City of Palms.Ē (Judges 3: 12, 13).
This is usually what happens when we as believers begin to leave room for
the sinful desires of our flesh. We
too lose our City of Palms, the place where we have our rest, our peace, our
tranquility, our shade and sustenance.
You will notice that in Israelís struggles, Amalek keeps appearing over
and over. Amalek is a grandson of
Esau, who sold his birthright for a pot of stew. Amalek in Scripture usually
typifies The Flesh, or our Carnal Nature. The Amelekites, harassed Israel from
the day they came out of Egypt. Satan used Amalek, either alone or in
collaboration with other enemies, to oppose and torment Israel in every way
When we allow remnants of the World and the Flesh to gain control in our
spiritual dimension, they grow and fester, until they become chains that bind
us. We would do well to take heed
what the Lord is teaching us in this Book.
The test for Israel was how faithfully they would adhere to Godís
commandments. See Judges 3: 4. This is still the test for Godís people today.
I John 5:3,4 tells us:
ď for this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his
commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the
world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.Ē
If we as believers
still act like the World, smell like the World, taste like the World, we are
losing the battle. We reveal our
infatuation with the World. Allowing peer pressure to influence us in these
areas reveal our immaturity. We are forgetting the seriousness of this spiritual
It is Godís plan to
transform us into the image of his Son,
therefore do not allow the World to force you into itís mold. As Romans12:1-2
warns us. ďI beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you
present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your
reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by
the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable
and perfect will of God.Ē