– Joseph Rozario (Bangalore, India)
RETURNING TO GOD’S ORIGINAL PURPOSE – VII
“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,” Eph. 3.10
Apostle Paul talks about the manifold multi-faceted wisdom of God in Ephesians 3:10. We want to consider a few aspects of that wisdom.
The very purpose and promise of God in calling Abraham out of the land of Ur was to give him and his descendants a ‘land‘ and a ‘seed ‘ (Genesis 12: 5 & 7). Canaan was that land and the Israelites were the seed. Canaan did not happen as an emergency-after-thought when the Israelites were being delivered from Egyptian captivity. It was in God’s original thought. But contrary to God’s design, when the appointed time came for the fulfilment of that original plan, Israel choose to settle down for a life of wandering in the wilderness, attended to by God’s miraculous provision. Even in these days, for many mediocre Christians, missing God’s original purpose is of no major consequence.
Paul talks about another experience that Israel missed out on. It is about God’s rest in which the natural Israel did not enter (Numbers 14). That restful realm remains to be entered by us, the spiritual Israel, NOW (repeat NOW), (Hebrew 4:1, 9 & 10). God further admonishes us to be careful that we are neglectful, and as a result this promise goes unfulfilled. That exactly is what the majority of the Christians seem to be doing. For them, their goal is to somehow make it to the pearly gates and to live happily ever after in those mansions. For them, RIP (Rest In Peace) means this rest after death.
And to those who have entered into THAT rest, in THAT realm, God’s provision, protection and presence is a day to day reality. This company of people want to live NOW a life “as the days of heaven upon the earth” – Deuteronomy 11:21. There has to be a passionate avowed assertive craving in our hearts, like that of Joshua and Caleb, striving to enter that restful domain (Hebrews 4:11). Such a Joshua-Caleb company is aware of God’s original purpose for their lives and is single heartedly committed for its fulfillment. God is forever committed to help us complete our destiny. It is Christlikeness in nature which will qualify us to rule and reign along with him on this earth, when God’s kingdom is established. The training for this purpose is reserved only for a people (Repeat – only for a people) who are willing to enter that realm of rest. God’s finished successful product, which he has been envisaging from time immemorial (Eph.1:3), can only be developed in this environment of rest. To arrive at His end, God has not only given us His word and the power of the Holy Spirit, but has prepared a particular realm to live in. Certain of God’s promises cannot be fulfilled by those who continue to be going in circles in the (spiritual) wilderness.
There is a need to cross over Jordan to enter this realm of Canaan. How often God’s word repeatedly exhorted them,” …when the Lord thy God will have brought thee into the promised land…”- Deuteronomy 1:8, 6:10, 18:9, 26:1, etc. The promise is “…and THERE (in that particular place) you shall eat before the Lord thy God and rejoice in ALL that you shall put your hand unto…”(Deuteronomy 12:7). How often people quote and claim promises from Deuteronomy 28 , a book that was addressed by Moses to Israelites, JUST BEFORE entering Canaan. It is clear that certain of God’s promises can only work in accordance with a certain preordained pattern.
As a man of God said, if we hold on only to a spark plug and say that is good enough, it does not work. A spark plug can work only in conjunction with a carburetor, petrol, combustion chamber, chases, etc. etc. Quoting selectively and claiming certain of God’s promises like, “We know all things work together for them…”or “ I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me…” is a futile academic exercise that gives us a false sense of comfort.
At this point, we need to remember, there is a Jordan in our individual life which has to be crossed to inherit rightfully the plenty that is in store for us. The crossing of Jordan, allegorically, ‘the end of all flesh’ has to happen before we enter into the land of plenty, of rest and adventure. A majority of Christians, even now who have no idea or intention of Canaan, will boast, gloat and delight about the miraculous provision of God in the wilderness for 40 years. But God’s best was waiting beyond Jordan in Canaan. Have you ever thought of comparing a monotonous bland diet called manna, 3 times a day, to a menu of honey, milk, figs, pomegranates: all king size that the bunch of fruits could only be carried on shoulders! Even the ‘Thanksgiving Day’ stuffed turkey, once in a while is ok. But if it happens to be your most sought after food, 3 times a day, 7 days a week, 365 days for 40 years, how you will you like it? And yet the Israelites settled down satisfied for that diet called ‘Manna’, while God’s very best mouthwatering, choicest, richly satisfying supply was waiting on the other side. Take a look and compare: “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you”. – Deuteronomy 8: 7 to 10.
This Canaan realm is summed up in Psalm 23… Now if we read this Psalm in this new light, it will take a new revelation altogether. In that Psalm, God’s plentiful provision, protection and safe passage in the midst of peril, restfulness in the midst of turbulence, a bountiful table in the presence of our enemies…all reserved for us who will venture to enter. Many books in the bible will give a new interpretation in this new light. He that hath an ear, let him hear.
(To be continued)