By Pr Ay Nee Ng
As we learned in the first part of this series, crossing the Red Sea and crossing the Jordan River represent different experiences. The Red Sea says: “Christ died for you and you died with Him” (Rom. 6). The Jordan says: “Because you died with Him, let sin no longer reign in your mortal bodies”. The great purpose of crossing the Jordan is Ephesians 4:13: “…fullness of Christ [transformation]”.
The Red Sea points to the substitutionary death and positional identification of the believer in Christ’s death and resurrection (Jesus taking our place in the cross). The Jordan River represents a personal encounter with Christ and an experiential identification in His death and resurrection (understanding what it means to die to sin and to live for and in Christ). Although the Israelites experienced newness of life after crossing the Red Sea, they still longed to go back to Egypt (the world and the old ways). It was not until they passed through the Jordan that they were they really out of Egypt, which stands for the cross dealing with our hearts. When the Israelites crossed the Jordan, they left a monument of twelve stones, typifying the end of the self-life. The other memorial made of twelve stones taken from the bed of the river and placed on the shore of Canaan typified the start of a new life through resurrection and an everlasting separation from self by burial. Whereas Red Sea also represents what God did for the Israelites, the Jordan River stands for the work God consummated in them.
As soon as they had crossed the Jordan, they were circumcised at Gilgal. The big difference between Israel in the wilderness and Israel in the Promised Land is that the previous generation was in a carnal state and the new one in a conquest and victorious state. The flesh had been cut off after crossing the Jordan, meaning that the carnal nature had been snipped away from them and they were now set apart for God. They were now a people in the Spirit, just as the Lord had received the Spirit at the Jordan.
Conquests in Every Area of Our Lives
1. Definitions of conquest
- The subjugation and assumption of control of a place or people by military force. Synonyms: defeat, beating, conquering, vanquishment, vanquishing, trouncing, annihilation, overpowering, overthrow, subduing, subjugation, rout, mastery, crushing (The Free Dictionary).
- The winning of favor, affection, love, etc (Dictionary.com).
2. The purpose of crossing over and conquering the Promised Land. We cross over to have better opportunities of growth, to conquer every area in our lives, and to live in God’s blessings. We are not to hold on to the past but to allow the Holy Spirit to guide and lead us! Have we surrendered ourselves to God? Have we conquered habitual sin in our lives? Is there anything that compromises our belief system? If my ideology and cultural believes compromise who I am in God, then something needs to be done. Nothing and nobody is to take the first place in our lives; it belongs to God!
When the people of Israel crossed over the Red Sea from Egypt to the Promised Land, God made a promise to Moses and the people of Israel at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:3-13). He promised them that if they would follow Him and walk in faithfulness and total obedience to Him, He would bless them. God’s blessings can come in many shapes and sizes. Sometime it will mean monetary provision as many Biblical characters experienced, but there is a bigger picture than just dollars and cents. We are after the spiritual, the mental, and the emotional blessings of prosperity and success! Church, do you feel blessed? This centre is a reminder of His manifold blessings!
Some examples of biblical characters with blessings of prosperity and success (far beyond what we think prosperity and success should be) are:
- Jesus. He had both blessings of prosperity and success even though He was born in a manger and worked as a carpenter. He never made it to the top 10 wealthiest people of His day! Yet, He had tremendous blessings of power and authority, love, grace, mercy, wisdom, kindness, and goodness during His life on earth.
- Paul. He traded position and power in the religious establishment of his day for prison, beatings, shipwreck, and sleepless nights. Nevertheless, he gained the blessings of utter joy and fulfilment in life by planting churches.
Each step in the “Promised Land” brought new challenges for Jesus, His disciples, and Paul. It will be the same for each of us who dare to claim our calling and “Promised Land”. As believers we are on the journey to accomplish God’s purposes until death takes us to our ultimate destiny: heaven. On our journey, we have to conquer our inner self—our own inhibitions, our pride, anger, self-esteem, and prejudices—to become who God wants us to be. Only then we will fully enjoy the blessings of joy and peace, knowing that we are who God wants us to be and are achieving what He wants for each of us. To do so, we need to hear and follow the instructions God and His appointed leader for us give us.
3. Obedience to the specific instructions of God and our leader(s).
a. Instructions to conquer Canaan. “On the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. Distribute the land by lot, according to your clans. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one. Whatever falls to them by lot will be theirs. Distribute it according to your ancestral tribes. “‘But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live. And then I will do to you what I plan to do to them'” (Num. 33:50-56).
b. Instructions to establish the cities of refuge. “Then the LORD said to Moses: ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, select some towns to be your cities of refuge, to which a person who has killed someone accidentally may flee. They will be places of refuge from the avenger, so that a person accused of murder may not die before he stands trial before the assembly. These six towns you give will be your cities of refuge. Give three on this side of the Jordan and three in Canaan as cities of refuge. These six towns will be a place of refuge for Israelites, aliens and any other people living among them, so that anyone who has killed another accidentally can flee there”’” (Num. 35:9-15).
Before Moses died, God allowed him to climb up to one of the highest peaks of Mount Nebo called Pisgah (Deuteronomy 3:26-29, 32:48-52, 34:1-12). From this height, he looked across the Jordan and saw the wonderful Promised Land on the other side. Before his death, Moses appointed Joshua as the new leader to take his place and to lead the new generation to the Promised Land (Deut. 31:1-8). Joshua was full of the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him (Deut. 34:9). He was one of the spies who told Moses and the people forty years before that he believed God would help them conquer the people in the Promised Land. Joshua believed God, and that is why God chose him to be Israel’s new leader.
c. Instructions to conquer Jericho. Directly in front of Jordan River was one of the largest cities in the land, Jericho, protected by very high walls all around. As soon as the people of Jericho learned how wonderfully the God of the Israelites had helped them to cross over the Jordan, fear engulfed the whole city. They were so afraid that their soldiers did not come out of the city to fight the Israelites at all. All the people of the city hurried inside the walls and closed all the gates. They thought that in this way they could save themselves. Just about this time, while Joshua was taking a walk and trying to decide how he could capture the city, he looked up and saw a man who was dressed like a soldier. Joshua challenged him, asking whether he was a friend or an enemy. The man answered that he was the captain of the Lord’s army (See Josh. 5:13-15).
The captain of the Lord’s army gave Joshua a wonderful plan for capturing Jericho (See Josh. 6:1-27). The priests were to carry the ark while the people followed them, marching around the city once each day for six days. Trumpets were to be blown by those of the priestly tribe, but otherwise they were to do nothing except to walk around the city and return to their places in the camp. It must have seemed very odd to the people of Jericho who were trying to keep away from the Israelites to see them doing that. They did not know, of course, what the Israelites were to do next. On the seventh day, the Israelites marched around the city seven times, blew their trumpets, and shouted as loudly as they could. The walls of that city fell down in front of them, and they captured the city. Certainly God knows how to help his people conquer their enemies!
3. Battles in the Promised Land. The land of Canaan represents a type of the present warfare of the Christian, the coming millennial kingdom, and the heavenly Promised Land—the inheritance of Christians. The letters to the Ephesians and Colossians speak of an experiential identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. They also describe a present spiritual warfare against the inhabitants of the land—principalities and powers of darkness—which cannot be fought, as seen in Ephesians 6, in the wilderness. Note that our inheritance has to be preceded by battles.
A Christian can be overcome. For example, in the battle of Ai, sin entered into the camp of Israel and robbed them the victory until they repented. God’s purpose is that we stay in the wilderness as short as possible and cross the Jordan as soon as possible so we can conquer our enemies and take hold of our inheritance. Unfortunately, most Christians today are in no position to enter into the land and battle the giants because they still choose to live in sin. They are someplace in the wilderness.
4. Application. Canaan represents our inner self and the world in our lives that can become our main focus. In any conquest, we need to follow the specific instructions of Lord Jesus Christ and our leader.
Check List – What to do after crossing the “Jordan River”?
- Believe in the impossible and in God’s promises. Conquests are not easy; they require trust, faithfulness, perseverance, courage, and strength from the Lord. If God is on your side, who can be against you?
- Attack and drive out your enemies (Num. 33:50-56). Be aggressive, not passive, about sin, evil, and evil people in your life.
- Discard and destroy every foothold (carved images and idols).
- Demolish high places—anything that may have shifted your focus away from God. Turn your worship back to God.
- Settle down and take time to appreciate and give thanks for all the conquests in your life. Are you team player in your church, your organisation, your family, and your community, or not?
- Set up refuge centres to care for the lost, the poor, the sick, and the needy. Are you making disciples and helping the church grow?
Conclusion When the nation of Israel marched towards a city in the Promised Land, their enemies trembled in their sandals. They may have been seasoned and fearless warriors, yet their hearts melted with fear. Have you ever wondered why? What was so different about Israel? Church, God Almighty was leading this nation in the Promised Land.
As Israel marched forward, the waters were parted, cities fell (e.g. Jericho and City of Ai), and miracles happened (the sun stand still). The people of the land realized that the God of Israel is super powerful and is with Israel. In a time when each nation believed in their own territorial gods ruling their land, they were confronted by a people whose God is the God of heaven above and earth below (Josh. 2:11). They may had been able to stand up against a foreign army, but who can stand against the power of Almighty God?
“So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us” (Rom. 8:31-39).
Let us cross over with leaving the past behind and being now clothed with the fullness of the Holy Spirit who empowers us to fight and win the war for our soul, spirit, and body and to present ourselves intact for our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.