Crossing Over By Faith
There was a definite moment in history when Israel entered Canaan. It was a definite experience that took place at a certain time. Entering Canaan does not represent the first part of the Christian life, that is, the new birth. Rather, entering into Canaan represents the decision to become involved in spiritual warfare. So far as Israel is concerned, 40 years elapsed between these two experiences, that of leaving Egypt and entering Canaan. In many Christians lives there is a time element between the new birth and the decision to yield to Christ for a life of triumphant warfare. Yet according to the Scriptures, these two decisions could be, and should be, simultaneous. Unfortunately, in most cases, time elapses between these two decisions and in some cases a great deal of time.
It was not God’s will that Israel remain either in Egypt or in the wilderness. His desire was that the people enter their glorious inheritance in the land of Canaan. But when Israel got to the border of their inheritance, they delayed because they doubted the promise of God (Num. 13-14).
What does Canaan represent to us as Christians today? It represents our spiritual inheritance in Christ (Ephesians 1:3, 11, 15-23). The book of Joshua does not deal with the new birth either in type or symbol. Israel's experiences in Canaan represent the life of a regenerated person, a born-again person in his spiritual warfare. It is not a picture of Heaven as some have thought. Rather, it covers the more abundant life.
There are some contrasts between the two events. It is helpful to compare the exodus under Moses and the entrance under Joshua. The exodus, of course, speaks of a going out. An entrance speaks of that which leads in. The exodus for Israel was in going out from bondage and slavery. The entrance was in order to conquer and to possess. In the Christian life the exodus speaks of release from the world, from sin, and from Satan. The entrance into Canaan speaks of the overcoming life in which the believer learns to possess his possessions in Christ.
When the children of Israel were in Egypt, they were in bondage. Even after God had sent Moses to deliver them, there is a long period of time necessary to prepare them to even want to come out. The plagues, the added workload placed on the Israelites by the Egyptians, and the other testings all were designed to bring the Israelites to the place where they wanted to leave Egypt. The same thing can be seen today with regard to people who are not concerned about salvation or coming out from their sins. In many cases God allows trials and testing of various kinds to bring them to the place where they are ready to come out from their spiritual Egypt.
When the people of Israel were ready to come out of Egypt, God sent one more judgment, that of the slaying of the firstborn. This pictures for us what judgement on sin involves. Sin brings death. God, however, provided the way of escape; a way by placing the blood on the doorposts. The applying of the blood in this manner speaks of the remission of sin, and the escape of the Israelites from that judgement illustrates salvation from the judgement of sin. Romans 5:9 indicates, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
The second part of this salvation, was separated by time in Israel’s experience. But so far as the Christian is concerned they are simultaneous. At the Red Sea, where God completed the work of delivering Israel from bondage, it represented the new birth.
Now, a birth is not the work of the child being born. The birth process is the work of the mother who labours to bring forth her child. So also the new birth is all together the work of Almighty God, the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing us out of death into life. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “…Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
It was also God who divided the Red Sea and then destroyed the enemy. Pharaoh and his army perished, so there was no chance of Israel being re-captured by them. This was all together the work of Almighty God. This speaks to us of Jesus Christ the Way who broke Satan’s power and made it possible for us to be delivered from it. This truth applies to us as we except it by faith. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:24-25).
The Israelites had a barren desert before them, but this was not the end; it was merely the beginning. They had passed through the “from” stage. When they finally came to the Jordan River, they entered the second stage or the “into” stage. This speaks to us of the cross work of Christ. It is possible for us to participate in death to sin, to the world, to self, to Satan and to enter into the active resurrection life which is the victorious life. It is the entrance into the abundant life. Jesus said, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Jordan speaks of the gateway to the life of conquering. It is the road that leads to the possessing of our spiritual possessions in Christ Jesus. These are clearly seen in Ephesians 1:3—“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”
So Christ has not only brought us out, but He has made an abundant entrance in for us. It need not take us 40 years like it did the people of Israel to enjoy this. It need not even take us two years, which was the length of time it took Israel to go from the Red Sea to Kadesh-barnea the first time. Sad to say, they did not enter at that time. So far as the physical journey from the Red Sea to Kadesh-barnea was concerned, it involved only a few days at the most. From the spiritual standpoint there need be no such interim. Let us move forward in faith, “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.”
“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (1 Corin