A Picture of Spiritual Rest and Victory

by Al Whittinghill

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” Ephesians 6:18

canaanNow is the time for those who are washed in the precious blood of Jesus Christ to rise up and fully enter into the life that He has purchased for us. He has saved us for His glorious purpose, and He longs to fulfill it in and through us! Our Lord longs to demonstrate His triumph and praise through His people, but we are slow to enter into the fullness of the promise of “no longer I, but Christ.” [Gal. 2:20]. We have tarried and held back for so long that it seems normal to us … but it is really a terrible sin against Him and a mark of our unbelief that we continue to remain in our present condition. This is the thrust of Hebrews chapters three and four! He brought us out of our old life in order to bring us into His New one.

Spiritual battles are raging on every side of us, and the casualties are many; but the church seems powerless to engage and triumph in them because we are still fighting with the carnal weapons of our old life, and the supplies of our own understanding and plans. Unbelief has robbed us and left us living in the wilderness of our unbelief and human ideas.

God never intended that we live the Christian life by our own strength or determination. He has something much more glorious in mind than sentimental sponsorship of His kingdom! He intends that the very Life of the Lord Jesus become our life and supply for all things. The abiding Life of His indwelling Life is the key to victory for the church. “No longer I, but Christ” is the way of true rest. But … “He must increase and I must decrease” [John 3:30]. This involves a fresh appropriation of the cross and our death with Him. Apart from this daily dying and self-emptying all we can expect is a life that may look spiritual but really is not! We might be “busy in church,” but we will not be effective in His Kingdom. And God will certainly not be pleased!

We must stop asking God to fight our battles for us and start believing Him to fight His battles through us. But we must enter in to His full promise before we are on the real battleground. This is so gloriously pictured for us in the book of Joshua. Crossing into the land of Canaan is a picture of the spiritual rest and victory which is meant to be the inheritance of every single believer here on earth. Resting IN and trusting the Lord Jesus, and living in the power of His Risen Life, is the promise from God to every believer! The deliverance from Egypt was only the beginning of His process of bringing His people into the full enjoyment of Canaan. He brought them OUT of Egypt so that He might BRING THEM IN to the full possession of the promise. But unbelief robbed the people of God and left them in “circular living”in the wilderness of sin and unbelief. According to the Word, the journey from Egypt to Canaan was only an eleven day journey (Deut. 1:2), but unbelief stretched it into a forty year endurance. What a picture for us! The majority of Christians come far short of God’s full intention and are content with “wilderness” living. If you will prayerfully read Hebrews chapter 3 and 4 you will see this parallel and warning clearly! Out … but not yet in!

Many, while justified by the blood of the Lamb and experiencing God’s deliverance from bondage, have not yet entered into the full enjoyment of the abiding life of rest in Christ. They experience the provision and care of God on a certain level, but have not entered into the life of “no longer I, but Christ.” They cannot fight in God’s battles because they are still fighting their own battles. Instead of living in the fullness of His promises they continue to walk by sight, unable to let go in their hearts of the pleasures of their old life. Their concern is about their own survival and blessing. They may be saved, but it is “as by fire” [1 Cor. 3:15].

God says that there is a higher plane of life than this! There remains a rest for the people of God. Jesus has purchased it all for us and He yearns for us to enter in, but we can possess only what we claim by faith. We must “cross Jordan” into the Life that is promised. It is entering into the heavenly realm and learning to live in the Spirit. This is the thrust of the whole book of Ephesians! The crossing of Jordan is a mighty picture lesson to us of what must happen before we can truly enter in to the full promise and intention of God. It is the end of the self-life and the beginning of the Christ-Life!

How do we do this? By faith! We must keep our eyes on the Ark of God’s Covenant, Jesus Christ, and follow Him as He leads us into all of the promises of God. As we claim our death with Christ and dare to receive it by faith, we may trust the Life of our Risen Lord as our very life. As we meditate in His Word He will begin to lead us in His triumph. He will make us ready for the battle field…

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

“If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life will lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16: 24-25

…He brought us out [of ‘Egypt’] in order that He might bring us in [to ‘Canaan’]. By Faith we must cross over from our own “wilderness living” and enter into the victory of Christ and His Risen Life. We must follow Him in His conquest.

Israel had been brought out of Egypt and slavish bondage by the blood of the Lamb, but they had not yet entered into God’s desire for them. Even though they were being guarded and guided by God, they bogged down in in the wilderness because of their unbelief. Concerned about their own survival, they kept looking back to the pleasures of Egypt and would not walk forward by faith. They were trusting in their own abilities to please God instead of seeing that in their flesh dwelt no good thing [Rom. 7:18]. God gave them the Tabernacle to vividly set forth the Gospel to them and to reveal the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. It vividly and powerfully set forth the cross as the way of redemption.

After Moses died, the Lord told Joshua that it was time for them to enter into the Land. They were told to “sanctify themselves” and to follow the ark of the covenant across the Jordan [Josh 3:5]. The Ark is one of the clearest pictures of Christ in the Word of God. In Joshua chapters 3 to 5 there is the account of their miraculous crossing over the Jordan into Canaan. Jordan was at flood stage and was impossible to cross naturally. The priests bore the Ark to the very edge of the river, and as soon as their feet got wet the “waters fled” from the presence of the Lord. John 1:28 tells us that they crossed the Jordan at the exact spot that Jesus was to be baptized years later! Jordan means “spreading judgement” and represents the death that sin deserves. The waters receded all the way back to the place called Adam! The priests took their stand in the center of the river and stayed there until “everything was finished” (Josh. 4:10) and until all the people had passed clean over. God told them to set up twelve wilderness rocks in the midst of the river as a memorial to remind them that their past was buried.

And from the spot where the priests feet “stood firm” they took twelve rocks that were smooth and water washed. They were told to set them up in Gilgal as a permanent reminder that they had passed over into the promises of God, and that the reproach of the flesh had been rolled away. What an amazing picture of “buried with Christ by baptism into His death, raised to walk in newness of life” [Rom. 6:3,4]. They had to follow!!

Gilgal would become their base camp for all operations in Canaan … and it stands for the cross in our experience! [Josh. 5:9]. We must keep coming back to the cross! The day that they came up out of the water of Jordan was exactly the same day that forty years earlier they had taken the Lamb into their house to examine it for the Passover! That very same day they immediately circumcised all the males for the first time in 39 years! The application of the knife and fresh covenant marks manifested their intent to be totally obedient in their surrender. Then, after three days of healing, exactly on Passover, they kept the Passover for the first time in 39 years. Calvary time!

That very day the Manna ceased and they began to eat of the fruit of the corn of wheat of Canaan, partakers of the fruit of the promise! Now they are ready, and the Lord appears to Joshua as “the Captain of the host of the Lord.” God Himself came to lead the spiritual conquest. This is none other than our Lord Jesus….and it happened on the very morning of the Feast of Firstfruits (literally resurrection morning!). Immediately they march to Jericho (“the place of the curse”) and proceed to follow the Ark in specific obedience and faith….and after seven days of faith the walls fall down!!

“We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves. but in God which raiseth the dead.” 2 Cor. 1:9

…Follow the Presence of God, and keep your eyes on Him as you walk by faith. The wisdom of God is foolishness to the world. The point of the story is very clear. We must identify with the Lord Jesus and follow Him. He was baptiz ed in Jordan and set His face like a flint to go to the cross [Luke 9:53;12:50]. We too must claim the promise of Galatians 2:20 as our own. We were crucified with Christ and our individual lives are now OVER! But we must claim it and reckon ourselves dead indeed [Rom. 6:11].

Our intelligent “baptism” is to show the Father that we are saying “goodbye” to our old way of trusting our self-life, and that now we are consenting to our death with Christ. We now choose that “to us to live is Christ,” and we are raised from the dead in His resurrection. Our lives are “hidden with Christ in God” [Col. 3:3]. The old man is buried with Him, and the life we now have is His [in our spirit]. With a freshly circumcised heart, we begin to feast on Him (1 Cor. 5:7-8).

The “rest” that we enter into is when we have given up our old fleshly life of unbelief and have received by the Spirit the very life of the Risen Son [practically, in the soul]. We go forth and become “more than conquerors through Him” [Rom. 8:37]. We have made the faith choice of “no more”! , and now Christ is to live in us [experiencially].

It is a necessity that we come to the cross and agree that “I am crucified with Christ.” We see His death as our own death. He hung on that cross until all was finished. We have been brought clean over [the Jordan]. Now we are in the army of the Lord, and the weapons of our warfare are NOT carnal [2 Cor. 10:4]. Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us that we are to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. We are to put on the whole armor of God, and with all manner of prayer take the sword of the Spirit to face the foes of Light. An army on our knees … invincible.

Once we begin to see that ALL the Book is about Him and the wonderful truth of the Gospel….it will transport us into a new dimension of Bible study. Everything before the cross pointed to it and everything since it has pointed back to it. As the Son was obedient unto the death of the cross, and willing to become the very judgement for our sins, He faced the wrath of God as our propitiation [Rom. 3:24-26]. Father God demonstrated that His payment was perfect by raising Him from the dead and seating Him on the throne of Eternity as Lord of all. He is the Lord of Hosts. We are His royal priesthood, and an army of those who worship Him in the Spirit (Phil. 3:3).

“They that are Christ’s have [positionally] crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Gal. 5:24). Someone once said that if you wanted to know what the “flesh” is then just knock off the “H” and spell it backwards. The self life must be ended … not just mended!

By faith, we must have a funeral for our self-life, and a coronation for the indwelling King. In all things He must be given the pre-eminence. I must ask myself if I have done this. The New Covenant calls for a inward circumcision of our hearts. “We are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Our real citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:3,20). We have died and our lives are now hidden with Christ in God.

From carnality to Canaan, now Christ is to be our very life! While we remain on this earth we must deny our self life and take up our cross [Luke 9:23]. This is a daily love-choice! Resurrection life is waiting for us on the other side of the cross! By the Holy Spirit’s power we are to mortify our members which remain upon the earth and follow in His steps [Rom. 8:13].

In amazement and faith let us keep the feast of Christ our Passover (1 Cor. 5: 7-8). May He give us a glorious vision of the Captain of the armies of the Lord of Hosts; and then He will lead us in His triumph into all the promises of God.

by Al Whittinghill, Kneemail, 2/2010 edition, used with permission. awhittinghill@mac.com

Serving with Ambassadors for Christ International, 1355 Terrell Mill Road, Building 1462, Suite 100, Marietta, GA 30067, Phone: 770-980-2020. www.afci-usa.org “REVIVAL IN THE CHURCH – EVANGELISM THRU THE CHURCH – TRAINING FOR THE CHURCH”

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