THE CHURCH IN THYATIRA
“And he that overcometh…to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers…” (Rev. 2:26-27).
As I have been taught by the Holy Spirit and have progressed in the unfolding revelation of His truth I have come to see that this beautiful promise does not apply specifically to the rule of the sons of God over the external physical nations of the earth. The book of Revelation is a book of symbols, and the symbols connected with the seven churches portray the spiritual work of God within His elect as related to their “overcoming.” Much of the symbology of the book is rooted in the Old Testament. In the promises to the overcomers the tree of life is drawn from the Old Testament. The hidden manna is taken from the Old Testament. The white stone and the new name are rooted in the Old Testament. It is here that we find the key to what the Spirit means when He says, “To him that overcometh will I give power over the nations: as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers.”
The question follows — the overcomer is given power over which nations? Which were “the nations” that Israel of old was given power over? The imagery here is drawn from Israel’s conquest of the land of Canaan! To conquer is to overcome — that is the precise meaning of the word overcome! At that time in history, Israel’s new land of promise was occupied by seven “ites” — seven nations greater and mightier than they, seven nations that were exceedingly vile and corrupt, which they had to conquer, drive out, break to shivers, destroy, and possess! In the hidden language of the Spirit, the symbol of “land” has the meaning of “inheritance.” The land of Canaan which Israel possessed is a figure of the true land — our inheritance in Christ! Our new land in this new day of the kingdom of God is the fullness of Christ! All the New Testament scriptures bear witness to this great truth — our inheritance is in Christ, and the full possession of our inheritance means Christ as everything to us!
POSSESSING THE LAND
Canaan — what volumes the name speaks to us! Many are the songs written about Canaan Land, yet the masses of believers entertain the mistaken notion that Canaan is a type of heaven — that bright glory world above with streets of gold, walls of jasper, and gates of pearl. This cannot be, because the great mark of Canaan was that the land had to be conquered and that God gave such glorious victories over the strong, entrenched enemies. There is warfare in Canaan! There are giants in Canaan! There are hoards of enemies in Canaan! The battles in Canaan make the experience in the wilderness look like a Sunday School picnic. The possession of Canaan was for victory and through victory. The children of Israel crossed the Red Sea to escape the enemy. They crossed the Jordan to conquer the enemy! Canaan speaks to us of our inheritance in Christ in the kingdom of God.
If we are going to possess the kingdom, we are going to have to fight for it! The powers that are there will contest every foot of it; as soon as we start to possess our inheritance in God, we will come face to face with them, and we will find they are not easily defeated. In that land of experiencing the fullness of Christ within ourselves we find great strongholds of hindrances, problems, bondages, discouragements, fears, misperceptions, carnal ideas and concepts, fleshly desires, habits, limitations, sin, sickness, and death — all entrenched enemies of the realization of the mind, nature, victory and power of Christ. We are no threat to them until we begin our march to possess our inheritance!
Multitudes of Christians are settled upon their lees — they are satisfied with the joy of sins forgiven and hope to make heaven their home at last. There is no desire in their hearts to attain to anything of value in the kingdom of God, to appropriate all that Christ is as their own reality, or to gain any position of responsibility and usefulness in the age and the ages to come. It is said of faithless Israel in the wilderness, “They despised the pleasant land” (Ps. 106:24). Canaan was a land of fruitfulness, of heights and depths and beauty and glory and power, a type of our inheritance in Christ in the kingdom of God; but some of the people thought it would cost them a great deal to possess it, and they would rather go without it.
I have read of certain Spaniards that lived where there was a great store of fish, but they were so lazy they would not exert themselves to catch them, but begged of their neighbors. Such sinful sloth is upon the masses of Christians that fill the pews of the church systems in this hour, and though the fullness of Christ is offered them, they will not yield to the leadings and dealings of the Holy Spirit to possess it. They have only some faint wishes or desires. If only they can pay their bills and stay reasonably healthy and get “blessed” at church, they are content with that measure of Life. Oh, men would be glad for the full realization of the Christ Life if it would drop as a ripe fig into their mouths, but they have no desire to pursue it, and their unsanctified hearts would abuse, misuse, prostitute, and profane it were it given into their hands. We cannot have the world without labor, or any success or position or rank or responsibility without applying ourselves, and do we think to have the full inheritance of our promised land in Christ without paying the price?
When God told the children of Israel to go into the land of Canaan, He said, “I have given it to you.” In a little while He added this striking admonition, “Go in to possess it.” These were potential terms. In the divine and sovereign council of heaven God had already deeded the land to them, but they were not qualified yet to possess it. Is that not how it is with the so-called “finished work” we hear so much about! The land was full of giants, and walled cities, and fierce armies, which required a struggle for its possession. But — consider, precious saint of God, how vast and rich the land is! The land is unsearchably great, unlimitedly rich. The dimensions of the land are the length, the breadth, the height, and the depth of the fullness of Christ. The land is all the riches and the glory of Christ Himself! The land is peace, joy, righteousness, incorruptible and immortal life, wisdom, knowledge, power, dominion and glory. All this is ours as children of God, but only as we grow up into Christ and truly put on Christ do we become mature and arrive in the position to assume this responsibility of possessing our possessions. We are talking about the full stature of Christ within ourselves, not gold bath tubs in heaven. By a mature understanding and a divine faith we see the way to enter the land and take possession of all the riches and glory of full sonship to God!
Why have we not, then, fully possessed our land? The thing that kept Israel out of their land was a heart of unbelief. “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Heb. 4:1-2; 3:19). You remember how those that spied out the land of Canaan brought back an evil report. On the one hand they said that the land was exceptionally good, but on the other hand they said it was impossible to enter. The people were giants, they said, and the cities fortified and great. They asserted that Israel could never conquer the land; if they tried they would be utterly defeated and devoured.
Ah, how often that wily devil of unbelief speaks the very same things within us! Does he not say, “Don’t talk about overcoming the enemy. Don’t talk about walking in the nature of God. Don’t think about attaining to perfection — nobody can be perfect in this world! Don’t talk about conquering death — everybody dies until the resurrection! Don’t think about being manifest sons of God — that is just wishful thinking! Don’t talk about becoming exactly like Christ, to do the works He did — nobody can measure up to Him! Don’t try to put on the mind of Christ, don’t think about ruling and reigning with Christ — it might go to your head! Don’t talk about being kings and priests after the order of Melchizedek — that is too high for you! All these things are good and wonderful. But it is absolutely impossible for you to possess them!”
I do not doubt that even while some have been reading this message that devil of unbelief has whispered such things in your ear! “You cannot possess the land, you cannot attain to the high calling of sonship, you will never stand among the manifest sons of God — you are too weak, you are now old and feeble; you can’t preach or teach or explain the Word; you are beset by physical ailments and disease — silly of you to think of overcoming sin and death! You have already failed so many times to please your heavenly Father; God never answers your prayers, anyhow; you have no one to fellowship with, to encourage and strengthen you; you have too many problems and hang-ups; you are young and inexperienced, others have walked in this truth for years; your own home is out of order, you are bedeviled by a carnal, opposing spouse and unruly, rebellious children; don’t even think you could enter the good land of the kingdom — it is far beyond your ability! You can never make it!”
Oh, yes! Those ten “spies” do give an evil report, don’t they! That little devil of unbelief lurking within the carnal mind in each of us is just waiting for the opportunity to inject his deadly venom and deliver to us the evil report — “You are not able to go up and possess your inheritance!” Never believe him! “The inhabitants are giants,” he will tell you, “and the cities have walls that the chariots run upon. You will be defeated and you know it. You’ll go by way of the grave at last. You will miss the unveiling of the glory of Christ in the earth, you will not be a member of God’s overcoming, conquering army.” All this is an evil heart of unbelief. But we are called in this hour to take our stand with Joshua and Caleb and proclaim by the faith of the Son of God within that WE ARE ABLE TO GO UP AND TAKE THE LAND!
The mighty power of God within us is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think, above all that we dream or imagine. God will do the work as we follow on in patience, faith, and obedience, even as He did for Israel of old. “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” That is the confession of the heart of faith born of God! The Lord has promised it, but we must possess it. He has given it, but we must experience it. It is our portion, but we must take it. The fullness of Christ is not presently our possession, but HE will cause us to take it, HE will enable us to possess it. Our heavenly Joshua, Christ Himself in us, is taking the lead in His army; He will go before us; He will fight the battle for us! All we need is such a vision. Joshua received such a vision, and thereby the faith and assurance that God was with him. And armed only with that faith, trust, and obedience, he possessed the land!
The myth that the “finished work” of Christ secures for us all the provision and purpose and glory of God, that Jesus paid it all and did it all, therefore we can enter the land essentially unscathed, that it costs nothing, that there is no striving, no pressing, no warfare; that all you have to do is believe and confess — these myths must forever end! The hour is late, the day of unveiling is at hand. Only an unreserved commitment, only an indestructible faith, only a radical thrust will burst this manchild of the ages and herald the dawn of that blessed age when the glory of the Lord shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea, and all peoples and all nations shall come and walk in the light of the Lord, and there shall be no more curse anywhere forever. Sons of God — let us arise and enter in and possess our land!
We all want victory in one brief skirmish. How many times did some of us go forward in response to an invitation in a church or revival meeting, expecting that in one divine encounter we would conquer all our enemies, henceforth to possess our inheritance. We consecrated ourselves to the Lord, we tarried at the altar, hands were laid on us, prophecies went forth over us, demons were cast out of us, we laid all on the altar, we prayed through, each time expecting that this was the final battle. And how many know it didn’t work! Somewhere we missed the point — there are seven nations in this land that must be subdued! Seven is a complete number, representing every enemy, including the last enemy, death. You see, we did not yet understand in those days the plan and way of God for our overcoming. God’s word to Israel in the wilderness should be weighed with diligent meditation, thought, and prayer. “And the Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee little by little: thou mayest not consume them at once…but the Lord thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed. And He shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them” (Deut. 7:22-24).
Tony Salmon once put it this way: “God is not out to kill or destroy men. Mankind is not His enemy! And God is not the enemy of mankind! God so loved the world that He gave His Son. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. Jesus is the Saviour of the world and of all men. God does precision warfare. He doesn’t want to take any human casualties with Him. During the Gulf War we had precision warfare like never before. We’re learning how to take out military fields, airports, oil derricks, and military installations without harming the civilian population. Our fight is not with the civilian population. We must see that our Father is doing the same kind of warfare on the inside of us! He’s not out to get you — He’s after everything on the inside of you hat prevents HIS UNVEILING — He wants to be seen on the inside of you.
“Woe to anything that stands up in His temple and tries to prevent that unveiling! Anything that stands up in His temple which we are, to defy that unveiling, has automatically made itself His enemy. God is coming swiftly, He’s coming in vengeance to destroy your enemies and His enemies. God is not after you, He’s after your enemies! We haven’t separated ourselves from the enemies that are on the inside of us. The enemies on the inside of us are not US! Fleshly thinking, natural reasoning, the carnal understanding of the word of God, all of our hatred, variance, discord, doubt, fear, lust, all of our greed — those things are not US! They are squatters, they are trespassers, for they inhabit our land which is His land, and God is angry at them, He’s after them, because He wants to be revealed, He wants to appear and be king in His land.
“The Lord of glory is going to be seen in His temple and He won’t allow any enemy to stand. What He requires of us is that we view these things as our enemies, the way He does! Once we view them as enemies, as squatters and trespassers, then we can isolate them from ourselves and see them as enemies separate from ourselves. Once we truly see this we can sit back and watch God do His wondrous work! All the judgments of the book of Revelation have the seven churches in mind. It is the judgment that begins at the house of God!
“Have you ever had one of these enemies that you thought was dead suddenly stick its ugly head up and attempt to exercise dominion over you? Many times I have heard saints (myself included) gasp in horror as they say, ‘I thought these things were gone! I was delivered of these things long ago!’ This exclamation is usually followed by pinning the blame on themselves; sentencing themselves to discouragement, feelings of failure, and self pity. The enemy would have us think that these trespassers have returned to their seat of authority to reign as king over us, when in fact God’s deliverance, which is total and complete, is revealed in us and through us, in divine stages, not all at once. ‘I will not drive them out before thee in one year,” the Lord said, ‘by little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased (mature, fruitful, able to produce offspring), and inherit the land’ (Ex. 23:29-30)” — end quote.
There is a scripture which relates the remarkable story of the report of the twelve spies Moses sent to spy out the land of Canaan, and this experience of the children of Israel is very meaningful to God’s elect today as we set our faces to possess our promised land. When the spies returned ten of them said to Moses, “We came into the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan…the land through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of great stature…giants…and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had spied out” Num. 13:27-33).
Ten out of the twelve men Moses sent to scout out the land of Canaan, after getting a first-hand look at the promised land, returned on the edge of despair. The size of the grapes — as large as melons — could not remove the gloom from their faces, for what good is milk and honey in a land that “eats its inhabitants.” In a well-fortified land whose citizens are giants? When the people of Israel heard this pessimistic report, they lost heart, for it seemed that continuing with the plan to take over the land of Canaan would be tantamount to signing their own death warrants. It’s easy to understand their fear after the scouts’ vivid and daunting descriptions. Nevertheless, the Lord blamed the Israelites for their cowardice. In fact, their lack of faith brought the wrath of God against that entire generation, which was sentenced to die in the wilderness, never having entered the land.
Today God has set before His elect a much greater land! Since the late 1940’s and the early 1950’s God’s people have been hearing these glorious revelations of sonship, inheritance, and the kingdom of God. But what good is it to know these things if we continue to hesitate to enter in and lay hold upon them? We are not the first people who have come to the threshold of the kingdom! One generation has already died in the wilderness of fear and unbelief. If you and I do not arise and walk in what God has so mightily sent before us by His Spirit, then we, too, shall go by way of the grave and wait for our children or our children’s children to get us out! The creation is groaning for real deliverance, not merely some deeper teaching or higher concept. Someone must come forth and declare, “We are able to go up and take the land! Let us arise and cross over this Jordan!”
Why did God, who certainly knew about the giants and the fortified cities, command Moses to send spies in the first place? Why didn’t God simply allow the Exodus to keep moving, replete with the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, the miraculous manna and the glorious tabernacle, without confronting the people with the option of battle? Why the command, “Send thou men that they may spy out the land of Canaan” (Num. 13:1-2). The Lord had a wonderful purpose in mind, and it certainly wasn’t intelligence gathering! The verse in which God instructs Moses to send men to spy out the land uses the Hebrew word v’yaturu — a form of the verb latur — while the usual word meaning “to spy” is leragel, as seen in Genesis, where Joseph calls his brothers spies (Gen. 12:9).
What latur really means is to lust after (this definition comes from Rabbi Schlomo Riskin, chief rabbi of Efrat, Israel). God didn’t want these men to spy out the land — but rather to lust after it, to desire it intensely! It wasn’t enough to report back that, yes, the fruits were good, and yes, the cities were fortified, and yes, the inhabitants were giants and we looked like grasshoppers in their eyes. What this advance guard was supposed to demonstrate, despite the instinct of the heart to tremble and the spirit to quake, was an overriding passion. Without such passion, Israel could never step forward with faith and determination to possess the land! Hence, God’s intention in sending the “scouts” was that they see the land, desire the land, be inspired with passionate love for it, inspire the people with vision, faith, zeal, and devotion — and enter in!
This is the spirit God is raising up in His elect in this hour! It is no longer merely a wish, or a desire, or a hope, or a longing to possess our inheritance in Christ, but we are truly consumed by such a love, such a passion for Christ in all His beauty, majesty, wisdom, power, glory, and fullness that it becomes a divine necessity! We will not be denied! Sonship to God has now become our all-consuming passion; our desire is so intense, our hope so fervent, our expectation so strong that we cannot settle for less! Now we are pressing forward, fully believing and expecting that God will put every enemy within our land under His feet and deliver us into the fullness of the power and glory of the kingdom of God! We are yielding to Him in every way we know for that divine purpose.
God always has His witnesses to His truth and His purpose, and in Joshua and Caleb, of the twelve scouts sent to search out the land of Canaan, He had such a witness. When the time came to enter in, Caleb wanted for his inheritance the mountain wherein he had seen those giants forty years before. “Give me this mountain!” he thundered. He would not be denied. Among those of us who started in this last move of God that came in 1948, that got a glimpse of that land flowing with milk and honey, are a few who have the true report — those who know God is able to bring us into the fullness of sonship to God. There are many today who, like the ten scouts, have lost the vision and have watered down the purpose of the Father. They refer to the original revelation of sonship as “classical sonship,” and, of course, they have now come up with the new and improved version! But somehow their version always falls short of the revelation so powerfully imparted in the days of God’s sovereign visitation. I do not hesitate to tell you that those who are ready to settle for something less than what GOD HAS SPOKEN are of the faithless scouts, and they will sink down into a lesser glory and their bones will bleach in the desert. Joshua and Caleb were the only two that entered into what God had promised Abraham and his seed from the beginning. And it is interesting to note that the portion that Caleb desired was Kirjath-arda which became Hebron. Hebron is where David later ruled for six and a half years until made king over all Israel. This is very significant, for it became a place of rulership. Do we desire the spiritual high places enough to demand the mountain, drive out the giants, and reign over the land of our inheritance? Yes, God has always had His two witnesses, and He has them today as well. They do not deny there are obstacles before one enters into that which is our inheritance, the fullness of Christ, but they are sure of one thing — GOD IS ABLE TO GIVE US THE LAND!
Thank God for that inborn confidence and assurance in the hearts of God’s called and chosen elect that the hour for the unveiling of the sons of God is at hand; that the ultimate purposes of God for His Christ-body are about to be revealed; that we stand now on the brink of Jordan prepared and ready to follow the ark of the Lord into a NEW EXPERIENCE OF CHRIST; to “cross over” from our wilderness of wandering into the life and victory and abundance and authority of the land of Canaan! The message sounds forth as a trumpet across the land — the Lord has prepared great and mighty things for His people: things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man (I Cor. 2:9).
Therefore, give all diligence to enter into the REALM OF THE SPIRIT wherein are known and touched and experienced all these unseen, unheard of, and unthought of things. That blessed realm brings the fullness of Christ and the kingdom of God. It brings righteousness and love, the mind of Christ and the image of God, life and immortality, victory and authority over all things, and blessing and deliverance for all mankind. Truly the heritage is ours for the possessing! And if no man from the ascension of Christ until now has entered into it, it still does not make one whit of difference. The fact remains — the fullness of Christ is ours for conquest! The popular church has rejected the possibility of possessing it; they would rather settle for a palm branch to wave in the sky, and a harp to play on a golden street, than to press on in to the measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ.
Although the Israelites, under Joshua, entered into the land with wonderful victories, the complete conquest of Canaan did not take place until much later, for we read that Joshua “made war a long time with those kings” (Jos. 11:18). New kings, still loyal to those already killed, kept springing up and had to be destroyed. Some, in fact, were not annihilated but were left to test Israel, to see whether they would remain faithful to the Lord (Judges 3:1-4). The war against the self-life and all its attributes and powers is a prolonged and on-going conflict. Not a day goes by that the flesh does not send one or more of its kings and their armies to assail those who love the Lord in truth and seek His kingdom. Each manifestation and defeat of one king brings to light other and more formidable manifestations of the carnal mind and nature. The flesh has many arms in its arsenal! But thank God, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:4-5). Oh, yes! God will give us the victory!
The land must be “possessed.” That was the Lord’s word to Israel of old and it is His word to His elect today. The word “possess” is the Hebrew word yarash meaning “to tread on grapes,” indicating the necessity of treading on the enemies as a conqueror. The causative form of the verb yarash means to cause a change in the power structure on the land — bringing down the kings, nobles, rich, and powerful, so that a new order may be set up. It is exactly what Elaine Cook wrote: “When, after forty years of wilderness journeying they were ready to enter the land, what did they find? Because they had endured the waste howling wilderness and had now crossed over Jordan, did they find that the enemy in the land was suddenly subdued without a struggle of any kind? Did they just proclaim, ‘We are the sons of God! We have come to take the kingdom and possess it!’ and find that the giants in the land fled from them in fear and left the land for them to inhabit without any interference at all? If that’s what you believe, you need to look at the blueprint again! Yes, they had crossed over Jordan. Yes, they had experienced circumcision. But, no — the enemies did not flee away in terror from them! When I last read the account it said that they had to actively possess each step of the way — one foot at a time as they walked. Potentially, it was all theirs, but they had to overcome each enemy and dispossess him before they could take possession of the land. They couldn’t just ‘declare’ it done!” — end quote.
This is what is taking place in the life of every overcomer as we “possess” our land of the fullness of Christ. The enemies are entrenched, they have occupied our lives for a long time, but the Christ in us is mightier than all! As we gain victory after victory by the wonderful power of Christ in us the enemies are being routed one by one and a new governmental order of the mind of Christ, the righteousness of God, and the will of the Father, is being established in our land!
CONQUERING THE LAND
The time for crossing over the Jordan into the land of promise had arrived. Drums of war rumbled in the background as the armies of Israel gathered in solemn array. Leaders of the twelve tribes encircled a central fire within the camp. All were seated but Joshua and two men who had just returned from a reconnaissance mission. They had scouted the enemy and were about to suggest a strategy of attack. The two advance scouts addressed the council to make this report, “Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land; for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us” (Josh. 2:24). The enemy is already defeated. Israel could go to battle in the strength of knowing the Lord had secured the victory!
All Israel was on tiptoe in expectancy. This was the time which this particular generation had looked forward to. For thirty-nine long years they had wandered in the wilderness as their disobedient fathers fell one by one and were buried in the desert. God called Moses up into the mountain; there Moses died, and the angels of God buried him. Joshua began to prepare the people for the crossing, according to God’s instructions. The day before the crossing Joshua gave the people certain definite instructions. Chief among these instructions was this word, “Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (Josh. 3:5).
One of the reasons for this particular instruction was set forth in this line, “You have not passed this way before” (Josh. 3:4). Most of us enjoy routine, and going down the old familiar roads. There we see familiar places, faces, and experiences, and we feel comfortable with that which we are used to. There are not many surprises on the old paths, but neither is their much change or progress! Now the people of Israel were looking forward with eagerness to the moment when they would enter the new road! Joshua said to these eager people, “The road before us is new. We have never walked this path before. You have not passed this way before. You must be cautious but not unbelieving. You must be thoughtful and you must be obedient. You must walk in faith today and tomorrow” (Josh. 3:3-6).
As it was for them, so it is for us today! Unknown realms lie before us. Many of the Lord’s people are comfortable with the old ways. They prefer to go to church and do the same old things Christians have been doing for two thousand years. They fear change, and do not believe that God is bringing in an entirely new order. But God’s called and chosen remnant has heard the voice of Joshua-Jesus saying, “You have not passed this way before. The road before you is new. Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you! You must be obedient and walk in faith today and tomorrow.” We who have received the call to sonship have been called to paths where our feet have not walked. We cannot continue on eating manna in the wilderness and drinking water from the rock. There is a new order in God that challenges us! We will face unveilings of glory of which we have never dreamed! God is doing a new thing! A new day has arrived! A new feast of abundance and fullness is prepared! It is now time to arise and cross over our spiritual Jordan. The hour has come to begin to possess our land!
It wasn’t Moses who led the children of Israel from the wilderness into the promised land, but it was Joshua — the Hebrew name for Jesus. Moses was a shepherd, but Joshua was a military general. When our Joshua-Jesus has made the determination that it is time for us to cross over and take our land, then there is nothing that is going to stand in His way. He is a great military mind, the general and captain of our salvation! Whether we are set to battle the giants, or the Canaanites, or the Jebusites, or whatever enemy lies before us, He declares, “This is our land, this is our promise, this is our inheritance, this land belongs to us and we are taking it by the word of our God!” Our heavenly Joshua is a great warrior and He will bring us into our land. He will drive out every enemy and defeat every foe. Not one of our problems, weaknesses, besetting sins, or the power of corruption can stand before Him!
The children of Israel were commanded to “Arise and go over this Jordan.” Jordan is a type of crossing the barrier or boundary to break forth into the new. It is the point of entrance. The Hebrew word abar, meaning “to cross over” or “to pass over,” is used more than twenty times in the first four chapters of the book of Joshua. Besides emphasizing the decisive nature of this moment in the history of the nation of Israel, it distinguishes this event from what happened at the Red Sea. This word is never used to describe the passage through the waters of the sea. Two other words for crossing over are used in Exodus 14:22 and 29; they mean “enter” or “walk.” The reason for this is that the verb abar implies crossing over a boundary, whether physical like a river valley, political like a nation’s border, or spiritual as to enter into a new realm in God.
The snows from mount Lebanon had been melting and they poured into the valley making Jordan a raging torrent. The Canaanites stood on the opposite bank and laughed at the Israelites. They are certain there is no need for alarm, for Joshua will have to wait for spring floods to recede before his army can cross. But their laughter solidifies in their throats as they perceive that there is a strange moving in the Israelitish army. Joshua gives the command, “Forward, March!” How will they cross? Will they go down to a watery grave? Has he lost his mind? One mile ahead of the army go two priests bearing gently and cautiously the Ark of the Covenant — the very presence and glory of God! I can see them with the eye of the mind as they approach the raging, muddy waters. It appears the waters grow the more unruly the nearer they come. But onward they march! What faith! What unswerving trust!
Carrying out God’s strategy, the priests advance to the edge of the water, and as they touch the rim of the water, Jordan trembles, and as if answering the order of the Almighty Commander, jumps to attention, standing a half mile high. Walls of water! But God was fulfilling His promise to Joshua! The host goes over dryshod and moves into the promised land by obedience. So the unconquered and unexplored territories of the fullness of Christ can be obtained as we, in obedience to our heavenly orders, by the living word of God we now hear out of the spirit of sonship within our hearts, launch out into the deep with Joshua-Jesus as our Commander! By that same faith we do now leave the wilderness of our previous in-part experiences with God behind, and following the presence of God which goes before us we dare to step our feet into the waters of impossibilities that separate us from the land we are to possess! One step at a time we go forward, not looking back, that we may safely, by the power of God, make our entrance into the borders of our new land of the kingdom of God!
RULING OVER THE NATIONS
Wondrous things await the elect of God, things which it is not lawful for a man to utter in the hearing of uncircumcised ears and hearts. Long ages have come and gone since that first glorious dawn when the Creator uttered the portentous decree, “Let there be light,” and there are vast ages that lie yet unborn before us. Our present dispensation is closing, we are already overlapping into another. Almost all Christians are spiritually aware of this, regardless of what level of experience in God they have attained to. Glories greater far than this age has disclosed are already beginning to burn. Dawn with blushing hues is advancing in the eastern skies, stretching forth her golden fingers to draw aside the shades of night and open the gates of day. Soon will come the explosive fulfillment of divine promises that pertain to that wonderful age to come, of which we have merely “tasted” its powers (Heb. 6:5). Our blessed Lord and Christ shall see the travail of His soul and shall be satisfied, and that glory is to be revealed in us. The groaning earth is waiting, creation is longing for deliverance. The seas are roaring and the earth is quaking.
There are wars and rumors of wars and terrorism that strike fear into the hearts of men. Among the ruthless surging tide of unbridled crime, drugs, rebellion, immorality, disease, suffering, poverty, sorrow and injustice, we hear the groans of the dying. The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain! Men’s hearts are failing them for fear in looking after those things which are coming upon the earth. The cry of the oppressed is entering into the ears of the Lord of Sabbaoth. The night has been long, and is so cold and dark. But the Day Star is arising! The morning cometh! Already the flashes of light are climbing the eastern sky. Heaven and earth will soon be ablaze with the glory of the revelation of the manifest sons of God!
Why has God not brought deliverance to this sin-cursed world during the past two millenniums of church history? Ah, God be praised! There are co-heirs in whom the glory is to be revealed. There are “many brethren” to be manifested in the image of the “firstborn.” The number of these is not yet complete, but the revelation has burst forth out of the sovereign voice of God from His holy temple, and the hour is at hand. When all the heirs of the kingdom are gathered out of this dark age, God will unveil His many-membered Christ to the world. The long-awaited manifestation of the sons of God will take place, and creation will be delivered from the bondage of sin, decay, and death and brought “into the glorious liberty of the sons of God” (Rom. 8:21).
Creation cannot possibly be delivered during the church age! The gospel may be preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, and it leaves the creation in the same bondage of corruption. The gospel of this age has been designed to call out a people for His name, to form the many-membered inChristed body in the earth. That is the testimony of scripture, and this age is not intended that it should do anything else! But when the sons of God are manifested with Christ in His glory, it will be the signal for the deliverance of creation from the bondage of corruption. The godly and glorious and incorruptible race of the second Man who is the last Adam is at hand, God’s NEW MAN. HE will bring the cure! HE will enlighten the minds of the people and turn their hearts to the Lord! HE will heal the broken world! He will rebuke sin and sorrow and disease! HE will bind death! HE will rifle the grave! HE will deliver creation! Isn’t it wonderful! But we must possess and inherit our land before the nations and all creation can be set free! That is the mystery!
God, away back before the mountains were formed, or ever the sun and moon appeared, had perfected His plans for the future rulers of the works of His hands. Those plans called for a planet named Earth, and for His future rulers, His own sons, to be placed there for their training in God’s school of dominion. And those plans called for a tempter to ensnare the original pair, who were made to be deceived and subjected to a realm where they could learn to overcome and rule, first within themselves, then over the earth, and finally over all things of God’s vast creation. “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope” (Rom. 8:20). God had a better plan for men than a garden — a very beautiful garden, of course, yet a garden in which nothing ever happened and no one ever learned anything or got anywhere. If there had never been a fall, then there could be no salvation, and man could never have learned through grace to rule his enemies within and without. The fall with its plan of redemption provided the perfect school where a man could experience in a practical way the principles of dominion!
It is in the realm of sonship, this realm of maturity, this realm of overcoming, that the increase of God’s government is known. As Christ’s life grows within us, His government increases within. We find that more and more we are able to reign over all His enemies within ourselves! We all have inherited characteristics, learned ways, acquired traits, developed habits, and have personality quirks carried over from childhood, that are in opposition to the spirit and nature of the Christ. His government must increase within us until all those things are so ruled over by the mind of Christ that no one would ever suspect that they ever existed in our life!
Many who know me would be surprised to hear that at one time in my life I suffered from an inferiority complex! Some people have been stubborn all their life and rebellious. They want to have their own way. Some people are hard, critical, domineering, and unforgiving. They’ve been that way all their life. Some are fearful, or always beat down by problems and circumstances. Others have fallen again and again to the lusts of the flesh, to greed, immorality, drugs, drunkenness, etc. Others have awful tempers, fly off the handle, use vile language and say terrible things. And some are self-righteous, holier than thou, super-spiritual, always right, and know it all! You can’t tell them anything. By the indwelling life of Christ we have all been given the power to lay down our life, and there is another government that is being raised up within us! As this government unfolds in our lives we find that all these enemies are conquered, driven out, possessed, and dethroned! The increase of His kingdom delivers us from all enemies that have occupied our land! Christ is King in us. He rules! He delivers! He is mighty to save to the uttermost!
I say to you today by the authority of God — if God’s kingdom is coming in you, if His government is increasing in you, then His government is absolutely capable of ruling in righteousness and peace and power over every situation and circumstance. I do not say it will all happen overnight or tomorrow. But nothing is too hard for the government of the almighty Christ! You do not have to settle for things as they are. YOU can change them! He that is in you is mighty, and He will make you an overcomer right where you are. You must overcome within yourself before you can expect to see changes in those about you. You have been apprehended as a king-priest after the order of Melchizedek! You have power to conquer, power to possess, power to inherit, power to bless, power to reconcile, power to redeem, power to change and transform all things! When we have fully possessed our own land and clamed our own inheritance we shall then be qualified to rule nations and worlds and galaxies!
God wants His government to so increase in us that we change the complexion of all things about us. God is raising up His elect in this hour to sit with Christ right now upon His throne! Oh, yes! His divine authority is beginning to operate in and through our lives in that undistinguished place where we are. Don’t tell me that you are in some spiritually mystical way reigning in a high place in the Spirit over Russia and Europe and Asia and Africa and America, calling the shots of what is happening in the political, social, judicial, military, and economic realms, if you aren’t ruling right where you are. Peace and righteousness and blessing will be established wherever we go! It is our ministry to bring the kingdom of God to bear on all situations great and small. The kingdom of God is not just in word, not something we talk about or read in papers, it is not a doctrine, and it is not just a revelation — the kingdom of God is that power which is working in us! Aren’t you glad!
Turning inwardly we find that there have been so many kings that have ruled within us, kingdoms entrenched in our thinking, perception, desires, ways, and actions. These “seven nations” are represented again in the book of Revelation as the “seven heads” of the beast. These seven heads are called “seven mountains” and mountains are the figure for kingdoms. The seven heads are thus seven kingdoms — the same seven nations Israel had to conquer in their promised land! Can you not see the mystery? “To him that overcometh will I give power over the nations…as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers.” It’s amazing the nations that have been resident in us! All these must be dealt with by the spirit of His Life! These kings are being subdued in every member of God’s elect and brought to naught that His kingdom may take its rightful place in our lives. Christ must fully reign within us until He has thoroughly and completely conquered all the “land” within us. Now we stand in the new land of His kingdom, fully believing and expecting that He will put every enemy within us under His feet. We are cooperating with Him in that divine purpose!
To be continued…