Monthly Archives: June 2012

Jericho

Who’s in control?

Joshua 6:26

Joshua instructed the people NOT to touch or keep any of the “accursed things” lest they become cursed. This would have been anything used in pagan rituals or idol worship to their foreign, false gods.  The people of God are not to mingle with the things of this world that are used to glorify the devil. I’m not talking about man’s rules or legalism – I’m speaking of tv shows,movies, music, clubs, organizations, or practices that clearly have a dark message or tone that comes from the enemy, that are not only socially acceptable, but widely popular. The trick of the enemy is to desensitize people into believing these things aren’t really harmful, when in fact, they can open you up to the demonic, often without your knowledge.

After their victory, Joshua declares that anyone who rebuilds the city of Jericho will be cursed before the Lord.  It will affect their firstborn and their youngest (generational curse would be upon them)  – Joshua 6:26: God honored Joshua’s decree, and it happened just as he said! You can read about it in 1 King 16:34. It was during the reign of the evil King Ahab, when a man named Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. It cost him the lives of his first born son Abiram, and his youngest son, Segub. It’s unclear if he actually killed his sons as a sacrifice, or if they died by the hand of the Lord in some mysterious way. What we do know is that the word spoken by Joshua came to pass after 500 years. This proves the power we as Christians have in our words to decree & declare a thing, and it shall be done.  Jesus has all power and authority in Heaven and on earth (and below) – He gave us that same authority in His name.

Jericho was utterly destroyed, no human or animal survived (other than Rahab and her family as promised).  Despite Joshua’s curse, and the obvious price Hiel Bethel paid to rebuild this city, it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the years. To this day, Jericho is located on the west bank of Israel under Palestinian rule. Israelis are not allowed in Jericho.

It’s important to ask ourselves: why was the enemy allowed to take back this land that God had given to His people?

Victory in Battle

 Joshua 6

As the Children of Israel were facing their first battle in their newly acquired promised land, Joshua gives them some very strange instructions from the Lord. It’s clear to see that this will be no ordinary battle, and in typical “God fashion”, He does the complete opposite of what comes natural.

Only God would:

  • Send an army in to march around the City wall for six days without making any attempts to fight. They were told not to make a sound, or in any way use their voice. Perhaps this was to keep them from voicing their concerns about how this was going to work??? Especially given their forefathers, who did nothing but question and complain in the wilderness.
  • Armed with the weapon of God’s choice – trumpets made of rams horns before swords
  • And then tell them to march around seven times on the seventh day, and when they hear the trumpet, they are told to “shout” and they’ll see the walls around Jericho fall flat!

Now God had already assured them of their victory, yet He was working in the people:

  • Unity – they marched together, following the priest who carried the Ark of the Covenant
  • Obedience – they followed God’s orders without knowing how He was going to accomplish His promise for victory – and when it made little sense in the natural.

One important tool the Lord highlights in this story is the power of praise. A shout of victory can still bring down spiritual walls and break spiritual bondage to this day!

In the Bible, the number seven symbolizes perfection.  They had seven priests with seven ram’s horns, and were told to march around seven times -on the seventh day they were to shout…surely the number seven is significant!  We see in Gen. 2:2-3 that after God created the earth in the first six days, He rested on the seventh. Therefore, God blessed the seventh day. In the battle of Jericho, they marched for six days (that was their work) and on the seventh, they marched and shouted because that was the day of perfection, the day of their victory!

“Shout, for the Lord has given you the city!” – Joshua 6:16

The Israelites did exactly as God commanded, and they saw the walls crumble before their eyes. The entire City was destroyed – every man, woman, child, and animal, with the exception of Rahab and her family. Joshua had instructed them to spare Rahab, according to the promise they made to her when she hid the spies.  It is important to keep your promises – just as God is trustworthy, so are His people.

The battle of Jericho was special in that it was their first victory in their promised land.  In the battles following Jericho, the Lord allowed the people to take the spoils (riches). But for this battle the Lord required the spoils to be consecrated to Him.

“But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron are consecrated to the Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.” – Joshua 6:19

This was in keeping with the command to give your “first fruits” to the Lord.  God wanted the first fruits of their first battle to be consecrated to Him. He still wants us to put Him first in all areas of our lives, giving Him top priority – and of course the first fruits of all our wages earned.

The Israelites went on from Jericho to win many more battles – and  God was with them just as He promised.  “So the Lord was with Joshua and his fame spread throughout the country” – Joshua 6:27

  • Just as God was with Joshua, He is with us today.

 “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” – Matthew 28:20

  • We still have guaranteed victory over the battles we face.

“A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all” – Psalm 34:19

  • We each have to take possession of our own personal promised land

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Let’s end with these very encouraging words found in Joshua 21:43-45

“So the Lord gave to Israel all the lands of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.”

When God fights your battles, you always win! When the enemy sees that you are taking possession of your promised land, he will fear you – God will give you rest as long as you continue to trust and follow Him. God’s promises, no matter how long they may take to come about, will come to fruition exactly as He promised. God never fails to keep His word!

What’s Next?

After You Cross The Jordan Into Your Personal “Promise Land”

Immediately after crossing over the Jordan…to set their feet on the promised land, God had instructions for Joshua and the people. There were two things he was directed to tell the people to do right away, before they went any further. We would do well to heed these instructions in our own lives, when our Heavenly Father is leading us into our destiny. Life with God is a journey, and nothing is wasted. All along the way, we are learning valuable lessons that will serve us in our future endeavors, tests and trials.

What did He command Joshua to do first?

Joshua 4:1-2 – the Lord told Joshua to take twelve men, one from each tribe, and give them these instructions:

“’take for yourselves twelve stones from here, out of the midst of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood firm. You shall carry them over with you and leave them in the lodging place where you lodge tonight.’”

Then in Joshua 4:5, he said to them:

“cross over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come saying ‘what do these stones mean to you?’”

So they collected stones to make two memorials, one on the ground, and one in the middle of the Jordan they had crossed over. This was God’s way of making sure that they REMEMBERED what He had done, but also, He wanted them to share their experience (testify) with their children, and their children’s children.

I want to be able to tell others “what the stones in my life mean to me” – every word, interaction, sermon, prophesy, and major milestone in my walk with the Lord..every time I’ve “experienced His presence and was forever changed by it”, I want to remember and be able to pass along to those who need to be encouraged.

We see this same pattern carried out in the Old and New Testament. At the Passover, the children of Israel were told to eat the Passover meal and keep that ceremony from then on, explaining to their future generations how God had saved and delivered them out of Egypt. He tells Joshua to build memorial stones to remember crossing the Jordan, just like the Red Sea. In the New Testament, Jesus celebration of the Passover with His disciples is now known as “the last supper”. When Jesus breaks the bread and passes the wine cup, He commands them to keep this ceremony and do it in remembrance of Him until the Lord’s coming.

So what is the significance of remembering?

“that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” – Joshua 4:24

What happens when people forget what God has done for them?

Let’s look at this verse as a perfect example:

“How often they provoked Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power; the day when He redeemed them from the enemy, when He worked His signs in Egypt, and His wonders in the field of Zoan…” – Psalm 78:40

Forgetting what God has done leads us to abandon His way and begin to do things on our own. We are told not to lean on our own understanding, but in all our ways acknowledge Him (Prov. 3:5-6). That’s because the Bible says that God’s ways are higher than ours (Isa. 55:9). The children of Israel were constantly forsaking God and going back to the ways of Egypt, which represents “flesh” or the “worlds system”. But God has longed for a people that He can show off as His own. He wants to glorify His name through a people belonging to Him.

For this reason, we come to God’s second command to Joshua. Circumcision!

Circumcision was a sign of the covenant God made with Abraham (see Gen. 17). The new generation of Israelites born in the wilderness was not yet circumcised. So in Joshua 5, God instructs Joshua to have them circumcised and symbolically reestablishes His covenant with His chosen people. The old is passed away, all things in this land are being made new. (see Joshua 5:6)

After they were circumcised and healed, the Lord said to Joshua:

 “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.”

Their bondage from Egypt was completely removed! This foreshadows how we are saved through Jesus Christ atonement on the cross and He has declared us FREE! “He who the Son sets free is free indeed” (John 8:36)

The Israelites were God’s chosen people – the ones He decided to make covenant with, to show His favor and protection, and to make a distinction between them and the rest of the world. He did this, not to be exclusive, but so that as others looked on Israel, and saw how God dealt with His children, they would do as Rahab did, and seek Him for themselves. God loves the whole world…but wanted to show His character and ability to and through a people group. Of course after Jesus came, He extended salvation to everyone. Paul teaches that there is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female (Gal. 3:28). All believers are sanctified and receive the covenant promises and the inheritance.

However, it is important to remember that while salvation is free, God still desires that we consecrate ourselves wholly to Him. This is no longer done through circumcision, but rather a circumcision of the heart.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9

So the instructions we heed as we get ready to enter into our destiny is this:

  • Always remember what God has done for you, His faithfulness, His power, His loving kindness and tender mercies.
  • Consecrate yourselves to the Lord – make sure that you are living in a way that others know where you stand and that you belong to Him.

We are in this world, but we’re not of this world. Our citizenship and allegiance is to another kingdom, and Jesus is the King.

Crossing the Jordan (part 2)

Going After His Presence

After 40 years of their ancestors wandering in the desert – and after much preparation…it’s FINALLY time for the children of Israel to cross over the Jordan River to their God-given promised land. (Joshua 3)

What is standing between you and your personal promise land? It’s time to cross over!

They encamp on the edge of the Jordan for three days and then Joshua gives the order. It’s that time! However, Joshua gives them this very important command:

“When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it.” – Joshua 3:3

Now we know that the ark of the covenant held the Ten Commandments, manna, and Aaron’s rod. It was Israel’s most sacred and treasured possession because it represented God’s presence. So we can see that Joshua’s command to them was basically saying “GET UP and GO AFTER GOD’s PRESENCE! This command hasn’t changed for us under the new covenant (Luke 14:27).

Joshua gave further instructions:

“…Do not come near it (the ark), that you may know the way by which you must go, for you have not passed this way before.” – Joshua 3:4

They were told to put an appropriate amount of space between themselves and the ark because they were headed into unfamiliar territory and they didn’t know the way. Too often if God tells us where we’re going and what He has planned, we have a tendency to get ahead of Him. This was the warning to the Israelites “don’t try to get too close or worse, pass the ark, because you don’t know the way. You need to follow His presence!

Joshua gives them one more very important command BEFORE they crossed over:

Sanctify yourselves…” – Joshua 3:5

sanc·ti·fy/ˈsaNG(k)təˌfī/

Verb:
  1. Set apart as or declare holy; consecrate.
  2. Make legitimate or binding by religious sanction.

Joshua was giving them a chance to leave their issues on this side of their promised land. Too many people don’t deal with their sin and try to move ahead into their destiny while still clinging to their sins and the things that hold them in bondage.

Verse 5 goes on to say that after they sanctify themselves, they will see God perform wonders!

“…for tomorrow the Lord will do wondersamong you” – Joshua 3:5

Joshua has a sense of expectancy…he’s joyfully anticipating how God is going to show His power and glory to the people. We NEED this same expectancy – when was the last time you went to church EXPECTING God to do something wonderful? Or how about in your own life, with your personal prayers?  Do you expect God to perform wonders? I can tell you this, He responds to that kind of hunger (Matthew 5:6)

Joshua 3:6-8 – God gives Joshua “the plan”. Then Joshua tells the children of Israel “come here and hear the words of the Lord your God”. Then Joshua tells the people to follow the priests who are carrying the ark.

“And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” – Joshua 3:13

God had promised Joshua that He would part the waters of the Jordan just like He parted the Red Sea. This was a sign that He was with them just as He had been with Moses. It was also to show the people of the earth that God’s hand was on Israel (Joshua 4:24 – more on this next time)

If anyone had reason to question God’s timing, it could of been Joshua. Not only were they making a trip into unfamiliar territory, already knowing they would eventually have to fight the inhabitants of the land…but first they had to cross the Jordan…which was now at flood stage.

“….for the Jordan overflows it’s banks during the whole time of harvest” – Joshua 3:15

It required faith

  • faith to believe God was with them, even after all this time – after their forefather’s murmured and complained, and ultimately disobeyed so that God was angry with them…they had to believe that God had not changed His mind about giving them this promised land.

 

  • faith to believe that God would give them victory over the enemies in the land

 

  • faith to believe that when the priests stepped into the water, it would stop flowing

 

  • AND faith to believe that the water would hold, just as it did with the Red Sea, so they could pass through on dry ground!

“Then the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel crossed over on dry ground, until all the people had crossed completely over the Jordan.” – Joshua 3:17

What can we learn from the Israelites crossing over?

  • As your waiting to enter into the promises of God for your life, sometimes all you can do is stand firm!

 

  • Even if the waters are surrounding you, in the presence of the Lord, it is dry ground (solid ground; He is our firm foundation).

 

  • Let’s not go halfway and turn back, but like the children of Israel, we need to go completely across to the other side. No turning back, no standing still, no camping out in the midst of the Jordan…go completely over.

 

  • The priests got to carry the presence of God (the ark), and the people followed them. The Bible says that we are kings and priests unto the Lord (1 Peter 2:9, Rev. 5:9-10) – as we follow Christ into our promise land, others will see it and want to follow too.

 

 

Unlikely Alliance

Joshua Chapter 2…such an amazing story!

Joshua, just as Moses did, sent out spies (only two this time) to check out the promised land, especially the area around Jericho. While in the City, they find refuge in a very unlikely place…we aren’t told the details of how this came about, but they ended up in the home of a harlot named Rahab.

The King of Jericho was informed that the Israelites were spying out the land and a search party was sent out to look for them. Rahab hides the spies and lies to her own countrymen as to their whereabouts. Why does she help them? The answer is found in these verses:

“Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men: ‘I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath’.” – Joshua 2:8-12

I find it remarkable that an unbeliever, a foreigner, and a harlot at that, exhibited this kind of faith. She displayed more faith in God’s power based on hearing about His mighty deeds, than the children of Israel led by Moses who saw the Red Sea depart with their own eyes. She stated right up front “I know God has given you this land” How did she know? Because God’s reputation for protecting and blessing His children had proceeded them. The whole City of Jericho was fainthearted because they were afraid of the Israelites. It makes me think, what if the 10 spies Moses sent out would of believed like Joshua and Caleb??? Instead of saying:

“…We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” – Numbers 13:31

“…and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” – Numbers 13:33

They would of saved themselves a lot of wandering in the desert if they would have believed God when He said “I’ve given you this land”. If they could of only known, their enemies on the other side of the Jordan were afraid of them. This is often the way the enemy deceives us – he makes things seem bigger and impossible. But if we trust what God has promised, we’ll see that the enemy is actually afraid of those who step out in faith and obey God’s commands. Those who dare to believe against what it looks like in the natural are a dangerous threat to the devil. I love how Rahab described the people of Jericho as having “no remaining courage”because of the people of Israel. This seemed significant to me since God went out of His way several times to tell Joshua “to be strong and courageous”. We can be courageous even when the courage of others fails because the Lord is with us.

Now Rahab decided to reach out to God’s people and strike a deal. She would help them in exchange for her, and her family’s life being spared when they took over the City. She makes them swear to the Lord (make an oath or promise before God) that they will save her. The spies agree on the condition that she hang a “scarlet chord” out her window and she and her family must stay inside. This sounds very similar to the passover – as well as a foreshadow of Christians being saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. The fact that Rahab was part of this story in history to help the Children of Israel shows us two things: •God loves everyone – no one is beyond His reach to be saved. We can’t put people and sin in categories and think that some are just too far gone to ever be reached. . •God can use anyone and anything to help His children obtain their promised land. He can cause all kinds of “unlikely alliances” in your life to accomplish His plans for you. We shouldn’t even try to figure out how God is going to work because His ways are NOT our ways! What happened to this unlikely alliance? Rahab’s one act in helping the spies forever changed the course of her life. She went on to marry and is recorded as being the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth and is listed in the lineage of Jesus Christ!

The Promise

Let me paint you a picture of what was going on with the Israelites prior to entering into the land God had promised to give them…

Moses is gone – Joshua’s in charge now. A new generation of Israelites has come of age (all the ones who were filled with doubt & unbelief have died out in the wilderness because God said they would not enter into His rest).

This was the promise from God…

“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.” – Joshua 1:3

So the commission is the same as it was with Moses, God still intended them to have a promised land flowing with milk and honey. He has already guaranteed them VICTORY!

Still, the greater promise I find is this: God told Joshua to be strong because He would always be with him – God promised His constant presence. This was the promise that would see Joshua and the Israelites through, even though God had to reassure Joshua several times!!! (sound familiar? It sure does to me!)

Joshua 1:5 – “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Joshua 1:6 – “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them” (God keeps His promises)

Joshua 1:7 – “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you…”

Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

God had previously commanded Moses, not once, but twice, to also encourage Joshua (see Deut. 1:38; 3:28)

These passages are so encouraging to me because I see that God knows that sometimes we need reassurance to take that step of faith into the unknown toward our destiny. That’s when He gives us encouragement in a variety of different ways, to once again remind us of His presence and guaranteed victory. The key is trust Him and not give room to a spirit of fear to bring doubt and unbelief. Remember, that was the downfall of their ancestors in the wilderness.

We have two promises to hold onto today – the first one is the same as it was with Moses and Joshua – each of us have our own personal “promised land” that God has given us. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us as we enter into our land. The second promise was accomplished on the cross. Jesus won our victory and promises that since He set us free…we are free indeed!

Preparation for Crossing the Jordan

Preparation -Joshua 1:10-18

Joshua orders his officers to pass through the camp and give the people this message: “PREPARE provisions for yourselves” for in three days you’ll cross the Jordan to possess the land the Lord has promised to give you.

They had three days of preparation – three days of the old, before a new beginning in their promised land. The same amount of time Jesus was crucified, dead, buried, and then rose again to new life – thus creating a new covenant forever with all those who would accept the gift of salvation. The day we as Christians accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, was really the first step toward our personal “promised land”. From there, it’s a journey of following His lead and submitting our lives to His will for us.

It’s interesting that they were told to prepare for themselves

“Up until this point, God’s people had been provided for and had survived totally by His hand. Now God was developing in His people a mentality of personal responsibility, for the manna would soon stop.” (Joshua 1:11 – NKJ Spirit Filled Life Study Bible notes)

God’s provision and care for the Israelites in the wilderness was similar to how He carefully watches over and provides for a new born again Christian. Just as a child goes through stages of development where their needs are met according to their age, God deals with His children according to the stages of our spiritual walk with Him. As time goes on, He allows certain things to test your faith, to produce a level of maturity. It doesn’t mean we cease our dependence on God, but rather we learn to partner with Him through a deeper, more intimate relationship.

What is our response today as we hear “prepare yourselves” to cross over into your personal promised land? We know the usual disciplines that prepare us:

  • prayer
  • reading the Bible
  • spending time in God’s presence
  • worshipping both privately and corporately
  • regularly assembling together with God’s people.

I encourage you to also pray and ask God if there is something specific He would have you either leave behind, or bring into this new land. Sometimes we need to forgive someone, let go of something we’ve placed too high a value, rid ourselves of interferences, right all our relationships to the best of our ability, etc. Each person’s preparation is different and unique to their “promise” from God.

Joshua gives instruction to the people in Joshua 1:14-15 (but he’s actually quoting Moses’ command in Deut. 3:18-20.) He tells them to take turns fighting the enemies and help one another out so that they may all enjoy the land God has given them.

This is a beautiful picture of unity in the Body of Christ – too often we are so focused on our own journey, we neglect to help others in their pursuit of God’s will. Christianity doesn’t represent a “to each their own” mentality. God designed us to be linked with one another as we are connected to Him – that’s why He called us “a body, with Himself as the head.

“The land would be conquered only by a united Israel…” – NKJ Spirit Filled Life Study Bible Notes

If you are headed to your promised land (ie., a new level of wisdom, understanding, anointing, ministry, or breakthrough) whatever your promise from the Lord, take some time to prepare yourself for the journey by whatever means the Holy Spirit directs you to do. Also, remember the Lord will often use the Body of Christ to help you, and vice versa, to conquer the “enemies in the land” – so you must work in unity.

Carrying Egypt into the Wilderness

Exodus 13:17-18 says that God didn’t allow the children of Israel to take the shortest route to the promised land…

“…God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, ‘Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt’. So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea…”

God knew that they were still very fragile getting used to this new found freedom. Remember, they still carried a “bondage mentality” from all the generations of captivity. He thought if they had to deal with a battle right away, they’d change their minds. Interestingly enough, they DID have a battle to contend with, as Pharaoh changed his mind and came after them. Just as God knew they would, when some of the people saw Pharaoh’s army coming after them, they wanted to run back to Egypt:

“Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt? ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.'”

I’ve seen many people today who are bound by all kinds of junk that effects their lives. They hate it, they complain about it, but they aren’t willing to do what it takes to be set free. In their own minds, they believe it’s better to stay in Egypt where it’s familiar, than to believe God for deliverance.

The Bible says that for 400 years He heard the cries of His people asking that they be delivered out of bondage. Although in the natural it’s justified, I’m sure along with prayer, there was also a great deal of murmuring and complaining about the injustice. So He sent Moses to lead them and he performed many miracles before their eyes.

  • The plagues (Ex. 9:14)
  • Cloud by day & fire by night (Ex. 13:22)
  • The parting of the Red Sea and victory over their enemies (Ex. 14:21)
  • Manna from Heaven (Ex. 16:35) Water out of a rock (Ex. 17:6)
  • Their clothes and shoes never wore out (Deut. 8:4)

After all that God did to show the people they could trust Him, how did they react?

  • They talked about turning back to Egypt
  • They murmured and complained.
  • They wanted to stone Moses and Aaron
  • They decided to make the wilderness like “Egypt” by using the spoils they’d received from the Egyptians, melted down the gold and made a golden calf for idol worship

Here’s what we can learn from this:

1) Go forward, even if you’re apprehensive of the unknown – God has promised to be with you every step of the way.

2) Stop murmuring and complaining! Did the children of Israel have legitimate gripes when they were in bondage? Of course. Do we have things that happen to us in life that are hurtful, unfair, and unjust? Absolutely. But when God sets us FREE, it’s time to move on, and not allow our past experiences to dictate our present or future. They went from a “bondage mentality” to a “victim mentality”. Bondage mentality is when you carry the memories of the bondage with you and haven’t fully recognized you’re free. Victim mentality is where you refuse to move past the bondage and live out the rest of your life murmuring, complaining and blaming everything on what happened to you.

3) Don’t try to “stone” the ones that God has sent to help move you into your destiny. God places people in your life that sometimes push you out of your comfort zone. Don’t turn on them just because you don’t like what they’re telling you.

4) You can’t decide to add a mixture of other religions or the ways of the world to God’s plan. Do it HIS way. Otherwise you create an idol by trying to make God into an image that suits your lifestyle.

I’ve heard it said that the journey to the promised land would’ve taken them about two weeks. Instead, they wandered for forty years. According to Hebrews 3:16-18, the Israelites didn’t enter into the promised land because of unbelief. God was angry with them because after all those years of His faithful care, they NEVER learned to trust Him.

“For who having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”

What is the lesson for you and I? It’s found in Hebrews 3:7-11:

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.'”

*** Know God’s ways, know His character – trust Him. Don’t be filled with doubt & unbelief. Don’t let your past bondage make your heart hard. God set the children of Israel free from bondage and desired to lead them to a promised land. Jesus saved us and gave us the Holy Spirit, and weapons to overcome every stronghold of the enemy. Too many Christians are saved and going to Heaven, but still walk around bound and oppressed by demonic strongholds. No matter what has happened to you in the past, don’t be a victim! Jesus came to set you FREE and you are free indeed.***

Don’t try to carry Egypt (bondage) into your Promised Land – or you’ll wind up wandering around in the wilderness.

Understanding Spiritual Bondage

Before we can discuss spiritual freedom, we need to address these questions:
  • What is spiritual bondage?
  • Can Christians be spiritually bound?
  • How do we get in bondage?

I believe that just as a person cannot fully appreciate salvation without first acknowledging their needfor a Savior, so it is with freedom…you cannot walk in total freedom without recognizing those things that are keeping you bound.

What is Spiritual Bondage?

The Webster definition of bondage is:

  •  The state of being under control of a force or influence
  •  The state of one who is bound as in captivity or slavery

We can see in the Bible that Spiritual bondage doesn’tmean you are being held physically captive.  Remember how Joseph in the OT, or Paul in the NT were both thrown into prison?  They were in captivity, but were not in spiritual bondage. They did not turn away from God and lose their hope. Paul and Silas exemplified this by praising the Lord. Because they weren’t “spiritually bound”, their praise actually caused them to be set free physically as well.

(Acts 16:25-26) “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose”

Spiritual bondage has more to do with Webster’s first definition – In this case, the controlling force or influence starts out as the lusts of your own flesh, but is being manipulated by the demonic.

Can Christians be in Spiritual Bondage?

Yes! Not all bondage is about possession, but sometimes it is a matter of oppression. Which means you can be saved and have the Holy Spirit living inside of you, and still open up areas of your life to demonic influence. The only one who has never had any form of spiritual bondage, is also the only one who has never sinned – Jesus Christ.  The Bible says that Jesus spoke this about Himself in John 14:30:

“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming (Satan) and he has nothing in Me.”

There was no sin in Jesus, therefore nothing for Satan to tempt Him with, no foothold or opening for him to rule over Jesus.

How Do You Become Bound?

Spiritual bondage is any area of our lives where we come into agreement with a lie from the enemy that is in direct opposition to God’s Word. In those areas, it gives the demonic legal access, and it’s like an open invitation for them to come and torment us.
The easiest way to explain how a person can become bound up is to give an example:

If someone hurts us and we become offended…we know the Word of God says to forgive them. If we decide NOT to obey the Word and forgive them, we open up a door for the enemy to come in and set up what is called a “foothold”.
Ephesians 4:27 says “do not give the devil a foothold” (NIV)
The New American Standard (Eph. 4:27) puts it like this: “do not give the devil an opportunity
My NKJ Study Bible says (Eph. 4:27) – “nor give place to the devil” – It explains that the Greek word for place (topos) emphasizes that believers can actually give ground in their lives to satanic control. If we give the enemy a foothold, and the Holy Spirit convicts us, but we choose to ignore it, eventually this foothold will grow into a stronghold. You see, demons don’t like to work alone – they come in packs.
Using our example from above, let’s examine what happens after a foothold has been established. It started out as unforgiveness, but that wasn’t enough of a hold for the demons…then it turned into resentment (a little bit stronger hold). If you don’t deal with the resentment, it goes on to retaliation (an even bigger hold)…then full blown anger (a HUGE hold). Before you know it, you have a stronghold of bitterness that is no longer contained to this one particular incident, but has taken over every area of your life. You now see everything through the eyes of bitterness. You wonder why you’re so angry all the time?…why bad things keep happening to you because your prayers aren’t answered?…where did this sickness come from?  (Many forms of sickness and disease are directly linked to opening ourselves up to some form of spiritual bondage).
This was just one example of how a stronghold can be established.

We can be bound because of:
Habitual sin, giving into the lusts of our flesh

Rom. 8:5 – “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the thins of the Spirit.
Rom. 8:13 – “For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
Acts. 8:23 – “for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”

Disobedience

Eph. 2:2-3 – “in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”
1 Chron. 9:1 – “…The people of Judah were taken captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness.”

Ignorance of God’s Word

Eph. 4:17-18 – “…you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”
Hosea 4:6 – “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge”
Isaiah 5:13 – “Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst”
Generational curses (We’ll discuss this at a later date)
Exodus 34:7 – “I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected–even children in the third and fourth generations.”

This was an explanation of bondage to lay the ground work for our Bible study on Freedom.


Join me again for our next study where we’ll look at Israel (which represents the Church) and discuss a “Bondage mentality”.

Bondage Mentality (satan’s trap)

We know that God sent Moses to set His people free from over 400 years of captivity in Egypt. For generations of God’s people, bondage was all they knew. They had never experienced freedom, never been their own Nation or people…only slaves to Egypt. During that time, they’d watched how the Egyptians worshipped idols, and conducted their lives in a worldly fashion. The Israelites called themselves the “people of God” and understood that they were different, but for most, it was only a tradition – a part of their heritage as Jews. Moses was the only one who had a personal encounter with the Living God.

So when the time came to deliver the people, God showed His strength through many signs and wonders. The plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the cloud by day and fire by night – one might imagine the Israelites would have seen God’s protection, and from that moment on, lived happily ever after.

You know the story…there was no happy ending for this group. Instead, at the first sign of trouble, they cried and complained “Did you bring us out here to die? It would be better for us to go back to Egypt!” Unfortunately this would become their constant motto.

What was so great about Egypt? With the exception of being slaves, did they not have it so bad? NO! They were in terrible bondage. They constantly cried out and asked God to deliver them. So why would they ever think it would be better to go back? …because they had a bondage mentality.

As uncomfortable as it was, it was comfortable because they knew what to expect. Humans are great at learning to cope with bad situations, rather than pressing through the challenges necessary to change. Many times we are unhappy with our circumstances and we earnestly pray to be delivered OUT of it…but when we don’t understand the methods God uses, or the direction He’s taking us, we run back to our “Egypt” – the fear of the unknown is sometimes greater than remaining in our bondage. What’s the key to being set free? You have to trust God’s plan even when you don’t understand it and you have to desire freedom more than what’s comfortable.

So, they were free from Egypt and headed toward their “promise land” – but the problem remained…the only thing that had changed was their location. The people were physically free, but still bound by wrong mindsets. They were full of doubt and unbelief that good things were really happening for them. Years of memories from being controlled by fear and intimidation, had left it’s mark. This is true for us today as well – Jesus came to set us free, but we MUST renew our minds.

Rom. 12:2 – “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” New Living Translation

Perhaps the murmuring and complaining were a result of resentment that God didn’t come through the way they’d expected. Have you ever felt disappointed when you’ve prayed and asked God to move on your behalf, and you had it all worked out in your head what it would look like? If so, you know that God rarely ever does things they way we think. In their mind, they might of thought the Lord would give them Egypt. Instead, He wanted to take them on a journey to a new land.