The Pattern of the Christian's Life
THE PATTERN of the Christian's life is laid down in symbol in the journey of God's people from Egypt to the Promised Land. It is divided into three general phases: (1) From Egypt to Kadesh-barnea, representing a period of education of the believer under the special direction of God. (2) From Kadesh-barnea to the river Jordan, which represents a phase of disciplinary experience in which God deals with the self life. (3) The conquest of Canaan, which represents the life of victory through faith.
This book is concerned with the last phase of this great experience, its application to the church life of God's people and to their lives as individuals.
In this journey the life of the believer is dramatically portrayed. In Paul's Letter to the Romans the life of the believer is theologically expounded. The same message is set forth in both. Thus, the Apostle in I Corinthians 10:11 says: "Now these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come." Here, and other places in God's Word, we are told that God has recorded in the history of His chosen people, the Israelites, the great truths which we need to guide us and empower us along our pilgrimage here on earth.
The reader would do well to review the account of this great journey, and note how utterly dependent upon God were His people, and how the incidents along the way give that marvelous display of divine grace in behalf of an unworthy people, simply because somebody believed God. Since many others have led us with such great profit along this pathway, and have pointed out with such diligent observation the wonderful truths revealed in this journey of symbolic teaching, we shall content ourselves with a simple restatement of the symbolism, and press on to where our message begins.
Egypt represents the bondage of sin in which all of us are born. The passover lamb is a type of Christ our Saviour, the "lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8).
The blood applied to the door posts represents the sinner's trust in Christ to save, while the baptism at the Red Sea depicts the experience actualized in the sinner's heart. The former represents a transaction recorded on the book of God in Heaven when He pronounces the sinner justified by faith; the latter represents the experiential realization of this faith in the sinner's heart through the Holy Ghost who comes in to dweIl. (Note: No attempt is here made to separate these two phases of "conversion" by time and sequence).
This is the sense in which the Holy Ghost baptizes us into the death and resurrection of Christ. This is not the so-called "baptism of the Holy Ghost," but is rather that baptism spoken of by Paul in Romans 6:3, 4: "Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was
raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life."
Thus, the child of God, by death, is cut off from the world and pronounced dead to sin. Thus, also, he is raised up from the dead and made alive unto Christ, and is ready now to begin his walk as a believer, a child of God.
Now the child of God is on his way to the Promised Land, singing with Miriam, Moses' sister, "Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and the rider he hath thrown into the sea" (Exodus 15:22).
The events which follow in the next few weeks are full of teaching, but we must leave this to other studies. We should like to repeat that all these events up to Kadesh-barnea were educational and were designed by the Lord Himself to instruct His children in the ways of God, as well as to wean them from the life in Egypt. At Sinai they camp for a while to learn the three great truths which we have indicated in the introduction: (1) That man is utterly sinful. ( 2) That God is utterly holy. ( 3) That Jesus is the only Saviour. The first two of these great truths are taught through the Ten Commandments; the third is taught through the tabernacle and the offerings.
At last they are brought, by a varied pathway, to Kadesh-barnea, where God offers to give them the Promised Land if they will believe. Their unbelief closes the gate to this great experience, and they begin the second phase of this journey, the wilderness wanderings. During this period all those who were twenty years old when they left Egypt, except Caleb and Joshua, died. This is a type of the destruction of the flesh, as we have said, and represents that experience in the life of the believer which is described in Romans 7, the flesh warring against the Spirit, Thus
God designed to get rid of that unbelieving group which hindered the spiritual progress of Israel. It took the Israelites, because of this one act of unbelief, thirty-eight years to come to what might have been reached in a few days, had they believed God and marched in by faith. So it is that God lets us, who lean upon the arm of flesh, wander in the wilderness of our own fleshly wisdom and carnality until we come at last, in desperation perhaps, to that point where we see that we must live by faith just as we were saved by faith. This is the spiritual mystery which we seek to recapture and make real to the reader in this message. All too often it requires too much time and sad experience for us to mature, to learn to trust, to rely blindly upon God's Word, and to get through with the temptation to rely upon the flesh. Too often we come late in life, if ever at all, to the great achievements wrought by faith. It takes so long for self to die out!
So without discussing the details, we would say that the wilderness wanderings represent the life of the carnal Christian, the babe in Christ, delayed and stinted in his growth. When we follow the direction of this course we find that they just wandered around, here and there, without any direct objective. Once again, it seems, they came to Kadesh-barnea and looked with weary longing into the Promised Land. Yea, they even tried to take it in the strength of the flesh, but were defeated. Their experiences with heathen nations involved them time and again, and in nearly every case they become despised rather than glorified. It is always true with those who try to play with the world and belong to God at the same time. They have just enough religion to keep them miserable, to make them despised by the world and pitied by the righteous.
Carnal living is the poorest of all kinds of living. "Wishy-washy" is the common coinage for it. Babes in fretful mood, always crying out for something for self, complaining that they do not get any joy out of their religion! Not only do they become cares and burdens to pastors and spiritual leaders, demanding to be wheeled about in baby carriages and fed on sugar stick diets, but at last they get big enough to lust for the flesh pots of Egypt and are easily led astray by the mixed multitudes in the world about them. They want the church fashioned after their tastes and built after a world order. They want to indulge in worship that will produce a mystic spell over their fleshy religious nature and make it "feel good."
Out of this carnality has grown much of the busy life of the modern church. The flesh is terribly religious, and through it Satan works his greatest deception, making the carnal one feel that he is deeply religious while working in the energy of the flesh.
The glory of Israel among heathen nations was always a display of what God could do for a people who were His for a possession. God was always the big attraction. Israel was merely a people chosen of God as the body of flesh through which He could manifest Himself to the world. When they trusted in Him and let Him do great things for them, the heathen were impressed and God was glorified. But the modern church, the body through which and on behalf of which God meant to demonstrate His power to the world and thus attract the lost unto Himself, has substituted its own works for His, and set up, after a world order, a great business institution in an attempt to impress the world.
If God should succeed through our great promotional organizations, He would get little or no credit for it, for, according to the world's estimate, the set-up we have ought to succeed anyway. It has all the expertness of the world in it - organization, efficiency, method, psychology, psychiatry, learning, culture, world appeal, and all that it takes to be successful after the wisdom of the flesh. If it should succeed it would be apparent that we, not God, did it. All this is the product of the carnal mind.
But, as Paul says, "Behold, I show you a better way." In the first chapter of Joshua we find Israel poised on the banks of Jordan, about to enter the Promised Land. Over and over again Moses reminds the people, "Now don't forget what God has done for you." Then he repeats the exploits of God in miracles performed before their very eyes. This is the kind of preaching we need today, telling what God has done for us. He summarizes the law, "thou shalt love the Lord thy God," and in every possible way warns them against any god but the ONE GOD.
Let us here observe that idolatry is the outstanding sin of man. Another god is always the devil's temptation. Do something else, have something else, be something else, always something else beside what God says. A supplanter, that is Satan. He would always occupy us with something else, another god. That is the one thing God cannot tolerate.
Joshua is the example of absolute surrender. Moses and the law have had their day. Across Jordan lies a land which can be conquered by faith alone, and Joshua is the man to lead them there. The crossing of Jordan sets forth the act of surrender of life, or, as we commonly say, "consecration" or "dedication." It is turning from reliance upon the wisdom
of the flesh to complete trust in the "foolishness" of God. The carnal man has had his day. We come now to the maturity which Paul identifies as the "spiritual man."
Note carefully here, spirituality is not necessarily being good; it is, rather, coming into a spiritual understanding. It is a secret of grace, so plain and simple when seen, but so dark and complex when not seen. Sometimes believers grasp it immediately upon conversion; in others it comes later in life; but many of God's children never discover it. It is simply, as we may often repeat, finding out that, we can no more live our lives in our own strength and wisdom than we can thus save ourselves. It is coming to live by faith just as we are saved by faith.
Before Israel crossed Jordan they had to deal with a special neglect of life in the wilderness; that is, the neglect of the life of separation which was symbolized in the act of circumcision. This sign of the covenant made with Abraham had been neglected, and now, before they could enter the land, they must clear away this reproach by circumcising all who had not been circumcised.
This neglect is a symbol of world conformity in the church of this day. If there is any one thing which God required of His people above another, it is that they be separate, not only from the world, but unto Him. There must not only be allegiance to God, but there must be no allegiance to any other. Of course, modern Christianity has another view of this matter. Religious leaders of today often feel that if we will be similar enough to the world so as not to embarrass it, the world will want to come in and add to our numbers. And so it will, only it will want to bring into our midst its heathen gods and customs and compromise our allegiance to our God. That is what has happened in
the modern church. The result is that we have had to build a religious program that will please that world mind, but minus the power of God. This will be more apparent as we continue.
Certainty the Israelites could not hope to see God manifest His powers in her behalf as long as she remained in this state of neglect and world conformity. The covenant with Abraham must be honored if God was to work in their behalf. And if we are to enter into absolute surrender, to know the power and blessing of the life of faith, certainly separation from the world is our first imperative. We can never cross Jordan without saying good-bye to our reliance upon the flesh. The warfare over there is the "good fight of faith."
It is now the season of Jordan's overflow, the harvest time, but that does not matter. God must open the way, and it does not matter if the water be shallow or deep. As soon as the feet of the priests touched the water, Jordan rolled back into a great wall above and dried up below. As soon as the entire people had passed over, one man from each tribe set up a stone in the midst of the river, as a memorial that the old Israel, which had striven under law and in the energy of the flesh to reach their goal, was now dead. The Jordan rolled over that memorial. But these same twelve men took other twelve stones and set them up on the other side of Jordan, as a memorial to the new Israel which now begins to walk by faith and not by sight. From now on they are not to be concerned about what they can do, but with what they can trust God to do for them. So, the believer comes to that time when he sees the failure of the flesh and gives up the whole battle to God, saying: "Lord, I now bury the wisdom of the flesh in Jordan. I
raise a new memorial on the side of faith, by which I declare that I have a new and spiritual understanding of the Christian life. No longer will I be concerned about what self wants, but about what Christ wants. When I pray I will not always be asking things for my comfort and convenience but rather I will be seeking a place in God's will and asking for grace to stand where God wants me. I will not strive to show my love for God by the efforts of the flesh, but rather by the worship and trust of my heart. I will no longer try to show what great things I can do for Him, but will yield myself to Him so that He can show the world what great things He can do for me." This is what it means to surrender our lives to Christ, and the crossing of Jordan is the symbolic portrayal of that surrender.
What, then, is the Promised Land? It is not a type of Heaven. "I Am Bound for the Promised Land" is a treasured old song, but it does not present the truth about the Promised Land. For, instead of
"All o'er those wide extended plains
Shines one eternal day;
There God the Son forever reigns,
And scatters night away,"
we have a land inhabited by heathen nations, fortified and protected by warlike giants who do not intend to yield one inch to invaders. It is not theirs, but the land which God gave to Abraham and his seed forever; yet it has been usurped and occupied by the enemies of God. It represents that realm of our lives which has been usurped and occupied by Satan, and which God proposes to subdue and recapture. We could not rout the enemy and repossess our lives in the
strength and wisdom of the flesh. So now we come to take it in the strength and wisdom of God, and we are asked to believe and see Him do it for us.
To those who take their stand on faith, God says, as He did to Joshua, "See, I have given into thine hand Jericho" (Joshua 6:2). "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses" (Joshua 1:3). Then in the 9th verse He says, "Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest."
Chapter II[Buell H. Kazee, Faith is the Victory, 1951. Used with the permission of Philip R. Kazee. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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