When considering our inheritance in the Lord, it’s hard not to think about Israel’s journey through the wilderness into their Promised land.
What should’ve only taken them eleven days, ended up taking a drawn out forty years (Deuteronomy 1:2). Still, God made sure to provide their daily needs like water, food and clothing even though they were acting stiff-necked and rebellious. Their clothes and sandals never wore out through their journey to their inheritance in the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 29:5)—a miracle in itself—yet they were still completely unbelieving of Who was trying to lead them out of their misery.
Why did the journey take forty years? Well, the number forty generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial or probation. Moses himself lived a whole forty years in Egypt and forty years in the desert before God chose him to lead his people out of slavery. And he didn’t quite believe in himself when, from the burning bush, God said he would be His mouthpiece to break bondage in Egypt. He started to reason with God that he’d never been eloquent a day in his life, that his speech was too slow (Exodus 4:10). When he had his eyes on himself, he couldn’t see the full truth because according to Acts 7:22, he was highly educated—a man of power in words and deeds. The beauty in this story is that he learned to depend on the Lord for everything and not rely on his natural abilities, or especially on his struggle with speaking. And that’s what the Lord desires for us—to rely on Him as our source of life, not on ourselves (Galatians 2:20).
Today, it’s easy to get enslaved just as the Israelites were in bondage. As they wasted forty years, we can find ourselves caught up in all the world’s attractions, passions and ambitious pursuits that can eventually lead us to slavery to ourselves and the environments around us. But the Lord has the same heart for us; He wants to get us past the things that have held us back for too long. He wants to see us live in our inheritance, though our minds can’t fathom how good it is. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
How did the Israelites get to their Promised Land from Egypt? They traveled far and wide, through the Red Sea, through the wilderness, through the Jordan River. They even drove out the seven tribes in Canaan. All of this was to experience rest, and to enjoy the full inheritance that God gave His people (Joshua 21:43-45).
We can so relate to Israel’s journey. As you read on, think of Egypt as the world or the “flesh,” the Wilderness as the “soul,” and the Promised Land, or the Inheritance, as the “spirit,” to more deeply connect to this story (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
When Israel cried out to God, He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Because of it, He called on Moses to rise up and deliver His people. It was time for them to be set free from bondage and slavery under Pharaoh back in Egypt. God delivered them, yet He led them right to the edge of the Red Sea. They were stuck with no where else to go—the Egyptian soldiers catching up behind them with their chariots, horses and weapons, planning to enslave them again. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle.
God, through His mighty power, used Moses with his staff to do the unimaginable (Exodus 14:16). He delivered His people by parting the Red Sea and taking them right through it. The Lord saved them right out of Egypt; He did it His way. In the same way, He wants to lead us right out of our own Egypt, whatever in the world that prevents us from being free and living free. The crossing of the Red Sea represents a type of holy baptism and salvations—a freedom from the world which Jesus purchased for us on the cross. Once they reached the other side, God swallowed up their enemies by allowing the waters to engulf them and drown them out.
This is the point where the Israelites began their iconic forty-year journey in the wilderness where they grumbled, complained, made idols and worshipped them. Their actions resulted in a major loss for their generation; they did not make it to the Promised Land. Joshua and Caleb were the only ones from that generation to walk into their Inheritance (Numbers 14:30).
Remember, the wilderness represents our “soul,” which is our persona—our mind (thoughts and opinions), emotion (feelings about things), and will (wants and desires). After journeying forty exhaustive years in the wilderness, they began to approach the edge of the Jordan River. There was a significant difference this time, compared to their experience at the tip of the Red Sea. There were no enemies chasing them down, pressuring them to cross over. And the Promised Land that they were eagerly anticipating was just before them. They could see it; ultimately, having faith was the only requirement to enter. They simply needed to exercise their will, and choose that day Whom they’d serve (Joshua 24:15).
Transformation happens in the wilderness (Romans 12:2), where our “souls” are being worked out, coming into alignment with the Lord. And regeneration from death to life is experienced when journeying through the “Red Sea.” When we follow His lead, we walk in His flow where His blood can wash over, engulf, and drown out everything that enslaves us in the world.
The Israelites did cross the Jordan River, and it happened just like this. As soon as the priest’s feet touched the waters, it began to recede, and the they walked across on dry land (Joshua 3:15-17). They activated their faith by stepping forward before it ever even became dry (1 John 5:4).
After that miracle, they found their way into the Promised Land at last. But it didn’t end here. They still needed to evict or drive out the squatters that made a home in the very place God gave them. The Israelites’ inheritance represents Christ as our inheritance in the New Testament, but we, too, are His inheritance (Ephesians 1:11-17). This Promised Land represents our human “spirit” where He resides for anyone who believes (1 Corinthians 6:17).
Now, Christ dwells within us, and even more glorious than that, He is one with our “spirit.” This mystery that was hidden from the ages is what we have the honor and privilege of knowing today—“Christ in us the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26-27).
With that understanding while remembering that we’re spirit, soul, and body, we need to let Christ saturate our entire being (1 Thessalonians 5:23) so that we can honestly express Him. Every part, every ounce of ourselves should be open to Him. When we only let Him in certain areas, it’s like having a home but only allowing Him to enjoy the living room. Instead, He should not only be welcome into every room for His full enjoyment but also have full freedom to rule and reign in our lives. Again, we are His inheritance as well (Ephesians 3:17). Perhaps, we have squatters in those other rooms that won’t leave unless we make them.
Before we, God’s people, can fully enjoy rest and the riches of the land, it’s imperative that we drive out any illegal inhabitants. It’s just like what the Israelites had to do with the Amorites, the Hivites, the Girgashites, the Jebusites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, and the Canaanites. These seven tribes that inhabited the land (I won’t expound on them further, however) represent those areas in our lives that get underneath our skin. The things that irritate, harass and oppress us—this is where spiritual warfare comes in (but that’s not the topic at hand). These are real obstacles, hinderances, and giants that we face on a daily basis that keep us from wholeheartedly walking out God’s purpose in our lives.
Finally, how do we deal with them properly? It’s simply by faith in the work Jesus chose to do for us on the cross. Through His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and Kingship, He already drove out the squatters for us. He dealt a deathly blow to them through His glorious sacrifice. Our Heavenly Father seated Him at His right hand, and since then, all authority has been given over to Jesus Christ and to the Ecclesia (Ephesians 1:18-23). He is King and when we genuinely make Him Lord of our entire lives, we instantly gain His inheritance for us. It’s going to take us actually walking out His finished work if we want to truly possess what’s already ours. Jesus had the last words when He spoke out “It is finished!” And it’s all because of Him that we get to walk in His victory every day of our lives, and continually enjoy Him as our inheritance while He gets to enjoy us as His own.