This article is taken from Temple Builders: The High Calling book by John Robert Lucas. This is a powerful chapter and goes along with my newest article on “Church in the Wilderness” written and posted here on Temple Builders in March 2014. Also be sure to LIKE our Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/templebuildersministry
DEUTERONOMY 30:15–20 – See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments…that you may live and…that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them…you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore.
It’s your will! Your life today is the result of a series of decisions you have made. With every decision, you chose life or death, blessing or cursing, obedience or rebellion, the Lord or the flesh. The Christian maturity you obtained is the outcome of these decisions. Either you have crossed the Jordan, entering into the land, or you remain in the wilderness. In this overlapping of truth, parts of your life may have entered into the land of promise and other parts are in a dry desert. Sometimes it is not a conscious choice, as much, but a desire that you acted on.
As the Psalmist of Psalm 119, you should say, “I have hid your word in my heart that I may not sin against You,” the result is that you are eating from the tree of Life in the Paradise of God. In contrast, choosing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden is appetite apart from relationship with God.
PSALMS 139:11–12 – If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.
As a Christian, when you encounter opposition or affliction, it is a test of responses; your response is the indicator of what you have chosen. When all is well, circumstances are as the day to us. When all is turmoil, circumstances can be the darkest of nights. Neither touch God but we respond to both. Most find God when circumstances are dark, even though the same God is just as present when all is light. Jesus is Light in both, but for us there is the difference of contrast. In good times we allow the day of our circumstances to drown out the light of His presence. God, in knowing our nature, has allowed us to experience night and darkness for a reason: to see the contrast of Him Who is Light compared to the darkness of the night. There is no mixture when man experiences the darkness of nights, for all that is seen is Jesus our Lord; that is, if we will respond as Him in every circumstance.
NUMBERS 13:17–20 – When Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, he said to them, “Go up there into the Negev; then go up into the hill country. Report: (1) See what the land is like, and (2) whether the people who live in it are strong or weak, (3) whether they are few or many. (4) How is the land in which they live, is it good or bad? (5) And how are the cities in which they live, are they like open camps or with fortifications? (6) How is the land, is it fat or lean? (7) Are there trees in it or not?…
—get some of the fruit of the land.” Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes. (summer)
God commanded Moses to spy out the land He was promising. Much of the focus was on the people living there and what they possessed. God gives three commands to the spies: go into the land, report on the land and its people, and bring back the fruit. The report contains seven items for the spies to observe. The timing of the report is also important for our message: in the midst of the hottest part of the year when the first fruits appear.
When reading this passage for the umpteenth time, one day it occurred to me—why did God send spies into the land? God already knew what was there, and He had already established that they could take it now. Now was the season to take the land. After asking the question, I heard a resounding voice of the Holy Spirit, our Teacher, saying, “It is a test of responses.”
JOHN 17:11 – Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are.
Let us set the stage for this chapter. God promises—He will have a people who possess the same unity that He and the Father possess. When joining the story “God sends scouts into the land” with the promise of John 17:11, we witness a startling truth God is speaking in this day. Many times a scripture story as this can capture many different applications, and in this case we apply a very specific promise that has eluded the people of God for centuries.
NUMBERS 13:2 – Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.
God gives us many promises—promises of fruit in a land—promises of a people who shall live together in peace and unity. God, however, does not stop there but sends His heralds, His reporters—His leadership, bearing witness to these promises. God also sends, however, other leaders to the land, also given the promise, bringing us a report, but it is a report placing the promise out of reach. We are presented with two groups of witnesses offering differing testimonies: the ten witnesses and the two witnesses. Today, in the church, we hearken to one of these leadership groups.
ISAIAH 62:2–5 – The nations will see your righteousness and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will designate. You will also be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,” Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”; But you will be called, “My delight is in her,” And your land, “Married”;
For the LORD delights in you, and to Him your land will be married…and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So your God will rejoice over you.
The land is our inheritance; however, the land we speak is a type of the bride of Christ. God is not concerned about geography, of physical cities, of establishing powerful countries, as you would think; for, you are the inheritance of God, you are the land of God, and you are the city of Jerusalem—you are His bride. Therefore, see this story different. God gives a promise; God gives a mission; then, God sends leaders into the land (God’s people). Moses sent twelve witnesses (leaders) into the land. Each witness was the head of his respective tribe. This is God’s way of saying, “each witness is an ambassador representing the people of God.” Seven is the number of perfection; God gives seven things to report for their journey, ending with a command that concludes (perfects) their report. The command was to bring back the fruit; it is the substance, the evidence, of the report. Every report must conclude with bringing back the fruit. Bringing back the fruit is the activity that pleases God.
The witnesses spent forty days in the land. Forty is also the number of testing—signifying a probationary period. We see this forty principle used for the great flood and those in the ark, who are an enduring remnant. And again as Goliath taunts Israel for forty days (defeated by one stone from the pack of five stones); we see this principle in Jesus’ wilderness experience, finalizing in a test of responses from the enemy. Finally, here we see it in the forty-day spy mission in Canaan—a mission resulting, consequently, in forty-years of wandering. These are just a few examples of how God relates this number to testing and trial. Within a teaching, the number God chooses teaches us His plan and purpose. Let us picture before continuing: God’s leaders enter into the Promised Land (a type of God’s future people, His bride, but enemies are present). They spend forty days of testing, a testing of their response to the land. Now they return to deliver a report!
Joshua and Caleb, the two (two means agreement) witnesses came back from the land giving their first response, their spy report.
NUMBERS 13:27 – Thus they told him, and said, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.”
It is not the positiveness that’s important here–it is the fact that they agreed with what God said. These two witnesses show the proof, the fruit. Someone may say, “You can’t ignore the bad circumstance.”
NUMBERS 13:28–30 – Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there (giants). Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Ca-naanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan. Then Caleb quieted the people before Mos-es and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.”
The spokesperson was Caleb, and though his physical eyes saw the giants, the obstacles—he saw them as defeated. Caleb and the land are a type and shadow we carefully observe to understand what has taken place here. Later, God gives Caleb a promise: “But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring him into the land which he entered, and his seed shall take possession of it.” Caleb is a type of the Seed, Jesus, Who shall come; in Him are a people who possess the land and are the land. They are a people seeing the obstacles and the giants as defeated. They are a people going into the land, witnessing with eyes of faith, and looking for the fulfillment of the promise. In contrast, the ten witnesses had a different view of the land than the two witnesses. In the same land, they saw:
NUMBERS 13:31–33 – But the men (the 10) who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. There also we saw the Nephilim (The Giants)
—and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”
“In our own sight” is the emphasis. Jesus spoke in parables because “seeing they cannot see.” The land of promise was but a parable to the ten spies. Those who do not have eyes to see and ears to hear perceive not what any scripture says; scripture is simply one big parable to them. However, all of us do the same thing in certain verses and promises. We see ourselves as a grasshopper in overcoming a particular sin. We see ourselves as weak in possessing an abiding in Christ lifestyle. More pointedly, we have a grasshopper mentality when we enter the land of God, God’s people gathered together in unity. We see the enemy in the lives of our fellow Christians as being too strong. We say, “I guess my fellow Christian will remain deceived” or “my brother in Christ is simply too stubborn to change.” When we view our brethren in Christ, all we see is the giants in their life; we see them as the enemy instead of the promise. We say, “Surely the promise of unity will be a land without these divisionary giants.”
In this day God is revealing to us our sin, for we have responded to our brethren in Christ (who had giants and fortified walls) with the ten spy response instead of the two witness response. We see ourselves as small and powerless compared to the giants of disunity. We see divisions in our congregations as undefeatable giants. We see their false doctrines as unconquerable walls. We continue to see their self-preserving lifestyles as fortified cities we cannot penetrate. Surely, we must see these truths in our own lives as well, but let us focus on Jesus’ promise of unity here. It is in this promise of unity that we must forget about our self, preferring our brethren as more important.
Caution must be taken. Going too far takes you to the opposite end of the land—a city called Babylon. The counterfeit of this message we call ecumenicalism, a false unity of tolerance causing God’s people to co-exist with giants.
An excerpt from “Temple Builders: The High Calling”
John Robert Lucas