THE FRUIT OF THE LAND
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
We know from the Scriptures that Canaan portrays our goal, our land of promise, the “rest” of God into which we are to press. We are saved out of the world, out of Egypt, by placing our faith in the blood of the cross. We are saved out of sin by learning to walk in the Spirit, as represented by Mount Sinai. Our goal, however, is Canaan.
Receiving Christ and living in the Spirit of God are not our goal, rather they are an enabling foundation from which we press forward into the fullness of the salvation God has for us.
Today we are camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, to speak symbolically. While the Israelites were at Gilgal, the rite of circumcision was observed. The Passover was celebrated. The day after the Passover the Israelites ate food grown in Canaan. Then the daily manna ceased to appear on the ground.
On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain. The manna stopped the day after they ate this food from the land; there was no longer any manna for the Israelites, but that year they ate of the produce of Canaan. (Joshua 5:10-12)
We understand that all the male Israelites were circumcised at this time. The old generation, except for Joshua and Caleb, had died in the wilderness. The generation that had grown up in the wilderness had not been circumcised as yet.
Probably most of us understand that the Old Testament circumcision represents our putting off the old man with his worldliness, lusts, and self-will, and putting on the new man who is created in the moral image of Jesus Christ.
The Passover we understand. It is the eating of the flesh of Christ and the drinking of His blood. Every time we resist sin and do the will of Christ we are strengthened by being given His flesh and His blood in the Spirit.
Now we come to the manna and the fruit of the land of Canaan. Since we are at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, we are ready now for the produce of our land of promise.
Those of us who have been a Christian for any length of time know well what manna is. We have grace only for the day. We may worry about tomorrow, about something we have to do. Then tomorrow comes—and lo! grace is present; the problem is solved.
If our daily grace is going to stop, I hope it will be replaced with something as effective!
As we press into Christ we find that He is inviting us into His Person to a greater extent than we have known. His thoughts are becoming our thoughts. His words are becoming our words. His actions are becoming our actions. We are living by Him as He lives by the Father.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)
I realize I use this verse a great deal. But I suppose if a person is going to focus on a verse, this is a pretty good one.
The “rest of God” is that state of being where we are living by the Life of Jesus. Every day we labor to enter into this place. So many enemies are entrenched in our land, our personality. All kinds and types of sin, for one thing. Our willingness to relax in the antichrist world spirit, for another.
Our worst enemy is our self-will and self-love. To keep substituting Christ’s Life for our life means we are leaving our adamic nature and putting on the Divine Nature. It is one of those actions that sounds so desirable. It is sweet in our mouth to talk about it. And it is right that we should verbalize the change and say continually that this is what we want—to be an integral part of Christ and God.
But then God takes us at our word. He assists us as we endeavor to put off the old adamic nature and clothe ourselves with the new man.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
So our Christian life consists of putting off self; putting on Christ; putting off self; putting on Christ. Moment by moment. Day by day. Death, and resurrection. Death, and resurrection. This is how we enter the land of promise, Canaan, the rest of God.
Learning to live by the “manna” each day brings us finally to the place where we can make the transition from our life to Christ’s Life. We are moving toward the place where we find rest in God, and God finds rest in us.
Receiving the blood atonement authorizes us to wage this war. Learning to live in the Spirit of God prepares us and enables us to turn away from all sin and self-will and live by the Life of the Lord Jesus.
Such is God’s plan for us from the beginning. God desires a house, a resting place. He has created man to be His house. The Lord Jesus is the first room in God’s house and the Chief Cornerstone of the entire structure.
Throughout our Christian life we have learned to do things to please God. We read our Bible each day. We pray each day. We regularly attend church services, assembling with fervent brothers and sisters.
We give of our substance. We pray for gifts and ministries that we might be able to build up in Christ our fellow worshipers. We may feel called into some full-time work. We may begin a mission to feed hungry people.
(In the days in which we live, in America, finding fervent saints to assemble with is not always easy. So many American pastors are preaching lawless-grace and an any-moment rapture. Sincere disciples of the Lord are looking for assemblings in which the pastor preaches patient, cross-carrying obedience to Jesus. But it appears most American pastors are not inclined toward this emphasis. So the wells are drying up and the sheep are famished.)
We have done all these things that constitute the Christian discipleship. But now we feel a deep hunger for something more. We have an appetite for Christ that somehow is not being satisfied. This is because the Lord Jesus, having changed from Most to Joshua, so to speak, is telling us it is time to enter our land of promise.
It may be at this time that the Lord decides it is time for us to be circumcised. Ouch! It seems like the Lord has left us. We are going through dry places. We can remember when we were a happy Christian, but now things have changed for us.
The worst part may be that we do not understand this trial or when it will end.
“No one ever told me God would treat me like this!” That is because you have not read the testimonies of the old-time saints. Every son that God receives, He punishes, that the person may be a partaker of His holiness.
The fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation speaks of God’s Firstfruits. These are ordinary people who are drawn from the Christian churches. They are free from idolatry. No lie is in their mouth. And the best part of all is that they are privileged to follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
God wants you to be a member of His Firstfruits. As far as you personally are concerned, your goal, your land of promise, your Canaan, is to be one of God’s Firstfruits.
The moment you declare that you are a candidate for God’s highest and best, that your goal is to be a hundredfold Christian, the battle will begin. You see, the average church member does not present much of a threat to Satan’s kingdom. But when a church member decides he or she is determined to be one of God’s Firstfruits, Satan becomes anxious. Why? Because you could develop into a real threat to his kingdom of fallen angels and demons.
You are going to have to exercise courage, because Satan will threaten you with one thing or another. You will need patience, because the rooms in God house are built piece by piece. You will need integrity of character, because your Lord, Jesus Christ, has absolute integrity and He expects that of you.
There can be no lie in your mouth. You will suffer until your personality is like that of a child—pure and transparent. You will have to forgive everyone who has harmed you or God will not forgive you. You will learn that every Word of the Bible is absolutely true and can be relied on.
The Apostle Paul exemplifies the rest of God, the “Canaan” into which each one of us is called to enter. Paul stated that he is crucified with Christ. Yet, he is living. But no longer is it Paul who is living but Christ who is living in him. Still, the man always will be Paul, not Christ.
It is this integration, this oneness, that God desires for you and me. God wants us to be one in Christ in Him and with one another. It is not that we no longer will be a human being, the goal is that we will become a Divine human being, just as our Lord is. Then we truly can be qualified to be a brother of Christ and a son of God.
God is not making all new things, but all things new and all things in Christ. We still will be a human being, but now a life-giving spirit so that all of God’s creatures who are thirsty can come and drink the water of life that always is flowing from the Throne of God that has been created in us.
The “manna,” the daily grace, sustains us until we become the dwelling place of God, the place of His rest, His eternal house. In God’s house there are many rooms, and Christ is preparing us to be a room in that house.
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (II Corinthians 5:4,5)
Instead of the daily manna is the sustaining Presence of Christ in us. He no longer saves us. He Himself has become our Salvation. He no longer strengthens us, He has become our Strength and our Righteousness. He no longer gives us joy, He Himself is our Joy and our eternal Song.
So when the needy of the world come to us, we with joy bring water for them from the River of Life that always is flowing from the Throne of God that has been created in us.
Such is the produce of the land of promise. Does it seem to you like the continual Presence of God in Christ in our personality is an improvement upon the daily manna? It does to me! God always is moving from the lesser to the greater, isn’t He. He has kept the best wine until now.
Brother or Sister, this is our Day of Visitation. If I am correct, some of the highest thrones of the Kingdom of God are still vacant, waiting for someone who cares enough that he or she might set aside his or her own life and receive the Life of Christ in its stead.
I hope that is true of you. I hope that is true of me.
Let’s go for it.
(“The Fruit of the Land”, 3242-1)