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.

I believe some of us may be camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, to speak figuratively. We are eyeing Canaan—the rest of God. The rest of God is our goal. We want to be living completely by the Life of the Lord Jesus, having set aside our first, adamic life that we might be the dwelling place of God—the place of His rest.

The manna may have stopped for us, and we will be eating the food grown in the land of promise. This means that Christ will be speaking to us in a fuller measure than we have known. It is a much closer relationship with the Lord.

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 5:12)

All of us Christians have had our own ways of walking with the Lord. We may find some changes as we press forward in Christ in these days. They are changes for the good, and we will be comfortable with them as soon as we become accustomed to them.

Another significant event had occurred, and that was the rite of circumcision. The young people who had grown up during the wilderness wandering had not been circumcised. They had to be circumcised before God would take them any farther.

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites again.” So Joshua made flint knives and circumcised the Israelites at Gibeath Haaraloth. (Joshua 5:2,3)

As I pondered the verse above, I noticed something I had not seen before. I always knew that the young people had to be circumcised. But I think the verse is saying all the Israelite males, young and old, were circumcised. This makes sense to me, and I can see the need for it today. I am speaking, of course, of circumcision of the heart.

I cannot speak for the rest of the world, but we Christians in America are soft. There is little fear of God among us. We are preaching a lawless-grace, any-moment rapture that will carry us up to our mansion in Heaven where we will do nothing of significance for eternity.

Being a musician, I am conscious of the musical offerings in the churches. I notice a huge difference between the words of the choruses today, and the hymns of past time. We used to sing about “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross.” Now it is “He is as beautiful as a painting by Monet;” or the following children’s chorus that sometimes is sung by adults: “He, he, he, He saved me. I’ve got the joy of the Lord.” For children, fine. But for adults? Go through an old-time hymn book and think about the words. They were written by warriors of the cross. Now listen to some of the modern choruses. They appear to me to be light and self-centered.

This change in hymnology is significant, I believe. Many of today’s church attenders are in fact, light and self-centered.

Then we think about the history of the Christian Church, and the agony experienced by so many today as Christians are tortured and killed by Muslims. And even before the Christian Church Era, there is the account in Hebrews chapter 12 of the sufferings of the saints who went before us.

It is a Bible truth that true Christians are called on to suffer. This suffering and persecution is beginning today, although in church-wide terms it is minimal. However, those believers who are pressing forward in Christ past the Pentecostal experience are discovering that it is through many hardships we enter the Kingdom of God. We soon will need to learn to endure suffering as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, to stand in victory in the evil day.

Because of the lack of suffering, the fear of God has left our churches. The Christian people in numerous instances are not being told that in order to be a true Christian, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus.

When we read in Second Corinthians of the sufferings of the Apostle Paul, we scarcely can relate to them. Paul continually had the sentence of death in himself. He survived by trusting in God who raises the dead.

Why is suffering necessary? It purges us from sin, for one thing.

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. (I Peter 4:1,2)

God punishes us that we might be holy as He is holy:

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Hebrews 12:5,6)

Our generation in numerous instances does not know God. Even the older people have forgotten the way of the Lord. In many instances, our churches are full of light sayings and shallow choruses.

As I said, we stand on the east side of Jordan, facing our land of promise, Canaan, which is the rest of God in which we become, through Jesus Christ, the house of God. It is time for us Christians to be circumcised again.

Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. (Hosea 6:1)

Compare this with the pitiful preaching of today that tells us if we have faith we will not suffer. The truth is, if God does not chasten us we are not His children.

There is an overemphasis today on evangelism, on getting more and more people into the churches. The result is the Christian churches are filled with a mixed multitude of people. In any large church there may be one or two saints that know the Lord. A large part of the congregations is infantile in spiritual matters. Another large part know little or nothing of God, but they have been brought in by evangelists who will use tricks of various sorts to be able to say they had so many people “saved.”

I witnessed one such incident. The evangelist asked everyone to bow his head. Then he asked who would like to “accept Christ.” Since everyone in attendance was a Christian, no one responded. Finally, a young boy, who was curious to know what the evangelist was going to do next, raised his head. The evangelist claimed that the boy had been saved at that instant because he looked up.

Compare this with an incident that was reported to me concerning an underground church in Southeast Asia. Two young ladies came into a service. When the service was over, the elders approached them and asked them if they wanted to be Christians.

The girls answered, “Yes.”

The elders said they might be persecuted or even killed. The girls insisted that they wanted to be Christians.

Compare this with the evangelist who said if you raised your head and looked at him, you had just accepted Christ. That is the foolishness that takes place in the United States. It is no wonder that we now have a president who seldom makes mention of God and who appears to be sympathetic to the practice of abortion-on-demand, and homosexual practices. The fear of God has left the churches, and this loss of God’s Presence is affecting the behavior of the governmental leaders. We need to be circumcised once more.

If we press forward, crying out “Not my will, but Yours be done,” we will enter the rest of God. If we are to proceed, we must be circumcised in order to get rid of the fleshly, soulish, aspects of our personality.

Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. (Hosea 6:1)

God will tear us to pieces that He might remove those parts of us that are not in His image. But after God is satisfied with His handiwork, after He has injured us, He will heal us and bind up our wounds. Then we will know God in a deeper way, just as happened to Job after God had torn him apart.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. (Isaiah 40:1,2)

When we come to the Lord Jesus, confess our sins, and tell Him that by His help we will not repeat them, He forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). The sins of our past are now removed from God’s sight.

But the sins of our personality, our behavior at the present time, must be dealt with. What we have sown we shall reap. I do not believe Christian people understand this; and when God punishes them, they become confused and think God has deserted them. God punishes every son He receives! That is why the passage above refers to the hard service Israel has had to endure, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

We have an ignorant, foolish, frivolous saying today that reflects the character of today’s American Christians: “Christ suffered so we don’t need to suffer.” Can you imagine such conceit, such heartless self-seeking? Have they never heard of the sufferings of the Apostles? Did not Paul say that we should share in Christ’s sufferings that we might attain to the resurrection from the dead? Have such flippant believers ever read the Bible?

It is true that Christ paid for our sins on the cross, the Innocent taking the punishment on behalf of the guilty. Do you know where that leaves us? Facing the Fire of Israel! “But, but, but, but, I was told that Christ wants us to be joyful.” He does. And we shall be, if we exercise patience when God punishes us and do not flee from our prison.

The higher the rank in the Kingdom of God that God has designated for us, the more severely He is going to deal with us. Heavy crosses. Long imprisonments. Problematic situations with no explanation for the reason. All of this and more await the individual who has been called to a high throne in the Kingdom of God. I have read that the Lord said to Saint Anthony, “The cup a king drinks from must be burned in the fire.”

In that day you will say: “I will praise you, O Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.” (Isaiah 12:1)

Do you desire to press into the fullness of Christ? Do you want to share His sufferings? Do you wish to be a tree of life who can provide the waters of eternal life for the thirsty of the nations? Do you want to be a prophet? Then get ready to be treated like a prophet.

You may say, “I don’t want to be a prophet. I don’t want to be a tree of life. I don’t want to share the sufferings of Christ. I just want to have a little cabin on the corner of Gloryland.” You know what? You are selfish. You could not care less about helping other people. You just want to be comfortable.

Let me tell you that to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). If God has appointed you to a high rank in His Kingdom, you will be judged on that basis, and not as though you were to be of much lesser rank. You cannot change your designated role. If it is one of rulership, you will follow Christ faithfully, or your destiny will be the Land of Darkness. If your appointed role is very modest (there is no role that is modest in God’s eyes—obedience is all-important!), and you are not utterly faithful in the small challenges presented to you, your destiny will be the Land of Darkness.

It is better to obey God today, because eternity is a long time! Believe me, you do not want to be sent to the Land of Darkness.

“For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:7,8)

This is what God said to the “barren woman” whose destiny is to be the new Jerusalem. If God hides His face from you for a moment, hold steady. Trust in God. He has perfect integrity. He will not let you down.

We of today have been invited to become the house of God, the very body of God, along with our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord said, “Many who are last shall be first.” Well, we are the last. If we will pay attention to the Holy Spirit, it is possible we will attain to a high rank in the Kingdom of God.

If that is the case, the King wants the cup of our life to be burned in the fire. He demands that all that is in us be purified of everything that is not of the image of God. When we have become as a little child in our simplicity, then we will be qualified and competent to enter any role God has for us, be it great or small.

Christian, listen to me! Do not quit! You don’t need to be young or old, handsome, pretty, brilliant, or well educated. Just do not quit. Plod along faithfully, carrying your cross behind your Master, the Lord Jesus Christ.

One day in the future, you will be very glad you did!

(“Though You Were Angry”, 3865-1, proofed 20210918)

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