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"Then Joshua said to the people, 'Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you'" (Josh 3:5). Every new dimension in God requires a new consecration of ourselves. We cannot ascend higher in Christ without shedding the limitations of our previous attainments.
Israel was about to enter a new realm of spiritual fulfillment. Earlier they had been delivered from slavery in Egypt. Then, in the wilderness, God delivered the Hebrews from their inward taskmasters of sin and unbelief until, finally, they learned the source of their well being came, not from themselves, but from "every word which proceeded from the mouth of God."
THE PROMISED LAND WITHOUT A SLAVE MINDSET
Just as the Jews could not survive the wilderness with the mindset of a slave, neither could they enter the Promised Land with perceptions limited by the harshness of the wilderness. The wilderness was to prepare them for something greater than itself: a promised land, with new victories, greater power and greater enemies as well.
There is a sequence to our spiritual experiences: we begin enslaved, God delivers us, He then begins to train and discipline us. Yet, this also leads to a time of fulfillment, a spiritual "promised land," where the Lord's promises manifest in power in our lives. We must not forget what we learned in the lesser levels, but we must also remember: the wilderness is not the promised land. God has something better for us. Indeed, the living, praying church is about to be given more power and victory than we have ever known. And just as the Lord instructed Joshua to have Israel consecrate themselves before entering Canaan, so the Lord is calling for a fresh consecration among us as well, for He will again work wonders among us.
A FRESH SURRENDER
To consecrate oneself in the Old Testament meant to set aside all you were , along with your possessions and goals, and present yourself afresh to God. It means the same to us today. It cannot be done superficially and also be done right. We come like children, soft and willing to be taught new truths. Even if much of our understanding had previously come from God, there is more to learn. Consecration is fresh surrender.
Now, the wonders which God is about to perform are to reveal His glory and His goodness. This world is full of hopelessness, fear and corruption. Thus, the Father wants people to know the power and the glory of His Son. The times of extended dealings are about to be put behind us. The "wilderness era" for the church will soon lead to a different dimension: "the time . . . when the saints took possession of the kingdom" (Dan 7:22; see also Matt 24:14).
FOCUS AND FOLLOW
"It came about at the end of three days that the officers went through the midst of the camp; and they commanded the people, saying, 'When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it'" (Josh 3:2-3).
God called Israel to follow the ark of the covenant. Their covenant relationship with God was their source of power and direction. It defined their range of possibilities.
"However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before" (Josh 3:4).
He said, "You have not passed this way before." They had spent four hundred years in Egypt and forty years in the wilderness. ** They had many experiences, but nothing from their past would enable them to grasp their future. So, the Lord commanded them to focus on the covenant ark and follow it.
DEFINING OURSELVES BY GOD'S COVENANT
Likewise, we have had many dealings and blessings from God, but most Christians really have not known how to define themselves in light of God's covenant. Yet, something is happening my friends. I've talked with many national leaders. We all are sensing that a new, powerful move of God is approaching. People are feeling something deep inside.
A new move of God is coming. The Lord is about to do a new thing that will release far greater power. Thus, we cannot rely on our understanding or personal, subjective experiences or traditional church procedures. Neither can we rely on what other church people have told us. Nothing in man's recent past is fit to define the unfolding glory awaiting God's elect in the days ahead, but at its essence is the unfolding of Christ's fullness in the church.
Joshua commanded Israel, not to follow the military, not to walk behind their weapons of war, not to trust the strategies of man: he said follow the ark of the covenant. As much as they had learned in the wilderness, there was more. They had learned discipline, obedience and worship, but the power of God's covenant was about to be unleashed on a new level. The covenant would break former imitations and release new wonders and revelations of God for the Israelites.
WE HAVEN'T GONE THIS WAY BEFORE
Listen, my friends, we too have "not gone the way" of the covenant before. Wait, you argue, we know about the blood covenant. We are going to heaven because of Christ's covenant, we know forgiveness.
Yes, we have known a limited experience of covenant power, but most of our expectations are for the next life. The Almighty has many unfulfilled expectations for this life-power and gifts He wants to give that will proclaim the fullness of what Christ has purchased for this realm!
Beloved, we are children of God, yet we've been reduced to man-sized dreams and limitations. We worry about health care, retirement, finances and job security. However, through the unleashed power of the New Covenant, we are about to step up to God-sized boundaries, power and fulfillment! Just as God gave Joshua the nations of Canaan, so Christ's blood will purchase the peoples of the world. Is it not written, He shall "sprinkle many nations" (Isaiah 52:15)? Yes, entire nations shall come to His light and kings shall bow at the brightness of His rising! (Isaiah 60).
A COVENANT PEOPLE
A covenant is the highest form of commitment that can be made between two parties. Just as the Jews are a covenant people, so true Christians are also a covenant people. The Jewish covenant was made between God and Israel with Moses serving as mediator. Their covenant required that they fulfill all the demands of the Law, and if they violated just one stipulation a curse rested upon them until proper atonement was made, usually the blood of bulls or goats.
Our covenant, however, comes with greater promises and potential. While Moses was imperfect, the New Covenant is an agreement between God the Father and God the Son.
"When He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, 'Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.' And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them saying, 'This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, 'This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood'" (Lk 22:17-20).
GOD COVENANTING WITH GOD
It is important to understand that the New Covenant was not made directly with us, but made between the Father and Son for us. The only conditions put upon us are that we believe and receive what God has done.
The terms of the covenant were as follows: If Jesus would live His life in holy, sinless purity, never once failing to obey the Father; and if through His humiliation, chastening and crucifixion, Christ would suffer the penalty due man; then God would put the punishment due all of mankind upon Christ, freeing those who would receive Christ of the eternal penalty for sin.
By looking to Jesus, mankind acknowledges we are sinners in need for atonement; when God looks at His Son, He is satisfied that atonement has been paid. Jesus gave a perfect life in exchange for our imperfect lives, a holy life for our unholy lives. Oh what a God we serve! The Father sends His only-begotten Son-the very essence and substance of Himself-to represent us as a man, so that God could covenant with God and secure our eternal redemption!
FREELY GIVEN ALL THINGS
Yet, not only have we received salvation with Christ, but Paul tells us something perfectly wonderful. He declares, "How will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (Rom 8:32) In other words, if God would go so far as to give His Son, what would He withhold? The answer, of course, is nothing. The blood covenant has purchased for us everything we need pertaining to life and the appropriation of godliness (see 2 Pet 1:3).
Everything has been granted us because of the blood covenant. Even though we know this truth, we have not walked in it, even as Israel knew of the promised land, but had not entered it. For us, the covenant we are called to follow will lead us into Christ's fullness in virtue, gifts and power.
UNITED WITH GOD
"Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen" (Heb 13:20-21).
Not by human virtue or self-righteous, but by virtue of "the blood of the eternal covenant," we receive "every good thing to do His will." We have God "working in us that which is pleasing in His sight." Paul tells us that God has blessed us "with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Eph 1:3). We have received all because Jesus gave all. Everything is based on what Jesus accomplished in the New Covenant! God, grant revelation of this until this one holy truth becomes a fire unveiled within us.
Such is the power of the covenant. We are on God's side; He is on our side. We are united with God against every enemy known to man.
CARRY THE COVENANT
Let's return to Joshua because the next scene in this prophetic parallel to the church reveals an awesome event. Joshua told the people to follow the priests as they carried the ark of the covenant. The priests were to stand still in the Jordan as Israel passed by.
"And it shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above shall stand in one heap" (Josh 3:13).
THE IMPOSSIBLE BECOMES POSSIBLE
It is interesting that, almost as a foretaste of how the impossible becomes possible, the priests are required to step into the Jordan. It is deep. The text tells us that "the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest" (Josh 3:15). This water does not gradually recede as the priests draw near; it has not dried over night from a stiff wind like the water of the Red Sea. It remains flowing until the priests, carrying the covenant, step out in it.
As they dip their feet over the edge of the deep, churning water, at their right side, the river instantly stops! As the weight of their bodies follows the downward pull of gravity, the foot of the first priest lands solidly on dry ground! It is almost as if God is saying, WELCOME TO THE REALM OF COVENANT POWER, THE REALM WHERE ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
WHEN COVENANT POWER IS UNLEASHED
In the wilderness, for the most part, the training, the lessons, the maturing all took many years. But, when God's covenant power is unleashed, things are hastened in their time. The covenant gives you direct access to the power of God. You do not have to go through an operator to get through to God. You have the covenant hotline to the Almighty!
The priests had to obediently step into the flowing waters. This is symbolic of the land of the covenant. Here, God intends to do things instantaneously. It's not any harder for God to do something instantly than it is to do it gradually. We have thought that "gradual" was one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The most familiar adjective in the book of Mark concerning the miracles of Jesus, is the word "immediately."
This is about covenant power, God's power. It is not about evolutionary power. Even though we are Christians, we live as though we believe in evolution: like everything has to evolve in our lives. There is a power coming that is an "immediate" power.
Again, look in Romans. "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (8:31-32)
This is the land of our inheritance: the land of the covenant God who freely gives us all things. Whether it is the Jordan stopping as our feet touch it or the sick coming forth for healing, all things are ours because of the covenant of God with Christ.
From now on, when you talk about the great things of God, the miracles seen and those that are yet to come, let us refrain from saying, "unbelievable." It is time to say, "Yes, Lord! I believe!" When the Lord heals people and does His great works of grace and you hear the report of many salvations, do not say, "It's too good to be true."
The promises of God are good and they are true. Receive His love and the fulfillment of His promises. It is not based on us. It is based on the power of the blood covenant. Listen afresh to Christ's confidence: "Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you" (Mk 11:24).
TIME TO ADVANCE
Faith works by believing we HAVE received what we ask. This is not a matter of "confessing" over and over the promises, but believing that, through Christ's covenant with the Father, He has given (past tense) us all things. Before we even asked for help, God's response was already secured. As Paul said, "How will He not also with Him freely give us all things?"
Surely, in a world where our advancement is based on our performance, now we abandon ourselves to God and advance based on how wonderfully Christ performed! Truly, we have not gone this way before.
"Oh God, topple the limitations of our minds! Destroy that thinking in us that still relies upon our own righteousness instead of trusting fully in the blood of Christ. Father, let this message be a revelation, not just a teaching to us! Open wide the eyes of our understanding that we might be aware of the fullness of what You have given us in Christ! Amen.
Permission by Francis Frangipane
The Ministry of Francis Frangipane – In Christ's Image