“Now the gates of Jericho were securely barred because of the Israelites. No one went out and no one came in. The the Lord said to Joshua, ‘See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horn in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the walls of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.'”
Here’s what is important to know about the walls of Jericho. They were immense. They were structured on a three-tier plan. First was an earthen embankment, which ran from ground level upwards, on an incline, to a stone retaining wall. The retaining wall stood twelve to fifteen feet high. On top of the retaining wall stood a wall of mud-bricks, six feet thick and twenty to twenty-six feet thick. Overall, the structure stood thirty-two to forty-one feet high.
The walls of Jericho were able to withstand all sieges and repel all invaders. Until the day Joshua showed up. Until the day his army marched around the city. The unstoppable fortress met the unstoppable force of God’s army. Mighty Jericho crumbled. Neither Joshua nor his men brought the walls down. His soldiers never swung a hammer. They never rammed a door or pried loose a stone. The shaking, quaking, rumbling, and tumbling of the thick, impervious walls of Jericho fell to the power of Almighty God.
THE LAND OF CANAAN
Canaan is a life defined by grace, refined by challenge, and aligned with a heavenly call. Nothing should stop us from occupying a place in our lives that has been given over by God. In God’s plan, in God’s land, we win more often than we lose, forgive as quickly as we are offended, and give as abundantly as we receive. We serve out of our giftedness and delight in our assignments. We may stumble, but we do not collapse. We may struggle, but we defy despair. We boast only in Christ, trust only in God, and lean wholly on His power. We enjoy abundant fruit and increasing faith.
Canaan symbolizes the victory we can have today. Canaan is not a metaphor for heaven. The idea is beautiful, but the symbolism doesn’t work. Heaven will have no enemies; Canaan had at least seven enemy nations. Heaven will have no battles; Joshua and his men fought at least thirty-one. (See Joshua 12:9-24) Heaven will be free of stumbles and struggles. Joshua’s men weren’t. They stumbled and struggled, but their victories far outnumbered their defeats.
Canaan does not represent the life to come; rather it represents the life we can have now! God invites us to enter Canaan. There is only one condition: We must turn our backs on the wilderness and forget about the bondage we endured in our Egypt. Just as Canaan represents the victorious Christian life, the wilderness represents the defeated Christian life. In the desert, the Hebrew people were liberated from Egyptian bondage, but you wouldn’t have known it by listening to them. Just three days into their new freedom, “…the people grumbled at Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?'” (Exodus 15:24, NIV)
A few more days passed, and the Jews – troubled by the lack of food – said to Moses, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:3, NASB) The people literally reviled against Moses. They were plagued by anxiety, and bellyaching to the point that Moses was afraid they would stone him. (Exodus 17:4) How did the Hebrew people descend to this point? They were well acquainted with the miracle power of God. They saw God send locusts to gobble up Pharaoh’s crops, boils that devoured skin, millions of flies buzzing through Pharaoh’s court, and, the pièce de résistance, tens of millions of gallons of water swallowing up Pharaoh’s army after the Israelites crossed through the Red Sea. Despite God rescuing the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, when God called the Jews to cross over into Canaan, rather than trust God they first sent twelve spies. When only two returned, claiming “We were like grasshoppers” compared to the giants in the land, it was decided to not take the land the Lord had promised to them.
God gave the Israelites time to think it over. He put the entire nation in limbo for forty years. They walked the desert endlessly. Life was a constant Ground Hog Day, eating the same food, seeing the same scenery. Their life was nearly devoid of victories. Progress was slow as molasses. They had been saved from Pharaoh, but they were not strong. They were redeemed but not released. Stuck in the desert. Locked in a routine. Monotonous. Dull. Ho-hum. Four decades of tedium. It was a miserable existence.
THE PROMISED LAND LIFE NOW?
Does any of this seem familiar to you on a personal level? The REVEAL Research Project went on a search for modern-day Joshuas. REVEAL is an online survey that measures the spiritual growth of churches. The computerized program claims to provide a proven way to know whether or not a congregation is growing in their relationship with Christ, and in their love for God and for others. Specifically, the REVEAL Research Project wanted to determine the percentage of churchgoers who are actually propelled by their faith to love God and love others with their whole hearts. How many Christians would describe their days as though they were living in the land of milk and honey? The answer? Eleven percent!
In other words, nine out of ten Christians are languishing in the wilderness. Are they saved? Yes. Are they empowered? No! They waste away in the worst of ways – in the Land of In-Between. Sure, they are out of Egypt, but they are not yet in Canaan. Imagine for a moment if a high school graduated only eleven percent of its students, or a medical practice healed only eleven percent of its patients, or a home builder completed only eleven percent of his projects. Changes would be made to be sure!
Approximately 2.2 billion people on our planet identify themselves as Christian. That’s nearly one-third of the world’s population. If the REVEAL survey is any indication of what is happening in the church today, about 2 billion of those Christians are chugging along on a fraction of their potential power. Such sluggishness can only lead to weak churches and halfhearted ministries. What would happen if they were able to move into their Canaan and fully enjoy the power and effectiveness God intended for them? How would the world be different if 2 billion people came out of the wilderness? How much joy would be unleashed into the atmosphere? How much wisdom would be quarried and shared? How many marriages would be saved? How many wars would be prevented? How much hunger would be eliminated? How many orphanages would be built? If every Christian began to live the Promised Land life, how would the world be different?
If you began to live the Promised Land life now, how would you be different? Do you sense a disconnect between the promises of the Bible and the reality of your life? Jesus offers abundant joy. Yet you live with oppressive grief. The Epistles speak of grace. You shoulder such guilt. We are “more than conquerors,” (Romans 8:37) yet are typically conquered by temptations or weaknesses. Caught in the land between Egypt and Canaan. Think about the Christian you want to be. What qualities do you want to have? More compassion? More conviction? More courage? What attitudes do you want to discontinue? Greed? Guilt? Endless negativity? A critical spirit?
The good news is you can. With God’s help you can close the gap between the person you are and the person you want to be; indeed, the person God made you to be. You can live “from glory to glory.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) The walls of Jericho are already condemned. The giants are already on the run. The deed to your new life in Canaan has already been signed. It just falls to you to possess the land. Joshua and his men did this. They went from dry land to the Promised Land. From manna to feasts. From arid deserts to fertile fields. In other words, they inherited their inheritance.
“Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land which He swore to give to their fathers; and having taken possession of it they settled there. And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as He had sworn to their fathers; not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all had come to pass.” (Joshua 21:43-45, RSV)
This is God’s vision for your life. Imagine you at full throttle. You as you were intended. You as victor over the Jerichos and giants. You and your Promised Land life. It is yours for the taking. Expect to be challenged, of course. The enemy won’t go down without a fight. But expect great progress as well. Life is different on the west side of the Jordan. Breakthroughs outnumber breakdowns. God’s promises outweigh personal problems. Victory becomes, dare we imagine it, a way of life. Isn’t it time for you to change your mailing address from the wilderness to the Promised Land? God wants you there. He has, in fact, done everything necessary for you to possess the Land.
When we first come to Christ by faith, we begin to enter into our inheritance. We obtain the pardon of our sins. Some believers are not sure they have a present and perfect remission, which certainly has an adverse impact on the ability to come into their inheritance. Remember, we are joint-heirs with Christ. (See Romans 8:17) Many believe they have been washed in the Blood of Jesus, but have yet to put on the righteousness of Christ. The matter of regeneration is in no way a small matter. However, we are to arise, cross over the Jordan, and take possession of the larger inheritance. Share in the bigger picture. We are to seek after holiness. Aspire to the utmost God intends for us after regeneration.
Instead, we tend to give in at times to doubt and fear. We forget who we are. Rather, who we’ve become. This must not continue! Not only must we have faith; we must have the full assurances that come with having faith. It is in this place of full assurance – our Land of Canaan – that we fight shalom. We can, indeed, have joy in the midst of trouble; confidence in the hour of struggle. The inheritance of the believer is the choicest form of life, peace, and joy. We literally come to Canaan to live with Christ, in Christ, for Christ, as Christ. This is the life which is life indeed. All other life, in comparison, is death.
The Bible is full of references to the inheritance believers have in Christ. Ephesians 1:11 says, “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” (NKJV) In 1 Peter 1:4, we are told of an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade. What we have in Christ is an enduring possession. Thing is, we must understand our inheritance and possess it. The legal term “inheritance” refers to actual property (often land or real estate) or goods received after a family member’s death.
In Canaan, we do not fight for victory. We fight from victory. In the wilderness we strive. In Canaan we trust. In the wilderness we seek God’s attention. In Canaan we already have God’s favor. In the wilderness we doubt our salvation. In Canaan we know we are saved. We move from wanting-to-have to believing we already do. When we were born again, we were given the right be become children of God. (See John 1:12) Since we are part of the family, we have access to the family blessings. Every single one of them. “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance.” (Ephesians 1:11) Paul tells us, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:16)
How, then, do we explain the disconnect between who we are in Christ and our failure to take possession of our inheritance? If we are co-heirs with Christ, why do we struggle through life? Our inheritance is perfect peace, yet we feel like a perfect mess. We have access to the abundant life promised by Jesus, yet we fall short. God promises to meet our every need, yet we still fret and worry. Why?
We don’t know about our inheritance. For many believers, no one ever told them about “the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.” (Ephesians 1:19) No one explained that they fight from victory, no for victory. No one told them the land has already been conquered. Some Christians never live out of their inheritance because they don’t know they have one.
We don’t believe in our inheritance. This was the problem of Joshua’s ancestors. They didn’t really believe that God could give them the land. The days of living in the land of milk and honey could have begun for the Hebrews four decades earlier, a point God alluded to in His promise to Joshua: “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses.” (Joshua 1:3, RSV) God was actually saying, I made this offer to the people of Moses day, but they didn’t take it. They chose the wilderness. Don’t make the same mistake. Joshua didn’t. Much to his credit, he took God at His word and set about the task of inheriting the Land.
Imagine what would happen if a generation of Christians lived from the vantage point of their inheritance. Men and women would turn off Internet porn. They would stop cheating on their taxes. The lonely would find comfort in God, not in the arms of strangers. Struggling couples would spend more time in prayer, less time in anger. Children would consider it a blessing to care for their aging parents. Generations of Christians would vacate the wilderness. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead would turn every “I can’t” into “I can.” The church would start living out the edict, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV)
A new day awaits us all. A new season of accomplishment, discovery, and strength. Leave every I can’t into I can.
REVEAL For Life Spiritual Life Survey. (2016). Retrieved from: http://revealforchurch.com/#home