How do I become a child of God? I believe this is one of the most pertinent questions that must be answered today. We all see the signs, and hear from various people that the end of the world is coming. Are you sure that you will be with Jesus when he returns? Many people will not be with Him, as they did not heed to what the Bible teaches us.
There are many methods used by many people, but I would like to use Israel as an example of how we can get to Canaan, and inherit what the LORD promised. This is what the LORD promised in Jeremiah 30 “and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.” I know that this is what the LORD wants to do for each one of us, as this is what the Bible declares.
Why do I think that we can get the answer from Moses. The answer comes from the book of Exodus: “And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.” (Exo 7:1) The LORD states all through the Bible that He will talk to us through His prophets. In this passage He states that He appoints Moses as His representative and Aaron as a prophet for Moses. This means that Moses will lead the way as God, Aaron as prophet, and Pharaoh as Satan. He wants to show us how to get out from the claws of the devil and live a life in righteousness. That is the meaning of the trek out of Egypt. We as sinful creatures, must realise that we have to go to Canaan, and this we can do by following Israel’s example. As we are all born as sinners,(Egyptians), we must decide to join ourselves to Israel, and then follow them to Canaan. This also clarifies another question you might have: Have you ever thought why Moses could not enter Canaan? If he could, their was no need for Jesus to come as Moses would have been seen as a perfect example to lead us from Egypt to Canaan. Every denomination has their own verses that they cling on to in order to tell everyone why they believe the way they do, and many tracts and books have bee written explaining the process of how to become a child of God, but here we find in Exodus that the whole process is described for us. A question that is also answered here is what was Esau role in the history of the Bible? Esau was the eldest son of Isaac who would have inherited the Covenant that God made with Abraham and that Abraham passed on to Isaac; but he traded his birthright to his twin brother Jacob for a mess of pottage. The same thing happened to Israel. They were the first born of the LORD, but as they rejected Jesus, we as the Church have received the blessing of the covenant. That is why we can look at what Israel did, and learn from their mistakes. Why has nobody thought of it before? (2 Corinthians 3:14) “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.”
Did Israel ever receive Canaan? I was under the impression always that they must have received Canaan after forty years in the dessert. However Ezekiel gives us a different view.(Ezekiel 20:6) “In the day that I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands:” (Ezekiel 20:13) “But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them”. Ezekiel 20:17-18 “Nevertheless mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness. But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols:” Ezekiel 20:22-23 “Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth. I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries;”
This portion of scripture declares that they never inherited Canaan as it was in the days of the spies. This also clarifies the situation why we never again read in the Bible that Israel produced fruit the size Canaan did in the days of the spies. You see that in the forty years Israel spent in the wilderness, God changed the land to what it was when they eventually entered into it.
But first, what does Canaan look like? Let us look at the following verses. Numbers 13:23 “And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs..” Numbers 13:27 “And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it”. Numbers 14:8 “If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.” And our spiritual Canaan? Psalms 1 verses 1 to 3 give us the answer. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful .2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” So, to be in Canaan means to always bear fruit, and that one would be prosperous in everything one does.
Canaan is also the place where the LORD wants to take us to on the second coming, according to Jeremiah 30. This is the place we have to take possession of as Christians. However, we cannot go there if we do not follow the instructions on how to get there. Canaan is the place I trust you want to end up in after completing your earthly life.
How did Israel get to Canaan, and why did the LORD out of all the nations choose them?
The Bible teaches us that Joseph was taken to Egypt against his will, that the same brothers that sold him came to buy wheat from him in Egypt, and that his family was re-united again in Egypt. Over the years they became a very strong nation. This is how Israel was formed as a separate nation, and where they were chosen by the LORD as His people. We must remember that Esau was also one of Jacob’s sons, but that he did not go to Egypt with his brother. The question though is, why did the LORD chose Israel as His people?
Moses gives us the answer in Deuteronomy 7: “7 The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8 But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt”. Because He loved Israel, and He had a covenant with them.
I want to emphasise it that I am not for or against the doctrine of election, but rather wants to look at who were elected. The LORD chose Israel that was His decision. What about other nations? What happens to other people who are not part of Israel? Fortunately for us, other people were allowed to join them to Israel in those days. Exodus 12:48-49: “And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. 49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you”. This passage shows us that even in the Old Testament times, people from other nations could join them to Israel, and become like an Israelite. This also meant that they became part of the covenant with God as the Passover was only meant for the people who were part of the covenant nation of God. The sign of the covenant was circumcision, and that is what the people from other nations had to do.
New Testament view.
We no longer live in the times of the Old Testament and covenant, but in the New Testament times where we are no longer under the law. What is the New Testament view? Acts 10:34 and 35: “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Paul discusses this in Ephesians 2 as follows: Verse 11 “¶ Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; 12 that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. 14 ¶ For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, 15 having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; 16 and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:”
In this passage we see that God extends His nation to everyone who fears Him and works righteousness. These people are acceptable to Him. So it does not matter any longer if you are Jewish or not, but it matters only if you are doing what He wants you to do. It only matters if you believe in the works that He did for us, and that you believe that He is the Christ. So you and I can also become members of His chosen nation, and we find that even in Exodus provision was made for us. This is also confirmed by Paul in Ephesians 1 verse 4: “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:”
While in the dessert, Moses told the Israelites that God chose them to be His people. Deut 4:37 “And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out with his presence, with his great power, out of Egypt; 38 to drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as at this day.” So for us as foreigners to Israel, we must look at what Israel had to do to get out of Egypt, what the significance is for us, and what they had to do to get to Canaan.
Where do we start?
We have to know that the Israelites were in Egypt before the exodus. This was a life where they were used as slaves, but it is also the place where the LORD came to there rescue. We also have to come to accept that the LORD did not decide by Himself to take them out of Egypt, but that they had to cry out to the LORD. Ex 2:23 “¶ And it came to pass in the course of those many days, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God saw the children of Israel, and God took knowledge of them.” One aspect that stands out from this passage is that the Bible also declares that it took a long time. How many times have you asked the LORD to do something for you, and then you are upset when the answer is not there the next day. We read in this part of scripture that Moses was in the dessert for 40 years, and that Israel had to wait till God decided it was the right time to send Moses. Another aspect we read of in this passage is that Israel decided to follow Moses. Why Moses? Because he was sent by God and hence moved in signs and wonders. So if you are looking for someone to lead you out of Egypt, look for someone who is sent by God. This person will move in signs and wonders. Follow his example.
So what is the first step?
For me as a gentile, or stranger to Israel, I will have to come to the knowledge that I am in Egypt, and only then can I cry out to God for salvation. How do I know that I am in Egypt? What did Jesus teach to convince people that they were still sinners? How did Jesus convince the Jews that they had a sinful nature? He had a similar problem to what we have. We read in Matthew 5 verse 17 to 48 how this was handled.
Remember that Jesus was speaking to people who knew the LORDS commandments backwards. The Pharisees and Scribes divided the Law into many different sections, and everyone had to obey every part. If they did not heed to the law, they were scared that they would be taken captive again and sent to Babylon as He did in Jeremiah’s time.
So how did Jesus do it? By proving to them that it does not depend on what you do, but life depends on the state of heart. How did Jesus state it in verse 20? “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” We also find that Jesus ends this chapter with a statement that looks impossible. Verse 48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
What did Jesus teach them in this passage? That it is not possible to receive salvation by being obedient to the law only. It does not matter how hard I try to earn my salvation by not sinning and just doing right, The problem is not by not sinning anymore, as even my thoughts are sinful. No, I have to be convinced that my nature must change. But how? The prophet Ezekiel gave us the answer in chapter 11 verse 19: “And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh;”. So the problem is in the heart. I have to change my heart, and that happens by being born again, as Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:5-6. “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
So what must happen to me? I must receive a new heart, a heart from Gods nation. I must be changed from a gentile (sinner) to a Jew (chosen one). I must come to the point where I know that as a gentile I cannot receive the kingdom of God. I must become a member of His chosen nation. But how is this achieved? By believing that God has the power to change me from a gentile (sinner) to a Jew (chosen one). I must receive the cover of His blood. The angel of death cannot do anything to me when I am under the blood of Jesus. I must believe that the blood of Jesus has the power to change me from a sinner to His chosen one, and to forgive my sins and transgressions. I must believe that He has prepared the only way for me. I must believe that the covenant he prepared is the only answer.
Verse 20 of Matthew 5 gives us the key to this part of scripture: “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
What is our problem then?
Righteousness. I am in the way of my own salvation. By obedience to the law I will never be able to achieve salvation. It is still what I am trying to do. I am still caught up in sin. I first have to come to the understanding that I am a sinful creature, that my whole being is not acceptable to the LORD. This I can only learn from the passage in Matthew 5. I must die, and be born again. That is the only way.
As soon as I accept the fact that I am in Egypt, I can plan on leaving it. If I don’t accept the fact that I am in Egypt, I will always long back to Egypt. If I don’t understand that I am in Egypt, the situation will always be as Charles Finney described it in Revival Fire: “I have already intimated that pains enough had not been taken to search the heart and thoroughly detect and expose the sinner’s depravity, so as to make him see the need of the gospel remedy. If I am not mistaken, there has been, in many cases, an error committed in urging sinners to submission before they are prepared to understand what true submission is. They have been urged to repent, before they have really understood the nature and dessert of sin; to believe, before they have understood their need of Christ; to resolve to serve God, before they have at all understood what the service of God is. They have been pressed to make up their minds to enter immediately upon the service of God, and have been taught that they needed only to make a resolution to obey the LORD. Hence their religion, after all, has been only a religion of resolutions, instead of a religion of faith, and love, and of a broken heart. In short, it appears to me that, in many instances, the true idea of what constitutes pure religion has not been developed in the mind, and that consequently spurious conversions have been distressingly numerous. I have been more and more surprised from year to year, to find how very numerous those professors of religion are who manifestly have not the true ideal of pure religion before their minds. It seems that, in many instances, the idea that love is the essence and the whole of religion, is left almost, if not entirely, out of view.”
Remedy for our problem.
I have to understand how deep the rift is between the LORD and myself before I can think of the remedy. Only then will I see the need for getting forgiveness, and to be born again. What then? Only then will I accept what He has done for me. Then I can empty myself before Him like David did in Psalm 51. Whenever I read this Psalm, I stand in awe of the relationship David had with the LORD. Then I can understand that the LORD is not interested in my greatness. He wants me to be stripped of myself, and to come to Him with a broken and contrite heart, to be washed clean of all unrighteousness.
How did the LORD prepare forgiveness of our sins? Through the new covenant. But what does the new covenant mean to me?
That God is man’s covenant partner. That God, through the offer of Jesus Christ on Calvary, does not hold the sins of man against him any longer, to those that believes in the covenant of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, God’s perfect gift took our place and died for our sins, in order that we can be freed from the requirements of the covenant. God took His own Son as the perfect offer for our sins, as all who sin should die. The Father dealt with Jesus according to our sins, so that we can be free. In adherence to the law, no man could ever be assured of forgiveness, but now through Jesus Christ our Saviour, we can now be washed clean from all our sins.
The righteousness that Jesus gives is the right to stand before God, without guilt or blemish.
In other words, it is to be in a favourable relationship with God. As soon as we enter into the covenant of righteousness and adhere to the rules of the covenant, we have everlasting life. This covenant also gives us the answer to the statement Jesus made in Matthew 5 where He said we have to be perfect as our Father in heaven, is perfect.
Now I can believe that Jesus has truly saved me from eternal death. Now I can believe that He is my saviour. But what is faith? We all know Hebrews 11 verse 1 that defines it as follows: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Why is faith required? Verse 6; “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” The book of Hebrews is primarily a book discussing faith and covenant. The author informs me that I must believe the message of the Bible, without doubting anything. When I doubt something, it is disbelief, and I know that without faith it is impossible to please God. We also read that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. For a full discussion of faith, see the question and answer later on under the doctrines section.
We learn from the history of Israel that Egypt was hit by various plagues. This is the way the LORD wants to show us that He is in total control of everything on earth, and all we have to do is have faith in Him to take us out of Egypt. For the people in the world it is only calamities, but for us it is proof that He is in control of everything.
The Israelites had to come under the blood of the lamb. The same way we have to put ourselves under the protection of out Lamb. We have just learned what the new covenant means, and that I have to lay down my life at the cross. I can then ask Him to wash me in His Blood. Having done this, I am then a member of His flock, and the angel of death cannot touch me anymore. I can then proclaim like Paul did in Gal.2: 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.”
What was the Passover?
The Israelites had to remove all yeast from their homes, and prepare unleavened bread. But why? If we look at the function of yeast, its main function is making bread rise. It will affect every single part of the bread. It is the same with sin. Any sin left in our lives, will affect the total being. It makes me totally unacceptable to God. It will puff me up, like yeast does to bread. So this shows us that we have to break totally and unequivocally with all sin. I cannot even leave sin in my thoughts, as it will affect my total being, and make me unacceptable to God. So every time that we share in Holy Communion, I have to remember where I was, and what the LORD did to lead me out. That is why I have to eat of the bread, fill myself with His body, and drink the cup, wash myself clean with His blood.
One aspect that the LORD wanted to bring home to them early in their walk with Him is that they have to remember to love Him. That is why in the same section where Moses gives them the instructions on how to prepare the Passover meal, he also give them the guidelines for first fruits. The LORD teaches them that they have to remember this night in Egypt where every first born, whether child or beast, was killed, but He passed them over. He teaches them in Exodus 13 as follows; “And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, 12 That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD’S. 13 And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem. 14 And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:”
How do we do it today? I have to do what Jesus told us to do. Jesus still wants from us our lives, as well as our first fruits. In Matthew 25 from verse 34, Jesus tells the disciples what is acceptable as an offer to Him. We read here that Jesus declares that many will ask when they clothed someone who had no clothes, or worst still, they did we not do it. Jesus tells them that it matters how we act towards our neighbour, and not if we obeyed all the laws and commandments. This is what He wants from us. To share with everybody, so that no one has a shortfall. This is what love towards our brother means, and this is what He requires.
I also have an obligation towards those that labour in the Word. I have to ensure that they receive their share. So it is our duty to ensure that the pastor, reverend, missionary, Christian worker or whatever title they might have, have sufficient to meet their daily needs. For a full description on finances, read the answer on finances in the general section.
The exodus out of Egypt begins.
The night after the Passover was the start of the exodus out of Egypt. They had to use a detour to get to where they were supposed to go. But why? The Bible declares that the LORD did not want Israel to get involved in a war, and then return to Egypt. No, He wanted to protect them. The same happens to us. The LORD doesn’t want us to go back to Egypt again. He wants to protect us from that what He took us out from. The LORD wants to protect us before we go through the baptism in water. How does the Bible declare it? Exodus 13 verse 17-18:“17 ¶ And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: 18 but God led the people about, by the way of the wilderness by the Red Sea: and the children of Israel went up armed out of the land of Egypt.”
Why did it happen at night? It is normally when all is dark around you, when you don’t know which way to turn, that the LORD will bring you out from your Egypt. Why did they have to go through the Red Sea? Just as the LORD drowned all the Egyptians in the sea, He wants to drown all my sins and my sinful nature, in the baptism water. That is why you have to be baptised. He wants us to be clean from our sins when we rise up from the baptism water, in order for me to keep my eyes focused on Him alone. What does Paul say in Romans 6? That baptism is a funeral. Not only are my sins buried, by my sinful nature is buried. I can rise as a new creation. Just as sure as Jesus was raised from the dead, will I be raised as a new creation from the water, that I can live a new life, a life with Him. This is being born again. This scripture teaches us exactly what happens during baptism. Paul also eluded on this in Col.2: 9-12 “9 for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, 10 and in him ye are made full, who is the head of all principality and power: 11 in whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.”
Having been made dead to sin by baptism, I can now stand boldly before the throne of God. Why? 1 John 3 verses 8 and 9: “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
As I died with Christ, I can now live with Him. As the Israelites were freed from the Egyptians, I am also freed of my sins. But we have to remember that the Israelites still sinned after passing through the Red Sea. They still longed to the meals in Egypt. But it did not mean that every time they sinned that they were back in Egypt. 1 John 1: 8-10; “8 ¶ If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” Having passed through the baptism water, I have to remember to break down the wall that I build up through sin between God and myself.
Something that I have to understand from this section is that I must believe the Word of God and His covenant, before I can get baptised. I first have to come to the understanding that I am in Egypt before I can start on my journey to Canaan. If I was baptised before understanding this, I basically went for a swim in the Red Sea. I have not started this journey, as I am back in Egypt after my swim. I have to understand that I have to change from being an Egyptian to becoming an Israelite. Only then can I, like Israel, call out to the LORD. Everything before that is useless. That is the same answer Peter gave to the people when they asked him what they had to do to get saved: Acts 2:38 “38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
How is Baptism administered?
By immersion. That is the way Jesus was baptised. The word in Greek for baptism is baptismo, which, if we look at what the meaning was in biblical times, was to immerse something in water, or other liquid. The best example I found was that the word baptismo was used in a recipe. In this recipe, one had to take meat and leave it overnight in a sauce, fully immersed, as the meat had to take on the flavour of the sauce. This is exactly what has to happen to us, we have to receive His flavour, His personality. We must smell and taste the same as Him. The use of dripping water on people has its origin in the Roman church, which at the same time also found that you could even baptise dead people. For a full description see the answer to baptism in the foundational doctrines section. For an answer to child baptism, see the question later in this section, called “ What about my children?”
Baptism in the Holy Spirit.
The next event in the history of Israel is that they reach Mara. The water at Mara was bitter, and not acceptable for human consumption. But God had a solution. Moses had to take a tree stump and throw it into the water, in order for the water to become usable. Exodus 15:25 25 “And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet”. When we take water, in our case the baptism water, and we add the cross of Jesus, a piece of wood, to it, we get water to drink. In our case living water. But what is living water? John 7:37-39: “37 ¶ Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, from within him shall flow rivers of living water. 39 But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believed on him were to receive: for the Spirit was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified”. Jesus also referred to living water when he spoke to the Samarian woman at the well. Here he told her that whoever drinks from this water will never thirst again. To us, when we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, our words and our deeds will be life giving. It will flow as streams from our inner being. It won’t be necessary to ask people to do something good; they will do it without being asked. So after baptism, I must ask the LORD to baptize me with His Spirit, in order that living water will flow from me. How do I know that I received the Holy Spirit? Acts 19 verse 4 gives us the answer. “4 And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus. 5 And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the LORD Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” As Paul baptized and laid hands on these people, the LORD wants that the same will happen to you.
But how does this relate to the Israelites and what happened to them. When we read Exodus 15 from verse 27, we see that Israel camped at Elim, a place with 12 fountains and 70 palm trees. Is this a coincidence? Maybe the 12 represents the 12 tribes of Israel, and the 70 palm trees the 70 elders that Moses had to chose to receive the Holy Spirit. Num 11:24 “¶ And Moses went out, and told the people the words of Jehovah: and he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the Tent. 25 And Jehovah came down in the cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the Spirit that was upon him, and put it upon the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, but they did so no more.”
We see from this that in Israel’s time, that to prophesy was a sign of having been baptised by the Holy Spirit. This is exactly what happened to the people Paul baptised. What does Joel say in Joel 2 verse 28 “¶ And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit.”
But what about people who cannot speak in tongues? Jesus declared that streams of living water would flow out of you, with or without any of the two external signs. So if I act the way Jesus did, and people can see that I am giving out living water in the form of life giving life, I am baptized with the Holy Spirit.
The LORD also declares to Israel while at Meriba that should Israel keep to what He commanded them that He will not place any of the diseases that He put on the Egyptians, on them. Ex 15:26 “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of Jehovah thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his eyes, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon thee, which I have put upon the Egyptians: for I am Jehovah that healeth thee.” This confirms to us that the LORD wants us to be healthy, but we have to obey Him.
Were you aware of the fact that the LORD ensured that their clothes did not age, nor did get sick all the time in the wilderness? That is His will. Ex 23:25-26 “25 And ye shall serve Jehovah your God, and he will bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. 26 There shall none cast her young, nor be barren, in thy land: the number of thy days I will fulfil.”
So in both passages we see that the LORD says that He will heal Israel. But not only will He heal them, He will not put any of our diseases we had in Egypt, on us. He declares that He will take sickness away from us, and that the number of our days will be full. But there is one proviso. “If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of Jehovah thy God” The LORD demands obedience. For a full discussion on healing, look at the answer in the doctrines section.
Alone in the dessert
Many times we wonder if the LORD is still with us. This is not a strange phenomenon. The Israelites also had the same feelings. While they were travelling through the dessert named Sin, which gives us a new perception of where our own sin leaves us, they complained to Moses that the LORD was not with them, as they did not have any water. How many times have you felt like the LORD is no longer with you? But the LORD answered their pleading. Ex 16:6-7 ” 6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the striving of the children of Israel, and because they tempted Jehovah, saying, Is Jehovah among us, or not?” So every time you think that the LORD has left your side, do not be dismayed, He is always there.
The LORD wants to teach us to fight the enemy. The Amelekites did not attack them, but the attacking was done by Israel. The LORD taught them here that with Him on their side, they could overcome the enemy. With Him on your side you can overcome. The interesting fact here is that Aaron and Hur had to keep Moses’ arms with the rod up in the air. The rod all the time of the exodus, was the physical manifestation of the Holy Spirit, as it was always used to do the signs and wonders. So with the Holy Spirit, you can tackle all the enemies, or sin, in your life and overcome them. With the Holy Spirit the victory is yours.
When Jethro visits Moses, we see that they embrace each other, and that Moses receives instruction from his father in law on how to organise the people. How many times do you find that the LORD has healed relationships that were broken? This all happens in our own time in the dessert.
As soon as you think everything is over, you suddenly realise that you are not in the Promised Land yet. You are still in the dessert. Now you only realise that the LORD wants to teach you His life. We first have to understand that we have to be dependant on Him for everything. He wants to supply us with manna and quails. He wants to provide us with water, but we have to depend on Him for this. We have to learn to be totally dependant on Him. Israel also tried to test Him. When they went out to gather manna, one would gather a lot and the other one a little. But the most remarkable fact is, that when they had to measure what they picked up, the Bible states the following Ex 16:18 “And when they measured it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating.” The Bible teaches us here that the LORD kept the balance between everyone. No one had more than what he needed, and no one had less than needed.
The one problem we still face today, even in church, is that of poverty. Jesus also addressed this problem when He spoke to the Pharisees and scribes. Matt 23:23 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye tithe mint and anise and cummin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: but these ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone”. We have to remember that the Pharisees tried so hard to be obedient to the law of Moses, that they even brought tithes of things that the LORD did not prescribe. But, Jesus says to them that they do not do the most important aspect of the law, and that is to look after the needs of their own people. So I have to learn that, that which is left over after ensuring that I have enough for myself, I must share with those that do not have enough themselves. This does not only include the physical means, but those needs of every person of having a right to exist. I cannot take from the poor, whether it be financial or morally, and enrich myself. If you do that, the LORD will call you a hypocrite.
Does the LORD still speak to me?
Three months after leaving Egypt, Israel finds themselves at Mount Sinai. This is the place where the LORD wants to instruct you personally. He does not need someone else to mediate for you. He wants to communicate personally. He wants to sit on His holy mountain and talk to you. What instructions does the LORD give to Moses? Ex 19:3-6 “3 And Moses went up unto God, and Jehovah called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. 5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be mine own possession from among all peoples: for all the earth is mine: 6 and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.” As priests, the LORD wants us to communicate with Him directly, to offer to Him personally. If we do that, then we would be a holy nation unto Him.
After this event the LORD gave Moses the Ten Commandments, but do you know what Israel’s answer was to the LORD? Ex 20:18-20 “And all the people perceived the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the voice of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they trembled, and stood afar off. 19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die. 20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before you, that ye sin not.” This is the same way we act. We tell the LORD that He should rather speak through someone else, through the reverend or the pastor. We cannot accept the fact that the LORD wants to speak to us directly. Why? Because then I can always use it as an excuse not to break with sin. I can always react that God did not personally tell me this, so I don’t need to break with it.
Sinai – Circumcision of the hart
Sinai was the place where the LORD gave Moses all the commandments we find in Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Moses did not only receive them at Mount Sinai, but he also had to teach them to the Israelites. They camped here for more than a year. It is also the place where they had to build the ark and the tabernacle. All the heads over ten, fifty, hundred and a thousand had to be appointed. For us today it is a place where the LORD writes his commandments on our heart. A place where the old heart of stone is forever changed to a heart of flesh. We might even experience that there is a calling on our life, but before we can walk into this ministry we have to receive the Word in our hearts. Has the LORD written His laws on you heart yet? Are there still areas that you have to submit to Him? I have seen many people stuck at this juncture because of wrong behaviour. They will tell you that the LORD has not told them yet to break this wrong habit. My answer is always the same. If you can show me the habit in the Bible, I will accept the behaviour. If not, you must break with it. We want to get to Canaan. We don’t want to spend additional time in the dessert that is not required. Don’t make Sinai your home.
Lets refresh our memories again. How does David define Canaan? “Psalm 1: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of scoffers: 2 But his delight is in the law of Jehovah; And on his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, That bringeth forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also doth not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper”. This is Canaan. This is the destiny that the LORD has for you. If you don’t want to accept it, you might have to wait another 40 years before you get to enter again. Did you know that all the Israelites of 20 and over that left Egypt never entered into Canaan? The only exceptions were Joshua and Caleb. Numbers 14:28 ” Say unto them, As I live, saith Jehovah, surely as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: 29 your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, that have murmured against me, 30 surely ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware that I would make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.” They didn’t enter into Canaan because they doubted what the LORD could do. Do everything in your power to get what the LORD wants for you, never doubting Him. Don’t build your faith on the traditions of man. Paul specialized in it. But then he met Jesus. I trust you want to get to Canaan.
One answer we get from this scripture concerning a question that a lot of people wrestle with. If a person first has to believe before being baptised, what happens to those that die without being baptised? We see that the LORD said that nobody under 20 years of age would die during the 40-year trek in the dessert. Why? He gave them a chance to choose for themselves. He wants to ensure that you get enough time to consider His Word and His ways, before giving you a choice. Only after reaching twenty, will He expect of you to have made your own decision, and will you be judged according to your decision. We see that all the Israelites that eventually entered into Canaan still had to go through the Jordan River to be baptised.
Something else that happened while Israel was in the dessert was that the LORD instructed Moses to build the tabernacle. This was built and represented what Moses saw in the spiritual, and had to be represented in the physical. What did the tabernacle represent? It was a place where sacrifices could be brought to the LORD, a place where the priests could intercede for Israel and get repentance for their sin. There were three sections in it, and in the one section, the holiest of holies, only the high priest could enter into, where the LORD would physically manifest His presence. The high priest could only enter into this area with blood to get redemption for the sins of Israel.
What is the purpose of the tabernacle for us today?
When Jesus died on the cross for us, we read that the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom. This serves for us as a sign that God has removed that, which separated us from Him. Jesus entered into this once and for all to bring an acceptable sacrifice for all the sins of the world, so that we can be reconciled with God. We can now exhibit the boldness described in the book of Hebrews to enter into the courts of God Almighty, by placing us under the Blood of Jesus. We no longer need any other person to be a mediator between the Father and us as Jesus has been offered up for us as an acceptable sacrifice once and for all. This also means that we can enter into the presence of God the Father, and never again have to wonder if we have the right to be called children of God. It also means that if I spend time in His presence, I will be like Him, that I will carry His anointing into a world that is forever searching to find the real God.
Canaan, or back to the dessert
The Israelites were very glad when they reached the end of their journey. They sent out people to look at what Canaan was like, and to report back to them. The report that they heard from some of the scouts were very negative, while only two scouts believed that the LORD will be with them and help them to destroy the existing people. The people who heard the report did not like what they heard, because they did not have faith. They did not believe that the LORD will give the enemy into their hand, and instead insisted that they elect a new leader to take them back to Egypt. How many times today do I still hear people say that they don’t believe that the LORD will do something for them? They don’t believe in signs and wonders, because they don’t have faith. We must believe, have faith. How many times have you not believed that something good will happen to you? How many dreams of people have been shattered by unbelief? We have to believe that all His promises are yeah and amen. Not only the ones that are easy. No, every promise. If you don’t have faith, you are going to stay in the dessert. Maybe you will have to wait another 40 years, or maybe you will never enter into that which God had planned for you all along.
Canaan – Eventually!!!!!
What was the first thing Israel had to do after they crossed the Jordan? Attack and smite Jericho. Did Israel defeat all the enemies in Canaan at once? No. The Bible declares that we have to destroy these strongholds one by one; the same way Israel destroyed all the enemy cities. Why? You cannot fight everyone at the same time. As you take possession of Canaan, the LORD will take you from stronghold to stronghold, and expect of you to break with it. You have to utterly destroy it. Another aspect that we read about here is that the different tribes didn’t each go their separate ways after crossing into Canaan. No, they all moved through the land to claim each tribe’s area, destroy the enemy, and only after establishing each area, did they each go their separate ways. This is the same way the LORD expects us to function. When we lead someone to the LORD, He expects us to first teach the person in every aspect of a believer’s life, before allowing us to go back to our own inheritance.
Something else that happened when Israel crossed into Canaan was that the LORD’s provision of manna disappeared after they had their first meal from the land. Why? Now He expects us to do the planting and reaping, now He will bless whatever you do. Deut 11 verses 11-12 “11 but the land, whither ye go over to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven, 12 a land which Jehovah thy God careth for: the eyes of Jehovah thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.” Now we can understand what Solomon meant in Psalm 127: “Except Jehovah build the house, They labor in vain that build it: Except Jehovah keep the city, The watchman waketh but in vain. 2 It is vain for you to rise up early, To take rest late, To eat the bread of toil; For so he giveth unto his beloved sleep.” Once inside of Canaan, the LORD will bless what I do, as long as I do what He commanded me to do, and that is not to follow other gods.
What do we have to be on the lookout for?
Once you enter in Canaan, is it possible to lose it. Is it possible to lose one’s salvation? Even in Israel’s time not everybody was saved. Everyone was circumcised as a sign or emblem of the old covenant. We find in the Bible that the LORD continually sent prophets to the Israelites asking them to repent and to change their ways. Ezekiel 18 is one of the passages where the Israelites are asked to repent, and if they don’t, that the LORD will have no option as to let them die. Death here was not a physical death, but a spiritual death, a death forever. We also learn from this passage that we cannot say that we are saved as a result of our parents’ actions, as everyone will be judged on his own way of living. Verses 20 and 30 of Ezekiel 18 gives us clarity: “20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. 30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the LORD Jehovah. Return ye, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.”
As I said earlier, not all Israelites were saved. The same applies today. I cannot proclaim that because I once upon a time gave my heart to the LORD that I will be saved. No, I can lose my salvation. The above scripture proves it. It is also confirmed in Ezekiel 3 verse 20 where he writes as follows: “20 Again, when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thy hand.” The LORD wants that everyone will be saved, but He wants you to obey Him. You can however, climb out of His hand and follow after other gods.
This always sounds to me like very strong words, so I want to end off with a question to you.
My question to you
This question comes from Deuteronomy 30 from verse 15: “¶ See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 16 in that I command thee this day to love Jehovah thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, that thou mayest live and multiply, and that Jehovah thy God may bless thee in the land whither thou goest in to possess it. 17 But if thy heart turn away, and thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; 18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish; ye shall not prolong your days in the land, whither thou passest over the Jordan to go in to possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, thou and thy seed; 20 to love Jehovah thy God, to obey his voice, and to cleave unto him; for he is thy life, and the length of thy days; that thou mayest dwell in the land which Jehovah sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
My prayer for you is that you will choose this way.