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Are You Ready to Enter the Promised Land?

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Are You Ready to Enter the Promised Land?

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"Three times the Israelites marched around the city. Then a fourth, and a fifth and a sixth. Then the command came. Joshua called out, ‘Shout! For the Lord has given you the city!' "As the seventh round began… Israel's marching seemed to reverberate against the mountains to the west. Then the massive army stopped and faced the city. The horns sounded their blast, joined by a million voices in a ferocious battle cry. "Dust billowed up as stones broke loose and tumbled down. Entire sections of the wall collapsed, stones pouring in an avalanche onto the roadway. "By sunset, the once great trading center of Jericho was burning. Jericho looked as though a hand had come down from heaven and flattened it against the earth. The walls and towers were scattered stones that had collapsed and rolled outward. "The air was acrid, smoke billowing into the darkening sky. Red and orange tongues of fire licked up the last bits of wooden rubble within the circle of tumbled stone." The excerpted descriptive account of Jericho's destruction comes from pages 110-115 of the book Unashamed by Francine Rivers. God destroyed Jericho for Israel on a triumphant seventh day of Unleavened Bread and they finally entered the Promised Land. Today, we are also wandering through a spiritual desert on the verge of entering the Promised Land—God's coming Kingdom. We are all anticipating the wondrous physical and spiritual changes that will come to God's creation when this event occurs. But are we ready to enter the Promised Land? To answer that question, we need to go back in time and learn from Israel's history. Doing so will help us to see if we have grown throughout the year since the last Spring Holy Day time. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, it was a magnificent event. Yet there must have been a tinge of sadness when they thought of all of those who were not there to see it. Forty years before this triumphant day, Israel had not been ready, and God had condemned those 20 and over to die in the desert. God had rejected them for one simple reason: sin. The Israelites still had sin in their heart, and it kept them from entering the Promised Land. While camped in the Wilderness of Paran, God instructed Moses to send spies into the land of Canaan (Numbers 13). They were sent to "see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many; whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the land is rich or poor" (13:18-20). For 40 days the spies secretly viewed the land then returned. Fear Factor The land was indeed bountiful. They arrived at the camp of Israel carrying a cluster of grapes between two men on a pole. God was going to bless them with a wonderful new home! But immediately we learn of the first sin-producing ingredient in their hearts—fear. Fear gripped all but two of the spies. They told Israel that "the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large…We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we" (Numbers 13:28 Numbers 13:28Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there.
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, 31). They forgot God's delivering power and His faithfulness despite the many mighty miracles of protection and guidance. Their fears were very real. But fear felled Israel's faith. We also face very real fears. Yet God offers us intervention and care in our lives the same as He did for Israel. We cannot forget the miracles God has worked in our lives or His power. God will help us as we make our exodus from spiritual Egypt. Our commitment to God should cause us to look forward, trusting in God without fear. Jesus Christ told His disciples, "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32 Luke 12:32Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
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). The same power of the Holy Spirit that strengthened Jesus Christ and helped Him to overcome has been given to us to help us follow Him in overcoming (John 16:33 John 16:33These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
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). Only as our relationship with our Father grows can we trust Him and not be fearful. Stubbornness vs. Humility After hearing the report from the spies, the Israelites wept. They thought God had brought them to the wilderness to die. This led them to the second sin-producing ingredient—stubbornness. They stubbornly claimed that their life in Egypt had been better than this, and they longed to return (Numbers 14:1-3 Numbers 14:1-3 [1] And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. [2] And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said to them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! [3] And why has the LORD brought us to this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
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). The Israelites did not want God in their lives (Exodus 14:11-12 Exodus 14:11-12 [11] And they said to Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? why have you dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? [12] Is not this the word that we did tell you in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.
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; 32:9). They had a hardened heart that blinded them from seeing the benefits of following God. This was a problem that they struggled with constantly. It led God to call them stiff-necked on many occasions (Exodus 32:9 Exodus 32:9And the LORD said to Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff necked people:
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; Deuteronomy 9:13 Deuteronomy 9:13Furthermore the LORD spoke to me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff necked people:
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; 10:16). In Deuteronomy 10:16 Deuteronomy 10:16Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff necked.
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God told them very plainly, "Cleanse your sinful hearts and stop being stubborn" (New Living Translation). If we do not cleanse our hearts, our human nature will rule our minds, and we will have the same stubbornness. God wants our hearts offered to Him in humility (Isaiah 66:2 Isaiah 66:2For all those things has my hand made, and all those things have been, said the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word.
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; Joel 2:12-13 Joel 2:12-13 [12] Therefore also now, said the LORD, turn you even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: [13] And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn to the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repents him of the evil.
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). How willing are we to let God rule our hearts and direct our minds? Self-Reliance The Israelites did not want to rely on God, and this led to their third sin-producing ingredient—self-reliance. Israel's self-dependence then caused them to reject God's rule and decide to select a leader to take them back to Egypt (Numbers 14:4 Numbers 14:4And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.
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). They thought they knew better than God. They wanted to depend on their own strength and not God's might. Verses 40-44 detail how Israel tried to enter the Promised Land apart from God and failed. Similarly, apart from God, we do not know how to live. Jeremiah tells us, "It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23 Jeremiah 10:23O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps.
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). Self-reliance only drives us away from God. We need God's Spirit to direct our minds toward Him and His will. We must learn to depend upon God, looking for His will in our lives. Unlike the Israelites, who failed to change their heart, we have the Holy Spirit. With this helper, we can root out the fear, stubbornness and self-reliance that we may still harbor. We can turn our hearts to God. A Glimpse of Triumph The day of God's promise did come for physical Israel. As Israel gazed across the Jordan River, waiting to move toward Jericho, we get a glimpse of their triumph, again excerpted from the book Unashamed on pages 67-69: "Salmon went down onto his knees with the thousands of other men, women and children who gathered their share of manna for the day. He thought of his parents often now, praying he wouldn't make the same mistakes, praying he would stand in faith, praying he would not weaken in the face of battling the enemy, praying he would be a man of God, not just a man. "Soon the manna would disappear altogether, for the people would have no need of it when they entered Canaan, a land of milk and honey. "Soon the children would cease to be children wandering in the desert and stand as men and women of God in the land of Promise. "…the shofar blew… "The time had come to move forward and receive the gift God had so graciously prepared for them." As spiritual Israel, we are on the verge of the day of our promise—the coming Kingdom. The heavenly shofar will soon sound. Are our hearts ready to enter the Promised Land? UN