The Victorious Life in Jesus Christ
"He divided the sea ..." (PSALM 78:13-17).
"Yea, they turned back and tempted God ..." (PSALM 78:41).
Psalm 78 shows the strength and wonderful works of God on the one hand and the miserable failures of the Old Testament Church on the other (Israel were God's people of the Old Testament). As we are His church of the New Testament, we too can learn many useful lessons from this. There are therefore several points here which are of particular significance even for us, the church of the New Testament of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The people of Israel were in Egypt, living a life of slavery. Under the whip, they were forced to make bricks, build pyramids, houses and much more. They were there as slaves. They were not there as servants but as absolute slaves.
Then God sent a man - Moses. He gave him an assistant, Aaron, and then Israel was freed from Egypt - Praise the Lord. As we are delivered from the dominion of sin, so the Israelites were saved from the power of Pharaoh. Pharaoh refused to listen. Now, it was not Moses' job to persuade Pharaoh. No matter how much Moses would have tried to persuade Pharaoh, it would not have worked, so God spoke: Moses, do not fear, I will confirm my Word through signs and wonders.
Deliverance is a further work of God. Redemption is always a work of God. I personally cannot do much. All that I can do, is to agree to be led out of Egypt, that's all. I must agree and obey. If I agree and obey, especially today, I will be led out of the land of Egypt, the land of slavery, the land and life of sin and God will ensure that I escape. It is totally a work of God. He turned the water into blood. It is significant to realise that turning water into blood was the first miracle in the Old Testament and turning water into 'wine' was the first miracle of Jesus' ministry in the New Testament. This is the difference between the Old and the New Testaments. Jesus came to turn water into 'wine'. Let's keep this in mind. Deliverance from Egypt is the deliverance out of our old life of sin. This is fantastic, but it is not all.
First of all, Israel had to be freed. Then they went into the wilderness. As God created the world, He surely thought of Israel, His church of the Old Testament. Surely He could have created the most beautiful scenery with green pastures and an abundance of cattle and wells of sweet water, but He did not do this. Instead, he allowed there to be a wilderness separating Egypt from the promised land. This proves to me that it was God's absolute will for His children in that time and for us today, to have an experience in the wilderness between Egypt (my old life) and the destination in my new life.
This is God's perfect plan for my life. Why? I can neither learn discipline and God's will in Egypt under the dominion of Pharaoh, nor in Canaan (Israel). I can only learn it under severe conditions, in the burning sun and the dry wilderness, where there is no bread or water. Only there can I develop the spiritual quality to trust in Jesus - no matter what happens. Hallelujah! ... This was God's perfect plan: firstly the deliverance out of Egypt and then the discipline in the wilderness. We have to learn discipline and if we do not learn to trust in God, even in the hardest circumstances, we will be like a piece of wood in the stormy sea. It will be carried upon every wave and fall into every trough - rising and falling, up and down. This is not what God wants for us. He wants to see stability in us. God wants us to trust Him whether the sun or moon shines - by day or by night.
However, even in the wilderness I can learn a great lesson from the children of Israel. I can also learn that God did not allow them to perish. He gave them water and manna. He even gave them meat. He gave them a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night - all supernatural. He had a cloud of glory cover the tabernacle. Fantastic.
In the wilderness, the children of Israel received the foundation for their service to God. They had to learn how to honour Jehovah - in the wilderness, not in Canaan. Not in the promised land, but in the wilderness. They had to learn to trust their God, that He is a kind father and that He would not suffer them to die of hunger or thirst. He led them in a supernatural way.
I was once asked what would have happened if Adam and Eve had not fallen when tempted by the serpent. What would have happened?... I told them that I believe that after temptation No.1, test No.2, and test No.3 would have followed.
It is not that God wants to test us to the point where we fall, but God knows that spiritual strength can only develop in difficult circumstances, in temptations, tests and experiences in the wilderness.
Otherwise, the beauty of holiness could not shine and our Christian character could not mature. So if you are failing a test at the moment, you can be sure that the same test will be repeated twice, three times, or even thirty times until you have passed it and then, God will promote you to a higher level. That is why some progress faster than others, but God wants to see us maturing, so that the beauty of holiness, the beauty of Jesus Christ will reach full completion!!! If every day had only victory, we would have no depth. But I know one thing: my God is the God who delivers me from bears and lions and therefore he can deliver me from this Goliath.
Can you see that the intentions of God are those of love? Another thing that struck me, is that if we follow the leading of the Holy Ghost (the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night) we can be sure of our supply because the manna always fell where the cloud was. If Israel had not followed the cloud, they would have starved to death. I believe that even when the trumpet sounded at night, Israel had to rise quickly and follow the pillar of fire.
By night? Why? Because they knew that if they did not follow, even by night, they would not have any breakfast in the morning. Yes, truly we have to follow. Every man and woman who follows the leading of the Holy Spirit does not have to worry about bread and water. It will come as surely as God sits on His throne - this is His promise.
"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Hallelujah!
We have to learn these lessons. Finally, after 38 years, they reached the land of Canaan, the promised land. Yet another miracle happened. The river Jordan parted, allowing them to pass through even at high tide.
First, deliverance out of Egypt, then discipline in the desert and then dominion in the promised land. Deliverance, discipline and dominion - this means REDEMPTION!
We think redemption means leaving our sins behind. No, redemption means much, much more: deliverance from sin and leaving the flesh-pots and the slavery behind in Egypt. I shall not be pushed by the rod of the oppressor anymore - as we can read in Isaiah chapter 9. I am set free - thanks be to the Lord - and I will praise His Name as long as I live here on earth and in heaven.
Now I would like to turn your attention to the second point. The period of deliverance lasted for over a year. Then it took another 38 years to learn to trust in Jehovah (therefore you should learn patience!). And thirdly, dominion: they had 500 years to reign in Canaan.
You can judge yourself - one year of deliverance, 38 years of discipline, i.e. learning to trust God in the hardest circumstances and thirdly, reigning on the throne for 500 years. Can you now understand the Lord's heart? God's intention is for us to be rulers together with Him. This is what is in His mind. I do not think it makes the Lord happy if we stumble over every stone on the way. God did not create us to sit in the hot sand of the wilderness and shed tears. Surely this will happen now and again. However, God's intention for you and I, is that we should reign and have dominion through His strength and the power of the Holy Ghost. Hallelujah!
This is great! Our life expectancy is 80 years. One year is maybe one week in your life. Thirty eight years are approximately equivalent to 4 years and the rest should be pure dominion to God's glory!
This is what God wants our life to be, namely that we become mature Christians. Let us learn this lesson quickly and God will make us into rulers. Nobody can rule without first having learned to obey. So the sooner you learn to obey the sooner God will make you a ruler in His Kingdom... When I finally clicked to this - it was as if I had a totally new vision. Our calling is not one where you should be an oppressed child of God. God wants us to rule over the flesh and stand in the power of his might. Sin should not have dominion over you. You should have dominion over sin. The spirit of fear should not have dominion over you. You should rule the spirit of fear in the Name of Jesus. You should rule the lusts of the flesh. You should rule all these things that come upon you! You should sit on the throne in the Name of Jesus and you should rule in the power of His might... this is our final calling: to be a ruler with Jesus Christ!
Israel had to learn a lot. They had been slaves for 400 years before they left Egypt and were delivered. They had darkness for 400 years. They were downtrodden for 400 years, except perhaps in Joseph's time. They were utterly defeated. They were completely depressed. They were spineless and when led out of slavery, they had to learn to trust their God.
They had to change everything: their thoughts, their language, their outward appearance, everything had to be changed and renewed. They had to stand and fight against the enemies who attacked them. They went into a totally new phase. Maybe you are in the wilderness or already in Canaan, but do not forget Egypt. It took a year to get out of Egypt. To learn discipline took 38 years and dominion, 500 years. This is what God demands of us: that we are not ruled by the devil, not by our mind, not by our flesh, but only by the Holy Ghost. We have to give God a chance, we have to learn to trust Him and then He will form a pillar which we can follow. I think that the people of Israel never slept in their night-clothes in the wilderness because they never knew when the trumpet would sound - giving them no opportunity to get dressed. There was only time to pull up the tent pegs, to throw the tents onto their backs and to quickly follow the pillar.
We always have to be in a state of spiritual readiness. To settle down is the worst thing that can happen. If you miss the pillar of cloud even once, it might be that you miss it for a whole year. Finding it again is a difficult task.
Let us stay on the track, let us keep up the pace, let us stay in rank and rise when the trumpet sounds. Otherwise, you may miss your food!
It is easy to run away. It is much harder to learn discipline, but this is exactly God's plan and intention for you and me. The moment you learn this lesson you will stand at Jordan's shore and the next phase will start: to have dominion and to overcome all the bad things around you.
You will not pay them tribute anymore, but they will pay tribute to you. This is what happened to David in his ministry. During his life they paid tribute to him. He put his feet on the necks of kings - Praise the Lord! They were lying at his feet. He ruled and God's blessings flowed.
We are called to reign in the Name of Jesus!
by Reinhard Bonnke (Christ for all Nations, Africa)
Source: CfaN from Revival Report
Translated from the German "Das siegreiche Leben in Jesus Christus"