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Series: Towards our Sabbath Rest
Sun am 1st March 2015 – Pastor Kobus Swart
Num. 33:8-45; (John 19:28-30); (2 Pet. 1:3); (Heb. 4:8-9); (Matt. 16:13-20); Luke 4:2;
(John. 17:15); (Ex. 3:14); (John. 8:44); (Luke 23:43); (Josh. 1:3); Phil. 2:3;
(Eph. 6:12); (2 Cor. 11:14-15); (Ps. 24:1); (John 17:15); (Luke 19:13 KJV); (Matt. 5:1-16); Rom 16:20
Over forty years, Israel camped in the wilderness forty-one times. Travelling around and around; a journey that could have taken a few weeks took forty years. Should we ask whether it was necessary for the Church to wander the way we have for the last 2000 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Unless we change our approach we may linger for who knows how long unless we grab a hold of what Jesus meant when he said “it is finished” (John 19:28-30). He has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness, or Godlikeness (2 Pet. 1:3).
Each one of the 41 stops in the wilderness has a name which has a specific meaning (Num.33). These places were named after the emotions and reactions Israel went through. For example the fourth stop was named Marah, which means bitterness. They complained because the water was bitter. Many of you may feel justified for being bitter, but if you remain bitter you are going to camp at Marah, and remain bitter until you overcome your bitterness and move on. The twelfth stop: Kibroth-hattaavah means “grains of lust”. Lust is not only about sex; it could be lust for a certain car, house, watch or anything. It is an obsession to have something. Sometimes lust and desire can be very close but we must make sure that what we desire comes from above. That is where participation kicks in. The twentieth stop: Haradah means “fear”. Fear grips you at a certain time. Do not camp there, move on! Do not build a theology on fear, do not embrace fear, dismiss it in the name of Jesus Christ and move on! The twenty-second stop: Tahath meaning “depression”. I have no doubt that each one of us here including me have been through seasons of depression. Stop 23 is named Terah which means “delay and slowness”. They encountered many disappointments along the way. We will have disappointment in our lives but we must choose to overcome. We cannot remain trapped in an atmosphere of disappointment as it will delay our journey to the land of promise. We have to get over it and move on. Stop 35 is Punon meaning “distraction”. We can easily get distracted on our journey which slows us down. How many of you are busy with something that is a distraction from the real issue in your life? It is a subtle trick of the enemy to slow us down. Stop thirty six is Obon meaning “familiar spirit”. The thirty-eighth stop is Dibon-gad which means “weeping and pinning”. I wonder if each one of us can ponder over the past 10, 20 years of our lives and look at the stops where we have wasted time and give it names. Finally they had arrived at stop forty two where they had to be circumcised before crossing the Jordan River. It not only about getting out of the wilderness; long before an old season has come to an end the new season has already begun. There is a common overlap where one finds mixture. Come out of mixture! There is overlap of the concepts of the old and concepts of the new. Our understanding is mixed and influenced by a mentality which is opposed to a mentality of rest, peace and victory.
Joshua (which means Jesus; Joshua was a Jesus type in the wilderness) was supposed to lead the people out of the wilderness but he failed. For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God (Heb. 4:8-9). It is today that this rest is accessible. We have to be circumcised so that the old mind set of complaining and murmuring in the wilderness is no longer part of us. The land of promise is a type of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God must replace all the other thoughts. The kingdom of God is here and now. It has to come through the Church (Matt. 16:13-20). It has to be the Church that Jesus is building.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry. And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone” (Luke 4:1-4). It is not a coincidence that before Jesus launches His ministry on the earth He spent forty days in the wilderness. Focus with me on satan’s assault on Jesus. This is where the turmoil, the delay and all the emotions we talk about come from. The first temptation of satan on Jesus was regarding His identity. Satan challenges us all the time when we face difficult situations. “If you are a born again Christian, why are all these things happening in your life?” “If you are the Son of God”; satan challenged His identity. It was only when satan realised that he was talking to the Word made flesh that he left Him.
“Father I have come to demonstrate your Name”, Yahweh the I AM. When Moses was sent to Pharaoh and he asked him: “Who sent you? the correct answer Moses said is “I AM”. (Ex. 3:14). When they came to arrest Jesus in the garden, they did not know how He looked or who to grab. Jesus answer was “I AM” in the original text (John 18:6). He pulled back the curtain to show His true identity and a force was released. How much time is wasted in our journey because we do not know who we are? “I AM” – when we can say that with revelation conviction satan will leave, he will flee, he will run, he is defeated. He is the father of lies (John 8:44). Stop rehearsing the past! Forget about old Adam! He is no longer valid. When Jesus died on the cross He opened the ‘today’ door (Luke 23:43).
They finally crossed into the land of promise, were circumcised but then the signs and wonders stopped. There was no more miraculous provision, they had to face the inhabitants of the land, some giants and Canaanites and take possession of the land (Josh. 1:3). The moment we cross over with God, we have to become participators, co-workers. For it is God who is working in you to will and to do of his good pleasure (Phil. 2:3). That should become our moto, our experience. Obviously that is where discernment comes in. When we want to do certain things we ask, “it is God or is it me?” Do not be religious. This is our portion; it is God who works in our heart to will and to do. I want to do, I have this desire and it is from God. This is a partnership with God. I participate; I am not going to sit there until an angel appears to me and tells me what to do. Satan comes as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14-15). The promised land was a land of milk and honey but it was owned by squatters that had to be displaced. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. It is not against a person or a people, it is against principalities and powers in heavenly places. We have to keep that in mind. These squatters in the land of promise represent the battle you and I are fighting. They are illegal squatters in the realms of heaven. They manifest in strange ways in our journey. How do we overcome this? Do we make a big issue? NO. The earth belongs to the Lord (Ps. 24:1). Jesus prayed I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one (John 17:15). And then Jesus says “I want you to occupy until I come” (Luke 19:13 KJV). He is coming to this earth which belongs to Him. He wants to populate this earth through His ambassadors appointed from heaven. To occupy therefore we have to uproot and displace those who are there illegally. We are called to be the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the kingdom leaven to infiltrate the systems of this world. The world is where we are to be (Matt. 5:13-16). It will not happen on a Sunday morning, it has to happen in the week; it is in the work place that we become salt. When the leaven is worked into the dough, you cannot see it anymore, but you see its impact in the final product, the bread. That is what we are supposed to be. The beatitudes give the qualifications of those who are to be the salt and light of the world (Matt. 5:1-12). These qualities have been overlooked. We want to use the strategies of the corporate world in the Church to impact the world; we can use methods in the Church to grow but in the end God is the One who weighs. After all, this battle has been won. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet (Rom 16:20). We are called to be peacemakers, sons of God in the market place. The church of Jesus Christ is called to be the agent of change in the world. He is talking to the Church which knows who the “I AM” is.