Today many Christians seem to be feeling disillusioned in their current level of faith realizing that there is a difference between what you believe and what you are actually experiencing in your everyday life! The problem is that it is not easier to trust God when everything in our life is put together just the way we want it one day. If we cannot do it now, we probably will not do it later. It’s time for you to start experiencing the promises of God for yourself!
East of the Jordan
There is an interesting passage of scripture in the book of Joshua that illustrates how we as believer’s can settle for living short of our promises in God. Joshua addresses “…the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh…” He tells these two and a half tribes of Israel to “…remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, the Lord your God is giving you (of these two and a half tribes a place of) rest and will give you this land (east of the Jordan). Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle shall dwell in the land which Moses gave you on this side of the Jordan, but all your mighty men of valor shall pass on before your brethren (of the other tribes) armed, and help them (possess their land) until the Lord has given your brethren rest, as He has given you, and they also possess the land the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and possess it, the land Moses the Lord’s servant gave you on the sunrise side of the Jordan.”
Moses has just died and Joshua has been chosen by God to take his place in leading the people of Israel into their promise land. To understand this passage of scripture it’s important to look at the history of Moses and the Hebrew people. God had called Moses to deliver his people from slavery and bondage in Egypt, and to lead them to salvation in the land of Canaan. He was able to lead the people of God successfully to the edge of the Jordan River. There he sent out twelve spies to explore the land that God had promised His children. The bible says that they spied out the land for forty days. All of the spies came back agreeing with the report of the Lord. They told Moses that “…the land to which you sent us; surely it flows with milk and honey.”
If only this had been the end of the report for the twelve spies. Instead they continue to give a negative report in direct opposition to the word of the Lord. They began to speak a report filled with doubt and unbelief based on the appearance of their natural circumstances. They told Moses that the land was exactly as God had promised. “But the people who dwell there are strong, and the cities fortified and very large; moreover, there we saw the sons of Anak (of great stature and courage).” Ten of the twelve spies then began to list off all the reasons why they would not be able to possess the promise of God. They incited fear in the people of Israel saying, “…we saw the Nephilim (or giants), the sons of Anak, who come from the giants; and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”
Out of the twelve spies that Moses sent to explore the promise land only Joshua and Caleb continued to believe God at His word over the circumstances that they saw with their natural eyes. So in the midst of the negative report to Moses and the people of Israel, “Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once and possess it; we are well able to conquer it.” He quieted the ten spies who were speaking fear and doubt and began agreeing and declaring faith with God’s word.
As a matter of fact, “…Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among the scouts who had searched the land, rent their clothes, and said to all the company of Israelites, The land through which we passed as scouts is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord, neither fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their defense and the shadow (of protection) is removed from over them, but the Lord is with us. Fear them not.”
A Grasshopper Mentality
Ten of the spies that searched out the promise land developed a grasshopper mentality as they convinced the people of Israel to believe in their circumstances rather than to believe God at His word. Israel chose to believe a report filled with fear based on the appearance of the natural over the report of God’s word. It caused them to see themselves as small and defeated rather than strong and victorious. They choose to doubt God’s supernatural word and believe the report of natural. As a result, Moses and the people of Israel are sent back into the wilderness to wander for forty years (a trip that can be walked in 11 days)!
So God waits for a whole non-believing generation to pass away before leading His people back to take their promise land. Only Joshua and Caleb are allowed to live long enough to possess the promise land because of their faith in God’s word. God even says Caleb “has a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring Him into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.” Forty years later Moses attempts to lead God’s people into the promise land once again. The Israelites have been in this aimless state of wandering when they are finally presented once again with an opportunity to go live in the promises of God. Instead of rejoicing over the opportunity they would rather keep living the same way that they have already been living. They want to settle for less than the promises of God!
The Israelites were camped on the east side of the Jordan River just before crossing into the promise land. While they are there the leaders of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manassah come to Moses and request to receive the land east of the Jordan for their promised inheritance. They plead with Moses “If we have found favor in your sight, let this land be given to your servants for a possession. Do not take us over the Jordan.”
In response to this strange request Moses returns a question for a question asking, “Shall your brethren go to war while you sit here? Why do you discourage the hearts of the Israelites from going over into the land the Lord has given them? Thus is what your fathers did when I sent them from Kadesh-barnea to see the land. For when they went up to the Valley of Eshcol and saw the land, they discouraged the hearts of the Israelites from going into the land the Lord had given them.”
So God is angry because the Israelites are about to cross the Jordan and possess the promise land that he swore to their forefathers when these two and one half tribes approach Moses to tell him that they do not want to go with the rest of God’s people to possess their inheritance. They want to stay right where they are! The first time Israel approached the promise land, they had acted in fear and unbelief. Now a whole new generation of God’s people arrives at the edge of the promise land wanting to settle for less than the promises of God. So Moses rebukes them saying, “…You have risen up in your fathers’ stead, a brood of sinful men, to increase still more the fierce anger of the Lord against Israel. For if you turn from following Him, He will again abandon them in the wilderness, and you will again destroy these people.”
As a result, the leaders of these two and one half tribes make a proposal to appease God by making a commitment to fight with Moses and the people of Israel saying, “…We will be armed and ready to go before the Israelites until we have brought them to their place. Our little ones shall dwell in the fortified settlements because of the people in the land. We will not return to our homes until the Israelites have inherited every man his inheritance. For we will not inherit with them on the west side of Jordan and beyond, because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side of the Jordan eastward.”
Moses agrees to their proposal saying, “If you will do as you say, going armed before the Lord to war, and every armed man of you will pass over the Jordan before the Lord until He has driven out His enemies before Him. And the land is subdued before the Lord, then afterward you shall return guiltless (in this matter) before the Lord and before Israel, and this land shall be your possession before the Lord.”
It was Moses who was supposed to bring the people of Israel into their promised inheritance, but the Lord would not let Him live long enough to set one foot in the promise land. We find out the reason why in an earlier conversation where the Lord tells Moses “…Because you did not believe in (rely on, cling to) Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the Israelites, you therefore shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”
Only Joshua and Caleb had stood up before the people of Israel while tearing their clothes to speak in opposition to the report of the ten unbelieving spies and to declare their belief in the word of the Lord! So Moses is not allowed to enter the promise land, but only to see it. God shows Moses the promise land before he dies saying, “This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying I will give it to your descendants. I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.”
When Moses dies it is Joshua who receives the mantle of leadership to bring God’s people into the promise land. Joshua begins by preparing Israel to make provisions within three days to cross over the Jordan to finally possess the land that God had already given them. It’s here that we return to find Joshua reaffirming the agreement between the leaders of the tribe of Reuben, Gad, and the one half tribe of Manasseh with Moses, to allow these tribes to receive the land east of the Jordan as their inheritance in exchange for their willingness to fight with the rest of the Israelites to possess the promise land. Essentially they had come to Moses by their own initiative saying, that they wanted to relinquish their rights to the promise land for personal convenience so that they could live on the east side of the Jordan. The promise land is on the west side of the Jordan, but they want to live on the east side of the Jordan!
They are willing to go across the Jordan and risk their lives fighting in order to help the other nine and one half tribes conquer the promised land of Canaan, but after they have possessed the promise land they will not take their share of the inheritance. They will go back and live on the east side of the Jordan. They chose not to live in the fullness of what God would have for them. They chose to settle for less than the promises of God. The land east of the Jordan may look like the promise land, but it isn’t the promise land. It is a place where we can see all of the promises of God, but never actually experience the fulfillment of those promises for our self!
The Abundant Life
The promise land is a prophetic picture of what it means for a believer to live the abundant life in the New Testament. The abundant life is about experiencing what you believe about God and His word for yourself. It’s where you are actually experiencing your faith working in your everyday life. In John 10:10 Jesus says “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” AMP
Notice that Jesus doesn’t say that I came that they may believe to enjoy life, and believe to have it in abundance. Jesus says, “I came that they may have…” He came that we would experience life and the joy of life in abundance, to the full, and even until it overflows. Jesus wants us to have life and to enjoy our lives. He wants us to have life and enjoy our lives so much that it will overflow out of our lives and into the lives of people around us. He doesn’t just want us to believe that we can have life and enjoy our lives. Jesus wants us to experience it for ourselves. It may be difficult for some religious people to understand that Jesus wants us to enjoy our lives, but that is what the bible says is God’s plan for our lives!
Several years ago I went on a short mission trip to Jamaica. During one of the outreaches we were doing some prayer walking throughout one of the towns. We were in the midst of passing by one of the homes there when we were engaged in conversation by the parents of a young boy of about the age of eight. They began to explain to us that their little boy was unable to walk. The Holy Spirit led us to lay hands on him and pray for his healing. Instantly to our amazement this boy was healed immediately as he struggled to his feet and began to walk! On that day in Jamaica we got to experience the abundant life!
If we had been afraid to trust God that day in Jamaica we would have never experienced the miraculous. It was in the midst of having to risk failure in our own abilities that we learned to be dependent upon God to accomplish the impossible based on His abilities. The things that we believed about healing were manifested right before our eyes! The abundant life can only be experienced through a relationship of dependency and trust with God.
You have been called to live the abundant life. You do not have to wait until tomorrow. You could choose to take a risk and trust Him at His word in order to start living it today. You have already been given everything you need to experience the promises of God for your life right now!