The first thing we need to acknowledge here is what did God “bring us out of”? Then we will focus on the second action “in order to bring us in”. Anyone familiar with these passages will automatically respond that it obviously applies to the Promised Land. And, again, you would be correct because we must always read all of the surrounding scriptures to understand the context. But I believe the Holy Spirit is truly wanting to challenge us to LISTEN and RESPOND to what God is saying to us through this passage because God is the same yesterday, today and forevermore (Hebrews 13:8), so there is a lesson for you and me in our walk. God doesn’t change and if we do not understand what God revealed in the old covenant we are going to misinterpret the gospel message of the Messiah and what He actually taught.
So can we allow the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to receive God’s heart in this manner? First let us HEAR what the Scripture is stating and the truth that is presented. In the Hebrew the word for “hear” that I am referring to, is the word “shama” which means to not just hear but to RESPOND to what is being said. In the Greek text the word used in the same context is “akouo” and is the same, to hear, pay attention, get understanding, learn and respond properly. As an example of this you can go to Revelation 3:22. There are many other examples of its use and would be a good Bible study to do on your own and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you may not be responding to God in the proper manner that has caused a separation in intimacy between you and He. (It is very easy to “hear” something but quickly dismiss it because we do not allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us to reveal its intent in our lives.)
Because most of us are very familiar with the story of the Israelites living in the desert for 40 years, our first instinct will probably be to think how dumb the Israelites were. I admit it does seem incredible to me that they responded to God’s goodness and mercy with an attitude of selfishness and rebellion. Yet, are we any different? Unfortunately no!
The Promised Land was known as the land of milk and honey, a place of great prosperity that would be a blessing to the Israelites. Sounds like a place we would all surely want to go, doesn’t it? But did they truly want to partake of that gift? (Do WE really want to be lead into the Promised Land? Don’t be too hasty to answer that question.) While it was to be an inheritance and was being freely given, there were requirements that must be met in order to possess it. We find that their words (yes, get us out of our state of slavery in Egypt) and their actions (constant criticism and demands and complaining) are opposing each other.
Enter roadblock number one. Even though Elohim, the Lord God Almighty, had shown Himself through 10 great plagues and the ultimate astonishing great miracle in parting the Red Sea so they could cross on dry land to safety and then released the waters and drowned all of Egypt’s military, chariots, horses and the pharaoh, they didn’t trust God. When trust is missing there is not a relationship. There are two parties, and in this situation there are the Israelites and there is God. God had delivered them to “bring them into” relationship. That relationship would make them an “heir” to receive all of God’s blessings.
Roadblock number two is now exposed. In order to be in relationship, there needs to be interaction, communication, faith, and trusting of one another which can only be developed over time. What was God wanting? To develop the character of the Israelites! And because God is the One True God, He is the One holding all of this glorious inheritance and wants His heirs to not only possess the land but to be equipped to “rule” the land. Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)
Roadblock number three, they were not equipped to take ownership. Just as sin entered into the Garden of Eden and separation between God and man was made because Adam and Eve chose to do what was “pleasing in their own eyes”, the Israelites after initially departing Egypt, should have taken possession of the promised land in a relatively short period of time. But God could not guide them in a direct path because they would have been killed instantly by their enemies because they would have acted according to what was “pleasing in their own eyes”. (The consequences of acting in our own wisdom is always a disaster.) But God never intended for them to stay in the desert for 40 years going in circles! They were so rebellious and disobedient that they were not willing to submit to the Lord God. They may have physically left Egypt but they never were willing to see God as anything other than a “taskmaster”! All the while, God was pouring out His grace upon grace in continuing to provide for them and show them that through Him they had the blessings that only those who were His could receive. They refused. They could not see any benefit or blessing in the fact that God provided them food and water, their clothing and shoes never wore out, He was their cloud cover by day and the fire by night to protect them from their enemies as well as from the elements, none of this satisfied them. They complained about the food, they complained when they wanted a drink and the water wasn’t instantly available to them. They never learned to thank God for anything! (Are we any different? Are we more prone to focus on what we don’t have or to lift our eyes to heaven and praise the Giver of Life? Do we thank Him for all He has given us? Do we thank Him for His love? Do we thank Him for His gift of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in the paths of righteousness?
The people were in rebellion and did not believe the promises God gave them. So they decided to test God by suggesting that they go “check out”, spy out, the land to see IF what God said was true! Dear ones, this is truly a serious matter and one which we need to allow the Holy Spirit to test our hearts and see where we stand in obedience to what we KNOW God has spoken to us in His Word and our response. If we choose to “test” God we are actually saying we do not believe in God. After hearing the people’s plan, even Moses agreed with the people to send 12 leaders, one from each tribe, into the promised land to spy it out and bring back a report, without asking God! “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7) They were given specific criteria to report back. They were also to bring some of the produce back with them. Well, they did, and a pod of grapes was so large that they hung it from a pole and it took two men to carry it! “Then they came to the valley of Eshcol and from there cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two men, with some of the pomegranates and the figs.” (Numbers 13:23) Yet only Caleb and Joshua believed God would protect them and guide them safely to take possession. Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” (Numbers 13:30) The other ten men gave a “bad report” and the whole of Israel was greatly upset and wanted to appoint a leader from among themselves to return to Egypt! (Numbers 14:1-4)
Why did two of the leaders see victory and the other ten leaders see defeat? The two who saw victory believed God. They worshipped Him and were in relationship with Him. They knew beyond a doubt that if God was for them, no one could be against them and win! “The LORD is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6) The Apostle Paul also reminds us, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31) When Joshua and Caleb heard what the congregation wanted to do, they tore their clothes and spoke to the Israelites, “and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. “If the LORD is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. “Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:7-9)
God was so angry He was ready to destroy them all (“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” Ephesians 5:6) but He had a faithful servant that interceded for them. Why did Moses intercede? He understood something that we need to learn today. The Apostle Paul expresses this truth very clearly in the following verse. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” (Romans 1:18) “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,” (Romans 2:5). God did not destroy them in response to Moses’ prayer but God’s judgment nevertheless was received. Because God is holy He cannot tolerate disobedience and is justified in His judgment. (Numbers 14:20-24) “So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.” (1 Thessalonians 4:8)
Did you ever wonder why they walked in circles for 40 years? This was the judgment from the Lord God of Israel, they were to walk in circles in the desert for 40 years (one year for each day the spies were in the promised land) and all of the fathers/male adults would die. (Numbers 14:34) Then He would take the children that had been born in the desert into the promised land. The only two “leaders” who would experience the promised land would be Caleb and Joshua.
The Israelites had been in Egypt for 430 years and slaves for a great number of those years. When we do not have free will to make choices or decisions in our lives, or choose not to make decisions for ourselves because it would require more effort than we are willing to put forth, a resentment and rebellion will set into our spirits and become a bondage spiritually and physically. God had told Abraham how long they were to be in captivity long before it happened. What was a blessing to begin with, Joseph giving the land of Goshen to Jacob and all his brothers, turned into captivity.
Have you ever considered how that may have happened? At first they were very prosperous and were living where all their needs were met. But they were so prosperous and their number increased so greatly that in the following years the Egyptians feared they would overtake them so they decided to make them slaves. Yet they did not leave their circumstances. They complained but they weren’t willing to change their circumstances or to ask God for help. Oh, they did cry out to Elohim but the problem is that they had also embraced the Egyptian culture and worshipped false gods. I see this repeated today in our society. Money, position, fame, freedom to embrace whatever we “think is right in our own eyes”. There are even those who say they believe in Jesus who are in jobs that do not glorify God. Many who say they are believers pursue pleasures that consume their finances and they say they don’t have any left to give to the Lord. They pleasure in immorality. How many churches today condone living together without being married? Does your church take that stance? Scripture does not support immorality!
Let me give you an example of earthly wisdom instead of standing by kingdom principles. When I worked with women who said they wanted delivered from the bondage of drugs and alcohol, a very common practice to them was tattooing their bodies. They could not understand that once they accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior that their bodies were now considered a holy temple and that scripture was clear that we are not to deface God’s temple/tabernacle. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19) Is Jesus Christ your Savior only, or have you made Him the LORD of your life? “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Romans 14:9)
So one day in a chapel service I told them we were going to go do something different that day. I asked them what they thought about being given buckets of paint and paintbrushes and cans of spray paint and going to go spray paint and graffiti the churches in the area. They immediately started telling me how wrong that would be (not because it was illegal). They recognized a building as a representation of God’s dwelling place but had never considered scripturally that their bodies were a holy temple and thus they were not to defile it. Now they were faced with the choice of being obedient to God or to do “the desires of what was right in their own eyes”. If they chose disobedience they would then be held accountable at the time of God’s judgment. But that was the other problem. Because they didn’t immediately receive His judgment they thought they were home free, that they would not be held accountable. This is true of most people today. Where are you in your responses to God’s Word? One of the scriptures that comes to mind that we need to seriously consider is Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”
So even though the physical bondage had been left behind, the Israelites were still in bondage spiritually which can be more devastating than physical bondage. This proved to be true in this case. And in the case I just illustrated in the above paragraph.
When God presented Himself to the Israelites in Exodus 20, instead of repenting of their bad attitudes and selfish desires, they rejected Him! Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.” (Exodus 20:19)
“...but let not God speak to us...” My dear friend, could you be saying this to God in one or more circumstances in your life? Do you know someone else who may be in this place? I do, and it is breaking my heart. The gospel message has become so corrupt in so many churches today that there are many who are holding to a “false doctrine” and have chosen not to follow God “to bring them in”, but they believe they are saved. They will quickly tell you that they talk to God and “they are fine”. Let’s explore this a little deeper.
There is also a much broader spiritual understanding of “God’s bringing us in” that applies to both the true Israelites and the true Gentile believers in Yeshua. God didn’t sacrifice His Son on that cross to redeem us to leave us in our old state of sin, complacency, false beliefs, defeat, deception and failure. Yeshua’s shed blood cleanses us of sin when we receive His sacrifice for us through our belief that He is the Son of God, the Messiah, and repent of our sins. Repentance is not only asking for forgiveness for our sins but it is a conviction that it was wrong in the past, AND it is not acceptable in the future. Asking for forgiveness with the clear intention of continuing in that sin is not repentance! Nor is it a believing that the price paid by Jesus was complete and accomplished atonement for that continuing sin without further repentance.
Let’s pause a minute and reflect on the following so that we have clear understanding of what Scripture teaches. You might be thinking that you are under grace now and not under the Law. But have you been taught what God’s grace instructs from Titus 2:11-15? “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority...” (Titus 2:11-15)
Let’s go back to the very beginning. Why did God allow His chosen people, the Israelites, to go into exile, into slavery? As stated above, it’s all wrapped up in one word...SIN. Sin is anything that is opposed to God’s character and His ways. as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD; ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS; THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD, THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.” (Romans 3:10-12) "The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Psalm 14:1-3) (Psalm 53:1-3) “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience,” (Colossians 3:5-6) “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.” (Colossians 3:25)
Let me ask you a question. Do you know why the writers in the New Testament were given by the Holy Spirit the words and imagery used in the old covenant? Remember that Jesus came first to present salvation to the Jews. These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-6) But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)
Please remember that the apostles were all Jewish! They celebrated Shabbat (going to the synagogue on the 7th day of the week) and knew the writings of the Torah, the Prophets, the Psalms and other Writings which we know as the Old Testament. Everything that Jesus taught was VERY familiar to those who heard it. But the disciples give us a very accurate picture of the difference of “hearing” something and really understanding what God is saying. And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” (Matthew 13:10) “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matthew 13:13) This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES; I WILL UTTER THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.” (Matthew 13:35) And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables,” (Mark 4:11)
We can be so familiar with something that we totally do not see or hear the truth. But all that was about to change! The Apostle Paul spoke often of the revealing of the “mystery”. “He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him” (Ephesians 1:9) “By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,” (Ephesians 3:4) “and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things;” (Ephesians 3:9)
Even though there was great sin and idolatry in Israel, the synagogue was still the “foundational building” by which everyone was familiar. As stated above, they knew the Torah, Prophets, Psalms and other Writings and observed the festivals but they didn’t have a personal relationship with the Living God of Israel. It was part of their heritage but it wasn’t part of them! They heard the truth but they didn’t HEAR and apply the truth to their lives.
Unfortunately it is the same today for those who “grew up or attended church”. They hear (not with the intention of obeying) and go through the motions, deceived by their own wisdom that they are “saved”.
I’ve been in a Bible study of the Book of Amos. As I am learning to understand the Hebrew words that open up the knowledge of this message I can’t help but see so clearly what and why God is doing in these last days. To truly see the world through the eyes of God is a frightful thing! And to understand why God’s judgment must come is very humbling. “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31) Why? Judgment begins in the house of the Lord! “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17) “But God said to me, ‘You shall not build a house for My name because you are a man of war and have shed blood.’ (1 Chronicles 28:3)
In Deuteronomy 28 we read of the choices that God laid before the Israelites, blessings or curses. Over and over they killed the prophets that God sent to warn them of the coming judgment because of their disobedience. They were sent to warn them they they were on the path of destruction. They didn’t want to hear. They just kept moving further and further away. They wanted what Babylon had. They wanted to blend in with the world. They preferred prosperity to holiness. They preferred worldliness to relationship/intimacy with God. They wanted to be “big” in their own eyes! They did what was right in their own eyes. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)
Because God is holy, judgment came. But for some reason, believers today seem to have forgotten about the holiness of God AND the judgment of God. They mirror Israel in all their ways. They also expect blessings and prosperity without repentance and without transformation. Because that wasn’t possible, false gods began showing up in our pulpits. Remember that Satan is a deceiver and transforms himself into what appears to be light. He is an imitator. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matthew 7:21) We might take note that these people appeared to be “successful” in the works of Christ! There were miracles and healings! Beware for this same spirit is alive and very prevalent in our churches today! Are you following every “new wind” that is blowing? Do you test the spirits of the “prophets”? Do you even know how to “test the spirits”? Scripture is very clear. Does it line up with Scripture? Do not be deceived by the false miracles and healings or promises of wealth, etc. Jesus continued His teaching with these words, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ “ (Matthew 7:22-23)
Because of the “feel good” miracle seeking ways of the people, he was able to enter our churches. The word was watered down, false healings and miracles began to happen. False teaching twisting the words of God began to be spoken. Other religious practices began creeping into our churches. Most never even noticed because they were complacent to listening to a pastor preach and not seeking out the truth for themselves. I can hear some say, “Wait, I attend a Bible study”! And my response to many of you would be, what are you studying in that Bible study? Have you truly checked out the content? Are you studying someone else’s thoughts? Are they possibly promoting contemplative prayer or the ecumenical stance at present of unification of all religions which are being accepted and taught by well known evangelical churches and leaders? Even if it is someone you have read for several years, I urge you to research what they are currently involved in, you may be shocked to find out the direction many of our leaders have chosen to go! If you are actually using the Bible, are you verifying even what is being taught to line up scripture with scripture?
I’d like to end with some scriptures that should challenge us to examine ourselves in light of the Word of God. These scriptures tell us what God intended to “bring us into”.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
“...that we would be holy and blameless before Him…” (Ephesians 1:4)
“to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:12)
“for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12-13)
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 5:1-2)
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)
“for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,” (Philippians 3:3)
“But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;” (Philippians 3:7-10)
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;” (Philippians 3:20)
“But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” (Ephesians 5:3-5)
“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,” (Colossians 1:13)
“yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—” (Colossians 1:22)
“...and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:2-3)
“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,” (Colossians 2:6)