Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cities of Inheritance (5)

(continued from last post)
Today we will look at the last enemy type the Israelites had to conquer, the people who occupied the promised land – the inheritance cities.
So the cities-of-inheritance is the shadow (or type) that is pointing to the ‘flesh’( the real thing or antitype) that we are battle against as believers.

God gives instructions for these battles in Duet. 20:16-20.
He says that when they come against a city-of-inheritance to conquer it they are to completely destroy the whole city – all the inhabitants are to be killed, nothing that breathes is allowed to survive. The reason God gives for this annihilation is that if they allow anyone to stay alive they will be a snare to them (Ex.23:33)– they will teach them to worship false gods and cause the Israelites to sin against God.
When they lay siege to a city they may cut down trees to use as weapons , but God forbids them to cut down any trees that provide food.

God brought His people Israel to the promised land , where milk and honey flowed and where they could live secure in their own land , free to serve and worship their God. While we all look forward to that ultimate perfect promised land – heaven- there will be no battle to be fought to take possession , so that cannot be the antitype of the cities of inheritance .
When we come to the Lord we are lost without a ‘city’, or a place to call home. We are lost in our trespasses and sin and are wandering without control or direction. Then we come to Christ and we are translated from the kingdom of the enemy to the kingdom of God. Immediately , as we reach out to inherit our new life, a battle begins.
Galatians 4:29 talks about it. We were born according to the flesh, but the new birth is according to the Spirit and there is enmity between the two. The flesh warring against the spirit. “The spirit is willing , but the flesh is weak” were Jesus’ words to the disciples in Matt. 26:41. And what is the flesh but all the characteristics and habits and sinful tendencies of our ‘old man’ and we must drive him out and destroy him before we can put on the new – the fruit of the Spirit. (Gal.5:16-26)
It is perhaps a puzzling directive God gave the Israelites regarding the trees. It is easy to understand that to leave the fruit trees standing was of benefit to the Israelites but the only thing I can think of as far as making a spiritual application is that masochists who attempt to subdue the flesh by self-inflicted pain or self-denial of the necessities of life, do not honor God . Col. 2:23 says, “..these things indeed have an appearance of wisdom, in self-imposed religion, false humility and neglect of the body but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.”
God’s directive for battle against the cities of inheritance was that they were not to let anything that breaths to remain alive, but were to destroy everything that lived in the city. (Deut. 20:16-20) They were to be utterly brutal in their destruction of the inheritance cities before they inhabited them. What a neat picture of our battle against the flesh. Are we so brutal ? Are we so determined to completely destroy anything left of the flesh ? To allow nothing to remain that may become a snare to us? (Ex. 24:33) To crucify the flesh daily until nothing remains but the new creation in Christ? ( Luke 9:23, II Tim. 2:4)
An interesting and encouraging fact is that God promised that He would do what the people could not do. While He did not fight these battles for them He prepared the way and strengthened them to be victorious. He was on their side, watching – and ready to help them take possession of the land. He would drive out the former inhabitants little by little to give the people a chance to inherit the land. He would not do it all at once because if He did the people would not be strong enough to keep control the land. (Ex. 23:28-30)
It is easy to see the application here , is it not? Though we have to daily crucify the flesh and fight against temptation and sinful desires in our life, God has promised to help us ‘possess the land’. In the sanctification process God has given us His Spirit to empower us to live the Christian life – it is His grace that enables us to put off the things of the flesh and to inherit the new. He has given us everything we need to live this life in the Spirit. II Peter 1:2,3,4says ‘Jesus our Lord , as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’

There were promises God made to His people (Ex. 23:20-33) if they conquered the inheritance-cities and walked in obedience before Him.
1.He would be the enemy of their enemies.
2.He would bless their children.
3. They would be overcomers, victorious
4. They would walk in health and prosperity.

God also warned them that there were conditions to these promises. To live under the blessings of God the God’s people needed to remember that…..
1.. The fear of God was to provoke them to obedience.
2. They were to worship God alone.
3. They were not to allow anything in their life that would hinder or offend them to draw them away from God.

God did not fight the battles for the cities of inheritance but He always enabled His people to be victorious, as long as they walked in obedience. So it is also in the New Covenant . The battle of overcoming the flesh is our battle to fight but God will not allow anything to be beyond our ability to overcome.(Phil. 4:13 , I Cor. 10:13) – as long as we trust and obey Him.

An example of a city-of-inheritance battle is found in Joshua 6,7
The city of Jericho was the very first city the Israelites conquered. It was God who gave the plan of attack, it was God who toppled the walls God offered His strength where the Israelites had none, but it was the Israelites who had to fight the battle.
They had to march into the city and take it by force. God had commanded them to take the silver and gold and valuable vessels are consecrate them to His for use in the temple but they were not to take anything for themselves.
Though we as believers are commanded to crucify the flesh with all it’s selfish desires and self-worship, God can use anything that we give to Him. How often have we seen a wasted life turned over God and then watched God take that life and use it in His kingdom.
But one man Achan did not obey the Lord. He was tempted to take something for himself, he gave in to temptation , stole the items, hid them in his tent and he was destroyed because of his sin.
How often are we like Achan ? We desire something for ourselves, a little profit or personal benefit. If no one sees us, what is the harm?
How easy it is for us to justify a fleshly weakness, or temptation and we think – one little sin, one little giving in to temptation won’t matter – after all no-one is perfect. The picture is that if we willingly allow and nurture a weakness in our flesh it will destroy us.
Although Jericho, the first city encountered in claiming the promised land) fits the principles of inheritance city warfare there is something that sets it apart. This city was burned and Joshua cursed anyone who would ever inhabit it.
It is interesting that the parallel still fits if we consider that the sin nature is dealt with once and for all when we accept Christ and is put out of the way. We are given a new heart and a new spirit, and citizenship in a new ‘inherited’ kingdom within us.
Once the sin nature is dealt with and its controlling power destroyed, then we begin the inheritance ( or sanctification) work of crucifying the deeds and weakness of the flesh so the nature of Christ can shine in us and through us.

How victorious are you over the ‘inheritance cities’ of your life? Have you successfully driven out the ‘old man’ so that the ‘new man’ can possess the promised land?

Col. 3:9,10 “..you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”

2 comments:

Lovella said...

Such a good lesson again. It amazes me daily how you are so inspired to write such deep and thought provoking devotions.

Carolanne said...

Two things particularly stood out to me in this post.
1/Though we as believers are commanded to crucify the flesh with all it’s selfish desires and self-worship, God can use anything that we give to Him.
2/ How easy it is for us to justify a fleshly weakness, or temptation and we think – one little sin, one little giving in to temptation won’t matter – after all no-one is perfect.

Definitely something to ponder over and work out what I need to yield to Christ and accept His grace & strength for.