Prophetic Web Site Book on enduring, suffer, suffering, and affliction
by John Robert Lucas
 
 

Endure: Suffer, suffering, and affliction

Chapter 10
Imitation Will Bring Illumination

      How can we become broken?

      Again - We are left with perfect examples to follow!

Paul says:

1 Cor 11:1

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

      Paul claims to be an example – a spiritual father.

1 Cor 4:15-16

For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me.

Paul consistently preached what the church should do, but in addition he SHOWED THEM. Every parent knows that their children will be imitators of the example that was shown them. Words are important but our example is what teaches them what our instruction really meant. The world wants to be shown, our children want to be shown, and even the immature church of our Lord wants to be shown what maturity looks like. Many in the church have become discouraged because it seems to them that there are no true examples of Christian maturity. Unfortunately those that claimed maturity boasted in themselves, they boasted in Christian activity, they boasted in ministries - instead of boasting in ONLY Jesus. There are at least a literal “ten thousand teachers” on the circuit teaching the body of Christ and few examples, yet God speaks loudly that you are without excuse – the Apostle Paul lived a life that was an example to YOU, as well as many others in scripture. God in these last days is raising up examples that will not be out of the “ten thousand mold but will be cut out of the “father mold”. This is a more excellent way.

Again, Paul obtained Christian maturity like none other in the Bible. God entrusted most of the New Testament to be penned by Paul and his life and ministry was used of God for the purpose of showing you a man that walked in 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and chapter 13. Paul followed in “HIS STEPS” and you notice that it led to suffering – IT LED TO BEING BROKEN, DESTROYED, DEAD! This is where Paul’s boast was – in the things he suffered in Christ, knowing it will produce God’s “more excellent weight of glory”, lasting throughout eternity. If your gospel excludes you from the sufferings, the afflictions, the fire of Christ, then you will lack maturity and its rewards.

       Everyone looks the same outside of affliction, but add some affliction (FIRE) - and the ONE they have been serving shall be manifested.

Boasting In Christ

The fire of God is the most important element in your Christian walk. It is the element that breaks the shell – it removes the bushel to allow God’s Light to shine to the world. The church is called to go through the fire. <Num 31:23> ...”and anything else that can withstand fire must be put through the fire, and then it will be clean. But it must also be purified with the water of cleansing. And whatever cannot withstand fire must be put through that water.” <Ps 66:12>...”we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.”  Fire AND water shall make us clean and bring us to a place of abundance. Avoiding fire will keep you unclean and in want. It is very important that we do not allow this part of the book to become one of those dishes on the table that we push away. God gives grace in both the eating of His words and in the doing of them. Following Jesus is not a life insurance policy to get to heaven, it is a cup given to us by the Father to glorify His Son. Before suffering, we come to our Gethsemane. To finish our course we must accept the cup.

      The Sufferings of Christ means to suffer with Jesus

Rom 8:17

and if children, then heirs-- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (NKJ)

Paul said to the early church to imitate him. Therefore let us observe his example concerning the cup of Christ’s sufferings.

1 Cor 4:12-13

And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now. (NKJ)

Many of us think that if we survive a testing or suffering then we have endured. There is a difference. Enduring is much more than mere surviving. Enduring submits to Jesus as Lord as it passes through the valley of the shadow of death. That’s why we can fear no evil – He is with us when we submit. We live a life of scum as far as the world views us but in His eyes we are kings. As kings we are not survivors – WE ARE ENDURERS!

Paul’s RESPONSES indicated that he submitted to God and received His grace to get through. Our responses will always tell us whether we are surviving or if we have received grace to endure. There may be a wrestling of wills such as Jesus experienced at Gethsemane but we must submit to God’s will and then comes grace that brings the ability to be struck and yet respond without self-defense. If you have no Gethsemane experience then you will still be struck but your response will be to defend yourself. Paul did not defend when struck with spiteful words - he blessed them instead. This is part of God’s blueprint for the life of a Christian. God will use His blueprint whenever He builds anything. Paul saw this blueprint in the life of Jesus and was built by it and would only build in the lives of others this same blueprint.

2 Cor 1:7-9

And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation. For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, (NKJ)

God took Saul of Tarsus - a deceived religious leader at the time and responsible for the most vicious attacks on the church, and took him to the other extreme – a partaker of sufferings. What are we partaking of? How many in ministry would dare teach their congregation this Sunday to partake of sufferings instead of the communion? Paul suffered, as a minister of the Gospel, and 2000 years does not change this principle. Verse 9 gives us a purpose for this affliction, “that we should not trust in ourselves”. We learn in affliction to trust in God and not ourselves IF we are submitted to His dealings. Let us start passing these tests and not merely surviving. The “sentence of death” when receive will always execute the natural man.

Paul - A Mature Example

2 Cor 11:23-30

Are they ministers of Christ?-- I speak as a fool-- I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness-besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. (NKJ)

Observing mature examples of ministers like God's servant Paul will sober you up about how immature much of "today's church" really is. In this particular passage in 2 Corinthians we see that Paul is teaching a contrast here. We also must contrast “today’s church” with Paul’s teaching. Paul is contrasting his ministry in verses 23-30 with these “so called” other ministers that the Corinthians had received. In the first letter of Corinthians – Paul admonished them concerning the improper receiving of ministries. In this second letter we see Paul admonishing them again on the same subject. The immature church will always receive the wrong “ministry examples” and therefore God sends true apostles and prophets to admonish them. Paul admonished them by comparing, by contrasting what he boasts in and what they boast in. If the ministers you have received in the past have boasted of exploits they have done in the Name of Jesus – then compare. If the ministers you have received in the past have boasted in signs and wonders – then compare. If the ministers you have received in the pa st have boasted of their visions and revelations – then compare. Paul demonstrates the boast that pleases God and thereby proving himself to be the true apostle to the Corinthians.

      Where is our boast?

      Do we boast in the sufferings of Christ?

       Or do we boast in material things, signs and wonders, and gifts - given to us freely.

      Do we boast in the Lord and His FAITHFULNESS in affliction?

      Or do we boast in what we have accomplished in His Name.

      Our version of the Gospel might be off.

Have you ever been to a group gathering where people boasted as Paul done?  What we have in this scripture is an example of the boasting that pleases God! In Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthian Church we see in addition that the Corinthians had been associating themselves with teachers that not only boasted incorrectly but also did not even offer an example of suffering. The Corinthians thought that they were much further along spiritually than they really were (sounds like most of us). They had boasted in the wrong things. This is Paul’s admonishment to those that boast wrongfully.

1 Cor 4:7-8

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings-- and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! (NIV)

Boasting outside of Christ is a boasting that says, “the gift came from us”. Paul brings sarcasm to this rebuke. The purpose of the rebuke was to warn about bad examples. Paul explains that the Kingdom of God is not in talk but in power. In other words there is SUBSTANCE to the example that Paul has shown them. It is easy to present a doctrine, it is easy to boast of a gift, it is easy to puff up after God uses you in these gifts – but there is substance in suffering in Christ. We want the power; we go to a revival for the power – THE POWER IS A PERSON THAT YOU HAVE SUFFERED WITH!

A Suffering Messiah

The Jews expected a messiah that would rescue them from the present tyrannical government of the day, but when he showed up as a suffering Messiah they did not recognize Him. He fulfilled a multitude of scriptures concerning Himself; the people read and read those scriptures and never recognized Him. Many of us may not recognize the True Jesus even after much studying because our hearts are hard and our prayers are cold.
Does our version of Jesus the Messiah allow us to live a life sufficient in Him, where those who are first in this life are last, and the last of this life are first? When He comes to us today in relationship, do we expect a Messiah that will take us away from our oppression like the Jews who were oppressed by the Romans, or do we expect a Messiah who consoles us in the sufferings we must endure?

Those who recognize Him and pattern their lives after Him, are those who daily lay down their life. They are those whose boast is ONLY in the Lord; they have died to their desires and plans for their life and their family's lives. Because they know Him who is sacrificial love, they become like Him. They prefer one another in love. They do not impose their will on the lives of those around them. They minister Jesus and His love to every one they meet.

1 Pet 4:1-2

Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. (NAS)

Affliction when endured will cause us to stop sinning. If we just survive a test, a valley, and an affliction - then we have not passed the test. If that were the case then we would have come into maturity long ago, you would not have a problem with disobedience and sin. The world survives and yet most will never come to Christ. Again, you must endure not survive! When you endure, you are dealt with by God to see yourself as He sees you; when you see yourself you must allow yourself to be disciplined by a Father that loves you much more then you want to receive love.

As a son or daughter of God, we are disciplined so that we can be led of the Spirit. It is after we endure a certain affliction,  that we can respond like Jesus - with His nature. If we simply passed through a certain affliction, we will not posses Jesus’ response the next time we encounter that affliction. We must examine our response to someone that afflicts us. Again, our response will indicate whether we have passed the test of that previous affliction. For example, if we always respond to someone that gossips about us in a manner outside of Christ, then we have yet to understand the dealings of our Father.

      Do I have to go through Paul's severe fire?

You may have a similar fire to Paul's if you are here at the end of the last generation or if you are called to another geographical area that takes you out of your current comfort zone. However most of us face a certain fire of God everyday in the home, in school, in church or in the workplace. In these things we have been given the opportunity to be afflicted for the purpose of developing FRUIT.

Fire Causes Fruit Bearing

Soon as we get into our vehicles to proceed to school or work, the trial begins. First the fruit of patience and longsuffering comes into play as we drive alongside others. It is amazing how we as Christians think we are so far along in our spiritual development and then we drive our automobiles as carnal Christians. We manifest impatience, stress, anger, rudeness, fear, and civil disobedience. All of these are works of the flesh.

      Did you bear fruit or flesh last week?

The home, school, church, and the workplace are designed to test, break, and put to the fire. The first place we might fail will be our tongue. Gossip, speaking evil of those that were created in His Image. Peter says we will suffer for this, but we must bear it patiently for it is the fire that consumes those parts of us that do not resemble Him. If we suffer and do not bear these sufferings patiently then the fire will harden the surface of our heart instead of burning up the impurities. If we refuse to repent of the sin that got us these sufferings then the fire will cause hardness of heart. All of us struggle with being a faithful servant in the natural – the earthly things of life, and yet if we do not overcome these natural areas that are common to our lives than we will never fully develop in Christ and eventually we will harden our hearts before God.

Areas God deals with in the workplace:

1)    Tardiness & Unneeded Absentee
(This destroys your witness)

2)    Lack of production
(This robs your employer)

3)    Not following policies and rules
(This is pure rebellion)

4)    Domination and Control
(Big temptation of those in authority)

5)    Contention (Contending against those in authority or fellow workers is a work of the flesh.)

6)    PRIDE (ALL OF US HAVE THIS TO CONTEND WITH)

All of these cause a fruitless life. Much will fall under pride. You will find others will attack that pride. Do not be reactionary. Let that pride die! You have to come to the end of yourself, to the end of every thought and action that is independent of His Will. The way of God to accomplish this will be to hand over that pride to be attacked by the enemy. The attack will usually occur through relationships, and strangers, maybe customers, supervisors, friends, your spouse, your pastor, or fellow drivers. Though they may be controlled by devils when they attack, IT IS FIRE to purge those parts of you that are not conformed to His image.

Many times a Christian will cast out the devil or try to pray away the very thing that is sent to buffet them. The Holy Spirit must reveal to you the difference, and at that moment you are to exercise authority over devils, or you are to pray, or to endure by His grace and allow that grace to change you into His image. Examine YOUR heart first! Let us look at the “thorn” type of affliction again.

       If you were in Paul's fire, if you had his thorn, would you have prayed it away?

Well guess what, Paul prayed that God would remove his "thorn in the flesh", which represents to us the circumstances that afflict us. What was God's answer to Paul? It was NO. Why would God, Who loves us, allow us to be afflicted? Because of our PRIDE! As we discussed earlier, that is the reason Paul was given this thorn in the flesh, it was for the purpose to subdue spiritual pride, whether currently in him or that which was to come because of the abundance of revelation. Again God reveals a specific purpose of this affliction, but as you will observe, the purpose of most afflictions will mostly fall under the category of humbling us from our pride.

1 Cor 8:1

Knowledge Puffeth up

Even revelation knowledge of the scriptures can become proud if we do not stay submitted to His purposes.

Paul's thorn in the flesh was sent by a messenger of Satan to harass him. We also receive a thorn in the flesh from Satan in our lives. You can try praying it away but as the Lord told Paul there is an important plan and purpose for it. Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane prayed to obtain the Father's will in regard to His future affliction and then He accepted that cup. We must accept that “thorny cup”. The end purpose is going to be resurrection life if we do.

Paul reveals some light on the ultimate purpose of affliction and the fire of God in our lives.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 AMP

And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness of these revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted. Three times I called upon the Lord and besought Him about this and begged that it might depart from me; But He said unto me, My grace is enough for you: for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in your weakness. Therefore I will all the more gladly glory in my weakness and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ may rest and may pitch a tent over and dwell upon me! So for the sake of Christ I am well pleased to take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities, and distresses; for when I am weak in human strength, then I am truly strong in divine strength. (Amplified Version)

God's grace is enough for us; when you are insulted, accept His grace. When you are treated unfairly, accept His grace and let His strength be made perfect in your weakness. Let your pride die, put it on the altar and let the high priest Jesus cut it out so that all that remains will be Him - that which is perfect, that which bears fruit. To break our will, God must deal us a heavy blow until we humble ourselves before God and say, "Lord I dare not think, I dare not ask, I dare not decide on my own for in everything I need you." When we are stricken, we must learn that our will is not to act independently. Only then can God use us and produce fruit. Maturing is being broken. Defending ourselves when pride is touched is immaturity. You say, “But I lay hands on the sick and they recover”, “I cast out devils in the Name of Jesus and they leave”, “I worship the Lord in His presence”. These are responses when spiritual pride rises up. The proof of spirituality is in your ability to die when your pride is touched. This is a powerful truth from heaven for us and we should always remember it when discerning spirituality.

Test of Responses

Deut 30:15-20

15     See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.

16     For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

17     But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them,

18     I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

19     This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

20     and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (NIV)

It’s your will! Your life is a series of the decisions that you have made. With every decision you chose life or death, blessing or cursing, obedience or rebellion – “the Lord” or flesh. Your Christian maturity today is the outcome of these decisions. You have either crossed the Jordan entering the land or you still remain in the wilderness. In this overlapping of truth, parts of your life may have entered into the land and other parts are in a dry desert. Your will is defined as “appetite that is acted upon” or “desires that are obeyed”. If as the Psalmist of Psalm 119 you also can say, “I have hid your word in my heart that I may not sin against You”, the result is the eating from the tree of Life in the Paradise of God. Choosing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden is “appetite apart from relationship with God”.

Ps 139:11-12

If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night," Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike {to Thee.} (NAS)

When you encounter opposition or affliction, it is a test of responses; it is the indicator of what you have chosen. When all is well, circumstances are as the day to us. When all is turmoil, circumstances can be the darkest of nights. Neither touch God - but we respond to both. Most find God when circumstances are dark even though the same God is just as present when all is light. Jesus is Light in both but for us there is the difference of CONTRAST. We have allowed the day of our circumstances to drown out the light of His presence. God in knowing our nature has allowed us to experience night and darkness for a reason; to see the contrast of Him Who is Light compared to the darkness of the night. There is no mixture when man experiences the dark of nights for all that is seen is Jesus our Lord; that is if we will respond “to Him” and respond “like Him” in every circumstance.

God sends the scouts into the land

Num 13:17-20

17     And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said unto them, Get you up this way southward, and go up into the mountain:

18     (1) And see the land, what it is; and (2) the people that dwelleth therein, (3) whether they be strong or weak, (4) few or many;

19     (5) And what the land is that they dwell in, (6) whether it be good or bad; and (7) what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds;

20     And what the land is, (8) whether it be fat or lean, (9) whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and (10) bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes.

God commanded Moses to search the land that He God was promising. When reading this passage for the umpteenth time one day it occurred to me, “why did God want to send spies into the land? God already knew what was there, and He had already established it can be taken NOW”. “Now” was the season to take the land. After asking the question, I heard a resounding voice of the Holy Spirit our teacher say, “it is a test of responses”.

Moses sent 12 witnesses or spies into the land. Each witness was the head of their respective tribe. This is God’s way of saying, “each witness represents the people whom they are an ambassador”. Nine is the number of fullness and they are given nine commands to report for their journey. They are also given a command of the action they are to take to conclude their report. This command was to “bring back the fruit”; it is the substance or evidence of the report. This last command was the tenth requirement of God to the twelve witnesses. Ten is the number of trial and testing as well as law. The witnesses spent forty days in the land. Forty is also the number of testing signifying a probationary period.

40 days - worldwide flood with those in Ark as a remnant

40 days - of Goliath taunting Israel (defeated by 5 stones)

40 days - embalming of Israel (Jacob) to be completed.

40 days - Jesus’ wilderness then came the test of responses

40 years - wilderness journey for the people of God who rebelled.

These are just a few examples of how God relates this number to testing and trial. The number that God chooses to use, is a teaching of His purpose. Joshua and Caleb come back from the land and give their response; their report based on what they have witnessed. This is their FIRST RESPONSE.

Num 13:27

Thus they told him, and said, "We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. (NAS)

                It is not the positive-ness that is important here; it is the fact that they agreed with what God had said! These two witnesses then show the proof – fruit. One will say, “you can’t ignore the bad circumstance”.

Num 13:28-30

28     "Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified {and} very large; and moreover, we saw the …giants there.

30     Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it." (NAS)

The spokesman was Caleb and though his physical eyes he saw the giants, the obstacles – AND HE SAW THEM AS DEFEATED. Caleb and the “land” are a type and shadow that must be observed to understand what has taken place here. God gives Caleb a promise; "But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his seed shall take possession of it.” (NAS) Caleb is a type of the “Seed” that shall come, and in Him there will be a people that possess the land. They are a people that see the obstacle and giants as defeated. They are a people that go into the land to witness with eyes of faith looking for the fulfillment of the promise. The ten spies or witnesses had a different view of the land. In the same land they saw:

Num 13:31-33

31     But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us."

32     So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of {great} size.

33     "There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight." (NAS)

In our own sight is the emphasis here. Jesus spoke in parables because “seeing they cannot see”. The land of promise was but a parable to the ten spies. Those that do not have eyes to see and ears to hear, perceive not what “any” scriptures say –scripture is simply one big parable to them. However all of us do the same thing in different verses and areas of circumstances. We see ourselves as a grasshopper in overcoming a particular sin. We see ourselves as weak in possessing God’s more excellent way of an “abiding in Christ lifestyle”. We see the enemy in the lives of our fellow Christians as being too strong for them to be set free or delivered. We say, “I guess my fellow Christian will remain deceived or my brother in Christ is simply to stubborn to change”.

Here is another type and shadow; the promise land is not a geographical area. If we think the “land” in Israel is what God is most interested in, we should start reading the Bible all over again – it is a redemption story for PEOPLE! The promise land is the place where God desires His people to reside. You are sent as a witness, a spy – to observe the land and give a report. You are commanded to “not forsake the assembling of yourselves together” for the purpose of entering the land of God. YOU ARE THE LAND OF GODTheGod’s people are the land; when you fellowship with the “land”, what is your response? It is a test of responses and our report is the evidence of what we witnessed and what we see. Do you see the giants in others as “overcome”? Do you see God possessing the people? Do you see the people as a place where milk and honey shall flow? DID YOU GET THE FRUIT!

Isa 11:1-3

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD-- and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;NIV

Isa 53:7-8

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

God sent 12 men into the land and prophetically they acted out the plan of God. Caleb and Joshua represent a people that look with the eyes of God. They do not see with the physical eyes nor hear with their physical ears for they have spiritual eyes to see, and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying. They see what God sees! They search for what God is searching for. God goes into the land (people of God) and He is searching for FRUIT. God finds the fruit and it is acceptable. God finds the fruit attached to a branch. God finds the promise He made and must now seal it. The fruit that God finds is His Son. The branch God finds is His Son – His Son is the promise. What does God do when He finds the Son in the land (His people)?

Num 13:23

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. (NAS)

God finds His Son in the land, in the land of Israel that He descended from. Born of promise, born to be the Branch of Isaiah 11, Jeremiah and Zechariah. “The Righteous Branch that will grow out of His temple”. But first the Father must cut down His Son from the land of the living. Redemption in the scriptures will always come from life in the blood instead of vegetation from the ground. It is Abel’s sacrifice of blood that was acceptable – it spilled unto the ground. As Caleb cut down the Branch and hung Him on a pole between two men – Caleb prophetically acted out the cross of redemption. Caleb took the sacrifice of the land, went back to the people, and said, “here is the proof of the promise” – AND THEY REJECTED HIM.

Num 14:9-11

"Only do not rebel against the LORD; and do not fear the people of the land, for they shall be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them." But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the LORD appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel. And the LORD said to Moses, "How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? (NAS)

The people then went to stone the messenger – Caleb. There are so many powerful pictures taking place that are applicable to our daily lives in this passage. Let us focus on this; the messenger that agrees with God is subject to get stoned. Stephen fulfilled this as He preached the crucified Jesus and they stoned him, even as He saw the glory of God revealed. There is a stoning that comes from total unbelievers and there is a stoning that comes from partial unbelievers – both hurt.

The focus is our response; when you enter the land, when you enter your fellowship – do you look for the fruit? If they are followers of Jesus – there is a branch with fruit in there. When you talk with others about your Christian Brother or Sister, do you show them the “fruit” or the do you show the “giants that are too strong”? The testimony of Christ is the branch that you cut down to show to others – the Crucified One.

We must see in others, the Christ that was born in their hearts, and we must agree with God when He said, “He that began a good work in you will complete it”. It is a land that we are ridding of giants with the grace of God upon our lives. WE CHOOSE TO SEE THEM AS DEFEATED. We choose to see ourselves dwelling together because we abide in the Branch that was cut off. We choose to allow our own lives to follow His example and be cut off as well from this land of the living – that we may be a testimony of fruit. Our response to every situation is the response of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We must attend local fellowships that God has set us in instead of Sunday morning conscious soothing centers. In our attending, we are entering into the land of Promise, the people of God. If we see the giants and respond in the spirit of the ten witnesses we shall suffer their consequences. If we see other church members that possess giants and share the “giant-ness” to other church members – WE ARE WRONG EVERY TIME! We must repent. If we have left a church that possessed giants, then entered the land (God’s people) and told them about the “giant-ness”; if we spoke derogatory remarks WE ARE WRONG EVERY TIME! If we think we are spiritual and we speak derogatory about the land, we are only as spiritual as the ten instead of the two. We are not acting like Caleb or the Seed; we have failed the test of responses and we must repent lest we die in the wilderness. The immaturity of others is not open game for us to target and expose to others that know these people. Instead we must obtain NEW EYES and SEE WHAT GOD SEES IN THEM. We justify our derogatory comments about others that possess giants with a flavor of spirituality yet our comments become a giant in our own life. Jesus called this type of giant a board in our eye. We can call it maturity, prophetic, or discerning but we are blind men trying to lead.

I have witnessed Christians that deemed themselves spiritual, commenting on the personal lives of other Christians that do not measure up, personal lives that possess giants. Their eyes are just like the ten spies, and their eyes spread like wildfire in the congregation of the Lord. They see the problem, the giants in others, but they lack God’s life in them to do anything about it. Therefore they have no faith to see the problems and false doctrines in other believers as conquered. They do not look for the Branch in others, they do not see milk and honey flowing, as evident by their testimony. It is only the problem that they see and confess. When they leave a church, they bring as many to this corrupt view as they can, and many times with the intention of warning. No matter what church disputes occur, we are NEVER permitted to preach giants. Our testimony can disrupt those that are set into a local fellowship. Our “giant” focus can cause others to leave a church that God set them in. We scatter instead of gather.

We must focus on our eyes first. If our vision of the people in the land is one with unconquerable giants, then our mouth will simply follow our eyes. When you see your pastor making what you think is a “giant” decision, simply see it as a defeated giant that cannot hold back the milk and honey from flowing throughout God’s people. If we witness carnality, false doctrines, or deception in the congregation that God has set us in we must exchange our “natural eyes” for the spiritual eyes of Jesus. Carnality, false doctrines, and deception in the congregation – EXIST TO TEST YOUR RESPONSE. What you spoke about, concerning what you witnessed - will indicate if you passed.

God is bringing the church into the unity of the faith. Right now the “giant” exists in the land, God’s people. Most Christians cannot see the land ridded of these giants. They see disunity now, and they envision disunity for our future, until Christ returns. Because they witness the stubbornness to change in other men and women, that is all they see. They do not possess the eyes of Caleb – the Seed. However, some of them may possess eyes for a small remnant, but usually a very small remnant. This view is still not Jesus’ view. LACK OF UNITY IN THE FAITH IS A DEFEATED GIANT. We must see this or our unbelief of this promise will cause a life of wildernesses.

Surely there will be controversies where we may be the center of attention, surely it may cause disunity, but it must be the other party that God is testing concerning responses instead of us. We must be dead to these issues we see so frequently in the church. If we see these giants as conquered, in our heart they are dead issues though they appear to live. If this is true then when attacked we are not defensive. When are talked about and judged, we love not our life having learned to be a doormat for all humanity. When other trample on us, we instantly respond with blessing, envisioning them as ones that have temporarily been misled by giants, yet these giants are without power and dead. Having the hope that they have in them the Branch and after finding the Branch we return to the people (who we left back in the wilderness) who are awaiting our response – and show them Proof of the Promise of our God. If all we see is a broken down church that cannot possibly live without giants in the midst – we are not the children of faith God desires. If we see the present church with the inability to function like the early apostles in pure doctrine, unity, and love – we are not the prophesied two witnesses from this story.

THE TWO WITNESS PATTERN

Prophetically, Joshua and Caleb, as well as other prophets, are seen in Revelation as the two witnesses. Joshua and Caleb were heads of their tribe, ambassadors that speak the good report, bearing fruit, and they were cut down for it. Resurrection day for the two witnesses loomed ahead, and though killed they stood up and entered into their inheritance forever more. Though this may happen by two individuals and though the event may take place just as portrayed, it means something spiritual to us. They represent the good report; andthey represent the pattern of God that isrequires us to  “cut down the fruit from the land of the living”. Why must martyrdom take place? It is the testimony, proof - from the land. Those that reject the testimony will NEVER ENTER IN. But it is our will.

Heb 4:4-11

For He has thus said somewhere concerning the seventh {day} "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works"; and again in this {passage} "They shall not enter My rest." Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, "Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts." For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through {following} the same example (PATTERN) of disobedience. (NAS)

Paul took a truth about the Sabbath day and gave it a meaning that many Hebrew Christians never thought of. Even today many Christians celebrate their Sabbaths and have no revelation of what the Sabbath points to. Paul teaches that the Sabbath is the “spiritual rest” that comes from God where we cease from our works or rituals. Paul now relates this truth to the LAND. They FAILED to enter into the land because of disobedience. One will say to Paul, “but Joshua did enter into the land with the people”. Paul responded that if this land, this rest had truly been enteredentered, thenand then God would not have spoken of a day afterwards.

How do we enter into this rest? The entrance of the land starts at the new birth; it is obedience to the Lord Jesus causes us to fully enter into rest that only He can give. A rest that does not work to be obedient, but it is a rest that comes from finding the “severed Branch that lives” and grafting to it daily. Our life is the abiding relationship where our pleasure is to please Him; our work is to know His thoughts; our labor is to enter into the state where we do the things that please our King. Why do we start doing these things? Because our pleasure is linked to His pleasure. As a foolish jester in the court of the king we find out what puts the smile on the face of our master and our “aim of life” is towards that objective. The events in the desert in those “40 days” that resulted in “40 years” of wandering – is for our example. It is a blueprint of the result of disobedience, the result of not looking for the Branch, and the result of being a false witness.

If you celebrate the physical Sabbath and all that you gain is physical rest – it is temporal. The true Sabbath is a Person we serve. Paul’s message stresses that this truth is “TODAY”. It is not a tomorrow truth, it is a today truth. An overcomer is not one with strength to fight the enemies of the land; the overcomer is one with eyes to see Him Who will conquer the giants of the land. The land of rest is the land where we have learned to rest in His ability to fight instead of our abilities. Faith does not strenuously muster up courage, tenaciousness, and great maturity as much as one would think. First, faith is seeing the giant as conquered because we heard what the Master said. Faith is the response of this seeing and hearing. Faith is finding the Branch, which is the PROOF, the substance that we hope for, and finding this Branch inside of us, and inside of others. We are so convinced that we shall enter “THE REST” because we see Him Who is the substance of that hope. Courage, tenaciousness, and maturity are born out of our seeing and hearing of Him Who is called THE BRANCH.

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