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PREPARING TO ENTER YOUR CANAAN
Intro: This passage finds the children of Israel having just crossed the Jordan River to enter Canaan, Joshua 3:9-17. Over the history of the Exodus, they had seen the Lord perform some very amazing miracles on their behalf. Here is just a small sampling.
• He delivered them from bondage in the land of Egypt through many miracles, signs and wonders.
• He led them through a harsh wilderness journey that saw Him move and bless in miraculous ways.
• He fed them Manna and gave them quail to eat.
• He provided them water from a rock.
• He protected them from their enemies.
• He provided shade by day and light by night.
• He even allowed their clothes to last the entire time they wandered in that wilderness.
Israel was the people of the Lord; the people of the Law; and now they are about to become the people of the Land. The great promises God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are about to be realized by the people of Israel. They have finally arrived in the Promised Land.
Their days of wandering are over. The days of possessing the land have arrived. God intends for Israel to conquer the land of Canaan and to possess it. Before they are ready to do that, there are some preparations they must make. In this text, the people of Israel take some very clear steps that help them ready to enter in to their Canaan. God used these steps to prepare His people to enter their Promised Land and claim it for His glory.
Just as God challenged Israel to prepare to move deeper into their Promised Land, there are some steps that He would have us take as well. If we want to go deeper with the Lord, if we really want to enjoy the victorious Christian life, if we really was all the Lord has for us, then we must make our preparations just as Israel did. This text reveals the steps we need to take if we intend to go deeper with God. I want to talk to you about Preparing To Enter Your Canaan. Notice with me the steps we must take, if we are going to enter the land of victory.
The first command the Lord gives to Israel is that all the man are to be circumcised. Circumcision was first handed down to Abraham. It was a physical sign used to identify all the male descendants of Abraham, Gen. 17:11-14. In circumcision, the foreskin of the male sex organ was removed when the child was eight days old.
All the men who had been born in Egypt had been circumcised according to the Abrahamic covenant. Yet, those men who were born during the 40 years of wilderness wandering had not been circumcised. The generation f males who were born in the wilderness had not been circumcised. Before this generation of men can claim their Canaan, enjoy the covenant promises of God, or expect God to fight their battles, they must be circumcised. They must renew the covenant with the Lord if they wanted His blessings on them and if they wanted to be guaranteed the victory.
Just as Israel was required to remove from their bodies a piece of flesh as a sign that they were a part of the covenant; we must remove from our lives anything that stands between total surrender and us to the Lord. The Bible is clear that there are times when you and I must engage in spiritual surgery in our lives.
· Col. 3:1-8, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”
· 2 Cor. 6:17-7:1, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
If it does not glorify God, edify the church, or help you grow in the Lord, then it needs to go!
1 Cor. 6:12, “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
To the Jew, circumcision was a reminder that they were a “marked people.” They were to never forget that they were the servants of the living God and that they were under obligation to obey Him in all things. Circumcision was to be the outward reminder of an inward work of faith. Deut. 10:16, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.”
In our case, a similar truth is at work. According to Col. 2:11, we have been circumcised in the heart, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.”
This happened when we were joined to Jesus at the instant of our conversion. Col. 2:13-14, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”
Our old natures have been judged and condemned by God. Thus the believers must separate themselves from the sins of the flesh.
· Ill. Rom. 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”
· Ill. Rom. 6:11-12, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.”
· Ill. Rom 13:14, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”
The internal work of salvation will result in the outward work of sanctification!
If you are saved, then you are supposed to live like you are saved, 1 John 2:6! Anything that is displeasing to the Lord needs to be removed from your live. It needs to be cut off and put away from you forever. There are some in this room today who have failed to live out the covenant they made with the Lord when He saved you. You need to come today and renew that covenant. You need to get back in fellowship with the Father and serve Him like you know you should.
Remember the vows you made in the beginning? Remember the promises you made to Him? Don’t you think it is time that you lived like you are who you claim to be? Don’t you think it’s time you lived like that new creature that God said you were by His saving grace, 2 Cor. 5:17? Isn’t it time to remove everything that smacks of worldliness and bear the marks of genuine devotion to Jesus? We need to be sure that our lives are as clean as they can be so that we are candidates for the power and glory of God!
He still allows U-turns, 1 John 1:9.
I. We Must Take The Step Of Consecration
Israel is camped in the very heart of enemy territory. After they have been circumcised, every male in the nation of Israel is temporarily disabled and is rendered unable to fight, Ill. Gen. 34:24-25.
Their obedience to the Lord’s command for them to be circumcised was a supreme act of faith! They had to be willing to trust the Lord to protect them until they healed. While they waited, they were vulnerable to attack from their enemies. Their faith was the secret to their success and to their safety. These men had learned the valuable lesson that their battles would not be won by military might and by superior battlefield tactics. They knew that if they ever saw victory, it would be because God gave it to them. They placed their lives, their families, their futures, and their all in the capable hands of their God.
This time of testing served to confirm that their faith in God was well placed.
As we move through this life, we often face times of testing just like these men did. When the times of testing come, we can rely on lots of things, (i.e. Family, friends, finances, the church, etc.) but there will never be real, lasting victory in our lives until we learn to rely solely on Him, John 15:5.
The people of Israel had just come from a great victory and often, that is the time when pride will rise up in us and we will think that we are unstoppable. When those times come in your life and mine, you can be sure that the Lord will allow us to go through a time of testing. God wants us to learn the vital truth that nothing in this life is really about us; it is all about Him! It isn’t enough to be clean spiritually; we must also be walking in faith before the Lord. We need to remember that our God can and will take care of His children. Ill. Verse 1. The people of Israel didn’t realize it, but God had used the miracle at Jordan to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy. The people of Israel were afraid of what the enemy might do to them, but God had the enemy well in hand!
God is more than able to sustain you through anything that He leads you into.
· Look at Noah. God sustained him and his family through a worldwide flood - Gen. 6-9.
· Look at the firstborn of Israel. God protected every Israelite who was under the shelter of the blood of the lamb - Ex. 12.
· Look Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. God kept them alive in a fiery furnace - Dan. 3.
· Look at Daniel. God protected him while he was in a den of hungry lions - Dan. 6.
· Look at Elijah. God fed him with ravens by a brook, and with meal and oil at a widow’s house - 1 Kings 17.
· Look at Paul. He was attacked for Satan through his torn in the flesh, but God gave him sufficient grace for everything he faced - 2 Cor. 12.
What I am trying to tell you is that you can depend on the Lord. He is still the same God He has ever been!
· Ill. Jer. 32:17, “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.”
· Ill. Jer. 32:27, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?”
He is still able to do all that you need, Eph. 3:20. His one requirement is that you trust Him.
Can you honestly say that you are relying completely upon the Lord in every trial, through every battle and in every situation in your life? Are you walking by faith? That is the key to victory! When we face those times of confirmation in our lives, and we exercise, absolute faith in the power of God to handle the situation; it confirms our faith in His Person, His Power, His Purposes and in His Promises.
I. We Must Take The Step Of Consecration
II. We Must Take The Step Of Confirmation
III. V. 9 WE MUST TAKE THE STEP OF CONTEMPLATION
The term “reproach of Egypt” brings to mind two thoughts. First, it refers to the fact that the males who came out of Egypt were not circumcised. Hence, they were not part of God’s covenant and He would not fight their battles in Canaan until that was made right. We have already dealt with that thought.
The term also refers to two events during Israel’s wilderness wanderings. The first is found in Ex. 32:1-12 when the Children of Israel made a golden calf and worshiped it as God. The other happened at Kadesh-Barnea when the children of Israel displayed unbelief and refused to enter into the Promised Land, Num. 14:11-14. The “reproach of Egypt” refers to the sins the people brought with them in their hearts and lives when they came out of Egypt.
On both occasions, the Lord threatened to destroy the nation of Israel and start fresh with Moses. Both times Moses interceded with the Lord and reminded Him that destroying Israel would give the Egyptians a reason to mock God. They would say that He brought them out of Egypt, but could not bring them to Canaan. Now they are in the land and God has proven that He is well able to bring His people into their possession. Therefore, He tells them that He has rolled that reproach away! Ill. “Gilgal” means, “rolling.” In other words, their past was no longer an issue. It had been forever “rolled” away. It was a new day! The children of Israel were to contemplate the work of God in the lives in removing from them the reproach of the past.
Many of God’s children are still living under the “reproach of Egypt”. You may be living with the shame of things you did before you came to faith in Christ. You may be ashamed of times when you have failed the Lord since you were saved. There may be guilt over some issues that are present in your life right now. Some of you are living under the constant stab of self-condemnation right now!
Let me remind you today that if you have place your faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, your past is no longer an issue, Psa. 103:12, Isa. 38:17; Isa. 43:25; Jer. 50:20; Micah 7:19; 1 John 1:7. The reproach of the old life has been removed forever! You must get past the guilt of those days before you can walk in victory in your Canaan! Take the time to contemplate that!
Many Christians have failed the Lord in a big way. As a result, they are defeated and feel like they are second-class citizens in the kingdom of God. My friend, if you have confessed your sin and repented of it, then it has been taken care of forever as far as God is concerned, 1 John 1:9.
God is telling Israel that yesterday is forever gone and they are to walk looking to the potential of victory today rather than to the defeat of yesterday. If you have made your sin right with God, you might as well put it behind you, because the Lord has certainly put it behind Him! You will never be able to walk in victory until you come to realize that the Lord has forgiven your past. Don’t let the world, the flesh or the devil hold your past over your head! Take the time to contemplate what the Lord has done in you and rejoice!
Of course, if there are sins in your life today, the best thing you can do is get to Him and get them taken care of. Victory can be your, but not until your sins are dealt with! Ill. Pro. 28:13, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
I. We Must Take The Step Of Consecration
II. We Must Take The Step Of Confirmation
III. We Must Take The Step Of Contemplation
In these verses, we find Israel celebrating the feast of the Passover. They first observed it when they were still in Egypt, Ex. 9-14. They also celebrated it at Mount Sinai before they left for Kadesh-Barnea, Num. 9:1-14. However, there is no evidence that they had celebrated the Passover in nearly 40 years. The fact is they couldn’t! The new generation had not been circumcised and this was a requirement for participating in the Passover.
Now, it might help us to remember what the Passover is all about. When the Lord sent the 10th plague, the death of the firstborn, upon Egypt, He told His people to select a lamb, kill it, put its blood on the door posts and lintels of their houses and then cook and eat the lamb, Ex. 12. God was going to pass through Egypt that night. When He did, all the firstborn children of the land would die. When the Lord passed through Egypt that night, He promised Israel when He saw the blood on their doors that He would “pass over” those protected homes and the firstborn within would live. At that time, Israel was commanded, to make the Passover a yearly feast. They were to remember that night when they were passed over by the Lord and spared from the plague of death. They were to remember that the blood of a lamb had saved them. They were to remember that it was that night in which the Lord had delivered them from their bondage in Egypt. The Passover was a time for the Jews to remember the deliverance of the Lord!
Now that they are in the Promised Land, and have been circumcised, they are to celebrate the feast of the Passover. They are to remember the things God did for them in bringing them out of Egypt and in providing for them along the way.
What a lesson for the redeemed people of the Lord! As we pass through this life, we must constantly call to mind the great things the Lord has done for us in our pasts. We need to remember times when: He called us in love; saved us by grace; forgave our sins; cleansed us when we fell; conquered our enemies; gave us victory when there seemed to be no hope; and blessed us in innumerable ways!
Take some time today to remember the many ways God has proven that He was strong in your life. It will give you courage and confidence to face the next battle. If He was God then, He is still God now!
Sadly, some people have nothing to remember! They have never been delivered from their sins. They have never been saved! If that describes you, you need to come to God today.
V. 11-12 - Just as Israel needed to remember the Lord’s commitment to them; they also needed to remember their commitment to Him!
You see, for 40 years they had eaten manna every day. However, when they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan, the manna ceased. Surely, Israel was glad that the manna was no more. While the Passover reminded Israel that God had brought them out of Egypt; the manna was constant reminded of what they had left behind in Egypt, Ex. 16:3.
It was easy for God to bring His people out of Egypt, but it was hard for God to get Egypt out of His people. They needed to forget the things of Egypt and embrace the things of Canaan. When the Manna ceased; they were forced to stop looking back and they had to start looking around to glean what God had placed for them in the Promised Land.
Far too many Christians still possess an appetite for the things of the world just like Israel did for the things of Egypt. God help us to develop a hunger for the harvest of our inheritance. God didn’t save us to satisfy our hunger with the things of the world. He saved us so that we might learn to enjoy Him and feed off the things He gives to us. We should never look back to the world or to the wilderness to try and find something to satisfy our hunger. Rather, let us learn to feed on the things of the Lord. He will feed us in the place of victory if we will look to Him. We don’t need to scrounge around for scraps! We can feed on the best if we are willing to allow the Lord to lead us and feed us.
Conc: Are you ready to enter your Canaan? If you can take the steps I mentioned today, you are ready. If not, you need to do what He is telling you to do today.
· Some of us need to come before the Lord and remove anything from our lives that does not belong in them.
· Some of us need to rely upon Him and Him alone.
· Some of us need to release our past and refuse to be burdened by what used to be.
· Some of us need to remember the faithfulness of the Lord to us and our own promises to be faithful to Him.
· Some of us need to come to Jesus Christ, by faith, so that we can be saved from our sins.
Are you ready to take the steps that will allow you to enter your Canaan?