LIVING in the GOOD LAND
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
OCTOBER 18, 2014
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom HIghway
“Understand then, that it is not because of your righteousnes that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.” (Deut. 9:6)
As a child, the term “stiff-necked” always made me giggle, for I pictured folks in pain, wearing neck braces, and I wondered what that had to do with their ability to possess the land of Canaan. The dictionary defines the term to mean “haughty and stubborn,” which the children of Israel most certainly were, or so it seemed to me. In fact, I can remember thinking, “Oh, those stupid Jews. Why didn’t they just mind God?” When I became an adult, I gave up childish impressions and realized to my horror that most of us still are stiff-necked people to one degree or another. Lest I offend my readers, let me narrow the group to just me, for I have been haughty and stubborn at times regarding my “theology.”
I grew up in the “true church,” (a term I gave them because they believed, taught, and behaved as though they were the only ones who had the truth, the only ones going to heaven). If that isn’t haughty, maybe you could tell me what is?
While searching for something on ChurchArtOnline, a paid subscription website on which I find the graphics I use for the writings, I saw the graphic used here, and knew by the Spirit, that it was a prophecy for me, and maybe for you as well, so perhaps we can explore it together.
The Old Testament is a travelogue of God’s people, who were unceremoniously tossed out of Eden, and spent the rest of their generations, trying to find something equivalent to that paradise lost through rebellion and disobedience. It’s no different today, because most of Christendom is searching for a sure proof path to Heaven. They want rules and regs for how to live in order to please God, so that hopefully, possibly, they won’t burn in hell for all eternity.
I printed out the graphic in question, and put it on my fridge where I can see it easily. This morning as I was appreciating this magnificent promise, the question popped up, does this mean I’m going to die and heaven is the Good Land where I’m headed?
If so, I said, I’m ready. It came to me then, that the Land of Canaan, the Promised Land, the Land which flows with milk and honey is Christ in us, our hope of glory. Therefore, heaven is within us as well. Where does God live? In heaven, most would say, but the New Testament, especially Paul’s writings declares that God lives within us. We are “in Christ,” chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). We are God’s children, “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.” (Rom. 8:16-17) The inescapable conclusion is that the good land He is bringing us into is here and now, within us.
Whatever is within us, He put there not so we can be puffed up and stiff-necked, but so we can share with others. The phrase, God is love, has been on my mind and heart for days now, and I thought that would be the title of this piece, but until and unless we have experienced His love up close and personal, it is merely a vague concept shimmering out in the distance like a mirage in the desert. People who are brave enough to admit that they do not love God are not wicked or stupid. They are only reflecting the sad fact that they have not personally experienced His love. We love Him the Apostle John wrote, because He first loved us.
About that, a friend wrote: “There are times, when God loves through us and as you say, Loves the fear out of us, overcoming the ME, and we MANIFEST His Love that’s put in our hearts. It seems to me those times of MANIFESTATION occur in His time. When I DON’T manifest His love, I don’t get all shook up and try some “self condemnation” or groaning to God as though I’ve not done something right and therefore lost His spirit of love. It comes to mind what you quoted, ‘I’ll never leave you or forsake you.’ I don’t think anything can separate us from the love of God, Not even ME.” End quote.
The writer of that statement understands fully that we tend to fight the Love of God, perhaps because we’ve been taught to think less of ourselves than God does. Along those lines, another friend wrote, “Truth is, I am still discovering, I am more afraid sometimes of success than I am of failure. I’m more afraid of the land of milk and honey than I am of the giants. Then I got your email and what a confirmation! Thanks again for it. I needed to hear it. I honestly do believe Father wants to bless us all, so why are we so hesitant? Well, it’s time for another layer of self-doubt to be peeled away. :-)”. End Quote.
The book of Deuteronomy contains Moses last words to the children of Israel. He pours out his heart about the disappointment he felt when he came down from Mount Sinai and found them worshipping the golden calf. He recounts his conversations with God, in which he begged God not to destroy the children of Israel in His fierce wrath. What would the neighbors think? Of course, we’re seated in a higher viewing stand than Moses had, and we know that God’s love is stronger than His temporary judgments of this pitiful bunch of people He dragged out of Egypt. I’ve always loved and admired Moses, because he fellowshipped with God on a personal level, which is something most of us want.
Before they crossed Jordan to enter Canaan, Moses explained the purpose of two mountains located there. On Mount Gerizim, they were to proclaim the blessings they received, and on Mount Ebal, the curses. Too many of us feel more comfortable on Mount Ebal because of our poor self esteem and lack of self confidence. In other words, we look at our sins, which one scripture declares are ever before us, rather than the Deliverer who rescued us from them.
My heart aches for some of you who write to me asking for prayer and relief from condemnations laid upon you by well meaning leaders and relatives. If that’s your experience, however, it can be hard to climb out of the miry clay which is sucking you down and out of favor with God and man.
God did not create this beautiful world we live in, and suffer and die to redeem us from our fallen state in order that we continue to grovel in sin. Some church litany I’ve heard is a tedious repetition of our sinfulness, and disobedience, along with a pleading with God to save us. It’s all designed to bring people to repentance. When I encounter that, it’s all I can do to keep from tearing out my hair and run screaming out of that place and into the Light of God’s grace.
If you are still wallowing in your sins, may I humbly suggest you climb down from Mount Ebal or Mount Sinai (for those still living by Law), and aim your steps toward Mount Gerizim, or better yet, Mount Zion. Let your spirit soar with this anointed passage in Hebrews 12: “You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them….But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands and thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.” (Heb. 12:16, 22) Amen.
Father we fall on our faces before you in joyful acceptance of what You have done for us by the blood of the Lamb and the power of Your unconditional love. We thank You for the good land which You are giving us, a land flowing with milk and honey, and for the good land into which You are continuously bringing us, a land wherein You walk with us and talk with us; a land in which you are our Abba and we are Your children. By Your grace, we will not fear the giants in the land, for they have been conquered, are being conquered, and will always be conquered by Your powerful hand. When we forget, transport us by Your spirit to Mount Zion that we may feast on Your goodness and dwell in You forever. With all the saints, we declare, The Lord God Omnipotent Reigneth. Amen.