God’s purpose has always been to complete what He starts. In nothing is He half-hearted or uncommitted. In leading Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness His intention was always to bring them in to the Promised Land. Far too many didn’t make it. They believed He could deliver them from Egypt, but they didn’t believe He could deliver them into Canaan. So what happened? Their blatant unbelief tested God and His promise of rest was deferred (Heb. 3:10-11). Somewhere between Egypt and Canaan most of Israel forgot where they were going and literally lost the plot.
As the Red Sea crossing was for Israel merely the gateway into their new journey, so the born again experience is simply the gateway into our journey into the riches of Christ. Salvation is our entry point into life in Christ, but it has never been God’s full deal for the church, and it’s not meant to be our resting place. Jesus Christ, our Promised Land, the yes and amen of every promise God has ever made to us, awaits us in all His mysterious fullness.
By watering down the gospel, failing to preach Christ, His cross and His blood, and ever increasing compromise, much of the Western church has been reduced to an ineffective institution whose main agenda seems to be her own survival. In this atmosphere, once saved, the Christian’s life too often becomes one of endurance until time arrives for the heavenly “promotion”.
Here’s a newsflash or three: Heaven is not our Promised Land, Christ is! We are no longer sinners saved by grace, we are partakers in Christ Jesus! Our eternal hope is not escaping hellfire, our eternal hope is Christ in us!
Before the foundation of the world our Father provided and made ready a place for us within His own eternal rest. Through unbelief Israel failed to enter it. This spiritual life within His rest is available to each of us who follow Christ right now, this moment, today (Heb. 4:1-11). Just for starters that means rest from guilt, regret, condemnation, sin, unforgiveness, and every dead work, but that doesn’t even come close to describing it. The rest He has prepared for us cannot be imagined or even thought of by the human heart (1 Cor. 2:9). To those who believe, this mysterious place of rest may be revealed by the Spirit of God. This rest is not absence of activity. It is a place where the source of all activity is the Spirit of God. Nor is it a certain day of the week. This place of rest is a Person: Jesus Christ.
The wilderness can be a brutal place, but it has a unique purpose. There are things we learn about God and ourselves in the wilderness that we can’t learn anywhere else. Emerging from the wilderness it doesn’t matter by which route any of us came, it matters only where we’re going. And whatever we looked like going down to the wilderness, coming out we all look pretty much the same. We are desperate, thirsty, broken people, seeking only the one thing needful: the depths, the heights, and the fullness of the knowledge of Christ. To partake of Him and be satisfied (John 6:53-57; Heb. 3:14). This is the rest we have been promised.
Church history is filled with those whose corpses have fallen in the wilderness, but the Bride of Christ is learning what it is to partake of Christ here, now and into eternity. She is trusting the Father, today, to bring her in ……because He brought her out.
©Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride 2012