THIS SERIES: FREEDOM IS A JOURNEY
Forty years had passed, the generation which had refused to trust the Lord who had delivered them from Egypt, died in the desert. A new generation was ready for the Promised Land.
But first, they also had to pass through water; a fresh ‘baptism’ was needed for this generation. (See previous post for more on this.) However, this action had a new emphasis: not only were they leaving behind the old, they were committing themselves to the new. Once over the Jordan, there was no going back. Symbolically, they had to die to an old identity, to an old way of life—so that they could obtain their inheritance and the promises of God.
We see the same element in Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan; in that act, Jesus set His face resolutely towards the Cross. Interestingly, the River Jordan is the lowest river in elevation in the world, and its name means ‘descent’.
That commitment for both Israel and Jesus was a commitment to battle. Despite the fact the Promised Land had been ‘given’ to Israel, the kingdoms in it were not going to just lie down before the advancing army, they were going to fight back. The Israelites had to co-operate with the Lord to take hold of the promise in reality. In the same way, at Jesus’ baptism, we see Him accepting the commission to do battle. Every time He healed the sick, cast out demons, fed the hungry or saved the lost, Jesus waged war victoriously against the powers of darkness. And in the final Great Battle on the Cross, Jesus emerged triumphant, having won the war against evil for all time.
And so it is for us. Our baptisms weren’t only about deliverance and freedom, they were also about death, about ‘taking up the cross’, about following Jesus wherever He leads. And they were also about a commitment to battle.
Jesus defeated the Evil One totally on the Cross; every negative human condition—sin, sickness, poverty, mental health issues, relationship breakdown—you name it—it was included in His triumph. However, we are assigned the task of enforcing that victory in partnership with the Holy Spirit. [A good analogy is the fighting which continued in WW2, as Allied Armies enforced the D-Day victory of June 6 1944. Some of the bloodiest battles occurred in the 11 months afterwards, until VE Day finally meant all battles were over.] Our job is to co-labour with the Lord to bring in the Kingdom.
And the point is?
To enter rest, we have to be prepared to take hold of the prophetic declarations of our baptism, die to an old identity and an old way of living, and we have to be prepared to do battle. However, like everything else in the Christian life, this is not something we engage in our own strength. We are given the ‘gift of battle’ through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit—all He requires are willing hearts, and the choice to trust Him.
God’s rest isn’t for the faint-hearted; but it is worth the fight!
NEXT WEEK: 4. THE IMPORTANCE OF REMEMBERING
The first step to victory is to remember...
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN...
[Photo credits: Jonathan Kemper (sword); Randy Fath (chess pieces); Davide Baraldi (post box) @ Unsplash, with thanks]
Da Kraplak (type writer);
Merakist (social media)
@ Unsplash, with thanks]
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