Vanity: All But Christ

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “vanity of vanities!
All is vanity!”

(Ecclesiastes 1:2)

Vanity is the only currency of this present world; and vanity its only prize. “The whole world lies in the evil one,” and the fruits of his pride at work in those who follow in his path are the vain and meaningless acquisitions of chasing that dragon. The Devil himself has not attained what he set himself after, and he shall never acquire it. The calling of God upon His people is one of being perfect even as He is perfect – and this is only possible by the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead quickening us, we who have been crucified to the world and the world to us with Him. All but the preeminence of Christ Jesus in all things is as dust in the wind. All that is contrary to each of us living and moving and having our being in HIM is chaff to be burned.

The mystery of God is Christ over all and through all and in all, as revealed in the members of HIS body. Those who are born and lead of His Spirit move with His Spirit, and not with another. Where they truly came from and where they are truly going cannot be discerned by the carnal man. The factions which men call “churches” are the robbers of Christ’s preeminence in HIS church, for they by nature cannot submit to His Spirit, and so they are vanity. But although He is dethroned in the “wisdom” of men, He exalts Himself in the things foolish to this devil’s world.

For this is a world in which the spiritual value of a thing is thought to be determined by its “earthly good.” But truly, it is the lack of outcry in our hearts against the vanity of the passing things of earth and of man’s self-aggrandizing agendas which keeps us from finding the only Worth. We must come to the very end of ourselves and find that HE is everything! As I have heard one sister say, “It is in the void that we find Him.” Men put great effort and sincere devotion into the plans and visions of what a committee decides God should bless; when it is only Christ the head, giving command to each member of HIS body, by which the whole can function and manifest the fullness of HIM. For the true body of Christ IS the fullness of HIM who fills all, as HE is in them all. Only that which God Himself creates, sustains, and truly dwells in will abide the day of His coming. All else will fall and is already falling deep into the obscurity of this fading world, for the Holy Spirit carries along  that which is begotten of Him; but His wind destroys the field which HE did not sow. Man’s own vision and earthly understanding cannot deliver him from the realm of this world of vanity and worthlessness.

For they sow the wind, and they will reap the whirlwind. He has no standing grain. The stalk will yield no head. If it does yield, strangers will swallow it up.
Israel is swallowed up. Now they are among the nations like a worthless thing.

(Hosea 8:7-8)

It is therefore no coincidence that the gatherings of man called “churches” under the authority of men are full of people in bondage to darkness, who bear the fruits of the law of sin and death; for a body manifests the person of whatever spirit is allowed to be at work in its members. The prince of the power of the air is at work in all those not subject to the Lordship and headship of Christ, for two masters cannot be served.

But the true and pure bride is His very body, she is ONE with Christ in His Spirit – of whom He can say, “bone of My bone and flesh of My flesh” – she is not a separate entity ruled over by other men. “They are of the world, therefore they speak of the world, and world hears them;” but the sheep of the Good Shepherd are hearing HIS voice, and He is leading them out, “Rise up, My love, My fair one, and come away…” (Song of Solomon 2:10)

“And there shall be one flock, One Shepherd.”

God proclaiming all things of this world to be vanity is not a casual indictment. The engagement of our hearts with the “wisdom” and ways of earth is an adulterous union in His eyes.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
(1 John 2:15-17)

Saul & David: Form vs Substance

Both Saul and David were chosen by God, anointed as king by Samuel. Both prophesied, both sinned, and both confessed their sins; but David was accepted by God, and Saul was rejected.

Saul lived to serve men and feared the people; but David lived to serve God and feared the Lord.
Saul was prepared to make certain sacrifices for God, so long as they suited his supposed reputation; but David was willing to obey God even if it exposed all of his heart.
Saul’s ‘repentance’ covered his guilt in his own eyes; but David’s repentance restored his soul in God’s eyes.

Saul was God’s judgement upon His stubborn people, and he ruled from the palace of their approval; but David was God’s mercy, and he ruled from the hidden cave of true justice.*

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but the ones who do the will of My Father in Heaven.
Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name do many works of power?”
And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, those working lawlessness!”

(Matthew 7:21-23)

The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable (Rom 11:29); but a true relationship must be maintained with He who examines the heart. It is one thing to have just enough of an outward appearance so that the Lord can use you among those who are ignorant of Him; but it is another thing to walk even AS Jesus walked. He always did what He saw the Father doing. But truly doing the will of the Father requires having the very heart of the Father in the doing. And truly having the heart of the Father requires a purging of your own.

It is good to desire that the Lord might use you for His glory; but He would prefer for your own sake to always KNOW who He’s working through.
The fear of man or the fear of the Lord makes all the difference between a wolf and a sheep. Stop wavering between two opinions and choose this day whom you will serve.

“The fear of man layeth a snare…” (Prov 29:25)

Saul was satisfied to have a heart after man; but David was a man after God’s heart.
Therefore Saul had power; but David had authority.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
(Galatians 1:10)

– Brendan

*   “While David was on the run from king Saul, he hid in the cave of Adullam (1 Samuel 22:1), where he amassed quite a following… (2 Samuel 23:13-17). The prophet Micah mentions that the glory of Israel will enter Adullam… (Micah 1:15).”
“…for a meaning of the name Adullam, Alfred Jones reads The Justice Of The People. BDB Theological Dictionary, on the other hand, believes that Adullam came from עדל II and explains that this verb means to turn aside in the sense of to hide or seek refuge. Hence BDB translates the name Adullam with Retreat, Refuge. NOBSE Study Bible Name List appears to agree with BDB and reads a similar Refuge.”
– Taken from Abarim Publications,
http://www.abarim-publications.com/index.html

Joshua 7: It Repented The Lord

And the sons of Israel committed a sin in the cursed thing. And Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah took the cursed thing. And the anger of Jehovah glowed against the sons of Israel.
(Joshua 7:1)

The Lord does not show partiality in His judgement, as though He would blindly pass over ongoing rebellion among His own people. His wrath is kindled against all the sons of disobedience – especially those who trouble His own house from within. It is always assumed in our midst that God is on our side; and it is seldom questioned as to whether or not we are on HIS side. Such is the mindset that allows a people to begin falling away – if they haven’t already fallen greatly. This is the great blind assumption of all spiritual pride, declaring of its self-supposed heavenly estate, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Even Joshua himself had begun to assume the welfare of his fellow brothers when He sincerely questioned God as to why they were suffering defeat on the field of battle; but the Lord corrected him:

“Get up! Why do you fall on your face this way? Israel has sinned, and they also have transgressed My covenant which I commanded them, and have also taken of the cursed things, and have also stolen, and also deceived, and also put it among their stuff. And the sons of Israel have not been able to stand before their enemies; they have turned the back before their enemies because they have become cursed. I will not be with you again if you do not destroy the cursed things from among you.”
(Joshua 7:10-12)

We ourselves occupy a day in which sin is tolerated in the camp, God is not sought sincerely about it, and the wretched state of His house is excused as being due to uncontrollable and external circumstances. Faithless and perverse generation! How much longer shall the Spirit of Christ bear with us? Those who trust not in His power so as to obey Him and tear down the altars of their every idol cannot expect to be graced with His presence. And today He has already forsaken the gathering place only to be found by those who will dwell in the secret place, which often brings isolation; but the fellowship of God is there. The grievous “church” of man is the outer court of our day, and is now fully ruled and trampled underfoot by the Godless. And regarding such a state of affairs, in which the hope of Eden returning seems all but lost, the scripture says,

And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth,
and it grieved Him at His heart.
(Genesis 6:6 KJV)

This astonishing description of God’s heart can be applied not only to fallen mankind as a whole, but even more potently to a backslidden people who were at one time His very sons and in step with the Spirit. Upon these words hang for all of us the balances of judgement and mercy, of redemption and woe. The holy eyes of the Lord cannot look upon the fruit of man’s corrupting ways without His wrath being kindled and His heart pained with exceeding sorrow.

The love of God is pure, therefore He agonizes over our sins because He cannot abide their stench. It “repented” God that He had made man because He is holy and must take vengeance upon the wicked, for He hates all of their evil deeds; therefore it also “grieved Him at His heart” because He is merciful and takes no delight in the punishment of any. It pleased the Lord to crush the Suffering Servant (Isa 53) because that Servant became sin, in order to put sin itself to death with Himself and rise without it for those who would believe into Him, that they might partake of that same newness of Life. Only the One not accursed could take all of the curse upon Himself for all men; but remedies begotten of the sentiments of human pity are powerless to quench its eternal rot. Only the burning of God’s fire in our hearts will remove the dross to keep the gold pure: and dross can be whole persons or even peoples. For He beholds with holy eyes the horror of it all in great anguish and fervent scorn.

“And it repented the Lord…”

All of heaven itself stands aghast at the spectacle of our spiritual famine; yet men are content to continue praying for earthly good with no recognition of their dire condition in God’s eyes, taking no thought that in doing so they only further provoke His wrath. His Ark awaits to lift them above the flood of His fury, yet nearly all stand in mockery; and though claiming to honor Him, refuse to enter in. Most of those who are said to be born-again bear no fruit in keeping with repentance; and most of those who are supposedly Spirit-lead remain as worldly as they ever were. But those who truly see through the eyes of holiness take no delight in the futile matters of this passing earth, and they despair of hope in all but God Himself. These are the only ones possessing anything of worth, for they realize that the Lord Himself is all they truly have. Those who live from such a place of freedom and peace in the Lord Himself will no longer have need to confess, “I saw, I lusted, and I took…” (v 21) for they have allowed the Lord to take them as HIS own possession.

All of creation groans for the unveiling of God’s mystery in His offspring through Christ in them, and the heavens declare His glory even through the dull and miserable tones of the curse; but the exposing Light of Christ is so repulsive to those who continue engaging in the works of the devil, that to satisfy the insatiable appetite of hell is more desirable for them than to dwell in the piercing presence of the Holy One. It is no wonder that nothing short of the travail of the very soul of the Son of God Himself shall alone bear fruit unto God from among men, those of whom His Spirit declares “No one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does any good, not even one.” The agony of our Lord Jesus just before His crucifixion can never be weighed for the dread of drinking the bottomless cup of the eternal wrath of God, being plunged into the fiery baptism of the furnace of that righteous indignation, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.” Yet who in our midst is found agonizing in the Spirit with Him, seeing that there remains only a small remnant of the faithful? If we do not allow the fire to purge us today, what assurance do we have that hell will be satisfied with our absence from it on the day of judgement? TODAY is the day of salvation for every man, especially for those of His own house.

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.
(Lamentations 3:22-23)

Our trifling day lacks any real sense of the weightiness and urgency of the Lord’s mercy. A true revelation of His longsuffering in light of our stubbornness and rebellion should implant a lasting fear of Him in us which burns out all desire or draw to remain in any measure of idolatry. Those who have not been marked by the near despair of God’s own heart over their rebellious ways have not touched the cross; and those who refuse to continue carrying the burden of the Lord’s heart for today have strayed from it. These are the troublers of the true Israel of God, who grieve and lie to the Holy Spirit as did Ananias and Saphira; and these He will reveal and expel from the true camp of His people as the Day of redemption draws nearer and the faithful remain true to Him.

And Joshua rose early in the morning, and brought Israel near by its tribes. And the tribe of Judah was taken. And he brought the family of Judah near; and he took the family of the Zarhites. And he brought near the family of the Zarhites by men, and Zabdi was taken. And he brought near his household by men, and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was taken.
And Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I beg you, give glory to Jehovah, the God of Israel, and give thanks to Him, and please tell me what you have done. Do not hide it from me.”
And Achan answered Joshua, and said, “Truly I have sinned against Jehovah, the God of Israel, and this I have done: when I saw among the spoil a goodly robe of Shinar, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold, one of fifty shekels in weight, then I lusted after them, and took them. And behold, they are hidden in the earth, in the middle of my tent, and the silver under it.”
(Joshua 7:16-21)

The futility of all things outside of God Himself must be realized should we make an offering of obedience truly pleasing to Him in this dark day, lest we perish by His own hand untimely for failing to redeem what little time is left. Waiting for a future hour of necessity to consecrate ourselves only reveals a failure to recognize that the hour of necessity is already passing. The hand of the Lord which prevents great evil from entering into His fold is quickly lifting because of their hidden idolatry and spiritual pride. Many have fallen away and many more will continue to drift. The wheat and the tares are also becoming manifest. Today, and today only, is the last day for being made ready to be broken and poured out unto death. The Lord will hear the cry of contrite in heart who tremble at His word, for them He is able to answer with mercy.

Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord! Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven: “We have transgressed and rebelled, and You have not forgiven. You have wrapped Yourself with anger and pursued us, killing without pity; You have wrapped Yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can pass through.”
(Lamentations 3:40-44)

May we no longer tolerate in the temple of God that which troubles the holy progress of the body of Christ: may it no longer repent the Lord that we are called His children.

And Joshua said, “How you have troubled us! Jehovah shall trouble you today!”
And all Israel threw stones at him, and they burned them with fire,
and they stoned them with stones.
And they raised over him a great heap of stones to this day.
And Jehovah turned back from the heat of His anger. On this account, the name of that place is The Valley of Grief until this day.
(Joshua 7:25-26)

– Brendan

Joshua 6 -Part 2: The Zeal Of His House

And it happened at the seventh time the priests blew with the rams’ horns. And Joshua said to the people, “Shout! For Jehovah has given you the city. And the city shall be devoted to Jehovah, it and all that are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And you shall certainly keep clear of the cursed things, that you not become accursed by taking from the cursed things, and shall make the camp of Israel become accursed, and trouble it. And all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, they are holy to Jehovah; they shall come into the treasury of Jehovah.”
(Joshua 6:16-19)

The only ground which God will continue entrusting to His people is that which they keep holy unto Him. What has been gained in the passing of former things must be kept by the obedience of faith in the newness of the Spirit. In all that God has freely given, He requires that we continue striving to lay hold of its fullness by submission to Him; for this allows Him to sanctify us fully that we may be kept blameless even as we keep ourselves blameless (Php 3:12, 1Thess 5:22-23).

Now Jericho was still standing before the people even after they had passed from death unto Life through the baptism of the Jordan: a fortress of the enemy’s defiance against what God had begun to work in His people. But God would have that work brought to completion. The stronghold of Jericho must be brought down should the people of God get any further into the land and drive out even more enemies. To lay hold of its treasures or compromise with its idols would be to fall away from the holy commandment delivered; but to be laying hold of what awaits us in God’s promise is to be forsaking what still calls us back to the world, for there is no crown until the cross is suffered. The troublers of Israel are not those who cry for God’s people to be holy as He is holy; but rather those whose cowardly disobedience and hypocrisy prevents that cry from being clearly heard and seen as righteous.

And the people shouted, and blew with the ram’s horns, and it happened, when the people heard the sound of the ram’s horn, the people shouted a great shout. And the wall fell under it; and the people went up into the city, each man in front of him; and they captured the city. And they destroyed all that was in the city, from man even to woman, from young even to aged, and to ox, and sheep, and ass, by the mouth of the sword.
(Joshua 6:20-21)

Where is such zeal of the Lord’s house today? Who will take upon themselves the armory of the Lord and draw the Sword against the foe of His inheritance? Let not a single ruler of the enemy, nor the heads of its houses; let not those who might bear more of its wicked children, nor the wicked children it has already borne; let not one of its wisemen, nor its beasts of burden – let not one unholy thing be left to roam free which perpetuates the works of the devil in the land of the living! If we are a temple of the Living God, then may the Lord Jesus Himself be allowed to turn the tables in His house! It will only cost us what should have already been counted as loss for Him. The authority of Christ is with those who obey Him, and His power is boundless toward those rejoicing in the fellowship of His sufferings. For the first order of our holy warfare is dying to the flesh so that His Life may abound in us;and where there is no longer a mixture of two natures there is complete victory. The Spirit wages war against the fleshly nature if the old man still lives; for in the flesh dwells no good thing, but only evil things dwell therein. The warfare of the heart must be won utterly by the Spirit of God should the Lion of Judah rise up in His people and remain forever. There can only ever be one master served, and this is the day of choosing.

And Joshua said to the two men who had spied out the land, “Go into the house of the woman, the harlot, and bring the woman out from there, and all whom she has, as you have sworn to her.” And the young men, the spies, went in and brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brothers, and all whom she had; yea, they brought all her family, and set them outside the camp of Israel.
(Joshua 6:22-23)

The great enemy of all holiness is mixture. All things that are to remain in God’s house must stop conforming to the world that they might be transformed and become a vessel for honor. Rahab and her household were brought outside the camp of Israel, which is the place of sanctification and of offerings for sin. For she who was plucked from the midst of the enemy’s lair also had need to bear the reproach of Christ outside the camp so that she might enter into His rest. And she was saved with Israel that day, for she did not consider herself to have a continuing city on earth, but instead sought the holy city that is coming (Heb 13:12-14, Rev 21). And so she was honored, being mentioned and recorded as a member of HIS house, even a citizen of Zion, the city of God (Ps 87, Matt 1:5).

And they burned the city with fire, and all that was in it. Only they gave the silver and the gold, and the vessels of bronze, and of iron, to the treasury of the house of Jehovah. And Joshua kept alive Rahab the harlot, and the house of her father, and all whom she had. And she lives in the midst of Israel to this day. For she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
(Joshua 6:24-25)

Only fire conducts an assured purge. Our God is He whose answer is by fire. The Spirit, the water, and the blood are the ingredients of rebirth, renewing, and cleansing; but purifying fire signals the very presence of God and is the blazing witness of heaven. Up to this point, the people had the witness of the Spirit, the water, and the blood – which are the witnesses on earth. But these three are together a witness to that which is in heaven: “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit” (1Jn 5). Now these three, which are the Father, Son, and Spirit, are supposed to be our three baptisms: one with water in the Son, one of our spirit in the Holy Spirit, and one of fire, for God our Father is a consuming fire. Now the fire of the Father before His throne is ready to descend upon a ready altar: an altar begotten of the Spirit of Truth, drenched in the waters of repentance, ready for the bloody sacrifice of ourselves, even as the Lamb who has already prepared this very way before us.

The fire consumes all that it is allowed to engulf. Therefore, let ALL the things which are an offense to God be offered for His burning that they may never again hinder His work in His people! And if the Lord Himself is indeed present and known, and if His power and authority is indeed clearly seen and walked in, then woe to those who have truly walked in all such things and yet turned utterly back to walk after the treasures of Egypt and its ways!

For it is impossible for those being once enlightened, and having tasted of the heavenly gift, and becoming sharers of the Holy Spirit, and tasting the good Word of God, and the works of power of a coming age, then falling away – it is impossible for them again to renew to repentance, crucifying again for themselves the Son of God, and putting Him to open shame.
(Hebrews 6:4-6)

After the Jordan was crossed, it returned flowing into the Dead Sea, along with any who would dare attempting to cross it back the other way. If the foundation was truly laid, it cannot be laid again. If what God teuly built upon it has been destroyed by us, the same things cannot again be built. There are those who will be saved on the last day only as through fire (1Cor 3:11-15). It is far better to have His fire already burning and purging us today then to wait until the last day without assurance. There are indeed few today who have very much to fall away from; but let that not be an excuse for bearing no further responsibility. Those who purposely avoid having much to lose spiritually have already buried their talent and will still receive nothing. Let us instead obey the upward call, for therein is true grace to continue with strength and most assuredly obtain the end of our faith, the salvation of our souls.

And at that time Joshua adjured, saying, “Cursed be the man who rises up before the face of Jehovah and builds this city of Jericho. He shall lay its foundation in his first-born, and he shall set up its doors in his youngest son.” And Jehovah was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.
(Joshua 6:26-27)

– Brendan

Joshua 6 – Part 1: The Kingdom Unsealed

And Jericho was closed, and was shut in from the face of the sons of Israel;
no one going out, and no one coming in.
And Jehovah said to Joshua, “See I have given Jericho and its king,
and mighty warriors, into your hand.”
(Joshua 6:1-2)

The strongholds of our spiritual enemy are as seals which must be broken that the kingdom of God might be opened to those whom He is calling: both His found and His yet lost. The picture here is of things which will at last appear in fullness when all of creation’s expectant groaning is at last answered upon the manifestation of the Sons of God. “For when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” The seeing of Jesus produces a work of being conformed to His image: a holy union in His body which is hastened by its members building itself up in His love, so that He might at last appear to harvest the full-grown fruit of the travail of His soul. I see the battle instructions given to Joshua for the destruction of Jericho having great parallels to the coming of God’s kingdom in the Revelation delivered to John. I see seven seals being opened to the undoing of the devil’s works as God’s people follow the Captain of the Lord’s host round about outside its formidable walls; and I see seven trumpets signaling the destruction of the kingdom of this present world for the ushering in of the Christ’s rule and reign. For we know that there is only One Man in whom the battle is won, even the Captain of the Lord’s host (Joshua ch 5).

And one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep.
Behold, the Lion being of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, overcame
so as to open the scroll, and to loose its seven seals.”
(Revelation 5:5)

Yes, He is worthy! He holds the keys of hell and death, for He was the Lamb who was slain and was raised an indestructible Life, that through death He might cause to cease the one having the power of death, that is, the devil… (Heb 2:14)
…For this the Son of God was revealed: that He undo the works of the devil. (1Jn 3:8)

We have seen up to this point in Joshua that all of the fruits of the kingdom of God are brought forth in a people who walk obediently by faith. So it is the Lord who fights for us, and the degree to which we partake of His victory is in proportion to our surrender to His will for every facet of its outworking. Obedience ushers us into the flow of what God Himself is doing. Jesus has overcome the world and judged its ruler; therefore let us be found abiding in He who overcame, and He abiding in us. “Greater is HE that is IN YOU, than he (the devil) that is in the world.” (1Jn 4:4) The divine nature of which we are to partake is not only for tomorrow, but for today; for TODAY we are called to enter into His REST, which is the end of our fleshy laboring and a submitting to the Spirit’s labor, so that what Jesus has declared finished on His part may become manifest in the body of His people for the showing forth of His wisdom before all the principalities and powers.

“And you shall go around the city, all the men of battle, going around the city once;
so you shall do six days.”
(Joshua 6:3)

“And YOU shall go…” – It is not with natural eyes that they saw their Captain march before them; rather, these people walked, stood, and shouted in faith, for they were convinced that His Word not only was, but in fact IS Truth. Likewise, we also are responsible for what measure of His finished work we allow into our lives and into His body through obedient faith. The warfare we wage cannot be comprehended by the natural mind, as it is spiritual; yet none shall walk by anything except the natural mind unless they have begun to wage war by actually putting aside the self-life for obedience to the will of God. For there is no power provided where there is no active faith required. The armory of the Lord is for those whose who actually require armor because they are engaged in warfare, and not as mere victims of the darkness. The belt, the breastplate, the shoes, the shield, the helmet, and the sword are for actual use in our wrestle against principalities and powers – not to be adored in a display case of apathy. Defeat is not an option in the kingdom of God; for the Lord Himself will return wearing a robe dipped in the blood of His enemies, and He will identify His army by those whose armor is dipped in the same. May our garments of righteousness be kept white and our armor bloody! Or does not the scripture say of those who are even young in the faith, “I write to you, young men, because you HAVE overcome the evil one”? And the spirit of antichrist, the very spirit of this age, is overcome by the “little children” (1Jn 4:4)!

For the rest, my brothers, be made powerful in the LORD and in the might of HIS strength. Put on all the armor of God, for you to be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil; because we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world’s rulers, of the darkness of this age against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenlies. Because of this, take up all of the armor of God that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having worked out all things, to stand.
Then stand firm, having girded your loins about with truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod the feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the darts of the evil one, having been made fiery. Also, take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
(Ephesians 6:10-17, LITV)

The implements of our warfare as listed in Ephesians 6 should not be considered a thing for the so-called “advanced” christian, for they are the very foundational aspects of our daily walk! The basics of what ought to be normal for every child of God – and by extension for His people as a whole – is described in this scripture as the things by which our enemy is resisted and overcome. Where victory over the works of the enemy is not seen, we are not truly walking in all of these things: the belt of Truth which holds all things together, the breastplate of righteousness for the guarding of our hearts, the shoes of the readiness of the gospel of peace for the reaping of what HE has already sown (Joshua 2, John 4), the shield of faith for the quenching of the enemy’s intimidations, the helmet of salvation which is to have the mind of Christ, and the sword of the Spirit which is the living word of God.

And having this armory, we have no excuse not to fulfill the sufferings of our warfare, which we must endure should we be found as a bride without spot or blemish before Him in the end. There is no testimony in a people through whom the blood of the Lamb does not flow freely unto purification, nor whose armor is not bathed in the blood of the enemy. The testimony of Jesus, the first overcomer, is to become the very testimony of His body and its members; for the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy, since His appearing was prophetic of His body the church, and His eternal Life now dwells in them so that they may grow into the fullness of the measure of His stature. “And they overcame him (the devil) because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of THEIR testimony. And they did not love their soul even until death.” (Rev 12:11) It is in joyous and freeing surrender to our Captain’s Lordship that the people of God quite literally walk circles around the enemy, for it becomes “NOT I, BUT CHRIST LIVES IN ME.” For if we become simply His vessels to be animated by His power as a conduit of His Light and Life, every step around Jericho contains the thunder of HIS feet to the weakening of its walls.

“…going around the city once; so you shall do six days.” – I am convinced that this account is also a prophecy of the warfare of His true body in the last days; and that with each pass around Jericho walking in His footsteps, a seal is broken. For our Lord is returning when He sees a HOLY bride who has ravished His heart in the pursuit of HIM at all costs, a living sacrifice purged by the fire of the Father’s heart. The breaking of the first four seals provoke the enemy to bring forth earthly tribulations through conquest, war, scarcity, and pestilence; the fifth seal breaks by the prayers of the martyrs being remembered in heaven for the avenging of their blood – and their blood shall indeed be avenged of this world; and the sixth seal is to the bringing of that very vengeance by God upon the earth-dwellers who are offended by the Lamb and persecute His own – but He has sealed the faithful (Rev 6-7). For with each pass around Jericho they are completing their obedience in the pulling down of strongholds through Him so that He may at last usher in His kingdom, in which they are finally made ready to rule and reign with Him, to revenge the disobedience of Jericho. “See, I have given Jericho and its king, mighty warriors, into your hand.” (v2) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty THROUGH GOD to the pulling down of strongholds); casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when YOUR obedience is fulfilled.
(2 Corinthians 10:4-6)

“And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of ram’s horns before the ark.
And on the seventh day you shall go around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall be, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the ram’s horn, all the people shall shout with a great shout. And the wall of the city shall fall down flat; and the people shall go up, each man in front of him.”
(Joshua 6:4-5)

The breaking of the seventh seal is to a silence in heaven (Rev 8:1): it is selah for the cry of the contrite and humble, and the promise of continued rest in God for the faithful who endure, who are making their calling and election sure. For on that seventh day of rest they compassed the city seven times; and such labor on the seventh day was made possible and was indeed seen as righteous because it was wrought in God, for the people had entered into the land of rest, the very labors of the Spirit: for the Lord Himself IS our rest, and even our brother if we are lead by His Spirit (Rom 8:11-14). And during that silence in heaven, all the prayers of the saints are offered before God, and in that prayer is a shout – the voice and thunder of many waters by which the Lord Himself shakes all things (Micah 7-15-17). Now, in the book of Joshua we see the people shout when they hear the seventh trumpet; whereas in the Revelation given to John, the trumpets sound after the seventh seal is opened. This is because the account of John is the revelation OF Jesus which God showed HIM, so that it speaks from heaven’s perspective beyond time; whereas the account of Joshua is of His people and speaks from their perspective within time. The Lord’s faithful on earth hear the trumpets even before they sound, being quickened by His Spirit that they may hasten the Day of the Lord. For He has saved the best wine until last, by which the six earthen vessels become as ONE seventh vessel, being filled with all the fullness of HIM, ready for the Day of His marriage supper. For that Day shall break when the Spirit AND the bride say in unison, “Come.”

And the seventh angel trumpeted. And there were great voices in Heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of the world became our Lord’s, even of His Christ;
and He shall reign forever and ever.”
(Revelation 11:15)

– Brendan

Joshua 5: No Reproach Before Heaven

At that time Jehovah said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives, and again circumcise the sons of Israel, the second time.” And Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins…
…And it happened, when all the nation had finished being circumcised, they remained in their places in the camp until they revived.
And Jehovah said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled the reproach of Egypt off of you.”
And he called the name of that place Gilgal to this day.

(Joshua 5:2-9)

The fruit of the promised land will not be partaken of by the double-minded; nor its cities conquered by an army whose trumpet makes an uncertain sound. Yet these are the hindrances which the reproach of Egypt produces.
The devil would have us still be ashamed and ever-conscious of the cities we once built for Pharaoh, convinced that his kingdom still holds the right to our bondage. 
“For you ran away like a foolish and unknowing child,” he calls, “Don’t you owe Pharaoh for all that he fed you and the shelter which he provided you? You ought to at least still live as one fearing him!”
Double-mindedness and uncertainty of heart produce compromise and cowardice.
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” (Prov 29:25)

But in this passage we see victory over this achieved simply by allowing God to take His knife to our hearts, cutting away the veil which He has opened so that we may joyfully walk before God in a good conscience in the light. The Lord intends that His people would be so circumcised in heart, so that being of a single-minded and sincere faith before Him, they might be able to mind the things of the Spirit rather than the things of the flesh; and therefore walk unwavering in the freedom of obeying His word unashamed. He even went so far as to say to the stubborn ones, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart…” (Deut 10:16)

“And he called the name of that place Gilgal to this day.”
It is only fitting that the location at which they were circumcised was the location where the twelve stones of memorial had been placed (Joshua 4); where we meditate in thanksgiving upon His wondrous works in times past, and may be spurred to the obedience of faith in the hope of His promise. When David’s brothers sought to hinder him from facing Goliath, he recalled to memory the power which God had given him through faith to overcome the lion and the bear. And the same David sang, “Through God we SHALL do valiantly: for HE it is that shall tread down our enemies.” These are not the actions or words of a man ashamed before his God, nor of one wavering in faith due to circumstances; but of one who knows and trusts in the Lord whom he confessed before all men.

Those who are circumcised in heart have nothing left to lose before man, since they count all things loss for the sake of knowing God. Those who seek to follow Him very far must allow Him to take away the reproach of Egypt which covered them so that they may with a clean conscience partake of the blessing of the land of rest, being prepared in confidence to fight the good fight of faith unto every victory. The true sacrifice which pleases the Lord is the one offered in an undefiled conscience; and the obedience that will stand in the day of judgement is that which flows from a heart beating unashamedly with the Father’s pure and holy love: jealous for HIS glory and rich in mercy. But the heart and mind clinging to the reproach of Egypt are working against faith and therefore cannot please God. The works of faith reveal the Light; but the works not proceeding from faith keep men in darkness.
Despite his personal failures, David remained a man after God’s own heart because He always returned to abide humbly before God, obtaining such a good report from Him because he lived in 
“the end of the commandment,” which is “love out of a pure heart and a good conscience, and faith not pretended.” (1Tim 1:5)

So let us humble ourselves under the double-edged sword of His word that we may be made to clearly hear the voice of our Shepherd and be filled with the heart of the Father for keeping in step with His Spirit. To so walk in the Spirit, without the reproach of the former things having to limit the depth and nearness of our communion with Him, is the cultivating of that rest in which He desires us to abide.

For having passed through the veil of His flesh by crossing the Jordan, we may now “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts having been sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our body having been washed in pure water…” In contrast, the uncircumcised heart, trapped in minding the flesh and living in the flesh, is a heart easily given to shrinking back; like the servant who faithlessly buried his talent in the ground, failing the Master who gave him all that was required to fulfill the calling.

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed,
but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
(
Hebrews 10:39)

And the sons of Israel camped in Gilgal, and prepared the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month, at evening, in the plains of Jericho.
And they ate the old grain of the land on the morrow of the Passover, unleavened bread and roasted grain, in this same day.
And the manna ceased on the next day after they ate of the old grain of the land.
And there was no more manna to the sons of Israel,
but they ate the produce of the land of Canaan in that year.
(Joshua 5:10-12)

Here we see that the people’s own true fruitfulness in the land began at the aforementioned place of memorial and circumcision: Gilgal.
For even as the manna from heaven was good for those who had just been brought out of Egypt, so is the pure spiritual milk good for those new babes in Christ who have just been newly translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His light. But those who will keep themselves in His love must seek to walk in ALL of His Truth by the Spirit; and the fruit of the Spirit is found ever-increasing those who enter His rest and 
abide therein, unashamed to partake of it. It is in this posture that they themselves become fruitful and thereby a revelation of He who dwells in their midst.

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a Man over against him with His sword drawn in His hand: and Joshua went unto Him, and said unto Him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”
And He said, “No; but as Captain of the host of the Lord have I now come.”
(Joshua 5:13-14a)

The Captain became very present to lead them in battle after their reproach was taken away; for they were now truly able to be lead by Him in unwavering faith, being of a single eye towards Him in a clear conscience. Notice how our Captain said to Joshua that He now had come to lead them on in battle.
His ability to lead them on in victory depended on their ability to render themselves HIS vessels.
As it was said to those who escaped Egypt, “the LORD will fight for you.” Those who surrender themselves as living sacrifices to His will may become the very vessels of HIS warfare. And by the continued experiences of His victory through faith, we more and more readily surrender and fully trust Him to be our rearguard and the shield around us when He commands us to war. As the children become sons, they develop a seasoned faith in the Lord as being their very strength, who can now “teach my hands to war and my fingers to fight,” with weapons of warfare that are “not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.”

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto Him,
“What saith my Lord unto His servant?”
And the Captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua,
“Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy.”
And Joshua did so.
(Joshua 5:14b-15)

“What saith my Lord unto His servant?” – The true worship of God is seen in the acknowledging of and obedience to He who is the true and only commander that can lead His people to inherit the kingdom.
“…for the place whereon thou standest is holy.” – There is no lasting victory upon the ground which God has not set apart and dedicated to Himself; and He will not devote even that ground to our conquering if we ourselves will not also be set apart to Him. Without holiness, no man will see the Lord (Heb 12:14). His kingdom shall only be taken by those spiritually violent in faith under the direction of the Captain of the host of the Lord. For the warring of a holy people is spiritual, not against flesh and blood; but a people who always war according to the flesh – seeking the worldly things and trusting in the wisdom or devices of man – are evidently a profane and a faithless people. The true kingdom consists in the power of God working mightily in those who take to it’s borders and beyond with a holy violence; and holy violence is only seen in a faith which renders its loyalty exclusively to ONE Captain. For having the reproach of Egypt taken off of them, they are being renewed in the spirit of their mind and putting on the new man, “which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

And by so partaking of the divine nature, they become fruitful in the knowledge of Christ, whose qualities they begin and continue to show forth; which they are able now to do without reproach, since they have not forgotten that they were cleansed from their former sins. And regarding such faith which increasingly practices these qualities, the apostle Peter said, “in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”
For this is the holy spiritual violence of those who count all things loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus:upon whose revelation they become ever more poor in spirit, knowing that except He lead them and they abide in His way, they will not taste of the greater glories of His fullness. It is for HIM that they hunger and thirst.

“Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”
(Matthew 11:11-12)

“My hearer, have you ever been one of these violent men, or are you so now? Blessed be God if this holy violence is in your spirit: you shall take heaven by force yet; you shall take it by storm, and carry the gates of heaven by the battery of your prayers. Only persevere with importunity; still plead, still wrestle, still continue to strive, and you must at length prevail. But ah! my hearer, if thou hast never had a strong unconquerable anxiety about thy soul, thou art as yet a stranger to the things of God. Thou dost not understand that violence victorious without which the gates of heaven never can be stormed.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon


“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”

(Psalm 42:1-2)

 

– Brendan

Joshua 4: Setting In Stone

And it happened, when all the nation had completely crossed over the Jordan, Jehovah spoke to Joshua, saying, “Take twelve men for you out of the people, one man of each tribe. And charge them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from this place, from the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the feet of the priests were fixed. And you shall carry them over with you and lay them down in the lodging place which you stay in it tonight.'” And Joshua called to the twelve men whom he had readied from the sons of Israel, one man out of each tribe.
And Joshua said to them, “Cross over before the ark of Jehovah your God to the middle of the Jordan, and each man of you lift up one stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel, that this shall be a sign among you, when your children ask hereafter, saying, ‘What are these stones to you?’ You shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, as it crossed over into the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ And these stones are for a memorial to the sons of Israel all the days.”

(Joshua 4:1-7)

The placing of these stones of memorial was for the continual reminder of the wonders which God had done among His people so far. There is much good in meditating upon that which God has done in order to help us remain walking in wisdom and obedience regarding that which God continues to do. Not that we measure where we now stand by where we have once been, and so deceive ourselves; but rather that by seeing His works for what they truly are according to His word, we may continue striving toward the greater glory, of which and to which those wonders were meant to inform us and point us.

It is a sad reality in our day that many who have at one time seen the hand of God truly move did not consider and meditate on what He was truly intending to accomplish; and have since fallen into all kinds of foolishness, even specifically denying the very things which God was calling them to walk in. Many who once saw the need for the people of God to repent and weep for their idolatry and worldliness are now found saying that all is well; many who once walked in a humble submission to the Holy Spirit have become puffed up in the carnal “wisdom” of man’s various doctrines; many whom God was calling away from the spiritual falsehood of man’s “church” have since settled back in; many who for a time experienced true freedom by God’s power from the former lusts of the flesh have since become consumed in them again; many who were becoming bold and fearless in prayer and in the declaration of the gospel for lost souls have shrunk back and become impotent; and the list could go on. These are the fruits of a once zealous people who have conceded to the will of the enemy to fall back into the world from which they had once been turning.

But the Apostle Paul spoke of the results of life in the Spirit amidst all adversity:

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:37-39)

The only thing missing in Paul’s list is  former things. It is clear enough that “things present” and “things to come” cannot separate those who walk in the Spirit from the love of God; however, those who fall away from that walk are those returning to the former things, even as those who fell in the wilderness, and one of whom we read later (Joshua 7).

What these stones of memorial speak to us may be summed up in these two statements: on the one hand they promise, “the One having begun a good work in you will finish it until the day of Jesus Christ;” but on the other hand they also warn the one looking back toward Sodom and Egypt with a coveting heart, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

So if we have been brought over into the land where His rest is found, let us not linger by the river’s edge looking back and coveting the corruption in which we once lived before the crossing, nor travel back to cross it again into the world where there is nothing but spiritual death upon death awaiting us. Instead, having meditated upon the Word of our new life, let us be found “looking to the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right of the throne of God.” So let us consider these stones a hopeful promise for the faithful and a warning sign at which the backsliding may repent; an altar of mercy upon which we may offer ourselves to God so that His fire may fall and purge our impurities rather than destroy us.

“Take twelve stones… from the place where the feet of the priests were fixed.”
Again we see mentioned (as in chapter 3) the feet of the priests in the waters; and here the stones of memorial are to be taken from exactly where their feet were planted. So even the stones themselves become a type of those redeemed by passing through the waters through the way that Jesus as our priest has made: the living stones who also are being made after HIS likeness into “a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet 2:5)

And how appropriate that there are twelve stones; since the New Jerusalem, the bride of our King, is founded upon twelve foundations, upon which its gates are guarded by twelve pillars inscribed with the names of the twelve apostles (Rev 21). So these twelve stones at Gilgal by the Jordan may be seen as that spiritual foundation of Christ which is to be continually built upon until the very end, since after these stones are placed, the children begin the inheriting of the kingdom.
[Paul spoke of this “building” founded upon Jesus Christ in specific reference to the collection of believers in a locality; warning the people of God at Corinth to take care not only of what the foundation is, but even afterwards what is built 
upon it, lest they lose much reward in the coming kingdom by building upon it that which proceeds from carnality rather than from God Himself (1Cor 3:10-15).]
For the altar with which God is pleased, and upon which His fire will truly fall, is made of twelve stones that no man has profaned with the working of their own devices 
(Ex 20:25, 1Ki 18:30-31)and the true spiritual life of God, of which we partake in Jesus Christ, is twelve-fold over abundant (Mt 14, Mk 6, Jn 6).

This is all to say that, since we have such a sure foundation upon which we may trust Him to build His kingdom, such a sure way, by which having entered we may remain in His presence and inherit the promises, such a holy altar of mercy upon which to offer ourselves and so become pure vessels tried by His fire, ready for honourable use, and such a rich promise in the reward of partaking of HIM – what then, other than blatant stubbornness in unbelief, should keep those who come to His land from resting in His labors and conquering therein?

So if anyone has fallen back, let them fall no further back than these stones, these pillars, this foundation; and let the one who hears the merciful voice of the Lord’s promise and warning be found repairing that altar which has been neglected, drenching it with such tears of repentance that only the fire of God from the altar before His heavenly throne will suffice to engulf it. And this is the great need of our day in the house of God, which temple we are, the temple made of those same living stones that are meant to become the finished New Jerusalem, which is the spotless bride of the King (Rev 21).

So we see that the children of Israel were to lodge among these stones placed at Gilgal, finding some rest and assurance among them so they would be prepared for the inheriting of the kingdom.

In that day Jehovah made Joshua great in the sight of all Israel. And they feared him all the days of his life, even as they feared Moses. And Jehovah spoke to Joshua, saying, “Order the priests who carry the ark of the testimony, that they rise out of the Jordan.” And Joshua commanded the priests, saying, “Rise out of the Jordan.” And it happened when the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of Jehovah had come up out of the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the feet of the priests had been lifted to the dry land, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place, and flowed over all its banks, as before. And the people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth of the first month, and camped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho.
(Joshua 4:14-19)

– Brendan