Road to Victory
The Israelites are off to a new beginning as they prepare to march forward following the mighty cloud that was now leading the 600,000 strong army. Banners waving, troops all in order under the leaders of thousands, hundreds and tens. The day that they all were waiting for had finally come. Excitement was building throughout the tribes, camps and families of all Israel. Their unity was like “One Man”, at least for the moment.
Alas, but a hair’s breath away, a mere one verse later (Numbers 11:1) there occurs a sharp turn in the road to fulfillment. “And the people (actually the word there is “mixed multitude) were like those who are looking for a pretext, so as to make an evil complaint, within the hearing of YHVH. And He heard it and He was fuming. So the fire of YHVH burned among them, and consumed the outskirts of the camp” (literal translation). End game. Everything comes to a screeching halt. This one verse launches a chain of tragic events. The “Beyond the Mountain” venture failed at its very inception, and a new path will have to be charted though it will be a much longer one, more winding and painfully arduous. Much of the rest of Numbers (chapter 11-14, 16&17, 20-21:7, 25, 31:9-20) recounts a variety of a series of spiraling and sad episodes of rebellion, unbelief, complaints, bitterness, idolatry and fornication. It is no wonder that YHVH makes the following ominous declaration (this is after the spies’ failed mission) : “…but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of YHVH, because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it…” “The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection. I YHVH have spoken this; I will surely do so to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die" (Numbers 14:21-23, 29:35 emphases added).
The generation that consisted of the would-be military forces, those born in Egypt, who left Egypt physically but failed in ridding Egypt from their hearts, forfeited their opportunity to come into the land (except of course for Joshua and Caleb). Not only did they not have the faith and fortitude to venture the territory of the enemy and possess their inheritance, they even found the wilderness (with fewer enemies in sight) and its conditions, although all provisions were miraculously made available to them, to be too daunting and threatening. Thus they had to be exhorted to move beyond the mountain/mountains, not once but twice (Deut. 1:5-6, 2:1-4), something which they failed to do (in spirit).
We need not take up more time discussing that destined-to-die-in-the-wilderness generation. It is now time to focus on the second generation. Will they have the faith and courage to move on and to follow their (new) leader – Joshua? The prophet Ezekiel, many generations later, also makes reference to a group of people who are destined to be in the wilderness, on the way to the land of promise, but who will not make it there (20:38). With all this being said we may now turn the spotlight to our day and age. It is not the physical entrance to the land, and the enemies lurking there, which is what we are facing at the moment. At this point if “am Yisrael” is to move beyond the proverbial Mountain/s which face us, or where we are camping, it will take implicit obedience to the Leader. Following and moving behind the Leader, in this case, is also for the purpose of entering the land, at some point, and establishing YHVH’s Kingdom there. But how can that take place if the enemy which is close at hand (individually and corporately), or the mountain of obstacles that have not been overcome, is not defeated? As those who are constituted the ‘redeemed’ of the House of Israel we have every reason to move on and do so victoriously, if we but obey our Leader who “led captivity captive” when “He ascended on high” (Eph. 4:8), and exercise the faith of our father Abraham.
Let us allow the Word of Elohim as It speaks to us concerning this foundational truth, the bedrock of our salvation and redemption.
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in Elohim for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Elohim, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Messiah, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2nd Cor. 10;3-6). “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments/weapons of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to Elohim as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments/weapons of righteousness to Elohim. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law [subject to its penalties] but under grace” (Romans 6:12-14).
What is it that enables us to be so sure of these victories? And what makes the following statement credible, regarding “the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe”? (Eph. 1:19). It is based on “… the working of His mighty power which He worked in Messiah when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:19b-21 emphasis added). So that “…now the manifold wisdom of Elohim might be made known by the assembly [kahal – kehila – that is us] to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Messiah Yeshua our Master” (Ephesians 3:10-11). That eternal purpose is that “we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Elohim, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -- Messiah -- from whom the whole body [nation] joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:13-16).
As we believe and obey, we benefit from the victories of Him who has “disarmed principalities and powers, [and] made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it… He is the forerunner who has entered for us” (Colossians 2:15, Hebrews 6:20). “Therefore, [Israelite] brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Yeshua by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of Elohim, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:19-24)
… You have come [now away from Mount Horeb] to Mount Zion and to the city of the living Elohim, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and congregation [the kahal] of the firstborn [Jacob/Israel] who are registered in heaven, to Elohim the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Yeshua the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24).
And seeing that it is not the generation which died in the wilderness that we want to identify with, regardless of our chronological age, the words of Yochanan to the “young men” have much to say to us in regards to living out our victories over the enemy: “I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of Elohim abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one…” “You are of Elohim, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world…” “For whatever is born of Elohim overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world -- our faith” (1 John 2:13, 14; 4:4; 5:4).