Joseph Herrin (04-06-2010)
Wilderness Entry Point
If you were about to enter into a wilderness experience that a vast number of people had attempted before, an experience in which only a remnant survived, would you not want to study the lives of those who perished, and those who survived, that you might be prepared?
There are a great multitude of Christians who will perish in the wilderness. They will not enter into God’s rest. They will fall short of possessing the glorious inheritance that could have been theirs.
In the Old Testament record of Israel’s journey through the wilderness. We are told that out of a group of 600,000 men above the age of twenty, there were only two who made it through the wilderness and entered into the promised land. These two were Joshua and Caleb.
It should be sobering to all Christians to consider that the events that occurred in that generation of Israelites who departed from bondage in Egypt is a parable of the experience all the saints of God are to pass through. We too have been purchased by the blood of a Lamb while living in Egypt (the world). We too are to depart in haste, having removed all leaven (sin) from our households. We are to be led of the Spirit in all our journeys, even as they were led by the pillar of fire and the cloud.
The apostle Paul declares to the church that they too should fear lest they fall short of entering into God’s rest.
Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, “As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest.”
I do not observe among Christians today any fear of being disqualified by God from entering into their inheritance. The church has been lulled to sleep by the monotonous drone of endless preachers who proclaim a gospel of ease and comfort. Neglected is the message of the disciple’s cross. Scorned is the doctrine of suffering, perseverance, and self-sacrifice. And like the ten virgins who were sleeping when the bridegroom returned, so too will the majority of the church be fast asleep at an hour when they should be watchful and alert.
Let me remind you of that which I have shared already. Even as the Israelites on the night of the first Passover were led immediately out of Egypt into a wilderness journey, there is such an experience appointed to everyone who comes to Christ for salvation. If you are to be numbered among the overcomers in Christ and have not surrendered to be led of His Spirit wherever He would lead, then you will soon be brought to this place of complete abandonment to the will of God.
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
Our cross is simply a surrender of our will to God. He will lead all His obedient sons and daughters on a path of His choosing. All are required to surrender their will, their dreams, and their plans, for they have been bought with a price and are no longer their own. It is the Father’s will to lead all through a wilderness experience.
This wilderness experience has been depicted in various ways. Christ called it the “narrow path.”
“For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.”
I have written elsewhere that the word translated as “narrow” is in many other places throughout the New Testament rendered as “afflicted.” This is what the word means. The path to life is an afflicted way. The Israelites found the path to the promised land to be an afflicted way. Yahweh tested them in many ways before they arrived at their destination. He wanted to prove what was in their hearts.
And you shall remember all the way which Yahweh your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh.
The apostle Paul declared that everything that the Israelites experienced serve as examples of the things Christians will also face. We also must be tested, and a great many will fail the test.
I Corinthians 10:1-12
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved. And do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
This message of testing is nowhere found in the church houses of prosperity today. It has been replaced with a message of self-indulgence. Christians are told to pursue their best life now. They are told to pursue both God and mammon. The shepherds, and the flocks they feed, love it to be this way. Who wants to hear a message of enduring difficulties when there is another gospel being proclaimed? Yet only one of these paths leads to life. The vast majority have chosen the broad way that leads to destruction.
The patterns of the Old Testament agree with the plainly spoken words of Christ. Only a remnant are at this time being saved. The vast majority of those who name the name of Jesus Christ/Yahshua the Messiah are following a path to destruction.
“But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw there a man not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him,’ Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Over half a million men received the call to leave Egypt and enter into the land flowing with milk and honey. Yet only two men of that generation did so. Are the percentages much different today? It is necessary that YOU look to the examples given in Scriptures to determine why so many failed, and so few succeeded. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.
You will most assuredly be required to pass through a wilderness experience. It is your choice whether you end up a corpse there, or pass through it to enter into your inheritance. Look at the following Scripture with an eye open to discern what the difference was between the overcomers and the corpses.
Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs, which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it… And Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me. Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says Yahweh, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; your corpses shall fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey – I will bring them in, and they shall know the land which you have rejected. But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this wilderness.”
What did Israel do to incur this judgment from Yahweh? We read that they grumbled against God; they tested God’s patience; they did not listen to His voice; they spurned Yahweh; and they spoke words of unbelief.
In order to learn from their example we must be very practical. What is it that Yahweh is calling His people to do today? He is calling them to cease from their own works that they might ever live to do His will. This is Sabbath rest, ceasing from our own works.
There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience.
Do you not want to fall in the wilderness? If you do not, then you must cease from your own works as God rested from His. This was the pattern of Christ. Six times in John’s gospel Yahshua testified, “I never do anything of My own initiative. I only do the will of the Father.” Yahshua is our pattern man. Did He not begin His ministry by being led into the wilderness by the Spirit? This was a parable of that which all who would follow Him must do. We must be led of the Spirit through our own wilderness experience. In this place we too will be led to buffet our bodies and rule over our appetites. In this wilderness place we too will be tempted by the devil. Christ was victorious, and so too may all be who have been born again of His Spirit.
This then is the entry point into your own wilderness experience. You must surrender to be led of the Spirit.
And Yahshua, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led about by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
We do not choose our own wilderness experiences. Nor will everyone experience identical circumstances. Yet the common experience of all is that they are being led of the Spirit wherever they go.
It should seem incredible that there could be so many Christians today who have never faced this moment of decision. The churches and preachers have not told them what is required to be a disciple of Christ. There is never any warning from the pulpits today to count the cost before confessing Christ as Savior AND LORD. Consequently, the path to life is seldom ever attained. The afflicted path is not considered. The way to life has been hidden by generations of neglect.
Then Yahshua said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.”
Look at the message of these words that are seldom proclaimed today. To arrive at the destination that Christ has arrived at, to stand with the overcomers upon Mount Zion, a man must deny himself; he must take up his cross; he must be willing to lose his life. This is the only way to follow Christ, for these are the things He did.
Here then is the great point of entrance to the wilderness. Will you surrender to the will of another, even the will of the One who gave His life for you? Will you trust Him with your life, not shrinking back from anything He would ask of you? You may have many fears. You may experience perplexity, and suffer the loss of many things. Can you do so without complaint? Will you follow when others are shrinking back?
We have a Savior who knows our frame and our weaknesses. He took upon Himself the form of sinful man. He was tempted in all ways as we are, yet without sin. He knew all the emotions of this flesh. He was rejected by His people. He was misunderstood by those closest to Him. Though He walked among multitudes He was alone with His Father.
We have a sympathetic High Priest who will stand with us in all things. Nothing can separate us from His love. He is inviting you to cast your life over into His hands without any reservation. He has promised you an afflicted path, but He has said He will walk it with you.
There is truly a fellowship in His sufferings. All He is asking is that you trust Him, and follow Him freely. This is where the journey begins.
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