A Lesson We Learn From God's Old Testament Dealings With Israel
But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell (Numbers 33:55).
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come (1 Corinthians 10:11).
God’s dealings with Israel in the Old Testament are filled with truths that help us in our walk with God today. Israel being led out of Egyptian bondage by way of the Red Sea is a type of our being delivered from the bondage of sin and being born again.
The land of Canaan, the land God promised to Abraham and his offspring, is a type of the born again, Spirit-filled, abundant life of the child of God today! When I was a boy we sang about Canaan’s land in church and the song referred to Canaan’s land as a type of heaven for believers. But that’s just not true! There are no inhabitants that oppose us that we must run out of heaven! Heaven is a place of rest from our labors. But here, we must fight the good fight of faith every day.
These inhabitants of Canaan were to be destroyed by Israel. They were gross idolaters whose habits were vile and repulsive. Israel was directed by God to run them out of every city as they conquered Canaan. In the above verse, God told Israel that if these inhabitants remained, they would be irritants in their eyes and thorns in their sides. God told them that these inhabitants of their land would harass them and make their life miserable!
These inhabitants of the land point to the habits of the flesh in our lives as believers. When we come out of the bondage of sin through the New Birth, there is a residue of the old man that is left in our souls. Our minds and emotions have inhabitants embedded in them from our old life before Christ. It’s our job to run them out.
These inhabitants include selfishness, envy, greed, pride, stubbornness, rebellion, anger, lust, bitterness, malice, gossip, self-pity, and a host of other things. Our responsibility as a New Creation is to run these inhabitants out with the sword of the spirit, the Word of God! If we don’t confront these inhabitants, they become irritants in our eyes and thorns in our sides. They hinder our growth in God, and quench our joy. Don’t tolerate them in your land!
Israel did not conquer these inhabitants all at once, and neither will you. Israel inhabited their promised land city by city. And it’s line upon line, precept upon precept that we grow in God and run these habits from the past out of our lives.
Notice Peter’s encouragement to us: So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness (1 Peter 2:1-3 - NLT).
And the writer of Hebrews gives strong a encouragement to us of what the Word of God will do in us: For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12 - Amplified).
Ask the questions as you read the Word: What do I need to change? What thinking needs to change? What habit needs to change? What communication pattern needs to change? What do I need to add to my lifestyle? What do I need to repent of doing? This is how we get rid of the irritants and thorns from our old lifestyle.
The psalmist says it so well: How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You (Psalms 119:9-11 - NKJV).
Be diligent to stay in the Word and keep yourself open for God to change you. And when you come upon some inhabitants of your promised land from your old life, don’t put up with them. Run them out! Conquer your promised land little by little and you’ll walk in the peace of God and experience the best God has for you!