Joseph Herrin (01-02-09)
There has been much in the news recently about the renewed conflict between the state of Israel and the Palestinians. A number of people have forwarded me articles espousing widely divergent views on the matter. Some are suggesting that the Israeli government is to be condemned for harsh treatment of the Palestinian people. Others are suggesting an opposite view, that Israel is justified and the Palestinians are to be condemned.
Much of the conclusions are the result of taking a strictly moral look at the conflict. Depending upon the facts cited, some justify the Palestinians, others the Israelis. Oftentimes people are predisposed to include and exclude various facts in their examination of the conflict in order to arrive at a pre-determined conclusion. This is called “prejudice,” which means to pre-judge a matter.
I would like to set before the people of God another way of looking at this matter altogether. God intended the nation of Israel to serve as a natural parable of spiritual truth. Israel’s attempts to go in and take possession of the land of Canaan is a spiritual parable of the people of God taking possession of the land of their flesh.
In the presentation titled “Possessing the Land” I have written about this great parable and set forth many of the symbols and their meanings. The writing can be read in its entirety here:
Yahweh has ever sought to teach spiritual truth to His people through natural events. Christ came 2,000 years ago proclaiming that the Kingdom of God was at hand. The Jews only understanding of the Kingdom of God was a natural kingdom ruled over by men such as King David. They looked for a Messiah to come and restore the kingdom of Israel to its former glory.
Yahshua revealed that God was truly focused upon a spiritual kingdom, and that the natural merely served as a parable of the spiritual.
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
This passage identifies where it is that God seeks to reign. It identifies where Yahweh desires to set His throne, and what land He seeks to bring under complete subjection to His rule. This kingdom is within you and I!
The body of man was formed of the dust of the earth. The Israelite’s long warfare to take possession of the land of Canaan serves as a parable of man’s attempts to rule over himself. Both conflicts involve a territorial dispute. Both are focused upon taking dominion over a patch of ground. These mortal bodies we inhabit are the ground in which Yahweh desires to establish His kingdom.
These bodies that we receive as an inheritance from Adam are subject to sin. Even so, we read that the land of Canaan was a land of great sin. God told Abraham that He would wait until the inhabitants of the land had filled up the cup of transgression before He would give it to Abraham’s descendants. Then Abraham’s descendants would have to go in and dispossess the inhabitants, either slaying them, or driving them out.
This is a parable of the people of God (the church) being called to take possession of bodies in which sin dwells. In these bodies there are giants, walled cities, and fortresses. By ourselves, we are unable to conquer this land, but God has testified that He will fight for us. Even as God appointed Joshua to lead the people of Israel forth to take possession of the land, so He has appointed to us a champion by the same name (Yahshua) who will lead us orth into victory. Consider some of the parallels between Joshua and Yahshua.
Joshua and Yahshua: Both Leaders of God’s People
Joshua: [Moses said] Yahweh was angry with me also on your account, saying, "Not even you shall enter there. Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter there; encourage him, for he will cause Israel to inherit it.” (Deuteronomy 1:37-38)
Yahshua: “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler, Who will shepherd My people Israel.” (Matthew 2:6)
Joshua and Yahshua: Both Called out of Egypt
Joshua:“None of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land... except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have followed Yahweh fully.” (Numbers 32:11-12)
Yahshua: Joseph arose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed for Egypt; 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Out of Egypt did I call My Son." (Matthew 2:14-15)
Joshua and Jesus: Both Filled with the Spirit
Joshua: So Yahweh said to Moses, "Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.” (Numbers 27:18)
Yahshua: “You know of Yahshua of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit...” (Acts 10:38)
Joshua and Yahshua: Appoint Twelve Men
Joshua: "So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe.” (Joshua 4:4).
Yahshua: “And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach...” (Mark 3:13-14)
Joshua and Yahshua: Baptized in the Jordan River
Joshua: Joshua said, "By this you shall know that the living God is among you... It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of Yahweh, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap." (Joshua 3:10-13)
Yahshua: “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” (Mark 1:9)
Many more parallels between the lives of these two men could be cited, but this should be sufficient to give you understanding that God chose for one to serve as a type and shadow of the other. God intends for His people to learn from the patterns of the Old Testament that they might walk victoriously in this age.
Even as Joshua began the conquest of the promised land by crossing through the midst of the Jordan on dry land, Yahshua began His ministry of destroying the works of the Devil by being baptized in the Jordan River.
Let me return now to the present day Israeli - Palestinian conflict to see what we can learn. Those who are familiar with the Old Testament account of Israel’s conflicts in the land of Canaan will recognize a similarity between the name Philistine and Palestine. They are actually forms of the same word. It was the Romans who gave the land of Judah the name Palestine. They did so as an act of retribution against the Jews who were involved in frequent revolts. As an insult to the Jews, the Roman government applied the name of their enemy, the Philistines, to this land, naming it Palestine.
The Roman Emperor Hadrian after crushing the Jews in the Bar Kochba revolt of 132-135 B.C., renamed the land Palestine to suppress Jewish nationalism. This was a great insult to the Jews.
The Palestinians of today may have different bloodlines than the early Philistines, but they bear the same name as Israel’s ancient enemy with whom King Saul, King David, and others fought many protracted wars. This enemy in the land was left their intentionally by God to teach Israel warfare. In the same way, God has left enemies in the land of our flesh today to teach His people spiritual warfare.
Now these are the nations which Yahweh left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly). These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. They were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of Yahweh, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses.
God desires that every generation should learn spiritual warfare. There have been times when a people have known considerable victory over the enemy, and an entire nation has turned to righteousness. Many evil influences were removed from the land which might have tempted them and their children. Yet God never removes all enemies from a land, nor does He drive every enemy out of the land of our flesh. He will leave some there that we might learn warfare. He wants to know if our heart is set to obey Him. Our love for God is revealed through our warfare.
If we had eyes to see, we would understand precisely what each nation that dwelt in the land of Canaan represents. Each one stands for a sin which dwells in the flesh of man. The Philistines were a constant plague to the people of God. Saul was defeated by the Philistines, but David conquered them and forced them to pay tribute to him. However, David never fully drove them out of the land.
The Philistines represent a particular sin that is very difficult to conquer. It is a source of conflict throughout all the generations of man, even as they have been a source of conflict throughout Israel’s long history. They are stubborn and intractable. They are relentless in the trouble they cause to those in whose territory they dwell. Even as the Palestinians are shooting rockets into the land of Israel to terrorize the populace, this particular sin habitually makes its presence known by shooting flaming arrows that draw forth the attention of the man and cause his mind to become fixated upon this enemy in its midst.
What is the enemy of which we speak? I believe it is fear. Saul never ruled over his fear. When the Philistines sent forth their champion Goliath to challenge Israel to combat, all the men quaked in fear. David alone, a little shepherd boy, was able to summon up the courage to face the giant. It was this same David that subdued the Philistines after a long and bloody warfare.
Fear is one enemy that has remained with man throughout his generations. Few have conquered fear, and none have totally driven it out of their land. It is ever resident in this flesh, for it was the first fruit of sin.
[Adam] said, "I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself."
The Palestinians rob the inhabitants of Israel of peace. Many live in constant fear, not knowing where the next rocket may land. Only those who like David, have found a place of safety in their God, are able to walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil.
Many are saying that it is wrong for Israel to war against the Palestinians. Some are suggesting that they have as much right to the land as Israel. Those who say such things do not know the word of God, nor do they discern the parable that is before them.
It is true that the Canaanites, including the Philistines, occupied the land BEFORE Israel did. Yet God gave the land to the descendants of Israel by a sure promise to Abraham.
Yahweh said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, "Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever... Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you."
People of God, this has to be true. The land of Canaan is a parable of the land of man’s flesh. God has promised His people that they will possess the land. It will not remain forever a land of enemies. It MUST become a land of peace and righteousness. The natural descendants of Israel will only know peace in the land when they take Yahshua to be their Champion and their Savior. They will never conquer the enemies in the land apart from Yahshua leading them.
Yet the land is theirs by promise. Though the Philistines may claim a great antiquity in the land, it does not belong to them anymore than the sin which dwells in our flesh can declare that it owns the flesh in which it dwells. The land of this flesh has been promised to the people of God. The kingdom of God is within you. The Spirit is to rise up and rule over EVERY part of the flesh. God has promised that NO ENEMY will be able to stand before the one who trusts in Him.
The warfare to rule over the flesh is brutal. Christ testified that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. We are to be these violent men. We are called to “buffet” our bodies and bring them under subjection. Paul spoke of “crucifying the flesh” with its passions and desires. This is warfare. It is not pretty, nor is it peaceful.
We should anticipate that as this same spiritual conflict is portrayed for us through the natural parable of Israel’s conflict with her ancient enemy that there would be violence and great conflict. This must continue until they have taken Yahshua as their champion and He subdues every enemy before them.
If you understand the spiritual parable of this conflict, then you will understand why Yahweh has promised that in these last days that He will enter into judgment with all those who have “divided up His land.” America has sought repeatedly to divide up the land of Israel and to give it to Israel’s enemies. This is an evil action akin to bringing the elect saints of Yahshua into subjection to the enemies that dwell in their flesh. Christians are called to rule over all their flesh even as Israel is destined to possess the entirety of their possessions.
But on Mount Zion there will be those who escape, and it will be holy. And the house of Jacob will possess their possessions. Then the house of Jacob will be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau will be as stubble. And they will set them on fire and consume them, so that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau," For Yahweh has spoken. Then those of the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau, and those of the Shephelah the Philistine plain; also, possess the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria, and Benjamin will possess Gilead. And the exiles of this host of the sons of Israel, who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will possess the cities of the Negev. The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion to judge the mountain of Esau, and the kingdom will be Yahweh’s.
The Philistine plain and the cities of the Negev are the very places of conflict in this hour. God has promised His people that they will possess their possessions. Though they are currently seeking to do so in the power of the flesh, and they have not yet seen their need of a Savior to deliver them, God has promised that this day will come. Until then they will have conflicts. The battle will ebb and flow. Fear will be a constant companion until the Prince of Peace comes and establishes the kingdom in their midst.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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