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 (Showers of Blessing 6)
Entry into Canaan
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Entry into Canaan

The Israelites' entry into Canaan is one of the spectacular events in human history, promised by God to the patriarch Abraham even before the history of Israel began.  Through the line of Isaac and Jacob, the Israelites emerged onto the stage of the ancient Near East and became the witness of the almighty God.  Earlier in a solemn ritual God made a covenant with Abraham and revealed to him in a dream that the Israelites would descend to Egypt and be enslaved for 400 years.  But the mighty hand of God would guide them out of the Egyptian bondage (Gen 15:12-16).  Just as the words of God must be fulfilled in history, the house of Jacob went to Egypt where their descendants multiplied and grew strong.  New kings arose to enslave them with hard labor and tried to exterminate them.  God raised Moses to contend with Pharaoh, insisting that the people of God must depart from Egypt.  Ten plagues inflicted the arrogant Pharaoh and Israel finally went out of Egypt.

The history of exodus is merely a beginning of the Israelites religious and communal life.  It is evident that the people of God must pass through the forty-year wilderness journey as a process of training and discipline.  Faith and obedience are the primary requirements in the inter-relationship between the Lord God and His chosen people.  God solemnly declared to them the divine plan regarding the special status and mission of Israel:

            "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.  Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex 19:5-6).

Not until the Israelites had completed the wilderness journey did they enter Canaan fulfilling the promise God had made to Abraham.  Any conscientious Christian today would immediately recognize the spiritual and moral teachings in the entire process of the exodus and wilderness journey.  The apostle Paul pointed out the vital aspects of salvation related to this typologically significant event which occurred around 1300 B.C.E:

            "For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.  They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  They all ate the same spiritual food, and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.  Now these things occurred as examples, to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did, and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come" (I Cor 10:1-4, 6, 11).

To closely follow the spiritual instructions, let us study the two important stages of the Israelitic entry into Canaan:

I.       EXODUS

Evil social customs and practices have a very damaging impact upon the chosen people.  The sinful world in which a Christian is living can never benefit his spiritual growth. He faces a potential challenge: either he will conquer the world with the faith in Jesus Christ, or he will succumb to its evil influence and die of sin.  In Egypt the Israelites had led a life under the pagan culture and evil practices.  As a consequence, they often forgot about God, the covenant, and their own special status.  What is worse, they tended to identify themselves with the unbelieving world.

            "God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM  This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you"' (Ex 3:14).

It is an apparent irony here that the Israelites wanted to know the name of God, a name which had been so familiar to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.  Had the people of God left behind them the mighty Lord God for too long and too far away in a strange land?  Another example of the overwhelming pagan influence is seen in Ex 32:1-6.  The Israelites were fearful that their leader Moses would never return to them from the Mount of God.  They pleaded to Aaron who yielded to their request and made them a molten golden calf.  Why should the Israelites immediately forget about the ten plagues, the mighty deliverance at the edge of the Red Sea, and more recently, the solemn declaration of the Ten Commandments at Sinai?  They wanted to erect a molten golden cal': in place of the living God.  This reflects the wickedness of a rebellious people who had been so accustomed to the evil ways of the pagans.

God wants us to reach the promised land of Canaan, which is Heaven in the future and the appointed place of worship under His name (Deut 4:22-27).  Many people have physically departed from Egypt, but unfortunately their thoughts and deeds are associated with this unbelieving world.  They have not eradicated the flesh, worldly desires and practices.  Because they stay outside the sanctuary of God, there is no faithfulness and obedience in them.


This long journey of 40 years reveals a tremendous spiritual instruction for the believers today.  The passing through the Red Sea, which symbolizes the baptism into Christ, took place only momentarily, but the journey in the wilderness lasted an extended period of time and the process itself was strenuous.  Divine guidance was seen in the form of the pillars of cloud and of fire on the one hand, and on the other the leadership of God's chosen servants Moses, Aaron, and 70 elders.  But the people must journey step by step towards the final goal of Canaan.  The process itself also included the providential provision of manna and the water from the rock.  As a footnote, manna and water from the rock symbolize the spiritual food and the Holy Spirit given by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Bread of life and Giver of the Holy Spirit.

The journey in the wilderness was difficult.  The barren and rugged terrain seemed endless, the weather and the way threatening.  It required endurance and trust in the divine guidance.  Many of the chosen people perished on the way simply because they grumbled and turned against God.  Aside from the apostle Paul's admonition in I Corinthians 10, the books of Exodus and especially Numbers have provided ample evidence of this failure.  Are we not to be more faithful and more steadfast in this present pilgrimage to Heaven, lest any of us should perish in the same way?

In the wilderness the battle against the Amalekites represents a most significant aspect of spiritual warfare today.  The Amalekites were the descendants of Esau (Gen 36:9, 12) and the enemies of the Israelites for generations (Ex 17:16).  The Amalekites came to thwart the Israelites from entering the land of Canaan.  They used to attack the faint and weary ones and cut off at the rear all who lagged behind the marching Israelites (Deut 25:18).

In Exodus 17:8-lS the battle at Rephidim in the wilderness of Sinai is also very significant to us believers today who are marching in the heavenly pilgrimage.  The Amalekites represent obstructions to our salvation.  The fighting against the Amalekites is symbolic of the contention between the Holy Spirit and the devil (Gal 5:17).  Through the combined prayer of Moses, Aaron and Hur, the valiant combat commanded by Joshua and the unity of the army, God handed the Amalekites to the Israelites.  To fight a winning spiritual battle every believer must first of all strive forward and never lag behind.  He must at all times pray to God (I Tim 2:8; Eph 6:19), submit to the Holy Spirit and put the flesh to death (Rom 8:13; Gal 5:18, 25).

In conclusion, the land of Canaan is a beautiful land flowing with milk and honey (Deut 4:21; 11:9); a place of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven; a land which the Lord God cares for; for the eyes of the Lord God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year (Deut 11:10-12).  Let us with the words of God look forward to this beautiful heavenly country where He has prepared a city awaiting us (Heb 11:16).

Meishi Tsai

            "Lord, I have Loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor dwelleth" (Ps 26:8).

In the Old Testament, you, my God, dwelt in the HolyTemple at Jerusalem.  Now, you are dwelling in us (I Cor 6:19), and among us. We, who form your church must be full of your love and joy, your Holy Spirit and power.  Else, how can we manifest your glory and honor?  If we do not love one another, how can we show the world that we are your disciples?  If we are not holy, how can we return to you, the Holy and Glorious One?  Lord, please sanctify us with your words.  Make us understand your will which is embraced in the Holy Bible.