Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Grasshopper in the Mirror

And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them. -- Numbers 13:33

The entry of a Christian into the new blessed life of holiness, joy, and peace is paralleled – “parabled”, we could say – by the entry of the Israelites into Canaan, the Land of Promise.  We were never meant to live in slavery and misery until we die.  Israel’s Promised Land is not a type of heaven but of the heavenly life which must begin in our material existence and in time rather than eternity. 

As the children of Israel were camped in Kadesh Barnea, they sent spies into Canaan to see where strongholds might be and where they might first begin their assault.  Although the Lord seems to raise no objection to this effort, I’m not sure such a thing was in accordance with His plan.  When Israel did enter, forty years later, God sent them directly to that most impregnable fortification, the massively walled city of Jericho. 

I can’t blame them for wanting to know what they were getting themselves into.  I am a cautious, timid sort myself, hardly one to criticize those who would look before they leap.  What got those people into trouble was not sending the spies but accepting the majority report.  There were twelve spies – one from each tribe – sent out.  Two, Caleb of Judah and Joshua of Ephraim, said the Canaanites were ripe for conquest.  The other ten spoke fear, trepidation, and faithlessness, leading the people to conclude (as they had said before) that God was leading them to annihilation and destruction. 

We can take the slave out of Egypt, to paraphrase an old cigarette commercial, but we have trouble getting Egypt out of the slave.  A man who thoroughly believes in his freedom and individual sovereignty under God is very difficult, if not impossible, to enslave.  Conversely, it is nearly impossible to free someone who has the mindset of a serf.

America was once the Land of the Free.  We believed we could do about as we pleased.  Over the last hundred years, as more and more of us have become urbanized herd animals, we have lost our sense of independence to the point that a majority now say that we all belong to the government.  Everything must be done for the sake of the Collective, the Common Good -- which comes to mean for the sake of ruling class, our benevolent new pharaohs. 

The same is true in the spiritual realm.  Christ came to set us free from the world system, of which Egypt is a type, from the bondage to sin and to Satan.  Our deliverance begins when we accept Christ as Savior and believe the gospel, but it is not complete until we understand that we are free to live and walk in the Spirit in every area of our lives.  We are not slaves to anything.  We are willing servants of the Lord who, through the New Covenant established by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus, are adopted as children of the Father.  Like the Prodigal, we return as servants to find ourselves welcomed as sons.  We are in the House, and we are family.   

This is not to say that the Christian life is without its battles and difficulties.  Entering into the Land of Promise means declaring war on whomever or whatever is holding that ground.  It will require standing in faith against all the lies and illusions that will try to keep us, if not in bondage, at least out wandering hopelessly in the wilderness, impoverished and homeless. 

A lot of us are willing to be wanderers.  It’s not Egypt.  It’s not so bad.  It’s a little dusty and dry and boring.  We really can’t get settled any place.  We end up looking forward only to death to set us completely free.  I wonder if that will even do it.  It might be that we will find ourselves always in the desert until we are willing to face our enemies, face our fears, and change our perception of who we are.  Will there be grasshoppers in heaven? 

1 comment:

mushroom said...

A Lileks quote too perfect not to share:

You like to think you're the author of your story, but there are days you realize you're just the narrator. At best.