Caanan: March 2014

Table of Contents

1. Canaan
2. Conflict in the Heavenly Places
3. Circumcision and Gilgal
4. Christ Our Food
5. Treasure in Earthen Vessels
6. The Grapes of Eshcol
7. Caleb
8. The Heavenly Conflict
9. Heavenly Blessings


We are all aware that the general idea is that Jordan means death and Canaan heaven. But as soon as we enter Canaan, we get conflict. This is not the heavenly places as a place of rest. What characterizes Canaan is conflict, and we get a figure of it in Ephesians 6 — the wrestling, not with flesh and blood, but with spiritual wickedness in heavenly places, for which we need to have on the whole armor of God. But if we are to have conflict there, we must first be there. Remember Christ is there. Not in the wilderness, but when Israel got into Canaan, the reproach of Egypt was rolled away. They kept the Passover as circumcised, they ate the old corn of the land, and the manna ceased. And this is the way the soul gets into deliverance “from this present evil world” and is introduced into the heavenly places. They were slaves in Egypt, making bricks without straw, but God came down to deliver them, and then He talked only of Canaan and not of the wilderness.
J. N. Darby, adapted

Conflict in the Heavenly Places

In Ephesians, believers are seen in Christ, blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places” in Him and made to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” This is where God’s grace has set them, and their walk in the world is to be in keeping with such an exalted position. The same fact determines also the character of their conflict, for though the believer has title to these blessings and this position, his practical enjoyment of them in this world depends entirely on the extent to which he lays hold of them by faith. In heaven there is no conflict, but here it is entirely different; we have a special kind of conflict to maintain, in consequence of the heavenly place into which we are brought.
We have a type of this in Joshua, where the Israelites come up from the Jordan (a figure of resurrection) and enter into the land, which represents the heavenly places. Their title was good, for it rested on God’s promise to Abraham, but they were yet in a place of conflict, a place calling for self-judgment, for watchfulness, and for courage. So it is with us. The heavenly places are ours in title, and we too, as “quickened together with Christ,” are entered into them. But, like Israel, we must hold our ground in them by vigilance and conflict. The Israelites began at Gilgal, the hill of circumcision; so we are called, “having put off according to the former conversation the old man, which corrupts itself according to the deceitful lusts” (Eph. 4:22 JND). Having thus in type put the flesh in the place of death, the Israelites had to gird themselves for conflict with giants. We, too, have enemies — principalities and powers in heavenly places, compared with whom all our strength is mere weakness. Joshua was exhorted, “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Josh. 1:9). So, in the portion we are now considering, the exhortation is, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10). In these conflicts in the heavenly places the believer is called upon to wage war, to “put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). The power of Satan is already broken, but his wiles are always to be dreaded and call for unceasing watchfulness. He cannot change our standing, but he can cheat us of the enjoyment of it, and so rob God of the glory which our walk and conversation should bring Him. And here, where God is setting a people in Christ, accepting them in the Beloved, Satan’s craft is specially put forth to lower the standard of blessing and lead them to take a place less honoring to God than that which He has given them.
Possession by Faith
Hence our conflict is for the possession by faith of these heavenly places, and our enemies are those who would seek to drive us from them. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [or heavenly] places” (Eph. 6:12). This conflict is one we must sustain if we would practically enjoy the heavenly place and the heavenly blessings which are ours in Christ. But it is clear that no strength of ours can cope with such enemies as those now arrayed against us. What, then, is our resource? God has made ample provision; He has stored up an armor which can withstand such assaults as those we have to resist. “Wherefore,” He says, through the Apostle, “take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (vs. 13).
The Armor
What, then, is this suit of armor? “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:14-17). Joshua was assured of the Lord’s presence, but the condition was this: “That thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses My servant commanded thee” (Josh. 1:7). So too, the believer can only sustain his conflict by having his “loins girt about with truth.” The immutable truth of God’s Word is the only anchor that can steady the soul amidst all the waves of temptation with which the devil assails it.
In having on the armor of God, we also have on what Christ was and what He had — the “breastplate of righteousness.” He is my righteousness, but it is here to be used for conflict against Satan — not for God, but for practical power. If we have a bad conscience, there can be no power against Satan; there must be “the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.” Then there will be a savor of Christ’s ways in our character.
It is equally necessary that our feet should be “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” This is not only having peace with God, but walking in the spirit of peace. There is sure to be peace in the spirit of a man who is girt about with truth and walking in the power of true righteousness. A man who has been walking with God many years will be gentler with others than one who has just begun to know Him. He will not be irritated at evil in another, for his own soul has tasted what the peace of God is, in walking with God in the power of it.
Then there is the need of dependence. Independence is sin, and it is necessary, therefore, that over all these we should cast the protection of faith. “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked [or, rather, of the wicked one].”
Closely connected with this is another piece of defensive armor: “the helmet of salvation.” This is doubtless taken from the Old Testament prophecy which speaks of Christ as putting on “righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon His head” (Isa. 59:17). But with Christ it is the righteousness which He executes in judgment and the salvation which He brings as the deliverer of His people. With us it is the righteousness and salvation we have in Him. If righteousness is the breastplate which protects the heart from misgiving, the helmet is the crowning piece of the armor, which gives the believer the consciousness of full assured salvation, a title to the heavenly places, and therefore confidence in maintaining the ground against all the stratagems of the foe.
The Offensive Weapon
In addition to these pieces of defensive armor, there is one offensive weapon: “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” It is interesting to see the close connection between the first and last pieces of God’s armor. The truth of the Word is the power to gird up the loins; the sword of the Word is the weapon to put Satan to flight. Our Lord Himself furnishes us with an example in the use of both. He repels all the subtle attacks of Satan by the simple use of the Word. In the first two temptations He uses it only as a defensive piece of armor. On the third occasion, He uses it as a sword, inflicting so deadly a thrust that the enemy is put to flight.
The Defensive Attitude
Such is the armor in which God has clothed us for this conflict in the heavenly places. Our attitude there is defensive — guarding what is already ours through grace. But this defensive attitude needs constant prayer. Dependence alone enables us to hold the heavenly places in spite of Satan’s opposition, and this dependence expresses itself in prayer. Paul therefore adds, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Eph. 6:18). In the case of our blessed Master, we continually find Him going apart to pray, and even spending whole nights in prayer. How much of our weakness and failure arises from our being so unlike the blessed Lord Himself in this respect! Also, he who best knows the value of prayer will most desire the prayers of others.
Here, then, in this epistle, we have revealed all the purposes of love in God’s heart towards us, the wonderful blessedness of our standing “in Christ,” the walk suited to our heavenly calling, and the weapons furnished for our heavenly warfare.
T. B. Baines, adapted

Circumcision and Gilgal

In Joshua 5 we find revealed to us how victory in Canaan is obtained. Consequently, this chapter opens with a mention of the enemies. All the kings of the Canaanites and the Amorites are there, but the power given them by Satan has already been broken at Jordan, in death, in the person of their prince. In spite of that, they are too strong for the children of Israel, but God is going to enable them to obtain the victory. And how? By depriving them of all the weapons and resources which they would have found in themselves. Flesh cannot enlist in the warfare; God judges it and sets it aside, and this is the meaning of circumcision. Circumcision is “the putting off of the body of the flesh” in Christ. It is an accomplished fact for every believer, just as much as the Jordan is for each of us, whether or not we realize its import.
The teaching of Colossians 2:9-15 on this point is very clear and beautiful. “In Him,” says the Apostle, “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” All is in Christ; nothing is lacking in Him. But in verse 10, it is we who have all in Him; nothing lacks for us, for “ye are complete in Him.” We cannot, then, seek to add anything to ourselves apart from Him. Now we come to circumcision. “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.” Not only, says the Apostle, is there nothing to add, but there is nothing to cut off from those who are in Him. The body of the flesh is judged, and you are deprived of it. It is a thing done; it is the circumcision of Christ. In verse 12 we find that this end of the old man (which takes place for us in the death of Christ) becomes personal for the Christian. “Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead.” This passage embraces the thing in its extent and corresponds with the two truths represented by the Jordan, namely, death and resurrection with Christ. Here, then, we have the establishment of two great truths: We are complete before God in Christ, and we are perfectly delivered from all that we are in ourselves.
True Circumcision
Philippians 3:3 establishes the contrast between the circumcision made with hands and the true circumcision, that of Christ. “We are the circumcision,” says the Apostle, “who worship God in the Spirit.” Fleshly circumcision under the law had never done that. One must have done with the flesh to be able to worship in the Spirit. Then he adds, “And who rejoice in Christ Jesus.” Even religious flesh never glories in anything but itself.
Finally, the Apostle concludes by saying, “And who have no confidence in the flesh.” This is true circumcision. It is the setting aside by judgment in the cross of Christ what the Word of God calls “the flesh,” so that henceforth we cannot have any confidence whatever in it. This is a most important truth to get hold of. When it is a question of warfare, as it was for the children of Israel, we must bear on us the stigma of the death of the flesh. Notice, too, there is no thought here of trying to have done with ourselves or of stripping ourselves. The “putting off” was accomplished at the cross; sin in the flesh was condemned there. It is a fact which faith grasps and which becomes a practical reality as the conscience owns and accepts this judgment. The burning coal had to touch the lips of Isaiah, and even though the judicial fire from off the altar had exhausted every atom of its power upon the victim and, the anguish being over, nothing remained but the purifying power, still the prophet had to be brought into contact with it, thus typifying the experience of divine judgment our consciences pass through.
With respect to this circumcision that occurred at Gilgal, the Lord said unto Joshua, “This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you.” At the Red Sea they had been delivered from the slavery of Satan and of sin; here, for the first time, they were freed by judgment from the slavery of the flesh. But the Spirit of God adds, “Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.” Here we have a second great truth. As has been already observed, circumcision — judgment, the cutting off of the flesh — has been accomplished in Christ, but it also has to be considered under an essentially practical aspect, and not purely as doctrine.
Gilgal was the place of circumcision, and if this place was to be the point of departure for the army of Jehovah before a single victory had been achieved, it was also to be the assembling place after victory (Josh. 10:15), and again the point of departure for fresh conquests. The judgment of the flesh was immovable. The people were to appropriate it to themselves continually; otherwise the flesh would work to regain what it had lost, and one victory would never be followed by a second. Let us remember that if circumcision signifies the cutting off of “the body of the flesh,” Gilgal is “the mortifying of our members which are upon the earth.” Colossians 3:5-8 teaches us this in contrast with Colossians 2:11.
This is a daily reality, and every victory opens out fresh horizons for us in the land of promise. Without conflict, there is no means of laying hold of any of our blessings, but without Gilgal there can be no victory. Which do we value most — Canaan with its warfare or our members upon the earth? Do we prefer the passing gratification of the lusts of the flesh to the painful task of returning to Gilgal? If so, we shall have to be taught by humiliation and chastisement how to recover the path, having lost the secret of strength in bitterness and tears and the ruin of defeat.
Food for the Flock, adapted

Christ Our Food

In both the Old and New Testaments, Christ is brought before us as our food. This was foreshadowed in the Levitical order, for the priests received the most precise instructions concerning feeding upon the sacrifices or parts of the sacrifices (see Leviticus 7). In some cases, the whole priestly family was admitted to the privilege, and it is in these that we specially see the privilege of believers now feeding upon Christ. Our Lord Himself refers to the subject during His life. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man shall eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us His flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me” (John 6:51-57). Speaking generally, we feed upon Christ in three characters: as the Passover Lamb, as the manna, and as the old corn of the land. It need scarcely be said that all these things are types of Christ.
Feeding on the Passover
If we go back to the history of Israel, we shall find that they kept the Passover in Egypt (Ex. 12), in the wilderness (Num. 9) and in the land (Josh. 5). The question then arises, Why does Israel, after their deliverance from Egypt, keep the Passover both in the wilderness and in the land? It will be seen that we never cease to keep the Passover and, moreover, that the place in which we thus feed upon Christ depends upon our state of soul.
Every believer has known what it is to feed upon the roast lamb in Egypt. But while every believer has passed through this experience, it is to be feared that many feed upon the roast lamb in Egypt all their lives. Not knowing deliverance through the death and resurrection of Christ or even peace with God as the result of the sheltering blood, they feed upon Christ only as the One who, by His death, bars the way to God as a Judge; consequently they do not know God as their God and Father in Christ Jesus.
Passing now from Egypt, the next place in which Israel kept the Passover was the wilderness, and they were told to keep it there “according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof” (Num. 9:3). The wilderness is the place of every believer when viewed as a pilgrim. In the wilderness we feed upon the Passover as the memorial of our deliverance from Egypt. We feed upon the Passover Lamb as pilgrims and strangers — knowing deliverance, but not as yet come to the land of which the Lord has spoken. Hence, in this character, we not only value the precious blood, but we also feed upon the death of Christ as such, because of our death (and resurrection) in Him, by which we have been brought out into a new place, where we can look back upon death and judgment as being forever behind us.
In the land of Canaan the Passover assumed another character still — one which also has a corresponding character in the believer today. It is now the memorial, not simply of deliverance from Egypt, but of accomplished salvation. The Israelites’ position in the land was the consequence of the shed blood. In other words, the blood of the Passover lamb laid the foundation for the accomplishment of God’s purposes. To those whose eyes were opened, the blood would have a far greater value when over the Jordan than when in the wilderness.
Our Heavenly Position
We too have a position which agrees entirely with being in the land, for not only have we been quickened together with Christ, but we are also raised up together and made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6). This is the place before God of every believer, but whether we are occupying it depends upon whether we know death and resurrection with, as well as through, Christ — whether we have crossed the Jordan as well as the Red Sea. It is our privilege to do so; indeed, we ought never to be content until, by the grace of God, we know what it is to be seated in spirit in the heavenly places. But if we are there, we cannot dispense with the Passover. On the other hand, the more the riches of the grace of God are unfolded to us, the more we shall look back to the cross and feast upon the death of Him whose precious blood alone has made our place in the heavenlies possible for us. But our feeding upon Him now will partake more of the character of communion with God in the death of His Son. Our eyes will then be opened to discover, not so much the blessings which have thereby been secured to us, as that God in every attribute of His character has been fully glorified in that death. We shall thus feast with God when we keep the Passover in the heavenly places, and the effect on our souls will be adoration and praise. Worship of the highest character will be the result of our feeding upon the slain Lamb when seated in the heavenlies, for we are seated there in peace before God, already in possession of our place in His presence. It is only then that we can have communion with His own thoughts and with His own joy in the death of His Son.
We see, therefore, that we feed upon Christ as the Passover Lamb in every stage of our experience, but the place in which we do so — Egypt, the wilderness or the land — will depend upon our states of soul. And no doubt, when we are gathered together to show the Lord’s death until He come, there are often side by side those who are in the wilderness and those who are in the land. Still they feed alike upon the death of Christ, remember Him as dead, whatever the difference in their apprehensions or in their experiences or attainments. In heaven itself, indeed, we shall contemplate that death with ever-increasing adoration, for the blood of the Lamb will be the theme of glorified saints throughout eternity.
Christ As the Manna
Christ as the manna is also the food of His people. The manna differs from the roast lamb in that it was confined to the wilderness. It was not until Israel had been brought through the Red Sea that the manna was given (see Ex. 16), and it “ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna anymore, but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year” (Josh. 5:12). It was therefore the wilderness food of Israel; in like manner Christ, as the manna, is the wilderness food for the believer. But a distinction has to be made. Inasmuch as the history of Israel, passing through the desert, crossing the Jordan, and occupying the land, is typical, they could only be in one place at a time. The believer is at the same moment in the wilderness and in the heavenlies. For service, for the expression of Christ down here, viewed as a pilgrim, waiting for the return of the Lord, he is in the desert while his position before God, as united to a glorified Christ, is ever in the heavenly places. Whether he occupies it is another question. Hence, supposing him to know his place, he needs the manna and the old corn at the same time. In other words, he needs to feed upon Christ in both aspects. It is as being in the wilderness that he feeds upon Christ as the manna.
Christ As the Old Corn
of the Land
If the manna is Christ in incarnation, the old corn, inasmuch as the land typifies the heavenly places, of necessity points to Christ in glory. We shall find that He is so presented to us in the epistles — as the sustenance and strength of our souls and as our proper nourishment, for believers may be regarded as united to Him where He is.
In Colossians we are told to “seek the things which are above, where the Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1 JND), and it is evident that by this term is meant the whole sphere of blessing, of which Christ in glory is the center — the spiritual blessings in heavenly places. In Philippians 3 we have the same truth brought before us, as also in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “We all, looking on the glory of the Lord, with unveiled face, are transformed according to the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit” (JND). It attracts us to the person of the glorified Christ, engages our hearts with Him, and fills our souls with longing desires for that time when we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).
All these passages, and many more of a kindred character, direct us to Christ in glory as the old corn of the land, but this is food with which we cannot dispense: No other will so nourish or impart such strength to the saint. It is heavenly food for heavenly people, and it is only when we are feeding upon it that we can be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, that we can make war with the enemy for the possession of our inheritance, and that we are made willing to undergo fellowship with the sufferings of Christ, being made conformable unto His death.
It should be remarked, too, that there is no power to express Christ in our walk down here excepting as we are occupied with Him in glory. Thus He should be ever before us in this character, and He will be when, taught of the Spirit, we can say to Him, “All our springs — all the sources of our joy — are in Thee.” He Himself desires this, for He said to His disciples, when speaking of the coming Spirit of truth, “He shall glorify Me; for He shall receive of Mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you” (John 16:14-15).
E. Dennett, adapted

Treasure in Earthen Vessels

It is a great thing for Christians to remember that God has not introduced grace and His Son and Spirit to make us get along easily in this world, but to bring us to the enjoyment of heavenly things and to live in them. What characterizes a man is what his mind is on, and then all his ways flow from that.
Paul says that we “in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened” — that is all we have in this world. Redemption being settled, we find difficulties and exercises come in, and the Apostle gives us in 2 Corinthians 4:12 what the principle and power of his walk is. What we are called to is the manifestation of the life of Christ; our whole life is to be nothing but that. God is revealed, we have life, and the Holy Spirit is our power; we are set here as the epistles of Christ, for men to read. While waiting for Christ to manifest Himself in glory, we have to manifest Him in grace.
It is not pleasant to do well and suffer for it, but is it not what Christ did? It is what we have to do in lowliness and meekness. He first gives us a place in heaven, and then He sets us down here to do that. We have the knowledge of God and power to walk in this world; in addition, heavenly things are revealed — the things that belong to the place in which we are. “We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given us of God” (1 Cor. 2:12). There we are to live and get the motive that characterizes us as Christians. If that were always so, we should be always really epistles of Christ — in our houses, in our dress, in our everyday life, in all the things that are the expression of a man’s heart. Is Christ the motive in everything we do? If not, we tend to leave Him for some vanity or other. What every Christian has to do is to commend himself “to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 4:2), that if they judge him, it should be for consistency.
His holiness, His majesty and His love have shined into our hearts that we may give it out. That is very simple, but it is not all. It is God’s way to put this in an earthen vessel. The Apostle does not speak here of wickedness, but weakness. It is not a question of sin or failure, but of the path of the Christian as such. The first element is that he has the whole glory of God revealed, but it is in this earthen vessel, “that the excellency of the power may be of God” — constant dependence.
The Vessel
Wonderful as the treasure is, He has put it in a place which, to man’s eye, is unfit for it. Therefore, in our lives we get these two elements: all the glory of God revealed in our hearts, but put purposely in earthen vessels, because we need to learn what poor, weak creatures we are. Peter said, “I will lay down my life for Thy sake” (John 13:37). We all know what happened. The flesh is treacherous, and it comes out even when we are seeking to serve Christ honestly, as Peter was. God puts the treasure in this vessel that it may learn itself, and we must learn it. We may earnestly go and preach Christ, but if we have not learned ourselves, there is some confidence in self, and we make mistakes. We must keep watching the flesh, for we know what it is; then we lean on a strength that is not ours. We wait for God’s direction and guidance, for we know ourselves in such a way as not to have confidence in ourselves, but rather in Christ.
Paul had a thorn in the flesh; he had to be kept down that he might know it was not the capacity of Paul, but that the power of Christ might rest upon him. He lived in the consciousness that the Lord was always there, and he wanted Him. Even in sincerity of heart we are apt to go on as if we did not want the Lord, and where there is not that dependence, there will be failure. We cannot do anything without Him, and we are slow to learn it.
There are two remedies for this. First, “always bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus” (2 Cor. 4:10). If we applied the cross to every thought that arises in our hearts, the flesh would never put up a thought at all. If I let my body live, there is flesh. In order to manifest Christ always, I hold the flesh dead. That is our part in faith. Then comes the second thing — God’s part. “We which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:11). However faithful we are, God has to help us; He cannot trust us.
The Heart
The glory has shined into our hearts, but He puts it in an earthen vessel, because our hearts have to learn what we are. No will of man, no thought from the vanity of this world, can be allowed — nothing that does not suit this treasure. There are things that do not take the form of gross evil, but that are not Christ. Is our speech “alway with grace, seasoned with salt”? When I apply the cross of Christ, it stops the moving of my heart. We can bless God for it. He puts down the flesh that wants putting down. “Death worketh in us, but life in you.” Death was working in Paul, and nothing but life worked as regards others. Oh that it were so with us!
The practical effect of it is, “All things are for your sakes.” When self is down, we begin to think the thoughts of God, and everything is for us. He makes everything work together for our good — every circumstance in our lives. Whatever is needed for that, He will do. If I am in His path, He helps me on, but I must be there with His strength. Every trouble gives the apprehension of what is to come, but the inward man is not touched; he is “renewed day by day,” and we get blessing by these very things.
Are we ready to take this place, willing to be under God’s hand, and saying, “I want to get Christ, to win Him, and here I have one thing to do — to manifest Christ”? Are we willing to have our flesh put down? What Satan seeks to get us to have, even ever so little, is confidence in the flesh. Do we say, “Let the vessel be dealt with as He will, in whatever He sees needed, so that Christ may be manifested, whether by life or by death”? May that be the desire of our hearts.
J. N. Darby, adapted

The Grapes of Eshcol

The grand principle of the divine life is faith — faith that takes and enjoys all that God has given. This is true in reference to the people of God in all ages. All that God reveals, faith may have, and all that faith can grasp, the soul may abidingly enjoy.
We all live far below our privileges. We are satisfied, many of us, with merely knowing salvation, while at the same time, we taste but little of holy communion with the Saviour. We are satisfied with merely knowing that a relationship exists, without earnestly and jealously cultivating the affections belonging to it. This is the cause of much of our coldness and barrenness. Our hearts do not sigh, as they should, after the higher walks of spiritual relationship. We are satisfied with having the foundation laid and are not as anxious as we should be to add to the spiritual superstructure.
But let us look at Israel’s case. Surely no one would say that an Israelite ought to have sought nothing beyond the blood-stained lintel. It is plain he ought to have fixed his steady gaze on the vine-clad hills of the promised land. The blood-stained lintel was the starting post; the land of promise, the goal. It was Israel’s high privilege not only to have the assurance of full deliverance from the hand of Pharaoh, but also to cross the Jordan and pluck the grapes of Eshcol. It was to their shame that with the clusters of Eshcol before them, they could still long after “the leeks, the onions, and the garlic” of Egypt.
But how was this? What kept them back? Just that hateful thing which robs us of the precious privilege of treading the very highest stages of the divine life — unbelief! This was what caused Israel to wander in the desert for forty tedious years. Instead of looking at Jehovah’s power to bring them into the land, they looked at the enemy’s power to keep them out of it. It was one thing to admire the grapes of Eshcol when brought to their tent doors by the energy of others; it was quite another to move onward, in the energy of faith, and pluck those grapes for themselves. The land was all that could be desired, but the difficulties were too great for them, and they had not faith to trust God. Israel “despised the pleasant land,’’ and, “in their hearts, turned back again into Egypt.”
For us as Christians, we need to be encouraged to arise and, in the energy of a full, unquestioning trust in Christ, tread the very highest stages of the life of faith. Having our solid foundation laid in the blood of the cross, it is our privilege not only to be victorious over Amalek or indwelling sin, but also to taste of the old corn of the land of Canaan, to pluck the grapes of Eshcol, and to delight ourselves in its flowing tide of milk and honey. In other words, we may enter into the living and elevated experiences which flow from habitual fellowship with a risen Christ, with whom we are linked in the power of an endless life.
But let us never forget that this faith involves the full surrender of the heart to Christ, as well as the full acceptance of Christ for the heart. This is too much lost sight of and, hence, the uncertain course and fluctuating experience. There is no progress. We cannot expect to progress with Christ in one hand and the world in the other. We can never enjoy “the grapes of Eshcol” while our hearts are longing after “the flesh pots of Egypt.” Having all divinely and eternally settled by the blood of the cross, may we press forward, with holy energy and decision, “toward the mark, for the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
C. H. Mackintosh, adapted


In the sorrowful history of Israel in the wilderness, it is truly refreshing to find one like Caleb. While not one of the great public figures, as Moses, Aaron or Joshua, he was one of the heads of the children of Israel, of the honored tribe of Judah. He trod the wilderness with his brethren, but assuredly with lighter heart and firmer step than they. In this respect he very blessedly illustrates what the earnest of the Spirit is, and at the same time is a type of that class of “unknown” and “yet well known” Christians who, without murmuring and strife, are steadily wending their way to that rest of which the Lord Himself has spoken. Historically, Caleb presents to us a feature which we do not find even in Moses himself. He had known Egypt for the first forty years of his life; he had trodden Canaan forty days; he had gone through the wilderness, had passed over Jordan into the possession of Canaan, and was still full of manly vigor and courage. He was one of those who, through faith, had obtained promises and was not satisfied until he was in actual possession.
We may well ask what kept Caleb and Joshua from being worn out by the trials of the wilderness — trials which had worn out all their generation? The answer is found in Caleb’s own words: “Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart. Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the Lord my God. And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children’s forever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord my God” (Josh. 14:7-9).
Where Your Treasure Is
Caleb owned that it was a pleasant land which the Lord gave to the children of Israel, and his heart was set upon it. He could discern the difference between Egypt and Canaan — between the land which was cultivated with all the appliance of human skill and the “land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven” (Num. 11:11). His treasure was in the land, and his heart was there. Others esteemed Egypt preferable to the wilderness when their hearts were discouraged from going up to possess Canaan on account of the difficulties in the way; Caleb esteemed Canaan, with all the difficulty of entering into it, as far more precious than Egypt. He had tasted the fruit of Canaan; his eyes had beheld it, and his own feet had trodden it. It was this which made him tread the wilderness with such elastic steps. Besides this, he had the sure word of the Lord’s promise to support him. He knew the certain end unto which his wanderings must lead. As his contemporaries wasted away, how solemn must have been the admonition to his soul against the sin of unbelief; how forcibly must the rapid passing away of that evil generation have been!
Well indeed Peter says, “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9). If the Spirit of God shows to us the things which are freely given to us of God, He does not show them as in the distant future, but, being Himself the earnest of the inheritance, He now glorifies Jesus, taking of His things and showing them unto us, so that we can taste and handle our own blessings. We are also solemnly warned as to the evil of unbelief, in clinging to objects that are soon to pass away.
Where the Lord Was
It is not presumption to answer to the testimony of God to our own souls, so that Caleb could say, “I wholly followed the Lord my God.” Caleb had searched the land, following the Lord his God there, and no enemy could set upon him. He had seen that the land “was exceeding good,” and he reckoned on the good pleasure of the Lord in His people. “If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it us.” The soul of Caleb rested entirely on the grace and power of God which had caused Israel to triumph at the Red Sea and had kept the spies in searching the land. The same grace and power could alone lead them into possession of the land. On this, and this alone, he reckoned. Only let his soul recognize where the Lord was, and he could see victory.
Where the Lord was, there was both grace and power. Caleb also had to learn that same grace and power for forty years in the wilderness and which eventually put him in actual possession of the very part of the land which he had trodden with his feet. He fully followed the Lord through the wilderness, and he knew Him there as his guardian and guide whom he had known as a mighty deliverer out of Egypt and who had introduced him into Canaan and enabled him to see and search the land and know its fruits.
The Earnest of the Spirit
If Caleb needed to have his heart occupied with Canaan to cheer his spirit in the wilderness, we not only need the earnest of the Spirit for the same purpose, but also to keep us from the seductive power of the spirit of the world. And this He does by showing to us the things freely given to us of God — heavenly things that have not even been conceived by man’s heart. As the earnest, He leads the soul to long to see Christ as He is and to be like Him, and thus, too, He leads in the path of fully following the Lord. To be ever with the Lord is the blessing in prospect, but to have Him always with us now is the consequent earnest. “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20). “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). How this is made good by the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, the other Comforter!
“As my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in.” All the weary round of forty years of toil in the wilderness had not impaired the strength of Caleb. “If so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, even as the Lord said,” says Caleb. There is no doubt or uncertainty in this “if so be.” It was only reckoning on the Lord’s faithfulness to His promise and on His ability to perform it, at the same time implying that this was his only ground of confidence. But with what confirmed confidence could he reckon on the Lord’s being with him, whose presence had been with him when he searched the land and whose presence had been with him while traversing the wilderness! And is it not so with the believer now? Quickened by the Spirit when dead in trespasses and sins, he has known the same Spirit as revealing Jesus to his soul as the salvation of God. He knows the same Spirit as the abiding Comforter, glorifying Jesus, taking of His things and showing them unto the soul. He knows, by the presence of the same Comforter, that God has called him unto His own kingdom and glory, and that same Spirit now shows to the soul what is the hope of God’s calling and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
Christian Truth, adapted

The Heavenly Conflict

If a Christian man is not walking in the Spirit, if the flesh is not subdued, he cannot display to the world the temper, spirit and character of heaven; he is manifesting something else. But the conflicts of the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12) are not merely conflicts in the subduing of our flesh; they are conflicts carried on in realizing and laying hold of the things in Canaan that belong to ourselves and others. If Joshua and the Israelites took cities in Canaan, it was because they were in Canaan. Our enemies are there, and there it is we must meet them.
There are things in which we have to be faithful on earth, but there are also things that belong to us because we are sitting together in heavenly places in Christ. A man may be consistent in the one, without displaying the heavenly man. You may see some believers tolerably consistent on earth, whose souls are not seeking to realize what is theirs in Christ. Satan’s effort is always to hinder our doing that. We cannot carry the flesh into the heavenly conflict. If my flesh is not mortified, I cannot wield the weapons of that warfare. The flesh always brings in Satan’s power; he has got power against it, and God can never act with the flesh or display His power for us against our enemies where it is allowed. If we were walking as born of God and as having on the whole armor of God, the flesh being habitually mortified, Satan could have no effect. We should be able to go on in the simplicity of our own service, and he could not come in with his wiles, as in the case of Achan (Josh. 7) and of the Gibeonites (Josh. 9).
The moment we get upon heavenly ground, we see the Lord’s sword drawn, for He is the Captain of the Lord’s host. So with us; there is the drawn sword. The moment we get into heavenly places, the Canaanites are against us. The church of God should be seeking to realize by faith, while down here, all that belongs to it as sitting there in heavenly places in Christ. As soon as Joshua crossed the Jordan, it was not only Canaan, but Canaan and conflict.
Christian Friend, adapted

Heavenly Blessings

The wilderness is past, and Canaan’s land
Lies bright before the Israelites of old;
Their eyes, familiar long with desert sand,
Anticipate its glories to enfold.
Its fruits had been described so long ago — 
A land of barley, fig trees, vines and wheat;
While Eschol’s grapes (the spies had borne, to show)
Displayed the lavish bounty they might seek.
But Jordan must be crossed before the day
That Canaan and its fruits could be enjoyed;
Reproach of Egypt must be rolled away,
And circumcision once again employed.
Conflict ahead, for Satan has his ploy — 
The sons of Anak always will oppose
Those wishing Canaan’s richness to enjoy,
And in that land of God to find repose.
So we of heavenly birth, if we would taste
Of heavenly glories here on earth below,
Must too, in type, o’er that wide Jordan haste,
And see our sinful flesh beneath its flow.
Christ died for us, and we have died with Him,
And now in Canaan, we must ever view
Ourselves as dead, but with new life in Him — 
In readiness the conflict to renew.
Our title to those heav’nly joys is sure,
For God, in Christ, in grace has placed us there;
That fruit is ours, so luscious and so pure,
Though Satan seeks to thwart, with wile and snare.
But with Christ Jesus — Captain in His might —
And armor girded on, we may withstand
And apprehend, in length and depth and height —
Be filled with all His fullness, from His hand.
W. J. P.