(Adapted from my new book, “Two Seconds to Midnight,” scheduled for publication in the Spring.)
Many of us believe that a season of harvest is coming soon, and that it will be greater than anything that the church has yet experienced; that we are about to enter a “promised land” of revival. We read about God’s people entering the Promised Land in the book of Joshua, and the principles that we see there speak to us today. If we pick up the story at the beginning of Joshua 5, we can find four main points: the men were circumcised; they celebrated Passover; they ate unleavened bread; Joshua worshipped the Lord and took his instructions from Him.
When they had all crossed the Jordan and set up camp at Gilgal, the Lord commanded Joshua to make flint knives and circumcise all the men of Israel: all those old enough to bear arms had died in the wilderness, and the new generation had not been circumcised with the sign of their covenant relationship with God. When this had been accomplished, God said to the Israelites through Moses: “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” (Jos 5:9) The reproach of Egypt was the yoke of slavery that they had been under: now, through this act of consecration to the Lord, this yoke was broken.
Under the new covenant, we, the Church, are that new generation, born not of the flesh and the will of man, but of the Spirit of God (John 1:13). Each one of us is a new creation. There is a Land of Promise waiting which the “faithless and perverse generation” of the flesh cannot enter. but there will be another Jericho facing us as we come up against the godless systems of the world.
Paul reminds us (Romans 2: 29) that “he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter.” To face the end-time Jericho we will need hearts that are totally open and yielded to the Lord. It’s easy to gloss over the use of the word “heart” in this sort of context. But if, in biblical terminology, the heart is the seat of the emotions, this is exactly what must be yielded to the Lord. It is so often our unyielded emotions that cause damage and disunity, and consequently defeat; whereas it is the unity that commands the blessing, as we well know. Only with “circumcised hearts” can we be free of all that ties us into the old, binding us to the yoke of slavery to sin, and be free to take the yoke of Jesus and rise up in the spirit.
The second heading is Passover. There is only one way to be yoked to Jesus Christ, and that is under the power of His blood. I believe that the Church needs a restored understanding of the power of the blood, and especially of the truth that “the life is in the blood.” Whenever we take communion as Jesus commanded us to do “in remembrance of Him,” we reaffirm not only the covering of the blood and all that it means in terms of forgiveness of sin and shelter from its consequences, but we affirm also the life of the Spirit that courses through it in our renewed hearts.
After Passover comes Pentecost. Our preparation for an end-time outpouring has to be a season of Passover. Many Christians the world over have felt that coronavirus lockdown has been, and still is, a taste of that season, shut off from the world and reaching out for the protection of the blood of the Lamb. We know that many Christians, sadly, have not survived the virus; but we also know that there are many testimonies of genuine divine healing that were granted through the power of the Blood.
The deeper significance of unleavened bread has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve always felt that there is more to it than it being a reminder of leaving Egypt without having time for the bread to rise. Jesus talked about the “leaven of the pharisees,” for example, when He was warning the disciples to keep away from their deceptive doctrines; and it is a positive symbol in the parable of the leaven, which is probably (I haven’t done a word-count) the shortest parable in the New Testament. So what might be the symbolism in its Old Testament usage?
Just the other day the Holy Spirit gave me my personal revelation. This may not be the same for you, and I’m not saying it is what He has breathed into the scriptural significance of unleavened bread for everyone to receive, but the following is what He gave me. A negative reaction to something was rising up in my soul. The Lord said to me: “That thing rising up in you is leaven. Get rid of it.” Having “circumcised our hearts” we need to keep them soft. Paul writes: “For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.” (1 Cor 10:17). To move forward into our Promised Land we need to deal with any leaven in our souls that causes us to rise up emotionally and undo the work of the cross in our lives. The children of Israel “ate of the produce of the land on the day after the Passover, unleavened bread and parched grain, on the very same day.” The grain of our land consists of the seeds of truth sown into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and these are what we must feed on as we advance. We cannot arise in the spirit if we let negative emotions rise up in our souls: the best way to keep unleavened our corner of the “one bread” that we are part of, is to make sure that we are feeding on the truth.
Worship in Holiness
And so, with hearts soft and sensitive to God, covered in and fully grasping the power of the blood of Jesus, and feeding on the living truth of His Word instead of the leaven of our emotions as our spirits are filled with His, we come into the Holy Ground where the Commander of the Lord’s Army is standing, and we worship Him. In this place, we can say, like Joshua, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” (Jos 5:14). And His commands to us will be of the same order as His words to Joshua: first, respond to His Holiness (Take off your shoes), and only then move in to defeat the enemy.