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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Faith That Overcomes

From Bethel we move to Jericho. It almost looks as if there is a going backward as we note the order n the Book of Joshua; but we are in the spiritual course of things now, and are going  onward. It is onward from Bethel to Jericho, not backward. What is the meaning of Jericho? Jericho stands for the faith which overcomes. When you really come into the spiritual meaning of the Church, the House of God, the Body of Christ, it is not long before you find that you are verily in touch with principalities and powers. it is a costly thing to stand on the ground of the Church, which is His Body. You cannot accept that merely as teaching. If you really accept that in your heart you will meet something before long, and you will find you come to the endless "I", and can only get through by being stripped of everything that is not Christ. When you get on to that ground you find you are in touch with the naked forces of evil, principalities and powers, world rulers of this darkness and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies. That is the realm of the Church, as we know from the Letter to the Ephesians. You have come to Bethel, the Church, and now to Jericho. What is represented by Jericho? Jericho is the faith which overcomes the principalities and powers, and is the outcome of Gilgal and Bethel.

"The chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof!" What is the meaning of this? So many have thought that the chariot had come to fetch Elijah, but it had not; he went up to heaven by a whirlwind. You will find that the chariot of Israel and the horsemen come upon the scene in connection with Elisha. They appeared three times in the life of Elisha. They were symbols of heavenly supremacy. Whenever the chariot of Israel and the horsemen appeared to Elisha there was victory in view; it was triumph every time. The Lord opened the young man's eyes when the city was besieged. He could only see the earthly forces before his eyes were opened, and then he saw that the mountain was full of chariots, a fact which told of forces superior t those that were besieging and hemming in on the earth. The last view of the chariot was at Elisha's deathbed. The king came in, and there was the question of Assyria and victory. As the king came in to the deathbed of Elisha he cried: "... the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof." Then you remember the story of the bow and the arrows, and the smiting Victory was in view.

Jericho is the faith which overcomes in the spiritual realm. You come to that when you come to Bethel; you come to the heavenlies and to the heavenly victory in Christ. Heavenly fullness by faith is represented by Jericho.

If you are contemplating the forces of evil, and wondering what is the secret to victory, let me suggest to you never to launch yourself against the enemy until you have been to Gilgal and come to Bethel, or you will be smashed, you will be broken. Get the flesh out of the way.  That is the ground of the enemy to beat you. Get the self-life put away, or else he will have the advantage over you: come to the place where you can say, " ... the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me" (John 14:30). It is only when the Cross has dealt with the self-life that we are in the way of advantage, of ascendancy over the enemy.But that is not all. It requires fellowship, it requires the corporate action of the Lord's people to deal with spiritual forces. We have to come to Bethel, the House of God. We shall never, as isolated individuals, bring down the forces of evil. If we try we shall have a bitter experience. We must act on the principle of the Church, which is His Body: "... I will build My church; and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18). Get out of fellowship and the enemy will worst you; come into fellowship and you stand and withstand, and having don all you stand.

The Conquest of Death

Finally we look at Jordan. This is not going backward, although it may look like it. It is onward still. What is the lesson of Jordan? Jordan stands for victory over death. Is that a step backward? No, it speaks of moving onward. Elijah and Elisha came to Jordan together, and at Jordan, death in type, in representation was overcome; its power was broken, and two men went through. One man went up to glory, triumphant over death, and the other took up that victory and went around quenching death wherever he went. Elisha retraced his steps over this way back to Jericho, encountered death and turned death to life.

We are called to that. That is a fullness of Christ; not just victory over physical death, but victory  over death itself, whatever its form may be, spiritual or physical. Death is conquered in Christ. That Man in the glory has entered into the fullness which speaks of victory over death; He has vanquished it, He has swallowed up death victoriously. The Apostle writes, "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). Wherefore? Because He has swallowed up death victoriously. That is for present experience. That is heavenly fullness for the Church now.

You see the issue; heavenly fullness. You see the way; utterness for the Lord. you see what that means; Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho, Jordan. The Lord teach us what it means and keep it alive in our hearts.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

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