Monday, April 07, 2008

Rob Rufus, Ern Baxter, C H Spurgeon and the Promised Land

I have a great love for the typology of the children of Israel travelling through the wilderness from Egypt to the Promised Land. One of my favourite sermon series of Ern Baxter's was called; "Where Are We Going?" at the Dales Bible Week 1976 and was based on this. I have already transcribed two sermons from the series - "The Land Located and Described" and the "Kadesh Crisis" (I intend to finish this series as soon as possible and have it bound to join the other books I have typed up!). Ern Baxter like C H Spurgeon taught biblically that the land DOES NOT and CANNOT mean heaven - despite the traditional evangelical interpretation by people such as Bluefish. After all - will there really be giants in heaven? C H Spurgeon says in his sermon - "Canaan on Earth";

"It has generally been considered, that the passage of the Jordan by the Israelites is typical of death, and that Canaan is a fitting representation of heaven. We believe that in some sense it is true, and we do fondly cherish the household words of those hymns which describe our passing through Jordan's billows, and landing safe on Canaan's side; but we do think that the allegory does not hold, and that Jordan is not a fair exhibition of death, nor the land of Canaan a fair picture of the sweet land beyond the swelling flood which the Christian gains after death.

For mark you, after the children of Israel had entered into Canaan, they had to fight with their enemies. It was a land filled with foes. Every city they entered they had to take by storm, unless a miracle dismantled it. They were warriors, even in the land of Canaan, fighting for their own inheritance; and though each tribe had its lot marked out, yet they had to conquer the giant Anakim, and encounter terrible hosts of Canaanites. But when we cross the river of death we shall have no foes to fight, no enemies to encounter. Heaven is a place already prepared for us; out of it the evil ones have long ago been driven; there brethren shall await us with pleasing faces, kind hands shall clasp ours, and loving words shall alone be heard. The shout of war shall ne'er be raised by us in heaven; we shall throw our swords away, and the scabbards with them. No battles with warriors there, no plains besoaked with blood, no hills where robbers dwell, no inhabitants with chariots of iron.

It is "a land flowing with milk and honey;" and it dreams not of the foeman of Canaan of old. We think the church has lost the beauty of Scripture, in taking Jordan to mean death, and that a far fuller meaning is the true allegory to be connected with it. Egypt, as we have lately observed to you, was typical of the condition of the children of God while they are in bondage to the law of sin. There they are made to work unceasingly, without wages or profit, but continually subject to pains.

We said, again, that the coming up out of Egypt was the type of the deliverance which every one of God's people enjoys, when by faith he strikes the blood of Jesus on his lintel and his doorpost, and spiritually eats the paschal lamb; and we can also tell you now, that the passage through the wilderness is typical of that state of hoping, and fearing, and doubting, and wavering, and inconstancy, and distrust, which we usually experience between the period when we come out of Egypt, and attain unto the full assurance of faith.

Many of you, my dear hearers, are really come out of Egypt; but you are still wandering about in the wilderness. "We that have believed do enter into rest;" but you, though you have eaten of Jesus, have not so believed on him as to have entered into the Canaan of rest. You are the Lord's people, but you have not come into the Canaan of assured faith, confidence, and hope, where we wrestle no longer with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus—when it is no longer a matter of doubt with us whether we shall be saved, but we feel that we are saved".

Rob Rufus joins the list of my heroes who teach the same allegorical intepretation of the Land. We - the Church - are wandering around in the wilderness I believe! I have been listening to and transcribing Rob's sermon; "Do Our Diaries Reflect The Priorities Of Heaven?" - and Rob said this:

"Why did God hide some of His biggest and richest blessings among the biggest giants in the Promised Land? Because He did not want the casual pursuer of God, the coward, the self-pitying person, the self-centred person, the person of unbelief to have access to His greatest blessings.

So He hides His greatest blessings among the greatest challenges so that the people who are going to receive the blessings of God have to repent of all self-righteousness, all delusions of self-sufficiency, to throw themselves completely onto God and to come into the Presence of God every single day and make a choice that no matter demanding life is and no matter how many pressures come, I will make my calendar a priority that I am going to engage God on a daily basis.".

Amen! Let us head onwards towards the Promised Land!


07000intune said...

Dan, having sent you the email I sent my schoolfriend...relevant to today is this adjunct in the next email to her:entitled I hate levels."Rachel,
with our puny brains...levels speak of elitism like the old Upper class middle class lower class sketch of the 60s.
Heavenly stuff is best described like Ezekiel did as wheels within wheels, things giving birth to other things that give birth, or seeds that fall into the ground and die giving birth to millions of more things. But it seems for clarity I'm stuck with levels or stages."
In 1989 I produced a message called "Third Level Christianity" and began by comparing how even in the physical realm, simultaneously there are many levels of activity going on. Atoms at one level, molecules at another level, us at our level , planets at another level, galaxies spinning around at another level. Pascal talks about this in his Pensees. In the same way in the Spirit things are working out in all different levels simultaneously. So Jesus would say things like "If you choose to accept it John the Baptist is the Elijah who was to come." But implied in this is that there are other instances of this prophecy of Elijah being worked out, especially so before the final great and terrible day of the return of Our Lord. The problem with linear thinking, that is the step by step form of reasoning building up arguments , by piling up proofs in bigger and bigger piles, is that it all comes crashing down about us, when Jesus says things like "Should you choose to accept it" He is not saying this is absolutely 100% true for all time, or that it is 100% not true for all time...He is saying this is a spiritual pattern. Before God's mighty movings He will send an Elijah figure to make plain how God expects us all to live in relation to God and with one another. So equally, evangelicals are not 100% wrong when they sing of Canaan being heaven, at one level. Nor are the Brethren 100% wrong when they divide things up into Dispensations especially concerning the Prophetic significance of the Feasts : Passover,Pentecost and Feast of Tabernacles. It is just that in both these cases,they take the line of least faith resistance, in which they end up believing for very little. I mean when are they ever going to be proved wrong!! They'll be dead!! What takes a today kind of faith is to be taking the Feasts and the Egypt,Wilderness,Land pictures and be believing it a)into our own individual existences on earth and b)into a local instance of this in our local churches and also on a massive scale as we see the manifestation of the Corporate Body of Christ emerge in every nation on earth. Just as many of us have been distressed beyond measure at our own failures since Ern's glorious picture of a glorious Body of Christ, let alone the awful mess of charismatic church life....what a glorious kick in the pants to know we are still right on cue!!!!I mean how much did it look like Peter was going to be ready to open the doors of the Church in Acts 2, as he was sprawled out on the sand in front of Jesus, when Jesus was making them breakfast, and they had just pulled in the biggest catch ever.All Peter could mumble was"Depart from me...I am such a wicked man". Even so, out of this shambles,God really is raising us up. I mean He knew what rubbish we were in our own strength from the very beginning.He was just waiting that we knew it too......Hope you got the email by the way.

07000intune said...

Just thought of another example.When Jesus never turned up for Lazarus'burial, arriving 3 days late,Martha was annoyed.
Jesus said Your brother shall rise again. Well Martha was a good Plymouth Brethren lady and she said"I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day" Jesus said "I am the resurrection and the Life."
So that's what Jesus is saying to us's not good enough just to believe in the bye and bye...He is calling His Body to believe He is all that today, for you and me, and to bring things FORWARD.

The Complete book of John G Lake by the way can be ordered off Kenneth Copeland ministries. It is outstanding.

Dan Bowen said...

Thanks for the marvellous two comments Chris - and also for the John G Lake book plug! I didn't know of that one! Will most certainly hunt it out. I did indeed get the email safely and will reply as soon as possible! Thanks again!

Don said...

That's a good word from Rufus, Dan. Thanks!

There's the other possibility, which I've rarely heard teaching on: that we're not necessarily entering the Promised Land from Egypt, but returning to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon.

I think that though many Christians personally identify with the Egypt -- > Canaan idea (I'm one), the Church itself is coming out of the Babylonian Captivity, and trying to re-establish true worship of God while fighting demonic enemies, a wrong focus on building our own "houses," and discouragement when we think of the heights from which the Church has fallen (all the problems of the returning remnant).

The post-exilic prophets have much to say here, I think, as well as the predictions of the fullness of the Spirit, and intimacy of worship, in the days after Israel returns from exile.

Have you run into any teachings like this by Ern and his contemporaries, or by Rufus?

thebluefish said...

Talk about over interpretting what I said...

The land points to the new creation... a land renewed... and I'd venture that the giants are sin-related in being Nephilim.

Dan Bowen said...

I'm sorry if you felt I over-interpreted what you said. I didn't mean to. I guess I was quite interested in your blog comment when you published it because it was the first mention of the typology of the land that I've heard for a while. Probably since the leaders both at my home church and the SG churches distanced themselves from the interpretation that Ern Baxter put on it at the Dales Bible Week.

Again sorry. The flaws of blogging I guess - no real avenue to pursue particularly nuances of what is being written.