Break these Chains

10:44 AMHeather

9 years old.  Living in a dark, dank and unfinished basement...and restrained and locked within it.  It's a deplorable, horrific and true story.  It's shocking to imagine that any parent could do such a thing.  Restrain and lock their little girl in a dark basement. How could you choose to let someone live like that?

Yet, it emphasizes the truth of my own condition, as I'm still unwinding one particular sermon I heard last February. One that is making me realize the chains that keep me bound.  

I had never heard of Christine Caine before that evening, but ever since, I seem to keep bumping in to her books, sermons and influence.  (If you aren't familiar with her--you should be.  Because she is a world changer who is on fire for Christ and the truth of freedom in Him.)

I want to share her teaching with you, because it is a connective tissue to all this blogging about Sabbath living.  I promise--it connects some dots--so bear with me today.

Joshua 5:1-15 tells the story of the Israelites, perched on the edge of the Promised Land.  Having wandered for 40 years in the desert, they are THIS CLOSE to finally entering the land promised them, the land of milk and honey.  Many of us are familiar with the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho, Jericho, Jericho, having learned the song in Sunday School. (See Joshua 6).

I thought I pretty much had that story down, but Christine pointed out some startling teaching on the subject and all that happened before the walls actually came tumbling down.  So, I double dog dare you to read the above referenced passage and then follow along with me here as I hit the highlights.

The first point that Christine made is that the Lord told Joshua to circumcise the Israelite men, as all the men who had been circumcised while captive in Egypt had now died.  In other words, all the people who had been born whilst wandering in the desert those forty years had not been circumcised.  

Sidenote:  An entire generation of Israelites was gone.  They had been delivered from Egypt and because of their whining, fear, doubt, disobedience and complaining, the Lord swore to them that they would not see the Promised Land.  So, the trip that literally took 11 days, from Egypt to the Promised took them 40 years.  Talk about being delayed!

Yet the hope we can have when we see that this NEW generation of Israelites prove their obedience and acquiesce to the call to circumcision.  I believe most men would say that this is indeed an example of extreme obedience.  Willingly undergoing a painful procedure, in the days prior to anesthesia, because God said so.  Joshua 5:8 tells us that they stayed in camp until they were healed. Bless them...I wonder just how long this was?

There they are, camped outside of the Promised Land in Joshua 5:9, freshly circumcised, and the reproach of Egypt is rolled away by God.  The punishment and curse that was placed upon their fathers is removed by God when his people did as he asked.  Hallelujah and amen!  I wonder if these people felt a burden lift from their spirits when this happened?

So, the Israelites celebrated the Passover and then an extraordinary thing happens.  The day after Passover, the day after commemorating their deliverance from death and bondage, the people ate some of the food of the Promised Land.  This is no small thing. They no longer ate manna because the manna had stopped (Joshua 5:12).  

Listen, bloggy friends, I get a hearty approval from my kids when I make them their favorite meals.  Can you even imagine how that produce of Canaan tasted to this young generation of Israelites who had only eaten manna and quail provided by God for their entire lives?  And it's just a taste of the things to come.  Only a sampling of future feasts. It's a promise of what God will provide.  

Joshua 6 goes on to tell the more famous part of the story, where Joshua led the people around the city for seven days.  Then, on the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times and then gave a great shout and blew their trumpets.  And the wall collapsed.  Alas, God's people finally entered the land God promised their forefathers.

Here is Christine's insight on this whole happily ever after story.  

The people of God had been delivered.  But they were not free.   They were not living in the freedom that God intended for them.  They had yet to enter the Promised Land.

They were like the little girl, chained in a basement, living in the dark.

They were like us.  A people chosen by God, paid for with a great price, and living in bondage still.  Yet to live in and claim the freedom granted to us.

They were like Martha.  Delivered.  In fact, distracted and troubled and anxious about many things as she prepared a meal for her Deliverer and Savior who sat right in front of her (Luke 10:39-42).  Chained by a consumerism and performance driven faith.

They were like the older son with the father who offered his prodigal love (Luke 15).  He was delivered from obligation and duty, but he did not live in the freedom of enjoying the love and grace of his father.  He was too busy walking the fence lines and following the rules to enjoy the freedom of drinking deeply from the well of grace extended him.  

Martha was delivered but not free to sit at the feet of Jesus.  Delivered but bound by anxiety and unbelief and doubt, and thus unable to enjoy the freedom of Sabbath living.

What about you?  Are you a believer who is delivered, yet not free?  Living in the dark, dank basement, chained by man's approval and performance and activity  -- and not living in the freedom bought for you?

Here's what Christine pointed out that we can learn from this Joshua 5 passage.  Here are the directives we too can follow in order to move from deliverance to freedom.

1.  The Israelites were uncircumcised.  They needed a fresh cutting away.  What needs to be cut away in your life so that you can move into freedom?

2.  The manna stopped.  The tradition, the way it has always been, was suddenly gone.  What new thing does God want to do for you?  What do you need to release, that has always been, so that you can eat the fresh fruits and produce of the land of freedom?

3.  An impossibly huge and heavily defended wall stood between the Israelites and the Promised Land.  It was a seemingly insurmountable wall for them...but no problem for their Almighty God to handle.  What impossible walls do you need to ask God to crumble for you so that you can enter the freedom of the Promised Land?

This story of Joshua ties together with our look at Mary and Martha and the two sons with the loving Father.

In all three stories, we see delivered people who are bound up.  We see a freedom offered by a loving Father.  We see people who must make a choice.  

Choose to be distracted with much serving, anxious and troubled about many things.

Or choose to stay at the feet of Jesus and discover the freedom of Sabbath living.

Tow the line and do the right thing as the dutiful son might do.

Or revel in the freedom found in the lavish love of a Father.

Stopped by impossible walls, eating mundane manna.  Toiling away...delivered but not free.  

Walking the fences...following the tradition.  Doing what has always been done.

Chained up and ignoring the new works of new provision.  

Or bravely cutting away what must go, being willing to face impossible walls and believe that God can crumble them to bring you freedom that you have never known.

Sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Staying there to listen to His teaching.

Learning cease and desist.

Resting in His lavish, reckless, freeing love.  Because the definition of rest is refreshing, quiet, relief or, wait for it--FREEDOM.

It all ties together.  These forgotten verbs of sit, stay, sabbath, and rest.  They mean freedom.  They mean moving from just deliverance and the status quo to a freedom like you've never known.

Like coming out of being chained in a basement to experience the love and abundance offered by a Father who provides.  A father whose specialty is fresh cutting, new works and crumbled walls.

Blog post #8 in a series-- Sabbath Living:  the Sacred Practice of Sitting at the Feet of Jesus. 

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