He Himself – As the True Canaan Land

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Giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints (God’s holy people) in the Light. (Col 1:12 Amp.)

In this second post on He Himself (read the first post here if you have not already done so), Paul is making a direct reference to the Canaan Land.  As you can see in the Old Testament, God gave allotted portions of the land to the twelve tribes of Israel:

The covenant which He made with Abraham, and His sworn promise to Isaac. (1Ch 16:16)

He confirmed it as a statute to Jacob, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, [Gen. 35:11, 12.] (1Ch 16:17)

Saying, To you I will give the land of Canaan, the measured portion of your possession and inheritance. (1Ch 16:18)

Here, in Colossians, Paul is telling the believers that Christ is their allotted portion or inheritance.  In other words, HE HIMSELF IS THEIR CANAAN LAND!

What a Christ!  What a vastly rich Christ!  A Christ who is flowing with all of the riches of the Godhead!  Let’s take a quick look at some of these riches as typified in the land of Canaan.  These are all listed in Deut. 8:7-9

The Waters

But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.  (John 4:14)

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to Me! Anyone who believes in Me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.'” (When He said “living water,” He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in Him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into His glory.) (John 7:37-39)

When you contact the living Christ who lives inside of you His life flows out like a mighty rushing river.  Notice that the life of Christ is not only in you, the “water” is in you, but also it becomes a bubbling spring (source of water) that springs up out of you as well!  How does this happen?

By opening your mouth and letting the living Christ (water) to come out!

He Himself is our water… He Himself is our refreshment…
He Himself is our newness of Life… He Himself is our cleansing…
He Himself is our washing… He Himself is our purification…
He Himself is our rejuvenation… He Himself is our regeneration…
He Himself is our water!

Have you experienced Him as your living Water today?

Have you refreshed others with the Living Water today?

Food

There are seven types of food listed in Deuteronomy 8:8. Wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olive oil, and honey.  These are all wonderful pictures of different aspects of the life and nature of our beautiful Lord.  That is, the unsearchable riches of Christ.  It is interesting to note that in each of these foods there is the element of life coming through death.

Wheat

And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.”  (John 12:23-25)

In order for Christ to become our food He had to go through a “process”.  He was the Grain of Wheat that fell into the ground and died.  But we cannot eat grains of wheat.  He had to be incarnated as a man, be crucified, be resurrected, ascended, and glorified. Now, the one grain became many grains and produced a whole harvest.  From that harvest the church was born.  Now, He is our bread, a food that we can eat on a daily basis.

Have you ever seen a grain of wheat?  They are tiny!  Your Lord became very tiny to make He Himself available to you.  He was willing to become incredibly limited to fulfill the Father’s purpose of having a house, a body, a bride, a family, and a new race.  But this one Grain had to fall into the ground and die before this new race could be born.  Death and resurrection, this is what we see throughout all of this.  There can be no resurrection life without a death taking place!

The Lord does something very incredible in this passage… He includes us, the many grains of wheat!  And He says, he who loves his life loses it!  The Lord Jesus isn’t the only one who lays down his life in order for there to be new life happening!

Barley

“Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus *said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha *said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”   (John 11:22-26)

“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated; likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. When they were filled, He *said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.” So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.  (John 6:9-13)

Barley is the first crop in the harvest season.  It appears in early April.  At this time the high priest would go out to one of the farms in the area and search for the first seedling of barley that had broken through the ground.  He would then pluck the seedling and carry it to the temple where he would perform the wave offering of the firstfruits.  This actually took place on the day that Jesus rose from the grave.  Wow! What a picture of our glorious Christ who is He Himself the true Resurrection!

Vines

As in the grinding of wheat to make bread, wine is produced by the crushing of grapes.  The wine that makes the heart of man glad is produced through much suffering and death of the grape.  In the gospel of John wine is a picture or shadow of the divine Life of God.  We can see in the wedding of Cana when Jesus told his mother that his time had not yet come (John 2).  Sounds like the aging necessary for a good wine to me!  I believe he was saying that the time for his life to be given to man was not yet come.  However, he performed this “sign” to display God’s eternal purpose in sending his Son so that mankind could receive his divine life into himself and be transformed into God’s image.

As for myself, I am the vine. As for you, you are the branches. He who maintains a living communion with me and I with him, this one is bearing much fruit, because apart from me you are not able to be doing anything.  (John 15:5 Wuest)

The vine (along with the branches) produces fruit… grapes!  The grapes in the Canaan land were probably as big as basketballs!  It took two grown men just to carry one cluster of grapes (Num. 13:23).  When there is divine Life flowing throughout the Vine and the branches there will be glorious expression of the riches of Christ!

Figs

I have only one thing to say about this – the sweetness, sweetness, sweetness of our Lord!

Pomegranates

Have you ever cut open a pomegranate?  There is only one thing inside of a pomegranate… about a million SEEDS!  And what do “seeds” speak to you about your Lord?  LIFE!  But not just any life.. Abundant Life!  His Life in abundance.

“… I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

The word “life” there is ‘zoe’ in the Greek and this speaks of God’s own life, divine life, uncreated life, eternal life.  The pomegranate also speaks to us of reproduction and health.  Life begets Life.  The life of Christ being expressed to men and angels is the goal and purpose of the Church! (see Eph. 3:10)

Olive Oil

Just like with wheat and grapes, olives speak to us of the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord.  The garden of Gethsemane was located at the foot of the Mount of Olives.  This is where our Christ laid down his life for the purpose of the Father.  It was also the place where olives were harvested to make olive oil.  This happens through the use of an “olive press”, a machine that presses and squeezes the very life and juice (oil) out of the olives to produce olive oil.  This olive press looks a lot like the cross to me!

Honey

This is an incredible picture of Christ and the Church and how God gets his eternal purpose in Christ fulfilled through his Body.

  • The field bees collect the nectar out of flowers.  In fact, they are obsessed with the nectar!  It is so sweet for them (a picture of the richness of Christ) that they cannot help but go out and find it.  Interesting that they find the nectar within flowers.  T. Austin-Sparks defined “glory” as the life of God in it’s highest expression.  When a tree or plant is at its highest moment of expression it blossoms.  The flowers are the glory (or highest expression) of the plant.  Hold that thought for a moment.
  • The field bees store the nectar in a special compartment located within their bodies.  Every believer has an innermost place (spirit) where the Lord’s life resides.  The bees fly back to the hive and then deposit (by regurgitation) the nectar into the house bees.  The house bees add their own enzymes to the nectar.  We humans add our own flavor to his life expressed through us!
  • The nectar turns into honey and is stored as the food for the whole hive. What a picture of how the Body of Christ works in expressing Christ to one another and the whole world, and to angels!  We take his glory (flowers) and extract the life (nectar) into our spirits.  Then, we share this life with the rest of the “hive” so that this “hive” can manifest his glory to men and angels.

Wow! What an incredible Christ!  What a glorious Lord!

He Himself is our vast, all-inclusive Canaan Land!

He Himself contains all of the unlimited resources and riches that we need!

(Be watching for the next post in this series coming soon!)

The Holistic Church

It is the same way with the Body of Christ. We are to express (visibly) the invisible Person who lives within us. We do this individually and corporately. Each part expresses Christ but the fullness of Christ can only be expressed by the Body (Eph. 1:23). Individually we can only express a small part of this wonderful Person. But together, corporately, we can express the fullness or the whole Christ. And now this gets down to my point.

‘holistic’ – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts. The organic or functional relation between parts and whole.

The term “holistic” is mostly used in the field of alternative medicine. In this context it is usually defined as treating the whole person, not just the physical body.

In conventional medicine, it is usually only the specific body part that has the symptoms which is treated. The body itself is not viewed as only “part” of a bigger picture, the whole person. I believe that this is a mistake, but that is not the reason I have written this article. I believe that we, as believers, have made a similar mistake with our viewpoint and approach to the Body of Christ.

The Expression of the Whole Christ

And He subjected all things under His feet and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church, which is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all. Eph. 1: 22, 23

The letter to the Ephesians probably shows us more than any other letter how the church is the Body of Christ. And that Body is to express the fullness of the Head, Jesus Christ.

Just think about your own physical body. What purpose does it serve? Does it not express in a physical, visible way the invisible person who lives within it? Your body communicates with the outside world. Your body expresses what you are thinking and feeling on the inside. When you speak you move your hands around to express your thoughts. I’m sure you have heard the term “body language.” It simply means that you can express your thoughts and feelings with your physical body.

It is the same way with the Body of Christ. We are to express (visibly) the invisible Person who lives within us. We do this individually and corporately. Each part expresses Christ but the fullness of Christ can only be expressed by the Body (Eph. 1:23). Individually we can only express a small part of this wonderful Person. But together, corporately, we can express the fullness or the whole Christ. And now this gets down to my point.

As the church, are we expressing the fullness of Christ or only a part? Could it be that we have taken and chosen certain aspects of His nature, character, and mission and only chosen to express those specific aspects? I strongly believe that we have done this. In fact, I hope to prove it to you in this article. I have termed this process as “selective expression.”

What is Selective Expression?

It is the process whereby we see, speak, teach, and consequentially express only a small part of Christ, and not the “Whole” Christ.

At the core of this problem is a very weak and limited revelation of Jesus Christ. We have a revelation of Him, but only in one small area. We have a small and limited Christ. We have only seen Him with limited vision. And that’s okay because we are all growing in our revelation and understanding of this unlimited Christ. Revelation is progressive and eternally growing and expanding.

However, the problem comes in when we stop the process along the way. We become satisfied with what we have already seen of Him and stop pursuing and pressing into Christ. Now, our experience of Christ settles and crystallizes like hardened concrete. This is when we form “filters” over our vision of Christ. We only see Him a certain way because we are looking through the “spectacles” of our past revelation and experience.

Here is an example. There was a time in my life when the Lord was revealing to me His heart for the lost. He showed me how much He loved them and wanted to reach them. This crystallized for me and became a filter over my eyes. Then, everything I saw in the scriptures was about evangelism. It didn’t matter where I went in the bible, all I saw was evangelism. I had put on the “spectacles” of evangelicalism. And now I was out to convert the non-believer and recruit the believer into becoming as evangelistic as me. Partial vision can sometimes be worse than total blindness!

The real problem came in when I went out to find others who had on the same spectacles as me. I only wanted to fellowship with Christians who were as evangelistic as me. Now we are talking corporate expression here. What I saw effected how I expressed. And now there was a group of us expressing together. The problem was that we were only expressing a very small part of Christ! He is much bigger than evangelism, miracles, healing, deliverance, feeding the poor, helping widows, spiritual gifts or spiritual warfare.

He is the All!

And His desire is to be expressed as such by His church.

First Things First – the Chicken or the Egg?

One of the first things that God had the children of Israel do after they left Egypt was to build the tabernacle (Ex. 25 – 30). When the new generation entered the Canaan land, the whole point was for God to have two things: a house (temple), and a city (Jerusalem). There was a certain piece of property that God had in mind for his house and the children of Israel would have to fight their way into the land to obtain it. The reason God wanted the land was to have a building site for his house and his city. The theme of the house and the city runs all throughout scripture. You can even see the raw materials for this building project in the garden (Gen. 2:12). Throughout all of scripture we see “the house” and “the city.” Here are just a few: Ezra 6:3; 2 Sam. 6:17; Ps. 132: 3-5; Heb. 4:16; Luke 9:58; Matt. 21:13; Matt. 16: 13-18; Heb. 11:10; Rev. 21 & 22.

The House and the City

It’s important that we realize that the city grows out of the house. The house must come first. Who ever heard of a city without a house? The city is the expansion of the house. But what is all of this figurative language about?

The House – a place for the Lord to rest his head.

The “house” is the dwelling place of God. It is the place where he can relax, where he can be himself. It is the place where he can freely express himself. Just like we design and decorate our homes to suit and express who we are, so does the Lord with his house. It’s all about the place of rest, comfort, and expression (Acts 7:44-50; Is. 66:1). The house is always the center of the city. In Old Covenant language, the temple is the center of Jerusalem. The temple was the focal point for all Jewish worship and culture. This is but a shadow or picture of the true house of God, the church (I Pet. 2_5; I pet. 4:17; I Tim. 3:15; I Cor. 3:9-16). And this house expresses who he is. This house is Jesus Christ in corporate form.

The City – all throughout scripture the city represents authority and power.

The establishment of a city always depicts the establishment of conquest and authority. God has always wanted a city. In Revelation 21 and 22 we see that he gets it. The New Jerusalem is the culmination of all of God’s purposes and dreams in one place. It’s a heavenly city that comes down to earth (Rev. 21:10). And God gets his desire fulfilled to dwell with and in man (Rev. 21:3). The Father and the Son are the Temple (Rev. 21:22). And this city is the wife of the Lamb (Rev. 21:9).

The city, since it represents God’s authority, also represents the kingdom of God. The throne of God is there and his people rule with him (Rev. 22:3-5). The city expresses who he is and what he does. The city is the fullness and expansion of the house. Christ is fully expressed through his church and this brings forth the kingdom. The kingdom is the expression of his mission to the world. It includes evangelism, feeding the poor, reaching the lost, healing of all sorts, deliverance — basically Isaiah 61:1, 2. The kingdom is the city set on a hill (Matt. 5:14-16).

The Present Dichotomy

I see that there has been a polarization happening among believers involving this issue of the house and the city. Many have created a dichotomy out of the church and the kingdom. There are those who say that the kingdom is what Jesus preached, so we should be into that. Then, there are others who say that Paul wrote mostly about the church, so we should be into that.

The truth is that this is not an either/or situation. The church and the kingdom are not diametrically opposed to one another. In fact, they are two sides of the same coin, so to speak. They are both aspects of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. The church brings the kingdom to earth because it is through the church that the nature, life, and works of God are displayed (Eph. 3:10, 11; Eph. 2:10).

Therefore, we will never see the kingdom come to this earth in any significant way until we see the church displaying the fullness of Christ. She is all about expressing her Lord. And the kingdom (his authority and works) are part of that expression.

We must remember that God has a divine order to things. The house comes before the city. Communal comes before missional. Relationship comes before good works. Identity comes before action. Being comes before doing. Who God is determines what he does. Jesus healed the sick because he is compassion. He raised the dead because he is resurrection. He fed the multitudes because he is the bread of life.

The Source and Origins of Church Life

Before anything else existed there was the fellowship and community of the Godhead (John 17). Before there was ministry, outreach, or mission, there was a divine community flowing with life. This is the model and foundation for all church life. If there is community life, and it is healthy, then the divine life of the Godhead will flow out to the world as well. Why? Because that is part of who God is. And the community of believers is all about expressing that life to one another and to the world. In other words, the community of the Godhead, in all of its fullness and glory, is to be expressed by the community of believers.

Sisters and brothers, we must begin there!