George H. Warnock: "A Way
through the Wilderness"
CONFLICTS OF THE NEW
The Long Journey Around
The people of God tried
to make a shortcut through the Land of Edom, but the Edomites would not permit
it. Edom was another name for Esau, Jacob’s twin brother. He was the firstborn
of the twins, and as the firstborn he should have had the inheritance. But God’s
purpose was in Jacob, the second-born. Esau was called Edom (which means, “Red,
Ruddy”) after he had bartered with Jacob and sold Jacob the birthright for the
red pottage. The word Edom is from the same root word as Adam, “to show blood,
rosy.” Now Paul tells us that the natural man “receiveth not the things of the
Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him.” Edom forced the people of God
into a long journey around his borders. The Adam nature waxes more and more
corrupt. The natural mind is not subject to the law of God, “neither indeed can
Finally they encompass
the Land of Edom and cross over the brook Zered. “Zered” means “to be exuberant
in growth.” It is somewhat of a turning point in the journeyings of the new
generation. For them it is a day of new growth; and it is the end of the old
generation: “And the space in which we came from Kadesh-Barnea, until we were
come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation
of the men of war were wasted out from among the host...” (Deut. 2:14).
Conflict With Moab
God would not let Israel
attack Moab, even as He would not let them attack Edom. But the presence of the
people of God dwelling so close to their borders filled the Moabites with great
fear, and they hired Balaam the sorcerer to come and curse the people of God.
Israel’s conflict through the main part of their wilderness life was really with
their own hearts. But now as the people of God begin to emerge from the
wilderness way, there is a new conflict: a conflict with false gods and with
evil spirits. We are in that day right now. What was once but a human attack, a
war of reason, an attack of the flesh, is quickly becoming a war against
spirits. Evil spirits are assuming control in many areas of society and of the
Church, and God’s people are finding it increasingly difficult to know what is
right and what is wrong. The time is now here when those demonic forces which
once operated in the East (in gurus, medicine men, etc.) are now beginning to
take up strong positions in the Church; and Christians are unaware of it because
it is nicely clothed in “Christian” language. When the people of God are misled
into thinking that the Kingdom of God is related to power and authority over
this world’s resources, over its governments, over its political and economic
forces... when the Kingdom of God is presented as something synonymous with
success, prosperity, and wealth... there and then Satan has found a fertile soil
into which he can plant the seeds of deception. Even physical health can be a
deceptive thing if we use questionable powers to tap into it. For why would
Satan deny us physical health if we use Satanic methods to get it? Is it a real
healing if Satan should withdraw his attack on our body, so long as he can
retain control of our spirit? And is it, in fact, a real healing? The
alleviation of pain and deliverance from certain physical afflictions has long
been associated with the practices of the occult. Is it healing? No! It is but a
sedative that the Enemy imparts, in order that he might take control of the
minds and spirits of people.
Our Lord Jehovah
declares, “I am the LORD that healeth thee,” and this is the heritage of the
people of God. But it is a covenant promise, and for its appropriation God
requires an obedient, covenant-walking people. The fact that this present
generation of the Church is afflicted equally with the people of the world is
proof that we have not walked in covenant-relationship with our God. Truth has
been so perverted that if we find wealth, health, prosperity, and happiness, the
means by which we find it are incidental to most people. If the results are
“good,” this must prove that the methods are of God.
God forbid that we
should find gain without godliness, physical healing without spiritual healing,
prosperity to the natural man without prosperity to the spiritual man, peace of
mind without the peace of God. Is this disturbing to some of you who believe
that anything that produces happiness and peace and blessing must be of God? I
hope it is disturbing. Because true blessedness has nothing to do with that at
all. The teaching of Christ concerning the Kingdom of God speaks on this wise:
“Blessed are the poor in
spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that
mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek:
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which
do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the
merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in
heart: for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:3-8).
The Doctrine Of Balaam
The most distressing
thing about Israel’s conflict with Moab, and with Balaam the sorcerer, was this:
God would not allow any enchantment from the false prophet to come upon the
people of God, and yet Balaam got what he wanted through deception and guile:
“Surely there is no
enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel:
according to this time it shall be said of Jacob... What hath God wrought!”
BUT... the people who
could not be cursed by Balaam’s enchantments, were allured and deceived by his
teachings. Balaam encouraged the king of Moab to suggest fraternization with the
people of God, and to invite them to one of their socials and the people of God
were ensnared by the gods of Moab; and through “the counsel of Balaam” there
fell a very great plague among the congregation of Israel. (See Num. 31:16.)
“And Israel abode in
Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And
they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods...” (Num. 25:1-2). The
word “they” is feminine in the Hebrew, and refers back to the daughters of Moab.
Twenty-four thousand valiant men of the new generation fell under the wiles of
the daughters of Moab and perished in God’s judgments, when God rose up to take
vengeance on every man who had been seduced to worship Baalpeor, the Moabite
Who Is Baal, The God Of
Baalpeor was the Moabite
deity that was worshipped on Mount Peor with all manner of immoral rites.
According to historical and archeological discoveries, Baal is seen to be the
god of fertility, the farm god, the god of agriculture, the god of increase ...
the god of prosperity. The cult was rampant in Canaan, and throughout her
history the people of God fell victims to the lure of Baal worship. Baal worship
was conducted by priests in the temples of Baal, or in the outdoors, or in
certain “high places” in the land. Animal sacrifices were included in their
rituals, along with licentious dances, and immoral practices. The female
associate goddess was called “Ashtoreth”... and all manner of immorality was
practiced. There were male prostitutes and female prostitutes, all associated
with temple worship. The cult was rampant in Canaan, and when Israel failed to
completely wipe out the seven abominable nations of Canaan (as God had commanded
them), they soon succumbed to the subtle attractions of this kind of worship;
and it remained a curse in their midst, and a grief to the heart of God,
throughout much of their history.
It is not difficult to
see in the land today, not just a similarity to what they had in ancient Canaan,
but almost a reproduction of the same licentious rites and practices as they had
then. We can expect such things in the world about us, for Jesus said it would
be as it was in the days of Sodom. But little by little the doctrine of Balaam
is being incorporated into the doctrine of the Church. It all starts with an
avowed worship of the “God of prosperity and happiness”... the God who gives
success, achievement, gain, wealth, happiness. What has this got to do with
immorality and licentiousness? Very much. What were the chief sins of Sodom?
What was the basic sin of Sodom? God pin-points it very clearly. He says it
was... “PRIDE, FULNESS OF BREAD, AND ABUNDANCE OF IDLENESS...” (Ezek. 16:49).
It was their high
standard of living that led to all the other things that we particularly
associate with Sodom. And it is no wonder that in our land where we have such
wealth and abundance that we are reaping an unspeakable harvest of immorality,
licentiousness, adultery, divorce, unfaithfulness, and so forth. Not only out
there in the world, but now, right in the Church. Not only that, but all the
while we are reaping such a harvest, the seeds which produced the harvest
continue to be sown by men in the pulpit, who are presenting success, wealth,
prosperity, and happiness as the fruit of faith, as the fruit of Christian
The real tragedy is not
just the fact that people in the Church are becoming immoral like the world
about them. The tragedy is that the spirits of Baal are actively involved in
this seductive kind of teaching, and the people of God are not aware of it.
God has a controversy
with this world-conforming church at Pergamos, which dwells where Satan’s throne
is, and He is going to purge the “doctrine of Balaam” (who promotes Baal worship
among the people of God) out of our midst; not with the javelin of Phinehas as
in Moses’ day, but with “the sharp sword with two edges” that proceedeth out of
His mouth (Rev. 2:12-14).
Conflict With Sihon And
“Rise ye up, take your
journey, and pass over the river Arnon: behold, I have given into thine hand
Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and
contend with him in battle. This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and
the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven” (Deut.
In the crossing of the
Arnon they entered for the first time the borders of their inheritance. “Arnon”
means “a rushing stream,” and is from a root word meaning “to shout (for joy).”
Here they would “begin to possess” the Land that God had promised them. It was
just a beginning... a very small beginning, in fact. The real measure of their
inheritance lay across the Jordan. But some of the people were ready to settle
for this land, and desired to go no further.
The Inheritance Of
Reuben, Gad, And Half Of Manasseh
When these tribes saw
the fertility and abundance of the land that they taken from Og and Sihon they
were anxious to lay claim to it and settle down. They came to Moses and said,
“If we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants
for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan” (Num. 32:5). At first Moses was
angry with them, for their seeming desire to proceed no further into the
conquest of Canaan. But when they assured Moses that they would “go ready armed”
into battle against the Canaanites, until the rest of the tribes had received
their inheritance, Moses relented. He commanded Eleazar the priest and Joshua
the new leader, to give them their request, as long as they were faithful in
helping their brethren to enter into their inheritance west of the Jordan. We
must have no condemnation for those who desire to set up camp on the eastern
banks of the Jordan. We know the inheritance they have there is only partial,
and very limited; but it is nevertheless the beginnings of fruitfulness. If some
find true delight and fulfillment there, who are we to accuse them of failure...
or of disobedience? As we look about us we can see many of God’s people who are
finding joy and delight in the pasture lands of Gilead, and sometimes we may be
inclined to envy them. They have found the desire of their hearts. They are
happy and contented right where they are. And God is blessing them abundantly.
They are fruitful in ministry and in service for the Lord. They have large
flocks and herds. Why can’t we be like that? The fact is, the vision that God
has implanted, and the hope that burns within, will not permit us to settle on
the eastern plains of the Jordan. We just know there is more, much more than we
can see here. It is not that we are unthankful, dissatisfied, or disgruntled...
as some may think. What was wrong with Abraham anyway? There he was dwelling in
Hebron, the choice part of Canaan. Why did he always insist that he was but a
“stranger and pilgrim” in the earth? Are you not at home, Abraham? Abraham could
never feel “at home” because in following on to know the LORD, and in touching
the heart of God, he had become increasingly aware that there had to be
something better, something more enduring, than a beautiful country such as he
had discovered there at Hebron. This is what the Spirit revealed to the apostle
Paul. If Abraham was a “stranger and pilgrim in the earth, then he was declaring
plainly that he looked for a “better country”... he “looked for a City which
hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God” (Heb. 11:10,16). Your desire
for something better, something more fulfilling, something more enduring, is
related directly to your walk of obedience before the LORD. For in measure as
God has enabled you to walk in obedience before Him, so in like measure has He
been able to draw nigh to you, to walk with you, and to cause you to become more
and more aware of that great longing that He has in His heart for a permanent
HOME in your heart. What He has revealed and what He has given, you recognize as
being good and wonderful. But what He has BECOME to you means much more than His
gifts. And the glory of His Being, His character, His nature, His love, His
Truth... all these reflect more and more of that inheritance on the other side
of Jordan for which your heart longs and for which your spirit yearns. And
whereas at one time we may have gloried in what He DID for us; now we glory more
in what He IS to us. Once it may have been great in our eyes to be USED of the
Lord; but now we desire only to WALK with Him. Once it was much service, much
activity, much ministry, that filled us with a sense of gratification and
fulfillment; now it is rather in simple abiding relationship with Him that we
find our delight; and if this be not so yet in actual experience, it is
nevertheless our abiding and constant hope.
If we do not know the
difference between service and relationship, perhaps we should ask the Lord to
test the motives of our hearts.
Is it enough that we
should walk with Him, and know His voice? Or do we have that uneasy feeling that
if our ministry lags, and we are becoming less and less active in our service
for Him, that somehow we are losing ground? Was Jesus more spiritual when He
healed the sick and raised the dead than He was when He set His face as a flint
for Jerusalem, and walked the rugged pathway up Golgotha’s heights? Was it not
all the same to Him, to know that in either case He was simply doing the will of
“Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God....”
“My meat is to do the
will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work...”
New Expectation On The
Plains Of Moab
As Reuben, and Gad, and
the half tribe of Manasseh took their inheritance on the eastern side of the
Jordan, they must have felt a certain satisfaction in knowing that God had been
faithful in giving them the desires of their heart. Their part in any future
conquests would not in any way enlarge their borders, it was just part of the
deal they had made with Moses. When the battle was over, they would return to
the beautiful plains of Gilead, and there establish their homes. In any future
battles, in any future conquests, theirs would always be the backward look.
But with the other nine
and a half tribes in Israel there was expectation and hope for something they
did not have on the plains of Gilead. Theirs was a living hope in every conquest
they would make. “For what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope
for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Rom. 8:24-25).
The nine and a half
tribes belonged to the western side of the Jordan. They were bent upon new
conquests, new areas of triumph in God, new explorations in the Land of Promise:
new heights, new lengths, new breadths in God that must be appropriated. It is
the forward look, the upward call, that urges us on. We have not yet come to the
Rest, and to the inheritance that God has promised. There remaineth yet very
much land to be possessed.
The Conquest Of Canaan
Becomes Increasingly More Difficult
With every delay to the
conquering of the inheritance that we experience because of human failure, the
task becomes that much more difficult. Every time God moves mightily by His
Spirit, and the people of God for one reason or another are defeated and turned
back into the wilderness, the next attempt at conquering the Land seems to
become more and more remote. But there is a principle in God, and one that we
have emphasized over and over, and it is this: When God has sent His Word into
the earth concerning His purposes for His people, HE WILL NOT TAKE THAT WORD
BACK unfulfilled, unfinished, uncompleted. That Word will remain in the earth,
until it has accomplished the desire of His heart: “For as the rain cometh down,
and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and
maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to
the eater: so shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it SHALL NOT
RETURN UNTO ME VOID, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall
prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:10-11).
Some may confess that
God has seen fit to take back that Word, because we have come to the end and
it’s too late now for God to do what He had planned. Some may confess that there
is nothing to be expected but a sudden removal of the Church from the earth...
like a farmer would reap his green fields of wheat when it appears that a
devastating storm is on its way. At least, then, he would have fodder for his
But Our Confession Is A
We confess that His Word
is in the earth concerning a harvest that is coming forth that will be ripe,
that will be full, that will be like the good Seed that was planted: some
thirty-fold, some sixty-fold, AND SOME ONE HUNDRED-FOLD... We confess that we
hear that Word, and therefore we speak it .
We confess that we have
a living hope that His Church will yet become a “glorious Church, not having
spot, or wrinkle, or blemish, or any such thing”...
We confess that the Lord
has delayed His coming, as He intimated He might have to do, that with “long
patience” He has waited “for the precious fruit of the earth”; and that the Day
of Harvest is now very nigh at hand...
We confess that the
Judge now stands at the Door, to purge His Church, and then to judge the
We confess that the
Husbandman is preparing laborers for His harvest field... and that shortly they
will reap the fields that are fast coming to maturity... and that very soon He
will say to the reapers: “Thrust in thy sickle, and reap... for the harvest of
the earth is ripe” (Rev. 14:15). Notice in this passage that the word “ripe” is
from a Greek word that means “more than ripe, dry, mature, withered.” Is this
the way you feel sometimes? Think it not strange; in the Day of Harvest the
fields of grain must become very dry, in order that it may be threshed, and the
chaff driven away.
Yes, it is going to
become increasingly more difficult for God to bring His people into the
inheritance; it is more difficult now than at any time in the history of the
Church. This simply means that the God who promised must give more and more
grace, and more and more of His Glory, to accomplish the task.
In a previous writing
(“Feed My Sheep”), we dealt somewhat with the flooding of the Jordan at the time
of Israel’s passage across the river into Canaan... God making it even more
difficult for their entry into the Land. We mentioned how the priests bore the
Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders and led the way; how they dipped their
feet in the waters, and saw the waters cut off before their eyes; and how they
stood with the Ark in the bottom of the river while the people of God passed
over. We spoke of their encampment on the western side of the river, in
preparation for the attack on Jericho; and of the circumcision of the new
generation on the plains of Gilgal and how God was making it increasingly
difficult for the new generation to survive, incapacitated for battle in the
presence of their enemies. And now the man Moses had just died; the man who had
the authority for leadership, and the expertise for battle. In all the way that
the Lord led the new generation we can see less and less likelihood of a
successful conquest of the Land. Everything was against them. Weakened by the
wiles of the daughters of Moab and their forces decimated by God’s wrath as He
slew 24,000 men, and then at Gilgal totally crippled before their enemies.
What was God doing
anyway? He was making it utterly impossible for them to attain to the promise
EXCEPT BY A MIGHTY AND MIRACULOUS DISPLAY OF HIS OWN POWER AND GRACE AND GLORY.
For He alone was to be glorified in the sight of the chosen nation; and He alone
was to be glorified in the sight of the wicked nations of the land.
When we see and understand how Jealous our God is for the Glory of His great
Name, these things that we are talking about ought not to be considered some
far-out teaching... something we can just lay aside as irrelevant to the purpose
of God in this hour. It is in a day and hour such as this, when apostasy is
rampant, and the Name of our Lord is blasphemed among the nations, that we can
expect and anticipate the Jealous God to rise up and vindicate His great Name in
a holy, conquering, godly remnant in the earth.