Introduction: The Land of Canaan
The story of the Israelites from their being in bondage in Egypt to their conquering Canaan is a type of the experiences of a man from his bondage in sin to his entire sanctification.
As a Scriptural basis for these remarks, see Galatians 3:6-29, where Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles, quotes a part of the Abrahamic covenant and applies it to Gentile Christians, the complete fulfillment of the covenant being expressed in verse 14, where the promise of the Spirit is spoken of as the “blessing of Abraham.” It is also made plain in this chapter that salvation in Christ makes us “Abraham’s seed,” and therefore “heirs according to the promise.” Hence the promise to Abraham has its complete fulfillment in New Testament salvation.
In Romans 4, Paul again dips deep into the promise of God to Abraham and brings forth beautiful teaching which shows that, to him, God’s promise to Abraham was spiritual as well as material, that there was to be a spiritual seed as well as literal seed, and that “faith” is as potent as natural birth in making men children of Abraham. Also in these verses Abraham is made “the father of us all,” even of Gentiles, which of course could not be true except in a spiritual sense.
The same subject is treated again in chapter 4 of Hebrews. Here the figure is “rest.” The rest of the Israelites was their settling in Canaan, and in verse 6, speaking of the fact that some did not enter rest because of unbelief, allusion is made to the failure to enter Canaan from Kadesh-barnea. At that time, ten of the spies brought back such a bad report that the whole camp wept, and would not go over. For forty years these rebels wandered in the wilderness, until all were dead except Caleb and Joshua, the two faithful spies.
There is a beautiful analogy between the events of the Israelites in their journey out of Egypt into Canaan and the fundamental experiences of the Christian. Note these parallels—far too close not to have been planned as type and antitype by the great Author of salvation:
- Abraham was promised two things: first, his seed should inherit the land of Canaan; second, in him should all families of the earth be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3).
- Abraham was the father of both a literal and a spiritual seed, the first inherited literal Canaan and the second inherited spiritual Canaan (Romans 4; Galatians 4).
- There was a rest promised both to the Israelite and to the Christian believer (Hebrews 4).
- Israel was in bondage to Pharaoh and his taskmasters in Egypt, and sinners are in bondage to the devil and sin.
- By a miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea, Israel escaped from Egyptian bondage; and sinners are saved by the miraculous new birth.
- By another miracle of power, Israel entered Canaan through the bed of the Jordan River; and by a second work of grace, believers are wholly sanctified by the Spirit through the blood.
- By refusing to believe and obey, the Israelites wandered for forty years in the wilderness, just as Christians fall away, grow lukewarm and backslidden many times when they see their privilege of being made pure in heart and refuse to walk in the light.
- After the Israelites entered Canaan, they had to fight for their possessions; and so, too, do we have to fight for our spiritual possession in the state of holiness.
- The literal land of Canaan was “a good land… flowing with milk and honey,” (Exodus 3:8) where the Israelites ate the old corn and wine of the land. Just so spiritual Canaan is the best place of grace under heaven; indeed it is heaven’s border-land, where saints have sweet communion with God and Christ and are ready for the great crowning-day.
In several chapters of this book we shall treat the subject of entire sanctification allegorically, using the types as prefiguring Christian experience. The battles of the soul against foes are real conflicts, which leave their scars and marks on many a Christian. Perhaps, out of the experiences of others, the reader will gather something of profit to himself, and be enabled to fight more effectively and not merely beat the air. There are spiritual powers in high places that challenge us to battle; blessed is he who has the armor, the courage, and the skill to win.